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Old 02-15-2005, 01:23 PM   #76
paw
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
Paul - You say no one is getting rich from aikido competitions. I assume the intended point was that money from winning would be the only reason for someone to never be willing to sacrifice effecacy for a period to develop well past the musciling anything stages. I disagree that money is the only reason. You also asked the fair question of why would a competitor have a different mindset/goal than I have. I'd say 'ego' is a more reasonable thing to consider as a answer to both issues you brought up. I'd imagine that's why someone claimed competing it addictive (which I can see as a function of ego, but nothing more.) I also asked for thoughts about what I might be missing from my observation and resulting opinions about competition-orientated practice (it was the last line of my post that you quoted).
Rob,

In a nutshell, I'm not sure why someone who competes would have a different motivation to become better as an aikidoist than anyone else. There might be some people who compete for the sake of their ego, but as far as I know I haven't met anyone like that (I have met people who don't compete for the sake of their ego....for whatever that's worth).

I don't know what "competition-orientated practice" is. The folks that compete just drive someplace on a Saturday, pay the appropriate fee, sign the appropriate forms and have at it. They don't train (or act) any differently from people who didn't compete, in my experience. I'd be willing to bet that anyone watching a class couldn't pick out the non-competitors from the competitors with any degree of accuracy better than chance.

At least that's how it is in bjj, and I gather from this thread, that aikido is the same. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong)

Regards,

Paul
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Old 02-15-2005, 02:17 PM   #77
rob_liberti
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Re: Competition in Aikido

No doubt that we all do all sorts of things for the sake of ego. I just happen to train aikido to curb that as much as possible. I have no problem with any of these ideas (I think I'm 100% on the same page with Chris now) - except that if the overall training methodology is not competition, then I think it is a poor choice of possible descriptive words to use as the name for that category of aikido. If it is truly just a component of a methodology which is overall collaborative (just to a slightly different degree from what I do) then call it 'honest and helpful aikido' or if appropriate call it "aikido with trophies" or something. Do I know perfectly yet?!

Paul and Ron, the question I have is that: if competing is very important in a system, is it the case that it might be so important that people are unwilling to give up some of the big advantages from their previous training (like highly developed arm and wrist strength) for a significant amount of time to make a break-through about how to blend and move the body with kokyu strength exclusively? I don't know of many people who have made such a break-through. That's what I want, so I found a system that has produced those results several times. If there is another methodology that has produced such individuals, I'd love to know about them because maybe I can learn some alternatives for my own training and development.
If you can point me that them and/or help me out with some insight towards this end then well I think I can start to "know perfectly", otherwise, I think that those claiming to "know perfectly" might want to reinvestigate what it is they know so perfectly...

Rob

Last edited by rob_liberti : 02-15-2005 at 02:31 PM.
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Old 02-15-2005, 03:06 PM   #78
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Rob you seem to be stuck on the quote from Tomiki Sensei that Yann posted ("Those who understand, understand perfectly"). What is it about that quote that's got you so riled? I for one really like it, especially when it's put in context of the situation that prompted Tomiki Sensei to say it. Perhaps one of the Shodokan folks could relate it again (I won't because I'm afraid I'll remember it wrong and screw it up )

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 02-15-2005, 03:19 PM   #79
rob_liberti
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Re: Competition in Aikido

It seemed like verbal chest beating and had me annoyed. My points are valid even if I know imperfectly. But, point taken. I'll quit picking on their useage of his phrase and try to focus on constructive discussion. (Which I believe started with a post about how terrible training without competition is!)

I have 2 other points:
1) I don't like that calling Osensei's words "that old chestnut" somehow invalidates the meaning. I also believe in that old chestnut about not being able to turn lead into gold. While I don't think Osensei knew everything, I'd pretty much consider him an expert on aikido.

2) About egos: I agree with Paul that certainly some people avoid competitions because of ego. However, I claim that most of the competitors only seem to have mastered their egos with the folks who consistently beat or tie them. How are those egos when they deal with someone they consistently beat?

Rob (off to class)
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Old 02-15-2005, 04:02 PM   #80
mj
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Shodocan'ts?

Mark (just back from class)

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Old 02-15-2005, 04:07 PM   #81
Michael Neal
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Paul Watt wrote:
Rob,

I don't know what "competition-orientated practice" is. The folks that compete just drive someplace on a Saturday, pay the appropriate fee, sign the appropriate forms and have at it. They don't train (or act) any differently from people who didn't compete, in my experience. I'd be willing to bet that anyone watching a class couldn't pick out the non-competitors from the competitors with any degree of accuracy better than chance.

At least that's how it is in bjj, and I gather from this thread, that aikido is the same. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong)

Regards,

Paul
That has been my experience as well. However, every once in a while you will meet elite level competitiors who do have some arrogance about them. But in all honesty I met alot more arrogant people in non-competitive Aikido than Judo or BJJ.

Randori and competition tends to weed people out that have fragile egos. Non-competitive martial artists can easily fall into the trap of overestimating their skills since they are rarely tested in a full out sparring situation.

Last edited by Michael Neal : 02-15-2005 at 04:11 PM.
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Old 02-15-2005, 04:45 PM   #82
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Non-competitive martial artists can easily fall into the trap of overestimating their skills since they are rarely tested in a full out sparring situation.
I'm not trying to be facetious, so please don't think my question is
insincere. Do you consider sparring a real full out test of one's skill? Just curious, I'm trying to understand where you're coming from.
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Old 02-15-2005, 05:10 PM   #83
Zato Ichi
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Bronson Diffin wrote:
What is it about that quote that's got you so riled? I for one really like it, especially when it's put in context of the situation that prompted Tomiki Sensei to say it. Perhaps one of the Shodokan folks could relate it again (I won't because I'm afraid I'll remember it wrong and screw it up )
Directly from the Shodokan home page:
Quote:
Nariyama Tetsuro Shihan wrote:
On 25th November 1972 the 2nd Japan Budo Festival was held in the Japan Budokan. This was an event surely worth a special mention. From the world of aikido, Kisshomaru Ueshiba (2nd head of Aikikai), Gozo Shioda (head of Yoshinkan) and Kenji Tomiki (head of the Japan Aikido Association) were present. It was the first time in history that they had met in the same building. However, the event didn't take its intended course. In Tomiki Shihan's teaching while we were practising randori, all of a sudden we heard the announcement "What is going on now, Aikikai do not acknowledge" repeated several times.

Also, one of the festival committee members, while having invited us there, at the same time denied that the content was aikido. The atmosphere was such that the younger university students who were watching almost surged forward from their seats.

However, Tomiki Sensei didn't mind at all and continued to teach. Anyway, I didn't calm down and as soon as we finished I asked him about this.

Shihan's reply was simply, "The people who understand, understand prefectly. So you don't need to worry." I recall that I thought that was either his presence of mind or his concentration on what he was doing. Twenty years have passed since then and that was the first and last time these three people from the world of aikido had met in the same building. It is said that the spirit of aikido is harmony so I was very disappointed by this.
Mr. Liberti is obviously one of the people who does not understand.

Last edited by Zato Ichi : 02-15-2005 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 02-15-2005, 06:16 PM   #84
mj
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Mindy Imbuido wrote:
I'm not trying to be facetious, so please don't think my question is
insincere. Do you consider sparring a real full out test of one's skill? Just curious, I'm trying to understand where you're coming from.
Well Mindy...as a noob here you are more indebted to answer first...

What do you consider to be a 'real full out' test of "one's skill" ?

(and sincerity value will be noted )

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Old 02-15-2005, 07:02 PM   #85
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Personally, I think the entire concept of "cooperative model" versus "competitive model" a bit of a moot point that actually holds no substance. Things are never that black or white. There is no such model on either side as far as I've experienced - at some point during cooperative training one evolves to the point where the technical integrity of what one is doing is "tested" in some way or form so that one can locate flaws and improve. Same way with those who practice with "competitive" methods it does not mean that this is the only mode of practice, otherwise no one will be able to learn anything as a beginner, where cooperation is necessary.

The term competition when used with Aikido often explains one single and small aspect of the training method that Tomiki K. created. Some forget that he was one of the earlier instructors at the Aikikai Hombu where cooperative practice is the norm. I doubt he would just dump what he learnt as an instructor there and try to reinvent the wheel just for the sake of creating "competitive" Aikido.

Also, like some others, I fail to see why one believes that a person who engages in competition is somewhat stunted in one's development as a Budoka. I find the concept totally ridiculous actually. If one approaches one's training with the mindset of doing Budo (a mindset I admit many Aikidoka do not have toward their training) then one attempts to explore the totality of the art in it's depth and breadth. I just don't see what special elements exist in the single act of competing that naturally causes this "lack of development" that Rob is indicating. Egotism and egocentricism is in no way the domain of the competitor alone. In fact from my experience it is the competitor who is often in more check of his/her ego from being constantly reminded that there are many out there who are as if not more skilled at what one does. Like some others, I have found the stunting effects of the ego to be a lot more widespread among non competitors who live in a false sense of reality of what they are actually capable of. As I said before, this is often seen when many non competitive Aikidoists try to go train at Judo and BJJ clubs where there is a lot of competition training and try to cop a "holier than thou" attitude in the other style's dojo (another product of the falsely embellished ego).

I admire Wynand's desire to test himself and get some sort of objective measure of his ability. There are many ways to do this, competition is one of the safer methods. Knowing one's ability tends to take on an air of increased importance when one lives in a society where personal ability to defend oneself is a high priority. It sounds like he loves the Aikido that he is practising but frustrated by the lack of an objective measure within that training method. The only other thing I can recommend to him is to try and make it to one of the regional or international tournaments and take part in the individual tanto and toshu shiai and try to learn as much as possible from the experience. Another idea may be to join an MMA club and do a lot of heavy sparring while using one's Aikido to see how it works. Personally, I can understand and empathise with where he is coming from.

Just my thoughts.
LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 02-15-2005 at 07:06 PM.

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Old 02-15-2005, 08:27 PM   #86
maikerus
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Until you have stood your ground against someone who is not "holding back", who is of equal skill and determination and who does not have your comfort and best interests at heart how would you ever know if the thing that you have been training for (sometimes for decades) is of ANY value?
This is a fairly interesting discussion the merits of competition, but I wonder if the above quote is about competition. My understanding is that there are rules in competition...even unwritten ones as in ultimate fighting...so that practitioners can come out and fight again another day.

The above quote, seems to me, to be valid insofar as "testing your Aikido". Go to an area where you are sure to be attacked and then test your aikido. or yourself.

I think competition is a place where you get better at competition. It also might help improve your Aikido, but it certainly isn't the only way. I also really don't think its about no holds barred fighting.

The various styles that put different emphasis on different aspects of training make an interesting combination of focuses and teaching/learning/training methods. My own style does not have a competition where two are fighting each other. The competition that does exist is kata competition and jiyuwaza competition where the purest in form wins. Sort of like pairs figure skating. My style focuses on balance, timing, body mechanics and the form of the technique. "With form comes power" or "Power comes from form" or thoughts like that justify the training (and seem to have proven themselves in some results I have seen).

Isn't there a story out there about Ueshiba Sensei not wanting to demonstrate Aikido to the Emporer because to be true to the Emporer and to Aikido his uke would have to die at the beginning of the 40 minute demo? Aren't there also stories about top teachers going out and challenging people in the street to see how good they were? These stories aren't about competition...but they are about testing oneself.

Anyway...I don't know very much about competition in Aikido. But I think I'll consider it another training method after reading this thread.

cheers,

--Michael

Last edited by maikerus : 02-15-2005 at 08:38 PM.

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Old 02-15-2005, 09:10 PM   #87
Michael Neal
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Mindy Imbuido wrote:
I'm not trying to be facetious, so please don't think my question is
insincere. Do you consider sparring a real full out test of one's skill? Just curious, I'm trying to understand where you're coming from.
Well no, a full out test would be defending against a real attacker. However, absent that sparring is the next best thing. I certainly think it is a better test than cooperative practice.

Don't get me wrong though, I do think that semi-cooperative and kata practice as found in Aikido is useful and can develop practical skills. In fact too much randori practice without cooperative practice can be harmful to your skill development. I am just a firm believer in the importance of frequent and rigorous randori to learn how to apply techniques on fully non cooperative people.

If you can apply a technique on someone who knows your moves and how to counter them, and who is trying to throw you as well, then you can be pretty confident that the technique will work on someone outside the dojo.

In Aikido however, I never had that same level of confidence because the training methods sometimes leave doubts to the effectiveness of techniques.
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Old 02-16-2005, 03:00 AM   #88
Yann Golanski
 
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Peter, thanks for posting the quote from Nariyama shihan. I was about to do it myself.

As for Rob Liberti, I am not interested in convincing you that competition is a good thing. I am not here to convince anyone it is a good thing. I've explained why I am doing it. I've pointed to sources which explain why some great martial artists have included competition in their system. I've suggested that anyone interested enough take the time to learn about it. Whether you decide to either read what I have written or read why competition was included into teaching systems or try it for yourself is of no concern to me.

BTW, "see with eyes unclouded" is from Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke) by Hayao Miyazaki. Well worth seeing whatever your opinions on competition. No one wins ten kote gaeshi for both sides.

<joke class="silly" id="don't take this seriously">
Jun, do you think you could set up a new pool: Describe competition in Aikido:
1- An aberration in the face of the kami.
2- A quick way to boost you finances and ego by defeating worthless opponents.
3- Something I am prejudiced against but know nothing off.
4- Something I do not practice but I have taken the time to learn about it.
5- A useful tool to test safely and improve ones Aikido.
6- I don't do understand what the fuss is all about.
7- I don't do Aikido.
</joke>

Just in case you don't understand XML: The above was a joke!

The people who understand, understand prefectly.
yann@york-aikido.org York Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-16-2005, 07:45 AM   #89
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Competition in Aikido

This is an interesting thread. A few thoughts.

1. In his published discourses Morihei Ueshiba talks much about transcending the options of winning and losing. He often talks about aikido as ascetic training and of being in a situation of 'masakatsu agatsu katsu hayabi': 'real' winning\and in the instant. He compares this with the reverse side of the coin: that of 'arasou-kokoro': the spirit of disputing, fighting, competing. I believe that his vocabulary here is coloured very much by Omoto-kyo, with its beliefs in a new heaven on earth, permeated by love.

2. Morihei Ueshiba is very clear on the crucial importance of aikido as 'shugyou': ascetic training. He came from a part of Japan where 'kaihougyou': 100-day or 1000-day marathon running in the mountains, done by Buddhist monks, was a central part of shugyou. It is certain that he regarded aikido training as part of this tradition.

3. Morihei Ueshiba clearly expected aikido to 'work'. In the few places where he talks about techique, for example, when dealing with attacks from behind (in Budo Renshuu and Budo), he insists that the discernment of the attacker's whereabouts and intentions can come only from intensive and constant training. This is sometimes watered down in translation, but I think he really believed that training would yield a 6th sense.

4. Morihei Ueshiba had his own tried and tested training methods, which he regarded as appropriate for himself, but he did not expect his disciples to follow these in their entirety. I think he expected his disciples to do shugyou, and relate their shugyou to the rhythm of nature as a whole, but to work out appropriate methods for themselves.

5. I think the issue for M Mochizuki and K Tomiki\and also for K Ueshiba, in their own respective ways, was how to translate these lofty ideas into a methodology that would be authentic, that is, be (1) true to the Founder's aims, (2) have no internal contradictions\i.e., would work as a martial art, but (3) would be something that anyone could learn, especially in postwar Japan and also abroad.

6. I think the fact of history should not be underestimated. All of us are accumulations of events that make up our life histories. Martial arts are abstractions of real people with such life histories and there is always a creative tension between the martial art, understood as a complex of abstracted techniques, and the real people doing these techniques in particular situations, be it in a dojo, in the street, or on the top deck of a Boeing 747 during a hijacking.

7. I think a corollary of this is that any particular martial art, or variant, has to come to terms with the fact that it is essentially artificial\it never replicates the real world 100% every time, if at all. So I think that the issue is not whether competitive aikido 'works' more than non-competitive aikido, but whether either in their postwar form embody the Founder's Omoto-kyo inspired vision of a heaven on earth.

8. Competition has been around at least since the ancient Olympics and has embodied all the virtures and vices that come with winning and losing. Thus, talk of the 'Olympic Family' is just as much an ideal now as it was in ancient Athens. On the other hand, millions of people all over the world do competitive sports and are thereby enobled in various ways, just as much as the (fewer) millions who do martial arts. I do not think it is profitable to attempt 'objective' comparisons between sports and non-sports, according to whether one or the other more successfully achieves aims that enable practitioners to flourish as human beings.

Best regards to all,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 02-16-2005, 07:46 AM   #90
rob_liberti
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Larry and many others, your posts are excellent. I'm sure your training method produces excellent some results. I'd honestly love to understand them better.

R. Haruo Hori, I'm not claiming that _I_ understand anything perfectly. You didn't go on to elaborate on that passage, please do if you are willing.

All, my first post on this thread started with: "I agree with most of the original post, but not all of the conclusions you jumped to. If you want to compete I'm all for it." I agree that there are major ego problems with humans - and that smart people with bigger ego problems will set themselves up to be in a situation where they are as unchallenged as possible. I'm with you on that very valid point. That would certainly on the "pro" side for training with competition. But as Larry said in post 85 (and I said as a matter of fact in post 10) it is a moot point because cooperative model training people also test each other out as well. So if we agree that both extremes are bad, then it is merely a push.

I explained that I didn't know what "competition aikido" was, and so I'd explain my prejudices, AND that I'm okay with having people explain theirs to me so I can get more insight to it. What I have learned so far is that:

1) Apparently, that is a terrible term to describe what is really done. If I have a blue car and you put a small red dot on it, I would never call it a red car. If someone is saying that the overall atmosphere of "competititve aikido" is cooperation and collaboration then okay, but can't you see why someone might be confused by that?!

2) I'm told that folks from competition aikido have run into more ego problems from without compared to within their model. <rant> The point is somewhat dimished by Yann posting 3 times in a single short post that he wins every competition (post#20) , and following it up with several smug posts eluding to superior knowledge that has not been demonstrated. </rant>

2a - Do the people who lose all of the competitions feel they are being as respected as the people who win all of the time? Maybe you should ask them.

2b - Do competitors hold back help from their classmates in order to win?

2c - Would someone who has had the objective to win and has been successful for several years be willing to completely drop their arm strength (and let arms fall by their weight alone) knowing that they will lose competition after competition in order to break-through to a deeper level of aikido exclusively based on blending and kokyu - and only then start winning again? Is there another way? Who are these people from that model have broken through? Would they be willing to explain how they got there using this model.

Rob

Last edited by rob_liberti : 02-16-2005 at 07:52 AM.
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Old 02-16-2005, 08:13 AM   #91
Amir Krause
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Re: Competition in Aikido

I believe when checking if competition is good for your Aikido practice, you should analyze this question in a very simple manner. Look at the benefits of competition, check the draw backs, and then compare this to other learning methods and see if they can replace the competition.


The main benefit people claim to have from competition (as I read in this entire thread) is a non-compliant practice, or perhaps it would be better to phrase this as having an actively resisting Uke with motivation to resist.
Another point in favor of competition is the competitor must face such resisting situations, and would be less likely to delude himself as for the efficiency of his techniques.
The main draw back, I have seen so far, is the tendency of competition to limit the practice due to safety issues. I would add to this that if the competition becomes the focus of practice, the whole M.A. can change (look at Judo: lots of techniques were removed, and in many area the only practitioners are competitors, other people look for other M.A. and some teachers will only teach those who are gifted and may become champions).

Non compliant practice, and learning to overcome resistance, can also be taught in a non competitive way. By a very good Uke who raises the level of difficulty to give Tori a challenge.
The advantage of this latter way, over competition is this Uke would set the level according to Tori level. Further, The same exact situation can be recreated again and again. The disadvantage is that one can not be sure Uke did all he could to resist the technique (but then again in a competition, one can only be sure Uke did not succeed this time).
Avoiding delusion is a more difficult issue. Some people will never have that delusion anyway. Others may hold it even after they loose in competition (the other is much more advanced, the judge was mistaken …). A proper atmosphere in the dojo and a teacher that keeps Kata practice intensity such that the success ratio in techniques is realistic (never 100%) could reduce the delusion without any competition.

Personally, I came to the realization I can find replacements for competition. As a matter of fact, I found it is more difficult to diminish my own competitive nature and try to practice Randori in order to improve my movement & softness, rather then concentrate on techniques.
But this is only my own personal feeling, anyone who wishes, can compete.



Amir
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Old 02-16-2005, 08:33 AM   #92
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Great post above Rob.
Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
1) Apparently, that is a terrible term to describe what is really done. If I have a blue car and you put a small red dot on it, I would never call it a red car. If someone is saying that the overall atmosphere of "competititve aikido" is cooperation and collaboration then okay, but can't you see why someone might be confused by that?!
Totally agree Rob. There was a time even I disliked the words "competitive Aikido" since somewhere inside it appeared as if it did not make sense. But then, after reading the books that Tomiki and some of his direct students had written I decided to re-think my definition of competition to a great extent and Aikido to a lesser extent. My personal view is that the word "competition" does not fully convey the image of what goes in on this training method. I think this is why Yann says to try it out, since only by experience can one get a total definition. It's sort of like saying Aikido is the Way of Harmony for someone who has little knowledge of the martial arts. We know what it is because we do it, not so easy to explain to others in a word.
Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
2) I'm told that folks from competition aikido have run into more ego problems from without compared to within their model. <rant> The point is somewhat dimished by Yann posting 3 times in a single short post that he wins every competition (post#20) , and following it up with several smug posts eluding to superior knowledge that has not been demonstrated. </rant>
The whole approach to competition is a personal thing for every player and there will be those who see winning and competition as a means to an ego trip. This however, was not the way it was intended by Tomiki as far as I understand it. To borrow from Yann's concept - if one approaches competition correctly one does win every time, even when one "loses" the match. This is because knowledge is power and everytime you compete and you learn something that you did not know before, you have won. It does not matter who has the trophy if one approaches it as a way of learning.
Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
2a - Do the people who lose all of the competitions feel they are being as respected as the people who win all of the time? Maybe you should ask them.
This one may require a poll. But again, it may not matter so much what others think of you whether you win or lose. In Aikido: Tradition and the Competitive Edge it says that even in an international tournament, the feelings after one wins or loses a match are very personal and private. One hardly (if ever) sees the taunting, jeering and beating of chests that often appears when some types win and others lose. The whole affair is often taken in a very internal way by those involved in the match. Of course there are exceptions.

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
2b - Do competitors hold back help from their classmates in order to win?
Good question. I believe there are those who may do this, but again it is up to the individual to hone his skills to the degree that the effects of any such holding back does not adversely affect his performance. Football teams don't share game plays and tactics with each other before the match, but the rules are designed that even though some things are hidden, the playing field is kept more or less level. If your defense is good enough, then no offense can penetrate it and vice versa.

Another thing is that if holding back is going on and you are good enough to force your partner to reveal what he did not want to, it becomes a learning experience for you both. In all cases a personal drive towards peak performance helps the situation.

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
2c - Would someone who has had the objective to win and has been successful for several years be willing to completely drop their arm strength (and let arms fall by their weight alone) knowing that they will lose competition after competition in order to break-through to a deeper level of aikido exclusively based on blending and kokyu - and only then start winning again? Is there another way? Who are these people from that model have broken through? Would they be willing to explain how they got there using this model.
Why is dropping arm strength so important to you? The elements of effective technique are indentifiable. If losing arm strength in some way aids in the development of one's Aikido (either by physical or other effectiveness) then I believe that it is beneficial to practice it. This dropping of arm strength phenomena is also practiced in Shodokan when we do kata mainly, so I don't see the need to abort normal training to explore this. It is all contained in the same place.

I for one have trained in (and still do sometimes) Ki Aikido, Aikikai, Tai Chi Chuan, Wing Chun, Jujutsu and Judo to learn things (steal principles) to make my own Aikido better. Hell I've even gone into Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shiatsu and Qi Gong to explore theories and concepts I've found while doing Aikido. This applies to competition as well as everything else. And yes I have learnt things in other Aikido schools that have made my Aikido more effective, since I believe that the different schools tend to focus on different things in different intensities. The lessons I have learnt however did not require any extended leave from training in Shodokan, all it called for was an empty cup when training in the other style and a willingness to learn and absorb from the second you enter the other Dojo.

LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 02-16-2005, 09:49 AM   #93
Zato Ichi
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
R. Haruo Hori, I'm not claiming that _I_ understand anything perfectly. You didn't go on to elaborate on that passage, please do if you are willing.
<sigh> I don't think I can add anything else to what Larry and Yann have already said, so I'll just do a quick recap: competition is a tool to improve your aikido. You learn what your strong and weak points are. If you approach it as a contest - your opponent a mere roadblock on your way to the gold - then you're missing the point IMHO. Your competition is yourself.

Good lord, that was the cheesiest thing I've written in a long time

At this point, I'm sure some of my fellow Thugs will call me a heretic, but I need to say it.

I hate shiai.

I think shiai is pointless and encourages players to, well, play a game. People think about how to score points, not execute proper techniques (Olympic judo, anyone?). The flow of the match is interrupted by the judges, the mind boggling rules. I'll side with the non-believers on this one. That form of competition I can do without.

Randori geiko (full resistance sparring) OTOH is an absolutely a brilliant way to learn what works for you and what doesn't. Whenever I do randori geiko and my opponent gets a good technique on me, I always come up smiling. There is a spontaneity to randori geiko that no other form of training can simulate.

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
Would someone who has had the objective to win and has been successful for several years be willing to completely drop their arm strength (and let arms fall by their weight alone) knowing that they will lose competition after competition in order to break-through to a deeper level of aikido exclusively based on blending and kokyu - and only then start winning again?
I don't know. I guess you'd have to find that person ask them.
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Old 02-16-2005, 10:18 AM   #94
rob_liberti
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Those were some really good posts!

The only thing I have to comment on really is the question: why is dropping my arm strength so important to me? I guess it really comes down to what your image of aikido is and what you are trying to achieve. My opinion is that until you can drop your arm strength and be effective, what you are doing is barely scratching the surface level. I have been told that the term "aiki" was borrowed from a sword school that Osensei knew about to refer to the okuden level (or level of depth). For me that is the only direction I can go to continue growing in aikido. If someone has no interest to get there then I think they should call what they do shodendo, or chudendo. (Or maybe replace do with jutsu.)

I am interested in what the intermediate goals (like of 3rd and 4th dans) in competition aikido are towards getting to the next level?

Rob
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Old 02-16-2005, 11:14 AM   #95
Mike Sigman
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
Would someone who has had the objective to win and has been successful for several years be willing to completely drop their arm strength (and let arms fall by their weight alone) knowing that they will lose competition after competition in order to break-through to a deeper level of aikido exclusively based on blending and kokyu - and only then start winning again?
Hi Rob:

I'm trying to think of an easy way to say this, but essentially the point I want to make is that "not using muscular strength" is not the same thing as "using no muscles". For instance, if you are going to push a large white refrigerator on a hard floor (i.e,., it'll slide OK and takes some force but not too much), you can put your hands on the side of the refrigerator and push it by just pushing your middle forward (i.e., when the middle goes forward the hands are 'attached' to it and they never lag behind the forward movement of the middle). That sort of push is different from you standing near the refrigerator, making a 'tower' of your body, and pushing the refrigerator with your arms and shoulders working off the 'tower'.

The latter way of doing it takes more arm and shoulder muscle, but the first way requires that the torso, shoulder, and arms become 'transmitters' of the middle's movement, which in turn derives from the solid ground. If you total the amount of muscles involved in the two ways of pushing the refrigerator, the way using the middle uses more muscles, but with less effort per muscle. In other words, the idea is not that you quit using strength, you use it spread out over more of the body... i.e., it's a different way of using strength (it's more complex than my description; I'm simplifying), not a loss of strength.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 02-16-2005, 11:49 AM   #96
rob_liberti
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Fair enough, I agree.

There was also mention of things that were dropped to make competition safe. Does anyone know what was dropped?

Rob
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Old 02-16-2005, 11:54 AM   #97
Bronson
 
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
R. Haruo Hori wrote:
I think shiai is pointless and encourages players to, well, play a game. People think about how to score points, not execute proper techniques (Olympic judo, anyone?). The flow of the match is interrupted by the judges, the mind boggling rules. I'll side with the non-believers on this one. That form of competition I can do without.

Randori geiko (full resistance sparring) OTOH is an absolutely a brilliant way to learn what works for you and what doesn't. Whenever I do randori geiko and my opponent gets a good technique on me, I always come up smiling. There is a spontaneity to randori geiko that no other form of training can simulate.
I think this difference is where a lot of us who practice in a primarily cooperative setting get confused (not me of course because I understand perfectly )

I think that most people eventually get to the point where they are testing their technique by having someone resist it to some degree...you guys just seem to take that to a different level than most of us. In our dojo we don't really do full resistence (everything we can to shut down the technique) but if nage doesn't blend with the energy given we don't move, or reverse it, or let them know that we could have punched/kicked them somewhere. As the skill level of both people rise the amount of incorrect technique uke will let slide becomes less and hopefully the amount of incorrect technique nage attempts becomes less.

It seems like this is very often an argument of semantics.

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 02-16-2005, 12:34 PM   #98
mj
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Bronson Diffin wrote:
... In our dojo we don't really do full resistence (everything we can to shut down the technique) but if nage doesn't blend with the energy given we don't move, or reverse it, or let them know that we could have punched/kicked them somewhere....
Bronson
One of the first thing 'uke' learns to do in randori is to move away from you when you are about to use waza

It's one thing to find a space to apply technique on a fully resistant partner...but when the bugger just keeps running away every time he thinks you are going to do something....makes you wonder whether he or I has a better grasp of Aikido principles....attacking an empty space

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Old 02-16-2005, 01:57 PM   #99
billybob
 
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Wynand said "Not having competitions is almost a point of pride in some Aikido institutions, what nonsense, how better to curb the growth of an ego than with a good butt-kicking now and then."

It's a good point, and has sparked a lot of good discussion.

I miss the hell out of judo randori - we translated as 'free play'.
you picked your partner based on how vigorous you wanted to train, bowed out if it got too rough, or got put in your place if you took too much risk.

Twenty years ago i countered a high ranking aikidoka and dumped him on his butt. He kicked me in the face for my trouble and reminded me aikido is a martial art. I was just trying to show him a flaw in his technique - maybe i shouldn't have tried to soften his fall - that's why i was open to the kick.

Training good. Injuries Bad

Billybob
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Old 02-16-2005, 04:06 PM   #100
MaryKaye
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
2c - Would someone who has had the objective to win and has been successful for several years be willing to completely drop their arm strength (and let arms fall by their weight alone) knowing that they will lose competition after competition in order to break-through to a deeper level of aikido exclusively based on blending and kokyu - and only then start winning again? Is there another way?

Rob
I can't speak for competitive aikido, but I participated for decades in the high end of competitive chess (including getting to hang out at a US Championship one year, which was a fascinating experience). In chess, the answer to "Are you willing to ruin your game for a long time, maybe a year or more, in order to improve?" is "yes" for almost all serious high-end practicioners; otherwise they would never have gotten to the high end. Eventually you hit a wall; you may be winning at your local level but for all but a literal handful of people, there is a level above that where you won't be able to win.

I wasn't a top player but I went through at least three such episodes in my chess career; it usually took me 6-8 months to recover from having learned something radically new.

I would expect competitive aikido to work the same way; if you muscle your techniques there is a limit to how far you can improve, and a serious competitor will eventually discover this. My school doesn't do randori competition but we do taigi (kata) competition and it's clearly true there. For one thing, the only way to make a sloppy fast taigi better is to abandon all the small tricks that are allowing you to do it fast, and the immediate result is that you stop being able to do it fast, with detrimental results on your score. Eventually you learn how to do it fast with no tricks, but the intermediate stage is a pain.

Mary Kaye
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