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#127488 - 04/14/04 02:17 AM Not Again
senseilou Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/14/02
Posts: 2082
Loc: Glendale, Az.
I want to get reaction to the way people feel about this situation. When fire-breathing dragons roamed the earth and I was studying Aikido we had a class one night and were working on Shomenuchi Ikkyo, My partner was about 6'4" tall and about 220, I am about 5'9" 180. The Sensei showed stopping the shomenuchi at the top of the ukes strike, then taking Ikkyo. In my case, I was giving away about 7" and about another 3" in arm length. If I were to stop this persons strike at the top of his attack, I would have needed a ladder. I adapted to the size only to be corrected by the Sensei. I explained I couldn't reach the arm, he demonstrated how to do it, and he did it, only thing was he was a bout 6'3". I learned that night that things had to be tailored to your own body size, and the way you move. I recently saw an old instructor of mine and we again talked about having to adapt technique, and his feeling was everything should be done, the way the Sensei showed, and not varied for your own use. The integrity of the technique was more important to him, than the funtion-ability of performing the technique.In many cases both can be achieved, but in many cases, factors come into play that prohibits your body from doing the exact same thing as your Sensei. I am not talking about changing the technique, but ADAPTING technique for oneself. What do you think?

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#127489 - 04/14/04 03:02 AM Re: Not Again
still wadowoman Offline
Improved beefier techno-prat

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 3420
Loc: Residence:UK- Heart:Md, USA
I have to adapt many techniques because most of the people I train with are physically stronger than me.

I think a good sensei will help each student adapt techniques according to their height, build and strength. My husband for example is 6ft 4, a lot of things that work for him are impossible for me to execute on him without adjustment. He also has hands like shovels and I have tiny wrists so he can hold both my wrists with one hand. I obviously cannot do the same to him.

I am about to welcome a wheelchair user to our dojo. I intend teaching him to perform kata using the same hand and upper body movements as the able bodied, but adapting the bunkai to make it suitable for his seated position ( this will obviously be a case of trial and error, I have borrowed a wheelchair from the red cross to practice in myself). Obviously, many techniques will have to be adapted when I am teaching him.

In the same way that I would be doing him a dis-service if I did not help him adapt techniques, I think senseis that do not allow adaptations for body size and strength are doing their students a dis-sevice.

No offence intended to any old school instructors, this is just my opinion.
Sharon

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#127490 - 04/14/04 06:19 AM Re: Not Again
dazzler2 Offline
Member

Registered: 12/11/03
Posts: 148
Loc: england
I think that trying to copy sensei and not adapting technique to suit ones shape and temperament is restrictive.

It takes the onus away from the student understanding the move and limits them to only being able to respond where the attack is exactly as they are used to.

I think of sensei more as coaches than icons of perfection. The instructors role is to help the student develop and this goes a lot further than saying 'copy me - I'm perfect'.

I know there are lots of things I do as an instructor where I'm not that good . Sometimes its a question of helping the students in the general direction. If some of the students then pass me in excellence then all well and good.

I also think this rationale lies behind a lot of the differences between aikido groups - all claim to have lineage to O'Sensei and to be doing his aikido. However even O'Sensei evolved so fixing your aikido around O'sensei at 45 and O'sensei at 85 will produce different forms. Who's to say whats correct?

My organisation were given a demonstration by some of the originals of UK aikido. They were extremely proud of the fact that they practiced in exactly the manner that they had been taught 40 or 50 years ago.

While I was impressed by their devotion and commitment to their original teacher I found it very sad that they had felt the need to stand still for so long.

I believe no one can reproduce exactly the movements of another so martial arts propagated by copying will ultimately degrade.

Where the moves are understood and adapted to become part of the aikidoka then it is possible for aikido to grow stronger.

A final point to consider is were the original disciples of aikido trained to teach?

I don't believe so and therefore all they knew as to do and be copied.

While AiKido in theory cannot change (man and ki harmonised) the methods of developing it can - We are a long way from perfect instructors.

D

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#127491 - 04/14/04 10:52 AM Re: Not Again
the504mikey Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 06/19/03
Posts: 790
Loc: Louisiana, United States
The techniques are meaningless without the priniciples the techniques come from. If your movement does not violate the principles, then *any* technique is valid. On the other hand, if you are compromising fundamental principles in your effort to copy a movement, then you are not doing aikido any more.

SenseiLou, your example was perfect-- if the geometry is not right, and you have to meet force on force or over-reach your balance to do a movement, that movement is no longer in accordance with aiki principles. These principles are what doing the techniques over and over is supposed to teach us-- but forcing a bad fit teaches us nothing. Worse, it moves us farther from our goal. It would have been much better for you to capture uke's hand later and redirect it (maybe tenkan as opposed to irimi) or even switch to shomenuchi shihonage and maintain practice that is consistent with the base principles.

Unfortunately we have a lot of parrots practicing and teaching aikido today-- they learned to copy the movements by looking and practicing, but they don't really understand the principles the techniques are based on other than perhaps intellectually. It's a very different thing to understand it in your bones rather than your brain. (At least I hope it will be when I eventually get there. [IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG])

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#127492 - 04/14/04 11:45 AM Re: Not Again
Joe Jutsu Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/09/03
Posts: 575
I'm about 6'2", and it's not uncommon for me to be working with people a whole foot shorter than me. Sometimes it feels ridiculous trying to work some techniques with this rather large height differential. I've encountered similar instances, working shihonage for example, where, in order to get under the arm I literally had to drop about to my knee, then so there was a down I would drop to my knee, only to be met with the comment "oh, we don't go to the knee in this style." I was thinking, yeah, duh?! How many years have I been here now again?? But it's even more ridiculous when these shorty's ( [IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG] ) have to perform certain attacks, like rear chokes, which they just cannot do due height difference. During one class the instructor had me drop to my knees and try to work from there, which was difficult and interesting, but that just happened during one class out of many, many unfortunately.

Lou Sensei, out of curiosity how were you modifying shomenuchi ikkyo to your body type??

Joe

[This message has been edited by Joe Jutsu (edited 04-14-2004).]

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#127493 - 04/14/04 02:16 PM Re: Not Again
senseilou Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/14/02
Posts: 2082
Loc: Glendale, Az.
Joe.....As suggested, I decided to let the shomen strike pass and caught it at the ukes off balance point-redirected his attack toward my center. I also gave him a "little shot"(atemi waza) to his center to fold him in the direction of the ikkyo. I always thought I did a great job of adapting however the Sensei didn't think so. Another point Joe....as you mention the problem with smaller people doing certain attacks, I feel alot of time is spent on nages job, but very little on ukes' job. I have all my students practice all attacks before they do technique. So I teach how a smaller person can choke a larger one by making the person their size. All chokes, are taught to be adapted to size, so my samller students will take out the leg in order to choke. This makes it a bit more difficult for uke, but on the other hand, a bit more true to life. Not stepping on toes, but I don't think Aikido practices the attacking side of the art enough, so many times techniques are given away.

Sharon, its a funny thing you mentioned this. My biggest lesson in adapting technique came from my female students especially my daughter.There is no way a woman can be expected to perform a technique like a man, they are built differently and are actually better technicians than men. they don't rely on strength when things don't work, rather work on technique instead. Most men will start to 'power' their techniques if something goes astray. Also the hip situation is different, and I stress to my females how to accentuate their hips in waza. When my daughter was small we had to adapt almost everything for her as she was small to begin with and everybody was bigger than her. Today thanks to years of adapting and working her technique against larger people, she now has the art of adaptation down. She focuses more and more on the technical aspects of technique and does what is needed to be done to get the job done. Working with girls and women can teach a Sensei alot about adapting technique to suit them.

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#127494 - 04/14/04 03:12 PM Re: Not Again
zbeth Offline
Newbie

Registered: 03/30/04
Posts: 22
Loc: Boston, MA, USA
(FYI, shomenuchi ikkyo irimi is actually deprecated in Kokikai Aikido for this (height-differential) reason (w/possible exception of suwari waza).)

I have the good fortune that our group emphasizes what works - "Find out for yourself: which is better" - then they call in the Heavy Weather ukes to "help" you check if you're using power instead of technique...

Weren't people over in another thread just complaining that aikido hadn't ought to evolve (like to include keri)?

SL, though our dojo seriously underlines the joys of competent ukemi, IMHO we still don't devote enough attention to it, no. (It's typical for Kokikai camps that say half of the females uke-ing in testing randori are from our dojo.)

WW, you have to adapt many _aikido techniques? Most of the ones I've enountered are already optimized for, well, I'd say low-to-mid 5'something"s and low-to-mid 100s pounds.

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#127495 - 04/15/04 10:59 AM Re: Not Again
the504mikey Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 06/19/03
Posts: 790
Loc: Louisiana, United States
[QUOTE]
Originally posted by zbeth:

Weren't people over in another thread just complaining that aikido hadn't ought to evolve (like to include keri)?

[/QUOTE]

I'm not sure that adapting individual aikido techniques to account for relative differences in body type/size would be considered evolving aikido, while adding to the syllabus certainly could be. IMHO, aikido has always demanded that we adapt technique as required to remain in accordance with the principles.

[QUOTE]
"Find out for yourself: which is better" - then they call in the Heavy Weather ukes to "help" you check if you're using power instead of technique...
[/QUOTE]

That to me says it all. Do what you need to do, then test it... repeat, improve, repeat, improve. Adapt, but always test to make sure you haven't lost the point. I have come to feel that the standard aikido techniques are sign posts that point the way to understanding what aikido is, but they are not in and of themselves the whole of aikido.

If you do the techniques well, they will afford you the opportunity to experience aiki. Once we know what aiki feels like, though, I think our mission changes from recognizing it when we experience it in techniques to learning to establish it "free form". If you are violating the principles in your practice of the syllabus techniques, then they lose their value as signposts.

Making minor changes to the demonstrated technique is not evolving aikido, but rather remaining true to the spirit of it. Adding entirely new stuff is evolving (or maybe devolving, depending on your point of view) aikido and is a much more sensitive topic. To me, adapting and changing are different-- adapting is required and expected, changing is a much more difficult issue.

Where is the line between changing and adapting?


Edited to correct munged HTML tags


[This message has been edited by the504mikey (edited 04-15-2004).]

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#127496 - 04/15/04 12:52 PM Re: Not Again
still wadowoman Offline
Improved beefier techno-prat

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 3420
Loc: Residence:UK- Heart:Md, USA
zbeth,

I do not practice Aikido, I was speaking in general terms. This type of thing comes up in most martial arts.
Sharon

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#127497 - 04/16/04 04:47 AM Re: Not Again
dazzler2 Offline
Member

Registered: 12/11/03
Posts: 148
Loc: england
504Mikey.."I have come to feel that the standard aikido techniques are sign posts that point the way to understanding what aikido is, but they are not in and of themselves the whole of aikido."

Couldn't agree more...we go as far as to avoid the word technique as much as possible due to the implications that a technique is a fixed thing that has to be done in a specific manner.

We look at them as tools to develop aikido base but sign posts is good enough for me!

In translation for instance we'd look at ikkyo as first teaching and not first technique.

I think a great problem with aikido is people look at something like shomenuchi ikkyo and think they are looking at a fixed defence against a fixed attack.

If that were the case then what a waste of time...its probably the worst attack in the world! why learn a fixed defence against something you'll never see?

However ...as a vehicle for promoting irimi, tenkan ,maai , kokyu-ho, shisei, tai sabaki and everything else that Aikido engenders its right up there which is why ikkyo is absolutely central to our practice.

Glad to know you are singing from the same song sheet as us!

D


[This message has been edited by dazzler2 (edited 04-16-2004).]

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