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Old 02-09-2005, 01:16 PM   #1
Beau
Location: Tallahassee, Fl
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Training and Learning

There have been so many posts on the effectiveness of aikido in combat situations. People have written numerous times about how they are unhappy with their aikido "training" and believe that it is not a proper preparation for fighting.

Here I think it is important to distinguish between the concepts of learning and training. When you go to your dojo, chances are you spend most of your time learning. You will be showed intricate techniques and principles inherent to the art. The training part, I have always believed is almost completely up to the practitioner. There are many people practicing aikido for tons of different reasons. Some people want to practice for the exercise, some for the beauty of the art, some to get out of the house a few nights a week, and some to be great martial artists. I don't think that there is any question that the effectiveness of a martial art comes down to its practitioner, not the art. I see so often, people recommending going to different arts to people that want an effective method of self defense. I don't understand this reasoning. The "moves" in aikido are no different than in any other art. There are only so many ways that you can hit, bend, or break a person. The difference comes down to intent in training. I guarantee that nine times out of ten a person that has rigorously studied tai chi in the hopes of becoming a great fighter will defeat a krav maga practitioner that studies only for a diversion two nights a week.

Class time is exactly that, it is up to the instructor to decide what techniques that they want to teach that night. Allow them to show you, be patient and diligent. Slow and deliberate practice is what allows us to learn and refine our techniques. Then (with sensei's permission of course) arrange other "open" practices where as practitioners get more advanced they can open up more and more. One training method that I personally have dabbled with quite often is having uke use soft padded gloves (kinda like the ones they wear in UFC). Work up speed in power until uke can really come at you. (Note that this is not sparring. There is still a very definitive line between uke and nage) The development on both ends is great, nage gets to feel and see hard, speedy attacks that can really hurt when they connect, and uke gets to feel what it is like to throw real attacks. I know that a lot of people would say that this type of training is too dangerous, but that is the point for those that would like to practice a bit more rigorously.

It has been said many times that if someone wants to learn how to fight then aikido is not the art for them. I find this statement very rash. If someone wants to fight, then what better art and group of people to surround them with than aikidoka. Isn't that our job as aikidoka to lead by example, and to introduce love and compassion into the hearts of the aggressive? When I found my interest in martial arts, I wanted to learn how to fight…period. In no time at all by being immersed in the spiritual side of aikido, those urges faded. Yes, I still wanted to be strong enough to defend those I love as well as myself, but the need to just be able to beat people up was gone.

No, there is no competition with others in Ueshiba's aikido, but damned if there isn't a ton of it with yourself, and that opponent never goes away. If you go to sleep a better person that you were when you woke up, you won, if not, you have lost.

Just a little rant, Whew I feel better now
Beau-san
FSU Aikido
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Old 02-09-2005, 02:16 PM   #2
paw
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Re: Training and Learning

Nice post. I'm going to disagree with you on some things, though.

Quote:
Beau Biller wrote:
The training part, I have always believed is almost completely up to the practitioner.
I don't think that's true. Training is dependent upon the chief instructor/owner of the school and what they allow for their students. If the owner/chief instructor doesn't want students to use gloves and punch each other, I'm betting the students won't.

Quote:
Beau Biller wrote:
I don't think that there is any question that the effectiveness of a martial art comes down to its practitioner, not the art.
I don't buy this for a second. Once you clarify what "effectiveness" means (ie, effective for what?), there's a great deal of evidence that indicates, at least to me, that some martial arts are much, much better than others.

Quote:
Beau Biller wrote:
There are only so many ways that you can hit, bend, or break a person. The difference comes down to intent in training. I guarantee that nine times out of ten a person that has rigorously studied tai chi in the hopes of becoming a great fighter will defeat a krav maga practitioner that studies only for a diversion two nights a week.
I'll take that bet.

I don't think intent in training isn't the end of the story. You can have true/correct intention all you want, but if all you hit is a stationary, unmoving object, you won't fare as well as someone who trains hitting a moving object. Training methodology plays an important role in determining the result.

Quote:
Beau Biller wrote:
One training method that I personally have dabbled with quite often is having uke use soft padded gloves (kinda like the ones they wear in UFC). Work up speed in power until uke can really come at you. (Note that this is not sparring.
Why not spar?

Regards,

Paul
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Old 02-09-2005, 03:34 PM   #3
Casey Martinson
Dojo: Meishinkan Dojo/Lehigh Acres
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Re: Training and Learning

Paul, with regards to the training being up to the practitioner, I think what Beau is saying is that there is only so much time in class, and a lot of it is taken up with instruction (lecture, demonstration, etc.). In order to progress, you have to take responsibility for your training outside of class--hence, his argument that a dedicated tai chi chuan artist will have better combat skill than a recreational krav maga student. I don't know what the outcome of such a match would be. I think tai chi as it is taught almost universally in the West, and probably more than not in the East, does not live up to it's title of "grand ultimate boxing." But it does have a history as a combat art, and I think there probably were some practitioners who were quite formidable. Are there any today? Who knows. You would probably have to look pretty hard.

Also, while you could debate aikido's combat effectiveness till hell freezes over, I think that it's self-defense effectiveness is second to none. When the emphasis is "resolving conflict" rather than "defeating enemy", your odds of growing old increase dramatically. Last night my sensei told the story in class of one aikidoka's encounter with a drunk on the subway. Apparently, this is a well known story but it was new to me so I will sum it up for anyone who hasn't heard it. Keep in mind that I'm paraphrasing all the dialog.

The aikidoka was sitting at the back of the subway car when an drunk man boarded and started to get very belligerent with the other passengers. As this man made his way back toward the aikidoka, the aikidoka mentally prepared himself to apply some devastating technique on the trouble maker. Just as the drunk came within reach of the aikidoka, a voice called, "Hey you!" The drunk turned, "Are you talking to me?" (or something like that). A thin old man sat at the other end of the car. "How are you?" the old man asked. "What do you care?" The old man then offered the drunk a seat next to him, and the drunk gruffly accepted. Then, gradually, the old man began talking with this character, as if they were friends. Through the course of that conversation, the drunk revealed that his wife had died two years ago and he'd just lost his job. The old man said, "So your friends must have taken you out for a drink to console you." The drunk replied, "I don't have any friends."
"What? Your wife died, you lost your job, and you have no friends? That is the worst thing I've ever heard. I'm so sorry." He paused for a moment. "Why don't you let me be your friend."
By the end of the ride, the drunk had fallen asleep on the old man's shoulder. At the station, the old man helped him up and took him home. And as it turns out, the old man was Gozo Shioda Sensei.
Undoubtedly, the aikidoka at the back of the train could have put a real hurt on this drunk, but Shioda Sensei pacified him without lifting a finger.

How true this story is or whether my telling is accurate I don't know. What certainly is true that aikido gives us tools that go beyond combat. Hopefully, all martial arts will instill self control and the wisdom that combat is always the least preferred way of resolving conflict. But from my experience, no art aims to instill those lessons more than aikido.

What are your chances of being attacked by somebody who really wants to inflict serious harm or death? Probably not great unless you frequent bad parts of town, war zones, or outlaw biker bars. And in those settings, attackers are likely to use weapons and tactics that are hard to survive unless you really are some kind of action hero. Any hand to hand combat situation the average citizen is likely to face can probably be well survived by the an aikidoka--or any other martial artist--with a year or two of real training.

There is one situation that most of us face every day that truly can be dangerous, and that's driving the car. I live in Fort Myers, and not a week goes by when I don't pass by at least one or two good wrecks. At least one of the wrecks I've seen in the last few months was fatal. Aikido teaches awareness of ones surroundings, timing and distance, and an ability to go with the flow. All these things equal great self defense on the road.

Last edited by Casey Martinson : 02-09-2005 at 03:39 PM.
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Old 02-09-2005, 04:53 PM   #4
Beau
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Re: Training and Learning

Hey Paul, thanks for your reply,
I have a few quick thoughts...

Quote:
I don't think that's true. Training is dependent upon the chief instructor/owner of the school and what they allow for their students. If the owner/chief instructor doesn't want students to use gloves and punch each other, I'm betting the students won't.
Thats further proof of why training for a specific goal is up to the student. If your looking to learn to play jazz piano, your not going to join a school that only teaches classical, and further, have an instructor that refuses to let you play jazz, even on the side. My point, is that i don't believe that combat training is outside of the scope of aikido.

Quote:
I don't buy this for a second. Once you clarify what "effectiveness" means (ie, effective for what?), there's a great deal of evidence that indicates, at least to me, that some martial arts are much, much better than others.
What esle can effectiveness be in the martial arts. They were created for a purpose. Granted, they may have underlying philosophical properties that differ, but they were all created with the pupose of making people more effecient fighters. I think that you can speak of a martial arts effectiveness for other things, for instance, one can say kickboxing is "effective" for weight loss, but i don't think you would get much confusion by saying "kickboxing is effective".

"why not spar?"

i personally do not have anything against sparring...I've found a few things that go wrong with trying it in aikido practice though. The big one is that when your practicing against another aikidoka, its easy for them to predict whats comming by the movement that you make. As in..."hes goin for ikkyo, not gonna let him do that" =0) So, nothing against sparring, its just been difficult to find a way to do it without having two nages smashing each other with atemi =0).

Thanks again for the wonderful questioning and replies!!
Beau

p.s. Casey, where in florida is your dojo at? I travel all around the state for work and haven't been there...
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Old 02-09-2005, 08:19 PM   #5
Casey Martinson
Dojo: Meishinkan Dojo/Lehigh Acres
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Re: Training and Learning

Do you mean you haven't been to our dojo or you haven't been to Fort Myers?
Fort Myers is on the gulf coast between Naples and Punta Gorda, and I actually train at a veteran's recreation/community center in the nearby town of Lehigh Acres. My sensei is Jeff Reach. We have a pretty small class--only half a dozen or so on most nights--but Sensei Reach is great. The website is www.meishinkan.org. If you're ever passing through, do stop and visit us. We practice Tuesday and Thursday night.
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Old 02-10-2005, 08:12 AM   #6
paw
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Re: Training and Learning

Casey,

Quote:
Casey Martinson wrote:
I think tai chi as it is taught almost universally in the West, and probably more than not in the East, does not live up to it's title of "grand ultimate boxing." But it does have a history as a combat art, and I think there probably were some practitioners who were quite formidable.
Presuming that was or is true, I'm confident that their training methodology was/is drastically different from the training methodology of what most of us would identify as tai chi.

Quote:
Casey Martinson wrote:
What are your chances of being attacked by somebody who really wants to inflict serious harm or death?
Crimes of passion and domestic abuse quickly come to mind. Those crimes are not bound to a specific socio-economic background, as far as I know. They might be more likely to occur in a specific socio-economic background or geographic location, but it certainly can happen to anyone, yes?

Quote:
Casey Martinson wrote:
Any hand to hand combat situation the average citizen is likely to face can probably be well survived by the an aikidoka--or any other martial artist--with a year or two of real training.
That's a big generalization and one I wouldn't hold to. There are simply too many variables to make such a statement, imo.


Quote:
Casey Martinson wrote:
There is one situation that most of us face every day that truly can be dangerous, and that's driving the car. ... Aikido teaches awareness of ones surroundings, timing and distance, and an ability to go with the flow. All these things equal great self defense on the road.
You're using aikido principles as a metaphor for good driving habits. While that may be well and good, aikido is trained with surroundings, timing, distance, flow as an interaction between people. You'd be better off (ie it's more effective) to take a driving class that focuses on surroundings, timing, distance and flow between other motor vehicles on the road if being a safe motorist was one's goal.


Beau,

Quote:
Beau Biller wrote:
What esle can effectiveness be in the martial arts. They were created for a purpose. Granted, they may have underlying philosophical properties that differ, but they were all created with the pupose of making people more effecient fighters.
Given that definition, it's clear to me that some arts are far better at producing fighters than others, both in the ring and out of it. You may, of course, disagree with that.


Quote:
Beau Biller wrote:
So, nothing against sparring, its just been difficult to find a way to do it without having two nages smashing each other with atemi
Tomiki and Yoseikan have competion and presumably, some manner of sparring. It seems that there's a way to do it, if someone wants to persue that as a training methodology.
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Old 02-10-2005, 09:00 AM   #7
crand32100
Dojo: vermont aikido
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Re: Training and Learning

Guess what: practice does NOT make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. Don't leave it up to your instuctor to spoon feed you everything. If you want to get better, you just have to keep searching. One of the best things that I was ever told was that I have to be my own sensei. Just learn whatever is right for you. Some want to learn to be fighters, some want to be gentile, some want to be able to get out of the way. It doesn't matter. I would also add that it's good to limit yourself to practicing what is possible. What's possible for some is not for others. One of my teachers told me that martial arts were created so that small people could defend themselves against big people. This just means that you have to do something else when you can't win with muscule.
TC

Last edited by crand32100 : 02-10-2005 at 09:07 AM.

TC
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Old 02-10-2005, 09:15 AM   #8
Bronson
 
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Re: Training and Learning

Quote:
Casey Martinson wrote:
I think tai chi as it is taught almost universally in the West, and probably more than not in the East, does not live up to it's title of "grand ultimate boxing."
Just a little aside. When Tai Chi Chuan is refered to as "grand ultimate boxing" it is not (so far as I was told) meaning that it is the #1-can't-be-beat-kicks-everybodies-ass-fighting-style. The "grand ultimate" is another way of saying "everything","Nature", "Yin and Yang" or "the Universe". Thus Tai Chi Chuan as "grand ultimate boxing" is really "boxing that follows the Universal laws of Nature (Yin and Yang)".

This is what my Tai Chi instructor taught me...I of course accept that others were taught differently.

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 02-10-2005, 09:21 AM   #9
rob_liberti
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Connecticut
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Re: Training and Learning

Hi Tyler, long time no see!

I agree with almost everything you said. Up to a certain point, I agree that you should 'be your own sensei' - especially about not waiting around hoping to be spoon fed. I would only add the caveat that if you are not the actual sensei somewhere you have to remember that everyone is expecting you to be a participating student of what the person in the actual role of sensei is teaching. I think we've both see that get ugly.

Nice to see you posting here! Your friend, Rob
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Old 02-10-2005, 09:54 AM   #10
phil farmer
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Re: Training and Learning

Yoseikan has found a way to hold competitions and they are intended to allow practitioners to get as close to real combat as possible without injuring people. We wear full headgear and face-mask, boxing type gloves, chest protector with throat guard and shin, foot and heel padding. These competitions are held in the true spirit of testing your skills against a skilled opponent and to find out what skills/techniques might work on a self-defense setting. However, we also teach Yoseikan in a self-defense mode on a regular basis and make a distinction for students about what is good in the dojo but not on the street. Our style is considered to be a very hard style of aiki but should really have been called a soft jiujutsu. I would not want to teach my students skills that they would not be able to use to protect themselves.

Phil Farmer
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Old 02-10-2005, 01:30 PM   #11
Casey Martinson
Dojo: Meishinkan Dojo/Lehigh Acres
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Re: Training and Learning

Paul,
sometimes I think you like to argue just for the sake of argument

i haven't figured out the quoting technology here, but you said:
"Presuming that was or is true, I'm confident that their training methodology was/is drastically different from the training methodology of what most of us would identify as tai chi."

I think that is pretty much what I said..."tai chi as it is taught almost universally in the West, and probably more than not in the East..."

you also said:
"Crimes of passion and domestic abuse quickly come to mind. Those crimes are not bound to a specific socio-economic background, as far as I know. They might be more likely to occur in a specific socio-economic background or geographic location, but it certainly can happen to anyone, yes?"

Yes, anything can happen to anyone. A meteor could land on your head. But what is probable? Maybe one of us should dig up some statistics to back up our impressions. Maybe I've led a sheltered existence, or maybe I've just had the sense or fortune to stay away from trouble, but the last time I was physically attacked was in high school in gym class. I was never in danger of serious injury. Also, one time I woke up in the middle of the night to find a strange guy crouched down by my bed. I don't know what his intentions were when he came in--he said he was drunk and lost but later police work revealed that to be highly improbable. Whatever his reason for being there, I kept a firm grip on his shoulder and escorted him to the door. This guy was about six inches taller and outweighed me by probably fifty pounds or more, but I kept my cool--on the outside anyway--and got him out without incident. Then I called the police.
Now, you could rightly argue, what if this guy had resisted, had a weapon, etc. I don't know what then. But whatever the case, I would criticize my self-defense not for lack of combat training but for lack of common sense; I had left the door unlocked, something I'll never do again.

I still think the probability of being seriously attacked is rather low for most people. And if you use your head, you can keep it even lower. If you have an abusive spouse, your best defense is to leave as soon as you notice that abusive potential. Or even better yet, don't get involved with that kind of person to begin with. In spite of the stories we hear where women didn't realize their partner was violent untill it was too late, I think the signs of violence are there if you look for them. Yes, it's always "possible" that a dangerous maniac could attack you when and where you least expect it. But I think a more likely attack is going to be the guy who loses his temper at a sporting event, like that recent NBA brawl. If you saw that video, that attacks were all wild swings and lunges, very good scenarios for "non-violent" aikido intervention. Sure, you could use UFC tactics to take down a drunk fan and beat his head into the concrete, but you'll probably get arrested and sued for your trouble.

I'm not saying all this to argue that aikido isn't good for defending against life-threatening attacks. As I said before, you could argue about aikido's combat effectiveness--and I mean life-or-death combat--forever without proving anything. But I believe we've heard plenty of stories in this forum and others of people using aikido to diffuse hostility or stop an attack that wasn't intended to maim or kill. Those types of attacks are, I believe, more likely than having a dangerous criminal come out of an alley with a knife.

"You're using aikido principles as a metaphor for good driving habits. While that may be well and good, aikido is trained with surroundings, timing, distance, flow as an interaction between people. You'd be better off (ie it's more effective) to take a driving class that focuses on surroundings, timing, distance and flow between other motor vehicles on the road if being a safe motorist was one's goal."

That sounds good. Do you know where I can take a class that will give me a black belt in defensive driving? Incidentally, I didn't claim aikido was the best thing for somebody with a goal to road safety; I just said that road safety is one form of self defense that will be enhanced by aikido training. And you're bound to call that a generalization I suppose. So let me say that I feel my road safety has been improved by the aikido training that I've done, and I have heard others say the same thing.
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Old 02-11-2005, 06:30 AM   #12
paw
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Re: Training and Learning

Quote:
Casey Martinson wrote:
i haven't figured out the quoting technology here, but you said
Click the "quote" button on the post you want to reply to.

There's two points I'd like to make, and you can agree or not.

Anyway,

Quote:
Casey Martinson wrote:
But I think a more likely attack is going to be the guy who loses his temper at a sporting event, like that recent NBA brawl. If you saw that video, that attacks were all wild swings and lunges, very good scenarios for "non-violent" aikido intervention. Sure, you could use UFC tactics to take down a drunk fan and beat his head into the concrete, but you'll probably get arrested and sued for your trouble.
Could a mixed-martial artists handle themselves in that NBA brawl? Yes. A boxer? Yes. A thai boxer? Yes. An aikidoist or bjj'er? Maybe.

Anything can happen, but for the groups that I would answer "yes" to my reasoning is simply this: I know those groups have faced an athetic guy would wanted nothing more than to bash their heads in (and have no intention of stopping until they have done) so in the course of their training. Some aikidoists and some bjj'ers have also faced that in training, so I believe they would be fine. But I also know others haven't. They have never faced that kind of a situation and so, I don't know how they would fare, but I suspect, not particularly well.

Which brings me to my first point: what you train is important, but so is how you train.


Quote:
Casey Martinson wrote:
So let me say that I feel my road safety has been improved by the aikido training that I've done, and I have heard others say the same thing.
I know people who "feel" they can drive just fine after a few beers. National drunk driving statistics clearly say otherwise. Our feelings may very well be wrong.

Which brings me to my second point: what constitutes "good" evidence? In my experience, stories, anecdotes and the like don't wash with people who are concerned with martial effectiveness. Walk into a boxing gym and tell them boxing is worthless in a fight. They'll either ignore you or eventually tell you to get into the ring where they will "prove" it. The highest level of evidence is not who trains it, not who holds what certificates, not a story or personal ancedote, it's what you can do, right now against them.

Those are the two points I want to make. You can agree or disagree based on if you believe they have merit or not.


Regards,

Paul
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Old 02-11-2005, 12:25 PM   #13
Casey Martinson
Dojo: Meishinkan Dojo/Lehigh Acres
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Re: Training and Learning

[quote=Paul Watt]Could a mixed-martial artists handle themselves in that NBA brawl? Yes. A boxer? Yes. A thai boxer? Yes. An aikidoist or bjj'er? Maybe.[quote=Paul Watt]

Why maybe for the aikidoka or bjj'er and not for everybody else? Do you know what the proficiency of every boxer and thai boxer on the planet is? Sounds like a generalization.

[quote=Paul Watt]but for the groups that I would answer "yes" to my reasoning is simply this: I know those groups have faced an athetic guy would wanted nothing more than to bash their heads in (and have no intention of stopping until they have done) so in the course of their training.[quote=Paul Watt]

Those groups faced an athletic guy who wanted nothing more than to bash their heads in (and had no intention of stopping until they had done so)? What was the name of that athletic guy? I can't believe he would be foolish enough to take on whole groups of martial artists. Must be a tough mother. Or were you talking about individuals? In that case, how do you know what each boxer or thai boxer has faced? Another generalization? I never thought I'd see that from you. I don't think fighting in a ring with gloves, refs, and rounds, is the same as facing the big bad "athletic guy" terminator.

[quote=Paul Watt]Which brings me to my first point: what you train is important, but so is how you train.[quote=Paul Watt]

Agreed!


[quote=Paul Watt]I know people who "feel" they can drive just fine after a few beers. National drunk driving statistics clearly say otherwise. Our feelings may very well be wrong.[quote=Paul Watt]

Wow, I can't even trust my own experience now? How do I even know I'm sitting here typing? What if it's all just part of the Matrix? Somebody get me the red pill!

[quote=Paul Watt]Which brings me to my second point: what constitutes "good" evidence? In my experience, stories, anecdotes and the like don't wash with people who are concerned with martial effectiveness.[quote=Paul Watt]

I guess there is no way any good evidence can be offered on this board then. Bummer.

[quote=Paul Watt] Walk into a boxing gym and tell them boxing is worthless in a fight. They'll either ignore you or eventually tell you to get into the ring where they will "prove" it. [quote=Paul Watt]

Aikidoka have accepted challenges like that. O'Sensei took challenges from quite a few fighters over the years. What makes boxing special?

Anyway wit and sarcasm aside, thanks for the post. You're a true critical thinker; a man after my own heart.

Respectfully,
Casey
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Old 02-11-2005, 01:23 PM   #14
paw
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Re: Training and Learning

Casey,

For every <QUOTE=person's name> you need a </QUOTE>

Replace each "<" with "[" and ">" with "]"


Regards,

Paul
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Old 02-11-2005, 01:56 PM   #15
Ed OConnor
 
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Re: Training and Learning

<QUOTE=Casey Martinson>
Last night my sensei told the story in class of one aikidoka's encounter with a drunk on the subway. Apparently, this is a well known story but it was new to me so I will sum it up for anyone who hasn't heard it. Keep in mind that I'm paraphrasing all the dialog....

(story guts clipped out)

...How true this story is or whether my telling is accurate I don't know.
</QUOTE>

The doka was Terry Dobson. Never heard who the old man was... doubtful it was Shioda Sensei but you never know.

http://www.wattstapes.com/dobson.htm

Peace,
eD
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Old 02-11-2005, 02:53 PM   #16
Casey Martinson
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Re: Training and Learning

Quote:
Paul Watt wrote:
Casey,

For every <QUOTE=person's name> you need a </QUOTE>
ahh...

Quote:
Paul Watt wrote:
Replace each "<" with "[" and ">" with "]"
aha... I see! Thanks Paul!
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Old 02-11-2005, 02:55 PM   #17
Casey Martinson
Dojo: Meishinkan Dojo/Lehigh Acres
Location: Florida
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 30
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Re: Training and Learning

Ed, thanks for that info. I'll have to ask my Sensei where he got his version. I guess this is how legends get started, eh?
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