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Old 11-18-2005, 09:13 PM   #1
YaB
Dojo: Aikido Shobukan Dojo
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Wining before you start.

Hi all,

Have you ever wondered why you cannot make a technique work on a considerably more senior or experienced person? Or why it is so easy to apply the same technique to a more junior person? Or why you feel comfortable applying the same technique to your 'equal'?
I have the feeling that it all lies in expectations even before you start practicing. No one, yourself included, expects you to apply the technique elegantly to a person more senior than you are, and the more senior person does not even think it will be effective on him when you do it. So you tend to follow this. You do what you are expected to do, because this is your place. Of course I am assuming that you know how to do the technique mostly and you are experienced to a degree.
Then the challenge to an intermediate aikidoist is to try to achieve a confidence, trust and of course the skills in what he does in whatever situation. Because protecting his center only depends on him, no matter what comes on him from outside. No behaviors according to expectations or assumptions, just doing what is required....
What do you think?
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Old 11-18-2005, 10:34 PM   #2
RobertFortune
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Thumbs down Re: Winning before you start

Quote:
Yakup Batlevi wrote:
Hi all,

Howisit Yakup?

Have you ever wondered why you cannot make a technique work on a considerably more senior or experienced person? Or why it is so easy to apply the same technique to a more junior person? Or why you feel comfortable applying the same technique to your 'equal'?
I have the feeling that it all lies in expectations even before you start practicing. No one, yourself included, expects you to apply the technique elegantly to a person more senior than you are, and the more senior person does not even think it will be effective on him when you do it. So you tend to follow this. You do what you are expected to do, because this is your place. Of course I am assuming that you know how to do the technique mostly and you are experienced to a degree.
Then the challenge to an intermediate aikidoist is to try to achieve a confidence, trust and of course the skills in what he does in whatever situation. Because protecting his center only depends on him, no matter what comes on him from outside. No behaviors according to expectations or assumptions, just doing what is required....
What do you think?
-----

*I* think most of the times your analysis will follow the pattern that you outlined in your post in that a less experienced student will most often be unable to better a more experienced student.

There are however, naturally gifted individuals (however rare) who are simply born with superior natural talent who may very well best a more experienced student despite being the less exerienced student.

Before anyone gets carried away with this phenomena let me point out how *very rare* this type of individual actually is. (I've seen stuff on TV years ago where all these parents were all claiming that their children were "gifted" when it was obvious that their children were in fact just average children with average parents albetit with parents with plenty of loot to toot their children's horns as being "special" gifted superior children).

There *are* though those individuals who are born with inate natural talent(s) that are in fact far superior to the average person. I like to think of it in much the same way that there are individuals who are born with true "natural" beauty or "natural" superior intelligence compared to the average person.

Unfortunately for the rest of us we have to work at it as best that we can and be satisfied with being the best that *we* can be. *I* do believe that from one generation to the next there is the potential to improve upon one's offspring even if it's only a slight advance foward by providing them the best that one is able to provide them. On the down side it's also, IMHO, possible to degrade peoples' general potential by denying them the basic necessities of life and thereby making their lives so difficult that they lack or have to spend an inordinate amount of time obtaining the essentials of life not to mention any additional opportunties they might and no doubt would benefit from being provided. Enough from me on this subject. Hope I haven't dirfted too far on this one folks. A character fault, but I am at least aware of it. Peace, Justice & Love.

Aloha,

-Robert
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Old 11-18-2005, 11:33 PM   #3
Melissa Fischer
Dojo: Tenzan Aikido/Seattle Holistic Center
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Re: Wining before you start.

Hi Yakup,

I do my wining after training, and then it's just a couple of sips of a good Syrah. Whining, however, is never appropriate on the mat or off.

But seriously, when working with a junior student, I usually let them do the technique on me and don't give them a hard time. I try to guide an inexperienced nage through the technique with my ukemi until they see how things should work. This also gives them a sense of confidence and helps them relax and be more effective. I gradually ramp it up as their skill increases. I think the beginners working with beginners have the toughest time. And they are the most apt to get hurt.

On the other hand, I just love it when I am working with my seniors and think I've really got them good when suddenly I go flying across the room! Such good fun!

cheers,

Melissa
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Old 11-19-2005, 11:55 AM   #4
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Wining before you start.

I think you are correct that mentally you must be "there" prior to the physical manifestation of an attack if you expect to be sucessful. The attack and your response starts way before as a set of conditions way before it is ever launched. So, I agree, that the mental aspects are very important!

Ma ai, which I consider to be one of the most important aspects of the conflict sets the stage. Your posture, timing, and attitude...all things which are set up from your brain is very important!

Also, reading some of my old "Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere". there are a couple of different outcomes of the fight: WIN/LOSE, LOSE/WIN, LOSE/LOSE, and WIN/WIN. The outcome of what scenario you choose is very much affected by the mental aspects of the fight. I do think that WIN/WIN is the intersection of the right mindset of choosing to respond with the appproriate level of response, and the Physcial Skills to correctly influence the situation.


Okay, enough rambling...anyway, A junior student may have the desire and the right mindset, but may lack the breadth of skills necessary to make all the minute adjustments necessary to compensate for uke's attack. Senior students may have enough skill to attack, honestly and correctly, and also have the skills to make up for the errors they make and take advantage of the mistakes that nage makes...even if it is subconsciously.

So, you will always have a disparity in emotional/mental states and physical skill that will meet in the relationship of uke and nage...what happens when they meet makes each encounter unique!
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Old 11-19-2005, 12:02 PM   #5
Saji Jamakin
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Re: Wining before you start.

Quote:
Melissa Pittman Fischer wrote:
Hi Yakup,

I do my wining after training, and then it's just a couple of sips of a good Syrah. Whining, however, is never appropriate on the mat or off.

But seriously, when working with a junior student, I usually let them do the technique on me and don't give them a hard time. I try to guide an inexperienced nage through the technique with my ukemi until they see how things should work. This also gives them a sense of confidence and helps them relax and be more effective. I gradually ramp it up as their skill increases. I think the beginners working with beginners have the toughest time. And they are the most apt to get hurt.

On the other hand, I just love it when I am working with my seniors and think I've really got them good when suddenly I go flying across the room! Such good fun!

cheers,

Melissa
Exactly!
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Old 11-19-2005, 02:10 PM   #6
SeiserL
 
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Re: Wining before you start.

IMHO, Sempais can be harder to apply technqiues to because they have learned to relax rather than resist the waza like a normal person would.

But yes, win before you start by realizing that the mind directs you ki so keep your intent and focus positive and extend through the waza.

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 11-19-2005, 04:15 PM   #7
YaB
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Re: Wining before you start.

Thanks for your responses. I especially find the sempai's not resisting to technique idea useful.
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Old 11-20-2005, 12:06 AM   #8
RobertFortune
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Thumbs down Re: Winning before you start

[quote=Kevin Leavitt]I think you are correct that mentally you must be "there" prior to the physical manifestation of an attack if you expect to be sucessful...

Ma ai, which I consider to be one of the most important aspects of the conflict sets the stage. Your posture, timing, and attitude...all things which are set up from your brain is very important!
-----

Aloha Kevin,

Please don't take this post as a personal criticism. It *is not* meant to be in any sense of the word. I can see that you and I just have somewhat different approaches to Aikido. You I *think* prefer first to understand the physical aspect of the art of Aikido and I prefer to first understand the mental aspect of the art of Aikido (where will it take me?). I believe we are both right for ourselves in our different approaches. Fair enough?

*I'm not entirely certain* if you mean or rather meant to use the word "conflict" or simply chose it as a matter of convienence
in your post. To think of the [ultimate] goal of Aikido as a means to resolve "conflict" is
generally considered *not* the purpose of the art of Aikido as set forth by the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, and his successors.

Conflict generally suggests two opposing sides both determined to do the other side in
no matter the cost. Following such thought is enough to let one's mind know it has taken a wrong turn.

Better to think of the art of aikido as a means of re-directing aggressive energy directed at one in way(s) by dispersing that agressive energy without injury to oneself or inappropriate injury to one's attacker(s).

The art of Aikido as set forth originally by the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, pretty much says, so to speak, that it is far superior to take that type of agressive energy directed at one and neutralize it *without* directly opposing it. IOWs one should not meet agressive force with (ideally) greater agressive force, but rather move in on\with, gain control of and then use that attacker(s)' agressive force by redirecting it so that it does neither harm to oneself or inappropriate harm to one's attacker(s).

The word "conflict" suggests just that. Meeting agressive energy with even swifter and even more powerful agressive energy of one's own. That's definitely not Aikido as set forth by the founder and carried on by his successors. (See "Best Aikido: The Fundamentals" by Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Moriteru Ueshiba - page 10 bottom right quarter of page).

Kevin>

Also, reading some of my old "Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere". there are a couple of different outcomes of the fight: WIN/LOSE, LOSE/WIN, LOSE/LOSE, and WIN/WIN. The outcome of what scenario you choose is very much affected by the mental aspects of the fight. I do think that WIN/WIN is the intersection of the right mindset of choosing to respond with the appproriate level of response, and the Physcial Skills to correctly influence the situation.
-----

Excellent book (Aikido and The Dynamic Sphere by Westbrook and Ratti). That book is so packed full of technical details that one could spend an entire lifetime reading and re-reading it and never commit it all to memory.

The mind trap of Lose\Win, Lose\Lose, Win\Win way of interpreting the art of Aikido is
just that. A mind trap. Ultimately one needs to set that mindset aside and think in terms of maintaining inner calm and outer suppleness (like a cat that can burst across a room from a seemingly totally relaxed state) and through that gain an advantage over an opponent(s) who acting agressively must generate an agressive mindset in order to launch their attack. That to me is one of the keys to understanding the [ultimate] art of Aikido (and other things in life as well).

With control of one's inner self comes a definite advantage over anyone who is quite likely both angry and agressive. Many of us would say that person is "out of control". Which do you think would be to your advantage? To be in control of one's (inner and outer) self or to be "out of control"?

One of the greatest or quite likely the greatest western professional boxer of all time used a strategy not unlike aikido. That would be Mohammed Ali. He simply maintained his "cool" throughout many of his prime title fights (particularly the ones with Joe Frazier and George Foreman), danced just out of range of Foreman's clearly superior size and power (and Frazier's serious agressiveness) and allowed Frazier and Foreman to tire themselves out in the early rounds as they attempted to act out their agressive intent to tag Ali and send him someplace he'd never been before. And once Ali knew his strategy was working and had done its work Ali could and did move in and tag them winning himself the Heavyweight Title fights he continued to win. Clever that one. Might-y clever. Peace, Justice & Love.

Aloha,

-Robert
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Old 11-20-2005, 03:55 AM   #9
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Wining before you start.

No personal offense taken! That is what we are here for! to discuss, share ideas, and to look at varying view points to increase our knowledge and expand our understanding.

Yes, I intentionally use the word conflict. WIthout conflict we have no reason to do aikido! I do believe that the goal of the founder was to resolve conflict. However, in such a way as to create harmony or in business terms a win/win situation between all sides of a conflict.

not sure where you are going with the mind trap thing with the four outcomes of conflict, but for the most part, those are the basic scenarios you will end up in.

The ultimate goal is not to understand aikido, but to understand yourself and the causes of conflict and unhappiness, aikido is simply a methodology or a tool to help us get there.

I believe there is much more than simply "re-directing aggressive energy directed at one in way(s) by dispersing that agressive energy without injury to oneself or inappropriate injury to one's attacker(s)." It is possible to do this and STILL end up in a WIN/LOSE situation.

The goal is to understand, empathize, and direct uke's energy in a way that is mutually beneficial to both sides in such a way that we create ultimately a win/win scenario, or harmony.

Quote:
Ultimately one needs to set that mindset aside and think in terms of maintaining inner calm and outer suppleness (like a cat that can burst across a room from a seemingly totally relaxed state) and through that gain an advantage over an opponent(s) who acting agressively must generate an agressive mindset in order to launch their attack. That to me is one of the keys to understanding the [ultimate] art of Aikido (and other things in life as well).
Yes, certainly you must acheive "mushin" prior to an actual physical engagement and during the engagement you don't have time to necessarily "think"....that is why I point out that it is important to live your life, and condition your mind, and do all this mental aikido prior to the engagement. It starts in the mind!

Other than that, I don't know if I understand what you mean by "agressive mindset". Do you mean it is always important to have the upperhand by having more or better tacitcal positioning or weapons? Sometimes that may be true, but those same walls may become the "walls of jerhico" for us. I think sometimes it is also good to show strength through actions of non-violence such as Ghandi, or Martin Luther King...each has it's time and place.

Quote:
With control of one's inner self comes a definite advantage over anyone who is quite likely both angry and agressive. Many of us would say that person is "out of control". Which do you think would be to your advantage? To be in control of one's (inner and outer) self or to be "out of control"?
I agree this is a start in the right directions, learning to control our emotions, but I do believe as a humanity, we need to go one step further and replace that need to control with true compassion and empathy which no longer requires control of emotions because you don't have ill ones any longer! This is theorectical and philosophical, but I do believe this is what we should be striving for.

Warriors are great and warrior ideals provide the bridge and strength to stop negative things. I am a warrior! however, I also realize now that being a warrior is not the ultimate goal. We need to be able to move past that if we expect to fully evolve as humans.

Maintaining your cool as you point out that Ali did in his fight is a part of aikido, warriorship, and budo in general, but it is but one small part of aiki and budo and only a means to an end, not the end state in and of it's self.

These are my thoughts on this! Look forward to more discussions!
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Old 11-20-2005, 07:50 AM   #10
RobertFortune
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Thumbs down Re: Winning before you start

Aloha Kevin,

Loved your reply! Well thought out and to a point. It will take me some time for me to digest it all, and if I think of anything to add to our discussion I will be sure to post. You would be a great person to train with. Do you by chance play the game of chess? Peace, Justice & Love.

Aloha,

-Robert
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Old 11-20-2005, 01:14 PM   #11
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Wining before you start.

Thanks...just started playing Chess with my 5 year old son! Would love to train with you as well! Take care!
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Old 11-20-2005, 06:39 PM   #12
Ed Shockley
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Re: Wining before you start.

I do agree with the assessments of expectations and their impact and thank you all for reminding me that human sociology doesn't end at the edge of the mat. I do confess to a different experience. I often find students of various rank able to throw me, even beginners, because their movements often place me in greater physical danger than yudansha. Whether they are muscling the technique or "out of position," I am more vigilant not to be surprised by their movement and quicker to escape so that I can survive their shihonage to train with the next Aikidoka. Is this urge to escape unique to me?
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Old 11-21-2005, 08:43 AM   #13
RobertFortune
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Re: Wining before you start.

Aloha Ed,

I'm not quite sure what you mean by your question. I have read and can see the real value in training with people of various skill levels, sizes, genders, styles and so forth. I guess that's what we in the West would call gettiing a "well-rounded" education

. Can you imagine if one were to only train with equally skilled people and end up being taken out by a small youngster or maybe an much older person be it man or woman? Friends who saw you afterwards would likely ask "What happened to you?" as you hobbled along and your response? "Don't ask!" :-)

Aloha,

-Robert
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Old 11-21-2005, 10:59 AM   #14
jonreading
 
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Re: Wining before you start.

The role of your partner is to challenge your ability. After the inital stages of training to learn a shape or movement, your partner should provide enough feedback to make the application of technique challenging. So to answer the original question, you should have a difficult time applying technique to sempai and an easier time applying technique to cohai as a natuarl part of training.

As for the mindset of training, you should have the mindset to learn aikido from whoever you work with on the mat. We all develop profiles of our partners when we train; person X is big and strong, person Y is petite, person Z is aggressive. But to let that profile affect the quality of your training is both uneccessary and unhealthy. Your partner's job is to challenge you to hone your aikido skills. Your partner's job is NOT to boost your ego, spite your ego, fight with you, comply with you or any other action that is not what will benefit your training.

When we train, I ask my partner to present a conflict for us to resolve (think of a Rubic's Cube). If my partner "thinks" he/she can prevent the application of technique while training, we are competing and this is an unhealthy mindset. If my partner makes the application of technique a challenging endeavor to test my skills and concentration, we are working in cooperation.

As a side note, I would say that a big difference in observing training is the understanding of mai ai and da ai - Sempai usually have a better sense of both. This is a supreme advantage in training.
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Old 12-03-2005, 07:36 AM   #15
Ed Shockley
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Re: Wining before you start.

Keisuko Ogawa, a gifted 3rd Dan likes to say, "Attack! Attack! Attack!" Uke is trying to get to nage. nage moves and uke continues the relentless assault until kuzushi(?), the unsettling of balance, and then uke tries to regain balance and escape an attack gone bad. My mind is captured and I am now in defensive, survival mode unless there is a break in the ki allowing me to again resume my primary mission of attack. This can be slow or fast. It is the intention and commitment not the speed that make it a good foundation of aikido responses. I find, not to belabor my earlier question, that I enter escape mentality far earlier with beginners because they often make more injury threatening interpretations of Aikido movement.
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