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Old 11-22-2005, 06:17 PM   #26
senshincenter
 
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Kevin,

I think you are on topic. Please, no worries. As I said, I think this comes down to how we each define and/or understand "Budo" (or "Aikido"). As for the article, I too see a connection - one that stems from here, in my opinion:

(from the article) "Why do you need to decide? Because one needs to be absolutely clear that the decisions one makes about one's training determine this outcome and yet often, people simply drift into a pattern that is at odds with how they see themselves."

Will reply more later,
thanks,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 11-22-2005, 10:38 PM   #27
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Ben asked:

"Would you say that such a response could be considered aikido?"

I would say yes for three reasons. First, I would say yes because of how such a response relates to the overall training of Aikido -- as described in the article (e.g. the interdependent relationship between striking tactics and throwing strategies and the vice versa). Second, I would say yes because of how important striking tactics and strategies are to truly spontaneous training environments, and then because of how important truly spontaneous training environments are to the cultivation of the deeper aspects of Aikido. Third, I would say yes because I do not define Aikido by its basic curriculum and/or by any other architectural manifestation. On one hand, Aikido represents a methodology for personal cultivation and, on the other hand, a harmonizing of Yin and Yang energies marks it. In either case, striking is not at all outside of the scope of these things and thus neither is it antithetical to Aikido training and/or Aikido application.

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. 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.'"

This is right on the money! This IS the question one should pull out of the article and this thread.

Camilla asked:

"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?"

Of course, I would never reject the idea that personal cultivation happens or can happen via forms training. It can and it does. However, I would propose that forms training can only take us so far in this regard. This is because ultimately there is a lack of congruity between our deeper inner selves and anything that is fabricated, constructed, of the material world (the world that is made -- if you will). Forms are a made thing. To penetrate and/or reveal, and thus reconcile our inner self, I would propose that we need a tool that is of the same nature. Our inner selves are marked by emptiness -- in the Buddhist sense of the word -- of pure potential, of unknown. Alternately, we can say that our inner selves are of a state of pure Is-ness. We are at this level beyond our intellectual capacity and so we require a vessel that is of like essence to truly expose ourselves for what we truly are. This is where spontaneous training environments come into play in Budo. This is why, in my opinion, "takemusu aiki" is so upheld by Osensei.

Forms are a constructed reality, and as such, we cannot NOT relate to them via what we think. Yes, to refine ourselves to react to what is, instead of what we think, yes, it is only through real training that we can do this -- i.e. training environments that are marked by the same nature as our inner selves, by pure potential and by the unknowable.


Camilla asked:

"How do you train your way out of that in the dojo setting?"

This is the constancy of the practice. In a way, it is no different from any other type of spiritual cultivation that orients itself toward such an end. Think of Zen, with the Master's tailoring of the teachings to have the disciple WAKE UP! You do it with constant modification of the training -- all aimed toward not having the deshi become attached to their own identity, their own fear, their own pride, their own ignorance, nor to the teaching itself, nor to the teacher.

For example, the videos in the article were not filmed for the article. They were part of "waking" my deshi up to the assumptions (what he thinks of reality) that have come to him unconsciously through his own training in Aikido. He had allowed himself (as we all do) to be conditioned to the belief that if he did not commit he would be further from "defeat". I explained how this happens to aikidoka near the end of the article. For him, in his own words, that class was one big WAKE UP! Yes, it was a modification of the teaching, and in the end it shed light on the role of commitment, the reason behind Uke's choreography in Kihon Waza, the relationship between tactics and strategies, etc., but ultimately the real lesson was on how we may still be trapped by our intellect, by our habitual responses, even when we may feel the most free and the most natural (or when we are told to feel free and to act natural).

Camilla asked:

"Can you really be all-aware?"

I have to believe that we can. I have faith that we can.


Camilla asked:

"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?"

I would not say that awareness comes from some sort of Vulcan restriction on emotions. Rather, it is when we are slave to our emotions that we become most blind to them, and thus most unaware of them and of anything else. Self-awareness cannot have us emotionless. When we are self-aware, we love not less, but more deeply. Etc. Take note of how distant we are from our uke or our nage when we are being plagued by fear. We find it impossible to do anything but travel inwardly (egocentrically) with our minds and with our bodies. We become selfish in our thoughts and in our actions. Are we to search for a state of no fear? No, this is only a reaction to the fear -- still. We are to seek a reconciliation to the fear -- meaning we must be aware of the fear, at the exact same time that we are aware of how we are responding to the fear. Then and only then do we have a chance of remaining aware of our partners -- and thus of relating to them, of remaining intimate with them. Aikido brings us closer to others by bringing us closer to ourselves. In this closeness, there is a oneness that exists -- in us and in the other. It is the same who ever we are.

bye for now,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 11-23-2005, 12:32 AM   #28
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindston

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Ben asked:

"Would you say that such a response could be considered aikido?"

I would say yes for three reasons. First, I would say yes because of how such a response relates to the overall training of Aikido -- as described in the article (e.g. the interdependent relationship between striking tactics and throwing strategies and the vice versa). Second, I would say yes because of how important striking tactics and strategies are to truly spontaneous training environments, and then because of how important truly spontaneous training environments are to the cultivation of the deeper aspects of Aikido. Third, I would say yes because I do not define Aikido by its basic curriculum and/or by any other architectural manifestation. On one hand, Aikido represents a methodology for personal cultivation and, on the other hand, a harmonizing of Yin and Yang energies marks it. In either case, striking is not at all outside of the scope of these things and thus neither is it antithetical to Aikido training and/or Aikido application.

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. 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.'"

This is right on the money! This IS the question one should pull out of the article and this thread.

Camilla asked:

"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?"

Of course, I would never reject the idea that personal cultivation happens or can happen via forms training. It can and it does. However, I would propose that forms training can only take us so far in this regard. This is because ultimately there is a lack of congruity between our deeper inner selves and anything that is fabricated, constructed, of the material world (the world that is made -- if you will). Forms are a made thing. To penetrate and/or reveal, and thus reconcile our inner self, I would propose that we need a tool that is of the same nature. Our inner selves are marked by emptiness -- in the Buddhist sense of the word -- of pure potential, of unknown. Alternately, we can say that our inner selves are of a state of pure Is-ness. We are at this level beyond our intellectual capacity and so we require a vessel that is of like essence to truly expose ourselves for what we truly are. This is where spontaneous training environments come into play in Budo. This is why, in my opinion, "takemusu aiki" is so upheld by Osensei.

Forms are a constructed reality, and as such, we cannot NOT relate to them via what we think. Yes, to refine ourselves to react to what is, instead of what we think, yes, it is only through real training that we can do this -- i.e. training environments that are marked by the same nature as our inner selves, by pure potential and by the unknowable.


Camilla asked:

"How do you train your way out of that in the dojo setting?"

This is the constancy of the practice. In a way, it is no different from any other type of spiritual cultivation that orients itself toward such an end. Think of Zen, with the Master's tailoring of the teachings to have the disciple WAKE UP! You do it with constant modification of the training -- all aimed toward not having the deshi become attached to their own identity, their own fear, their own pride, their own ignorance, nor to the teaching itself, nor to the teacher.

For example, the videos in the article were not filmed for the article. They were part of "waking" my deshi up to the assumptions (what he thinks of reality) that have come to him unconsciously through his own training in Aikido. He had allowed himself (as we all do) to be conditioned to the belief that if he did not commit he would be further from "defeat". I explained how this happens to aikidoka near the end of the article. For him, in his own words, that class was one big WAKE UP! Yes, it was a modification of the teaching, and in the end it shed light on the role of commitment, the reason behind Uke's choreography in Kihon Waza, the relationship between tactics and strategies, etc., but ultimately the real lesson was on how we may still be trapped by our intellect, by our habitual responses, even when we may feel the most free and the most natural (or when we are told to feel free and to act natural).

Camilla asked:

"Can you really be all-aware?"

I have to believe that we can. I have faith that we can.


Camilla asked:

"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?"

I would not say that awareness comes from some sort of Vulcan restriction on emotions. Rather, it is when we are slave to our emotions that we become most blind to them, and thus most unaware of them and of anything else. Self-awareness cannot have us emotionless. When we are self-aware, we love not less, but more deeply. Etc. Take note of how distant we are from our uke or our nage when we are being plagued by fear. We find it impossible to do anything but travel inwardly (egocentrically) with our minds and with our bodies. We become selfish in our thoughts and in our actions. Are we to search for a state of no fear? No, this is only a reaction to the fear -- still. We are to seek a reconciliation to the fear -- meaning we must be aware of the fear, at the exact same time that we are aware of how we are responding to the fear. Then and only then do we have a chance of remaining aware of our partners -- and thus of relating to them, of remaining intimate with them. Aikido brings us closer to others by bringing us closer to ourselves. In this closeness, there is a oneness that exists -- in us and in the other. It is the same who ever we are.

bye for now,
dmv
Hi David,
Good stuff I must say. I am often amused by how you and I can find such different ways to say the same thing.

First of all, have you read "Kata: The Essence of Bujutsu Karate" by Ushiro Kenji Sensei? He has a marvellous section on shu-ha-ri and the relationship of kata to application of the principles and how application always rests on the kata. It's very interesting because many folks worried about martial application issues tend to believe that kata is this thing you do at the beginning but as you get better you leave the forms behind and really focus on application. Ushiro Sensei Sensei points out that you don't ever leave the kata behind rather you go off and validate your understanding of the kata via application and then return with new insights and look at the kata again and again.

We don't have kata per se in our empty hand practice of Aikido in the way that karate has kata but the practice of our kihon waza functions as kata for the Aikido practitioner. Training in realistic application is very important in Aikido because it allows you to test out your understanding of the technique you've learned and the principles that govern them. But over and over again we come back to the basics because the basics contain all of the principles we need to understand, level upon level of increasingly deep understanding. That's one of the reasons why the old guys always end up doing kihon waza. They have already understood the issue of application and their real interest is in getting deeper into their investigations into principle via the basics. It's just that after this process of going from the kihon waza to application and then back to the kihon waza, over and over, every time they return to the kihon waza its different than it was before.

I have been fortunate enough to have two separate areas in which I get to work. Because I have an Applied Self Defense class (formerly my Defensive Tactics for Law Enforcement but now open to anyone who wishes to train) I can work with some of the training methodologies you are experimenting with and still keep them separate from the Aikido (although there tends to be some spill over from one into the other). It's certainly helped my Aikido tremendously to be able to do that training regularly but I have also come to appreciate what O-Sensei gave us when he created the art we do. All the "goodies" are in the basic traditional art of Aikido.

Some people insist that fighting and experience in fighting is the end all be all. But actually most of those people have jumped into fighting and the world of applied technique without having a very deep understanding of principle. And simply fighting they won't get it... Now I want to make sure that people don't misunderstand me here. What the Gracies and the Machados do is an art. Thes guys have spent years doing the basic exercises which constitute their "forms". In fact they started studying these principles when they were kids. By the time they are adult they have it in their bodies. But they didn't get that just by fighting alot.

If I understand Ushiro Sensei, fighting, ie. application of technique is important because it is where you test your understanding of principle. But you develop the understanding of principle via the forms. This is my take on it as well.

The problem lies in not executing the forms properly or well. Training with no intention, sucking the energy out of the physical movements, kills the forms and the cannot teach the lessons intended. Therefore folks find themselves unable to apply the principles and they blame the art. It is the misundretsanding of the proper way to train in the forms which leads to lack of ability to apply the principles in technique outside the formal structure of the kihon waza.

Anyway, one last thing... looking at the clips it seemed that the focus was on experimenting with the relationship between varying degrees of commitment on the part of the attacker and how atemi utilized by the defender "creates" the technique. We do quite a bit of that in my Applied self defense class. I was wondering if you also do some practice in which you focus on what is at the heart of traditional Aikido technique which is taking the center on the first beat of the movement? I have been working on having my partner attempt to attack me as your partner was doing and trying to execute my irimi in such a way that there simply is no second attack possible. Of course this has always been the goal of Aikdio technique but in the basic practice no one actually attempts to attack in this manner. We should, of course, execute our techniques as if the attacker were actually attacking this way but in reality very few folks do that. It's very useful to take someone with some decent boxing or karate skills and tell them to launch an attack utilizing combination striking technique and the see if you can execute your irimi in such a way that his intention do do this becomes mute becauise you have him before the first strike is even complete. I suspect you must do thios but I was wondering if you have some different approach to it?

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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Old 11-23-2005, 02:32 AM   #29
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Hi George,

Yes, I'm right there with you on the shu-ha-ri stuff -- especially the part about all this stuff leading back to Kihon Waza. I too consider any attempt to just "fight" or to see fighting as the end-all of technical application as shortsighted, immature in its vision. This I hold even if one is not interested in spiritual matters. It is the same for me when it comes to seeing forms as the alpha and omega of everything. Forms that come before spontaneous training applications/environments are not the same thing as forms that come after it -- in other words. That is to say, we want the forms, but we want the forms that comes via the insight gained in non-choreographed applications -- only then, in my opinion, can we truly understand that everything IS already there, at the same time that we first begin to truly understand that "all."

Anyways, your points are excellent and I want to thank you very much for joining in here. Great post.

On your last question:

We have some other beginner drills -- with clips of it on our web site -- where we are experimenting with taking Uke's center via Irimi, on the first beat. The drills are very basic, but the principle is the same. You can see those drills here:

http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/v...eflection.html

Wwe also connect these drills to awareness issues. Some other folks have come to try these drills out as well -- Pauliina for one. She has started a thread on these drills. She shares some great stuff. You can read this thread here (I've posted there as well, explaining some points on the drills in question):

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...vid%27s+drills

In these clips, however, we not only take the traditional irimi of Aikido, we also take the traditional attack of Aikido (i.e. committed) -- though not the traditional form of Aikido (i.e. we are using boxing-like attacks). In my experience, the committed attack is the attack that is most difficult to deal with (e.g. requires the most skill), penetrates the deepest into our person, and is the one we will most often face in real life self-defense encounters. The non-committed attack is more of an academic issue for me, or it is the one I have to deal with as a teacher who is trying to get his Aikido trained students to attack with commitment under spontaneous conditions.

Since the clips in the article are from a class where I am trying to instill in my deshi the downside of attacking without commitment -- under spontaneous conditions -- I did not really attempt to do an Aikido technique. I really only sought to demonstrate how with some crude knowledge, and with even cruder technique on the part of the defender (my person in this case), one could be put in a disadvantageous position just from not committing when attacking. I tried to keep things as unsophisticated as possible -- so this lesson would really hit home for my deshi. However, even in those crude applications, you can see how there is some Irimi involved and how that does indeed prevent the attacker from launching any sort of follow-up attack - there is just no traditional application of Aikido technique being utilized.

I have seen applications where someone tries to do this very thing but has it end in Ikkyo Omote or some other arm bar/trap from Aikido, etc. Personally, I think this is very interesting and quite beneficial to aikidoka that have perhaps never looked at Ikkyo outside of Kihon Waza, but I also have a feeling that such applications are forced -- like one is trying to make Ikkyo fit everywhere. This could very well be a result of my own bias to not understand Ikkyo Omote as an arm bar technique (seeing it rather as a hip throw with the arm incidentally in place for a pin at the bottom of the technique) and/or a result of my 5'5" frame trying to do an arm bar/trap on the big heavy Uke we have in our dojo.

In Parker Kenpo we have a move very similar to this one -- they are his freestyle moves "B1A" "B1B," etc. In those moves, one advances on the opponent and then checks the opponent's arm at an downward 45 degree angle, setting it up for more strikes and/or an arm bar etc. The downward angle checks the cross lateral side of the body, etc. No second attack can follow. It works well in theory, but several things come up in application when they are not done against the committed attack. First, when an attacker is not committing, he/she is very mobile in the backward direction. Hence, you move in, try to trap the arm, and they just move back out of the trap and the ensuing angle of cancellation -- which then allows them to counter attack, etc. Moving backward is so subversive to this tactic that when you see this being demonstrated you can almost 100% predict that the Uke it is being applied to is choreographed NOT to move backwards. He/she is either slightly moving forward or staying still, in place, when the other person advances on them -- either option is not too skillful a response, in my opinion. The other thing that came up is that a person that is not too committed in their attack is also very capable of changing levels. This means, you come in, you trap the arm downward, they lower their center, reduce the effect of the angle of cancellation, and go in for the takedown/ground fight, etc. Again, this is why when you see this advance/arm trap movement being demonstrated, you see the Uke being choreographed not to change levels. Nothing but choreography is every really stopping them from moving backwards and/or changing levels.

For me, these experiences led to a particular insight: We cannot by ourselves directly control Uke's center -- not ever.

Rather, when we control Uke's center it is more that we do it in conjunction with other forces that are acting on Uke's center in a controlling fashion. These other forces are gravity, inertia, and will. Thus, when we have only our architecture, and little gravity, and/or inertia, and/or will, affecting uke's center, as we might in the non-committed attack, it is impossible to control the center of Uke as we do in Kihon Waza (which requires a committed attack and thus for the forces of gravity, inertia, and will to be acting upon Uke's center). For me, this means, when confronting the non-committed attack, one will have to rely upon a means to victory, or a means to self-defense, that does not require that Uke's center be completely controlled (e.g. striking, trapping, clinching, in-fighting, knife-fighting, etc.). The choreographed restrictions on Uke not moving back and/or changing levels is the artificial way that Uke's center is being controlled -- it's a fabricated way of trying to deal with the uncontrollable center. For me, real encounters require that we do not expect an Uke who is not committed in their attack to stand still -- to not move backwards and/or to not change levels. Inversely, Kihon Waza require that we come to understand how we use our architectures in conjunction with the gravity, the inertia, and the will that is acting on Uke's center in order to control that center.

Anyways, George, if I did not get what you were asking, please let me know. This is fascinating stuff -- what you brought up here. If you got some video of what you are referring to -- that would be great to see.

Thanks again for posting,

Humbly yours,
David (it's late, this post is a mess -- more than usual -- please forgive)

David M. Valadez
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Old 11-23-2005, 09:11 AM   #30
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Great article and discussion. Compliments and appreciation.

IMHO,
Strategy = concepts
Tactical = technique, application of the concepts
Intent = the purpose, focus, or goal. i.e. training, fighting, or Budo.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-23-2005, 10:57 AM   #31
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindston

This discussion has been like a good steak. Yum.

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
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.
...............
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.
This is pretty much spot on how I think about my training, and how I wish my training to be. I'm not a fighter, and I don't feel I need to be in my way of living, but what David said in a couple posts explains very well why I want to keep looking at my aikido training and to dig deeper into it. Because I feel that at a certain point, I'll otherwise have gotten what I can out of it, and I could just as well stop training, really.

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
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.
So far, this has been my (very limited) experience as well. Interestingly, the better I learn to respond to my sparring partners at first rather un-committed attacks, the more committed he's been forced to become. His attacks are turning more and more into something that I could really use for an aikido technique. What is stopping me at this point isn't really his manner of atttacking anymore, it's that the mere idea of executing a "technique" makes me stiffen my arms and that gives him a chance to use them as levers... This observation in turn has made me look more into what I do in our regular training - and of course the same tension is there as well, but because it's very slight, it's easy to ignore, intentionally or not, in the more controlled circumstances of our forms training. Uke isn't free to exploit it either, which means it's up to me to be honest with myself in that situation.

We played a bit with really committed shomenuchi last Monday in class, btw. It both made the technique of the night (iriminage) easier to do, and more difficult. Easier because there was something to do it with, so to say, but more difficult because tori really had to move right away. Lot's of people getting very high with their centers, into bad positions, pushing and pulling, blocking the attack. At the same time, there was a very clear sensation of the whole group getting more focused, and more relaxed or free as well, despite the anxiety of the startling attacks.

Shoot, I have to go! would love to babble on and on...
kvaak
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Old 11-23-2005, 11:04 AM   #32
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindston

Just a little bit more...
Quote:
Camilla Kieliger wrote:
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.
The problem is when there aren't any consequences... a lot of people I've come across train this way. No matter what silliness I come up with, they fall down.

Quote:
Camilla Kieliger wrote:
Can you really be all-aware?
Personally, I would say probably not, but it's more useful to live as if it was possible, and try to get as far as possible. becuase even if it wasn't possible to be all-aware - where would we set the limit?

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 11-23-2005, 11:15 AM   #33
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindston

Quote:
Pauliina Lievonen wrote:
So far, this has been my (very limited) experience as well. Interestingly, the better I learn to respond to my sparring partners at first rather un-committed attacks, the more committed he's been forced to become. His attacks are turning more and more into something that I could really use for an aikido technique.
--------------------------------------------------
What is stopping me at this point isn't really his manner of atttacking anymore, it's that the mere idea of executing a "technique" makes me stiffen my arms and that gives him a chance to use them as levers... This observation in turn has made me look more into what I do in our regular training - and of course the same tension is there as well, but because it's very slight, it's easy to ignore, intentionally or not, in the more controlled circumstances of our forms training. Uke isn't free to exploit it either, which means it's up to me to be honest with myself in that situation.
------------------------------------------------------
We played a bit with really committed shomenuchi last Monday in class, btw. It both made the technique of the night (iriminage) easier to do, and more difficult. Easier because there was something to do it with, so to say, but more difficult because tori really had to move right away. Lot's of people getting very high with their centers, into bad positions, pushing and pulling, blocking the attack. At the same time, there was a very clear sensation of the whole group getting more focused, and more relaxed or free as well, despite the anxiety of the startling attacks.
All of this is in line with my experience - exactly. Thanks Paulinna for sharing.

d

Last edited by senshincenter : 11-23-2005 at 11:28 AM.

David M. Valadez
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Old 11-23-2005, 11:52 AM   #34
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindston

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

I guess I would look at that question a little differently.


First perspective: In the essence of Budo (as defined personally), I would say that we are training to fight for real. Let me give you an example. Let's say that I have trained in some style of Aikido for some undetermined time. I find myself with friends at a bar and I bump into some drunk. I apologize but the drunk wants to fight. Not very prettily and not very smoothly, I do manage to avoid getting hit and push the drunk away. Then after the initial encounter, when the drunk turns, I again not very prettily avoid getting hit and manage to get the drunk on the ground subdued. In some way, Budo did train me to fight. Now, apply that principle a little further suppose I get into a "fight" (can't avoid it) with a normal person who doesn't have any martial arts training and let's say I have a yondan degree in aikido. For the most part, I will have the advantage and it won't be much of a fight. In essence, Budo has trained me to fight. Or, let's say I'm a Shodan in Aikido and I get into a fight with a Shichidan in karate. For the most part, I won't have the advantage. Does that mean Budo hasn't trained me for a real fight? No. There will always be someone better but that doesn't mean I haven't trained to fight for real in my Budo training. Finally, let's say I have a Lokudan in Aikido but I find myself in a very bad neighborhood where I'm jumped by ten or twelve people (at once) who have knives, chains, and various weapons. I would venture to say that I wouldn't have the advantage, especially if some of them knew how to "fight" from any kind of training. Again, there are always options and possibilities and each situation is imaginary, but I'm using it just for example purposes only. Just because you find yourself outmatched in the real world in a fight doesn't mean that your Budo training isn't training you to fight for real.


Second perspective: Why aren't you training to fight for real and have that training be Budo? What definition of Budo do you employ? What aspect of the training in Budo doesn't apply to training to fight for real?


Third perspective: At what stage in training does one find oneself? That is a very critical element in your question. If you take a first-day student in Aikido and they find themselves in a fight, then I'd say that their training hasn't gone on long enough for them to apply their Budo training to a real fight. Closer to the point, even a shodan in aikido may not have trained long enough for them to apply their Budo training in a real fight. I think that what matters here is the level of the student's understanding, not the level of their rank. But, at some point in the higher levels, one should be able to understand (and apply) that both (train to fight for real & training of Budo) are the same. In this, I look to my shihans (past and present) and their capabilities for affirmation.


Fourth perspective: Are you defining "fight for real" as in two people squaring off against each other where one attacks in a manner of various punches and kicks and grabs, etc while the second defends in a manner applicable to his Budo training? If so, then I would say that it might not be the Budo training at fault but the application and/or execution of the training. At each level of my training, I have been able to view others above me and their ability to apply and/or execute. The abilities did progress. I have been able to read about some of the older Aikido shihans who demonstrated abilities with Sumo/Judo/Karate people. I would venture to say that if one had access to some of the direct students of Osensei, some of the higher shihan in Aikido organizations, etc, that one would come away with the knowledge that training of Budo is very much training to fight for real. It's just the personal application and/or execution that varies or might not work. Someone has mentioned a phrase that sums up my fourth perspective and I don't remember who said it or the exact phrasing, so I apologize ahead of time for possibly butchering it. Your aikido might not work, but mine does.


Thanks,
Mark
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Old 11-23-2005, 12:05 PM   #35
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindston

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David Valadez wrote:
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
I watched the clips. Very interesting. And yes, they did help with reading your article. Thanks for taking the time to include them.

There is one thing that sticks out in my mind, though, as being an error of sorts. Maybe error isn't the right word, but it's close. Watching the clips, there is one aspect of that kind of training that you didn't account for in any of your discussions. There were no committed attacks in your videos. Yes, you had attacks, but none that I would classify as committed. Some of them I would say were jabs or jab-like strikes, some grappling, some clinching, but overall, no committed attacks. And there wouldn't be, otherwise you would have some sort of injury.

Outside the dojo, when someone decides to throw a punch, it isn't going to be half a strike, it isn't going to be pulled at the last moment. There may be a jab or two, but when the "committed" attack comes, it'll have a good bit of force behind it. I never saw anything like that in the clips. The punches or jabs that landed produced no effect like one would get with a full force blow. Least it didn't look like it.

That's really the sharpest thing that struck me as I read and watched the video. Not the idea and/or theory behind the writing, nor the training in the video, but just that solid, powerful strikes weren't taken into account.

Mark
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Old 11-23-2005, 12:16 PM   #36
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Hi Mark,

Thanks for posting. If I could sum up what you are saying, I would agree that martial victory (i.e. the defeating of another human being martially) is not necessary for us to understand that we can be training for real fighting. For those that like to clearly separate "real fighting" from Budo - not seeing it as I described above and as you are understanding it yourself - the questions still remain: How can we do that? Why should we do that? Do we lose anything by doing that?

Another way of looking at this is to say that Budo is about victory over the self and/OR that Budo is not about fighting for victory over another (as you say, defeat does not ruin or void the training). Again, this would not mean then that I can separate the means for achieving victory over the self from the means of achieving victory over another. This is merely a causal matter - which way I go in the practice/logic. In Budo we go from studying victory over another to gaining victory over the self - we do not go (as I understand it) from victory over the self to victory over another. In my experience, the latter is impossible (though this is how many folks in Aikido tend to practice today). In Budo, I use the latter type of training (i.e. studying victory over another) to discover how I have been defeated by my (small) self nearly the whole of my life.

thanks,
dmv

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Old 11-23-2005, 12:32 PM   #37
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindston

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Mark Murray wrote:
I watched the clips. Very interesting. And yes, they did help with reading your article. Thanks for taking the time to include them.

There is one thing that sticks out in my mind, though, as being an error of sorts. Maybe error isn't the right word, but it's close. Watching the clips, there is one aspect of that kind of training that you didn't account for in any of your discussions. There were no committed attacks in your videos. Yes, you had attacks, but none that I would classify as committed. Some of them I would say were jabs or jab-like strikes, some grappling, some clinching, but overall, no committed attacks. And there wouldn't be, otherwise you would have some sort of injury.

Outside the dojo, when someone decides to throw a punch, it isn't going to be half a strike, it isn't going to be pulled at the last moment. There may be a jab or two, but when the "committed" attack comes, it'll have a good bit of force behind it. I never saw anything like that in the clips. The punches or jabs that landed produced no effect like one would get with a full force blow. Least it didn't look like it.

That's really the sharpest thing that struck me as I read and watched the video. Not the idea and/or theory behind the writing, nor the training in the video, but just that solid, powerful strikes weren't taken into account.

Mark
You are right, there are no committed attacks being performed in the clips where Sean is the attacker. That is the problem being addressed: How the level of commitment affects the relationship between striking/ground fighting tactics and throwing tactics.

The training environment that day was "do whatever you want." Sean, my deshi, felt his advantage would rely in not committing in his attack. Out of habit, he was trying not to get thrown. This is a result of how subconsciously we as aikidoka are trained to believe that commitment leads to defeat. To unlearn this wrong subconscious view, other crude tactics, tactics that take advantage of the non-committed attacks, were used.

Like Pauliina said, after a while, a person learns he's no better off by de-committing and/or by "attacking" without commitment. Thus, he starts to attack with commitment again (inside of these training environments) and this prompts the energy prints for Aikido's nage-waza to show up - making him prime for throwing.

When we first enter spontaneous training environments, it is like we know nothing. This is because we cannot access what we know. We are stuck dealing with our small self. Thus, we are more reactionary to our delusions of reality than we are aware of reality. This means, for example, we may first come in and attack hard, then we get thrown (in a way totally different from kihon waza - at least as it is subjectively experienced). As a result, we habitually react to the feeling we had when we were thrown - this means we try not to be thrown (i.e. we resist being thrown) and thus we try not to commit in our attack (i.e. the delusion that all we have to worry about is what our training culture has led us to believe is of concern). We wrongly feel safe here - in not committing.

Then we get the heck pummeled out of us or we end up in a ground fight - for example. Of course, the person new to this type of training is forced by their small self to either take a beating (which they work hard to deny that a beating is taking place - which one can often do in the dojo) and/or to charge in again balls to the wall. Of course they either get beat harder or they get thrown harder and this brings them back to quandary: What do I do? This is the "I" you want brought to the surface, because it is the "I" of "Why can't 'I' do x?" or "Why am 'I" doing y?" When training reaches this level, you aren't dealing with pure technical matters any longer. You are dealing with the underlying character/being issues. This, in my opinion, is where Budo training belongs.

thanks,
dmv

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Old 11-23-2005, 12:42 PM   #38
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindston

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Anyways, George, if I did not get what you were asking, please let me know. This is fascinating stuff -- what you brought up here. If you got some video of what you are referring to -- that would be great to see.
You are spot on with what I am talking about. Great exchange and thanks for making such a huge effort to both post and put the video clips in your posts. Hope you are a better typist than I am... it takes me so long to get my thoughts down. Take care and everybody have a great Thanksgiving, assuming you celebrate this holiday and if not, then just have a nice day off, and if you don't get the day off, have a good day at work.

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Old 11-23-2005, 03:05 PM   #39
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindston

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David Valadez wrote:
For those that like to clearly separate "real fighting" from Budo - not seeing it as I described above and as you are understanding it yourself - the questions still remain: How can we do that? Why should we do that? Do we lose anything by doing that?
Well, yeah, I do think that you can separate the two. But then I compare it to separating the physical study of Aikido to the physical & spiritual study of Aikido. One can get very good at Aikido just by being understanding the purely physical side of Aikido. And one can get very good by understanding the physical & spiritual side of Aikido. Let me try this example. I hope that you've heard Fleetwood Mac sing The Chain. Back when they first recorded it, they were going through some tough times. Listening to that song, you can almost feel them pouring their soul into it. A few years ago, they re-recorded the song. While the mechanics are there, the beat is there, the words are there, it's a rather lifeless song. So, technically, they were good at playing the song. But, they did not get close to how good they were at the original.

Or take someone who knows how to play an instrument by rote. Sure, they can become good at it. Sure, they can play a blues song, but bring someone along who can play as good but with some soul/spirit into it and it is a whole new level.

This doesn't invalidate the purely physical aspect of learning. I think we all hit this type of learning. I think there are some very good and competent people out there who are a genius at the physical learning. I just think some go beyond it with the spiritual aspect. But that's me. And that's how I view separating the two. The UFC, UMA, etc, to me, are the purely physical aspect and thus can be separated from Budo training.

How do we do it? Sparring, competing, contests for prizes.

Why should we do it? Because some people want to do that. It's why we have sports and competitions, etc. It's just another venue.

Do we lose anything by doing that? No, I don't believe we do. If you're in it for "real fighting", then you train for it and maybe somewhere along the road, you start picking up Budo. If not, you're still happy. If you train Budo, maybe somewhere along the road you pick up "real fighting". If not, you're still happy. But, I see it as an individual choice and even that can change over time. If someone was 18 and took Karate and Gracie and was in the UFC, they would almost have to learn something. When they're 40 and switch to Aikido (for whatever reason), they have a background in something which they can apply to Aikido. Nothing really lost. At least IMO.

Mark
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Old 11-23-2005, 03:13 PM   #40
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindston

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David Valadez wrote:
You are right, there are no committed attacks being performed in the clips where Sean is the attacker. That is the problem being addressed: How the level of commitment affects the relationship between striking/ground fighting tactics and throwing tactics.

The training environment that day was "do whatever you want." Sean, my deshi, felt his advantage would rely in not committing in his attack. Out of habit, he was trying not to get thrown. This is a result of how subconsciously we as aikidoka are trained to believe that commitment leads to defeat. To unlearn this wrong subconscious view, other crude tactics, tactics that take advantage of the non-committed attacks, were used.
Ah, I see. I never learned it that way. My learning in being uke and/or attacking was to give a good committed attack initially. For training, it helps tore work with energy and it helps uke deal with energy. Now, in randori or in free style with peers, uke makes a committed first attack but after that, it's a matter of who gives the opening and who is able to take advantage of it.

Viewing it like that, I don't mind being uke and dealing with getting thrown because throughout the whole process I'm learning to spot openings, learning to take advantage of openings, and learning when/where/how to move from off-center to centered. Uke's training, therefore, is never about defeat at any time. Uke's training is all about how to take ukemi. In other words, how to deal with energy in a safe manner. If that means falling, that's fine. If it means reversing a technique, that's fine. If it means moving from off-center to centered and able to deliver a good attack again, that's fine. But, half the fun is finding openings and exploiting them.

I never learned that commitment leads to defeat.

Mark
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Old 11-27-2005, 08:49 PM   #41
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

No, I wouldn't say that anyone was taught that commitment leads to defeat. It is a subconscious construct of our training culture - that was my point. Moreover, because commitment is a cultivated state, this subconscious construct becomes reinforced by our own ego hangups - particularly our fears. This means that we can subconsciously come to associate commitment with defeat (in truly spontaneous environments) at the same time that we can satisfy our habitual tendencies to have our fears dictate us along a path of non-commitment.

My experience suggests that we can never see this for what it is if we only continue onward with our Aikido training. This is like the eye trying to see itself. We need a mirror or something, some kind of contrast. One way to gain this contrast is to go 180 degrees opposite to Aikido training paradigms, such as, "In this training, we just do whatever. You do whatever, and I do whatever."

The closer you get to this kind of training, all the assumptions and/or the subconscious constructs of our own Aikido training culture come to the surface in a sea of awareness - awareness that comes to us via the type of self-reflection that makes use of contrasting training cultures. This is just straight Bruce Lee/Krishnamurti stuff - or, if one is not familiar with the thinking of these men, this is how you come to see the States more clearly after you take a trip abroad for a relatively long period of time.

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Old 11-28-2005, 07:12 AM   #42
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

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David Valadez wrote:
No, I wouldn't say that anyone was taught that commitment leads to defeat.
I didn't mean I was taught. Just that I never learned. Probably my stubborn streak got in the way.

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
It is a subconscious construct of our training culture - that was my point. Moreover, because commitment is a cultivated state, this subconscious construct becomes reinforced by our own ego hangups - particularly our fears. This means that we can subconsciously come to associate commitment with defeat (in truly spontaneous environments) at the same time that we can satisfy our habitual tendencies to have our fears dictate us along a path of non-commitment.
Okay, I can understand that. But, you wouldn't just jump right into spontaneous environments in training, would you? You'd start with basics and slow movements and progress to spontaneous environments, right? In my view, from the beginning as an attacker, if you learn to give a good committed attack each and every time as a building block to help tori/nage, then it isn't really defeat, but training for tori/nage. Then at some point as an attacker, you learn to give a committed attack but then look for openings and reverse the situation, especially on that very first movement by tori/nage. That's training for uke. (Why should we train just for tori/nage?) And if you train as an attacker to look for and take advantage of openings, you won't get any good openings unless that first attack is committed and good. Otherwise tori/nage doesn't have energy to work with and won't be able to make the glaring mistakes. Some time later, the committed attacks and committed techniques become more subtle and require less energy to complete and tori/nage and uke find themselves interchangeable until someone makes a big mistake. Along the way, uke finds that giving a committed attack isn't a defeat but an opening of sorts to reverse the situation. That's my view of taking the "fears" and "non-committed attacks" out of training.

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
My experience suggests that we can never see this for what it is if we only continue onward with our Aikido training. This is like the eye trying to see itself. We need a mirror or something, some kind of contrast. One way to gain this contrast is to go 180 degrees opposite to Aikido training paradigms, such as, "In this training, we just do whatever. You do whatever, and I do whatever."
Don't get me wrong, I think that this kind of training does help. And I think that a good teacher will know when to use it and when to use something else so that the student's comprehension keeps rising. Course, being a good teacher is another topic.

Mark
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Old 11-28-2005, 03:21 PM   #43
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Jon, very well said!


Quote:
Keith Lee wrote:
Where do you think our potential student is going to go?
Keith, do you think Aikido would benefit if students of second category you described, the fighters, would prevail? If it happened, I'd be concerned with possibility of Aikido to evolve into just another UFC-kind of sport, you know, gym, English terminology, no fuss around tradtion, just as you described... Mutual respect attitude would change to sports-agressive. Is it a fair price for becoming truly martial?
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Old 11-28-2005, 03:36 PM   #44
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Mark wrote:

"Okay, I can understand that. But, you wouldn't just jump right into spontaneous environments in training, would you? You'd start with basics and slow movements and progress to spontaneous environments, right? In my view, from the beginning as an attacker, if you learn to give a good committed attack each and every time as a building block to help tori/nage, then it isn't really defeat, but training for tori/nage. Then at some point as an attacker, you learn to give a committed attack but then look for openings and reverse the situation, especially on that very first movement by tori/nage. That's training for uke. (Why should we train just for tori/nage?) And if you train as an attacker to look for and take advantage of openings, you won't get any good openings unless that first attack is committed and good. Otherwise tori/nage doesn't have energy to work with and won't be able to make the glaring mistakes. Some time later, the committed attacks and committed techniques become more subtle and require less energy to complete and tori/nage and uke find themselves interchangeable until someone makes a big mistake. Along the way, uke finds that giving a committed attack isn't a defeat but an opening of sorts to reverse the situation. That's my view of taking the "fears" and "non-committed attacks" out of training."


Yes, I can agree with all of this. In my opinion, for anyone that takes their Aikido training seriously, this is the way to understand that training. On the other hand, it is also a kind of "party line" for Aikido training -- we have to admit that. As a party line, we often say "yes" to it before we truly understand it. Therefore, we commonly end up saying "yes" to a whole lot of other things that we should be saying "no" to (if we understood the party line better). The things that we should be saying "no" to come to the forefront of our awareness only when all the prescriptions of our training paradigms go away. As "free"as such a paradigm may appear to be, and as total as it may seem to be in addressing our fears and our understandings of committed attacks, there is a whole lot of assumption that is included in that model -- assumption that comes with the very nature of design. I do not mean the nature of its design; I am referring to the nature of design itself. In other words, there is too much "I do this and you do that" and/or "When you don't do that, I do this,"to truly know who we are outside of these constructs -- outside of the design of our training paradigms.

Whenever we have design, we have a role to play, and (in the beginning) no matter how well designed a role may be, it is never us -- it is a role. This becomes very complicated the more trained we are. This is because once we are more trained we are often able to fulfill the role to such a degree that it seems very natural to us; the only way to be. However, because of that, the more trained we are, the more often we take the context of the role for granted. Thus, we do not see how the "naturalness" of the role is dependent upon the context in which it is being played. Nor do we see that the assumed context is THE THING that makes such a role to appear natural. Thus, the training paradigm you laid out functions very well when the roles are taken as "natural" (i.e. when the supporting context is adopting without question). However, when the context is not taken as natural, but seen as designed (which it is), which often comes out for all of us whenever we train with beginners (folks less engrained in the training culture), the whole paradigm falls apart (e.g. smoothness goes out the window, etc.). For example, when the beginner does not look for openings and reversals, but instead seeks to create openings, you see even advanced training partners have their technique go right out the window. This happens to them because the context that is supporting the role they are playing is no longer present. Hence, a "real" you (i.e. the you that exists outside of design, context, and assumption) comes out. At such a moment, we see ourselves not blending, not moving, not capitalizing on the target creation tactics of the beginning training partner, etc. We see an "us" that is stuck on the context, stuck on how things are "supposed to be" rather than being able to deal with things as they are, etc. This is what we often experience when we cross train and attempt to go freestyle with a person from another art. What is being exposed through such situations is not a shortcoming of the art of Aikido; it is the problem of being blind to and thus attached to one's own cultural contexts. This problem is universal to every art.

The same thing happens to uke. Within the training paradigm, uke functions in a way that it is possible for the small self to see such behavior as context-free, as natural, etc. However, once nage does not allow uke that "out" some of us so come to rely upon -- when nage just decides to front kick uke in the groin for coming in from a million miles away, etc. -- you immediately start to see the same sort of "fish out of water" reaction to uke as we saw in nage. Thus, we also see uke struggling with the attachments to his/her own training culture. For example, we see that after a few stop-hit tactics performed by nage, tactics that are capitalizing upon the million mile launch of uke's attack (which do a great deal to provide the out uke is seeking, or even the "suki" he/she is looking for), uke has no idea how to attack now - no idea how to balance not giving openings and not de-committing, etc.

It is the same with the philosophy of Aikido. Inside the dojo, at a seminar, etc., it is so obvious, so easy, so natural for us to respond to others in a way that is filled with love, compassion, and wisdom. However, when we are at home, with our spouse, with our children, with our parents, etc., when we are outside of the context that supports our "natural" moral behavior, all of sudden, we have a different "us." We want to know this "us" because this is the real us -- the real us that exists outside of the pristine constructs of the dojo. If we really want to know if we can attack with commitment, we will need to drop all the supports that are there by design to help us stay committed in our attacks. If we really want to know if we can embody the philosophy of the art, we will need to see how well we can embody that outside of the dojo -- with our spouses, with our friends, with our children, etc.

Personally, I've never met an aikidoka that a few stop-hits can't lead him/her into a state of culture shock. I'm sure they are out there -- just never met one.

Great post Mark - thanks for sharing. Good points.

dmv

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Old 11-28-2005, 06:58 PM   #45
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Process out of Sequence

One of the problems, from the standpoint of Aikido as a martial art, is that for many, if not most, Aikidoka the process is out of sequence or by-passes certain stages.

In many arts, the highest level of skill is arrived at well after the period of peak physical performance. Usually, the late teens, the twenties and the early thirties represent the period at which the body functions optimally from the physical standpoint. In most competitive arts it is rare to find people able to compete at the top levels after this point in time. The rougher and more physical the practice, the more this is true ie. Muy Thai or Mixed Martial Arts.

Aikido is an art which people often start well into or past their physical prime. It is also an art which has a large proportion of people who have done no other martial arts training. Because there is no competition in most styles, very few participants train as if they were preparing for competition.

The normal progression of skill and knowledge starts with development of basic physical skills. The progression then proceeds to application allowing the students to develop good solid understanding of how to apply their skills in an "open skills" environment. Sparring, competition, or just freestyle practice is used to deveolp this ability. At this level one can function as a "fighter" but typically one hasn't even come close to mastering the finer points of the art.

As one continues to train the emphasis becomes takin gthese skills to the higher levels. One doesn't normally develop these skills by simply fighting or sparring. These skills are in the art's kihon waza. But at this stage of the training, with the highly developed sense of the "context" into which the kihon waza apply in reality, their understanding of the kihon waza is different. In Aikido this stage represents the point at which the deep principles of the art are discovered. Technique shifts from the physical more to the energetic having more to do with the use of aiki than the previous physical stage at which technique was largely the efficient application of physical principles.

The problem for most Aikido folks is that they've skipped the first step. Very few Aikidoka compete or even have any real practice of application in a non-traditional sense. The original uschi deshi all had substantial martial arts backgrounds. Coming out of largely judo and kendo, with a smattering of other experience, these folks didn't need to be taught how to train, how to condition themselves for competition, how to get mentally tough enough to deal with resistant partners, etc. The fact that most, if not all, engaged in fights during their young uchi deshi period to test their ability to apply what they knew. Many had to proove themselves later when they were sent to spread Aikido around the world.

The reason that these teachers got to such a high level of skill in relatively short time was 1) they trained extremly hard, as if they were world class athletes getting ready for a championship and 2) by the time they were training with the Founder they already had the "context" to view the Kihon Waza which they were taught.

This simply isn't the case today. The "average" Aikido practitioner has little or no ther martial arts experience. Many don't even start Aikido until they are at the end or are past their period of peak physicality. The vast majority do not train even as hard as a typical high school athlete. The majority of Aikido practitioners are attempting to understand and master the higher principles of the art without having gone through this basic period of intensive physicality during which they developed their bodies and their strength of spirit.

Some experience of other martial arts is important to develop the ability to apply technique oustide of the controlled "context" of traditional practice. But even if one isn't interested in martial application, it is still important to have trained out at whatever ones physical limit is, usually by taking ukemi from the teacher, in order to develop that same strength of spirit and intention which other martial artists develop through sparring or competition.

This is why there has to be so much discussion of how one trains to develop ones Aikido fully. It is not because the people intent on developing these methods are not aware of or are not interested in the higher levels of sophistication which Aikido contains. They are simply aware that there is NO WAY to access these levels by by passin the hard training that initial stage of foundational training should contain. It is possible that someone might bypass this first stage and go on, in the very contrrolled confines of the dojo, to discover various advanced principles of the art. But that person would be alomsot entirely theoretical in his knowledge and would have little or no ability to apply the principles in the real world.

If you take a look at the training exercises which David has been using to work on this aspect of Aikido or get a hold of the videos of Jason Delucia (poorly titled Combat Aikido) you can see methyodolgy which can provide the aikido practitioner a way to develop his "context" so that his dojo Aikido can get to a higher level eventually.

The problem is that people get trapped in one or the other mode... either they think its all about application and don't go beyond the physical level (this totally misses the understanding of the spiritual principles embodied in the higher level technique) or they want do the spiritual stuff without understanding the limits of the most physical technique.

This essential dichotomy has existed since people first started trying to understand the nature of reality. Is reality limited to what we can see and measure, ie essentially material, or is it really about the spirit, which tends to demean the physical, demeaning the body, the sensual... Aikido is the art which purports to contain both aspects but its practitioners continue to shape the art to their own limitations rather than try to accept the challenge of leaving behind what they know and what they are comfortable with in favor of the transformation that comes with practice.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 11-28-2005, 08:43 PM   #46
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

A most excellent post George - if you will allow me to say. Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!

Thank you for the time and effort,
d

David M. Valadez
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Old 11-29-2005, 10:40 AM   #47
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
However, because of that, the more trained we are, the more often we take the context of the role for granted. Thus, we do not see how the "naturalness" of the role is dependent upon the context in which it is being played.
I cut out a bunch just because I agree and there wasn't anything I could add. Here, I just wanted to add that when the above happens in a non-purposeful manner, it's usually because we get lazy in our training. When it happens in a purposeful manner, I think it's because one is either afraid to change or one is bolstering one's ego.

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Thus, the training paradigm you laid out functions very well when the roles are taken as "natural" (i.e. when the supporting context is adopting without question). However, when the context is not taken as natural, but seen as designed (which it is), which often comes out for all of us whenever we train with beginners (folks less engrained in the training culture), the whole paradigm falls apart (e.g. smoothness goes out the window, etc.). For example, when the beginner does not look for openings and reversals, but instead seeks to create openings, you see even advanced training partners have their technique go right out the window.
Yes, true. Even for not so advanced partners. I can't count the times that a green to brown belt has said, "Hey, this isn't working the way it's supposed to" when working with a beginner." lol. And the answer is usually, "of course it isn't". A beginner hasn't learned the training paradigm that we use, so naturally, they aren't going to do what others do and the techniques aren't going to look smooth.

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
This happens to them because the context that is supporting the role they are playing is no longer present. Hence, a "real" you (i.e. the you that exists outside of design, context, and assumption) comes out. At such a moment, we see ourselves not blending, not moving, not capitalizing on the target creation tactics of the beginning training partner, etc.
LOL, how very true. And point of fact, I still find myself not blending, not moving, etc even when doing slow randori. (Randori defined as any free attack - nothing predetermined or defined). And more often than not, smoothness goes right out the window. But, I do find that I am getting better as my training progresses.

Mark
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Old 11-29-2005, 12:35 PM   #48
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Hi George,
In these clips, however, we not only take the traditional irimi of Aikido, we also take the traditional attack of Aikido (i.e. committed) -- though not the traditional form of Aikido (i.e. we are using boxing-like attacks). In my experience, the committed attack is the attack that is most difficult to deal with (e.g. requires the most skill), penetrates the deepest into our person, and is the one we will most often face in real life self-defense encounters. The non-committed attack is more of an academic issue for me, or it is the one I have to deal with as a teacher who is trying to get his Aikido trained students to attack with commitment under spontaneous conditions.
This, and the overall theme of your article reminded me of a boxing match I saw years ago. I cannot remember the fighters's names, but they were two welterweight Hispanic guys, of only middling fame.
One of them was a lefty and just lightining fast with the jab. The other guy basically walked backwards under blow after blow, with only a few counter punches for about two and half rounds. He displayed virtually no technique, not much in the way of bobbing or weaving.

The whole thing was looking like it would go down to a boring unanimous decided match, with the lefty WAY ahead on points. Then, in the third round, the other guy seemed to get really beat and start dropping his right hand, little by little. He started to let the other guy com close to a couple of left hooks connecting and backed away even more than in the first two rounds.

Then one left hook came sailing in to his head, and this time he did not back away. He turned into the arc, like a little tiny yokomenuchi kokyu, carrying the blow down with the right and then just exploding up into an right uppercut to the chin. I swear he lifted the lefty two inches off the deck before he staggered back. Best six-inch iriminage I ever saw. The lefty was completely addled, could not recover, and got clobbered twice more that round, before the match was called a TKO.

Your points about comiitment and noncommitment and how thaey each can alter the other's approach are spot on. That guy intimately understood how to make the tactics and distance work to his strengths, by using his weakness (or its perception), patience and and willingness to be hit a little in coordination with a larger strategic goal. The same sort of thing is illustrated in vastly different form in the final sword duel in the film "Rob Roy."

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 11-29-2005, 07:11 PM   #49
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Yes, I agree that a whole lot of stuff creeps in by us not taking the training as seriously as we can and/or need to. However, there is also a whole lot of stuff that we do not get, but that we need, precisely because we take the training seriously -- precisely because we use the now customary training paradigm and little or nothing else. The latter part interests me most because it is this part that has to do with overall spiritual development of the Self. For it is in the cultural blindness of our training that much of our ego goes unreconciled.

Lately, in the thread, there has been some talk of context. When we speak of context, what we first and foremost need to realize is that we are not talking about a single universal. When we speak of context, we are attempting to speak of specificity. That is to say, when we say, "X is the context for Y," we are also saying that "X is not the context for Z" and/or that "A (for example) is not the context for Y." Yet, among many aikidoka, even those of us that like to mention context, we come to the training as if it were a single universal. For example, we may attempt to see Irimi Nage as viable under any and all conditions -- that all we need to do is find the necessary matrix to make it work, etc. We may, as I mentioned earlier, attempt to find ways to apply Ikkyo here, there, everywhere, when in fact such actions are most often forced, show great attachment to Ikkyo, and bypass many other tactics (e.g. striking) that are more in harmony with what is happening. Additionally, we may come to the training itself, its customary form, and see it as fulfilling all conditions either martial or spiritual.

All of these things are highly problematic in my opinion, in my experience. What is most troubling of all is that we are often blind to our attachment to the training culture, and so we do not see how "train harder" is often more part of the problem than part of the solution. Thus, for me personally, I cannot say that every shortcoming in our training can be solved simply by training harder and/or by taking our training more seriously. Rather, I would suggest that a wisdom has to penetrate the whole of our training -- a wisdom that has each of us being more critical (i.e. examining) of ourselves than any outside party could ever be. When we are capable of bringing this level of self-examination to our own training, we will see the context of each customary training aspect -- customary training will cease to present itself as a single universal meant to address all things spiritual and/or martial. In the end, as we become dissatisfied with the view of seeing customary training as a single universal, we begin to wonder how we ever thought such a thing. (As George mentioned: "It is not because the people intent on developing these methods are not aware of or are not interested in the higher levels of sophistication which Aikido contains. They are simply aware that there is NO WAY to access these levels by bypassing the hard training that initial stage of foundational training should contain.")

Thanks,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 04-18-2007, 07:22 PM   #50
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindston

How is sparring, striking with kickboxing tactics one on one with a couple of half hearted attempts at groin kicks that never land thrown in, relevant to aikido? When you are exchanging blows with your partner at that distance, dancing, circling, backing up, shooting and ground grappling/pounding, how does that take into account the possibility of concealed weapons (his, yours or both) or other attackers. Freestyle training like this is a good idea, it is the specific tactics that you use which are deficient and cause you to come to conclusions which do not fit with my experience.

1) Uke "committing" to an attack alone has nothing to do with an inabiltiy for nage to strike uke. If uke attacks like in your videos he can be hit whether he (A) stalks/ taunts with feints, pot shots from the outside or (B) comes forward aggressively. If he chooses option (B) he just gets hit worse, either method of unskilled attack without knowledge of how to not present any openings for strikes are not designed to be dealt with by an aikido throw but a strike. One exception being when someone is so inexperienced, out of control and uncoordinated that he strikes at you with all of his strength in a telegraphed manner. Moving out of the way alone often will cause him to lose balance or even fall, so will everything else you do with varying degrees of damage to your attacker. If uke doesn't foolishly put all of his strength behind the strike, he can get his balance back and resist nage's aikido technique. Thinking you can gauge if he is using 100% of his strength as opposed to 80% is impractical when hitting him does the job either way.

2) If both participants agree not to strike as in experiment 2, aikido waza where nage remains standing can be performed effortlessly as a counter to any committed grappling attack which attempts to lock and control, throw or take down, however both partners should start at a close distance, almost body to body (where you are too close to strike effectively) and not back away any further at any point during the exercise.

3) Shooting in for a tackle at a striker who stays on the outside, dances and circles, (usually due to a reach advantage) is suicidal as can be observed in the second Liddell v.s. Couture fight. This tactic is effective( one on one, both fighters unarmed) when uke attacks aggressively as in clip 1, as can be seen in the first Liddell v.s. Couture fight.

4) In experiment 3, this will not necessarily encourage uke to attack aggressively with grappling, but to be cautious or just exchange with you toe to toe, the better kickboxer will knock out the other, (after eating a few shots himself the vast majority of the time, even if he lands the first one) should he adopt this kickboxing style of standup as a defensive striking method. Wearing a cup and incorporating groin kicks is a good start, but get some eye protection and open your hands! When you hear your partner's finger nails click against the goggles you are wearing, stop. If you want to train to defend yourself against the average guy, as nage take off your goggles and have uke wear gloves( so he can punch), goggles and a cup.

5) As can be seen in your videos, an aikido throw is not designed to deal with a type of attack which can be diffused by a simple strike as uke can resist the technique at any point forcing nage to resort to a strike anyway, increasing the time needed to dispose of his attacker and decreasing the efficiency of nage's entire defensive strategy. Even if uke does not resist the technique and follows along after his initial "attack" where he is open to be hit as a first defensive response by nage, uke can still be hit even worse due to the vulnerable positions he allows himself to be placed in by "blending" with nage.

I have a problem with the following statement:

"From here, as we can see (inversely) in the video, we should note how many of Aikido's prescribed ukemi responses are actually expected responses mature attackers make in order to not be debilitated by such things as a crude rain of punches and kicks. Additionally, we can say that Aikido's prescribed ukemi responses are actually expected responses mature attackers make as a result of being committed to their victory (i.e. the defeat of the defender) and thus to their attack."

The way aikido is generally taught and practiced, uke is "taught" to attack in manner which makes him easier to hit than most untrained attackers are! As can be seen in clip 4, at least your attacker keeps his hands up as opposed to letting one hand hang dead at his side, he makes an attempt not to telegraph strikes which might actually have some effect if they were to land on a sensitive area (as opposed to an empty handed shomen/yokomen uchi) and balls up in a fetal position in a feeble attempt to shield himself from your blows when he is laying on the ground and you are in a position of dominance. This is still more effective than any attempt to protect yourself once you have been pinned flat on your belly with your face in the mat after not resisting an ikkyo because your instructor could not make the technique work any other way so he tells you "it is the only way for you to learn without injuring you" (when the exact opposite is true) while at the same time he claims that "aikido protects your attacker" (no matter how incompetent he is or what he does). Another one of my favorites is "don't roll away to safety when you feel you are in a vulnerable position and you no longer have any intelligent offensive options available to you, allow me to put you in a positon where I can (1) hit you (2) slam you into the mat face first or with a breakfall instead of getting your arm broken ( both of which you could easily stop/counter ) so that I can practice my pin afterwards"
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