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Old 02-21-2005, 12:14 PM   #1
Vincent Paglia
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Question Question for Tomiki folks

I practice Aikido, but not Tomiki (Shodokan?) Aikido, and I wanted to get a sense of how aikido techniques are used in competitions, so I watched a couple Tomiki tournament videos. The kata sections seemed fairly familiar to me, the techniques were familiar but the energy of the students (much of it seemed aggressive to me) was not.

But what I really was confused about was the competitive part. I didn't see any aikido techniques utilized at all. One person had a tanto and the other was unarmed, and they basically danced around and pushed at each other. To an outsider ignorant of the rules, it looked like sumo wrestling for small people.

Could someone shed some light on tomiki competitions? My guess was that if the tanto touches you, you're out or the other person gets a point, etc. How does the unarmed person get points? How does the competition reflect/assist aikido development?

Thanks for any info on this.
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Old 02-21-2005, 12:27 PM   #2
mj
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

Yes it does look like Sumo, doesn't it

I can only suggest you try it for yourself....I could write a whole recipe book about Shodokan Aikido and you would still be hungry. Eat for yourself.

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Old 02-21-2005, 06:27 PM   #3
PeterR
 
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

It is very difficult to do good tanto randori and frankly speaking some of what's available on the net is not the best example.

Look at it this way. If people can do the enbu (kata) the difficulty of pulling the technique off under resisting circumstance should give pause for thought. Could you pull off your techniques under the same circumstance? This is the crux of Shodokan randori - the testing of what you think you know.

Shiai in some ways is much more restricted than randori itself. What you need to watch are two people who are good at shiai actually train for it. A lot more risk is taken, a lot more fun is had. The true potential is much more obvious.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-21-2005, 09:06 PM   #4
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

Hi Vincent,
Quote:
Vincent Paglia wrote:
The kata sections seemed fairly familiar to me, the techniques were familiar but the energy of the students (much of it seemed aggressive to me) was not.
Can you explain a bit what you mean by aggressive? Due to the nature of resistance randori and shiai what may appear as "aggression" may actually be practitioners shifting quickly and changing ma ai constantly to gain a tactical / positional edge in order to get off a successful technique. Also, please remember that Aikido techniques are not limited to the defensive/reactive realm only, one can be proactive and initiate technique using Sen timing.
Quote:
Vincent Paglia wrote:
I didn't see any aikido techniques utilized at all. One person had a tanto and the other was unarmed, and they basically danced around and pushed at each other. To an outsider ignorant of the rules, it looked like sumo wrestling for small people.
Adding to what Peter said, often the quality of videos available online for shiai stuff is not that great. But on another note, think of it - often when one has to apply technique against someone who knows exactly what techniques you can use and plans on resisting them, it is never an easy matter to just do a technique like it would look in kata practice. Often what occurs is that folks tend to avoid the initial tanto strike and move around a bit while controlling the knife arm trying to create an opening for the technique by disrupting Uke's balance, since they could not get into a position to apply a clean technique initially. However in my personal opinion this is more like Judo and not utilising the tactical aspects of Aiki waza correctly. This happens when timing is off also and techniques get shut down.

Quote:
Vincent Paglia wrote:
My guess was that if the tanto touches you, you're out or the other person gets a point, etc. How does the unarmed person get points? How does the competition reflect/assist aikido development
Answers to all of the above questions can be found here - http://homepage2.nifty.com/shodokan/en/kyogi1.html .

Hope this helps.
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 02-22-2005, 06:31 AM   #5
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

Quote:
Vincent Paglia wrote:
The kata sections seemed fairly familiar to me, the techniques were familiar but the energy of the students (much of it seemed aggressive to me) was not.
I think the 'agressive' energy you picked up on was perhaps the essential difference between kata and enbu. Enbu is kata performed as a 'martial demonstration'. The aim isn't to look aggressive, per se, but enbu is definitely supposed have a more 'martial' flavour than the kata you'd see practiced in the dojo, or demonstrated for a grading examination. Sometimes the people performing enbu make the mistake of trying to give it that 'martial' flavour by performing aggressively - its an easy mistake to make - and I guess to some observers enbu could appear to be more aggressive than it really is. (The ukemi are noisy and, unlike ballroom dancing, smiling is not generally encouraged.)

Quote:
Could someone shed some light on tomiki competitions? My guess was that if the tanto touches you, you're out or the other person gets a point, etc. How does the unarmed person get points?
The current shiai rules are available online, if you're interested. I'm pretty sure they're on the JAA/USA website, at www.tomiki.org.

In a nutshell, the person with the tanto can score points only with a definite strike. (In slightly gory terms, not the kind of attack that would merely break the skin with a real knife, but the kind that would bury it right up to the hilt.)

The tanto isn't there to simulate an attacker with a knife as such, it was actually introduced to create a bit more distance between the competitors. Shiai was originally developed without the tanto (what we call toshu randori - we still practice it that way sometimes), but there was a tendency for the competitors to close to a 'grappling distance' and they tended to end up doing more judo that aikido.

Toshu (the unarmed person) firstly has to get out of the way of the strike, they need to show good taisabaki, and will be penalised if they dont attempt to do so. (A lot of beginners tend to stand rooted to the spot and attempt to deflect the strike in a karate block stylee - obviously that isn't conducive to aikido technique, so its discouraged.)

Having successfully avoided the tanto strike, toshu can then score points firstly by breaking tanto's balance (yuko - 1 point), translating that kuzushi into some recognisable technique (waza ari - 2 points), and taking the technique, under control, to its conclusion (ippon - 4 points).

There are opportunities for tanto to score with kaeshi waza by reversing toshu's technique, and for toshu to preempt rather than react to the tanto strike, but thats it in a nutshell.

Shiai and randori aren't the same thing. There are a great many things to learn in tanto randori, about timing, kuzushi, in fact about all aspects of aikido. Personally I think shiai is more about testing than learning - you don't so much learn aikido as learn which aspects of your aikido you need to work on.

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
It is very difficult to do good tanto randori and frankly speaking some of what's available on the net is not the best example.
Speaking even more frankly, some of whats available on the net is abysmal. And if you live and train in the UK, as I do, much of what you'll see at most tournaments is really rather poor too.

There are a whole series of drills designed to promote the basic skills for randori that are built into the Shodokan system (and reflected throughout the kyu grading syllabus). They're repetitive, many consider them boring, but you just cant practice them enough. There are quite a few people practicing tanto randori and shiai who are like a concert pianist who couldn't be bothered to practice scales, but just tried to learn by diving right into a Rackmaninov score.
(Actually its worse than that, the poor devils have teachers who can't be bothered to teach them scales. Some of them are teachers, who've never heard of scales. All dojos are not equal.)

There are others (me, for example) who need a *lot* more practice, and will probably never be able to squeeze enough into their lifetime to become really skilled. But hey, at least we're aware of it, its a start.

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
Shiai in some ways is much more restricted than randori itself. What you need to watch are two people who are good at shiai actually train for it. A lot more risk is taken, a lot more fun is had. The true potential is much more obvious.
Hear hear. Nail, head.

Theres a lot of good information on the Shodokan Honbu website if you're interested, follow the link that Larry posted. And there's also an interview between Stan Pranin and Tetsuro Nariyama (the current Shodokan technical director) on the Aikido Journal website thats well worth a read. (But unfortunately you need to be a subscriber to read the whole thing.)

Hope thats helpful.
Sean
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Old 02-22-2005, 09:30 AM   #6
Bronson
 
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

Quote:
Vincent Paglia wrote:
I didn't see any aikido techniques utilized at all. One person had a tanto and the other was unarmed, and they basically danced around and pushed at each other.
Find an uke who'll play around after class, get a rubber training knife and try it. When we've tried it looks a lot like your description (because we are terrible at it). It definitely offers a new perspective on those folks who can pull off a technique against a full speed attack from a resisting uke.

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 02-22-2005, 11:02 AM   #7
Keith R Lee
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

And I have to ask, what's wrong with being aggressive?

Aggression, properly focused and utilized, can produce great things. It spurs competion, teamwork, development, and growth. I don't think I would be where I am today in regards of my Aikido if I had not aggressively pursued training and practice. I'm also not sure what's wrong with aggression in technique and training. I want my technique to look and feel sharp and crisp. Not only that I want to be in full control of uke the entire time.

When a shite properly executes a technique, it is not a democracy. The shite and uke do not sit down and talk about where they are going to go. Properly executed technique is a dictatorship. Shite is in control and directs the uke to where they please.

Keith Lee
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Old 02-22-2005, 04:56 PM   #8
Vincent Paglia
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

First of all, thanks to everyone for all the information. It has all greatly clarified my understanding of the tournament videos that I saw.

I watched the videos precisely b/c I wanted a better understanding of aikido with an uncooperative uke, since in my dojo ukes are encouraged to give energy to the attack, but not to resist the technique. So I have a lot of respect for people who train in other ways. Based on what I saw, it looks very difficult to pull off techniques against aikidoka who are expecting it and avoiding/resisting it.

I had a few questions though. Isn't it true that "real life situations"--something talked about a lot on this board--will almost never involve an aikidoka vs. aikidoka situation? Moreover, unlike nearly every martial art I can think of, aikido seems to be particularly useless against another aikidoka--its techniques are designed for attacks that do not exist in general aikido practice and the idea is to end the confrontation ASAP, not prolong it by fighting. So in a martial art like that, is it really possible to make it competitive? This isn't some kind of "ethical" objection on my part, I'm wondering more about the pragmatism of it. It seems much easier to compete in karate, tae kwon do, etc., because each art's techniques can be used both before and after an opponent uses the art's techniques on you. I have a feeling that this is an impossible question for someone else to answer, i.e. that I really have to practice shodokan aikido for a while to answer this question for myself. What do you folks think about this though? Do you find that competing aganist another aikidoka improves your aikido techniques in general, so that they are honed and more easily used against non-aikidoka? That would make sense.


As for aggression, I respectfully disagree with Keith. I don't think aggression--by which I mean forceful anger--is useful in Aikido. I could be convinced otherwise, but at this point I have come to believe that the most powerful place from which to do aikido is a calm, relaxed, focused state. This is something I've only decided recently and it was a pretty big revelation for me to change my mind on this subject. I've been thinking about cross-training in other martial arts, and I believe that this aspect of aikido would be one of the most useful things that I could bring with me into another art--although I believe that this state of mind is particularly suited to Aikido. I haven't been convinced yet that loving joy is the best state of mind while practicing aikido, I may disagree with O Sensei on that, but I'm reserving judgment until I am more experienced.

My sense of aggression in the videos I saw was just that: an impression. I have no idea if it was accurate or if I was simply misreading them. And I'm certainly not claiming that aggression is generally more true of competitive aikido than other types or anything else.

Last edited by Vincent Paglia : 02-22-2005 at 05:03 PM.
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Old 02-22-2005, 05:52 PM   #9
Zato Ichi
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

Quote:
Vincent Paglia wrote:
I watched the videos precisely b/c I wanted a better understanding of aikido with an uncooperative uke, since in my dojo ukes are encouraged to give energy to the attack, but not to resist the technique. So I have a lot of respect for people who train in other ways. Based on what I saw, it looks very difficult to pull off techniques against aikidoka who are expecting it and avoiding/resisting it.
This is the crux of it: I think many people are turned off Shodokan because the randori/shiai part looks really "messy" compared to more cooperative forms of aikido. Of course, in "real life situations", 90%+ of aikido does not look like what is practiced in the dojo: it is messy, it can be brutal, but it gets the job done.

And yes, it's very difficult to get techniques to work on resisting uke, but when you do actually get a good technique to work, it's a great feeling. And, to honest, when I'm on the receiving end, it's still a good feeling
Quote:
Moreover, unlike nearly every martial art I can think of, aikido seems to be particularly useless against another aikidoka--its techniques are designed for attacks that do not exist in general aikido practice and the idea is to end the confrontation ASAP, not prolong it by fighting.
I'm gonna have to disagree here.. martial arts, all martial arts, are about ending things quickly. Do not confuse what you see in sports competitions or (god forbid) HK action movies with the original intent of various fighting systems.
Quote:
It seems much easier to compete in karate, tae kwon do, etc., because each art's techniques can be used both before and after an opponent uses the art's techniques on you.
Um... could you clarify this? I don't think I totally understand... aikido doesn't have techniques that tori can use before and after uke attacks?
Quote:
As for aggression, I respectfully disagree with Keith. I don't think aggression--by which I mean forceful anger--is useful in Aikido.
[php]$aggression != $anger;[/php]

In my limited experience, aikido is an extremely aggressive martial art... if you are passive and let uke take your timing, you're setting yourself up for an ass-whuppin' boy!

Now, a lot of aikido waza are all about set up, making uke do something, then using that action to cause kuzushi, then technique, but you have to very much have to control uke's timing, and being passive will not allow you to do that. It's kind of a difficult thing to explain, so I hope that made some amount of sense.

PS. Call me immature, but I giggle to myself everytime some types "shite"
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Old 02-22-2005, 06:28 PM   #10
MattRice
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

Quote:
R. Haruo Hori wrote:

[php]$aggression != $anger;[/php]

hilarious.
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Old 02-23-2005, 05:27 AM   #11
deepsoup
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

Quote:
Vincent Paglia wrote:
Moreover, unlike nearly every martial art I can think of, aikido seems to be particularly useless against another aikidoka--its techniques are designed for attacks that do not exist in general aikido practice and the idea is to end the confrontation ASAP, not prolong it by fighting. So in a martial art like that, is it really possible to make it competitive? This isn't some kind of "ethical" objection on my part, I'm wondering more about the pragmatism of it. It seems much easier to compete in karate, tae kwon do, etc., because each art's techniques can be used both before and after an opponent uses the art's techniques on you. I have a feeling that this is an impossible question for someone else to answer, i.e. that I really have to practice shodokan aikido for a while to answer this question for myself.
I'm not sure I understand you correctly. If you mean that aikido is purely defensive, and that its therefore not possible for an aikidoist to attack another, I've heard something like that before.

It is possible to initiate aikido technique, without being given an attack to work with. Aikido is <insert percentage of your choice here> atemi, after all. If you make to strike someone, they either move or allow themselves to be struck, and when they move you have something to work with. [1]

Also, whatever posture a person is standing in, there is always a weak line - a direction in which a very gentle push/pull will disturb their balance. Again, they can allow their balance to be disturbed, and you have kuzushi - you're halfway to your technique already - or they can react by correcting their stance, and you have a movement to work with. (In Shodokan terminology, to disturb someones balance by applying force to one point - even its a very gentle push - is also atemi waza.)

I suppose if two perfect aikidoka were to try toshu randori they might end up just standing there looking at each other, each unable to find to find an opening in the other. In the real world, we're none of us that good. One person moves, the other reacts, and then you're away into (ideally) a seamless flow of waza, henka waza, kaeshi waza.

There's a danger with toshu randori though, that things get heavy. Its very natural for people to close the distance between them, as the maai changes it then becomes more appropriate for judo, or grappling, than aikido and the whole thing becomes judo, or grappling. Theres a tendency to start to rely on muscle rather than movement - it takes some skill, and a certain attitude (I'd probably say 'spirit' if I were a bit more aiki-fruity), to keep it light and flowing.

Its more difficult to do well than tanto randori (the tanto was introduced to prevent that 'closing' of maai, to make it natural to stay at 'aiki distance'). But like tanto randori, when its good its very good, when its bad it can be downright ugly.

None of the ideas behind 'competitive' randori are themselves unique to Shodokan though. Combinations and counters are definitely there in most (all?) other styles, but they do generally seem to be considered to be advanced stuff. What is unique is that we have a framework where students can start to play around with this stuff without (much) danger of injuring each other, and that they're encouraged to do so. Its how we keep churning out such a bunch of thugs.

Quote:
What do you folks think about this though? Do you find that competing aganist another aikidoka improves your aikido techniques in general, so that they are honed and more easily used against non-aikidoka? That would make sense.
I couldn't describe any aspect of my aikido as "honed" with a straight face.

I honestly have no idea about using techniques against "non-aikidoka", not having been involved in any kind of a brawl since I was much more than a teenager I really couldn't say. I'm not really interested in that side of things to be honest, but there's no shortage of anecdotes, and lots of opinions about the whole "street effectiveness" thing on other threads.

Quote:
As for aggression, I respectfully disagree with Keith. I don't think aggression--by which I mean forceful anger--is useful in Aikido.
I don't know if that is what Keith meant (maybe he was talking more about vigour than anger, maybe he'll elaborate). In the case of anger, I agree with you. The Shodokan 'motto' is "mushin, mugamae". Mushin is the mental state we're looking for, literally "no mind", but the closest we have to that expression in english is actually french: "sang froid". Anger would definitely imply "sang chaud", not the thing at all. I'm not so sure about aggression though, I guess it all comes down to semantics.

Sean
x

[1] One of Shodokan's most important kata starts this way. In suwari waza, it is tori who initially attacks uke, with a backfist strike to the face. Uke reacts to block the strike, and tori then takes that movement on into oshi taoshi. (ikkyo) Its sen no sen timing I guess, uke intends to attack, but tori preempts his attack completely.

[2] I never used to like the term "player", but I've come to realise that randori is at its best when its playful. You learn a lot more by playing around with it than you do by battling through with a kind of grim determination. Even shiai, if it isn't fun it probably isn't good imo.
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Old 02-24-2005, 12:10 PM   #12
Vincent Paglia
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

Some good food for thought there. B/c of the way I've been taught Aikido, its hard for me to think of Aikido as offensive--I was taught that you are supposed to initiate the action (if possible) and lead their attack, but only after your opponent has formed the intent to attack you and has probably begun the process of initiating an attack, so it never really occurred to me that these techniques could be used offensively.
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Old 02-24-2005, 01:04 PM   #13
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

Hi Vincent,

To see a good demonstration of a tanto competition, I'd recommend Dr. Ah Loi Lee's first video, I think it's called "Randori No Kata".

There's an excellent clip of two Dan grade Tomiki guys displaying how it should be done. In fact, any of Dr.Lee's videos are well worth seeing. She's 7th Dan in Tomiki Aikido.

Iain.
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Old 02-28-2005, 04:13 PM   #14
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

Hello everyone,

Here's a link to some tomiki aikido tanto shiai clips . No comment, just felt this discussion wasnt getting any where without something specific to talk about.

cheers

http://www10.ocn.ne.jp/~siba/index11.htm
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Old 02-28-2005, 05:32 PM   #15
PeterR
 
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

Those clips are very good examples but the links no longer work.

Pitty.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-28-2005, 05:50 PM   #16
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

Hi folks,

I had downloaded these some months ago. I missed the last 3 but rectified that now. They worked for me Peter, or at least the last 3 did. If you folks want the whole set from the site, I have them and can maybe post em here or upload em somewhere so let me know via this thread. But like I said, the links worked for me.

LC

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Old 02-28-2005, 05:54 PM   #17
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

The files are there, it's just that the URLs in the links are broken. When you get the "Page Not Found" page, replace "movie%5C" in its URL with "movie/" - this worked for me.

Daniel
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Old 02-28-2005, 05:59 PM   #18
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

It looks like the HTML on that page has an error in each of its links to the video clips. Try using Internet Explorer or by fixing the "%5C" in the link (which is a backward slash (rather than a forward slash)) in the link...

-- Jun

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Old 02-28-2005, 06:11 PM   #19
PeterR
 
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

Quote:
Daniel Rozenbaum wrote:
The files are there, it's just that the URLs in the links are broken. When you get the "Page Not Found" page, replace "movie%5C" in its URL with "movie/" - this worked for me.
You are a God - thanks

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-28-2005, 06:22 PM   #20
DanielR
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Re: Question for Tomiki folks

You're most welcome, Peter. Interesting clips.

Daniel
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