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#348335 - 06/29/07 01:58 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

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

...the important point was that you don't learn it all at once...


I think the "problem" is that MA is a wholistic thing, but most people learn incrementally. And they learn best when information is presented piecemeal. So, in order to make it meaningful for the majority of people, it is necessary to break things down so that it can be built upon incrementally.

One of my major bugbears with how aikido is traditionally taught, is Sensei demonstrates the whole technique, then everyone practices. There is no breakdown and people tend to fuddle and muddle along - usually by muscling the technique. Usually, there is an expectation that people already know how to move, or if not, they are expected to pick it up as they go along. Occasionally, the smart ones work out how it works, but not without much trial and error.

The one thing I found really useful was the technical approach of jujitsu. I think breaking a technique down into smaller components and reinforcing the basics of releases, footwork, body shifting, weight transference, balance, etc. etc., helps people (i.e. raw beginners) learn faster. For instance, I might demonstrate one technique, and then break it down into a series of static paired exercises, each incrementally building on the other, until people can string the whole movement together. So, we end up doing one technique for the whole class, rather than 6-8 unrelated techniques in the one class and lots of ukemi.

In your experience, would you say that is a good way to approach it? Or would you vary the approach depending on the student's level?

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#348336 - 06/29/07 06:44 AM 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
Like a "perfect punch", all the parts have to work at the same time... in unison... and what happens is that "pieces" of the techniques work until there is enough rote trials to make it smoothe out. Timing and breathing being the two elements that seldom work exactly as they should in "new" techniques.

Quote:

The one thing I found really useful was the technical approach of jujitsu. I think breaking a technique down into smaller components and reinforcing the basics of releases, footwork, body shifting, weight transference, balance, etc. etc., helps people (i.e. raw beginners) learn faster. For instance, I might demonstrate one technique, and then break it down into a series of static paired exercises, each incrementally building on the other, until people can string the whole movement together. So, we end up doing one technique for the whole class, rather than 6-8 unrelated techniques in the one class and lots of ukemi.





A la "O'Sensei was a jujutsu guy"... He understood that, and apparently taught in a similar manner. While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it's seldom identical until the experience is real to the player. Since martial arts are learned through the body, it's difficult to simply "watch, and then do". It takes time for both your mind and your body to process the movements, timing, etc. That's why "basics" are so important. They provide a complex system of learning that is mentally combining basic motions to accomplish the technical aspects of the movements. Then you have to learn the "feel" of the movement, and work on combining it with the "flow" of your attacker's movements.

It simply takes some work to do. "Monkey see- monkey do" has been the theory for a long time in a lot of martial arts schools, and the "dirty little secret" is that nobody learns the techniques instantly. We have irimi techniques that are known as "twenty year techniques", simply because the "monkey see- monkey do" method requires too much internalizing for it to be a good copy in much less time.

There's been a lot of discussion about the "I'm copying my teacher imitating his teacher", which is the learning process, and without video records of both of them, it's hard to pick up the nuances unless you practice and see both of them constantly... and even if you do, you pick up "habits" of the sensei as well.

The big "skip" that's made in the jo kata practiced in Shin Shin Toitsu dojos was introduced into the kata because Tohei was too short to cover the distance he needed to cover for a certain movement, so he added a backwards skipping motion, which is still done today... so you get the "baker's choice" as well as the "main course" in a lot of training. (Nothing wrong with it, it's just "reasons" for doing them "that way").

Incremental learning, to me, is "the way" to go, depending on the experience level of the students. New students need that kind of explanation... more experienced students might need more... they have to unlearn their bad habits first...

Another piece of the puzzle, is how the teaching is structured. Simply showing and then practicing is how my partner teaches. I show, walk the students through the methods and pieces of the technique, and then practice... so the "jujutsu" method is a little different... and I tend to have more "early success" with the techniques among the students.

We all just have to keep working at it...

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

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#348337 - 06/29/07 09:40 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: eyrie]
iaibear Offline
Veteran

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

One of my major bugbears with how aikido is traditionally taught, is Sensei demonstrates the whole technique, then everyone practices. There is no breakdown and people tend to fuddle and muddle along - usually by muscling the technique. Usually, there is an expectation that people already know how to move, or if not, they are expected to pick it up as they go along. Occasionally, the smart ones work out how it works, but not without much trial and error.
(snp)
In your experience, would you say that is a good way to approach it? Or would you vary the approach depending on the student's level?



eyrie
You are singing my song. I gave up expecting to learn Aikido years ago, just because of that "teaching" method. It has become "exercise that might prove useful". So why do I keep trying? Good question. Best answer: It's fun.

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#348338 - 06/29/07 08:55 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: iaibear]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Just a quick story in that vein...
Nishiyama Sensei told us one time that one of the karate teachers (and I think he was referring to Funakoshi Sensei) used to teach a children's class carrying a reed. He would walk around the room periodically swatting the children on the head with it repeatedly until they would see him coming and instinctively throw a rising block to protect themselves.

The moral was that if you get hit enough times, you'll protect yourself instinctively... maybe not with the "classical" technique, maybe not with perfect form, but you will try to stop whatever it was hitting you on the head. Over the years, I've trained with a lot of teachers that had that same theory on teaching... and while I learned some technique and got "hardened up" from the beatings, I learned more when the techniques were explained in parts and taught in "steps". It might take me longer to smoothe out the technique, but it's actually easier to both remember and work out the "bugs" when there's a "process" teaching like that. All I ever learned from a beating was that it hurt.

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

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#348339 - 06/29/07 10:14 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
aikidonut Offline
Member

Registered: 12/27/06
Posts: 100
Wristtwister,

Quote:

My thought at the time was that the important point was that you don't learn it all at once..




Quote:

ust a quick story in that vein...
Nishiyama Sensei told us one time that one of the karate teachers (and I think he was referring to Funakoshi Sensei) used to teach a children's class carrying a reed. He would walk around the room periodically swatting the children on the head with it repeatedly until they would see him coming and instinctively throw a rising block to protect themselves.



thank you for those points you made, they recalled for me an anecdote that I had read in Zen and the Archery, but is actually a quote from DT Suzuki:

"The Japanese fencing master sometimes uses the Zen method of training. Once, when a disciple came to a master to be disciplined in the art of fencing, the master, who was in retirement in his mountain hut, agreed to undertake the task. The pupil was made to help him gather wood for kindling,draw water from the nearby spring, split wood, make the fire, cook rice, sweep the rooms and garden, and generally look after his household affairs.There was no regular or technical teaching in the art. After some time, the young man became dissatisfied, for he had not come to work as as a servant for the old gentleman, but to learn the art of swordsmanship.

So one day, he approached the master and asked him to teach him. The master agreed. The result was that the young man could not do any work with the feeling of safety.For when he began to cook rice early in the morning,the master would appear and strike him from behind, with a stick. When he was in the midst of his sweeping, he would be feeling the same blow from somewhere, from an unknown direction. He had no peace of mind, he always had to be on the qui vive, the edge. Some years passed before he could successfully dodge the blow from whatever source it might come. But the master was not quite satisfied with him yet.

One day the master was found cooking his own vegetables over an open fire. The pupil took it into his head to avail himself of this opportunity. Taking up his big stick, he let it fall upon the head of the master, who was then stooping over the cooking pan to stit its contents. But the pupil's stick was caught by the master with the cover of the pan.

This opened the pupil's mind to the secrets fo the art, which had hithertobeen kept from him. He then, for the first time, really appreciated the uparalelled kindness of the master. "


I would therefore agree about your point re: incremental learning, these lessons from the swordmaster were not accessible to instant understanding,and required the experience/sweat factor, and the realization only an honest practitioner of the art gets, after years and years..

With regards to the larger thrust of the story:

I think it is this goal, of purposelessness, of making the art "natural", within ourselves like that, that we are all striving towards, practicing our different arts. Of course when we finally do set our sights on it as a "goal" , then all becomes lost, and we have to start all over again.

As a sidelight, I think the karate sensei who hit people in the dojo with the reed was trying to follow this example. However, he did not bring it to completion,and thus did not fulfill his role as sensei, in contrast to what the swordmaster in this story did, making sure the student "saw" his unparalelled kindness in revealing the secrets.

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#348340 - 06/29/07 10:58 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: aikidonut]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Clearly you and I have different viewpoints, for where you see "mission", I see "method" in the story. As for whether or not the karate sensei did his job, it is to "pass it on"... to make the student learn what the teacher knew from his viewpoint.

Just as Tohei Sensei taught Toyoda Sensei, and O'Sensei taught Sogunuma Sensei... their viewpoints of the same information was different. Was it the same art?... of course. Was it taught differently... absolutely. Why... because their emphasis was in different places based on their understandings.

It's always hard to determine if somebody actually knows something, or if they just might suck at it because it is the weak point of their training, but clearly everyone who trains knows something. It might not be what you know... or even what you understand... but it may clearly be another method to accomplish the same thing. Real training is based on experience and viewpoint.

We had a bokken class tonight, and clearly the students were more focused on movement and being uncomfortable than on the most important point... intent. They would "avoid" the attack, and then strike softly at the target "because they didn't want to hurt anyone". I repeatedly told them "If your technique is correct, you won't have to worry"... but their fear of "hitting someone" overpowers their ability to do what they're told. When they get it right, they'll "get it right". Until then, it's just motions.

Here's my instructions for training in general...
1. Train with intent
2. Follow directions
3. When unsure of rule 1 follow rule 2.
4. When sure of rule 2, follow rule 1.
5. Practice

The philosophy is pretty easy... when cutting, cut... when moving, move... when hitting, hit. When thinking, breathe.

None of this will put a rocket on the moon, but it sure as hell makes training in martial arts easier. Turn loose of the preconceptions, and just "do". You have to learn something before you can improve it, so learn first, and worry about doing it "better" once you can do it correctly once in a row.

I once watched a videotape of someone doing a style of jujutsu that I hadn't seen before. After we viewed the tape, I went out on the floor and performed most of the technniques almost flawlessly. The guys I was training with were amazed, and asked me how I did that... my answer was "I did what he said to do, and it worked".

Having a basis to draw from helped, and getting clear instructions helped, but following the instructions helped most of all. I can't tell you how many times I show a technique, and everybody in the class does something different. Then they have to unlearn that, and try to follow the directions without slipping back into their bad habits. If they just followed the directions the first time, they would have better success... I might have a stroke from them doing it correctly , but they would have better success.

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

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#348341 - 06/29/07 11:16 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 would therefore agree about your point re: incremental learning, these lessons from the swordmaster were not accessible to instant understanding,and required the experience/sweat factor, and the realization only an honest practitioner of the art gets, after years and years..

I think it is this goal, of purposelessness, of making the art "natural", within ourselves like that, that we are all striving towards, practicing our different arts. Of course when we finally do set our sights on it as a "goal" , then all becomes lost, and we have to start all over again.


I don't know... but to me, to have to "start all over again" seems entirely counter-productive. Why not get it right from day one?

WT and I have previously talked about onions and layers of learning. Everything builds on each other. IOW, there must be a purpose and premise for doing things in a certain order or way.

Whilst it is true that some lessons can only be learnt thru experience, I don't think that it necessarily takes years and years. If the information and situation is presented in the right way, and targeted to the individual's preferred learning modality, then the gist of the lesson should be easily grasped. All that remains is for the student to practise until it becomes part of their "natural" movement.

The issue I have with "traditional" teaching methods is that the teacher has one teaching modality which may or may not be suited to every single student. In MA, we talk about being flexible and adaptable, yet, by contrast, teaching modalities have not been as adaptable.

The same thing goes for child rearing - each child is different and responds differently. Just as there are different ways of teaching a child, beating is one way (and a very poor way at that) but it only teaches a child that it hurts. It doesn't reinforce the lesson why he got a beating in the first place. There are other better ways of reinforcing the lesson other than simply belting the bejesus out of him.

Which brings me back to the whole point of this thread... what is "real" aikido? To me, it has absolutely nothing to do with who is certified by whom and what techniques are taught. The fundamental principles of Aiki can be taught in many ways... Aikikai, Yoshinkan, Iwama, Ki Society, Tomiki/Shudokan, Yoseikan, Nishio etc. all have different ways of approaching it. My teacher and those under his teaching influence primarily teach it thru uke taking ukemi. No other verbal instructions or dissection of technique is provided and students are expected to absorb thru osmosis or intuitively. I, OTOH, teach aiki in a very different way.

As long as the fundamental principles of Aiki are adhered to, it's all Aikido. Whether it's "real" or not, is simply a matter of different levels of skill and ability. I may not be as good as my own teacher yet, or have the number of years of experience as he does... but who's to say that what I do and teach is not "aiki"?

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#348342 - 06/29/07 11:47 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
iaibear Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 1304
Loc: upstate New York
<< Here's my instructions for training in general...
1. Train with intent
2. Follow directions >>

Directions would be nice. At least then you would know what you are supposed to do.

Copying a demo of sensei copying HIS sensei's demo who was copying HIS sensei's demo, etc., is bound to lose something in transmission.

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#348343 - 06/30/07 01:19 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
aikidonut Offline
Member

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

They would "avoid" the attack, and then strike softly at the target "because they didn't want to hurt anyone"




I have tried to observe sensei wrt this. He will wield the bokto ( bokken ) such that it seems as if he is going to cut you in two, then with his exquisite control, he can stop the bokto 1 centimeter before he reaches your head. He's amazing , because he'll come running at his uke from across the room, and do that...if you get hit, it's only because you moved.

I'm not trying to be revisionist, but in looking back on the bokto classes, I try to cut with intent. One thing that most of us in the dojo do is to follow sensei's lead. We try to bring the sword as close to the head/arm/target as possible . That means knowing how to stop the bokto as well, which we have practiced many times. I fully agree with needing intent with the technique. But you need training ( to stop the bokto ) in order to demonstrate intent.

Usually if I use the bokto with intent, the partners/ukes respond in kind.

the last part of the DT Suzuki story is that technique is important, but there is more than technique, hence, the sentence," but the master was still not satisfied."

I think we see two different viewpoints of the same entity. Mission is method, and method begets mission.

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#348344 - 06/30/07 03:11 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: aikidonut]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

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

I try to cut with intent.... But you need training ( to stop the bokto ) in order to demonstrate intent. Usually if I use the bokto with intent, the partners/ukes respond in kind.


Like Yoda said... Do or do not there is no try. You don't "try" to cut. You just cut. As Musashi (was reputed to have wrote)... think only of cutting... cut with a resolute spirit. Just cut. That is "intent". You can't "demonstrate" intent or "try" to do something with intent. You either have it or you don't.

"Control" is quite another thing. And that only comes thru constant practice of (quite ironically) cutting. Cutting with the intention of separating someone from neck to hip is one thing. Stopping from carrying it thru at the precise moment is control.

Put another way. When I play arnis, I don't wield the stick like a club. In my mind, it is a machete, and my intent is to cut your hand, arm, leg, body - wherever I can cut. Same goes for bokken work. The intent is at the monouchi. Most people tend to wield the bokken like a club. It's a wooden replica of a cutting instrument....

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