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#332152 - 04/01/07 12:43 PM Understanding Aikido
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
First of all, Aikido is never what people expect it to be. It IS a martial art... it DOES involve fighting... and it is an excellent SPIRITUAL method of development. What it is not, is the NON-martial art it is advertised to be. It is not all about "getting along with everyone"... and while it has techniques, the focus of training (in good schools) is on principle.

Like a good airplane ride, Aikido techniques have two parts... the take off, and the landing. Outsiders only concentrate on the take-off part (self defense), and the landing (ukemi) gets overlooked, or viewed as the "just rewards" of an attacker.

Insiders understand that you learn as much from the landing as from the take-off, and the principle of blending with your attacker is as much "self-defense" by the attacker as it is an attack. In many cases, the defender simply leads an attacker to a point where it makes more sense to fall than to resist the defense... which reverses the roles of the players in "mid-technique".

Since all techniques in our school begin with a strike, the roles are reversed early on in the techniques, so our training regime is very focused on the ukemi and "follow through" of the techniques (into pins, etc.) Sometimes, we practice in "short spaces" so you have to find a different way to dissipate the force, and do "short rolls" to make your ukemi work... so the methods differ in many schools, but the ideas of "blending and redirection" are always upheld.

Coming from a Judo and Jujutsu background, I'm prone to "short cut" a lot of the "flowing motions" of Aikido when practicing, and while I still do pretty good Aikido, it's clearly a bit different from the Hombu style we practice. Having different perspectives is always helpful, and my training partner trained with Sogunuma Sensei, who was one of Ueshiba's ukes, my good friend Toyota Sensei was deshi to Tohei, and my senior student has been affiliated with a Yoshinkan dojo for some time, and each of those three perspectives of Aikido technique is different. What they maintain, is the principles of training, and the technical aspects of those principles.

Kind of like an accounting report, you can take the numbers and do different things with them, and redirect the focus of the reporting, but in the end, they still all add up to the same thing. How you get there, is where the training comes in...

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#332153 - 04/01/07 01:49 PM Re: Understanding Aikido [Re: wristtwister]
Prizewriter Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/23/05
Posts: 2573
Good stuff! I think everyone new to Aikido should read this. If nothing else, it will maybe give them pause for thought.

Reading this Wristwriter, I am reminded of a quote by by a senior Aikido-Ka I read many moons ago:

"O' Sensei taught that we must be merciful, not that we must be nice..."
_________________________
"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food" Hippocrates.

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#332154 - 04/01/07 09:14 PM Re: Understanding Aikido [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Quote:

First of all, Aikido is never what people expect it to be. It IS a martial art... it DOES involve fighting... and it is an excellent SPIRITUAL method of development. What it is not, is the NON-martial art it is advertised to be. It is not all about "getting along with everyone"... and while it has techniques, the focus of training (in good schools) is on principle.


It is the ultimate expression of budo - that of "stopping the spears"... the art of fighting... without fighting.

Quote:

Like a good airplane ride, Aikido techniques have two parts... the take off, and the landing. Outsiders only concentrate on the take-off part (self defense), and the landing (ukemi) gets overlooked, or viewed as the "just rewards" of an attacker.


And that would be like looking at the wrong end of the plane for the engine. The point I wanted to pick up on was that the "landing part" of ukemi is really only one aspect of the beginning. Ukemi in itself has many layers. The literal meaning of ukemi means to "receive with the body". Receive what? Aye, therein lies the question....

Quote:

Insiders understand that you learn as much from the landing as from the take-off, and the principle of blending with your attacker is as much "self-defense" by the attacker as it is an attack. In many cases, the defender simply leads an attacker to a point where it makes more sense to fall than to resist the defense... which reverses the roles of the players in "mid-technique".


Again, "leading and blending" is a very rudimentary explanation of the whole concept of merging with another's force (i.e. aiki) and manipulating it in some way. A correctly executed throw is hard to defend against. A fall is more often the result of being thrown, than a defensive response to being thrown.

But in understanding the whole idea of absorbing and redirecting forces, there are better ways of responding to a throw or pin, which doesn't involve falling or landing. And sadly this is the part a lot of people miss.

I think it needs to be pointed out, that the roles of uke and nage/tori/sh'te are largely arbitrary. The more pertinent question is WHO is really the uke? The person "receiving" a technique - i.e. being thrown... or the person being attacked in the first place?

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#332155 - 04/01/07 10:03 PM Re: Understanding Aikido [Re: eyrie]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Eyrie,
everything in MA is "layered", and it's complicated to try to explain anything in single action verbs, adverbs or adjectives. Like a headache, it can't be described and get the point across, only experienced.

As for "looking at the wrong end of the airplane", I understand... but those "undertaking Aikido" might not. Like any good magic, the hidden part's what makes it work.

I've taught jujutsu for a long time, and when I'm explaining "lead" to someone, the conversation has to be addressed in terms they understand at that point of time... so it's easier to explain when someone knows it involves all of the elements of blending, timing, breath, balance, etc. rather than the "simplified" version of one-syllable "descriptors".

Anyway, I started this thread to give "newbies" a look at the vegetable stand, not the layers of the onion. I hope the effort wasn't too offensive...

I had good intentions... but I know where that leads...

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#332156 - 04/01/07 10:35 PM Re: Understanding Aikido [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Oh, I understand perfectly where you are coming from and the intent with which this thread was written and the audience it was directed at. I apologize if it came across as a criticism... it wasn't intended like that. You know me...

Yes, everything in MA has layers... like orges and onions... And I think it's an important point to point out to newbies that beyond their immediate perception lies another and yet another layer of (deeper) knowledge and understanding.

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#332157 - 04/02/07 07:47 AM Re: Understanding Aikido [Re: wristtwister]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
resisting the urge to add commentary to eyrie's orgetic analogy I have a question on this topic.

Is it possible the 'harmony' metaphore is the balancing of uke to nage/tori in training? The harmonizing goal in training being 'to help each other learn' (as oppossed to competitive learning). all the rest of philosophical and profound extrapolations are just personal inventions upon that harmonized training philosophy perhaps?

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#332158 - 04/02/07 09:09 AM Re: Understanding Aikido [Re: Ed_Morris]
iaibear Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 1304
Loc: upstate New York
Quote:


The harmonizing goal in training being 'to help each other learn'




Sure sounds like what my sensei have been saying.

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#332159 - 04/02/07 07:20 PM Re: Understanding Aikido [Re: Ed_Morris]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Quote:

resisting the urge to add commentary to eyrie's orgetic analogy I have a question on this topic.

Is it possible the 'harmony' metaphore is the balancing of uke to nage/tori in training? The harmonizing goal in training being 'to help each other learn' (as oppossed to competitive learning). all the rest of philosophical and profound extrapolations are just personal inventions upon that harmonized training philosophy perhaps?




Whooops.... that should be ogre, not orge...

Nope... the "harmony" thing is not a metaphor. It is an actual thing on both microcosmic and macrocosmic levels. It is firstly about resolving yin/yang in yourself (i.e. aiki inyo ho) and then in the broader perspective of "there is no opponent". That's what's meant by "harmony" from the Asian cultural perspective of balance in all things and harmony - not the Western interpretation of "peace and lovey dovey touchy feely".

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#332160 - 04/02/07 09:17 PM Re: Understanding Aikido [Re: eyrie]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Good explanation, Eyrie. In sword training we are told constantly "there is only cutting", so like the guy
the idea of "blending" and "harmony" is caught up in the simple act of doing what you're doing. If others are involved, it doesn't change the equation all that much, for there is only "what you are doing".

Different aspects of the exercise, like balance, position, blending, etc. are "part of the equation", and the opponent only becomes an "included item" in the solution. I've stated before that the worst anyone has hurt me in martial arts was a frail young woman who put the nikkyo from hell on my wrist at a seminar, and it didn't matter who I was or how strong, etc. she simply "did what she did" and the results spoke for itself.

One of the simplest explanations of Aikido I've ever heard was that "it doesn't take much force to hold down a drowning man", and the techniques of Aikido are more "self destruction" than "me doing a technique to you"... which is the understanding most people have of it. My "job" is to "fit myself into the equation" and allow the forces to take care of the results.

If I do it correctly, the results are dynamic. If not,... maybe not so dynamic, but still effective. Since intent is much of the dynamic, it is also much of the answer... and it shows as the energy is released.

While the idea of a "lovey dovey" martial art might appeal to some people, Aikido is certainly about fighting as a base of the art, and is based on fighting skills, so the concept of "blending and harmony" is quite different from the "lovey dovey" concept it is sold as in Western cultures.

I've trained in karate for many years, and while it is sold as the "development of character", it is also deadly skills, and while the practices might be focused only on the character development, the tools to get there are through learning fighting skills. I don't really see a difference in Aikido as an art... only a different method with different skills.

Just as a point of information, my karate is better because of my Aikido training, and my Aikido is better because of my Karate training... so it's a win-win situation. It's never a "lovey-dovey" practice in either art, but they still compliment each other by providing something to "fill the gaps" in training of each art. (JMHO)

Damned onions... so many layers, so little time...

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#332161 - 04/02/07 10:10 PM Re: Understanding Aikido [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Quote:

One of the simplest explanations of Aikido I've ever heard was that "it doesn't take much force to hold down a drowning man", and the techniques of Aikido are more "self destruction" than "me doing a technique to you"... which is the understanding most people have of it. My "job" is to "fit myself into the equation" and allow the forces to take care of the results.


Precisely... the "ai" in aikido means precisely that... to "fit". By fitting in, and uniting with the opponent, there is no opponent, you both become one unit. One is many, many is one. Whatever he does, he does to himself. Harmony. Action thru non-action - the Daoist concept of wu wei.

Quote:

Damned onions... so many layers, so little time...


Ain't that the truth...

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#332162 - 04/02/07 11:58 PM Re: Understanding Aikido [Re: eyrie]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
cool, for some strange reason that was clear even to me.

still, I can't get my head around the concept of it not being cooperative.

thru cooperative learning you learn how to deal with the uncooperative? counterintuitive. does it work?

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#332163 - 04/03/07 12:16 AM Re: Understanding Aikido [Re: Ed_Morris]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
It's always about becoming a "better" person (in more than 1 way)... always...

I suppose there are levels of cooperation... just like everything else... just as there are levels of resistance...

Thru polarity are things perceived, are they not?

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#332164 - 04/03/07 08:47 AM Re: Understanding Aikido [Re: eyrie]
Joe Jutsu Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/09/03
Posts: 575
Interesting thread, it's a refreshing contrast to the "aikido vs. mma" or "most lethal technique" type of thread that I seem to see all over the place these days... but I have to point out a couple of things....
Quote:

One of the simplest explanations of Aikido I've ever heard was that "it doesn't take much force to hold down a drowning man", and the techniques of Aikido are more "self destruction" than "me doing a technique to you"...




this is absolutely brilliant!


Quote:

the "ai" in aikido means precisely that... to "fit". By fitting in, and uniting with the opponent, there is no opponent, you both become one unit.




Is this accomplished by "fitting in" with the opponent or with something larger (ie the universe?)

Thanks for the food for thought!

Joe

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#332165 - 04/03/07 12:12 PM Re: Understanding Aikido [Re: Joe Jutsu]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
I paid particular attention to some of the students' body positions last night at class, and they were "making it hard on themselves" by "not fitting in". In an art where body position can be vital, and even the direction of a finger pointing can alter the outcome, body position is critical.

I was thinking about this thread as we held class, and it's clear to me that "understanding" has both a physical and mental element to it, and the union of those two are where the "art" comes in.

Some irimi methods I showed them almost totally "went wrong" for them, but it was because they wouldn't follow instructions (the mental part). Far from being "soft techniques", I was flattening some of them with the littlest of effort, and conversely, they were working like slaves and almost couldn't knock themselves down, much less the attacker.

It goes back to my saying that "good judgement is the result of experience... experience is the result of bad judgement"... Just keep trying... and when all else fails, follow the instructions...

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#332166 - 04/03/07 01:42 PM Re: Understanding Aikido [Re: Ed_Morris]
Prizewriter Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/23/05
Posts: 2573
Quote:

cool, for some strange reason that was clear even to me.

still, I can't get my head around the concept of it not being cooperative.

thru cooperative learning you learn how to deal with the uncooperative? counterintuitive. does it work?




Story for you. My Senseis Sensei was watching last night. After Unsoku (or "utter crap" as he called it), we practiced Kata for around an hour and a half. We constantly changed partners.

He explained at the end of class that we were made to work with other people because we had gotten use to the movements of another, and so we, as Tori, had become unbalanced. By working with other Uke, we realized how off a lot of our Aikido was. What we were use to doing didn't work that well on people of different sizes and shapes.

He explained further: Tori must always be balanced. When Tori is balanced, they can balance the world around them. Tori must learn balance first, then apply balance to everything around them. When you rely on Uke to assist you in finding balance, you are not really balanced. It is another who is balancing you. Aikido is about having internal balance of the self, and extending this to all that you meet. It is not about the joining of two to make a balance. Tori should be balanced from the start.

Uke, by nature, has attacked, they have commited an irrational act (i.e. attacking someone presents no logic). Tori must maintain his/her balance in order to balance Uke. If they don't, they will surely fail. Uke CANNOT be relied on to find balance on their own accord by assisting Tori. This presents a great danger to ones Aikido, as I found out last night.

There can be no greater danger for Tori than letting Uke help them in the Dojo. If Tori has found their own balance, then 100 Uke can come at them, and they will always prevail. It is about Internal balance, the correction of the self. If Tori NEEDS Uke to be balanced, then they are not doing Aikido and are doomed to failure.

It was a harsh lesson I learnt last night. But I am grateful for it.
_________________________
"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food" Hippocrates.

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#332167 - 04/03/07 07:40 PM Re: Understanding Aikido [Re: Prizewriter]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Quote:

He explained further: Tori must always be balanced. When Tori is balanced, they can balance the world around them. Tori must learn balance first, then apply balance to everything around them. When you rely on Uke to assist you in finding balance, you are not really balanced. It is another who is balancing you. Aikido is about having internal balance of the self, and extending this to all that you meet. It is not about the joining of two to make a balance. Tori should be balanced from the start.


Aiki InYo Ho....

Harmony within self = harmony with others = fitting in. Ueshiba's preferred means of finding harmony within himself was thru the practice of Omoto-kyo and farming. I guess we all need to find what creates harmony in ourselves first. Aikido is merely the externalized expression of an internal harmony. IOW, the techniques of Aikido don't make you harmonious within yourself and with others... it is how you express yourself that makes your Aikido "ai-ki-do".

The same can be said for karate... the Heian/Pinan katas should give you a BIG clue.

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#332168 - 04/06/07 07:38 PM Re: Understanding Aikido [Re: Ed_Morris]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Ed,
have you ever tried to open a door and have somebody open it just as you expected resistance? That dynamic is the dynamic of aikido.

Your "energy path" is the direction you take with your attack or movement, and aikido is designed for the player to "insert themselves" into the center of that energy field and either redirect it or cause it to cause the hips to lock or the "balance point" to be placed outside your ability to remain upright.

Where aikido techniques look "staged" in many cases, it's really simply leading the person into a position that it makes more sense to fall than to resist and try to remain standing. Where you might be able to pick up a penny off the floor, if you were placed on a step and told to pick up that same penny, you'd fall... simply from the change in where your center was "relocated".

I drive people crazy telling them to learn to do ukemi by simply walking along and act like they're picking up money off the mats, and when it makes sense to roll... do it. I could spend a month giving them explicit instructions, but the "picking up money" routine works best, and it's a good way to understand aikido. Even if you can reach the ground, as your body moves forward, you are prompted to roll...

Our bodies are designed to be unbalanced, and we tend to overcorrect most of the time, which is why we stumble. Our ankles and knees and hips correct our unbalanced condition as our weight shifts, but we are constantly in a state of imbalance, hence the concentration of aikido on "centering".
As the center of gravity is changed, the body position becomes improper, and you start to fall.

It's a very layered approach to body mechanics, energy mechanics, and structure, so knowing your concerns about ki, I'll leave it there. Like a tornado, the very center is "low intensity" and "crystal clear", but there is destruction going on all around it. That is aikido at it's best.

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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