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Old 04-09-2004, 12:59 PM   #1
Fred Calef III
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The evolution of Kamae

How has kamae evolved in Aikido?

In Yoshinkan aikido, basic kamae (ready stance) has front and back foot turned somewhere between 30-45 degrees, hips perpendicular to center line, and arms raised in te-katana with one hand chest height and one waist height. Somewhat like this...

migi-hanmi
/ :front foot
_ :hips
\ :back foot

Aikikai kamae has front foot parallel to center line, hips angled to center line (but not exposing the back), and back foot perpendicular to center line and hands placed near the hips. (also migi-hanmi)

| :front foot
/ :hips
- :back foot

From what I understand, the Yoshinkan kamae is designed to simulate a segan-no-kamae/chudan-no-kamae sword stance. William Gleason Sensei (whom I was lucky to visit his dojo recently) talked about the aikikai stance as being akin to waki-no-kamae (defensive sword stance). I've also heard that having the hips 'disengaged' (not perpendicular to the centerline) is less confrontational and is better to move from. Another understanding is that in Yoshinkan weight is distributed 60-40 with more weight on the front foot (more irimi/omote) while aikikai stance is more 40-60 weight back (more tenkan/ura). My first sensei, Larry Bieri Sensei, now of Finger Lakes Aikido, said (if I remember correctly) that geometrically it makes sense to have more weight over the larger area of the triangle that the feet form, thus the 40-60 stance of aikikai.

So, my question is, if Yoshinkan is considered 'pre-war' aikido and aikikai being 'post-war' aikido, why did the aikikai stance evolve from the yoshinkan stance? When? While physically, I can see how it evolved (hips turned, feet turned, and hands moved down) I'd like to understand more deeply why they became different. Perhaps I am wrong to assume the yoshinkan kamae came first? If so, why did it evolve?

Not trying to start a flame-war over 'my stance is better than your stance', but would like to hear the merits/demerits of each stance considered.

Sincerely,

Fred Calef III
Fairbanks, AK
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Old 04-13-2004, 12:26 AM   #2
Hanna B
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Re: The evolution of Kamae

Quote:
Fred Calef III wrote:
So, my question is, if Yoshinkan is considered 'pre-war' aikido and aikikai being 'post-war' aikido, why did the aikikai stance evolve from the yoshinkan stance?
I would not suppose that it did , actually. I don't know if the pictures of osensei shows the feet clearly enough to show the feet position but personally, I would be very surprised if osensei's hip and feet position pre-war would be Yoshinkan style. If someone can prove me wrong, please do so.

There is some variations here with some people of the Yamaguchi line of Aikikai aikido positioning feet and hips very similar to what you describe as Yoshinkan kamae. This I strongly believe is an influence from the sword work done in this line of aikido, derived from Kashima Shin Ryu. Nishio sensei, another well-known Aikikai teacher, does not place his feet on a line at all, and often lifts the back heel in a way that is seldom seen in other types of aikido. This is probably an influence from his budo experiences besides aikido (he has lots of it).

Like the examples above, I would suggest that maybe the Yoshinkan kamae has another origin than osensei. I am sure some Yoshinkan practitioners can fill in what budo background Shioda sensei had, besides aikido.

Btw, I have never heard it called "kamae" in Aikikai, although this is a very common budo concept. In Aikikai the word is "hanmi", as far as I've heard.
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Old 04-13-2004, 01:21 AM   #3
Abasan
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Recently, I attended a seminar but I can't for the life of me remember which sensei taught. But anyway, he did mention seeing Osensei's feet. Osensei used to wear tabi/white socks... and the dojo tatami although clean did leave the tabi dirty somewhat. But what was surprising was that the only part that was dirty on Osensei's feet was his ball of foot at the point closest to his big toe.

This doesn't exactly answer your aikikai/yoshinkan stance... but I've used both, and to get the weight on that particular point, I was more comfortable using the yoshinkan stance. With the Aikikai stance, I felt that more weight was distributed on the blade of the rear feet.

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Old 04-13-2004, 03:37 PM   #4
Fred Calef III
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I've also seen variance in hanmi/kamae in Aikikai: hands up, feet straight ahead, raised back foot (kendo influence, I believe), etc.

Everyone (well, from what I've heard explained) seems to agree that hanmi/kamae in aikido is all about standing as if holding a sword. Though there are certainly times, many times, when the hips are not perpendicular to the center line during sword kata. And feet placement can certainly vary among styles.

Has anyone seen video/pictures/experiences of O'Sensei that clearly show his feet in hanmi/kamae both pre-war and post-war? I have one video tape of O'Sensei pre-war, but I don't remember his feet being shown too clearly.

Fred
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Old 04-13-2004, 06:35 PM   #5
Doka
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Quote:
ahmad abas (Abasan) wrote:
... and the dojo tatami although clean did leave the tabi dirty somewhat. But what was surprising was that the only part that was dirty on Osensei's feet was his ball of foot at the point closest to his big toe.
This ties in with Kancho Shioda's teachings, as he said that the weight and power should be in the big toe! No wonder you found that kamae to give you that result.

I practice Yoshinkan, so it is my stance too. I find the Aikikai stance uncentred - not making a detrimental statement before you all jump down my throat - and I wonder if this reflected O'Sensei's later training.

I heard a quote of O'Sensei that he is supposed to have said "Enter through form, exit from form." So perhaps the change was a move away from pre-war strict form?

I haven't done much Aikikai, just a few times a year, so I would like to hear if my observation is borne out by any of the experienced Aikikai teachers here. I too have always wondered about the differences in Hanmi No Kamae.

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Old 04-13-2004, 10:21 PM   #6
L. Camejo
 
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So what about mugamae?

Tomiki was also prewar and chose this to be the basic posture from which we move in Shodokan.

With both feet side by side turned out at about 45 degrees, it allows one to move in any of 8 directions at an instant.

Just wondering.

LC

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Old 04-14-2004, 12:35 AM   #7
Bronson
 
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Quote:
Larry Camejo (L. Camejo) wrote:
So what about mugamae?
In our seidokan dojo we start learning techniques with hanmi but are encouraged to eventually move to this stance...except we call it shizentai.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 04-14-2004, 02:02 AM   #8
Abasan
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Mark,

"I find the Aikikai stance uncentred - not making a detrimental statement before you all jump down my throat"

Heh. Before I started aikikai, I was with a branch of Ki Society... the stance applied was the so called 'aikikai stance'.

I would have a hard time telling my sensei's then that they are uncentered and move like a turtle.

I guess it all boils down to which is most suitable for you and what you've been practising all this while with.

From what I understand, different schools of Ken teach different stances... from the width, through the feet positioning.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 04-14-2004, 07:12 AM   #9
Greg Jennings
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All the forms in our *kihon* typically move from hanmi to hanmi.

They sometimes move through hito-e-mi between the hanmi, though we don't talk about that explicitly very often.

Interestingly, if I jiggled with the basic forms just a little, I could make them start in shizentai.

My thought is that the various kamae are just different pioneer's ways of teaching us their ideas about how aikido works. I.e., learning tools, not the end product.

As I read that again, I think "Duh", but maybe someone will find it useful.

Regards,

Greg Jennings
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Old 04-14-2004, 07:39 AM   #10
Ron Tisdale
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Interesting topic. Stevens Sensei also uses more of a kamae stance than a hamni stance I believe...at least in terms of the foot position.

An important note: Kamae in the yoshinkan is a training stance, not a fighting stance. When reviewing the bokken training in another style (aikikai sub-group) my stance stood out a lot, and the instructor took some time to explain the difference to me. I really like his explanation, but of course I returned to my own stance when I went home. But now I have a chance to practice hamne on my own, and when in aikikai settings.

Ron

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Old 04-14-2004, 07:59 AM   #11
Greg Jennings
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It's interesting to note the changes in kamai/hanmi in (earlier) "Traditional Aikido" and (later) "Takemusu Aikido" by the late Morihiro Saito.

When relaxed, my own is more like that of "Traditional Aikido".

Regards,

Greg Jennings
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Old 04-14-2004, 08:22 AM   #12
Kensai
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In the Ki Aikido that I practice very little emphasis is put on stance at all. Its more about choosing what suits you.

But when looking at my own, my weight is 60-40, 60 being the back leg.

Classic T stance back foot, but my front is out to an angle, about 35 degrees rather than straight (like the picture of Takeda Sensei -Daito ryu). Hands and arms are relaxed an rest just above my thighs hands pointing forwards.

It feels very different to that used when I've been doing Aikikai which is alot more 'structured' with a more right and wrong approach....

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Old 04-14-2004, 04:24 PM   #13
Steven
 
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As I understand this, and the way one of my Japanese moms read the kanji, Hanmi = Posture and Kamae = Stance. She read the kanji for hanmi as meaning "upper body posture". And Kamae as ready stance.

In the Yoshinkan, we usually say, Migi (or hidari) hanmi - Kamae. Migi/Hidari being the posture to use, and Kamae being the command to move to a ready stance on that side.

I also recall seeing a picture of O'Sensei in what we would define as a Yoshinkan type stance. With the exception of his hand not being raised. His feet were turned out like we do and his weight distribution was the same. I believe it was in the book Budo. I'll see if I can find it again when I see my student next week.

Oh - and I agree with Ron. For us, it is a training stance that we use to teach the principles of Chusin rokyu, Shuchu rokyu and Kokyu rokyu. Total Aikido does a good job of explaining this.
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Old 04-15-2004, 02:27 AM   #14
Abasan
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Ron,

what was the explaination given to you by the instructor, if you don't mind sharing...?

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 04-15-2004, 08:22 AM   #15
Ron Tisdale
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Well, it was at Sugano Sensei's seminar in Phila. He made a great distinction between what you see in kendo (I take it the yoshinkan kamae resembles some of the older kendo kamae) and what you see in aikido. I think he found my stance rather combative. Of course, this is not the first time I've seen aikikai instructors find the yoshinkan stance anything from rather combatitive, to downright frightening... It can be rather intense at times.

From what I could understand, the aikido hanmi is concerned with a slight turn of the body from kamaemi stance(upper body and esp. hips facing forward) to a harakami stance (not flat, but not fully forward, angled). This harakami stance protects nage's center, and then the bokken is used to control or capture the center line of the uke.

Buki waza is not my strong point, so take all of this with some spoonfulls of salt, and a little pepper (freshly ground black pepper works best).

Ron

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Old 04-15-2004, 10:01 PM   #16
Abasan
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Right, thanks. I still don't understand the pros and cons of the two stances from that explanation though. I guess, its back to practise and more...

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 04-16-2004, 12:26 AM   #17
Hanna B
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Quote:
Greg Jennings wrote:
It's interesting to note the changes in kamai/hanmi in (earlier) "Traditional Aikido" and (later) "Takemusu Aikido" by the late Morihiro Saito.
Would you describe the differences?
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Old 04-16-2004, 02:25 AM   #18
David Yap
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Quote:
Steven Miranda (Steven) wrote:
As I understand this, and the way one of my Japanese moms read the kanji, Hanmi = Posture and Kamae = Stance. She read the kanji for hanmi as meaning "upper body posture". And Kamae as ready stance
Hi Steven,

I have always read 'Kamae" as posture, e.g zenkutsu-dachi kamae means forward stance posture.

The hanmi posture in Aikikai is actually the shizentai - meaning natural posture - migi with the head and center to the left and hidari the other direction. Shoji Nishio shihan explained that the nage should always face the tori in a shizentai kamae (neutral post). The nage should assume a stance after the attack has been initiated. In theory (with O Sensei's teaching) this sounds correct. Taking a stance before an attack may be construed as an act provocation by the nage.

In karate's kihon ippon kumite (one-step basic sparring), the tori always start in a fighting stance and the nage in a natural stance with his hands down.

Just my two sen

Regards

David

Last edited by David Yap : 04-16-2004 at 02:34 AM.
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Old 04-16-2004, 03:03 AM   #19
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Quote:
Mark Dobro (Doka) wrote:
....

I heard a quote of Osensei that he is supposed to have said "Enter through form, exit from form." So perhaps the change was a move away from pre-war strict form?...
Hi Mark,

I believe O Sensei quoted this from one of the principles of the concept of Shu-Ha-Ri - "First learn the primary tools then use the tools to create new (or secondary)tools".

Regards

David
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Old 04-16-2004, 03:22 AM   #20
David Yap
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Quote:
Mark Dobro (Doka) wrote:
....

I heard a quote of Osensei that he is supposed to have said "Enter through form, exit from form." So perhaps the change was a move away from pre-war strict form?...
Hi Mark,

I believe O Sensei quoted this from one of the principles of the concept of Shu-Ha-Ri - "First learn the primary tools then use the tools to create new (or secondary) tools" - or something along this line. There is no permanent change, the change is part of a cycle. As a student on a learning path, changes are inevitable. Being a teacher is the tough part, he needs to establish the primary tools for his students.

Regards

David
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Old 04-16-2004, 06:17 AM   #21
Greg Jennings
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Quote:
David Yap wrote:
The hanmi posture in Aikikai is actually the shizentai - meaning natural posture - migi with the head and center to the left and hidari the other direction.

Shoji Nishio shihan explained that the nage should always face the tori in a shizentai kamae (neutral post). The nage should assume a stance after the attack has been initiated.
"the nage face the tori". Perhaps Nishio Sensei uses "tori" to mean something other than the normal use.

In seriousness, you should be aware that Nishio Sensei's aikido isn't necessarily representative of all the Aikikai.

The Aikikai is an organization under which there is a plethora of expressions of aikido.

More later.

Regards,

Greg Jennings
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Old 04-16-2004, 07:44 AM   #22
Ron Tisdale
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Hi Ahmad,

Well, the pro's of the yoshinkan kamae might be the development of centerline, balance, and forward focus in training, as well as learning to focus your power, so that shite/uke learns how to concentrate all of their attributes on a given point. It is a training stance, and as such, is concerned with things of this nature.

The hanmi you see elsewhere is often concerned about protecting the deshi's centerline, and perhaps setting up irimi, as well as being a more neutral non-aggressive stance.

I think. Is that any clearer?

Ron

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Old 04-16-2004, 11:46 AM   #23
Steven
 
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Hi David,

I'm sure this falls into the catagory of what the KANJI says and not the ROMANJI. As I stated, my students mom, born and raised in Japan - only in the US for a few year - read it as I described, which is how I understood it as well.

...Cheers...
Quote:
David Yap wrote:
Hi Steven,

I have always read 'Kamae" as posture, e.g zenkutsu-dachi kamae means forward stance posture.

The hanmi posture in Aikikai is actually the shizentai - meaning natural posture - migi with the head and center to the left and hidari the other direction. Shoji Nishio shihan explained that the nage should always face the tori in a shizentai kamae (neutral post). The nage should assume a stance after the attack has been initiated. In theory (with O Sensei's teaching) this sounds correct. Taking a stance before an attack may be construed as an act provocation by the nage.

In karate's kihon ippon kumite (one-step basic sparring), the tori always start in a fighting stance and the nage in a natural stance with his hands down.

Just my two sen

Regards

David
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Old 04-19-2004, 03:08 AM   #24
Abasan
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Re: The evolution of Kamae

Hi Ron,

Thanks for the explaination. I can't get over the stress you put that the yoshinkan stance is a training stance. I somehow guess that you think theres more to it.

I think there are no advantages or disadvantages to the different stances. I think from reading all the above, each stance has a use in a particular point in time. Whether its the period of confrontation, or the period of training/teaching, or within a technique itself...

I guess, some teachers may have corrupted the stances based on their own aikido or understanding of it. However, if their aikido works notwithstanding this, I don't see how much more adverse it can affect mine.

Thanks.

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Old 04-19-2004, 11:55 AM   #25
Ron Tisdale
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Re: The evolution of Kamae

Quote:
Abasan wrote:
Hi Ron,

Thanks for the explaination. I can't get over the stress you put that the yoshinkan stance is a training stance. I somehow guess that you think theres more to it.
Well, If you mean that I think there is more to it than any other stance, I'm not in a position to make a value judgement. I like it because it works for me in my training, and this is the system I've bought into Someone else may well have a different perspective.

Quote:
I think there are no advantages or disadvantages to the different stances. I think from reading all the above, each stance has a use in a particular point in time. Whether its the period of confrontation, or the period of training/teaching, or within a technique itself...
Well, I'd say there are always advantages and disadvantages to everything, depending on the situation. Sometimes taking an agressive stance will stop the spear, sometimes it will get you killed. I guess it comes down to knowing when to do what...

Quote:
I guess, some teachers may have corrupted the stances based on their own aikido or understanding of it. However, if their aikido works notwithstanding this, I don't see how much more adverse it can affect mine.

Thanks.
Well, I probably would hesitate to use the word 'corrupted'...changed, adapted, modified all could be used without a negative connotation. So they'd probably be more in line with my thinking. Good chattin'

Ron

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 04-19-2004 at 11:56 AM. Reason: spelling

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