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Old 08-18-2005, 11:32 AM   #26
James Davis
 
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Quote:
Jon Harris wrote:
OT, I know, but I am continually amazed when these videos make their way around the web, that absolutely no one there seems to be thinking about stepping in and stopping something that shouldn't be going on in the first place!
Would any of them feel the slightest twinge of guilt if one participant ends up dead from injuries sustained in a fight that could have been stopped?
Is it just me?
No, it's not just you. Seeing about twenty witnesses doing nothing to stop that altercation made me sick.
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Old 08-18-2005, 11:49 AM   #27
Adam Alexander
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Quote:
Jon Harris wrote:
OT, I know, but I am continually amazed when these videos make their way around the web, that absolutely no one there seems to be thinking about stepping in and stopping something that shouldn't be going on in the first place!
Would any of them feel the slightest twinge of guilt if one participant ends up dead from injuries sustained in a fight that could have been stopped?
Is it just me?
If I walked up to a scene and that was happening, if one person was trying to escape, I might intervene. However, if I found out that the person trying to escape was taking the retribution for an offense he/she committed, I'd return to minding my own business.

Further, in that video, I didn't get the sense that the one going down was trying to escape...except to get out from in front of a strike--mutual combatants in my eyes. They're old enough to make that decision, I'll get a bag of pop-corn and enjoy the view.

I think to intervene between two people doing what they want in a non-threatening to others sort of way is a natural right...I've got a tendency to mind my own business in that situation.


Regarding the drills,

I'm not pro or con on those--I don't know either way. However, it sounds to me like comparing apples to oranges when comparing that stuff to "kihon waza."

The thoughts that come to mind are: Basic techniques are meant to teach certain things. Advanced techniques are meant to teach other things. Is a first kyu or sho-dan Aikidoka ready for such advanced things as what's in your drill? Is it possible or probable that by taking away from kata time to train in these drills you're reinforcing instinctual responses rather than developing Aikido responses?

I don't know any of the answers, but I just wanted to drop the reasons that I wouldn't use that style of training.

For me (from the perspective that sh'te is expected to respond with a technique--I didn't read your responses...I just dont' have the attention span), as soon as uke advanced and I didn't have a technique to deal with it, I'd go back to kata.

Again, not saying there's anything wrong with it. I'm just responding because you, apparently, were responding to something I said.
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Old 08-18-2005, 05:23 PM   #28
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Quote:
Jean de Rochefort wrote:
Is it possible or probable that by taking away from kata time to train in these drills you're reinforcing instinctual responses rather than developing Aikido responses?
Well, I'm not David but... I guess just doing the drill mindlessly would lead to reinforcing instinctual (maybe I'd prefer to say habitual) responses, but then the whole point was to not do them mindlessly.

kvaak
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Old 08-18-2005, 05:44 PM   #29
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Re: quickness & accuracy

This is exactly what I would have answered Pauliina - the whole point of the drill is drop what is habitual (i.e. that which is done regardless of the context).

David M. Valadez
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Old 08-18-2005, 05:51 PM   #30
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
I think I can understand you perfectly when you mention how surprising it is to see how folks try and deal with the pressure - it truly is amazing to see how differently we all try and cope with it. Yet, and I think you would agree, some major patterns emerge nevertheless.
A few common once that I noticed, for example, were laughing and treating the drill as a game, wincing, ducking, turning away, taking very wide and big steps back away from the attack...

Quote:
As a result, we can often feel pretty "weird" after such training - "odd" in a way. So, as a teacher, I just try and be aware of that and make sure that folks have some sort of positive context from which they can interpret what it is they may be feeling. Thus, such drills, in my opinion, have to be part of larger training perspective that not only works to bring more depth to one's training but that can also actually work to support such efforts.
This why I'm not sure I want to repeat the experiment in a class that I lead, I don't think I can offer that support. I might prefer to ask a few people and just train by ourselves at free practice time.

It's actually equally hard to be at both sides in this drill. It's hard as the attacker to see your partner getting stressed. We're such nice people all in the dojo...

I asked my husband to try this today, at home, actually. Now he wasn't willing to really hit me, but OTOH he has the advantage of not being shy to touch me anywhere. Tickling can be very startling. I could keep my gaze level but it felt "hard", it felt like I created a lot of mental space between us that I didn't like, especially with someone I love. The experience I had in the dojo was similar, and I wonder if it's possible to not have that mental pushing away (I dunno if that describes it well) but to be more open towards the attack, in a way. I didn't find it hard to keep calm and facing the attack (up to a certain level of intensity), but the difference between open and closed calm, so to say.

I've been having a summer holiday from aikido, this conversation is giving me an itch though.

kvaak
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Old 08-18-2005, 09:14 PM   #31
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Quote: "A few common once that I noticed, for example, were laughing and treating the drill as a game, wincing, ducking, turning away, taking very wide and big steps back away from the attack."


This is very common. In my experience, it is done for many reasons but it always carries with it the same meaning: an attempt to disengage from the drill in effort to reduce the drills efficacy at revealing the small self and/or experiencing the small self in an open and communal setting. For example in regards to laughing (listing some possibilities among many), some people laugh to hide, or disguise, or to cover-up, and/or to "reduce" the disparity between their perceived self-image in regards to their martial skill and their actual skill level as it is revealed to them in being unable to stop someone from hitting them in as advantageous and as pristine a setting as the dojo. (Often these folks tend to talk about how the drill is unfair and/or how they would in reality do something different -- e.g. hit someone getting that close; enter; grapple; etc.) In this sense, laughing can be a habitual reaction to pride. Other people laugh because the violence (not matter how controlled) touches parts of them that they are not ready to confront or to reconcile and/or to expose so openly and/or obviously. Hence, you can also get the attacker laughing for a similar reason. (Of course, crying, and many other emotions, can also happen on both sides for this reason as well.) In this sense, laughing can be a habitual reaction to fear. Others start laughing because they have no idea what is going on, no idea why it is going on, and/or what they are supposed to do while it is going on. It is like they are flooded by a wave of absurdity and/or meaninglessness while they have burdened themselves with finding sense and meaning -- yet they themselves are at the center of that absurdity and/or meaninglessness. In this sense, laughing can be a habitual reaction to ignorance.

What is really interesting to note, aside from what is obviously being revealed at a personal level, is how so little of this stuff, or how none of this stuff, comes up in standard Kihon Waza training. Many of us are quite comfortable in Kihon Waza training -- we do without these demons day after day. There is little pressure to disengage from the training in an effort to reduce the effects of self-revelation. This is one reason why you can get folks that have no problem participating in even very intense Kihon Waza training only to act completely otherwise within this type of training environment. For the rest of us, folks that did have a lot of similar pressures within Kihon Waza training, even if initially we may have experienced some moments of anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty, whatever it was, it was nowhere near this other level of self-revelation/exposure.


Quote: "This why I'm not sure I want to repeat the experiment in a class that I lead, I don't think I can offer that support. I might prefer to ask a few people and just train by ourselves at free practice time."


I do no think that any one person can support such self-examination. This is my opinion. Really, it is a group effort -- one that demonstrates the reason why all viable systems of self-reflection always made good use of a community (i.e. like-minded individuals coming together for reasons of support and guidance). This does not mean that we do not benefit from a mentor, but it does mean that a mentor cannot be expected to support everything and every one in total. It might be a good idea to simply start out with a smaller group -- one from which you can learn the various ins and outs of such training -- things you can use to then go on to address the needs of larger groups of people. Not a bad idea at all.


Quote: "I asked my husband to try this today, at home, actually. Now he wasn't willing to really hit me, but OTOH he has the advantage of not being shy to touch me anywhere. Tickling can be very startling. I could keep my gaze level but it felt "hard", it felt like I created a lot of mental space between us that I didn't like, especially with someone I love. The experience I had in the dojo was similar, and I wonder if it's possible to not have that mental pushing away (I dunno if that describes it well) but to be more open towards the attack, in a way. I didn't find it hard to keep calm and facing the attack (up to a certain level of intensity), but the difference between open and closed calm, so to say."


This too is a very common reaction to the drills. I would tend to understand this "mental pushing away" in a manner similar to what was mentioned above -- even if we want to define it as a difference between open and closed calm. In my experience, it represents a kind of resistance to the present in which we are finding ourselves (for whatever reason). In addition, like what was mentioned above, it also says something about how we can train in Kihon Waza just fine without experiencing this resistance (which is really the source of all resistance -- in my opinion). It might be saying that we are non-resistant only under controlled and/or what some have called "fair weather" conditions. However, under more pressing matters, our habitual reaction to resist, to not accept, to not blend, to not harmonize with, to not "welcome the attack and the attacker" (as Osensei said), comes to the forefront. We are really talking about an amazing relationship between the mind and the body -- one we must uncover and reconcile before we go on to practice Aiki martially (i.e. in real life). The really interesting part is this: When you can still practice non-resistance against an attacker (e.g. not mentally pushing away your training partner in this type of drill), the level of intimacy is even greater than if you were practicing non-resistance under fair weather conditions in Kihon Waza with a "partner". For this reason, in actuality, should you come to reconcile this the source of all resistance, you would actually generate greater, closer, more intimate relationships with those others in your dojo. At least this has been my experience.

Anyways, because of your level of insight, your willingness to expose yourself to such pressures in your own training, and your candid honesty, your integrity of character, etc. -- you sound amazing to me and you have come to inspire me a great deal more in my own pursuits. For this, and for sharing in this discussion, I am very grateful.

Yours,
david

David M. Valadez
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Old 08-19-2005, 07:25 AM   #32
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
In my experience, it represents a kind of resistance to the present in which we are finding ourselves (for whatever reason).
Yes! That describes my experience felt very accurately.

Quote:
In addition, like what was mentioned above, it also says something about how we can train in Kihon Waza just fine without experiencing this resistance (which is really the source of all resistance -- in my opinion). It might be saying that we are non-resistant only under controlled and/or what some have called "fair weather" conditions. However, under more pressing matters, our habitual reaction to resist, to not accept, to not blend, to not harmonize with, to not "welcome the attack and the attacker" (as Osensei said), comes to the forefront.
I do believe that if the resistance is there under more pressured conditions, that it's there in controlled conditions as well, only to a degree that is not easy to detect. So once you have identified the resistance, it should be possible to work on it in those conditions as well. Or I'd say it should be worked on!

If I take an example from my line of work, someone who strains their voice when they are singing on a stage will be straining their voice to some extent when they are speaking, and even when they are whispering. Actually in that case I'd start working on the whispering first -- which would be analogous to working on kihon waza? But of course there the difference is that this person already has the experience of using their voice under very pressured conditions.

Come to think of it my experience yesterday was similar to the two-on-one training I've done. It's not very "real" in the set-up, but I've had the same experience of getting stuck, wanting to blame my uke for not playing fair etc. That might be a way to work on this that is more familiar to our group. If we can do it in a way that people don't have too many "technical" "escapes".

Quote:
For this reason, in actuality, should you come to reconcile this the source of all resistance, you would actually generate greater, closer, more intimate relationships with those others in your dojo. At least this has been my experience.
That's encouraging. I can sort of ...smell it around the corner...

What I'm working on, in my personal life right now, is recognizing where and when I make decisions based on fear. Like replying privately rather than on the board for example. This discussion came at a good time. A great start for a new training season.

Boy it's hard to take compliments...thank you.
kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 08-19-2005, 08:58 AM   #33
Charles Hill
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Hi David,

How do you as a teacher deal with the psychological "stuff" that comes up during a drill?

thanks
Charles
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Old 08-19-2005, 09:48 AM   #34
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Re: quickness & accuracy

David, this has been a very informative thread because of your openess to sharing. Thanks a bunch.

Jean, I know how much we in the yoshinkan and similar schools love kata (I do myself) but this is a case of a distinction between Waza and Kata. Kata will not likely help in the situation posed here. Waza, on the other hand, probably would.

Best,
Ron

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Old 08-19-2005, 12:21 PM   #35
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Hi Charles,

I'd like to answer that question because I would like to reflect upon all that once again for my own training, however it's a pretty big topic and I wouldn't want to run off on some aspect of it if you were more interested in some other part. Do you think you could do me the favor of maybe being more specific and/or elaborate a bit more on the words "deal with"? Please/thanks.

Are you wondering how we support folks through such emotional content, such that they are not open to abuse (from others or from oneself)?

Are you wondering how we assist folks with coming to reconcile such self-revelations so that they can thereby improve in their practice of Aiki?

Are you wondering how teachers can be part of the process without coming to feel "trapped" in the "demons" of someone else?

Etc.?

david

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Old 08-19-2005, 12:23 PM   #36
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Hi Ron,

Of course we are all benefiting from each other here. So I will return the "thank you" as well. :-)

dmv

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Old 08-19-2005, 12:51 PM   #37
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Pauliina,

Yes, I agree. You are right. This is a more accurate description of what is actually occurring. The drills are really just amplifiers, allowing for an amplification of what is already present in and/or going on in Kihon Waza. Amplification or magnification, of course, makes things easier to sense, to become aware of, and thus easier to address. Once we experience these revelations, our insights into the subtleties involved become more keen and we are indeed more able to address them at less-amplified levels (such as in Kihon Waza). These drills reveal only what is already always there -- no more, no less. If we see something in the drill, we not only can see it in Kihon Waza, we see it everywhere else in our lives -- only we might not always have the eyes to see with (for one reason or another). Your example of the straining singing voice is a perfect analogy.

Thinking out loud: The other side of this, however, is to suggest that most Kihon Waza training might be seen as a de-amplifier of such things. Ouch! That is hard to say, but reason and (at least my own) experience seems to suggest that such a thing is actually quite probable. To be clear, this is not a denunciation and/or even a de-prioritizing of forms training. It is simply identifying what each type of training can and/or cannot do -- pointing out what is likely and not likely in each type of training for the sake of finding a way for both types of training to benefit each other more directly.

Again, thanks for sharing,
dmv

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Old 08-20-2005, 05:10 PM   #38
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Watching the violence, as well as the apathy around it, also made me feel sick (but no, I didn't stop watching). I find the fact that as martial artists we can discuss it rationally kinda disturbing actually (I'm not having a go at anyone by this).

Jean bought up an interesting question:

Can two people (or nations) consent to violent confrontation, and does that make it ok, or is it just bad period?

On the notion of allowing someone to exact violent revenge, I disagree, it's still morally unjustifiable and against the rule of law. But yes, I am human and might feel different under the wrong circumstances.

Food for thought anyway...

Mark
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Old 08-20-2005, 07:42 PM   #39
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Re: quickness & accuracy

David,

I am not ignoring your request for a dialog, just trying to crystallize my take on it. I feel that you are touching on a very poignant subject that deserves an adequate response.

Charles Burmeister
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Old 08-20-2005, 08:25 PM   #40
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Sure thing Charles, no problem, no worries. When you get a hold on something, just pass it my way and I'll do my best to reflect openly, hoping that can suffice you in your own pursuits and in your own further reflections.

take care,
david

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Old 08-20-2005, 08:43 PM   #41
Charles Hill
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Hi Charles
I think this is me. What I mean by "deal with" is how do you help the student work with the psychological stuff that comes up during drills. Part of my problem here may be due to the fact I haven't figured out how to view your videos. (ok, I am a little computer challenged)

I am thinking that we are going off topic, but then again maybe not. I think a major problem with the fight in the original video is that both guys are emotionally off balanced which leads them to being physically off balanced. The voice over at the beginning says the fight is over a girl. So I think that martial drills that bring up emotional issues is entirely relevant.

If participants disengage from the drill to avoid having the "small self" revealed, how do you as an instructor, bring them back to the drill? Do you consider that part of your "job" as an aikido teacher?

"The other" Charles
btw, maybe this is all off topic, should it be given its own thread?
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Old 08-20-2005, 08:51 PM   #42
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Whoops - two Charles - my (big) mistake. I imagine Charles B. is addressing my first request - which I'm still very interested in hearing from others on - so I anxiously await your post Charles B.

Charles H. - thanks for getting back to me. Let me think about this a bit and get back to this thread shortly. I think I get what you are asking now. Thanks for elaborating like this.

talk soon,
david

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Old 08-21-2005, 11:31 PM   #43
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Re: quickness & accuracy

David,

Coming back to your previous post wrt the drill which your dojo perform. There are interesting and I would not hesitate to recommend them to my sensei or adjutant sensei.

Pls aglow me to add: I have read it somewhere previously, the British Marine or some branch of their arm forces utilizes a similar kind of drill to improve their fighting spirit, or rather train them to avoid flinching when a blow lands on their face. It is where two participants step into a boxing ring, and punch each other silly with proper boxing gloves. However, unlike a typical boxing match, the participants are not allowed to block or evade the punch and they must take the punch as they land. I wonder if you are familiar with such a drill? NB: The participants are of course fully protected with standard amateur boxing protective gears.

The second drill, I come across if from my sensei. He said that the Muay Thai people splashes water into their eyes while keeping them wide open. He said that it helps to reduce their flinching reaction as well.

What are your thoughts on this two drills?

Boon.

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Old 08-22-2005, 07:33 AM   #44
Ron Tisdale
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Hi Boon,

I like my flinch reaction. I don't want to do anything to stiffle it unconciously. Rather, I wish to retrain it to an extent. Just my preference....

Best,
Ron (flinching has saved me from a couple of head injuries...)

Ron Tisdale
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Old 08-22-2005, 08:05 AM   #45
Charles Hill
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
I like my flinch reaction. I don't want to do anything to stiffle it unconciously.
Interestingly, Bruce Lee recommended this training, throwing water into each others eyes. On the other hand, Takuan wrote to Yagyu (or maybe the other way around) that if something comes at your eyes and you blink, this is natural. If it comes again and you don't blink, this indicates a disturbed mind. I'm gonna keep my flinch too.

Charles
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Old 08-22-2005, 09:25 AM   #46
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Hi Boon,

We do something similar to these drills - you can see it in the first clip on the video page I linked to our web site. However, I think the end is different - and - like Charles pointed out - this goes back to Takuan. For me, the difference between Budo and just fighting is that we are more interested in what our training does for our hear/mind than we are in what it does for capacity to fight. This is not to say that we can excuse the refining of our capacity for martial victory for the sake of a more primary goal. In Budo, for me, our skills at martial victory are directly proportional to the depths at which we are able to cultivate our heart/mind. Therefore, it is not that we can ignore such issues over martial capacity -- it is only that we put such a capacity to a difference use and as a result, we can often do the same type of drills but in a completely different manner. I believe this is what is going on with the drills you mention and the similar drill we do at our dojo.

For example, the drills you mention attempt to reduce the flinch behavior (and I am assuming you are talking really about the closing of the eyes and/or the over-powering urge to cower -- not just the instinct to move the head back when something dangerous approaches it). However, it does this by seeking to gain a familiarity toward that which is likely to spark such behavior. In this way, such training is out to replace one habit (i.e. flinching) with another habit (i.e. not flinching). While this replacing of one habit for another may serve one well in a particular fighting situation, from the point of view of the heart/mind, from the point of view of Budo, the practitioner still remains in a state of "dis-ease." The mind is still "plagued" by an incapacity to respond spontaneously. As a result, martially speaking, while a practitioner may likely not flinch, he or she will still be slave to habitual reaction and thus is still very much prone to being trapped by some other likely reaction to what the opponent is doing (e.g. if not flinching, just standing there staring).

On the other hand, Budo may aim to reduce our attachment to the habit of flinching, but it will seek to address this attachment by cultivating a mind capable of practicing non-attachment -- even from within the and against the plagues of combat. Budo training does not set out to replace one habit with another habit. Moreover, the idea in Budo is NOT to just not flinch -- the idea is to become free of the attachment that supports the habit of flinching. True, a budoka may not flinch in a fight, and thus be more capable (than some that is slave to flinching) of not suffering the possible dangers of flinching in a fight - thus then, perhaps, having it become more possible of gaining victory in a martial engagement. However, in Budo training, the cultivation of a mind capable of practicing non-attachment is really directed toward developing the role such a mind plays in our moral and spiritual self. The main idea supporting or "motivating" such effort is this: A heart/mind subject to the habitual self is ultimately incapable of producing moral/spiritual refinement (at the level of thought, word, and action) at any kind of deep or real level. Here is where Budo departs from such training as you mention, as the utilizing of the small self's capacity to enslave itself to habitual responses is almost a kind of moral and/or spiritual "suicide" from the point of view of what we are doing.

When we do such drills then, the replacing of the habit of flinching with the habit of not flinching is actually one of the "dangers" I as teacher must look out for. Why? Because, from the point of view of Budo, it is actually one of the more popular ways that a beginner may seek to disengage from the process of self-reflection - along with laughing or the emotionally alienating of ourselves from our attacker (which were previously mentioned). This response is very common to those deshi that have had previous training but not carried it out under the rubric of Budo. In the end, this all really goes back to the double-edge sword that all training is and thus the real need for a good teacher (which is not that of technical archive). A good teacher is one that is able to sense and then address the double-edge nature of our training for everyone that comes to such training. Everything we do in training can actually reinforce everything we may want to purify out of ourselves. A good teacher is able to note this and help us navigate our way through such risk. Thus, in seeking to rid ourselves of habitual reaction, we may very well be dooming ourselves to such reaction; in seeking a greater intimacy in our lives, we may only be cultivating further alienation; in seeking a higher capacity at which we can engage more of ourselves more often, we may only be practicing and thus honing various way in which we disengage ourselves; etc. A good teacher guidees us through the narrows of Budo training.

Anyways, this is my take on these kinds of drills -- we do them, but we may be doing them differently and therefore they may amount to being something very different -- even if they look exactly the same.

Thanks for sharing,
david

David M. Valadez
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Old 08-22-2005, 11:57 AM   #47
Larry John
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Re: quickness & accuracy

David Valadez wrote:

Quote:
Thinking out loud: The other side of this, however, is to suggest that most Kihon Waza training might be seen as a de-amplifier of such things. Ouch! That is hard to say, but reason and (at least my own) experience seems to suggest that such a thing is actually quite probable. To be clear, this is not a denunciation and/or even a de-prioritizing of forms training. It is simply identifying what each type of training can and/or cannot do -- pointing out what is likely and not likely in each type of training for the sake of finding a way for both types of training to benefit each other more directly.
David,

In your opinion, is this a systemic problem inherent in the art, or is it more a result of the way aikido is currently taught?

I believe that George Leonard-sensei's book on mastery referred to the fact that aikido training used to be much rougher than it is today. I know that more experienced heads at our dojo have said "When I was studying at "Dojo X" many years ago, folks would tell you about this opening once, then they'd hit you if you gave them the opportunity again. But we can't teach like that anymore 'cause we might get sued."

Is it also possible that the opening of aikido to those (like me) with no prior martial arts experience has lowered the overall quality of new students with respect to the attributes with which your post is concerned?

Larry
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Old 08-22-2005, 01:25 PM   #48
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Hi Larry,

This is just my opinion -- but I would like to humbly offer it here…

My training outside of Budo is as a historian. Within the field of history, my area of "specialty" deals with deconstructing the role "truth" plays in determining culture. Toward that end, I often deal with how both knowledge in general and knowledge of the past are constructed by a given present in order to have that present culture function through a self-identity more members want to buy into than do not, etc. As a result, I am very critical of "Golden Pasts," as I have never ran into one that was not a fiction created for political/economic reasons located in the present. "Golden Pasts" only pretend to be about history while they are 1000% about the here and now. In such cases, history is used only as a ruse to hide the actual workings of the hands that wish to fill themselves with one capital or another. Thus, "Golden Pasts" are too biased to ever remain accurate. In a very real sense, they hide much more than they can reveal. Nevertheless, I do not wish to dismiss the reminiscing of folks as false. I am sure that your teacher did in fact train rougher and that he gain his exact benefits from that training. Nevetheless, I would wish that we could gain some objective distance from what we may individually experience in the past and from the overall cultural context that we end up using and knowing as "the truth" when it comes to both our history and our potential future. I like to think about "our Time's" problems without thinking about a time when they supposedly did not exist.

Therefore…

If self-realizations become rare and/or if self-delusion is the more likely, I do not see it as something related to a degradation of any kind of art and/or of any kind of teaching methodology -- let alone something that can be attributed to a given epoch. In my opinion, self-realization is rare while self-delusion is common because this is the very nature of our humanity. The simple statement is this: Self Awareness and/or the purification of Delusion is never a common thing. There was no time in human history when humans lived with clarity en mass.

It is precisely because this is the human condition that things like Budo exist. Budo, as a technology of the Self, expects us to come in the door polluted and/or deluded, incapable of really real self-awareness, etc. In this sense, Budo is very much like every other spiritual tradition -- be that a tradition that bases things on a Fall from Grace, to one that spouts Truths on suffering and the cause of suffering, to one that points to a need for purification, etc. In a way, there are two natures to our being. There is the nature that is of us but not really of us. It is noted in many ways. It is the ego, the small self, the false self, our desire, our ignorance, etc., and it is set against (in a way) the real us -- the true self, the great self, our true nature, etc. Budo is that process or that practice or that "bridge" that reconciles these (apparently different) two things. If we can understand this, we can see that we are not talking about the ailments of a given time, we are talking about a universal dilemma for all Mankind and for all Times.

Therefore, if forms training is problematic for us today it is not necessarily because we do not train rougher (as we did in the past). It is because we as human beings have always been plagued toward self-delusion. If forms training is problematic today, it is because it has always been problematic. The problematic nature of forms is not something that has just now come to exist -- it is something that has always existed. It is the old enigma of trying to frame art -- of putting a box or a cage around something that is supposed to be alive and then foolishly hoping that you will not kill it in the process. However, it is more than this. It is trying to keep something truly alive in front of person (i.e. ourselves) that is very capable of producing a delusion that will work to see what is dead as that which is alive. Because of this, training rougher may not bring in all the awareness we think it will. As many have noted before in other threads, training rougher, while opening our eyes to things like openings (since we can no longer delude ourselves into believing they do not exist), may have us deluding ourselves into believe that we are still practicing Aiki when we are not. Training rougher may only be exchanging one delusion for another -- in fact, it most probably will as this is the human condition.

For example, someone in his or her ukemi pushes us as nage really hard, and we may come to see how weak our base truly is, because now its weakness is being exposed as it is being challenged, and we then go on to work to strengthen our base (e.g. lifting weights, developing internal power, etc.), and now when they push at us we are able to push back at them so that we can "see" that our base is no longer weak. However, is this Aiki, is this clarity, is our base truly "powerful" because we can hold it against one uke that has given us trouble? No, of course not, but we will allow ourselves to think so, or rather, we will allow ourselves to be preoccupied with getting a stronger base, and through our capacity to practice delusion we will be perfectly comfortable with forgetting all of the rest that actually goes into Aiki and/or into remaining powerful under spontaneous martial conditions. In this sense, we remain deluded and are actually no further along in gaining clarity.

Thus, I do not want to say the solution is to train rougher. It can be, it cannot be. Upaya is what is needed. Things are varied and they are varied according to both our capacity for delusion and to the actual delusion we may be practicing. At our dojo we have both extremely gentle classes -- where they are more meditative, yogic, breathing oriented -- and this goes for every topic (e.g. weapons, spontaneous training environments, ground fighting, body art, knife fighting, etc.). In addition, we have very rough classes --some where full protective gear is required and injuries are not only common they are expected. In both types of classes, delusion will be practiced regularly. In both types of classes, self-realizations will be reconciled regularly. What determines our body-mind's capacity for purification is, in most cases, determined by two things: Our capacity for self-honesty and our teacher's capacity to assist us with cultivating more self-honesty (until we are able to do this ourselves). Therefore, if forms are to become unproblematic, if any aspect of our training is to become unproblematic, it is only because of this -- self-honesty.

How do you first gain self-honesty? Others suggest, and I would agree, that it is best cultivated in silence and in solitude -- in the deep and dark contemplations that open us up before ourselves and before the great Divine from which we are not separate. Once we get a taste for this, a sense of what this is (feels like), we can take this into forms training, both rough and soft, and make it insightful. Once we get a taste or sense for self-honesty, every aspect of our training will be real.

Kindest regards,
david

David M. Valadez
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Old 08-22-2005, 02:37 PM   #49
Larry John
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Re: quickness & accuracy

David,

Thanks for taking the time to answer me directly.

To make sure I understand the essence of what you've said, I'll try to summarize: Every form of pedagogy has strengths and weaknesses that a (perhaps unconsciously) receptive or reluctant spirit can exploit. Part of the teacher's task is to help students recognize and help leverage or compensate for both the pedagogy and the student, as appropriate. But in the end, it's really the student's task.

Your posts are always so thoughtful (as in "full of thoughts"). Your last paragraph sounds like you'd be at home in a Benedictine monastery.

It's almost time to go to class ...

Very Respectfully,

Larry
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Old 08-22-2005, 03:26 PM   #50
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Perfect Larry! That is exactly what I was trying to say - you have summarized it better than I ever could. Thanks for doing that.

What makes forms problematic is not that we train in them slowly or quickly, softly or hard, but that they are part of a larger process (i.e. the transmission of material) that itself is very likely to capitalize upon our nature to self-delude. In other words, forms in their nature create a distance from reality that we may compound with our inherent "drive" to be distant from reality. If we practice rougher or softer, forms do not become any closer to reality since they regardless remain not of reality. If we practice rougher or softer, our tendency toward self-delusion remains equally inherent to our humanity. Where this IS effected, or where this can be effected in terms of our own time is not in the mechanics of these inner structures but rather in the context in which most of us are likely to have them function. That is to say, once everything is stripped down to the inherent nature of forms (to not be of reality) and to where we are dealing with our inherent nature (to self-delude), self-honesty is what is needed. However, we usually have a bunch of stuff on top before we even get to this final bastion. There is a bunch of social and/or cultural forces involved that today goes with forms training, and this context (because it is a context) is indeed a thing particular to our time.

What is this context that helps us to NOT reconcile both forms' and our own distance from reality? It is a context made up of many things -- all things that are prime for us to use as distractions to keep us from gaining clarity and to be satisfied as we are employing these distractions. When you combine this satisfaction with our tendency to self-delude (i.e. we are satisfied being distracted from gaining clarity at the same time that we see ourselves as not being distracted) -- ouch! The chances then of employing self-honesty in the way that it was meant to be employed do seem to become statistically smaller. What are these distractions we face today? Here are some possible ones: training that is geared toward the accumulation of forms, variations of forms, and a pedigree of form. This can, in my opinion, mean that things like seminars, tests, camps, rank requirements, federation loyalties, etc., can be part of the problem and not part of the solution. This may also mean that notions that place breadth over depth can also be problematic -- which in turn would mean that favoring to have many teachers over one may be problematic, etc. If we do look at our training today, it is true that our time is marked by such notions (i.e. tests, seminars, camps, federation loyalties, rank requirements, breadth over depth, many teachers over one, etc.). Every culture, every time, is spiritually faced with its own distractions -- these seem to be ours. Are they more in number or more potent in essence -- I honestly cannot say. In addition, I do not really feel that we have to be able to say. Why? Because the solution remains the same -- the solution is eternal: self-honesty. The person responsible for this self-honesty remains the same: each one of us.

Oh -- if we would all read Benedict's rules -- I think the world of Aikido would change greatly. Thanks for the inspiration, I must go and re-read my copy again.

Many thanks for sharing your mind with me,
david

David M. Valadez
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