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Old 09-06-2005, 07:36 AM   #1
Ed Stansfield
 
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Aikido and Safety

A comment in another thread about the prioritising of safety in the dojo made me think about the different approaches that people have.

So:

How much of a priority should safety be in the practice of Aikido?

What should the concept of safety include as far as Aikido practice is concerned?

How much should it affect the way in which techniques are practiced?

Best,

Ed

It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.

Winston Churchill, 1930.
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Old 09-06-2005, 08:09 AM   #2
ruthmc
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Re: Aikido and Safety

Quote:
Ed Stansfield wrote:
How much of a priority should safety be in the practice of Aikido?
That depends upon whether your students have to go out to work or school the next day..

Quote:
Ed Stansfield wrote:
What should the concept of safety include as far as Aikido practice is concerned?
Respect for the fact that the other person is lending you his body to practice with, and that he needs it to go to work with the next day so he can feed his family.

Quote:
Ed Stansfield wrote:
How much should it affect the way in which techniques are practiced?
All the techniques are potential limb-crackers. In Aikido we do them in such a way that our partner can take ukemi to live to fight another day. Ukemi is recovery, not escape. (Must have heard that 1000 times at Summer School!)

Ruth
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Old 09-06-2005, 08:24 AM   #3
batemanb
 
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Re: Aikido and Safety

Safety is paramount, no use breaking everyone, there will be no one to practice with.

Just last night I was teaching class. Whilst everyone was practicing a particular technique, I grabbed the dojo-cho (25 yr + aikido practicioner) to one side to try something I thought I would teach next. It didn't work very well so I gave up on the idea. A few minutes later he came back to me with an idea and we went over to a corner to work on it. First attempt was OK, second attempt I threw him, ukemi was a bit tight, he managed to turn his head before driving his shoulder into the mat. Needless to say he was out of action immediately. A visit to the doctor and casualty this morning, very fortunately not broken, despite early thoughts from the doc, but enough ligament damage to keep him out for a few weeks .

We weren't messing about, we weren't going hell for leather, we were just trying something out that did what we expected it to do, just a little tighter than anticipated. On reflection, I don't think either of us would have done anything differently, we have to accept that these things happen in our practice from time to time, but that doesn't negate the need to take care of our partners at all times.

rgds

Bryan (feeling very down)

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 09-06-2005, 09:10 AM   #4
happysod
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Re: Aikido and Safety

Rather than thinking about it in terms of safety, I always put this one down to awareness - be aware of where you're throwing, being aware of how experienced and breakable uke is etc. Being pedantic (and probably wrong) I know, but safety for me implies a set of imposed restrictions, normally from on high (instructor) while awareness is situational and involves each individual more fully.

On my usual rambling aside, heard a nice version concerning safety from a bjj instructor, they have a policy that if you hurt a uke, you're off the mat for as long as they need to heal and come back - interesting one I felt, wonder how many aikido people would fall afoul of this one.

Bryan, wish him well for me (and tell him off for slacking )
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Old 09-06-2005, 10:11 AM   #5
Ed Stansfield
 
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Re: Aikido and Safety

Quote:
Ian wrote:
Rather than thinking about it in terms of safety, I always put this one down to awareness
That's a fair point and awareness is crucial. I am a (really quite feeble and inexperienced) climber and at the start of a book I was reading on the subject, it said something like "Climbing is not a safe activity and can never be made safe." And I agree that you accept a degree of risk in Aikido practice and that awareness is a key part of practice being safer.

Quote:
safety for me implies a set of imposed restrictions, normally from on high (instructor) while awareness is situational and involves each individual more fully
Yes, so certain techniques or methods of practice could be safe with experienced people and not with beginners, depending on the situation.

But, you can be aware (indeed how can you do Aikido if you're not) but indifferent to danger or the risk to the partner and I think this is what I was trying to get at. The extent to which a mindset of safety should be integral to practice in the dojo. Then again, who's going to post on this thread saying "I believe in putting my partner at risk at all times . . ."

Quote:
Ian also wrote:
be aware of where you're throwing
Why are people so bad at this?

If doing a technique that involves a throw, we invariably throw to the outside edge of the mat. We have virtually no collision injuries (sound of Ed hurriedly touching wooden desk top) as a result. Last year was the first BAB course I can remember where an instructor suggested anything similar. How hard can it be?

(sound of eyes rolling)

This is one of the things I think of when I talk about safety changing a technique. For some techniques, if the partner attacks from one direction, the technique "naturally" sends them out at 90 degrees which can often be into the middle of the mat and the people practicing there. We would adjust the technique, the direction of throw; from my BAB experiences, alot of people wouldn't.

I may be a little obsessive about this . . .

Best,

Ed

It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.

Winston Churchill, 1930.
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Old 09-06-2005, 12:34 PM   #6
Janet Rosen
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Re: Aikido and Safety

Quote:
Ed Stansfield wrote:
If doing a technique that involves a throw, we invariably throw to the outside edge of the mat...
This is one of the things I think of when I talk about safety changing a technique.
I agree, I think this is a really basic "policy" that if a dojo does it consistently, everybody internalizes it.
Another helpful one is, on crowded mats, going from partner practice to "lines" (which I like anyhow, both as uke and as nage).

Janet Rosen
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Old 09-06-2005, 01:06 PM   #7
p00kiethebear
 
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Re: Aikido and Safety

Was safety traditionally the most important thing in Takeda's and Ueshiba's dojo?

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity"
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Old 09-06-2005, 01:12 PM   #8
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Aikido and Safety

What dojo? I don't think Takeda ever *had* a dojo...he generally travelled around and gave seminars.

As for the kobukan dojo...hmmm, time to scan the ***Aikido Journal*** archives and see what's available...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 09-06-2005, 02:48 PM   #9
Ed Stansfield
 
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Re: Aikido and Safety

Quote:
Nathan Gidney wrote:
Was safety traditionally the most important thing in Takeda's and Ueshiba's dojo?
Should this be determinative of the way we practice?

It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.

Winston Churchill, 1930.
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Old 09-06-2005, 04:03 PM   #10
ikkitosennomusha
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Re: Aikido and Safety

Having control over ourselves and realizing uke's skill level is one thing, however, the environment in which one trains is also very important. This can include but not limit the following:

-A safe environment: Proper matting in which to take padded ukemi is very crucial to ones safety.

-A moralistic Dojo: We don't want a sensei or students having potty mouths and encouraging ill behavior or horseplay. A dojo is safe when the deamnor that fills it is one of humble servitude to help each other rather than a place to boast an ego.

-A sanitary dojo: Everyone can be safe from allergens, disease from uncleanliness by everyone taking part to help maintain a sanitized environment.

These are just a few thoughts in addition to other concepts already mentioned.
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Old 09-06-2005, 05:04 PM   #11
Len
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Re: Aikido and Safety

Another problem arises from the attitude 'technique at all costs'. When people disregard anything and anyone for the sake of fully executed throw. A high ranking student has been thrown out of the school for failing to recognise the dangers of his attitude.

Safety, as I see it, is a double-edged sword. BOTH, nage and uke, must be switched fully on for the training to be safe (and effective for that matter). So many times I would abort the throw if I saw that there isn't enough room for my uke to land. So many times the technique had to be adjusted (e.g. from koshi-nage to kokkyu-nage) if I felt mu uke was hesitant to receive it. So many times I suggested to my nage not to throw if I see that someone else has just landed on 'my' patch of the mat...
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Old 09-07-2005, 09:58 AM   #12
ruthmc
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Re: Aikido and Safety

Quote:
Ed Stansfield wrote:
If doing a technique that involves a throw, we invariably throw to the outside edge of the mat. We have virtually no collision injuries (sound of Ed hurriedly touching wooden desk top) as a result. Last year was the first BAB course I can remember where an instructor suggested anything similar. How hard can it be?
<rant mode> One of my pet peeves at the moment is how the instructor will cheerfully take up 8 - 12 mats during his demo with uke, then we all have to try to do the same technique in the same way in the space of 2 or 3 mats.. except for the people who want 6 mats and squeeze the rest of us safety conscious individuals into 1 mat or less </rant mode>

Quote:
Ed Stansfield wrote:
For some techniques, if the partner attacks from one direction, the technique "naturally" sends them out at 90 degrees which can often be into the middle of the mat and the people practicing there. We would adjust the technique, the direction of throw; from my BAB experiences, alot of people wouldn't.
Agreed and likewise noted. Some people seem to think that the only important thing is that they get their training in, and they don't even see the rest of us. A form of Aikido Aspergers perhaps?

Ruth
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Old 09-07-2005, 02:14 PM   #13
Qatana
 
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Re: Aikido and Safety

Amazingly enough, the more people we have on the mat, the more space we are able to create for ourselves. Our mat fills the dojo, roughly 20x30-very small. Last week we had thirteen people training, and no collisions. Saturday we had five, and people were smashing into each other...I am always surprised when I can put uke where I intend to put them!

Q
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