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Old 10-25-2004, 03:16 PM   #1
roblaw
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Difference between USAF WR & ER?

I was just wondering if there are some broad characteristics that are different between the western region of the USAF under Chiba Sensei and the eastern region under Yamada Sensei.

A friend of mine who has visited several dojos under both banners claims that the eastern region is a bit harder. Was this just his interpretation from anecdotal evidence, or is there some truth? I am a bit skeptical since Chiba Sensei is considered tough himself.

Any thoughts? Thanks.

Robert Lawrence
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Old 10-25-2004, 03:29 PM   #2
mj
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

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Old 10-25-2004, 03:36 PM   #3
p00kiethebear
 
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

My dojo is affiliated with the east coast aikikai even though we're in washington.

The only student of Chiba sensei i've trained with is Lorain Dianne Sensei. She was pretty hard core. The rumors that i've heard all say that Chiba sensei is alot tougher about who he lets train in his dojo or be affiliated with him.

Yamada sensei is alot less concerned about the Aikido politics and will let certain things be taught in dojo's that alot of other aikikai shihan may not support.

That's all i've really observed. Oh yeah, and us East Coast people throw the best parties

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity"
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Old 10-25-2004, 04:35 PM   #4
Brehan Crawford
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

I train in an Eastern Region dojo but have visited a local Western Region dojo for seminars on a couple occasions.

Mostly what I've noticed is that even within the same organization, the personal styles of different aikidoka can vary pretty widely. But every single one of the instructors I've seen & trained with in these two organizations has been fantastic.

My own sensei said the biggest general difference between our dojo & the local western region one is that we tend to throw away from ourselves while they tend to throw straight down to the mat. They do more pins whereas we do more breakfalls.
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Old 10-26-2004, 06:30 AM   #5
Jordan Steele
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

My sensei was a kenshusei under Chiba sensei and all I can say is any direct student of Chiba sensei is a tough SOB that trains hard and teaches students to do the same. I have never trained with eastern region but I have heard nothing but good things about Yamada sensei. I don't really think there is a major difference between west and east. All I know is that Yamada and Chiba are both incredibly talented and are very good teachers.
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Old 10-26-2004, 07:25 AM   #6
Charles Hill
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

I just bought the DVD, Holding Up Half the Sky, featuring 10 women teachers from the USAF. They are all either Yamada, Chiba, or Kanai Sensei`s students. You might get a feel for the differences from watching it. I think it is an excellent dvd.

Charles Hill
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Old 10-26-2004, 11:28 AM   #7
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

As an outsider, on difference I believe, would be the western region and Chiba Sensei focus more on buki waza. I've trained at 'west' and 'east' dojo, and always had a great time! In my opinion, use the instructors local to you and see what their differences are, and make any decisions based on that. If you must...

Ron

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Old 10-26-2004, 12:49 PM   #8
Tom Kaluzynski
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

From what I have seen, the differences are evidenced in the differences between the two leaders, Chiba Sensei and Yamada Sensei. They each have a unique perspective and different things to give. It would depend largely, as Ron said on the instructors, as I have seen different students of these two with different levels of skill and dedication. You couldn't say one was better than the other-although, it is true that eastern region is more lighthearted somehow, and the parties are fun.
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Old 10-27-2004, 08:21 PM   #9
dion
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

Hello Robert,

I have not yet had the privilege of training with Yamada Sensei but I have been taring with Chiba for almost ten years now and I will say that I can't imagine anybody training "harder" than he.

I have friends that train or have trained with Yamada and they say the atmosphere is much lighter on the mat than with Chiba, I don't know that to be fact, just what I was told. Chiba is IMHO a modern day Samurai and it shows on the mat.

I have watched Yamada's instructional videos and I didn't see too much difference in the overall style, only slight differences here and there.

I know this probably didn't help much but remember that each Dojo will have it's own personality no matter the region.

Dion

San Diego Aikikai
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Old 10-27-2004, 10:03 PM   #10
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

I would say that most important difference is that in WR uke is very active physically(he must attack center tori with his center during all technique, even when falling down) and develops extreme awarness, sharpness of mind, eyes contact....These elements are absent in ER teaching and this is a big weakness of teaching methodology.

Other important element is spiritual training. ER lacks it completly, most of WR dojo do intens zazen training.

Nagababa

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Old 10-28-2004, 05:37 AM   #11
GaiaM
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

Quote:
in WR uke is very active physically(he must attack center tori with his center during all technique, even when falling down) and develops extreme awarness, sharpness of mind, eyes contact....These elements are absent in ER teaching and this is a big weakness of teaching methodology.
I beg to differ... I'm sure, as many people have said, that all these elements vary with the teacher. I can say with certainty however, that active and engaged ukemi is the most important element of aikido to my sensei, an ER instructor. He is known to have some of the best, most connected ukemi in the country. And look at Donovan Waite Sensei (who was uchideshi with Yamada at the same time as my teacher). His amazing movements can only be based on "sharpness of mind" and "extreme awareness".

Quote:
Other important element is spiritual training. ER lacks it completly, most of WR dojo do intens zazen training
This could be true (I have only trained at a couple WR dojos), however... For me personally, the most important spiritual training is that which comes through the physical practice of aikido. I am not interested in zazen - aikido itself is my meditation. It is important to recognize that spiritual training takes many forms.

Gaia

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Old 10-29-2004, 11:33 AM   #12
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

Hi Mr. S.,

I'd be interested (based on your statements) on your take on an instructor like Donovan Waite Sensei, who has paid his dues in both associations, and is now in the USAF East. Are you saying that he lacks 'extreme awarness, sharpness of mind, eyes contact,' or that it is absent in his teaching? Or perhaps another example...does Sugano Shihan's instruction lack 'spiritual training'?

Mind you, I'm asking as an outsider who has only participated in their open seminars...and I must add that these are just two of the USAF East instructors that I am familiar with. I would not personally be comfortable making these criticisms of instructors like Henry Smith Sensei or Nizam Taleb Sensei either...I have felt the metsuke of each...and found **myself** lacking...

Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 10-29-2004, 12:35 PM   #13
pezalinski
 
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

Having practiced Aikido for 20 years (MAF & WR, & MAF, again) -- and having really enjoyed every class at Yamada's 40th Anniversary Summer Camp -- I would have to say, "It's all good."

MAF is closer to ER than is WR, style-wise. In my observations, Chiba's style seems to make a more direct connection between his bokken and jo techniques, and his tachi-waza techniques -- and everything leads to the ground fairly quickly and with the least amount of distance required. I think that Chiba "went back to the source" and rebuilt his aikido based on first principals, as he sees them. Chiba requires that all of his students directly emulate his style, and requires weapons as a part of his tests - kyu and dan ranks.

Yamada and the MAF instructors tend to be closer in essence to Hombu Dojo styles, and allow for a greater amount of variation in their 'approved' execution of techniques. Bokken and Jo practice are related, but not emphasized as first principals, and not required for testing at kyu level.

Style-wise, the ukemi needs are very different: ER and MAF techniques tend to give uke a little more space in which to choose his ukemi, than does the WR -- the throw is often released before uke reaches the ground. Usually, in WR, you have one really safe ukemi response - stay as close to nage as possible to minimize his motive force, all of which is driving you down straight to the ground. Breakfall is not often an option for uke -- he's going down, with no room to flip.

Donovan Waite's (ER) students have beautiful, and near-silent, ukemi, and 'quiet' = 'efficient' in my engineer's mind, and 'less impact' means 'less pain' to this aikidoist, too. WR friends who have witnessed Donovan Waite's style of ukemi (with me), say that it is awesome to watch in it's element, but do not think it would be an effective to the WR direct-to-the-ground style throws.

Personally, I disagree; and I want personal experience to prove it out. To me, ukemi derives as a response to a technique in context, and there are many contexts in WR where it would be welcome to fall silently and painlessly (instead of slapping to the mat). I'm trying to find a way to steal some of Donovan Waite's ukemi to add to my bag of tricks, and hope to test out the WR techniques vs ER ukemi theories for myself.

Just one man's opinion

Last edited by pezalinski : 10-29-2004 at 12:37 PM. Reason: readability
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Old 10-29-2004, 01:58 PM   #14
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

Peter, that was an excellent post...thanks! For what its worth, I did not find that I had to change my yoshinkan style of ukemi when training with folks from the WR...but then they knew I was new to them, so perhaps they were taking it easy...

Ron

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Old 10-30-2004, 03:42 PM   #15
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Hi Mr. S.,

I'd be interested (based on your statements) on your take on an instructor like Donovan Waite Sensei, who has paid his dues in both associations, and is now in the USAF East. Are you saying that he lacks 'extreme awarness, sharpness of mind, eyes contact,' or that it is absent in his teaching? Or perhaps another example...does Sugano Shihan's instruction lack 'spiritual training'?

Mind you, I'm asking as an outsider who has only participated in their open seminars...and I must add that these are just two of the USAF East instructors that I am familiar with. I would not personally be comfortable making these criticisms of instructors like Henry Smith Sensei or Nizam Taleb Sensei either...I have felt the metsuke of each...and found **myself** lacking...

Ron
Ron,
Let's not talk about 6th dan and above Sugano sensei method isn't very popular in ER.

I was talking about mortals. I practice very often in semianars with folks from WR and feeling of practice is completly different. Even beginners from WR have more awarness then some 3 th or 4 th dan from ER. You know, they are working on completly different things.

I support Peter, that Donovan type silent/soft ukemi works only in Yamada sensei style. That happens if UKE can control what he is doing and creates a space (as Donnovan can do) or uke has a lot of room.

Nagababa

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Old 10-30-2004, 05:17 PM   #16
rachmass
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

I've been watching this thread with interest and can contribute my $0.02, as being someone who has practiced for years in a WR dojo as well as being a member of the ER. Chiba Sensei has a very clear curriculum, which makes the aikido quite consistent from one dojo to the next and you can travel to any of his related dojos and find a common body language, whereas in the ER there is more variation and more acceptance of this variation. I have practiced with the most incredible aikidoka from both branches of the USAF and have the utmost respect for both.

The biggest difference I see between the two groups is that the ER has a more light-hearted "feel" off the mat and the parties rock, where the WR is more formal.

As to ukemi, some folks in either group bail and some folks connect and commit. I don't think it is a regional thing as much as it is a personal thing.

Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
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Old 11-02-2004, 10:54 AM   #17
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
Ron,
Let's not talk about 6th dan and above Sugano sensei method isn't very popular in ER.
Oh, **Now** you want to limit the discussion! Why not 6 dan and above? They set the tone, don't they? And one of the ER dojo I've trained at has a *very* tight relationship with Sugano Sensei. That's one reason I mentioned him.

[quote]I was talking about mortals. I practice very often in semianars with folks from WR and feeling of practice is completly different. Even beginners from WR have more awarness then some 3 th or 4 th dan from ER. You know, they are working on completly different things.{/quote] I'll have to defer to your greater experience...I haven't found the same things, but I don't train with these groups as often as you do. Can you specify some of these things? I mean the actual methods involved in enhancing these areas?

Quote:
I support Peter, that Donovan type silent/soft ukemi works only in Yamada sensei style. That happens if UKE can control what he is doing and creates a space (as Donnovan can do) or uke has a lot of room.
Well, again, Donovan came out of Chiba Sensei's dojo initially, didn't he? Are you telling me that his ukemi doesn't work where he started? Now, I'm not a huge fan of what I've seen other people do with his style of ukemi, it just doesn't gell with my previous training (not that there's anything that says it has to), but I have a hard time believing that Donovan can't take ukemi from Chiba Shihan...or that his top students can't, either...

Ron

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Old 11-02-2004, 11:37 AM   #18
pezalinski
 
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

Back for another $0.02....

I'm certain that the "soft" style of ukemi that Donovan teaches can be effectivly applied to WR techniques -- I watched some of his high-level students at Summer Camp, and am sure that they could adapt. But it wouldn't look or sound the same as that which he teaches on his videos... Different technique in execution should lead to a different response in ukemi.

Oh, and by the way, the MAF throws the best parties. . Come to Aikido of Harvard (IL) for a seminar sometime, and we'll prove it.
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Old 11-02-2004, 05:38 PM   #19
AsimHanif
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Re: Difference between USAF WR & ER?

I have trained in many ER dojo (as well as some WR).
Mr. S I beg to differ with you. Sugano Sensei is not only extremely well respected and popular amongst all levels of aikidoka, he is often sought out to elaborate on his training methods and philosophy.
As far as differences, I have found that WR is more direct in the aikido and ER uses more elaborate motion. Both very effective. I think those differences are a result of the influences of the leaders of those organizations.
And I do know that in many ER dojos, training is not finished unless beer is consumed:-)
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