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#128573 - 02/11/05 11:30 AM You and Your Art.
senseilou Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/14/02
Posts: 2082
Loc: Glendale, Az.
I was wondering how many people had a Sensei who helped in adapting your art so you could do it. An example is, not all techniques work for everyone, some Sensei make the student force the technique, others, will adapt the technique to fit the student. In AIkido I was working with a student about 6'5" with 'gorilla' arms. I am only 5'9", and Sensei wanted me to stop a shomen attack at the apex of the strike. I would have needed a ladder to get it done. I modified it, and got the technique to work, but Sensei came over and said "if you don't do things the way I tell you, you will never get that Black Belt". Sensei was 6'4" and the same weight as me, so we were 2 distinct body types. He also made me do hip throws his way, yet my way worked better for me since I was shorter.

Later on I met a Sensei who said" an art is as only good as its ability to adapt to its students". Another Sensei told me, "here are the requirements, and here is how you do them, if you can't meet the requirements you can't move on." When I was in Hawaii a Sensei told me " the problem with you guys on the mainland is you make everything tailor to fit you, insted of you fitting the art. The art doesn't adapt, you do."

I had a special needs student, MD I believe, and he was in a wheelchair. We would pick up a mat, and set him in the middle, and he tossed people everywhere, and could do technique relatively well. Now he didn't stick around long enough to have a rank situation, however what would you have done? Adapted the art so he could do it, or keep it in tact and explain to him he can't move along. He could do the requirements, yet could never had the part of uke. Does this effect his perspective of the art?

What about a middle aged, out of shape, overweight man who wants to train in the art? He will never be able to do a breakfall, and chances are great you couldn't get him up to do a hip throw.He is just filling space in the dojo, and is never going to be able to do the whole art because of his size and age. What do you do here, adapt the art again, or keep it in tact. A Sensei once said to me, "not everyone can do what we do, so why make it easier, no one made it easier for us. Its simple, either he does what we show, or he doesn't, that is why we have golf"

In Aikido we had a student who had a brain injury from an auto accident, and had flashbacks when he did Judo. He was a tremendously strong individual, and he lifted weights all the time.Especially right after his injury. When he would attack he got carried away and would pick someone up and body slam them. He was told numerous times it wasn't acceptable, he would apologize but did it again and again. One night a Black Belt decided to teach Randori. He you have a powerful beginner, no control, Judo flashbacks, and a plate in his head. When they put him in the middle, bodies went flying everywhere. He hurt 2 and then when his turn to attack, he picked a young lady up about 100 pounds soaking wet and body slammed her. She was taken to the emergency room with broken ribs. Still the class continued, and this student would not stop or listen to anyone. I asked the Sensei to put a stop before more got hurt and he told me I was scared of the student. I told the Sensei he wasn't going to body slam me, and the Sensei said we'll see. So as the student came at me I lined up for a side kick, hopefull to his chest. He lowered his head at the last minute to spear me and caught a side kick to the jaw and out he went.

Naturally I was the bad guy. Knocking out a guy with a plate in his head, but we were not doing randori anymore, and things had spiraled out of control. I was chastised for stopping him, yet his body count was 3 hurt, 1 injured and 5 terrified they would be attacked by him.The situation should have never existed. He should have never been in that class, or that Black Belt should never have taught that class with him there. One of the Sensei said "we teach class, if you can keep up fine, if not bow out" I tailor my classes for who is in the class and what they need to work on. Many times in a class I will have 3 or 4 groups all doing different things. Or I will teach to the level of understanding. But in the case of the student with a mental problem, do you change the art, or force him into a doing what others are doing. You can see the result of allowing him to do what others do.

I have mixed feelings on this. I think disabled or older out of shape people should be allowed to train, yet, really don't want to compromise the art to do so. I have had long discussions with many people and Sensei about this. In todays society everyone feels they have the right to do what they want
(and sue you if you don't let them)Not allowing a special needs person to train is a law suit waiting. Yet do we really want a mentally hampered person tossing people around like a sack of flour? I really appreciate the Hawaiians view that we try to change everything, we do to an extent, but isn' it important for us to make things work for us, even if we have to adapt it? Something to think about.

#128574 - 02/11/05 01:24 PM Re: You and Your Art.
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5844
Loc: USA
Tough question.

Alway need to adapt the tech to the person.

That being said, if you spend too much time on adapting tech so that they will work "for you" and not enough time on the specifics of how the tech is "supposed" to be done then what are you teaching your students?

Buddy of mine is really powerful guy, really physcally powerful.
Both his karate and grappling skills are are "power driven" and it works very well for him, tough guy and formidable fighter.

Problam is that when he tries and teach, having spent his time developing what works "for him" he does not have much he can teach others to do.

Guess it would depend on if a person had any idea of teaching what they know at some point.

One of my grappling teachers likes to say, "learn the tech like the back of your hand--you might NEVER need to know how to apply that specific move, but it might mean life or death to someone else."

Tough question as to the latter part of your post.

#128575 - 02/11/05 08:53 PM Re: You and Your Art.

The student you spoke of sounds exactly like my training partner, although he suffered no injury, his combat stress renders him entirely out of control when confronted. He has flashbacks when he drinks, and on many occasion I have had to talk or even take him out of the tree line, when he is nearly completely delusional. When he calms down he is remorseful for his behavior but he is simply not able to control it.
I have found that over the past nine months, that training with him... full contact, has been more theraputic for him than any shrink. More times than not we both take quite a beating.
It has made me much tougher and him much more controlled. I could not simply teach him techniques, but he learns them when they work on him. He sees no point in martial arts other than their combat practicality. The ultimate irony in this is that he is learning self control and doesn't consciously realize it. I hear from Alyssa constantly, "Dan is getting alot better." She doesn't understand how us going to melee, is such an integral part.
The fact is that anyone can benefit from martial arts. Some benefit more from martial aspects and others from the mental temperance. Being an effective instructor is being able to reach a person's needs in the method that best suits them, not you. To believe that one size fits all is ridiculous, everyone has individual goals and needs - a teacher's duty is to fufill those goals and needs the best way they know how.
It is not wise to open randori against a student who not only has little control but who is martially superior as well. With the proper training with hardcore guys who are tougher than he is, he will learn to control himself or be injured. Call it behaviorism, it works. Guys with post traumatic stress disorder, go into fight or flight almost instantaneously, they must be controlled or sent into flight, until they regain their senses. It is mental conditioning that is much like hand conditioning - temperance of the mind cannot be achieved in a temple or classroom or shrinks office (experience is the true teacher of mental temperance), nor can temperance of the hands be achieved through punching the keys of a keyboard.
Again the point is that to teach anything on any level, a teacher must customize their teaching to suit the student and their needs. To lead you must follow. - S

[This message has been edited by Immortal_Highlander (edited 02-11-2005).]

#128576 - 02/13/05 04:28 AM Re: You and Your Art.

An interesting dilemma. I believe that the "art" must adapt to the individual, otherwise it defeats the meaning of art.

Yet, by the same token, by adapting the "art", is there a danger of "diluting" it? I don't believe so, unless the very principles on which the art is based, is being violated.

It goes back to the story you once mentioned of a sensei who had a bung leg and kicked funny, and all his students mimicked his kicking "style".

I think it is important to understand the "essence" and "principles" of the technique, rather than trying to pass on a visual representation of a technical form.

My aikido sensei hardly teaches "form" these days. Much more emphasis is placed on ukemi, bringing into center, extending from center, lines, circles, connecting thru center, "catching the feeling" etc., i.e. the core principles of the art, rather than the technical forms (e.g. ikkyo, nikyo, sankyo, etc. etc.)

Whilst it is useful to know the forms, I believe that once you understand the principles, form becomes irrelevant.

As you are aware, there can be any number of variations on an individual technique. The question I have is: are these technical variations, or are they variations due to differences in uke's size, strength, speed and angle of attack, vs your size and body alignment?

My point is, as long as the "principles" of movement are adhered to, then it does not matter that a "form" does not "appear" to be "correct".


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