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Old 11-10-2005, 10:04 AM   #51
Steve Mullen
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
Roosvelt Freeman wrote:
If any those of your "gorgeous" people had a habit of looking uglier than sin in the cat walk or the movie sets, they'd find theirselves out of any job very quickly.
I'm sure if doshu was continuously bad then questions would have been asked by more than a few people a lot sooner than now.

"No matter your pretence, you are what you are and nothing more." - Kenshiro Abbe Shihan
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Old 11-10-2005, 01:59 PM   #52
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

It is sort of amazing how much energy we all have to put into partitioning off our teachers/seniors in order to talk about this, especially since we all know that we have fully participated in this phenomenon at one level or another.

I think we have to take what Charles is sharing as something we have either experienced ourselves and/or that we have internalized at some level coming up through the ranks. I am not sure it is necessary to not have to talk about these things. We just have to understand them from the right point of view. In particular, I think whatever examples come up along the way, ones people would like to share, it is important to note that Rank Aikido is not just "faking it" and/or "trying to make our teachers look good." We have to move beyond that in order to note that we are really looking at how we give different responses within the same situation (i.e. how we act one way for a senpai and another way for a kohai) depending upon various institutional fictions/constructs (e.g. rank, title, authority, etc.).

If we do that, we can then also look at the very common solution we have all come up with (i.e. to officially or unofficially find a few intimates we can be more honest with in our training). We can then question if this is actually a solution or not -- determining whether it is costing more than it is delivering and/or whether it is stopping us from realizing more important aspects of the art. In other words, we can ask ourselves if our solution is part of the problem or not.

I think this is important, because if you really step back and look at things, one is probably going to see that it is these groups, groups that are formed all over the world, groups that were probably utilized by the very shihan we are learning from now when they were deshi, that it is these groups that actually carry the true weight of the art -- that it is not, for example, the great lineages and/or the sensei/deshi relationships we all like to refer to. That is to say, the art that is supposed to reconcile the world, that is supposed to unify things, is surviving through the years by practicing huge amounts of exclusion and partition. It is like the art has to sell its soul in order to get into Heaven.

I am beginning to wonder if these groups -- whether they are just friends that get together and/or whether they are uchideshi or kenshusei -- are not just a habitual response to our propensity to be taken in by the institution and all of its fictions. I wonder if these groups are not just a survival tactics. We should note: The thing with survival tactics is that they are so reactionary in nature, and thus they are more often part of the problem than any real kind of solution.

Again, the bigger questions are these: Why do we as aikidoka accept the lack of honesty, choosing instead to have institutional fictions (i.e. rank) determine our decisions (which I should point out is exactly who we are - we are our actions)? Why in an art so key on penetrating the absolute (whether that be of our selves, of the Universe, or of martial practicality) do we practice such idolatry with these institutional fictions? (Idolatry being absolute intimacy with something that it not absolute.) Alternatively, why do we as aikidoka, whose art includes notions of union, of togetherness, of Love, and of reconciliation, etc., see the acceptance of a lack of intimacy and the practice of exclusion/partition (which is the flip side of the groups we form) as viable solutions to this problem? Why can we not see that our solutions are simply the habitual reactions of dissolution and alienation (i.e. utilizing again our incapacity to practice intimacy in our lives)?

The martial shortcomings of bouncing back and forth between dishonest practice and practicing only with a few folks is obvious. However, it is the same spiritually speaking -- in my opinion. What kind of spiritual development can come from choosing between the practice of dishonesty and the idolatry of institutional fictions, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the acceptance of dissolution and alienation? I would say, none, or, perhaps, only a very shallow one.

I think Ian is on to something here with identifying the other side of this - that we often are incapable of expressing criticism constructively - which I will take as saying: "We often cannot separate our judgment of others from our will to power, from our ego trappings." I would say this is indeed true, and this does go hand-in-hand with being unable to accept criticism constructively. Giving constructive criticism is one of the things that friends most often learn how to do with each other - that's probably why we can have these types of groups as a "solution" to Rank Aikido without this issue coming up (at least not too much). I would like to use this point to elaborate more upon the issue of intimacy and how it could be cultivated within a dojo as a possibly better way of addressing the phenomenon of Rank Aikido.

When I refer to intimacy, I am not proposing that we try and exactly duplicate what we have going on in these small groups of ours. These groups are much too organic and as a result could never really be reproduced at any kind of institutional level. However, we can use them as a guide of sorts -- all the while being mindful of the various factors that must also be present in order to satisfy the larger issues of Budo/Aikido practice. Additionally, I am not proposing that we all just hug each other more, etc. That's not exactly what I am referring to whey I use the word "intimacy." I am using the dictionary entries of "being indicative of one's deepest nature" and/or "referring to what is essential; innermost to our person."

As I said before, competition in part allows us to do this without actually having intimacy (in the normal sense of the word) be present. If we look at how competition does this, it achieves this by setting up some parameters that are well known by both parties ahead of time. These parameters are a kind of ritual by which behavior, but then so too the interpretative models for understanding behavior, are determined. What could be used, and what we have been playing with at our dojo, is to set up some parameters that govern the nage/uke dynamic, and the various levels of training, so that these things come to each participant in a way similar to how rules are presented in competition. This is pretty much what happens when we establish these groups -- only everything goes unsaid, which is why it only works for intimates and not for everyone. In other words: Find out what makes these groups tick; Establish those things as parameters for the uke/nage dynamic and the various types of training that we do in the dojo overall; Monitor them and adapt them according to how they may effect the whole of the Budo experience; And then get everyone to abide by them as if they are "rules" meant to govern one's training.

Either way, one has to be creative, more creative than just finding a few folks to go to town with, and definitely more creative than just trying to Rank Aikido harder.


dmv

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Old 11-10-2005, 02:16 PM   #53
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
That is to say, the art that is supposed to reconcile the world, that is supposed to unify things, is surviving through the years by practicing huge amounts of exclusion and partition. It is like the art has to sell its soul in order to get into Heaven.
Well, I don't see it quite that way. It's pretty clearly known in most dojo where I've trained who you can go to for this more honest, more challenging practice. It's usually clear just watching people train after an advanced or even regular class. I've had members of 'the group' reach out to me to invite me in...and I'm not much for belonging. I''ve seen them welcome anyone who wants to step up to that next level.

Another issue is that it would be great to behave that way with everyone in the dojo, all the time, no matter what. But the problem is, aikido isn't a koryu, you have many different types, and supposedly aikido has room for these different types. Some people are actually happy just doing the kata, and not much more. Many beginners will quit if all they get is thrown (before they can fully protect themselves), and they never get to throw.

What do you do with the student who has a resistance to falling, and it's creating a safety issue for them? I would tell them to take every fall, no matter what. Take the fall enthusiatically, just dive right into it, learn to love ukemi by taking ukemi. Later on, when they are safe, they can work on resisting, being hard to throw, reversals. Step one: ukemi. Is that a valid method? If so, what does it do in terms of this discussion? I guess I'm just not convinced everyone can get 'there' safely right out of the box.

Best,
Ron

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 11-10-2005 at 02:18 PM.

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Old 11-10-2005, 03:33 PM   #54
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Hi Ron,

Thanks for the comments. Good points.

I think you are right in pointing out that for most of us when we form these groups we do our best to make them larger and larger. I didn't mean to suggest that this partitioning and/or exclusion happens at any kind of conscious level -- certainly not at the level of some sort of ill-will. I am referring to a sub-structural level of popular Aikido culture.

In that sense, though we can try to make these groups larger and larger, more inclusive at the level of conscious intent, culturally speaking, these groups of ours just make more divisions prominent. For example, these groups, or the members of these groups, often go on to hold the higher ranks in the dojo, the teaching positions, the teacher's confidence, more dojo responsibility, members of these groups travel together, attend events together, have extra workouts together, etc. Their pact to train more honesty never just stops there -- these group comes to manifest themselves in countless other ways within a dojo. Moreover, these groups are often distinguished according to age and gender lines as well -- such that most of these groups are made up of young males. In the end, at a sub-conscious level, these groups can definitely represent a kind of exclusiveness in the minds of the outsider/other: lower rank, female, older member, etc.

In the end, conscious will or not, we are still forced to simultaneously say, "Aikido is a way to reconcile the world," at the same time that we are saying, "Aikido is not for everyone." I would propose that we cannot have it both ways. We cannot say one without contradicting the other. Right now, in my opinion, much of Aikido is suffering from being firmly lodged within this contradiction. That is why much of Aikido is neither all that martial nor all that spiritual. (Which may however be one reason why it is popular/modern.)

The trend up to now, in trying to reconcile this hypocrisy, has us only training more dishonestly. We try to make Aikido for everyone by having as many people as we can not really doing Aikido. We need a new trend, as a new generation, in my opinion. We need to find ways of having the positions of "not everyone can train martially" and/or "not everyone wants to train martially" NOT seem so obvious to us. I think it can be done, I think we at our dojo have been able to do it on a smaller scale, but I could be totally wrong with what we got going. Only time will tell. However, the one thing I do firmly believe I got right is that we got to be a heck of lot more creative in all regards if we want to move to a new trend in understanding both Aikido's spirituality and it's martial effectiveness. We have to become very dissatisfied with the party line of "not everyone can or wants to train martially." We have to move beyond the idea of making Aikido for everyone by having as many people as we can not do Aikido.

regards,
dmv

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Old 11-10-2005, 09:30 PM   #55
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Have you ever picked up a book, looked at the pics, and thought, "Nah, that's not right," and put it straight back down again? Sometimes it's hard to put your finger on it ... but you put the book down all the same.

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Old 11-11-2005, 12:37 AM   #56
Charles Hill
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

I am very glad Prof. Goldsbury added some thoughts to this discussion. I was hoping he would. I do want to make clear that I really haven`t given any kind of personal opinion. I think that people have a bit of mistaken idea as to what Doshu`s role is in the Aikido world (not like I really know either). Is he supposed to be the exemplar par excellence of Aikido technique? I am definitely not convinced that that is his role. To try to give a definite opinion here, I think that this topic has two parts. One is that of judging a high level teacher. The other is as to what the role of the Doshu is. This thread definitely has a different flavour than the one one of our participants started awhile back with a picture of Ikeda Sensei.

Charles
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Old 11-11-2005, 07:01 PM   #57
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Hello Charles,

Originally, I wrote a much longer post, but then I read Peter Rehse's comments on Budoseek and shortened it.

I think some people are upset that Doshu appears to have been singled out for special scrutiny. I am not upset, for such scrutiny is an inevitable consequence of being the focus of the tatemae of an organization like the Aikikai. Like O Sensei, Doshu is simply not allowed to have off-days or to display bad technique. He is like a yokozuna, who is not allowed to lose even once.

A saving factor, in my opinion, is the concept of the iemoto. There, the leader is the one who can best further the interests of the ie, not the one who has the highest skill. However, the ie is also underpinned by those who do indeed have a very high level of skill, which is why one ahould also look at the waza of technicians like Shirata, Yamaguchi, Tada, Arikawa, Isoyama and others who buy into the Aikikai as an organization.

There is another point that has not been discussed very much in this thread. I think the concept of architecture, when applied to aikido waza, has some disadvantages. A waza is essentially something in time, with a beginning and an end. So there is always a creative tension between the two people doing the waza, which is not well expressed in terms of the architecture of the waza. I saw this at first hand when I took ukemi for Seigo Yamaguchi. He seemed to break losts of rules and static camera shots might well have revealed much grosser 'lapses' than Doshu's. But there was never any question for me, at the time, that the waza worked.

But this raises the question whether, for any one waza, my attack and subsequent ukemi were 'appropriate'. Thus the attention shifts from the architecture of the waza, understood as a kind of Form, to that of the attack and ukemi. This aspect has not been studied nearly as much as the former, but the idea that one should not take ukemi from a 'senior' practitioner if the waza is 'bad' is far too simple to bear serious scrutiny. Ellis Amdur has written about teaching by ukemi in one of his Aikido Journal blogs, but there was little follow-up.

Anyway, rest assured that when I meet Doshu next, I will tell him that his 1-kyou and 3-kyou, evidenced from the Asian Federation meeting, have been severely criticized on the Internet.

Best regards,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 11-11-2005 at 07:07 PM.

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Old 11-11-2005, 07:30 PM   #58
crbateman
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Goldsbury Sensei,

Do you think that the overall role of Doshu has changed since O'Sensei's passing? ("leader" vs. "teacher" vs. "administrator", etc.) If so, do you think this change has been brought about by outside influences and pressures, or by a conscious effort on the part of Doshu, and his father before him, to expand the role or take it in a new direction? I'd like to hear your perspective. Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-11-2005, 07:51 PM   #59
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Well, I wish Peter R. would post his comments here -- especially if you Peter G. feel they are obvious enough to not repeat. However, I think folks can read this and see the issue beyond the example or they cannot. If one cannot, I would suggest that they might be too firmly imbedded in the practice of Rank Aikido. After all, we all know this exists (but for the more beginner practitioners). Look - if we are going to problematize Rank Aikido for the sake of discussion and/or self-reflection, it would be foolish to say that it exists but then go on to suggest, "Let's not talk about it with this guy." Rather, we should be able to talk about this and use examples without those examples drawing us away from the main issue. Again - one can either do this or not.

If one wants to make this about the martial effectives of Doshu, one should start a new thread. Under that topic, I would have nothing to say but maybe, "Who cares."

For me, there is a deep potential problem when you take a kata-based art, having no competition, little room for true spontaneous training, and mix that all up with the standard notion of Japanese hierarchy (where distance in the hierarchy is marked by the presence or absence of intimacy). As a member of that art, I feel compelled to address this potential problem. As a dojocho in that art, I feel compelled to address this potential problem beyond the usual solution of "get yourself a good group of friends you can go hard with." In that way, I feel there is plenty to talk about. Thus, I am very thankful for those that have been honest enough here to reflect openly for the benefit of everyone -- myself especially.

David M. Valadez
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Old 11-11-2005, 09:01 PM   #60
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Hello Charles,

Originally, I wrote a much longer post, but then I read Peter Rehse's comments on Budoseek and shortened it.

Best regards,
Well, he said basically

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
I also think David was confusing demonstration with actual testing of technique. He makes that clear later in the thread. Uke does have a role in the demonstration that is different from that in some forms of training.
I think that for any serious teacher a demo is simply training. Only difference is you have some spectators. Of course, some may be tented to do show off, to pretend to be O sensei by trying to do mimic his way of doing the techniques, but in reality, they are cheating themselves.

As one day Chiba sensei said: the most important thing to an aikidoka is to be sincere. This can happen on many levels, and pretenders are quickly detected and got appropriated reputation.

Sooooo....... yes, basically when you do a demo as instructor, you present understanding aikido at your own level. As instructor you happen to teach your students at the same time. If you pretend to do the techniques at level that is too advanced for you(so uke must tank in order to make technique work and/or look "GOOD"), they will learn that such behavior is “a standard” and will pass it to their students. This is how McDonaldisation aikido is created.

Nagababa

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Old 11-11-2005, 09:25 PM   #61
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Szczepan,

Thanks for sharing that. I suppose there are many ways of looking at kata training, and one is of course free to look at demonstration kata training, teaching kata training, and practicing kata training as different things, etc. For me, however, kata training is kata training - like you, I do not differentiate teaching kata training from demo kata training from practicing kata training, etc. It's all kata - all shu level stuff in my eyes - which is another reason why martial effectiveness is irrelevant here. No one can determine martial effectiveness from kata training.

I couldn't even imagine where or how one would differentiate demo kata training from any other kind of kata training. If someone has some idea, please lend me a hand here - much appreciation.

Thanks Szczepan for posting that.
david

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Old 11-11-2005, 10:08 PM   #62
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

David,

Well, despite your protestations that the thread was in no way concerned with him, you yourself started the thread with Doshu as the main example. So I think you have no grounds for requesting a separate thread, if other posters want to focus on Doshu, rather than the other issues. After all, this is a general Internet discussion, not an academic seminar directed by a chairperson.

Yours sincerely,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 11-11-2005 at 10:14 PM.

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Old 11-11-2005, 11:41 PM   #63
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
John Boswell wrote:
So let me get this straight:

Aikido is a martial art... minus the martial aspect of it, it's great for "older" people because it is "soft", it's false training, you no longer practice aikido... but you come here to an Aikido Forum and tell us these things and then ask us to NOT be offended?

Guess what? I'm offended you think anyone here stupid enough to listen to all that and NOT be offended!

Go re-read your post, insert your martial art in place of aikido and tell me how you would react.
The problem here John is I am a Mixed Martial Artist. I have trained in Tae Kwon Do (with Mr. Lee), Isshin Ryu Karate (with Joseph Barnes), Isshin Shorin Go Ryu (with Joseph Barnes), Aikido (with Thomas Collins and Chris Mitter), Judo (with Dick Tashiro), Kajukenbo (with Brian Davies), Northwest Kenpo (with Asa Rainey), Northern Shaolin Kung-Fu (with David G. Scott), Modern Arnis (with Chris Mitter and Edgar Cordova), Ryu Kyu Kempo (with Chris Mitter), Shin Shin Jujitsu (with Chris Mitter and Larry G. Brooks), Taki Ryu Shin Shin Jujitsu (with Chris Mitter), Tai Chi, I have trained in numerous seminars with Leon Jay, George Dillman, Bill Burch, Remy Presas, Jeff Delaney, and I am currently training for UFC (Muay Thai, BJJ, and Submission Wrestling) at the Lions Den under Trevor Prangley and Derek Cleveland on top of teaching Jujitsu.

I have had the experience of being a Police Officer and using techniques, I have had the experience of many encounters outside of the dojo, I have been in combat, and I have competed in numerous events to understand the difference between "martial" and "art". I believe if you read the book "Living the Martial Way" you may understand what the differences between the variations and the way people practice today.

It shouldn't take a person to quote their entire past for people to understand them. I mean no offense to anyone when I say Aikido is a soft style art. It is what it is. Did that stop me from training in Aikido? No. Aikido has many techniques that could be transformed into a martial way. Of course by taking away the Aiki portion of the techniques, it is no longer Aikido.

Older people train in Chi Gung, Tai Chi, Aikido, etc. All softer style arts. Does this mean they are not effective? No. It just means they are more artsy than martial.

If Aikido was truly a harder style martial art you would see Special Forces and Navy Seals training in it. You would also see more UFC contenders trying to train in Aikido so they could be untouchable. The truth is when UFC first came into exhistence, people learned very quickly which arts dominated the ocatagon, and Aikido was not one of them. All of the Kaiten Nage training did not pay off in the end against a real shoot fighter.

People have started to look for Mixed Martial Arts, rather than a complete olden days style. Why? Because we now have a realistic form of competition that can display what each art can do against real attacks and real fighters.

Again, I try to offend no one. I am a straight shooter. I look at the obvious, not the "what ifs", and I obviously have some sort of love for Aikido or I would not have taken the techniques and added them to my requirements for my Jujitsu students. Every art has influenced my teaching, even if it was a soft art like Aikido.

I have chosen to change my path into trying to be a good fighter. After all, the original reason I joined martial arts was to become a great fighter and have great self defense. After my 20+ years experience, I have found that you can always find good things in any art, but you should never be afraid to adapt and change the things you learn. Change is what has made masters out of drones. Change is what makes martial arts evolve into what is most necessary for the times.

Devon Natario
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Old 11-11-2005, 11:52 PM   #64
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
David,

Well, despite your protestations that the thread was in no way concerned with him, you yourself started the thread with Doshu as the main example. So I think you have no grounds for requesting a separate thread, if other posters want to focus on Doshu, rather than the other issues. After all, this is a general Internet discussion, not an academic seminar directed by a chairperson.

Yours sincerely,

Hi Peter,

It's the martial effectiveness of Doshu that I think is an entirely different topic. I clearly stated that here:

"If one wants to make this about THE MARTIAL EFFECTIVENESS OF DOSHU, one should start a new thread. Under that topic, I would have nothing to say but maybe, 'Who cares.'"

The suggestion to start a new thread, as with everything we all write on here, is my individual opinion. I did not feel it necessary to spell out that I am not the chair-person and/or that my suggestion is not a commandment. If this thread is concerned with Doshu, it is only in as much as we are all involved with the practice of Rank Aikido - he as well.

On the other hand, if want wanted to speak about the martial effectivess of Doshu here, I would at least expect a person to demonstrate its relevance before attempting to interpret the thread in such a manner. For me, I just can't see how such a topic can be connected here.

regards,
dmv

Last edited by senshincenter : 11-11-2005 at 11:58 PM.

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Old 11-12-2005, 12:03 AM   #65
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Dear fellow contributors,

This is a worthwhile discussion, kindly allow me to participate.

Drawing from my personal experience; I try my best to do rank aikido (or textbook aikido) attacks against my sensei or adjutant sensei not because I want to let them look good, more towards to preserve my health.

I am uncomfortable to do funny attacks (non-conventional attacks) because I will surely expect a non-conventional respond from them whereby I have to take uncomfortable falls or endure higher amount of pain.

I learned not to botch up my technique for simple reason as stated in paragraph 3. If they botched the attack, I simply adapt to the given situation and continue with the technique or flow.

I was never berated or scolded ever for doing a botched up attack, sensei or my sempai, just simply adapt to the situation, I get up from their throw, recover, get back in line and wait for my turn again to attack my shite.

Now, for a hypothetical scenario. Maybe in demo, having hundreds of spectator, uke and shihan are under pressure to perform flawlessly and hence martial aspect may be compromised? Each, trying their very best to impress the spectator i.e, improve their showmanship?

Let me explain further; contrasting equine show-jumping and race track horse racing. Both uses horse and I bet that the skills develop by the horses, differ considerably. One is breed to show grace and control, the other breed for power and speed. See the different yet?

I am personally aware that when aikidoka perform demo, their purpose is probably more askew towards showmanship. There are occasion, especially kenshu class (or seniors only class) where we get together and discuss the not so textbook situation. Often, the techniques we use to respond to not-so-textbook situation may look like jujutsu or judo. No matter what, my sensei reassure us, do not let your mind be too compartmentalized; judo, jujutsu, aiki-jujutsu and aikido are sometimes just names we assign. A rose by any name smell just as sweet. Let the situation dictate the respond, not the other way around.

To summarize; It could be in demo, the shihan are more skewd towards showmanship because he wants to be more spectator friendly. Whereas if you are more interested in seeing the martial application, you may just have to join his dojo long enough to get into the inner circle to learn the okuden techniques (the martial applicable techs) and from my experience these really good stuff tend not to be shown during normal class for various reasons.

My two cents,
Boon.

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Old 11-12-2005, 02:04 AM   #66
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Hello David,

Yes, I have read your previous post, and other posts, and stand by what I stated earlier. In your first post I picked up the following points especially.

1. The definition of rank aikido:
"Aikido that 'functions' only in accordance to both the rank of your own person and the rank of your Uke, where if your rank is greater (especially significantly greater) than Uke's, your tactical architecture will be allowed to succeed no matter how ill-performed and/or ill-designed."
I believe that this takes place regardless of rank or affiliation and so might need to be expressed in another way.

2. The close analysis of Doshufs technique (as nage):
gHowever, if you look at the photos, you cannot help but to notice a body alignment (i.e. a lack of body alignment) that would get most Nage to "fail" in their application of the technique. If one were to have a higher ranked Uke, this type of body mechanics would not provide the necessary mechanical advantage to function as designed or as attempted. This is not because a lower ranked aikidoka could not (i.e. unskilled) transfer their weight/center into their hands in order to apply enough weight/mass to bring Uke back from the outside to their centerline/center. Rather, this is because an Uke who could (equally) transfer their weight to their feet/base opts to do so if they have higher rank Nage but opts not to do so if they have lower rank Nage.h
I believe that three still pictures do not form an adequate basis for the opinions that follow the first sentence of the above paragraph.

If you really want to separate the discussion of the first point from the second, perhaps it would have been better to choose different pictures. I think you have managed to upset quite a few people by choosing to illustrate a very valid point with pictures of the present Doshu. Of course, this is the Internet, so if you cannot stand the heatc

Yes, Chiba Sensei was my sensei, too and I have also discussed the question of honesty with him. However, I know from long experience of discussing the subject with Chiba Sensei that ecross-culturalf honesty is extremely difficult, much more difficult than is perhaps realized in this thread.

Anyway, as a member of the Aikikai with a close relationship to the present Doshu, whose reputation I do not wish to undermine in any way, I bow out of this discussion.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 11-12-2005, 09:51 AM   #67
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Thank you for the participation thus far then Peter. My own opinion is that this is a valid topic and so it is deserving of clarification (when needed) and/or some effort to defend itself against attempts to subvert it. I feel that this discussion would be subverted if it was to be transformed into a discussion on the martial effectiveness of any one aikidoka -- including each one of us.

Perhaps at the heart of how folks are opting to read things lie some basic differences in how we understand other things. For example, several people now have demonstrated how they understand demonstration kata different from teaching kata and/or training kata. As I said, I do not, as I am sure others as well do not, hold these distinctions. I also think that some folks hold that kata is or can be an expression of one's martial effectiveness, whereas for me kata is more about architecture, body mechanics, and the representing of other body/mind attributes that can prove relative in a combative situation. I must side myself with other folks that suggest that or hold that a nice kata don't prove jack martially. Differences like these do seem to have some people reading this topic one way and not another.

Realizing you have opted to bow out of the discussion, I would like to use your points to further clarify my own. This is because even of the people that seem interested in the topic, I am not so sure they are themselves truly capable of moving beyond the example given.
---------------------------------------------------
Peter wrote:

1. The definition of rank aikido:
"Aikido that 'functions' only in accordance to both the rank of your own person and the rank of your Uke, where if your rank is greater (especially significantly greater) than Uke's, your tactical architecture will be allowed to succeed no matter how ill-performed and/or ill-designed."
I believe that this takes place regardless of rank or affiliation and so might need to be expressed in another way.
--------------------------------------------------
I realize that cooperation and choreography happen in basic Aikido training. However, I was not referring to cooperation and/or choreography in general. My critique is not the usual critique of "Aikido is fake." Rather, I was attempting to focus in upon an inconsistency in our cooperation and choreography. I was attempting to point to that moment in our training (whether we have experienced from Nage's side or as Uke) when we cooperate and/or follow prescribed choreography according to rank (relative to our training partner). Thus, I was not interested in noting only how we follow our teacher or seniors lead, etc., but how under the same circumstances we do not do so when we as Uke are working with a kohai. For me, Rank Aikido would disappear not if cooperation and/or choreography would disappear from basic training (which I do not think can or should ever happen) but if we as Uke would either always note poor body mechanics in Nage or if we as Uke would ALWAYS fulfill a kata's prescribed choreography during basic training.
------------------------------------------------
Peter wrote:

The close analysis of Doshu's technique (as nage):
However, if you look at the photos, you cannot help but to notice a body alignment (i.e. a lack of body alignment) that would get most Nage to "fail" in their application of the technique. If one were to have a higher ranked Uke, this type of body mechanics would not provide the necessary mechanical advantage to function as designed or as attempted. This is not because a lower ranked aikidoka could not (i.e. unskilled) transfer their weight/center into their hands in order to apply enough weight/mass to bring Uke back from the outside to their centerline/center. Rather, this is because an Uke who could (equally) transfer their weight to their feet/base opts to do so if they have higher rank Nage but opts not to do so if they have lower rank Nage._
I believe that three still pictures do not form an adequate basis for the opinions that follow the first sentence of the above paragraph.
-----------------------------------------------------------

It is this line that again states that I am referring to an inconsistency in the practice of cooperation and choreography -- one that functions according to rank: "Rather, this is because an Uke who could (equally) transfer their weight to their feet/base opts to do so if they have higher ranked Nage, but opts not to do so if they have lower ranked Nage." As one can again see, I am not protesting against cooperation and/or choreography. It is how these things are or can be determined by rank that is being discussed. For me, an inconsistency in cooperation and choreography, one that is based upon rank, points to a number of cultivation issues, the least of which has to do with martial effectiveness (granting that some may see martial effectiveness relative in a discussion on basic kata training). As one could read, I saw this inconsistency as related to issues of intimacy (or our capacity for intimacy) and, most importantly, to how closely we come to practicing Osensei's larger aspirations (e.g. Aikido is a way to reconcile the world.). I hold that we cannot reconcile the world if our practice is being determined by institutional fictions and/or when our reaction to such fictions is to set up partitions.

David M. Valadez
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Old 11-12-2005, 10:19 AM   #68
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Here is a good experiment to help one figure out what is being discussed here:

Go to a dojo, seminar, camp, event, etc., that either employs rank colors and/or a hakama to note seniority. Do NOT wear your black belt or your hakama. Note how much cooperation you receive when you are nage. Note how much flack you may receive when you are Uke if you press the matter of proper body mechanics. Now go to another dojo, seminar, camp, event, etc., that also employs rank colors and the hakama to note seniority. Wear your black belt and your hakama. Note how much cooperation you receive when you are nage. Note how much flack you may receive when you are Uke if you press the matter of proper body mechanics.

I predict that the differences will be amazingly different. This is Rank Aikido.

David M. Valadez
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Old 11-12-2005, 05:02 PM   #69
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Here is a good experiment to help one figure out what is being discussed here:

Go to a dojo, seminar, camp, event, etc., that either employs rank colors and/or a hakama to note seniority. Do NOT wear your black belt or your hakama. Note how much cooperation you receive when you are nage. Note how much flack you may receive when you are Uke if you press the matter of proper body mechanics. Now go to another dojo, seminar, camp, event, etc., that also employs rank colors and the hakama to note seniority. Wear your black belt and your hakama. Note how much cooperation you receive when you are nage. Note how much flack you may receive when you are Uke if you press the matter of proper body mechanics.

I predict that the differences will be amazingly different. This is Rank Aikido.
You don't need to predict anything; I experienced just that many times when a student. One reason I have six BBs is different styles is because I always used to wear a white belt when 'travelling' and so also went through the grades. Obviously, I was BB in some styles before others but remained a white or coloured belt in others for years and years. Simply, the higher the grade you appear to be, the easier the time you have - unless you do Judo, which is exactly the opposite. Wear a BB in Judo and anyone under you thinks they have the automatic right to try to better you, and guess what, they do have that right, whether you are a high graded guest instructor or just and ordinary joe.

In the BAF it was common knowledge that certain people - even amongst the volumous white belt crowd (no coloured belts), would 'assume' control and try to teach you what to do when training. It was a real pain in the A to train with these people, even if they were better than you. I just expect people to shut up and train. Accordingly, I try to prevent such in my own students ...

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Old 11-13-2005, 12:11 AM   #70
crbateman
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote:
In the BAF it was common knowledge that certain people - even amongst the volumous white belt crowd (no coloured belts), would 'assume' control and try to teach you what to do when training. It was a real pain in the A to train with these people, even if they were better than you.
This sounds a lot like not just Aikido, not just MA, but life in general. I think it's just human nature. There are people like this in practically every crowd, regardless of the activity or avocation.
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Old 11-13-2005, 01:59 AM   #71
Mike Collins
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Rank Aikido? Is it rank or is it politeness? Sometimes, people misunderstand their role in being polite, so they err on the side of caution. Sometimes, people are kissing butt. People behave that way in any hierarchical organization. You can convince yourself it doesn't happen, but it happens.

As to the pictures of Doshu, what you are calling misalignment, I am seeing as transitional movement. Specifically 285 appears to be a body shift and draw on what appears to be sankyo; 284 precedes 285, and it would seem to prove my assertion above; If you'll look carefully at 248, you will notice his dogi top closes between his hands, again, a transitional movement it appears, but his basic structure looks fine for what it is; 245, uke is off balance and it appears he (Doshu) is taking his uke down in an ikkyo. Looks like pretty good stuff to me. I don't think there is anyone alive who's technique couldn't be nitpicked by way of stills, but these were a poor choice, in my humble opinion.

As to people tanking for their superiors, it happens. It should be, and in better schools it is discouraged, but it's a fact of life. I try not to do it, but I have done it when I'm being used to demo technique in front of a class or in a demo. It's a way of trying to get along with people. If every single time I tried to demo a technique, my uke felt it was okay to trip me up for any misstep, I would never be able to demonstrate until my technique was perfect.

I submit that with only a very few exceptions on this planet, there are not many folks who could demo with me more than once or twice, if I was allowed, or God forbid, encouraged to show the openings or weakness of any or every technique. That is not realistic. My teacher is amazing. He can throw me at will. I have felt him mis-step in a demo. I would never try to capitalize on that, both out of espect, and if I change-up, it gives him permission to do that to me, and I'm not as stupid as I look.
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Old 11-13-2005, 02:59 AM   #72
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Quote:
Mike Collins wrote:
Rank Aikido?
As to people tanking for their superiors, it happens. It should be, and in better schools it is discouraged, but it's a fact of life. I try not to do it, but I have done it when I'm being used to demo technique in front of a class or in a demo.
There is really no problem with 'tanking' ocaasionally. Even boxers will no doubt receive slow pre-arranged simulations to learn their trade. The problem is when it becomes too common, to the extent that uke flies off despite technique that is not sound. If you demo that way - not too bad really as it is just a demo, but if you train that way, then how can you ever learn to do it properly? I am not so cocerned about the demos - they are all pre-arranged in Aikido. I am more concerned about the training that happens thereafter.

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Old 11-13-2005, 09:12 AM   #73
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Well if we want to call it polite when we practice Rank Aikido for our seniors, what do we call it when we practice Rank Aikido with our juniors - when we resist their technique, opting not to be "polite" for them like we were for our seniors? Is it really just a matter of helping them out for their own good? To me it smells so much of power games and ego trips. In our dojo, we try to have the inverse relationship to what one normally sees in Rank Aikido. That is to say, we have it clearly taught, stated, and expected that senpai uke NEVER resist (or "show kohai their openings through resistance) a kohai nage; and that kohai uke should never be "polite" to senpai nage. We deal with the instructing of kohai's nage's form through instruction demonstration, verbal explanation, and the cultivation of discipline and commitment that is necessary to mimic the ideal architecture being presented. We don't try to say "you see, you are doing it wrong" by resisting their technique (since it can be resisted at all times). We just say, "you are doing it wrong - it goes like this." Later, we use spontaneous training environments to help those more "resistant" to gaining the ideal architecture understand why a technique is done one way and maybe not anyway. As for the learning curves of a kohai uke, while they are cultivated to not take dives for senpai nage, senpai nage is further restricted to the accuracy of his/her technique by not thrashing uke - by not going beyond their ukemi skill level. This means a senpai nage is going to learn more about his/her technique because he/she has the dual poles of not having an uke that will take a dive and being able to maintain control of his/her uke without risking injury to them beyond their skill at ukemi to contend with. We leave the "pushing" beyond one's limits to the instructor and to each other's peers. We leave the contracted intimacy to spontaneous training environments.

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Old 11-17-2005, 04:29 AM   #74
Steve Mullen
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Wow, i never thought id say this (in this post at least) but i fully agree with David on this one. This is the way it should be done.

BUT

My main point in this whole idea of Rank Aikido is that in a lot of cases the uki in question isn't taking a dive out of respect for sensei or some kind of undying loyalty, they are merely being that little bit less resistent to allow sensei to demonstrate a technique to the class/course/seminar. when the students begin to train individually THEY will, individually, learn where the weaknessess (if there are any) lie in the technique shown, and that's always assuming they copy doshu (insert anyother name you want here) exactly. I think the purpose of a sensei is to guide you on the way, not to give you something to copy step for step and blow for blow.

So if uki is being more comlient, than is practical, for sensei when they are demonstrating technique (wherever the setting) then is this really such a bad thing?

When does a class learn more?

1) When they are given a demonstration of a technique in it's entirity, all be it a little loosely
OR
2) When they sit in seiza for 25 mins watching someone try all they can to resist sensei's technique

!But he is a sensei! i hear you all yell !He should be able to control his uki! well yes he probably could, but as we all know, when a technique is being applied practically every time you soon run out of uki (well willing uki anyway, you could always strike a deal; with the local jailor to let you have 10 criminals for each class and 30 for a course/seminar....because seminars last longer.......actually i think i might be on to something here, it would solve the problem of rank aikido and over crowded prisons ; ) )

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Old 11-17-2005, 02:34 PM   #75
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

I agree with the idea that as an uke you should help the person demonstrating/teaching. However, how are teachers supposed to advance if their uke cooperate all the time? Seminars won't do a any good, since rank-aikido exists there as well. And isn't it easier to accept resistance as an opportunity from an uke you know than from a person during a seminar whose aikido you know little about?
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