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Old 11-18-2005, 03:53 PM   #1
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Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Discuss the article, "On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies" by "The Grindstone" here.

Article URL: http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/thegr...e/2005_11.html
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Old 11-18-2005, 04:46 PM   #2
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

So folks know - there are videos that go with this article. They help demonstrate the topic more clearly. You just have to click on the hyperlinks (clip 1, clip 2, clip 3 and clip 4) to view them.

Thanks,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 11-19-2005, 11:41 AM   #3
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Good job Dave, well thought out. These are basically the same experiences and epiphanies I have had in the last year. It is an interesting paradox-The relationship between atemi, cooperation, and martial intent.

While I certainly would not "fight" with the same martial paradigm in a real fight as I train in aikido, when practicing it as a "do" art or methodology to improve correct form and martial habits, aikido the way it is practiced in most good dojos, is 100% correct and must include atemi or the threat of it, as we have discussed in order to make it "honest".

Wonderful article!
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Old 11-20-2005, 09:06 AM   #4
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Hi Kevin,

Thank you for your reply. I am glad you found the article interesting. Hope the videos were able to add something to the clarity of the piece.

I imagine we are talking about the same things here - especially since you've come to the same set of experiences. I think we all do - if we take training off in this direction, away from the standard kihon waza dominant slant we usually practice. Like in our other talk, I try to define "real" in my martial training as consisting of at least two interrelated aspects: 1. The real is marked by the fact that anything can happen (i.e. anything can be real - the real is marked by pure potential); and 2. The real is marked by the unknown. This is why, for me, kihon waza can never be real - why it must remain (and should remain) part of an artificial constructed reality. Kihon Waza is ideal, not real, because it manifests one to several things in order that they can be more clearly known - this is the exact opposite of something existing in pure potential and/or of being unknown.

However, because reality is marked by pure potential and the unknown, we can never really say that what we practice in Kihon Waza could never be part of the real. It very well can be. However, because it can only be a part of the real it must be set within its prime conditions for existing in order to be that part. In reference to this article, the throwing techniques of Aikido waza, for example, are ripe for existing under real conditions when the attacker has set his/her tactics within the prime conditions of commitment that mark the logic of the technique in question. Thus, for me, if an attacker came to function within the exact energy to energy relationship that we see in Kihon Waza Irimi Nage Tenkan, I most certainly would fight for real in exactly the same way that I perform this technique under ideal conditions. The thing is, in my opinion, we aren't too prepared for doing this if we do not come to realize, for example, the interdependent nature that exists between atemi tactics and throwing strategies (or throwing tactics and atemi strategies).

In the end, this inspires me to keep training as real as possible. This means I am inspired to confront pure potential and the unknown as much as possible in my training. However, I do not try to do this because I want to learn how to fight better. Fighting skill is only an incidental of the training. I choose to confront pure potential and the unknown because these things are also central elements in the refinement of the human spirit. Therefore, I could never suggest that we could train or should train one way for "do" and another way for "fighting." I imagine you mean the same thing here only you are coming to point in this direction via a different set of expressions - in response to something else you are trying to check from happening, etc. I would be very interested in hearing what that something else might be. Maybe you don't know what I'm talking about - my fault. But maybe if you answer this question it might reveal itself for us to discuss: "Why can we not train to fight for real and have that training be of Budo?"

thanks for your comments - hope you continue with them, would love to hear them.
dmv

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Old 11-20-2005, 02:39 PM   #5
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindston

Nice article. The clips were good and helped flesh things out. In your post you ask:

"Why can we not train to fight for real and have that training be of Budo?"

Just from my personal experience, I have found that there are those who want to learn to fight, and there are those who want to learn Budo and never the twain shall meet. I have encountered very few "fighters" who want their training to be any overt type of cultivation of the self. And most of the Aikido practioners I have encountered want the cultivation and somewhat-martial training, but they definitely don't want to train at the level required by "fighters."

I think part of the issue is that so many people have the idea in their heads that Aikido is some type of egalitarian/sophisticated martial art that is above devolving into the clinch, groundwork, striking. People would rather just be like "tenkan...just move...blend...if there is not intent in the attack you aren't in danger...etc." Aikido folks tend to be an insular bunch as well and don't seem to want to branch out that much. Not to mention the near deification of Ueshiba sensei. He was unstoppable, one with the universe, etc. Anyway, the combination of: hearing legends that Aikido can produce "unbeatable" people like the founder, the philosophy of the art, the "graceful" movements, the "trappings" of a dojo (the language, dogis, kamiza, regimentation, etc.) all add up to attracting a certain type of individual. What I like to think of as the "casual" martial artist.

The casual martial artist isn't in that good of shape and wants to do something to get in better shape. Nothing too strenuous though. They don't like gyms though, too many jocks there. Maybe martial arts! This person likes the Matrix, that was cool. They look around a bit. They don't want to hit things, so no karate or anything like that. Finally they hear about Aikido. It sounds cool and seems to have a neat philosophy behind it. So they go find a local dojo. It seems Spartan and mysterious. But everyone is smiling and having a good time, so they sign up. This person might come for six months, or stay for six years but the reason they are there is not to learn how to fight. Oh, they might want some self-defense, but they don't really want to get their hands dirty, if you know what I mean. And Aikido makes it easy for this person because it starts of nice and easy with them, learn to roll, basic techniques, etc.

Contrast that with a twenty-something year old fit male (generally these are most "fighters"), who played sports in high school, probably a football player or wrestler. This person is already fit and is used to high-stress, high-risk training already. They've heard about the Gracies, and have caught some of the recent Ultimate Fighter stuff. Maybe seen a UFC PPV or if they've got the right friends, they've seen PrideFC.

They walk into an Aikido dojo for a look. Everyone is wearing uniforms and skirts! It looks all soft, not like the fighting they saw on TV. No competition, that's weak. This guy has been competing his entire life, he's fine with it. Everything is in Japanese too. I have to learn a different language to learn this stuff!? They seem to roll around all the time and do blending exercises. There's also a bunch of bowing and stuff. The weapons are kinda cool, but he doesn't really plan on carrying a sword around with him all the time.

Then he goes to a BJJ or MMA gym. Gym! It's already better. No fancy names for everything here! Everything's pretty much in English. Some guys are wearing uniforms, no skirts though. Lots of people are just in shorts and rash guards. They do a bunch of conditioning at first. Cool. This guy is in shape. He likes doing sit-ups and push-ups and stuff. They do some weird things he's never seen before but he can recognize them for conditioning drills. No one bows, they all just shake hands. Much better. They really go at it while training too. No big throws or anything but, depending on if it's a BJJ or MMA place, the guy might see combination drills, lots of movement drills, takedowns, bag work, mitt work, groundwork…Hey, this is like the UFC. These guys are getting ready to fight! Then they do fight! At the end they spar or roll till one taps out. And everyone is intense. There is no one casual here. Everyone is an athlete.

Where do you think our potential student is going to go?

I just think that the majority of Aikido dojos just aren't attractive to the type of person who wants to fight. Sure there are people like Kevin and myself, but I don't think we're in the majority of Aikido practioners really. Also, how many Aikido instructors are out there such as yourself David? Really trying to expand their horizons and integrate new things into Aikido. Are willing to put on gloves and go at it? Work on groundwork and so on? Not that many I think. I know there are exceptions and there are many hard training Aikido dojos out there. But in general, I think everyone can agree that they have seen or been to a dojo that focuses on the "trappings" of the art more than the martial aspect. Also, I think we can all agree these dojos outnumber those that art martially intense.

This comes up again and again and I'm sure the usual suspects will come out and defend Aikido. Which is easy here on AikiWeb because there are some very talented Aikido practioners. In general I can think of the same group of 10-15 talented people who make there voices heard about topics such as this and who I think are good at Aikido, train hard, and are open minded. However that's 10-15 people. AikiWeb has over 6000 members. The group I'm talking about composes less than 0.003 percent of the people on the board. They are the exception to the rule. If you can find that exception, if it's where you train or there is one near to where you live: awesome! Otherwise, you're probably SOL.

There are those who want to learn to fight and have that training be budo, but they are few and far between. "Casual" martial artists will be attracted to places where they can fit in and adapt gradually. "Fighters" are going to go somewhere that they are going to be pushed to achieve and challenged to succeed. I just don't think most Aikido dojos appeal to those in the latter group.

Keith Lee
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Old 11-20-2005, 10:42 PM   #6
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Keith,

Great reply. I have to say that I think you are right on the money with a lot of what you said - I think sociologically you got it nailed. But still, what you said may explain why it may not happen or may not happen all that often - it doesn't really deal with the position of why "can't" we. I think I can read into what you are saying and get a sense that you would agree that it is possible to make a fighting art a Budo - just that not many folks do it (for one reason or another). However, perhaps you know that there are some folks out there that like to draw a very sharp distinction between the two - and personally that has never made sense to me (especially if we cannot answer the question of "why can't a fighting art be a budo?").

This may be important - at least in my own mind - because I think once you try and make a fighting art a Budo you are going to look into two very important things: 1. you are going to look into things like the stuff being covered in the article (e.g. the interrelatedness of tactics and strategies); and 2. you are going to wonder if a Budo that is not a fighting art can ever really cultivate us beyond the more superficial levels of human virtue (i.e. be a good/moral modern citizen). Personally, I'm fine saying that fighting is not my main purpose in training - that fighting skill is an incidental of Budo. However, I am totally against anything that understands the former position as a reason for why we don't require our Budo to be up to par as a fighting art. For me, when our Budo is not a fighting art - there too much room for habitual attachments to remain, too much room for ego and delusion to settle in and remain in place unreconciled.

thanks again Keith for the post - I really enjoyed it.

dmv

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Old 11-21-2005, 01:36 AM   #7
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

This is the best thread I have seen in a long time! Wow!

I struggle with these very issues. How do you balance "fighting" and budo? It is not easy.

Me dealing with Army combatives program...well the major intent of the program is not to necessarily develop fighitng skills but instill the warrior spirit (Budo)...

BUT, talk about budo to any of the guys I train with and they will call you a "homo" and never come back!!

They care about the effectiveness and the efficiency of what they are studying, however, what they really get out of it is BUDO!!!

Out of 200 soldiers I train, I have a handful of guys that have taken to martial arts. I even have about 7 now that will incorporate aikido into our training. These 7 are starting to "listen" to the situations, they are developing finer skills of blending etc. They are beginning to understand mushin, and ma ai.

Talk to any world class athlete and you will find that they indeed embody the same concepts of BUDO, (that is throwing out the professional basketball, football, and baseball players that act like spoiled brats!).

I think all great "fighters" like the guys in the UFC really "get it". They may not outwardly talk about it...but they are warriors.

But what separates "fighters" and "budoka"? We all seem to know that there is something different between them...what is it?

Is it because fighters have a endstate of Winning regardless of your position? WIN/LOSE and Budoka have a WIN/WIN endstate.

I think it is not quite this easy.

Even in the UFC, yes, one fighter wins and the other loses on the surface....but look what happens after the fight...they are both WINNERS! They both typically have the utmost respect for each other and share a common bond!

So, what is it that separates fighters from budoka...is it ethical goals? Do budoka focus more on trying to resolve conflict and create a better world through martial arts?

Interesting conversation!
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Old 11-21-2005, 02:04 PM   #8
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for reply. Lot of great insights in your reply - keen observations. Your post made me think about some things -- so I'm kind of using it as a springboard…

I imagine all this stuff is going to depend upon how we define Budo -- in particular, what we hold its ultimate objectives to be, and how we believe one goes about obtaining that objective. Historically, I would say that Budo has been many things -- some good, some bad, some deep, some shallow (in my opinion). Moreover, I would say that Budo is still very much in the process of being defined.

In my opinion, this is because it is now more than ever that traditional weapons and hand-to-hand combat are in a position to address the luxuries that can only come when such technologies are no longer the main tools of the martial sciences. It is kind of like this: Once we know how to make stainless steel pots and pans, ceramic pottery can become art. Before we know how to make stainless steel pots and pans, that ceramic pot was just the piece of junk that keeps leaking and that eventually breaks and that I will have to make again. In short, Budo is a kind of luxury of modern warfare. Additionally, Budo is in a key state of existence today because it offers us Moderns a venue away from the plagues of materiality, but it does so in a way that addresses our culture's need for actual experience and for reconciling our fears (and thus our tendency to wage war over material things).

For example, I imagine that if one were to understand Budo as the cultivation of a martial spirit, just about anything could do that -- even hell week in football training does that. Therefore, for me, it makes perfect sense that an Aikido training that is based in kata/kihon waza (or primarily based in such things) can also achieve the same end. Kata/Waza under controlled and/or choreographed conditions could indeed become the vessel in which one could generate feelings and ideas of a martial presence. It would indeed not require that martial practicality be a part of such training. Let us not forget that martial spirit in Japanese history has been (or at least believed to have been) cultivated through things wherein no combat has taken place (real or mock). Zazen functioned in this way, for example, during the first half of the 20th century. Other types of physical austerities have also been understood in this way throughout Japanese history. In short, we do not necessarily have to fight to develop a martial spirit.

However, what if Budo was not simply about the cultivation of a martial spirit? What if Budo training is about a reconciliation of the subject/object dichotomy, through which one could fuse a moral philosophy/practice of love, harmony, and union onto the very core of one's being? To do this, one will require a practice that truly does seek to penetrate to the core of one's being. For Aikido to do this, in my opinion, we cannot have it remain of mock battles and/or of choreographed movements. It must remain real -- which is to say it must place us in the very nature of reality itself. Our training must move away from Kihon Waza at some part and fully into the realm of the unknown and of pure potential. For me, there is no other way of understanding Budo and/or the phrase "takemusu aiki." For me, this means that fighting skill is not a thing we can contrast in opposition to something like spiritual maturity -- Budo does not present them as choices. Rather it uses the development of one toward the development of the other.


dmv

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Old 11-21-2005, 03:09 PM   #9
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Dave, I will have to read through your post and think about alot of what you wrote, but here is what comes to mind as I read it.

In Budo, translated by John Stevens, O'Sensei defines the purpose of budo.

"Budo is a divine path established by the gods that leads to truth, goodness, and beauty; it is a spiritual path reflecting the unlimited, absolute nature of the universe and the ultimate grand design of creation."

He goes on to say: "Techniques also display the marvelous functioning of kotodama".

and then "Reform your perception of how the universe actually looks and acts; change the martial techniques into a vehicle of purity, goodness, and beauty; and master these things."

So, I think O'Sensei developed aikido as a methodology to acheive enlightment.

So how much martial technique really remains in aikido? I believe it was changed enough to serve as a methodology to not instill a "killer" spirit in someone, but to "...teach a warrior how to recieve and fill his mind and body with a valorous spirit..."

Later he goes on to say: "The appearance of an "enemy" should be thought of as an opportunity to test the sincerity of one's mental and physical training, to see if one is actually responding according to the divine will."

So aikido becomes an allegory. We learn through the study of budo to conquer our enemies. Those enemies can be our fears and prejudices.


it also mentions sports:

"Sports are widely practiced nowadays, and they are good for physical exercise. Warriors, too, train the body, but they also use the body as a vehicle to train the mind, calm the spirit, and find goodness and beauty, dimensions that sports lack."

I appreciate his feelings on this subject, sports can be incorporated into a practice to develop the mind, but I believe the main point is, that it is not the main focus of sports to do this.

So the quesiton that lingers in my mind, is how "honest" does the art have to be with regards to "martial effectiveness", or efficiency in order to acheive these goals?

If you think about it, how does the practice of aikido really differ from yoga...it has the same endstate? Yoga follows universal principals of dynamic movement and correctness.

To me, it is about the concept of "enemy". Some of us have a need to feel strong and many of us, like myself, grew up in the military and have spent my whole life practicing military or "martial arts". I believe Aikido can serve as a bridge to help those of us that possess the "killing spiritu" to show us "options" of how to use those same feelings and emotions in a more positive way.

Likewise, many people are timid and weak. They have a inate fear of being trampled and run over, they avoid conflict by hiding from it, or ignoring it. AIkido can give them the ability to be strong and face those fears.

Yoga attempts to heal and create this in a different way.

I think in order to accomplish the goals of aikido, it is important that it is practiced in a honest way. While it is very important that the techniques be "martially correct" in form and application, it is not so important that we learn how to "win" or "overpower" as in a sports contest, as that is contrary to the goals of budo.

So I have no issue with how aikido is practiced.

That said, some of us have real issues within ourselves that aikido cannot "heal" and we need to reach out and understand much more of the underpinnings by training aggressively and hard.

I find ultimately though that it comes back to aikido for me.

I wonder if it is really possible though to study only aikido and reach an understanding of all this? This is the "BIG" question in my mind.

It was not until I really started doing MMA and BJJ that I began to see what is "so right about aikido"! Then again, I am a hardhead and don't do things based on "faith".

It is an interesting journey!
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Old 11-22-2005, 07:35 AM   #10
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Please forgive me if I misunderstand the point, or points, but Kevin are you saying that in order to gain some understanding or enlightenment in conflict resolution (with others, self, the world) that one must confront one's deficits or allow them to be challenged and even better to actually engage in conflict as a process of examining one's self? Sort of a moment of epiphany in a garden by a persimmon tree, perhaps? And if this is so, then do the specific details of the conflict or challenge matter as much as the confrontation of self? If this is what we are trying to really achieve, it seems to me that the only possible judge of what needs to be addressed and whether or not it is adequately addressed is the individual in question, as long as they are brutally honest with themselves. On the other hand, I'm sure there are as many reasons for budo and martial training as there are individuals, and not everyone has this sort of goal in mind and not everyone wants to be brutally honest with themselves.
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Old 11-22-2005, 07:38 AM   #11
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Interesting thread. I have one or two questions though in relation to the conclusions drawn from what's shown in the clips. The option to revert to striking tactics seems to me to presupose a relationship between attacker and defender where reverting to striking tactics by the defender is a viable tactical option. For example it would be intresting to see Sean and David reverse rolls in the above drill. Do you think this would lead to the same outcome? Or perhaps it would better illustrate what I'm trying ask if we could see the drills performed with a large male taking Sean's roles and a small female taking Davids. I understand that this doesn't really follow the direction that the thread has subsequently taken but it is I feel relavent.

Yours humbley as more of a lurker than a poster.

Ben
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Old 11-22-2005, 08:22 AM   #12
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Hi Ben,

Thanks for posting. Good question.

If I am understanding you correctly, "yes," would be the answer. While the point of the article was to show how striking and throwing, for example, need to work off of each other, and not necessarily to say that we "should" look to strike at our attacker, one could say that underneath all of this there is an assumption that striking is a viable tactical option. I think that would go for anything however - the suggestion of any tactic assumes its viability.

Using your example, when a smaller person vs. a much larger person, the smaller person is going to face the performance envelope of any tactic more quickly than when size is more evenly matched. A greatness in size variation will always require a greatness in skill acquisition - in other words. It takes skill, as it always does, to push the limitations of any tactic back far enough so that one is still operating within its sphere of influence. Thus, I would not want to say that a smaller person cannot strike at a larger person, nor that a smaller person cannot be effective against a larger person when it comes to striking (heck, this is what Karate is all about - right?) - it's just that skill is going to play a larger role for that smaller person (vs. the inverse). BTW: Sean is a larger man than myself. He has the size, but, for the moment, I got the skill.

Still, out of the major options of striking, pinning, throwing, and/or taking it to the ground, and with all things being equal in terms of your example's capacity to generate power, the smaller female in your example will probably be able to utilize her size disadvantage better by striking (e.g. to vulnerable parts of the body) than by anything else. It will be easier for her to be successful in striking than in throwing, pinning, or ground-fighting, and this becomes more true the more skilled her attacker is. (Do not forget that this would be against the non-committed attack - that is what we are talking about in the article.)

my opinion.

Thanks,
dmv

Last edited by senshincenter : 11-22-2005 at 08:25 AM.

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Old 11-22-2005, 08:38 AM   #13
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Have I misunderstood, or are you suggesting that for a small person wishing feel confident in their ability to defend themselves against likely bigger assailants, they are better off learning a striking art than a throwing art such as aikido? Apologies I may have lost the gist half way through your answer.

Ben
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Old 11-22-2005, 08:54 AM   #14
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Hi Ben,

My fault if I was not clear. Please excuse.

I'm suggesting that against a larger attacker that is ADVANCING IN A NON-COMMITTED FASHION, a smaller person is much better off striking at that attacker than attempting to throw them, pin them, or take them to the ground.

For me, as you can see in the article, Aikido IS a striking art, is a throwing art, is a pinning art, is a ground fighting art, etc. So - no, I would not say that a smaller person is better off taking Karate (for example) than Aikido. But I would say that a smaller person, as is any person, is better off training in an Aikido that includes striking training (over one that does not).

Hope that makes my earlier reply a bit clearer. If not, please feel free to question again.

thanks,
dmv

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Old 11-22-2005, 09:03 AM   #15
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

"Um... just re-read your edited post . Yes I agree with what you're saying in relation to the example. Would you say that such a response could be considered aikido?

Ben"

Argh! you keep prempting my posts before they appear, can you see my screen as I type? Lol.

Last edited by Ben Joiner : 11-22-2005 at 09:08 AM. Reason: answered my response before it was posted.
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Old 11-22-2005, 09:24 AM   #16
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Kevin,

It is interesting that you mention Yoga. In my opinion, in a way, Yoga is going through a similar process of redefinition. In particular, Yoga, like Budo/Aikido, is being re-understood according to Modern systems of meaning and practice. This is unfortunate because both of these practices would otherwise be quite capable of providing us Moderns with an alternate way of understanding the world -- one outside of Fear and Materialism, for example.

In Yoga today, like in Aikido, we see a focusing in on the forms -- having all other aspects of the practice fall to the wayside. In a way, Modern cultures that are now practicing Yoga are really doing nothing more than stretching -- calling that "Yoga." Can we not say the same thing in regards to Aikido? Do we not just do these play fights and call them "Budo"?

As the "yogi" of today has for the most part abandoned all of the other practices that gave context and support, and thus viability, to the Asanas (the postures), have we not as aikidoka, for the most part, also abandoned those practices that give our forms context, support, and viability? I would say, "Yes, we have." When we leave out things, like the things you see being practiced in the article, I believe our understanding of Irimi Nage (for example) is going to be way different than if we put those things back into our practice. Moreover, I suggest that as one's overall practice would be incomplete without such training aspects, one understanding of Irimi Nage would also be incomplete.

It is interesting that Yoga has gone from the practice that the Buddha said was too extreme to the practice we can now do to relax at the end of the day and/or to feel good in the morning, or to have our body become more appealing in today's culture. There is a "softening up" up of Yoga that has it now becoming the very thing it was supposed to be a remedy for. Do we not see the same exact process happening in Aikido? I believe we do, and I believe it goes hand in hand with the abandoning of Aikido's supporting training regiments (those universal to any martial science) and the focusing in on Aikido's own Asanas -- its Kihon Waza.

Please, Kevin, if you got a spare moment, I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Thanks in advance,
david

David M. Valadez
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Old 11-22-2005, 11:30 AM   #17
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Fighters are individuals that have the combination of physical ability, mental ability and training to make them superior physical specimens for combat.

Budoka are individuals that have the desire to enhance their lives through focus and training. In martial arts, focus and training is militaristic so we use fighting science to hone our skills and our attitude.

In some cases, these two definitions will overlap to identify a group of individuals that possess both the physical prowess of a fighter and the refinement that comes from intraspection. These are our champions. As children we knew them as firemen, policemen, Superman, Spiderman, etc. As adults, we know them as (insert shihan here).

I don't mix my oil and vinegar, and I don't confuse those students that are fighters with those students that are budoka; it's a pleasant suprise when a champion shows up.

The question David brings to the table is can aikido resist the degradation of martial arts as we (as a society) continue to reduce the effort that is required to participate. A friend of mine is a chef and once explained the purpose of a reduction as this, "A reduction removes water from the sauce. Through concentration, the sauce's flavor will be strengthened and therefore create a more flavorful taste when eaten. But, if the sauce is reduced too much it will burn and become inedible."
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Old 11-22-2005, 12:17 PM   #18
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Thanks for that Jon. It really struck me when I read it.

Best,
Ron

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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
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Old 11-22-2005, 12:37 PM   #19
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
…However, what if Budo was not simply about the cultivation of a martial spirit? What if Budo training is about a reconciliation of the subject/object dichotomy, through which one could fuse a moral philosophy/practice of love, harmony, and union onto the very core of one's being? To do this, one will require a practice that truly does seek to penetrate to the core of one's being. For Aikido to do this, in my opinion, we cannot have it remain of mock battles and/or of choreographed movements. It must remain real -- which is to say it must place us in the very nature of reality itself.
For aikido to be budo that makes us one, we must commit to real situations… I am really struggling with this thread - you are hard for me to follow this way; I wish I had you across from me instead. I am one of those people who learn best through demonstration and hands-on practice. I can't read my way to an understanding very well. I think that's why the mock battles and choreographed movements work really well for me - there is a known outcome, and if that outcome does not happen, I must figure out why and adjust appropriately. In a deeper way, too: aikido demonstrates in a way I have never experienced elsewhere how "I" get in the way of things. There are physical, direct consequences of my assumptions. So I am with Kevin on the allegory - aikido can be a very effective way to mirror your pitfalls back at you. Whether you see and deal with it or not is another matter.

So do you mean that you can refine yourself to react to what is, instead of what you think is, only through what you term "real" training? To me, there are always filters -- I practice with the same folks all the time, I have experience with them and hence deeply rooted assumptions about how they move and feel. Those assumptions might get in the way of seeing what really is in the moment. How do you train your way out of that in the dojo setting?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
…commitment is actually a cultivated state of being. Commitment is not something that comes to us through our own volition. This is true of commitment whether we are talking about a marriage or whether we are talking about attacking. Commitment is a matured state of existence; it is learned only as much as it is practiced, and it is practiced only as much as it is learned.
I am very grateful for those about whom I have the assumption "I won't hurt her/him." Things just flow better -- it feels like they know me. My ambition (right now) in aikido is to give ukemi that allows nage to feel completely confident that they can do whatever they have to and not hurt me. But that ambition is very clearly only brought about by my own fear of hurting others -- I may in fact not share that with anyone else. So commitment through familiarity… and attendant assumptions… Commitment is a two-way street, I think. You have to will it to practice it -- as you also said, you first mimic commitment -- you make yourself do it in spite of whatever reluctance you might have. It becomes easier the more you do it, and the more you see people react to it (reflection in others).

I really don't know how you would ever identify and remove all the filters -- it seems to me that our brains make assumptions to allow us to act. Can you really be all-aware? We feed off others as well -- some Harvard study on body language (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...toryId=4180263) indicated that empathy is hardwired and not cultivated as previously thought (and yes, I am willing to take that on faith and experience and assumption). We seemingly cannot escape the effect of other peoples' emotions. Are we really learning how to -- ahem, distance ourselves from them in aikido? To manage that effect? Does aikido bring us closer to others or to ourselves? Is there really a core, or are there only reflections of everything else?

My answer right now would be that it brings us closer to ourselves. Whatever we find there determines how we relate to others. I find aikido's ability to illuminate aspects of myself that I may be unaware of magical and endlessly fascinating. But it is only through the reflection in my fellow students and instructors that I become aware of this.

Quote:
Jon wrote:
The question David brings to the table is can aikido resist the degradation of martial arts as we (as a society) continue to reduce the effort that is required to participate.
I lived in China for two years in the late 80's - early 90's. When I returned to "civilization", I felt completely deflated. I had used so many parts of myself while away, it seemed as if I only needed 10% to get by back home. But it's all up to you, innit? You can choose to participate. So whether aikido can resist the "degradation" is really up to the practitioners/sensei. I would assume that many people are drawn to the martial arts for the challenge - possibly to escape the drudgery of "real life." The building block is there.

One thought just leads to another in your threads, David. I am sorry for being so long-winded without a seeming point. And again, the forum is hard to work in -- much better suited for in-person discussion. Just had to put this down, though, 'cause it made me think.
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Old 11-22-2005, 01:58 PM   #20
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

So much material! So rich in thought! it is overwhelming!

Jon, Excellent post as always! You do such a good job of distilling the subject! Thanks.

Camilla Wrote:

Quote:
So do you mean that you can refine yourself to react to what is, instead of what you think is, only through what you term "real" training? To me, there are always filters -- I practice with the same folks all the time, I have experience with them and hence deeply rooted assumptions about how they move and feel. Those assumptions might get in the way of seeing what really is in the moment. How do you train your way out of that in the dojo setting?
Yes I think there are probably always filters to a certain degree. I believe awareness of them is much better than unawareness though! I like your example of China. I too live outside of the U.S. (incidently going to China on Thursday!). I think that you experience a paradigm shift through experiences that allows you to see things differently which increases your ability to see things, if not more clearly, certainly in a different perspective. I think this is wisdom. I would hope it allows you to make better decisions (if there is philosophically such a thing!).

I follow the Dali Lama for the most part. He is somewhat of an enlightened individual I believe, at least more so than I! He seems to be all about experiences, not so much about preaching, but exposing himself to ideas, concepts, and alternate view points...and then using his "methodology" to process them into "embodiment" for personal improvement.

So, I think as budoka, and aikidoka we must constantly be exposing ourselves to a new way of looking at the same old thing. Might be irimi nage with a different instructor, partner, or school, body type etc. What I believe is important is to constantly question and reconsider. That will be different for every individual. You may be able to do this to a degree with the same people you train with all the time, or you may have to branch out.

For me, in aikido, it was and is, exposing my aikido to brazilian jiujitsu and mix martial arts, and re-interpreting it, questionng it, and now re-assembling it.

Again, I think one of the things Dave is asking me to respond to in post #16 is related to this. What is vital, if I understand Dave is that we must think for ourselves and constantly be thinking about what it is that we are trying to accomplish in our study.

Simply showing up and practicing is not enough. The "softing" occurs I think in our society because we are so used to walking into a store, purchasing stuff in a box with a money back warranty and having our problems solved. That is why infomercial do so well selling diet plans!

So, what is vital, again, is understanding WHY you are doing what you are doing and begining to make it your own and internalizing it. No right way, no easy path, and the path to aikido....may not involve an aikido dojo at all! It depends on you.

So basically in the end...I don't know the answer! Have a nice day!
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Old 11-22-2005, 02:15 PM   #21
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Dave to respond to your post on yoga and aikido.

I just answered some of it in the previous post about the softing up stuff. But, I think that is okay to a degree.

My wife teaches yoga on a miiltary base in Germany that is full of people that you would put into this category of "softing up". To her yoga is much more than a set of stretching exercises, but all the stuff that yoga represents with the OM, breathing, spiriutality, unification, healing, chakras and all the good stuff!

Her students all come to class for "exercise" for the most part. She has to leave out the "heart lanquage" and all that so as not to "weird out" anyone or offend anyone.

Well after a year of teaching, she found that the benefits alone of simply doing yoga produced many of the same benefits without all that.

I think the old bell curve applies to everything, even in the "old hard days" in Japan. There will only be 20% of the students that study that will stick with it, and out of that 20%, only 20% of them will go deep into the art.

I think what happens alot is dissonance. We look back in our years and tend to only remember those that stuck with it and were successful and then lump them together and then look forward and see only a few that are on the path and say "it is eroding".

So, in the end, I think we keep our doors open to all people and "go through the motions" a small percentage of people will begin to see as they mechanically work their way through irimi nage that there is more to be discovered through the study of the technique, and they will blaze their own trail.

What is vital though is that guys like you continue to think and break down things and re do the analysis. Yes, O'sensei did it for us so we don't have to...that is true....BUT I think if we don't have people that "re-invent the wheel" by questioning, and re-interpreting, and re-discovering the art.....then it will become lost and we will simply have a bunch of exercises that some righteous old dude invented that we no longer know why we do them!

I always remember a story about a sensei conducting a seminar that did not draw his sword straight and high over his head. It bothered a new student because it was contrary to what he had seen in the past. He constantly asked his sempai the reason why and he always got an answer like "it is because sensei is so good and we don't question it" or "it is much more effective than the other ways, (secret technique)"

One day the student, still bothered got up the courage to ask the sensei why he did this, hoping to unlock the secrets of a deep and effective technique. Sensei just laughed and said, "oh yeah, sorry, bad habit" In old dojo ceiling was too short!

This is why to me, it is important to have these discussions.
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Old 11-22-2005, 02:32 PM   #22
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindston

Quote:
John Brockington wrote:
Please forgive me if I misunderstand the point, or points, but Kevin are you saying that in order to gain some understanding or enlightenment in conflict resolution (with others, self, the world) that one must confront one's deficits or allow them to be challenged and even better to actually engage in conflict as a process of examining one's self? Sort of a moment of epiphany in a garden by a persimmon tree, perhaps? And if this is so, then do the specific details of the conflict or challenge matter as much as the confrontation of self? If this is what we are trying to really achieve, it seems to me that the only possible judge of what needs to be addressed and whether or not it is adequately addressed is the individual in question, as long as they are brutally honest with themselves. On the other hand, I'm sure there are as many reasons for budo and martial training as there are individuals, and not everyone has this sort of goal in mind and not everyone wants to be brutally honest with themselves.

John, I probably answered your question in my other two lengthy post so appologize if it is somewhat redundant.

I believe I am simply saying that from O'sensei's point of view, it appears he developed aikido as a methodology or practice using conflict as the basis of acheiving enlightment. I am not saying anything other than that.

I believe that he thought that we can understand the basis or root causes of conflict, and that we can develop a personal practice through aikido to abate conflict and acheive happiness/peace/or enlightment.

I don't think the specific details of the conflict are all that important. What is important and Key (KI) to aikido is that we are overwhelmed in our lives with conflict to the point of not being able to correctly or properly respond or cope with it. By developing a controlled conflict scenario in the dojo students can slowly and methodically develop coping skills under the tutelage and guidance of a qualified instructor.

I think that this gets lost and confused from time to time. Many of us, myself included, get caught up in the whole "reality" of the art, or the "does it work in real life" thing being important, when it really isn't or wasn't meant to be the focus.

Yes, I agree, it comes down to the individual being honest with themselves. However, I find that sometimes that is not enough, because the individual may be deluded, confused, or misinterpreting his/her reasons for doing certain things. The responsiblity of instructors of the art is to gently guide people on the path in the right way.

Although we shouldn't lie to them, or be politically correct and try and make aikido something that it is not. At some point and in some way we must be very clear about the intent of aikido.

no your right, there are many people that simply want to be deluded and not honest with themselves. Actually all of us really are that way, it is easy, fun, and ignorance can be bliss! Eventually though, those that tend to focus on the "warm and fuzzy" part of life tend to grow bored eventually with things like aikido, after all you can master the rote techniques in a few years!

I also think though that a dojo needs these types of individuals as a dojo should also be a reflection of life. It is as important to surround yourself with people that want to work hard and train serious as those that simply want to "just do it". How would we ever learn to cope with the many situations we will deal with in life if we don't have the challenges in the dojo?
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Old 11-22-2005, 03:18 PM   #23
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Jon, Camilla, Kevin - Man! You guys took this thread to another level - fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing. Just got time to say that - I'll try and reply later and/or answer some of your questions. Again - fantastic.

Thank you,
dmv

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Old 11-22-2005, 04:03 PM   #24
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Thanks Dave. To be honest, I felt kinda guilty for sort of "hijacking" your thread in this direction, but I think you really touched upon somethings that are at the core of the art and it has generated much thought and discussion at what I consider to be the essence of aikido.
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Old 11-22-2005, 04:10 PM   #25
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

ya know, I just found this article by George Ledyard that essentially does a heck of alot better explaining this than I just attempted to! I think it is worth reading if you are interested in this topic!

http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/gledyard/2005_11.html
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