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#348305 - 06/24/07 10:14 PM What is a "real Aikido dojo"?
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
There have been several posts on this board lately that speak of "proper Aikido dojo" or "real Aikido dojo", so I thought I'd ask some opinions.

I've trained in all sorts of dojos and martial arts schools teaching Aikido, so I have a good idea of what the answer is, but the question intrigues me. The corollary of that would be "what is 'real' Aikido"?

There are many different styles of Aikido out there, so I'm not really interested in finding out which "style" is considered "real", but what the actual teachings in a "real" Aikido school are. I haven't found any inconsistency in training in the last 23 years, but I'm interested to know what the "real answer" (pun intended) is.

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

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#348306 - 06/25/07 01:48 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
Ames Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/29/05
Posts: 1117
Anywhere you practice Aikido is a proper dojo, be it a room with pretty pictures, in an idealic landscape, or at 2:30 in the morning in the middle of the street.

As for what Aikido is, well that's a tough one. To be honest I think of it alot. In many ways, though I don't go into an Aikido dojo, I still consider myself an Aikidoka. To some, especially the more conservative practioners this seems strange and impossible. However, Aikido is The Way of Aiki. That's what it means.

Some of the best Aikido I've seen has come from a Russian (Vladimir Vasiliev) with no experiance whatsoever in anything which relates to Morihei Ueshiba or Sogaku Takeda. Stanley Pranin called Vasiliev's teacher, the greatest master of Aiki that he's met. However, everyone of his movements is imbued with what I would call 'Aiki'.

I believe the basic teaching is this: psycological kuzushi, if possible, before actually touching or being touched (a.k.a harmonizing).

Compassion plays a role as well. But this just as true in many martial arts.

--Chris
_________________________
"Seek not to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought."
--Basho

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#348307 - 06/25/07 06:33 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: Ames]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
My tendency is to agree with you here. I don't think anybody is doing "O'Sensei's Aikido" any more, but pieces and parts of it. Training with Toyoda Sensei, when we did "Old style Aikido" showed me that. It was "jujutsu from hell", and very violent in it's content. It stopped being taught in the Aikido schools because it caused injuries... much like Professor Kano did with Judo.

The old saying is "when truth becomes legend, print the legend", and I think a lot of what O'Sensei taught has been twisted and wrung out so that only "drips and drops" of his actual Aikido have survived. Any soldier wants peace, but that doesn't mean he doesn't teach fighting and killing to accomplish that goal in the training for that goal.

Aikido developed from some very violent arts. The principles of movement, redirection, avoidance, and the technical aspects of it were basically "battlefield" tactics, so to separate it from history is the first step in creating the legend.

I'm the first one to say that Aikido as taught now is a more non-violent form, but it still has plenty of "juice" left for self-defense... but you can't practice it "being polite" all the time, but structure the training to match the student's abilities to take the ukemi.

Anyway, I think you're on the right track...

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

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#348308 - 06/25/07 08:38 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
I'm going to play devil's advocate here... I'm going to say there's plenty of people who are (or should I say "were") doing Ueshiba's aiki - Inoue, Sunadomari, Shioda, Tohei, Yamaguchi, Saito, Saotome, Ikeda... (did I inadvertently leave anyone out?)

That said, my feeling is that Inoue and Sunadomari were probably the closest in terms of style and philosophy to Ueshiba, given their involvement with Omoto-kyo and close relationship with Ueshiba.

However, stylistic similarities aside, I think the real issue is one of transmission. I think this is partly due to the fact that Aikido has a large following (1.5m practitioners worldwide), and the larger the group, the less effective the transmission.

So the majority of people who are practising it, aren't really practising aikido at all. What they end up mostly practising is a shadow of the art - the external form.

If you also look at the history of Aikido (according to AJ), you'll see that was precisely the reason Tohei left to start Shin Shin Toitsu, and the reason why ki development is now a separate curriculum in Ki Society.

Now if you go back to Daito-ryu and look at Kondo or Sugawara, is there any real difference between what they do and what you can see Ueshiba doing in the myriad videos on AJ and elsewhere?

Is it a real difference or a perceived difference?

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#348309 - 06/25/07 02:58 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: eyrie]
iaibear Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 1304
Loc: upstate New York
Heck. I don't practice anything. I just try to mimic what sensei chose to show that time.

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#348310 - 06/25/07 08:55 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: iaibear]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Interesting you should use the word "mimic". Most people expect to and are expected to copy what sensei is doing.

On some level, I think that is necessary. However, the problem with mimicry is just that. It is an approximation of the original. Over time, copies from copies start to degenerate. A good example is making photocopies from successive photocopies. After a while, the quality of the copy starts to deteriorate.

To borrow an analogy from genetics, genealogy and cloning - successive cloned copies or inbreeding leading to birth defects.

It certainly lends weight to wristtwister's argument that nobody is doing Ueshiba's Aiki - only bits and pieces of it.

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#348311 - 06/25/07 09:48 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: eyrie]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
His answer reflects what I've been told by many different "hombu" stylists. My training partner always tells me "I'm copying Sogunuma Sensei copying O'Sensei".

As we all have little "nuances" that we do with our techniques, we might have the "gross technique", or "mechanics" of a technique, but adapt it differently to our own size, strength, footwork, grip, etc. which would make it "different" from O'Sensei's. Much of my technique reflects the "old Aikido" I did with Toyoda Sensei, but again, it's my impression of Toyoda Sensei doing Ueshiba Sensei's "old Aikido as taught by Tohei Sensei. Needless to say, it could get confusing as hell if you try to factor that down the line to "correct" technical differences.

I really miss Toyoda Sensei... not because of his Aikido or his skills, but because he was a lot of fun to be around. His death was a great loss to anyone who knew him. He could throw you across the room, or as lightly as a feather, and if you were slow getting up, he might smile at you and ask "how's your ukemi coming along?".. but, of course, after he planted your shadow in the mat. To me, that's "a real dojo". Good humor, hard training, and a little punishment to keep it "martial".

We followed all the form and ceremony that's traditional in dojos, but what made his dojo real was his presence. His "ki" flowed through you whether you were training or simply having a beer after training.

Maybe it's only "real" if somebody makes it real. I know I don't do O'Sensei's Aikido... I do mine, but I study his and the other Sensei's he trained, and they trained, in order to approach the kind of Aikido he taught. In "do", it is not in the destination, but the journey.
*(pause now for a philosophical, reflective moment)

Not...

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

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#348312 - 06/25/07 10:15 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Pardon the pun... but I think this is the "key".
Quote:

As we all have little "nuances" that we do with our techniques, we might have the "gross technique", or "mechanics" of a technique, but adapt it differently to our own size, strength, footwork, grip, etc. which would make it "different" from O'Sensei's.


I don't know. I'm trying to find a video of Inoue. Apparently someone saw a vid of him and remarked how similar he moved to O'sensei.

Quote:

Maybe it's only "real" if somebody makes it real. I know I don't do O'Sensei's Aikido... I do mine, but I study his and the other Sensei's he trained, and they trained, in order to approach the kind of Aikido he taught.


I don't know either. I started approaching it in much the same way as you have, long before my teacher dropped the "do" from his "aikido" (perhaps a copy of him copying Yamaguchi copying O'Sensei?), and told us to find our own "do".

It certainly makes you wonder what O'sensei meant when he said "This is not MY aikido" on one of his visits to the Tokyo honbu. Or his response to someone who said to him that they really wanted to do his aikido... "That's nice... because no one else seems to want to do my aikido". The problem is, what was HIS aikido? Only those who were there would have been privy to it. Or maybe some of them missed it too? Coz they were too busy copying him, or went for a mental walk when he started lecturing about kami and spirits...???? Who knows...

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#348313 - 06/25/07 11:10 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: eyrie]
aikidonut Offline
Member

Registered: 12/27/06
Posts: 100
Quote:

To borrow an analogy from genetics, genealogy and cloning - successive cloned copies or inbreeding leading to birth defects.





Eyrie,actually, if you're going to actually use genetics in your arguments ( I thought you said it was nonsense wrt aikido?) you should cite it correctly.

Neither cloning,in theory, nor inbreeding lead to birth defects.

here is a quote from the textbook, Genetics, by Ursula Goodenough, Harvard university School of medicine, that I read as an undergraduate:

"... inbreeding does not directly lead to congenital birth defects per se; it leads to an increase in the frequency of homozygotes."

If you are inbreeding with genomes that already contain congenital malformations, then you are only
perpetuating the congenital defect, that was caused by some other etiology, ie, xray irradiation, medications, or just pure chance.

The actual performance of inbreeding does not inrease the incidence of birth ( congenital) malformations ( defects) on its own. Birth defects result from an error in DNA replication, or in embryologic development, which themselves do not occur due to breeding between otherwise healthy relatives.

A good example would be the Samaritans, ( and various other inbred communities in the world, ie, communities that are isloated, and small in number). They have been marrying only among themselves, since biblical times, and there is not an increased frequency of birth defects over the world popluation. There are a lot of recessive traits ( albinism), blood disorders, but not congenital defects. Ref: "Mapping Human History" , Steve Olson, First Mariner Books, 2003

On a simpler level, cloning if done correctly, does not result in birth defects either.

Genetics is a fascinating field often misunderstood by the lay public, and distorted bythe media.

But I understand the gist of the argument. And I agree. You don't want to blindly copy a copy, because, then you're increasing the frequency of mistakes in the first copy.
( in genetics, you would be increasing the frequency of homozygotes.)

Mark

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#348314 - 06/25/07 11:22 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: aikidonut]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

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

I thought you said it was nonsense wrt aikido?


I was using it as an ANALOGY...

Quote:

You don't want to blindly copy a copy, because, then you're increasing the frequency of mistakes in the first copy.


Precisely my point.

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