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#127530 - 05/30/04 03:18 AM Big vs. Small circle
senseilou Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/14/02
Posts: 2082
Loc: Glendale, Az.
When talking about Aikido, circles always come up. Big circles, small circle, no circle all have their opinions. Early training stresses making circles big, some schools stress making the circle smaller as you advance. All the great Masters from Japan I have seen do their technique on a dime, their Tai Sabaki is superb but they move very little. I have seen the principle of "cutting the circle" in terms of maximum efficiency minimum movement, but on the other hand, have heard Sensei's say if you are doing small circles, you are not doing Aikido. If you start cutting out the space , and cutting down the circle does Aikido start becoming Aiki-Jujutsu? How do most practice?

#127531 - 05/31/04 12:54 PM Re: Big vs. Small circle
Joe Jutsu Offline

Registered: 04/09/03
Posts: 575
Interesting question. I have noticed that the term "small circle" seems taboo to some of the people in my dojo, and at beginning levels, the circles are definitely very big. And that's basically how its taught, within my dojo. However, it seems to me that when I watch some of the really high ranking sensei's move, their circles become small. It seems kind of contradictory in a way, sort of "do as I say and not as I do." At the same time, last time our cheif instructor was in town, he was stressing how the movements should become much more subtle and refined as the aikidoka advances. It seems to me that he was saying that the big movements are taught to beginners, who need the big movements to get the feeling of what it is to lead in a circle, or what exactly is meant by "up" and "down." Figuring out exactly where down is is still quite frustrating to me at times, I'll admit. But as the aikidoka progresses, she ought to be able to give uke ups and downs, without being as exaggerated as a beginner.

But then again, its not like I really understand aikido, at times I feel not in the least. I had the great opportunity to travel to CA this past weekend to attend a seminar with some definite "big wigs" of my style, and getting thrown by two of these guys in particular was an absolute joy. Getting thrown about two tatami lengths backward after coming in with a powerful yokomen strike was probably my favorite aikido experience of all time. I wish I could throw like that! If only I had a chance to study under Tohei sensei [IMG][/IMG]


[This message has been edited by Joe Jutsu (edited 05-31-2004).]

#127532 - 05/31/04 01:06 PM Re: Big vs. Small circle
the504mikey Offline

Registered: 06/19/03
Posts: 790
Loc: Louisiana, United States
Very interesting question, SenseiLou.

In my opinion, the distinction between aikido and aikijujitsu is very blurry. Certainly most aikijujitsu dojos practice techniques that are not aiki techniques, mine is not an exception in that regard.

But if I take the liberty of translating your question into "If the circle gets too small are you not practicing an aiki technique any more?" then I would have to say that (again, only my opinion) the size of the circle alone cannot transform an aiki technique into a non-aiki technique. Even a straight line can be thought of as a circle with an infinite radius.

As far as I am concerned, as long as you are not clashing with your uke's ki but instead directing it you are practicing an aiki technique-- be it large circle, small circle, or linear. I have seen Mr. Palumbo do aiki techniques without really moving his body much at all. Isn't the saying, "The instant my attacker touches me, he is defeated?" That doesn't leave much room for running a lap or two around the dojo with your uke before you throw him. (Sorry to the large circle aiki guys for that last comment-- it was in jest, but probably over the line.)


#127533 - 06/29/04 03:48 PM Re: Big vs. Small circle

I'm a new member to the board and found this exchange interesting. There are certainly no "wrong" answers to the question. On one hand, the distinctions between "small" and "big" circles can often be nothing more than a subtle distinction in how a technique is applied within the same style. Aikido for instance. A matter of skill and mastery. The intended purpose (on a philosophical point) for "big vs. small" on the other hand can be profound. Other aiki arts such as the various forms of hapkido and of small-circle jujutsu rely on "small" circles as a way of generating power (in addition to redirecting anothers' ki), maintaining a closed space between the opponent and to follow through with strikes or locks (if need be). The techniques might be applied differently but proficient practitioners in any of the aiki arts ultimately achieve the same result.

#127534 - 06/29/04 04:00 PM Re: Big vs. Small circle
reaperblack Offline

Registered: 04/30/04
Posts: 558
Loc: Victoria, BC, Canada
If you ever watch video of O'sensei doing techniques it really depends on the technique as to the size of the circle. The large circles are to establish form at the beginning, exaggerated movement. Later they become less important, at least this is how it was explained to me by my sensei, and how it was explained to him by Kohara sensei.

#127535 - 06/30/04 06:56 AM Re: Big vs. Small circle

I've only been practising aikido for a year now so still consider myself a beginner but I think both small and large circles apply to aikido. In a real life situation it depends on your surroundings about whether you move in large or small circles. Maybe we should practice both? I've seen Sensei's carry out technique's which looks like they're hardly moving at all but still seem very effective. I think in the dojo sensei's exaggerate the movements so we can better understand them.

#127536 - 07/01/04 10:40 AM Re: Big vs. Small circle
ken harding Offline

Registered: 04/21/04
Posts: 721
Loc: UK
Even a straight line can be thought of as a circle with an infinite radius.


I'll have to take your word on that. I suppose in a universe which is finite as opposed to infinite this might be the case.

#127537 - 07/01/04 02:17 PM Re: Big vs. Small circle
the504mikey Offline

Registered: 06/19/03
Posts: 790
Loc: Louisiana, United States
If the universe were finite, how would a circle with infinite radius fit into it? [IMG][/IMG]

I was not the first to say the "infinite radius" thing, but the way I grok it is as follows:

An angle (in radians) is defined by taking the ratio of the arc length over the radius of the arc. If the radius is infinite, then no matter how far you travel along the arc of the circle, the angle is going to be zero when divided by the radius. Hence, you are travelling in a straight line. (Or a really big, flat arc.)

I don't think any of this really has that much relevance, except for those who think you can't do aikido without empoying circular movements. A linear type could argue that he is still doing circles, it's just that they are so big you can't see them curve any over the distance you observe them.

It's interesting that the cases seem to meet on the other side-- a really huge circle ends up looking like a line to an observer. A really small circle can end up producing a movement that looks linear, too.

I do better with the philosophy stuff after a few Guinness, at least I think I do. Please forgive any inconsistencies caused by sobriety intruding on my thought processes.


#127538 - 12/29/04 11:37 PM Re: Big vs. Small circle


My Sensei used to say "imagine a really big circle bigger than the solar system or the universe, then imagine a really small one like the size of an atom".

Perhaps this is why the world is flat! :-)

But big or small...
Or none at all...
it depends if Uke
can take the fall!


[This message has been edited by eyrie (edited 12-30-2004).]


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