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Old 06-08-2005, 08:25 PM   #101
CNYMike
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Hi, Larry,

A few more comments:

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
.... The format you gave for the sparring training you guys did is exactly the same paradigm that we use in Shodokan, that of not "trying to win" but as a means of self development and clearing/emptying the mind and body to react spontaneously (mushin mugamae).

The levels of randori you speak of are very important, we also follow a similar format where we start with just evasion and intercepting drills,(tai sabaki), then medium speed, zero resistance freeplay (kakari geiko), then onto medium to high speed, medium resistance freeplay with counters (hiki tate geiko) and then onto full speed, full resistance freeplay with counters (randori).

As you also said, when simply training and reacting to the sparring situation you do movements which appear in different arts, as such it's hard to distinguish what is an "Aikido" technique .....
Maybe I should describe exactly what happened:

Sometimes when my partner jabbed, say with his left hand, I parried by brining my hand in from the outside and then hooked down, so that the "blade" edge of my left bag glove was resting on his veins. At the time, I thought it had felt like kote gaeshi postion, just getting there more directly. But then I remember Fook Sao from Wing Chun and a block from Kali that are also similar; Kali alos has a version of kote gaeshi; we just call it the wrist lock. So that's why I backed away from saying it was an Aikido techique.

Quote:
I think this is a major benefit of randori, freeplay or sparring. It causes one to react spontaneously to the situation, particulars of form (as in kata practice) becomes secondary in this instant ....
Ok, this is where you and Andy might part company. His goal is to have us develop "presence of mind" while we spar, so we can play with particular techniques in that random forum. Othwerise, you dumb down to gross body motions and don't use those nice techniques. "Well, if I can't do them while sparring," he says, "how can I do them on the street?"

This is why the sparring is starting off at quarter speed: to take the flight or fight reflex out of it so we can play with more detailed techniques. First, though, you have to kick out your ego, your pride, and your desire to win. I have a lot of work to do there.


Quote:
.....This is what I am getting at as regards Aikido training and why forms training alone may not be sufficient to develop this level of reactive or instinctive spontaneity for the application of good, sound Aiki waza .....
Maybe it is, maybe it isn't (and every source I've read said there are not forms in Aikido; O Sensei didn't lock things down the way kata are. "Drill" or "exercise" might be more accurate). Another thing Guro Andy wants is for us to go beyond just seeing a colleciton of techniques and learn the principles. Well, Aiki is a principle; I am just at the "learning the techniques" stage. I'd have to get past the techniques to the principle before I know if it can be applied spontaneously. That I am not there yet after going once a week for a year doesn't reflect on poor training or anything like that, just the details of the material. I've internalized some things. But others aren't there yet.

Quote:
..... Your training sounds great. It seems like the FMA sparring class and Instructor you have will help in your development of spontaneous reactions .....
Actually, I'm no stranger to sparring. What's new is the "quarter speed" regime Guro Andy is starting, but it's not like I've never sparred. I was just never good at it.

Quote:
It may show up as an increase in spontaneous ability when you do randori in your Aikido dojo, since you would have had much more practice in "reacting correctly" to apply waza.

Thanks for sharing.
LC
Well, first off, this is an Aikikai-affiliated dojo. So that should tell you what sort of randori there is.

Second, I am nowhere near there. I had class tonight for the first time in two weeks, and I am still very much at the where-do-my-arms-and-feet go stage, although some things have been internailzed through repition. If your response is to argue that randori will help get me there quicker, let me remind you of that although we did some soft stick sparring a couple of years ago, I did my first quarter speed session EVER last night, and I've known Andy since 1997. (Everything else to date has been drills and practicing techniques.) So, eight years with one instructor, seven years of continuous Kali training, and first quarter speed sparring about 24 hours ago. And my biggest issue in sparring, as I mentioned, seems to be my ego.

So maybe if I stay with Kali and Aikido for a few more years, I might see something of what you're talking about. But not right now, I don't think. And even then, one of my projects is to keep the arts separate, do Kali in Kali and Aikido in Aikido. That's another influence of Guro Andy's. So even if I develop presence of mind in Kali, the next thing is to apply Kali in that format. Whether that rubs off on Aikido, I don't know, but it's not because I'll be consciously integrating them.
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Old 06-09-2005, 03:08 PM   #102
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Quote:
Michael Gallagher wrote:
Sometimes when my partner jabbed, say with his left hand, I parried by brining my hand in from the outside and then hooked down, so that the "blade" edge of my left bag glove was resting on his veins. At the time, I thought it had felt like kote gaeshi postion, just getting there more directly. But then I remember Fook Sao from Wing Chun and a block from Kali that are also similar; Kali alos has a version of kote gaeshi; we just call it the wrist lock. So that's why I backed away from saying it was an Aikido techique.
Right, well the human body can only be twisted in so many ways, a wristlock is a wrist lock, any differences are found in the "how" of achieveing it imo. I've found nothing totally unique in "Aikido waza" as yet.

Quote:
Michael Gallagher wrote:
Ok, this is where you and Andy might part company. His goal is to have us develop "presence of mind" while we spar, so we can play with particular techniques in that random forum. Othwerise, you dumb down to gross body motions and don't use those nice techniques. "Well, if I can't do them while sparring," he says, "how can I do them on the street?"

This is why the sparring is starting off at quarter speed: to take the flight or fight reflex out of it so we can play with more detailed techniques. First, though, you have to kick out your ego, your pride, and your desire to win. I have a lot of work to do there.
Not so sure if we'd part company. There are many goals to be achieved in doing randori and playing with the techinques at lower speeds and resistance so that one starts to internalise the basic movements that require one to adapt and apply the "nice techniques", as well as the not so nice ones, is only one aspect of the freeplay paradigm. The ones I outlined are others and do apply to what you were speaking of earlier. From my experience the more one trains in freeplay at lower speed and resistance levels and then slowly builds to the higher speed and resistance levels one slowly develops a means of not "dumb (ing) down and using gross body motions". It's all in what you focus on while practicing this way imo.

Quote:
Michael Gallagher wrote:
Actually, I'm no stranger to sparring. What's new is the "quarter speed" regime Guro Andy is starting, but it's not like I've never sparred. I was just never good at it.
I didn't think that you were a stranger to sparring actually. The training history you gave sort of indicated that.

Quote:
Michael Gallagher wrote:
Well, first off, this is an Aikikai-affiliated dojo. So that should tell you what sort of randori there is.
Right. That could be a challenge to spontaneous training with full resistance then, but may still be of assistance at the lower resistance, slower levels.

Quote:
Michael Gallagher wrote:
If your response is to argue that randori will help get me there quicker, let me remind you of that although we did some soft stick sparring a couple of years ago, I did my first quarter speed session EVER last night, and I've known Andy since 1997. (Everything else to date has been drills and practicing techniques.) So, eight years with one instructor, seven years of continuous Kali training, and first quarter speed sparring about 24 hours ago. And my biggest issue in sparring, as I mentioned, seems to be my ego.
I'm not arguing anything actually. My initial post was more of a rant than anything else. Our methods serve me very well in what I want to achieve regarding spontaneity and exploring the depth of Aiki strategy, tactics and concepts.

Everyone learns best at their own pace and with different stimuli and methods. I tend to do a lot of non-martial things as well that tends to help me to understanding my weaknesses in Aikido from a different perspective. Imo one needs to understand the ways in which one learns things best and try to use those methods to aid in understanding a concept, even if the required methods may not exist within the teaching paradigms of the school one belongs to.

Quote:
Michael Gallagher wrote:
So maybe if I stay with Kali and Aikido for a few more years, I might see something of what you're talking about. But not right now, I don't think. And even then, one of my projects is to keep the arts separate, do Kali in Kali and Aikido in Aikido. That's another influence of Guro Andy's. So even if I develop presence of mind in Kali, the next thing is to apply Kali in that format. Whether that rubs off on Aikido, I don't know, but it's not because I'll be consciously integrating them.
Well as one who Instructs Aikido and Jujutsu and regularly practices in Judo, Kali and Wing Chun/JKD concepts, I think keeping things separate is important for developing each one independently and allowing things to "gel" on their own when the time is right. However I have also seen that when necessary they integrate on a subconscious level and blend quite nicely if the situation ever arises and a spontaneous reaction is required. But this is just my experience.

In the end I don't think that one's devlopment of spontaneous reactions is totally limited to or by any style and has more to do with the individual's natural responses to conflict. Spontaneity training builds on this natural response (or way of responding) to conflict. So it is very likely that one may learn body movement and trapping/flowing drills in one art (like Kali) and be able to apply it to Aikido randori in some form (of course it depends on the person to discover this link and explore themselves). In my case, Aikido tai sabaki and tsukuri drills have helped in both my kali and jujutsu training in different ways. The Aikido tanto randori drills help the kali and the toshu randori drills help the Jujutsu - fascinating.
But this is only in my experience however.

Happy training.
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 06-10-2005, 09:29 PM   #103
CNYMike
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
Right, well the human body can only be twisted in so many ways, a wristlock is a wrist lock, any differences are found in the "how" of achieveing it imo. I've found nothing totally unique in "Aikido waza" as yet.
Nothing's totally "unique." But I find Aikido quite compact compared to Kali, so I get to do the Aikido versions of some things more frequently in any given month.


Quote:
Not so sure if we'd part company. There are many goals to be achieved in doing randori and playing with the techinques at lower speeds and resistance so that one starts to internalise the basic movements that require one to adapt and apply the "nice techniques", as well as the not so nice ones, is only one aspect of the freeplay paradigm. The ones I outlined are others and do apply to what you were speaking of earlier. From my experience the more one trains in freeplay at lower speed and resistance levels and then slowly builds to the higher speed and resistance levels one slowly develops a means of not "dumb (ing) down and using gross body motions". It's all in what you focus on while practicing this way imo.
Yes, that seems to be what Guro is aiming for.


Quote:
Right. That could be a challenge to spontaneous training with full resistance then, but may still be of assistance at the lower resistance, slower levels.
When and how much to resist seems to be a complicated issue even within a "cooperative" format. Next time you are having a beer with an Aikikai fifth dan or higher and you don't have anything to do for an hour and a half, ask him.
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Old 06-23-2005, 03:33 PM   #104
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Just a quick apology for this long delay in providing my promised reply on how one might define and/or come to understand "spontaneity" training. I hope to have something to post over the weekend.

For those who might be interested.

dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 06-23-2005, 10:48 PM   #105
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

I actually am waiting for the next installment!

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Old 06-27-2005, 06:14 PM   #106
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

While starting to write my follow-up post here (the second promised reply), I came across this relevant article over at AikidoJournal.com. I am opting to post a link to that article here, and my own (forum) reply (pasted below), because I feel it is relevant to this discussion. In particular, for me, it raises the issue of how form and non-form must be reconciled -- not opposed to each other -- which is something I am attempting to put into words in the promised reply on the meaning of "spontaneous training."

An interesting perspective on what has been said in the article and my reply can be achieved if one takes the time to look at how both the author and myself actually practice within the spontaneous training environments we are attempting to generate. Both of our web sites have video of such training. I came across the author's video because I was inspired to learn more about him due to the polite manners and the kindness he offered at the end of our short thread.

You can see the author's (of the article) video at http://www.roleystoneaiki.com and clicking on the "video" link on the left side of the homepage.

Our own videos regarding such training can be found here:

http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/vids/shuofri.html
http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/v...eflection.html
http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/vids/newazaone.html

I do not want to hold up the author's video (nor my own) as great pieces of "proof" to this discussion -- as I am sure they were not made for the sole purposes of addressing these issues here. Undoubtedly, for both the author and myself, it should be noted that more pointed videos could have been made if one really wanted to address this topic more directly. So please allow for some distance or leeway concerning relevance. Nevertheless, in such video, I think the viewer is inspired to reflect upon some of the differences that arise. Though some of what we say may sound very much alike, I would suggest that it is the small differences between what we saying that is supporting the large differences between what we are doing. I do not here want to necessarily comment on what those differences may be and/or even to comment upon the quality of those differences. However, I think it is important to note how one's conceptualization of both form and non-form training does come to greatly influence what one does and/or does not do in regards to both types of training.

The relationship between one's conceptual understanding and one's actual practice is very much at the heart of this discussion. Up to now, we have been satisfied with discussing the issues related to the conceptualization of "form training." We have been discussing what we think, what we do not think, what we should think, what we should not think, what we can think, and what we cannot think -- all in relation to "form." We have been doing this because these things relate exactly to what we practice and/or do not practice and this, it has been said, plays a role in the culture of mediocrity we are attempting to delineate. Here however, we can see that the same conceptual issues remain relevant even when we are discussing spontaneous training. This has a lot to do with my efforts to better delineate what I mean by "spontaneous training." Moreover, this is the very reason why earlier I suggested that the ultimate "proof" or "measure" of one's capacity to cultivate spontaneity is going to be twofold. Allowing for the fact that folks are going to have different means to different ends, one's spontaneity (i.e. the reconciliation of the subject/object dichotomy or one's experience of "emptiness" -- as the author states things) can be measured by its quality to sustain non-attachment (or the absence of cultural reliance) in various environments of application (both martial and non-martial, both training and actual), and by the degree to which others (i.e. deshi) are cultivated to embody this spontaneity.

Before I complete my promised reply, I thought this "detour" would prove most fruitful toward deepening this discussion.

Here is the link to the article in question -- it is a good read even outside of this discussion:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=895

Here, pasted below, is my posted (forum) response to the article:

(Start of my post)

Quote from article:

"What is the 'path of Aiki'? The first thing we must achieve in our training in order to comprehend Aiki is to 'link ourself to true emptiness'. If this has not been realised and experienced then true Aiki will not be manifested.

If Nage and Uke both work together and fulfil their respective roles and work in harmony, is the feeling that they experience Aiki? No. It is choreographed practice at a high level. However, Aiki will not be achieved within this training environment because it does not require us to 'link to true emptiness'. If whilst in the role of Nage you ‘tell' your partner what attack you desire and you have already selected the ‘technique' you are going to do you are not empty. You have predetermined the future and the technique will be placed on top of the movement to create an unreal pseudo reality. Aiki is not possible when you have already decided what to do before the encounter has started. Uke also knows what technique is being applied and fits his body into the pattern of movement and thereby completes the intended outcome."




In my opinion, it would go against the logic of emptiness if it were to be barred 100% from all levels of kihon waza training. I would suggest, much more could be detailed and/or considered concerning how the concept of emptiness might relate to our training overall. For example, outside of constructed realities that are choreographed purely in a training culture, there does lay a type of forms training that rest firmly within the present moment of measuring one's proximity to an ideal.

In such a case, regardless of what an Uke might do, a Nage must be "in the moment," or "empty of all expectations," in order to be able to take what Uke has provided (by accident, by chance, by a given set of circumstances, by design, etc.) and through his/her own "in the moment responses" come achieve the ideal ending. If one is attached to the form and/or to one's subjective experience of the form, a Nage's proximity to the ideal is indeed dependent upon what Uke might do. However, if a Nage can experience the form without being attached to it, such a Nage will be able to take whatever Uke has done and act to reconcile that with the ideal - such that no matter what comes in, it will lend itself to the form.

In this latter case, you have difference on Uke's part and instant and constant adaptation on Nage's part. Under such conditions, a Nage that cannot touch upon such an understanding of "emptiness" will demonstrate a different version of the ideal technique each time it is performed. Alternately, under such conditions, a Nage that can touch upon such an understanding of "emptiness" will be able to take any difference that came in and make it look, every time, as if it was always the ideal initiating action. In the end, no matter how many times the technique is performed, and no matter how many differences Uke might bring to the engagement, a Nage's technique always looks the same (always reaches the same proximity to the ideal being sought for). In many ways, this level of experiencing "emptiness" is more profound than "doing whatever against whatever" because in such a case a Nage is being asked to reconcile the unknown and the known simultaneously. (Noting here that the reconciliation of such dualism is central to the experience of emptiness.) That is to say, a Nage is being asked to face the in-the-moment actions of Uke and respond to them in such a way (not just a "do anything" kind of way) that they nevertheless add up to the same ideal objective. When a Nage is good at this, a spectator may never come to see all the micro-adjustments that must be made in the moment. The only clue that such a thing is occurring is the strange feeling that one is looking at a replay of a single (past) rep repeatedly.

On the other side of the issue: I would suggest we should probably also note that it is one thing to work within a fully choreographed universe, one thing to not know what attack may be coming in and/or not predetermining what response we may apply (neither ultimately or along the way), and another thing to train under truly spontaneous conditions -- where the unknown remains dynamic throughout the engagement. For example, many forms of so-called spontaneous training may not possess the initial or predetermined constructs of a beginning (e.g. Katate-dori) and an ending (e.g. Ikkyo), but this is not to say that one is not operating within a prescribed culture nevertheless -- where one is still facing the expected and not the unknown.

In particular, often what remains is a cultured sense of timing and of space. Potently, these things often function at a subconscious level. This makes it extremely difficult to reconcile our attachment to such things. Under such conditions, an Uke may enter with whatever, but he or she often does so with the predetermined intent to fall at a certain time and along a certain path. There are a few big clues that this is going on, and so we should always have a keen eye toward such things if we truly want to create spontaneous training environments: FIRST, we should note anytime our Uke demonstrates a rhythm or a pattern; SECOND, we should note anytime our Uke enters Kuzushi, falls, or flips, when we have not even done anything to physically inspire such a response; And, THIRD, we should always be able to see the science behind every one of Uke's bodily responses. If there is no science capable of explaining our physical geometries and/or their related effects, or if Uke is violating scientific principles in order to (physically) provide the cultural expectation, one is not dealing with the true "unknown." One is still in the realm of delusion, attachment, and cultural dependency - regardless of the fact that Katate-dori or Ikkyo was not predetermined.

dmv

(End of my post)

Okay -- that is it for now. I am still working on that promised post. However, please feel free to continue in regards to new issues and/or in regards to what was just discussed above. Hope to be done with that post soon.

Thank you,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 07-27-2005, 03:55 PM   #107
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Philosophically speaking, I agree with your conclusions about how aikido in its ideal should be practiced at a truly spontaneous and dynamic level. And I love the discussion.

But I think in your choice of the word, "mediocrity," you have touched a nerve -- all those of us who re striving to achieve the ultimate "aiki" level, and are yet failing, are thus "mediocre." We can't all be perfect, but some of us strive to be better than average, and labeling that as mediocrity is such a negative call.

On the other had, even if it is a poor word choice, it has fueled a great thread.

Main Entry: me·di·o·cre
Pronunciation: "mE-dE-'O-k&r
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin mediocris, from medius middle + Old Latin ocris stony mountain; akin to Latin acer sharp -- more at EDGE
: of moderate or low quality, value, ability, or performance


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Old 07-27-2005, 07:14 PM   #108
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Hi Peter,

Thanks for the reply. I can agree with what you are saying but I think the thread is trying to refer to a culture, not really to an individual level of competence. In that sense, I think it is more helpful to focus in on the phrase "culture of mediocrity" and not just the word "mediocrity." I think it was either Larry or myself that somewhere early on tried to make this distinction. For me, the reason why the distinction is important is because I don't think we can address anything real here if we stay purely at the level of the individual.

Much appreciation again for the reply,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 01-12-2006, 12:53 AM   #109
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

David - I've been away for awhile. Did you ever post the follow up?

Charles Burmeister
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Old 01-12-2006, 06:31 AM   #110
Alec Corper
 
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Hello Larry,
This thread is pretty old now but I've not logged on here for a few years. Please excuse me if I have missed the main thrust but you seem to be saying that Aikido practise has degenerated into something less than it was intended to be. I completely agree for myself but I am stuck with the ideal view that Aikido is for all and therefore all can practise according to their goals.
Personally I see that Aikido training can be broadly split into the simplistic dichotomy of the Aikibuki, ballet, dance, cooperative, harmony and love approach, and the hard line, "we're doing the real thing", jutsu, karate, mixed up stew. My ideal Aikido is neither of these, but is the effective implementation of a non-aggressive philosophy coupled to a refusal to accept defeat.
"The Way Of Aiki is winning without fighting" This stretches all the way from talking as a means of problem solving, to the other end of pre-emptive atemi so that the fight is over before it has time to develop. Again, both of these are ideals and reality is always much messier and far less predictable. This is what I am seeking to learn, and after a total of more than 25 years in MA, I find it very hard.
There is one other factor which I have tried to discuss before with many people and that is the role of fear in practise. In real combat the adrenaline dump which occurs when you realise that somebody is seriously trying to do you harm cannot be simulated in the dojo. However if we do not attempt to create the possibilty for experiencing smaller doses of fear we will never comprehend the very real physiological changes that take place in combat: the loss of breath, the narrowing of perception, the loss of fine motor skills, the reversion to our most ingrained survival strategies. To change this you have to train for it, but to train for combat is the role of the soldier, not the role of the martial artist. To train to develop the character of the warrior is Budo, to find the still center in the midst of the proverbial s**t storm.
Simply repeating harder and faster preset attacks will not create fear, unless of course, both uke and tori are trying to function above their level, and even then the fear is only fear of injury, which is entirely different than facing the alien beast of a truly violent person, or the potential terror of an impersonal foe like a flood or an earthquake. Is it possible to implement at higher levels of training in Aikido, graduated adrenaline based training without moving away from the essential philosophy of the art? I believe that for some of us this would be of great benefit, not for all, but the only models of this type of work are outside of the Aikido community and simply grafting on a bit of this and a bit of that do not, IMHO, help Aikido to continue to develop as a living art.
respectfully, Alec Corper
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Old 01-12-2006, 10:00 AM   #111
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

even if you have the luck to make it to the center of the storm, you are still in the storm.
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Old 01-12-2006, 11:32 AM   #112
Edwin Neal
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Aikido is all about learning to fight... punching kicking locking throwing standing grappling counters counter-counters biting pulling hair etc etc... it is all inclusive, but its not really so much different from other arts what works works...unfortunately alot of mcdojos and mcsenseis water it down or only "get" some obscure part of it... i love the philosophy and all but some folk go off the deep end... so you end up with crappy aikido in lots of places... CHECK your Sensei and his pedigree or lineage carefully!!! if you go to macdonalds dont look for huate cuisine on the menu!!! Aikodo is just fine ... if you find the real deal... you practice as intensely as you and your partners want to... my college classes could be pretty rough, but i was gentle with people who didnt want to play that way... so many of you guys posting seem to be in poor situations... others seem to be getting something a little better... in MA in general any one can claim to be grandmaster of their style and people buy their crap... i have been fortunate my instructors have been close to the source... i wish i could have met and trained with Osensei, but some of my instructors have so again very lucky me... I learn alot from trying other MA doing Arnis with Remy Presas helped my Aikido ALOT (use the flow young jedi...), Royce Gracie helped my Aikido (relaxation!), and there are lots more... beginners who are afraid to hit you and dont know how to "PLAY" ukemi are great they are so genuine in their reactions... good luck keep looking Aikido is out there when you find it you'll FEEL it... just my rant...

Edwin Neal


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Old 01-12-2006, 11:42 AM   #113
Edwin Neal
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

in reply to allec we sometimes train in the washing machine mode... randori style hard fast high resistance until exhastion... especially on tests... I'm proud to say I've thrown up and nearly passed out a few times it was so intense... been cracked in the head with a bokken so many times i stopped counting... split lips jammed fingers thankfully nothing too serious... but i think this does recreate as nearly as possible the Fear Factor of the street... does your school or style do this???

Edwin Neal


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Old 01-12-2006, 12:07 PM   #114
Alec Corper
 
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

In answer to your question, yes sometimes with senior students close to ikkyu or shodan I will crank up the intensity, but mostly that tests their physical stamina, resilience, no quitting type attitude. However I don't think that Aikido is about fighting, there are more direct rapid means to learn to fight if thats your goal. When I was a lot younger I took part in Kyukushinkai and Chinese Boxing competitions, and I've got the injuries to prove it 30 years later ;-)
No, I believe that Aikido is exactly what O Sensei called it, but the meaning of blending, non-resistance, minimal damage to your "enemy", etc., these ideas seem to get changed somewhat.
Alec
P.S. Mark, you're right,but when it rains I like to have an umbrella.
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Old 01-12-2006, 01:12 PM   #115
Edwin Neal
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

learning to fight is one goal but not the only goal and its not a race... all that philosophy stuff has to be taken with a grain of pragmatism ( betcha thought i'd say salt) ... minimal means the least necessary that might mean a whole lotta ass whupping... did a self defense thing with my ex girlfreind where i told her to fight like her life was at stake and i just held her down no strikes no wrist locks just gentle blending riding that sort of thing no matter how hard she tried she couldnt get loose after that she did let me train her in some simple self defense because even with me not fight ing and she fight ing she had a tough time with defense and really saw that she needed to learn to fight...
rule 1 aikido MUST work on the street against a resisting non compliant attacker
rule 2 when in doubt read rule one...

Edwin Neal


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Old 01-13-2006, 12:15 AM   #116
CNYMike
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
Hi folks,
Hi, Larry,

Since the thread came back to life, I thought I might take another run at it.

Quote:
..... Have we as Aikidoka begun to accept a culture of martial mediocrity within our art? In other words, has objective martial effectiveness and its related elements within Aikido training become something so abstract, so diametrically opposed to the concept of "peace and harmony with the universe", so much not a major goal of modern training that often folks move through the ranks into the higher levels of Yudansha without understanding simple elements of body control that are addressed by training with the goal of objectively effective technique?

My reason for asking these questions is because recently I see a trend where many Aikidoka appear to be clueless about how to achieve simple tasks like maintaining one's footing and vertical posture in the face of a shoot or tackle .....
You call that "simple"? Just maintaning good body mechanics during regular practice is difficult enough. I can't remember how many times I've been yelled at for letting my rear foot off the floor. (Happens in Kali, too, while throwing a jab-cross, so it's not an isolated problem.) Staying solid and stable while someone who presumeably knows what they're doing goes for your legs and does so correctly sounds pretty ADVANCED, not simple.

Quote:
or questionable ability to comfortably evade certain types of unarmed attacks ....
What types of unarmed attacks? If they're not ones covered in the syllabus most dojo have, then you'd have to be pretty solid in the principles to pull it off. This may require mastery of the basics, but is not basic -- is porbably somewhere way beyond basic.
Quote:
...... Has Aikido gone the path of modern Wushu, with practitioners learning movements that only work as shown in a choreographed environment?.....
I think the "choreography" is meant to help you learn principles and internalize reference points. I think that's how I wrist-locked my partner in chi sao some months ago. So it is an effective method of training but you have to be aware of what it is teaching you and how.

Since I've been surfing here, I've come across the two mutually exclusive shcools of thought: One that Aikido can handle anything you throw at it, and the other that it's almost useless in the real world, and God knows there's enough anecdotal evidence to support both positions. Reality is somewhere in the middle.

Quote:
.... Imho an Aikidoka who understands certain principles (not even having to do with offensive techniques) should be capable of not having his balance easily taken by a shoot or tackle, not allowing a situation of resistance allow him to resort to Jujutsu and Judo techniques or muscular and mental overtension, or not have to resort to ground grappling in the majority of serious attack situations because he does not easily allow himself to be taken to the ground (this does not mean not cross training, since there are special situations where grappling knowledge serves well). Basically, he does not allow the attacker or the attack to easily draw him out of the tactical range that keeps him in control and keeps his Aikido as usually practiced effective, without resorting to other tactics from other arts too easily and quickly. Is it that folks simply don't train anymore to the levels where the martial principles of Aiki are so ingrained that they quickly abandon Aiki principles when faced with serious attack?
I think the real question is, how much mat time does it take to ingrain those principles? Probably a lot.

I've been doing martial arts for a few weeks shy of 21 years, yet coming back to Aikido, the main benefit seems to be I'm quicker at picking things up, ie I don't have the added burden of having to get my body to do soemthing specific. Even then, there are a lot of basic areas where I have problems. Forward ukemi explode to mind -- they were a challenge in Seidokan 20 years ago and while improving slowly, a challenge now. This is after plugging away once a week for a year and a half. Going from there to naturally being stable if faced with a Shoot, or evading any empty hand attack from any angle ..... It might take decades to get to that point. When you mention rnaking Yudansha, are you including 6th degree black betls with ~30 years of experiences? They'd be closer to the mark than anything.

Having said I have trained only three dojos and probably missed a lot of crap out there, the issue may not be that no one can get the principles you are talking about, just that it takes a long time to do it. Even with a teacher who explains everything to you, it is still long-hair stuff, somewhat tricky, and just plain difficult to get. It has nothing to do with "accepting" medicority or rejecting it -- just that in it's own way, Aikido can be difficult.

Quote:
..... Have we grown to accept that in the face of other arts we cannot stand on the same level in the area of martial applicability? I am not referring so much to self defence, but more to the mastery of the Aiki basics that makes an effective Aikidoka and Budoka.
Maybe not, but mastery doesn't come over night, and simple things can be difficult to master. Just the other night in Kali, Guro Andy Astle devoted a chunk of the time to studying the lead hook, saying "The hook can be difficult to master." The HOOK! Something anyone familiar with boxing knows, and yet getting that right can be tricky! If people have trouble with some basics in Aikido, it may not be that they're instruction is bad or that they've resigned to being mediocher but that to get where they want to be is longer and more difficult than you might first expect.

Practice, practice, practice. That's the key.
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Old 01-13-2006, 02:40 AM   #117
xuzen
 
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Quote:
Edwin Neal wrote:
in reply to allec we sometimes train in the washing machine mode... randori style hard fast high resistance until exhastion... especially on tests... I'm proud to say I've thrown up and nearly passed out a few times it was so intense... been cracked in the head with a bokken so many times i stopped counting... split lips jammed fingers thankfully nothing too serious... but i think this does recreate as nearly as possible the Fear Factor of the street... does your school or style do this???
Cracked head? Split lips? Jammed fingers eh Edwin? Is this YOU ?

Boon.

SHOMEN-ATE (TM), the solution to 90% of aikido and life's problems.
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Old 01-13-2006, 05:31 AM   #118
Edwin Neal
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

cute Xu, but not me ... i'm grabbing your wrist...

Edwin Neal


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Old 01-13-2006, 07:36 AM   #119
CNYMike
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Quote:
Edwin Neal wrote:
rule 1 aikido MUST work on the street against a resisting non compliant attacker
rule 2 when in doubt read rule one...
Done. See:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpo...&postcount=465

This one is the kicker:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpo...&postcount=438

You can't do better than an endoresement from law enforcement. But then there's:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpo...&postcount=514

Conclusion: Rules 1 and 2 are satisfied.

Now, if only the thread I cited would die ......
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Old 01-13-2006, 07:41 AM   #120
Edwin Neal
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

preaching to the choir, but not everyones singing the same hymn...

Edwin Neal


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Old 01-28-2006, 07:00 PM   #121
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Wow, I didn't even know this thread resurrected itself from the archival abyss.

Quote:
Michael Gallagher wrote:
Just maintaning good body mechanics during regular practice is difficult enough. I can't remember how many times I've been yelled at for letting my rear foot off the floor. (Happens in Kali, too, while throwing a jab-cross, so it's not an isolated problem.) Staying solid and stable while someone who presumeably knows what they're doing goes for your legs and does so correctly sounds pretty ADVANCED, not simple.
Many things are difficult in the beginning. However if you are doing it repeatedly and seeing no improvement then you have to ask yourself why aren't you evolving - is it something within yourself, is it the teacher or teaching method, is it something else? I can see your point, but to me one who truly seeks to evolve in the way will attempt to find, even invent ways to address one's own evolution so that what may be perceived as "advanced" will not always be beyond them and will one day become the simple.

If the way is clouded even the simple and obvious becomes hidden and advanced imho.

Quote:
Michael Gallagher wrote:
What types of unarmed attacks? If they're not ones covered in the syllabus most dojo have, then you'd have to be pretty solid in the principles to pull it off. This may require mastery of the basics, but is not basic -- is porbably somewhere way beyond basic.
The question here becomes - is Aikido only the syllabus or is it something else, something more? Does the syllabus embody the totality of what you want to achieve and manifest as your Aikido or is it merely a means of ensuring you understand certain fundamental elements that need to be applied to a much broader reality? To me, mastery of the principles is the gate through which one encounters the hidden and "advanced". But how does one achieve this mastery if one takes the role of a passive student (content on receiving only what his teacher gives) instead of an active student (one who receives the teachings but does his own research, practices outside the dojo time and attempts to find the path his own way, with his teacher as a guide). No teacher can make one a master. To evolve, one has to learn the path using the teacher as a guide. The teacher and the syllabus are guides, not the path itself imho.

Quote:
Michael Gallagher wrote:
I think the "choreography" is meant to help you learn principles and internalize reference points. I think that's how I wrist-locked my partner in chi sao some months ago. So it is an effective method of training but you have to be aware of what it is teaching you and how.
I never said that choreography was not effective to learn certain things. I agree fully with what you say above. However choreography is not a means whereby one can develop spontaneity, one naturally precludes the other.


Quote:
Michael Gallagher wrote:
I think the real question is, how much mat time does it take to ingrain those principles? Probably a lot.
Actually mat time is what you use to see if your own exploration is on track. Like the syllabus and the teacher, mat time alone does not embody the totality of the path. The dojo is a single, controlled environment used for learning and testing certain concepts within a limited time. If one depends on this alone, evolution is guaranteed to be slow. In my dojo I encourage all my students to study their fundamentals outside of mat time, especially since we do not train every day on the mat. Experiencing the core principles does not take much mat time. Exploration and evolution of understanding of those principles depends greatly on how much time you put into conscientious, goal-oriented study and training with realistic, objective performance testing along the way. This is the only way you can detect if you're evolving over time instead of "spinning top in mud" as we say in the Caribbean.


Quote:
Michael Gallagher wrote:
I've been doing martial arts for a few weeks shy of 21 years, yet coming back to Aikido, the main benefit seems to be I'm quicker at picking things up, ie I don't have the added burden of having to get my body to do soemthing specific. Even then, there are a lot of basic areas where I have problems. Forward ukemi explode to mind -- they were a challenge in Seidokan 20 years ago and while improving slowly, a challenge now. This is after plugging away once a week for a year and a half. Going from there to naturally being stable if faced with a Shoot, or evading any empty hand attack from any angle ..... It might take decades to get to that point. When you mention rnaking Yudansha, are you including 6th degree black betls with ~30 years of experiences? They'd be closer to the mark than anything.
Firstly, congratulations for sticking with the arts for so long. This requires much dedication. Regarding the Yudansha issue, to me it depends on the focus of one's training and how the student approaches training. If we only wait until Sensei does that class to learn or begin to think or understand a principle then learning and evolution will take a long time. It comes down to the approach of both teacher and student imho. For what you refer to as being the realm of Yudansha, I have kyu grades who are not yet masters of these things, but pretty skilled at it and able to maintain at least a 60% degree of success when dealing with shoots and unchoreographed multiple angle strikes. On the other side, I have had visiting Yudansha from other schools who are unable to maintain this consistency. All this means to me is that there are different approaches to learning and teaching and people focus on what they choose to focus on. My overall point is though, whatever you choose to focus on - be able to think critically and objectively gauge your development.

Quote:
Michael Gallagher wrote:
Having said I have trained only three dojos and probably missed a lot of crap out there, the issue may not be that no one can get the principles you are talking about, just that it takes a long time to do it. Even with a teacher who explains everything to you, it is still long-hair stuff, somewhat tricky, and just plain difficult to get. It has nothing to do with "accepting" medicority or rejecting it -- just that in it's own way, Aikido can be difficult.
Aikido can be difficult, which is why the teaching/learning process must be conscientious and focussed on achieving what one wants to achieve if one plans on developing and not just going to class to exercise and meet people (though there is nothing wrong with taking that path if it is all you want out of training). From my experience in different arts and other things to do with teaching in other aspects of life I have found that teaching/learning is an encoding/decoding communication process that takes careful skill and conscientious application to reach certain people. In my class I admit to my students that there are certain techniques that are difficult for me to teach since a lot of what is involved requires a touch response on the part of Tori and is very difficult to be explained. This is where skill in imparting the principles come in so even with a minimum of specific instruction, as long as the student adheres to known principles and fundamentals the gap between poor technique and acceptible technique is minimized.

Quote:
Michael Gallagher wrote:
If people have trouble with some basics in Aikido, it may not be that they're instruction is bad or that they've resigned to being mediocher but that to get where they want to be is longer and more difficult than you might first expect.
Practice, practice, practice. That's the key.
I never indicated that people resigned to being mediocre. Everything in life is difficult at some point, the only way we grow and things become easy is by focussed, conscious attempts to do better and finding a way even in the midst of adversity. This is part of the Budo spirit. It is not only a matter of practice, practice practice imho.

As someone else on Aikiweb said: "Practice makes permanent, perfect practice makes perfect."

Yours in Aiki.
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 01-28-2006, 07:26 PM   #122
Edwin Neal
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

I said that but i got it from someone else who i think got it from some golfer... it is hard for most people to analyze their progress... and unfortunately "some" aikido is just crap, sorry if that offends anyone, but it is true... you can see a similar thing starting to happen in BJJ... when an art "splinters" you start to get watered down crappy stuff being peddled as aikido or any other art...

Edwin Neal


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Old 01-28-2006, 07:40 PM   #123
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Hi Edwin,

I agree progress is difficult to judge sometimes, but one thing that starts to make things easy is brutal honesty with oneself.

Although splintering can lead to watered down stuff being peddled, sometimes it is not so simple as stuff being watered down or splintering but merely a limitation in conceptual understanding, teaching, training and evaluation methods.

Sometimes the splinter groups, by leaving the core institution, are less bound by traditional or institutionalized norms that prevent clear thinking and an honest approach to progress and evaluation. In the end they are the ones who aid in the overall development of the art by venturing into areas that may be seen as taboo by the core institution. It is difficult to generalize in these things imho.

LC

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Old 01-28-2006, 08:33 PM   #124
Edwin Neal
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

i totally agree larry in some instances breaking from a watered down style can lead to reaffirming, rejuvenating, or rediscovering more martial(or spiritual) effectiveness... i just think the other happens more often... i generally speak in generalities, generally speaking that is...

Edwin Neal


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Old 01-29-2006, 07:50 AM   #125
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Breaking from a "pure" style or way of thinking that has become petrified by an unnatural fixation with tradition can also have the effects you mentioned Edwin. It has happened a lot in Japanese Budo over time.

LC

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