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Old 11-09-2005, 01:08 PM   #26
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

So I have a question to all of you taking part in this discussion so far - if you were partnered with Doshu, or Shioda sensei for that matter (if it was possible), and they made a mistake in their technique - would you take the fall? Or would you point it out (by not falling when you didn't need to)? let's assume it's just practice, not a demo, so it's not that public.

I wish I could say I would... but I probably wouldn't. Unless they did it repeatedly often enough that I'd get pissed off... which is not really an answer I'm happy with either.

kvaak
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Old 11-09-2005, 01:11 PM   #27
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Ron, as always, I think you have gone right to the heart of the matter in seeing this thread as a micro-version of the larger issue. It is definitely correct to say that how we feel and how we react to this thread is related to what I'm calling Rank Aikido on the mat. A lot of folks have looked at this thread, but a lot of folks that usually post aren't posting here - and this is exactly what I'm trying to point out without falling victim to the usual false solutions of "just train" and/or "train hard". Come one, folks just train now and folks train hard now. Here's how I see it: When the thing you are using to achieve something is flawed, you can't just say you can achieve that some final thing by using that flawed thing more. In this light, "just train" just means "just do more Rank Aikido," and "train hard" just means "try harder to do more Rank Aikido." So, thank you very much Ron for your insight into uncovering how this thread is functioning as a microcosm for the larger issue.

As to the "bad pic" thing - and even though this is not a thread on Moriteru - these are not just lucky shots of bad technique. Moriteru's technique hardly ever changes - even from rep to rep. If you train in the Aikikai and/or if you've been exposed to his technique, you know this. One can find these exact still shots in nearly any event he's demonstrated at - going back at least to the multi-volume video series he did when he was a young man. I would propose that if you cannot find these shots at some event, it is only because the camera angle wasn't there to record it. These shots represent architecture, not circumstance.

Moreover, let us step back a little and take a look at things a bit more objectively. Let us look beyond the name of Moriteru and instead look to the symbol of Doshu. Here, we have the apex of Aikido hierarchy (even if you are outside of the Aikikai federation, you still are looking at the grandson of the Founder - which is not entirely irrelevant no matter how modern Japan becomes) - which means if Rank Aikido does exist then this is the best place to see it; we have in the Aikikai Doshu the pinnacle distance from things usually used by other aikidoka to generate more honesty - things such as weapons practice, competition, spontaneous training environments, etc.; and we have the highest absence of intimacy (i.e. who is really in any kind of place to let the Doshu know that he's not really doing what he's thinking he's doing). From this point of view, you cannot really say that these pics are irrelevant - even though I think we can talk about this without getting stuck on the pics, if that is what one needs to actually say something reflective regarding this matter. However, this takes us right back to Ron's point: That we should look at how we need to get away from these pics in order to speak on this matter; how we'd like to speak on this matter but not if the apex of rank is involved (where we are always going to be kohai). Inversely, one can look at how many responses/posts a normal thread gets when it's some "no one" or some "kohai" getting flamed for something they didn't do or didn't do right. Where is all the "Well, that is just one bad shot" then?

Man, Ron, the more I think about it, the more you've said everything that could ever be said about this topic. Excellent job. Again - thank you.

dmv

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Old 11-09-2005, 01:16 PM   #28
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
Roosvelt Freeman wrote:
I know O'sensei had a policy that any of his student can attack him anytime in the dojo.

You know, if you look at this sociologically, this is really a form of competition - a social contract by which one can provide an honest martial response outside of there being an intimacy present.

From that point of view, I find this agreement that Osensei had with this students very relative.

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Old 11-09-2005, 01:24 PM   #29
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
Pauliina Lievonen wrote:
So I have a question to all of you taking part in this discussion so far - if you were partnered with Doshu, or Shioda sensei for that matter (if it was possible), and they made a mistake in their technique - would you take the fall? Or would you point it out (by not falling when you didn't need to)? let's assume it's just practice, not a demo, so it's not that public.

I wish I could say I would... but I probably wouldn't. Unless they did it repeatedly often enough that I'd get pissed off... which is not really an answer I'm happy with either.

kvaak
Pauliina

This is another excellent way of getting to this topic via a more personal level. I would say the same thing as Pauliina - probably not, certainly not at some camp (which is also a type of training and not necessarily a demo). Almost immediately you can feel the social ramifications of such actions - where the best you could do is act like you sort of messed up because you suck or because you didn't know something or another. Either way, you take the blame: "Oh sorry Dohsu, my fault." Maybe you gain some insight you just keep to yourself - staying silent - but that's about it. However, we have none of this stuff come up when we are working with our Kohai or our peers. When we are with kohai or peers, all of sudden such resistance and/or such exposure is not only the right thing to do, not only a good thing, it is something we do for their (i.e. kohai) own good.

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Old 11-09-2005, 01:42 PM   #30
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
You know, if you look at this sociologically, this is really a form of competition - a social contract by which one can provide an honest martial response outside of there being an intimacy present.

From that point of view, I find this agreement that Osensei had with this students very relative.
David,

I have to ask: What is your intetnion here? What are you trying to get at?

If you are concerned for the quality of aikido, then fine. If you think that Doshu, as Keeper of the Way, is not living up to the title and is therefore the cause of all aikido slacking off in quality, then I'll ask you to come right out and say so.

But now you come along and say that O'Sensei had a standing "competition" going with his uchideshi, despite O'Sensei being against competition of any sort.

I can't help but wonder ...

... well, I'm just trying to figure out the point and purpose of your thread. That's all.

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Old 11-09-2005, 02:11 PM   #31
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Thanks for the kind words David. I'm thinking a lot about this. I hope that what I'm about to write doesn't get me into trouble.

I do have partners that are much better than I am, and one to two rank levels ahead of me, where the shite / uke relationship is very honest (in my opinion) and intimate. One of these relationships is no longer a training relationship, because the person left aikido, for some of these very reasons mentioned here. This is not to say that there weren't times where I would follow uke's role for his sake, or that he wouldn't follow uke's role for mine. And I don't think David is saying that should never happen. I think he is saying that we should explicitly recognize when it is happening, and design / implement / discover / participate in training methods that do not fall into that category. My friend feels that aikido training is basically a setup. Generally, we know the attack, past a certain level we know how to thwart the waza in question.

This means that two competant people walk a very thin line. How do I keep the waza honest, and yet have an uke at the conclusion of this waza? Or a shite? Because if I do every part of the technique perfectly (at least using an architecture that includes being comfortable with popping uke), there are times when uke will have to get popped to have an honest edge to the waza...and there are times when shite will get popped by the attack or a follow up as well. And let's be real...even using enough control to minimize how much damage results from a landed strike is in some way dishonest.

Ueshiba Sensei himself made a very important point at one time.

Quote:
It was around the year 1939. Since Admiral Isamu Takeshita was president of the Ueshiba Dojo, Sensei was asked my the Admiral to five a demonstration in the Saineikan before the Imperial family. Ueshiba Sensei first refused his request saying, "In aikido the winner is decided in an instant. There is no way your opponent will get up and attack you again. If he does, it's all false. It cannot possible show such false techniques to the IMperial family." But since Admiral Takeshita insisted Sensei could not refuse him and ended up going to the Saineikan.
***

This delima is a constant source of vexation for many ex-aikidoka I am sure. I also am willing to struggle on being vexed, and being happy having one or two partners where I can be pretty darn honest...honest enough so that I progress, but not quite so honest my body gives out.

And my instructor's aikido is scary enough that *I* won't be the one pushing for *too* much honesty from him. That is one side of this equation...there are consequences to seeking too much honesty, whether we like to admit it or not. I could say the same about quite a few instructors out there.

Best,
Ron

***From An Aikido Life (02)
by Gozo Shioda
Aiki News #73 (December 1986)

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 11-09-2005 at 02:13 PM.

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Old 11-09-2005, 02:17 PM   #32
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Come on John - how many threads make you feel compelled to ask what one's intentions are? You're going from the relevance of the pics to the relevance of the poster.

It's like you can only talk about this stuff if you can approve of the intention, but you know that you have no intention of approving of the intention. Besides, the intention is clear - as others have noted it: There are direct questions given in the first post, and folks have clearly been able to grasp that this is an attempt at generating a discussion capable of harboring some real self-reflection and possibly some real self-transformation for those that bother to share in the self-reflection. If Doshu was the problem, then I would have said, "We need a new Doshu." Instead, I said, (paraphrasing) "We need to bring more intimacy into our training environments so that we can bring more honesty into our training environments - especially if we are not going to rely upon competition to bring us the kind of honesty that can come without intimacy." In my opinion, Doshu is not the problem, which is why none of this would be alleviated if we got a new Doshu.

As far as competition goes, please note that I used the word "sociologically" in the same section - in that sense, in a broader sense, when Osensei has that standing order for his deshi to try and get him, he's not really practicing the cooperative nage/uke dynamic. Is he? No. He's doing a form of competition - where his deshi try their best to get him (doing whatever they want, whenever they want, etc.), and he does his best not to be got (however he can).

If this topic is way too taboo for any reader, I think its everyone's option to bow out and/or to not participate, but it doesn't really fly to say that this topic is false and/or inaccurate simply because it is taboo. It is the taboo nature of this topic that makes this topic accurate, and it is the accuracy of this topic that makes this topic taboo. That, again I say, was Ron's point.

This is not the "attack" you want to see, the way you read that other post by that other poster. This is a real topic, and one can either face his/her taboos or one cannot. In my point of view, anyone that is really interested in penetrating their art or their practice is going to learn how to rub up against their own taboo subjects. This is not about Doshu. This is about me, and about anyone else that wants to participate. It's about the Aikido we each practice. Let's not lose sight of the fact that anything said here will have absolutely zero impact on Doshu, his Aikido, or the Aikikai. Only that which we opt to reflect upon can alter things, and the things this can alter can only exist in the person doing the reflection.

David M. Valadez
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Old 11-09-2005, 02:18 PM   #33
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Pauliina,

If I was partnered with Shioda Kancho

a) I would probably piss myself

b) I would be totally preoccupied with giving my best attack, and then being prepared for the world to tilt. Permanently.

c) Oh, I don't know...I can't really even imagine such a thing. Have you **seen** the ukemi his partners had to take???

Best,
Ron (I'd probably run and hide in a corner somewhere...)

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Old 11-09-2005, 02:39 PM   #34
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

David V.,

Consider me "bowing out."

Maybe I'm having a bad day, lack of sleep, whatever... but I'm still not reading english here. First I see you saying one thing, then I see the exact opposite. Power to the people who comprehend.

Enjoy your thread. Hope you find your answers. I'll do my best to steer clear from you next time.

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Old 11-09-2005, 03:32 PM   #35
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

John, please know that I harbor no ill feelings - it's all choice here for me. And I respect your decision to pull out fully. I'm sorry things seem not to have worked out here for us. Please forgive if anything felt directed at you personally - not my intention at all. I'll definitely try harder next time to not have that happen again.

peace,
david

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Old 11-09-2005, 03:41 PM   #36
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Well Roosvelt, I believe O'sensei had a policy relating to his students trying to hit him, but Im not sure as to what this 'attach him' policy is you speak of? Was it like transformers? Were his deshi allowed to morph with him anytime to create one huge aiki-bot? Did they take the forms of cars/tanks/planes/helicopters/trucks ala the original transformers or were they in the much hated 'beast wars' animal forms? Was it a war between the good aikikai bots and the evil shodo-decepticons?

What is this jo-trick you refer to?

Why do you rest your case? It is far from conclusive I reckon?

Ron, hilarious and so true. I would piss myself too. Even if Shioda sensei was making a mistake in his technique I believe that you wouldnt have time to point it out before your arm was ripped from your socket. Everyone makes mistakes, even the best. Nothing is perfect, whether trained in the right or the wrong way. Some people are better than others, FACT. And thats that.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 11-09-2005, 04:39 PM   #37
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Pauliina,

If I was partnered with Shioda Kancho

a) I would probably piss myself
I guess Shioda really is a bad example in this discussion... because I understand he didn't go out of his way to protect his ukes anyway, right? So it's not just a question of rank, it's also a question of is it physically safe. That said... I've trained with some people where all I did was keep myself safe while taking ukemi, because they were stronger than me, and had enough experience over me that they could have hurt me if I tried anything but go along, even if they did make mistakes...and I don't think that was good practice. Really, it's just another manifestation of the same - don't show a higher rank their mistakes, and the consequences in this case aren't social, but physical injury. I don't know that that isn't even worse.
Quote:
b) I would be totally preoccupied with giving my best attack, and then being prepared for the world to tilt. Permanently.
But I asked, if he made a mistake, and you didn't need to fall? Would you still fall?

Maybe just from the shock?

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 11-09-2005, 05:17 PM   #38
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
Pauliina Lievonen wrote:
But I asked, if he made a mistake, and you didn't need to fall? Would you still fall?

Maybe just from the shock?

kvaak
Pauliina
Maybe to hide the wet spot...
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Old 11-09-2005, 05:31 PM   #39
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

David,

What courage! ... "The Emperor Has No Clothes"

Good points and questions. Certainly one of the benefits of being independent, eh?

Best regards,

Chuck Clark
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Old 11-09-2005, 07:21 PM   #40
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Hi Chuck,

Though I appreciate your reply greatly - I think you are giving me way too much credit. Really, as an independent, my Aikido is as untouched by Doshu as his is by mine. I am so far on the outside that it takes no courage at all to raise such issues and/or to raise them in the way that I have. As you rightly say: one of the benefits of being an independent.

I think it was Ian who was saying something that touched upon a feeling I have been experiencing lately. He was mentioning something about having to play the rank game at seminars or something like that. Regardless of what he said exactly, I remember how crazy that was back when I was federated. It is such a part of that whole scene. We all know this -- especially if we ever become really interested in the martial application of Aikido and/or in applying a martial edge toward our self cultivations. When we do realize this, seminars and camps tend to become more interruptions in our training than the beacon of information they once were.

Some of us, for whatever reasons, or maybe it is all of us depending upon where we are at any given time in our training, just can't see the game for what it is. I know I didn't always see it; I know I didn't always mind playing it; I know I didn't always think it had such an impact upon my Aikido; and I know I didn't always think it went so deep into everything. For these reasons, I think this is why we often cannot see where non-aikidoka are coming from a lot of the times in their critique of Aikido and its supposed claims. When we cannot see the game, we often want to dismiss such critiques as a bunch of ignorance -- lumping them all together. However, not all of these critiques are ignorant, and thus not all of them are irrelevant to what we do as aikidoka. I remember Nishio Sensei saying something in the forward to his book, about how in order for Aikido to remain legitimate it has to be able to address the ideas, principles, and practices of other martial arts. I believe he is talking about the same thing.

Earlier, I mentioned the need for intimacy in an art that requires honesty but admonishes competition. Ron brought up something that I felt could be understood along these same lines when he offered that very relevant self-reflection. He talked about how he had some folks that he could train with at a more honest level. I know this group. I think we all know this group. I think we have all had these fellow aikidoka, people whom we count upon to provide a more insightful experimental ground. If we look at this from a different point of view, we can indeed see that Ron, and all of us as well, have really set things up so that out of all the aikidoka we are exposed to, we have these few folks that we can be more intimate with -- and thus more honest with. Man, I can say if it was not for the group that supported my training in this way while I was in Japan, well… I could not imagine what I would be doing now. I owe everything to them.

Once we realize how much we owe to these groups, the issue becomes, "How do we expand this group from the few to the many to the everyone?" If you want to improve, you are going to ask yourself this question simply because you know how fertile these kind of intimate training environments really are. Since I am a dojocho, even before I became an independent, I felt compelled to ask this question of myself and to take it very seriously. After I would not allow myself to follow the usual party line of "not everyone can train at that level," I see now that I have come to realize that this is really an intimacy issue. It doesn't really have anything to do with training hard -- unless we understand how hard it truly is for some of us to be intimate with other human beings.

Because for me this has become an intimacy issue, and because Aikido claims to be this avenue into the spirit, into the human heart, into the Divine, which I take seriously as well, I could not help but to conclude that any practice of delusion that was supported by an incapacity at honesty, which itself was fostered by a lack of intimacy, was a failure on a grand scale (personally speaking). That is to say, if one could not for whatever reason be honest in their training, one could not achieve the spiritual cultivations we are supposedly seeking. It seems to me that honesty, or, if you will, Truth, is not just paramount to the reality of our martial efficacy but that it is vital to the very foundation of our spiritual maturity. Moreover, for me, it seemed that a technology of the Self that aimed at human virtues paramount to social living would have to be a tradition that would make vital the role of intimacy -- not just off of the mat, but (especially) on the mat. It would have to be part of the training to have oneself exposed, to have oneself exposed via another -- this could not be the rare exception or the temporary luxury of having a group of good friends to train with. What I had to lose or be wiling to lose, what I would suggest we all have to lose, is all that stuff that goes with having exposure be seen as some sort of failure and/or affront. Sure, we have to keep Shu level training going, because that is how information is first passed, but even then, there are ways to be more intimate with each other in kata, and thus more honest, so that rank and/or other institutional fictions remain irrelevant.

Well, as you can see, I am just thinking aloud.

Again, thanks for your reply Chuck -- always grateful.

Humbly yours,
d

David M. Valadez
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Old 11-09-2005, 07:24 PM   #41
Michael Varin
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

I don't know what you want to call it, rank aikido, or whatever, but it does exist. Every seminar I have ever gone to has had at least a couple glaring examples of sandan or higher that have poor technique, no ability to relate to their partner, no adaptability, or some combination of those things. I don't know why anyone would be offended by David using Moriteru as an example. I really doubt he meant any disrespect, and he probably wouldn't mind if you critiqued his own technique. Why is the doshu so special and we are not? One of the important traits of a warrior is to not put anyone above or below you.

Many people who have trained for a decade or more believe that their long duration of time spent in the art makes them capable, and deserving of rank. But how honest has their training been? Many of these people are stuck at a plateau, and are unable or unwilling to break past it. I believe this phenomenon of rank aikido is to blame. Why do we have people with 30 years experience doing sankyo after sankyo on a cooperative uke thinking that they are doing aikido, but these same people are afraid to explore what aiki really is?

Strongly related to this, I find aikido people talking about being open, and spontaneous, and egoless quite often. I also find that aikido people, especially high ranks, are the most closed minded, the least adaptable, and still have big egos.

About Morihei, first let me say I don't "know" anything that he was doing; all I know is what I've read and seen in pictures or video. Morihei was against competition, but what about when he faced off with the naval officer who got frustrated and threw down his bokken? What about when Morihei would let someone take aim at him with a firearm and "dodge" the bullet? If two people are engaged in a competitive activity, but each person is interested in the other's improvement, is it really a negative thing? As far as the jo trick, I don't think it was a physical trick. I think it was more at the mental level, a form of mind control, which is what I believe aiki has the potential to be.

I can't say how we can fix this, or if we should even try. All I know is that we should remember why we started training, be brutally honest with ourselves, and find as many like minded people as we can to train with. I still am passionate about my aikido practice and want to learn more about it and myself.

What great fun this thread has been!

Michael
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Old 11-09-2005, 08:06 PM   #42
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Heay, congrats David! Very important topic.
I believe every aikidoka that practices long enough face this problem and must find his own way to work it out. In my case, I solved it, but it took few years of hard work. For less advanced then me, I don’t punish them (for strong, fast and difficult attack and doing “heavy“ ukemi), by doing very painful technique. In contrary, I’m avoiding as I can whole atemi thing to invite them to attack as hard as they can.
Consequences are there, efficiency of my techniques was almost null in the beginning, when I started this approach, slowly being improved.

With more senior folks, it was much more difficult. I must chose them very carefully and by honest practice prove, that my intend is not to “test” them, but simply to add more difficulty, and to improve a technique.
With mature partners it was very well possible. The results are truly revealing. As a uke, I can now feel directly and live, how senior folks are trying to resolve the difficulties, and this has no price. I’m learning how to close all openings from perspective other then mine. Then with few of them, I’m trying to do the counters whenever it is possible. Of course, they practice with me the same way as a uke. Absolutely amazing.
After such practice, “regular” practice is not only boring, but makes no sense at all……..

But as my instructor told me, I’m walking on the edge very thin red line……

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 11-09-2005, 08:45 PM   #43
roosvelt
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote:

As far as the jo trick, I don't think it was a physical trick. I think it was more at the mental level, a form of mind control, which is what I believe aiki has the potential to be.
The jo trick is like some magic. When you know how it's done, it's simple. It only take some 20 years of dedicated practice though.

It's not a mind control. Unless you mean his mind controled his own body. Search Mike Sigman here, he gaves a reasonable explaination. Having seen similar demo by Chinese martial artists, I know it's real. You just need a lot of concentrated practice to get there.

Unfortunately, Aikido is not the best way to get there.
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Old 11-09-2005, 10:00 PM   #44
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

I have just browsed the pics on that site again and the Doshu himself comes out well in most, but not all, pics. What I noticed was how ukes just accept techniques too easily - you can tell from the situation - and you also know because that is what most of us do everyday.

Since coming to Korea I have concentrated on overcoming resistance (not letting you do it seems to be in the Korean psyche) and in the last two years am finally getting somewhere. Recently, I have been working on what I call Judo attacks. Judo people do not just grab and wait for you to do something. What I have been working on is practising the attack - grab and pull or push, grab and pull harder and so on. Really hard until uke can throw with just the attack (e.g., grab one hand and rear lapel - kinda looks like irimi-nage entrance, and really force them into the tatami). Then, try the techniques against these attacks. It either fails dismally or works like a charm. There is no inbetween. Still, a long way to go yet.

Some of the Tomiki threads herein have addressed a similar topic - how to make training more realistic.

We are only being duped by ourselves ...

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Old 11-09-2005, 11:16 PM   #45
Charles Hill
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Let me throw another log into the fire. Doshu`s uke are always the shidouin who live at Honbu or are young shihan who used to live at Honbu. They are very carefully trained in how to take ukemi for the Doshu. At a recent demonstration, the Doshu had just returned from overseas and was clearly exhausted. One of the uke made a minor mistake in ukemi and was lambasted later backstage by the young shihan who also took ukemi.

Charles
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Old 11-10-2005, 03:05 AM   #46
happysod
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Hiya Charles, interesting information and I'm fairly disgusted at the shihan involved. However, I'd personally feel more comfortable if the thread stayed in the realms of generalities rather than specific individuals - not because of the rank of the person in question, although Jun may find questions asked for "allowing" this thread to continue if this is pursued - but mainly because I don't like singling out any individual/group in such a debate.

I believe once you involve personalities, you detract from the argument as people polarize more quickly. David's already been devious enough here, deliberately using a highly ranked individual as his spring board to prevent the standard "not in my dojo" response - funny how none of us ever have the "bad aikido" railed against so diligently...

Well, guilty as charged I'm afraid. I have accepted technique that was poor without a murmur on several occasions when I've visited other dojos outside my normal purview - I was guest and they were rigid in their etiquette, what can I say. I've even failed miserably to correct my instructor when they're demonstrating to the class. On the plus side, we do foster honesty during normal practice, but I wonder if that's because a lot of us have known each other for so damn long. Thankfully it seems to becoming more of the normal dojo attitude, so some light there.

However, there's another side of the equation which is being neglected. Often criticism is not accepted not because it's not due, but because we're all so poor at providing it constructively. As with everything, there's ways and means of giving a wake up call and there's times I would consider it inappropriate.
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Old 11-10-2005, 04:41 AM   #47
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Yes, the problem exists, though I doubt whether erank aikidof is a correct description. I became aware of it long before I came to Japan. I think it comes with the art, with the central role of the teacher and of ukemi in the art, and I think the problem would exist whether you are 'federation' or independent, whether you have ranks or not. My own opinions generally coincide with those of Szczepan, Charles Hill and Rupert.

I am 'federation' up to my neck, for my name appears on the Aikikai's Japanese website. However, I believe that Doshu is aware of the problem, as are the shihan and shidoin in the Hombu who are his usual ukes. My grounds for stating this are the private conversations I have had over the course of several years.

I am also pretty sure that others in the Aikikai, apart from myself, use the Internet and read forums such as this.

Since we are discussing on the basis of still photographs, perhaps it might be more appropriate to look at the tapes that go with Doshu's Kiban Aikido books. Yes, I know they are 'teaching' tapes, not tapes of demonstrations or regular practice, but I understood that the prpblem is not just one of Doshu, for example, having an off-day, but the deeper problem of actually executing particular waza incorrectly.

Best regards to all,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 11-10-2005 at 04:44 AM.

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Old 11-10-2005, 05:20 AM   #48
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
Ian Hurst wrote:
However, there's another side of the equation which is being neglected. Often criticism is not accepted not because it's not due, but because we're all so poor at providing it constructively. As with everything, there's ways and means of giving a wake up call and there's times I would consider it inappropriate.
This is a part of training that I find very interesting. How to connect ...ummm, socially?...with a training partner so that we can train well and honestly together, and give each other constructive criticism.

Sometimes it's only possible for a very brief moment, or only up to a certain level, before it gets too stressful for one of us. Emotionally stressful I mean.

I think Sczcepan had a good point about making it safe for kohai to attack honestly. I feel safe not taking a fall for my teacher if he screws up, and if I didn't, I'd be thinking about changing dojo.

The hardest part is really when you give honest feedback as uke, and your partner has trouble with it, and you start to feel responsible for their distress, and back off. To be able to be compassionate and honest in that situation I think would be a great achievement.

I actually dreamed about this topic last night...
kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 11-10-2005, 06:51 AM   #49
Steve Mullen
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote:
Why is the doshu so special and we are not? One of the important traits of a warrior is to not put anyone above or below you.Michael
With all due respect i feel that this is a glaring oversight, were the samurai not warriors? they lived to put their master above them, i believe it was musashi miyamotto (feel free to correct me on this one folks) who said that the only way to serve your master was to live as though you were already dead. if that's not putting someone above you then i don't know what is.

Don't get me wrong im not trying to compare aikidoka to the samurai class, but neither, i feel, can modern day martial artists hope to call themselves warriors.

Just my two pence worth

"No matter your pretence, you are what you are and nothing more." - Kenshiro Abbe Shihan
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Old 11-10-2005, 07:40 AM   #50
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
Pauliina Lievonen wrote:
I guess Shioda really is a bad example in this discussion... because I understand he didn't go out of his way to protect his ukes anyway, right?
Well, I don't believe that is totaly true. None of his uke died... and from what I can see at least, he was more than capable of ensuring you landed badly. So it comes down to the **level** of protection. From what I understand, he had one way of protecting uke in a public demonstration using uchi / soto deshi, one way of protecting yudansha at seminars, one way of protecting mudansha at seminars, etc. But I never had the pleasure of being there in person, so I don't really know for sure. This is martial art. If you step up to take ukemi at a public demonstration, when you are on track to be an instructor in his name, you've signed on for the serious stuff.

Quote:
So it's not just a question of rank, it's also a question of is it physically safe.
This is a very sensitive area for many people (me too). There is that thin red line that Mr. S spoke of. And it is VERY important to have an intimate relationship (in David's words) established on some level BEFORE you get to that line...just in case you cross it, which you surely will sometime if you are really pushing. More about that later.

Quote:
That said... I've trained with some people where all I did was keep myself safe while taking ukemi, because they were stronger than me, and had enough experience over me that they could have hurt me if I tried anything but go along, even if they did make mistakes...and I don't think that was good practice.
Hmm, well, for me it was good practice, but practice of a different sort. Learning to receive the power, speed, intensity without getting hurt has enabled me to push the barrier in other cases, at other times. Both of the forth dans in the dojo where I train are stronger, one is younger, both are vastly better at aikido, one is 6'1'', one is 6'5''...you get the idea. I'm pretty much outclassed. Neither has ever hurt me (in any serious way outside of REALLY f'ing hard ukemi). Both have incouraged me to attack hard, to try my best as uke, even when demonstrating waza in front of the class.

But there is a line. With one, it came during normal training when I thought he was resisting and asking for more power from me when I was shite (why I would ever think more raw physical power would be good as shite is another matter). So I gave it, and caused quite a bit of pain to my uke in the process. During hitori geiko later, when he threw me, I could swear it sounded and felt like a rocket ship being launched. I took some of the best ukemi in my life. Good thing too. But his point was, there is a line, and it's not wise to cross it. Our seniors feel pain too, they get injured too, they have egos too. They don't like being roughed up any more than we do. Taking advantage of the shite/uke training is wrong...and it can be very difficult in some cases to know when you are and when you aren't. This same person is someone who does encourage me to keep finding the edge of that red line. And it's HIS body he's putting on the line when we do that.

Quote:
Really, it's just another manifestation of the same - don't show a higher rank their mistakes, and the consequences in this case aren't social, but physical injury. I don't know that that isn't even worse.
hmmm...well...this is martial art. If you physically step up your attack, shite will physically step up their response. All I can say is you have to accept the consequences if you anti up. And I'm not talking about cheap shots...just good strong technique on the edge. Even when in heavy correction mode, I've never seen my teacher intentionally hurt someone. But bad falls can happen anytime...it's more likely when you push the edge.

Quote:
But I asked, if he made a mistake, and you didn't need to fall? Would you still fall?
I'll let you know when I feel it happen.

Quote:
Maybe just from the shock?
Yeah, shock, that's it. My black eye is from shock....

You have to constantly determine what is happening in the moment. I've felt my teacher frustrated with me when I've given the wrong attack when it should have been obvious, I've felt him wonder where my head is at when he is trying to illustrate a point while teaching and I act like we are in a public demonstration...I think you get the idea. Situational awareness is key. Understand, even this post is taking a chance and walking that line. If I mis-represent, mis-characterise, mistakenly malign the people I train with, there are consequences (and should be). I don't even mean physical ones...

Best,
Ron (my thanks and utmost respect to my sempai and teachers)

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 11-10-2005 at 07:42 AM.

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