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Old 05-19-2005, 10:29 AM   #1
"WantToSpeakOut"
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Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

Hi all,

sorry got a bit of a rant to get over: -

a bit of background - I've been doing aikido for about 2 years now, twice a week 2-3 hours a session at what I have found out is deemed to be a fairly physical type of aikido. Pre-war aikido seems to be how it is generally described. Since starting I've been absolutely hooked and can see that the people who have been doing it for 10 years plus have actually got some skill which I respect.

I recently attended a seminar where various different styles were on show and one of the styles was what I have heard being described on these forums as a very aiki-fruity style. The uke literally ran around the sensei and threw himself on the floor without being touched (looked impressive uke'ing skills) When we had to go and practice what we had been shown we (some aikidoka I don't know) didn't really know what to do as it seemed very unnatural to grab someones hand once they had turned a certain amount and as for falling over without being touched it just seemed a little ridiculous. There didn't seem to be any skill we were supposed to be learning, balance, tenkan, etc, from this exercise , it really was being presented as a defensive technique. So we tried to practice this technique but then started practicing a little more how we were used to until a woman from the style we were trying came over and said that we were *not* doing what we had been shown, and she should know cos she was a sixth dan shihan in that style. I thought ok I'll ignore the pomposity and ask how the technique should be done as I thought I was obviously missing something. She demonstrated on one of her regulars and again offered her hand spun around and then moved her arm back towards uke at which point they fell over. It seemed like the uke had to know what to do in order for this technique to work.

In a separate incident one of the guys from our club had brought his brother who has been doing karate for about 5 years but only done aikido a few times was shown the same technique by the same woman. He asked her how exactly she would take him to the ground without touching him and was told that she would do it because she was a sixth dan.

Well after a few demonstrations of techniques I left the mat in frustration cos I couldn't see at all what it was I was supposed to be learning. I then watched what everyone else was doing and the technique of the members of the style being demonstrated looked extremely bad - but who am I to judge having only done it for 2 years although I would say that I would gladly go up against any of the people from that club and they can do their worst on me cos it just didn't look like a martial art.

Now I understand that aikido has branched and changed in the short years since it was invented, but I felt outraged that what I saw could even be called aikido. I have no doubt that the people practicing that art were not learning a martial art and were deluding themselves if they thought they were gaining any practical self-defense skills. Now what they do and think is up to them, makes no difference to me, but why are they allowed to call it aikido and why can I not say openly that I consider it to not be aikido and why is it in the aikido world that we consider criticism of our art to be untenable? And why also do we not have to 'prove' our art works? It seems that we hide behind a screen self-denial which allows poor practice to proliferate. In Shugyo Aikido Sensei Shioda went out to prove to himself that aikido worked in the real world, and although Osensei said his students shouldn't do this he didn't castigate Shioda for his actions. Similarly Takeshi Abe went out and polished his technique in real fights. I sense that behaving like this would be absolutely frowned upon by current day practitioners but I think that by not allowing criticism that we only allow these frauds to continue.

To find myself lumped in with these people who are not practicing a *martial* art and not able to say who they are and what I think of them seems a great shame. I can't think of many other fields of human endeavour where people can make claims and not have to back them up. In other fields it *is* possible to criticise and ask for proof but not in aikido it seems and that is a shame.

ok rant over. Just had to get it off my chest. I realise that nothing will change and I should just get on with my own practice. Thank you for listening.
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Old 06-09-2005, 05:18 AM   #2
Mark Uttech
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

wow. I am grateful that I never had those types of experiences. I am grateful that early on I learned that "to question effectiveness is to kill effectiveness". That was nearly 21 years ago. And I am grateful that study/teaching/training continues. Everyday begins with gassho.
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Old 06-09-2005, 07:09 AM   #3
ian
 
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

I understand your frustration Mr/Miss "wanttospeak out". However I have trained with instructors in the past and thought their aikido was rubbish, only later to understand what they were actually teaching was more realistic (since the effectiveness in a dojo is only has a partial relation to effectiveness in real combat). Also, many people viewing Ueshiba (inc. Gozo Shioda) thought it was fake until they actually tried to attack him. It's also very easy to think other clubs are 'worse' than yours if you have constant justification of the technique from your instructor or you don't understand different training methods.

Unfortunately I believe that many aikido clubs do gentle aikido because they think 'aikido is being gentle', whereas other clubs think 'aikido has to be hard to be effective', whereas really the point is just being effective and blending with their attacker.

However, do not despair! The main thing is that you are critically appraising aikido and developing what is effective for YOU. Aikidoka must be like thiefs - we just steal that which is useful to us and discard the rubbish (although we need some degree of faith in our instructor initially to have the time to understand their training method - and we also need to remember that we rarely have the benefit of experience or real combat to test the assumptions which are made when arguing about technique).

Don't worry about other club's poor aikido; ensure you are happy with your instructor and make sure you are developing. Often it is a case of 'when the student is ready the master appears' (i.e. not understanding a form of training because we haven't developed enough to understand it) - but the only way to differentiate that is to explore aikido critically and come to your own decisions. If Ueshiba was not of that character he would still be doing Ju-jitsu.

Good luck with the rest of your training!

Last edited by ian : 06-09-2005 at 07:19 AM.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 06-09-2005, 07:27 AM   #4
dan guthrie
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
Unfortunately I believe that many aikido clubs do gentle aikido because they think 'aikido is being gentle', whereas other clubs think 'aikido has to be hard to be effective', whereas really the point is just being effective and blending with their attacker.

However, do not despair! The main thing is that you are critically appraising aikido and developing what is effective for YOU. Aikidoka must be like thieves - we just steal that which is useful to us and discard the rubbish (although we need some degree of faith in our instructor initially to have the time to understand their training method).
I'm at two years, also, and I think this is a great condensation of my attitude. It took me a long time to accept the idea that "cherry picking" my own Aikido was acceptable.
The more willing I have been to be selective of what I learn, however, the broader my needs and interests have become. Trusting your sensei and sempai, especially when they seem to be going completely off-track, has led to most of my improvement.
Wantospeak, if you stay with Aikido long enough you'll see the value in "fruity" Aikido. You may not want to use gentler techniques but cross training with other styles is like using new condiments on your hamburger. In my oh so humble opinion.
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Old 06-09-2005, 07:56 AM   #5
Greg Jennings
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

At about 2 years, my instructor told me, in a very nice way "The best advice I can give you is to shut up and just train". The 10 years since have deepened my appreciation for his wisdom.

Regards,

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Old 06-09-2005, 07:57 AM   #6
aikidoc
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

Ah! The dilemma of the no touch throws. Do they work? In my opinion, only if the attacker is truly giving an honest attack and the nage is able to effectively blend with the energy of the attack and connect with the uke in such a fashion to break uke's balance. So when practicing this, it is obvious it will look fake because the uke knows what you are going to do and could easily counter it.

At a recent seminar, taking ukemi for the shihan I was thrown without actually grabbing him. Why because he was able to effectively deal with my grab in such a manner it caused me to lose my balance. From the sidelines, I'm sure this looks fake. However, to me my balance was effectively taken causing me to go down. There is a lot involved in such throws: timing, committed attack, etc.

Sometimes when learning something it is necessary to try what is shown and see where it leads you-you can then accept it or dismiss it or realize maybe you don't fully understand what is going on.

I agree with you on the martial effectiveness issue. This shihan always wants a strong attack-he keeps telling everyone to grab harder. He is able to easily do the techniques on big guys weighing probably over a 100 pounds more than he does.

I did one time train in a school where the students would ask you to attack them and then it would be done very softly-the problem was they couldn't make the techniques work. The instructor could. Why? He took the balance whereas his students did not. Even though it was soft-he would taken your center.

Just some thoughts. Don't dismiss all of the softer or no touch stuff. Saying I can do it because I'm a 6th dan though is totally meaningless. A better explanation of what was going on would have been much more productive.
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Old 06-09-2005, 09:34 AM   #7
Qatana
 
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

I have been training a little over two years. Six weeks ago I was able to throw a 1st kyu who is twice my size without touching him. Twice. I simply showed him where I needed him to go, and there he went! (of course I don't know HOW I did it, but I did it!)
This guy will not budge for me if I am not doing correct technique.ANd probably wouldn't have happened if we weren't connected well on what I have to call an "energetic" level,
But telling someone "I can do it because I am a 6 dan" is pretentious and egotistical, to say the least.

Q
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Old 06-09-2005, 09:59 AM   #8
senshincenter
 
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

A student of mine had a similar encounter when she went to visit another dojo that belonged to a line that traced itself up to a very prominent early Aikido shihan (who was also quite known for this take on things). The dojo itself was ran by a prominent instructor of that line. They were doing irimi nage. My student raised a similar question concerning the geometry being used to achieve the fall, etc. The answer she received: The attacker falls down because they get dizzy.

doh!

Sometimes there is more to see, but sometimes one is seeing everything just fine. Because it's hard to tell sometimes, it's best to keep on training but not at the sake of losing one's critical mind. My advice, train AND continue to question. Don't let one get in the way of the other, and don't require one to disappear so that the other one can exist. Learn to let one nourish the other, learn to let one be nourished by the other.

David M. Valadez
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Old 06-09-2005, 10:57 AM   #9
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
... The answer she received: The attacker falls down because they get dizzy.

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Old 06-09-2005, 02:12 PM   #10
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

Quote:
ok rant over. Just had to get it off my chest. I realise that nothing will change and I should just get on with my own practice. Thank you for listening.
no, it was very important experience. Now you know for sure what kind of practice is to avoid. Don't waste you precious time for this fantasy. "No touch throws" don't exist, it is all fake. Simply forget about it and continue your strong, solid practice.

Nagababa

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Old 06-09-2005, 03:11 PM   #11
"jon"
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Dead Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

Here is what gets the flags popping up all over the place in my skeptical head. This is done in an entertaining and amusing way.

This post sure sounds as if it is coming from the camp that believes everyone else except their camp, are dancing plush toy Aikidoka. The real Aikidoka mud wrestling and don't drink light beer because that is what makes you a real Aikidoka.

I love the idea presented here that one experience at one "place" where one club has a class makes aikido unconvincing. Yet, it doesn't make pre-war Aikido...er...Daito ryu......shhhhh...your didn't hear me say that...unconvincing as well?

I love that fact that everyone from this club that was unconvincing and frustrating was...SATAN! Oh my what a Linda Blair experience it must have been to have a 6th dan woman there! Even more horrible she had the juevos rancheros to correct someone from what is "described as pre-war Aikido." This is what I hear in my head as I read it, "How absurd! we know how it is done!"

It's that more than a bit rude to have such an attitude of "don't instruct me, I know how it is done." I would think so. This is why, when a person voluntarily come a class to accept instruction taught by someone else and refuses to do it as demonstrated. But rather, does it in the way they they think it should be done, after two years of training. The way the two years of training was presented I got the feeling that mean more in dog years. Then complains about it on the net that it is frustrating and unconvincing. That is just ill-mannered, and rude. Especially with having a prejudice and poor disposition against the style, "I have heard being described on these forums as a very aiki-fruity style."

Let's take the last quote an look at it, what keys me in is the words "these forums." This is a forum. What other forums are there that described this style as "aiki-fruity"? It would have been nice if a link was provided on this forum where that term was used. I am not sure if we are to believe that everyone describes this style as "aiki-fruity"? In my head there waves a huge red flag with skull and cross bones on it.

It seems the complaint is that there wasn't enough blood and guts spilled on the mat. No broken bones, no chick fights, no dueling banjos, and no mud wrestling. That people where merely running around the Sensei and "falling over without being touched..." And yes, these people falling down when not doing it correctly, do they need to buy that DVD and learn proper ukemi?

I am fully aware of the buzz on another Aikido board. But, does it have to come here? It is well discussed over there and frankly it is about main stream Aikido, it is a wee-wee fight among like minds. I wonder what is really coming off someone's chest, or is it merely dropping off a dead horse.
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Old 06-09-2005, 03:15 PM   #12
"jon"
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

Quote:
and frankly it is about main stream Aikido
Since I can't edit, here is a correction.

"and frankly it is NOT about main stream Aikido"

I think this is a very important point to be corrected for clearity.
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Old 06-09-2005, 04:17 PM   #13
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

Aikido mud wrestling? Where do I sign up? Almost as good as Aiki cheerleaders.

As far as the term Aiki fruity goes I know I use it on other forums like AJ and Budoseek just off the top of my head, and I'm not sure I'm the only one who does either. And yes they are often annoying. But one needs to practice tolerance in MA in my opinion or at least try to.::

Having experienced similar sentiments from some about "I am 6th Dan so that is supposed to mean I know what I am talking about", I can understand the original poster's frustration. They tend to leave me alone however as soon as I bring up the topic of resistance-based tanto randori.

I'm not saying that the person did not earn their rank and skirt, but from experience those who are quick to flash rank as their only claim to authority tend not to have the skills to back it up in a errr... more spontaneous and objective environment.

But these encounters are learning experiences. At seminars one attempts to try new things. Sometimes the experience can expand our knowledge, sometimes it can make us really appreciate the way in which we usually train.

Just a few thoughts.
LC

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Old 06-09-2005, 04:35 PM   #14
Hagen Seibert
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Because it's hard to tell sometimes, it's best to keep on training but not at the sake of losing one's critical mind. My advice, train AND continue to question. Don't let one get in the way of the other, and don't require one to disappear so that the other one can exist.
wise words !
IŽll remember it for my students.
thanks & regards
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Old 06-09-2005, 05:26 PM   #15
MaryKaye
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

The senior person pulling rank was being pretty rude. On the other hand, it's generally accepted that coming to a seminar and doing something other than making a sincere effort to learn what's being taught is quite rude, too. In any case, once you've found out you don't care for the style, it would be polite not to attend any more such seminars.

I would strongly, strongly advise not getting caught up in the idea "How other people do their Aikido influences the value or validity of my Aikido." Since you cannot change how other people do their Aikido very much (if at all) this will just cause you untold amounts of frustration and unhappiness. Instead, rejoice in having a school and style which suit you very well, and enjoy them to the max; and let the aiki-fruities do the same.

If someone comes to you and says "Anonymous, we need to set up a commission to decide which aikido schools shall be accredited, and we want you to lead it"--*then* you need to form opinions on the validity of everyone else's aikido. Till then, you only need to form them on the place(s) you actually train.

(Don't care too much about what the fruities may think of you, either. It really does not matter.)

Mary Kaye
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Old 06-09-2005, 06:38 PM   #16
"jon"
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Dead Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:

Having experienced similar sentiments from some about "I am 6th Dan so that is supposed to mean I know what I am talking about", I can understand the original poster's frustration.

I'm not saying that the person did not earn their rank and skirt, but from experience those who are quick to flash rank as their only claim to authority tend not to have the skills to back it up in a errr... more spontaneous and objective environment.

I see where your getting at. But, are we give the poster instant credibility- believe his side? I am not into instant coffee or instant credibility per the net. I wasn't there, therefore, I can't assume the female 6th dan wasn't anything but polite. This is based on the tone of the post. It is evident the poster had pre-judged the class before going into it, and carried that through out the time the poster was at the class. Based on the tone and style of the post, I have to give the benefit of doubt that it didn't go down exactly as the poster states. I would hedge my bets that the female 6th dan, if she was pulling rank or had an attitude it was because she had possible cause. For example, possible previous rude behavior and/or attitude displayed by the poster at the time of the class, incited her to take control of the situation. Or she was misinterpreted due to the poster's prejudices evident in the poster's post against the class and woman. He was too shakes short of calling her a bitch in his post.

People for get how hard it is to train people and be open in a public venue who really are not there to give you a fair shot. It is also very difficult to teach other and be concerned with others there to learn when someone is disruptive and rude. Who are not really there to give other then to give you grief. Remember the poster saying he thought of the style as "aiki-fruti." He already formed a negative opinion of this class BEFORE hand based on what he read on the forums.

When your are trying to teach a class whether you are the world's best or worst out of consideration for the other attendees you must have to take control of the situation and let them know who is boss, or 86 the person. It is sad that such disciplinary behavior needs to take place.

Nothing is learned from this. It bothers me the poster's tone and style is on the edge of slander, and ridicule. I am sure this poster has posted non-anonymously on other forums that agrees with him. Is there benefit to anyone by posting such a post here anonymously? Is this a legitimate concern?

I don't care how bad or good the class was. If someone's arm got broke, yes. If some was subjected to abuse or hazing, it is a legitimate concern. There is a whole truck load of other legitimate concerns. But, my style is better then yours, well this is just not one of those legitimate concerns. Let's get the dead horse...er...I mean donkey....out of the street. There is no need to beat it.
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Old 06-09-2005, 07:40 PM   #17
stuartjvnorton
 
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

Hmm, I don't know Jon.

If he was being a snot about it as you suggest, then surely it's better to just give 'em a whiff of grapeshot than flash your Deputy Dawg badge around?
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Old 06-09-2005, 08:48 PM   #18
Charlie
 
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

Quote:
...and one of the styles was what I have heard being described on these forums as a very aiki-fruity style...
Doesn't sound preconceived to me...They didn't call it aiki-fruity - others did.

Charles Burmeister
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Old 06-09-2005, 09:49 PM   #19
"jon"
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

Quote:
Charlie wrote:
Doesn't sound preconceived to me...They didn't call it aiki-fruity - others did
Quote:
Stuart Norton wrote:
Hmm, I don't know Jon.

If he was being a snot about it as you suggest, then surely it's better to just give 'em a whiff of grapeshot than flash your Deputy Dawg badge around?
He could have flashed, and he just didn't tell us. The story is very one sided and opinionated. My vote is we are feeding a troll. Who has violated the forum rules.

His post is full of condescending remarks and sarcasms. He puts down all those who practice this style, what he terms as aiki-fruity style. It is clear he is not the author of this term, but he sure does support in a very condescending and sarcastic manner in his post. It is clear just by the fact he used the term in the first place. Very poor taste.

This appears after an introductory paragraph which sets the following up:

Quote:
WantToSpeakOut wrote:
what I have heard being described on these forums as a very aiki-fruity style. The uke literally ran around the sensei and threw himself on the floor without being touched (looked impressive uke'ing skills) When we had to go and practice what we had been shown we (some aikidoka I don't know) didn't really know what to do as it seemed very unnatural to grab someones hand once they had turned a certain amount and as for falling over without being touched it just seemed a little ridiculous. There didn't seem to be any skill we were supposed to be learning,
I think this says it all about the intent of the poster. Booooo, Hisssss.
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Old 06-09-2005, 11:25 PM   #20
Charlie
 
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

Quote:
...He could have flashed, and he just didn't tell us. The story is very one sided and opinionated. My vote is we are feeding a troll. Who has violated the forum rules...
But of course he is!!! Sounds like he is conveying his story/experience. How can it be anything other than opinionated? I Don't recall the use of any names or identifiers other than "aiki-fruity".

Charles Burmeister
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Old 06-10-2005, 05:37 AM   #21
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Talking Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

Quote:
I recently attended a seminar where various different styles were on show and one of the styles was what I have heard being described on these forums as a very aiki-fruity style. The uke literally ran around the sensei and threw himself on the floor without being touched (looked impressive uke'ing skills)
Ooi,

Is that you Si Wilson posting incognito? Sounds like your experience to me...

Boon.

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Old 06-10-2005, 05:41 AM   #22
Dazzler
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

I believe I was on the course and saw the demonstrations...I may have even met the 6th dan "Sensei" on the day.....she introduced herself as "Sensei X"...which I found a bit odd.

But no matter.

The aikido described wasn't particularly for me...but the pre-war aikido option wasn't particularly for me either.

I went for the experience - to meet people and check out what they had to offer.

What does it matter what people think? If your aikido is good then it is good. If it isn't it isn't. If you feel that what you are doing is right then carry on and to hell with everyone else.

Its not worth being 'outraged' over. Be outraged over starving millions, happy slapping, inner city crime or other real issues.

If the aikido referred to was not for you then don't do it. Carry on with your own practice. You'll probably never share a mat with the instructor ever again so why stress about it?

And check out Greg Jennings post above...

just my thoughts

D
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Old 06-10-2005, 06:12 AM   #23
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Wink Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

I wasn't at the event that I think you're referring to but I think I know from your description who you mean! One of our instructors had a similar experience with said person. He was attacking / grabbing ryotedori and came in as normal for this grab - just before he connected with her she let out a wail of some sort to which he asked what she was doing. Her reply? She was extending her Ki and he should fly away and allow himself to be thrown by the energy. His reply? Not really repeatable here...

Best Regards,
John

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Old 06-10-2005, 07:00 AM   #24
bcole23
Dojo: Eagle Rock Aikido, Ammon, ID
Location: Ammon, ID
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

I've heard stories of people who, when doing randori at a seminar, berate their ukes if they actually grab or hit them.
ex:
"What are you doing!?"
"Katate dori..."
"You're not supposed to grab me"
"........."


"........."


"......um...okaaay."

On the other side of the coin, I was at a seminar in Salt Lake City and was doing a very shortened tsuki irimi nage with a small woman who probably weighed all of 130 lbs. After the initial warm up, I really honestly tried to knock her block off, with her consent of course, and her timing and positioning were very good. She never touched me and I hit the mat every time. I've practiced with people from the aforementioned style but never anyone like a 6th dan. This girl was not from that stlye.

In my opinion, the "aiki-fruity" style is a valid one, however, it seems to me that it's like trying to learn analytical algebra or calculus before learning basic math. It would be much more difficult, IMO, to get to that ideal following that path, but without first hand experience training in that style, it's really all just conjecture anyways.

As always, it's better to just be true to yourself and train hard.

Last edited by bcole23 : 06-10-2005 at 07:10 AM.

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Old 06-10-2005, 08:00 AM   #25
ian
 
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Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido

Quote:
Greg Jennings wrote:
At about 2 years, my instructor told me, in a very nice way "The best advice I can give you is to shut up and just train". The 10 years since have deepened my appreciation for his wisdom.

Regards,
Hi Greg. I hope you don't think that I don't completely agree with this - dissention has to be silent. You go to a course or visit an instructor and learn what you can. If you feel there is nothing to learn there you say to yourself afterwards - I'll leave that for now. If you have no faith in the effectiveness of something after a considerable time, you either need to test that faith, or work out why, or find a training method you believe in. Otherwise we are just copying and not understanding.

P.S. I like this 'my style is better than yours' banter. Although much of it is probably rubbish, I believe that (outside the dojo) we should discuss these things seriously and try to resolve what is evidently at the base of some very major difference in aikido.

I think it is a very dire problem in aikido that the only (ethical) way to test it is by being attacked for real (since, mostly, we acknowledge competitions as being unrealistic). Maybe that is why, as serious aikidoka, we should welcome real attacks, as an opportunity to test the validity of our assumptions!

Last edited by ian : 06-10-2005 at 08:14 AM.

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