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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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#348315 - 06/26/07 12:16 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: eyrie]
aikidonut Offline
Member

Registered: 12/27/06
Posts: 100
So, ergo, we can use genetics in these discussions?

I think there could be an interesting thread, here, and there is relevance, for anyone with an interest in aikido. But i digress.

A real aikido dojo is "real " only for the one who practices in it. Who is to know , or who on the outside looing in,can purport to know how much aikido truth is really imparted, without sampling the physical experience itself?

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#348316 - 06/26/07 12:25 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: aikidonut]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
No... it was an analogy. You can use analogies, but you can't discuss genetics here (well, not in this thread anyway)... because it's not relevant.

Yes, it definitely has to be felt (IHTBF).... although, if you have a trained eye, you can see some stuff. But when it starts getting too subtle, IHTBF.

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#348317 - 06/26/07 06:34 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
Well, get out the tin foil hats again, folks... the power lines are calling Mark.

This "gene" argument in everything Aikido would be like me arguing that since I'm doing cable design, everyone either is able to do Aikido or not because they have the right equipment in their cable system. Random people train in Aikido, and their environment has more to do with their learning than anything genetic. If your Sensei sucks, you get bad information... if he's good, you get good information. No genetics... just a transmission of information as Eyrie said.

Copying the movements of others isn't a genetic trait that I'm aware of... and being centered (as I supposed Mark has been trained to do) is a matter of absorbing that kind of information... not a DNA characteristic. It is made up of those nuances I spoke of earlier.

I might like to discuss the DNA characteristics of Aikido players, but not in this thread... my screen doesn't have the necessary DNA to receive those discussions.

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

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#348318 - 06/26/07 10:32 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: eyrie]
iaibear Offline
Veteran

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

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.




My point exactly. If I miss something in the detail it stays missed because we never see that particular variation again.

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#348319 - 06/26/07 11:48 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
aikidonut Offline
Member

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

let's keep on topic. I believe eyrie and I have already covered that issue.

Ok , I'll venture a comment re: a "real " dojo.
The word Dojo refers to the place where the Buddha sat under the bodhi tree, to gain his first enlightenment. Similarly, for the dojo and the practitioner. As long as it serves you well, and you respect its covenants, it's a real dojo.

That being said, for a real aikido dojo,for a more specific constraint, it should have a sensei, a teacher who has learned the art of aikido to a level deemed to be befitting for a teacher. How he is "certified" to do so depends on the particular aikido school.I believe that the sensei should be affiliated with a recognized aikido school ( why else would you call it aikido?) and the criteria for that recognition is another topic for another thread. The sensei should teach the techniques that would be approved by his affiliated headquarters, and there should be some outward statement of those requirements, such as the kyu and dan requirements, ie, "5 techniques from tsuki.." for 1st kyu. There should be promotions within that school. There should be seminars from other high ranking sensei/shihans offered to the student.

In other words, there should be a "vetting" process, a sort of oversight by peers committe that serves to ensure that the teachings are in accord with aikido. Otherwise, as eyrie says, you're compoundong all the mistakes of the past , by "cloning " wrong techniques.

I think those are the basics.

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#348320 - 06/26/07 06:52 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
From your favorite place , Wikpedia:

"A dojo is a Japanese term which literally means "place of the Way". As such it can refer to a formal training place for any of the Japanese do arts but typically it is considered the formal gathering place for students of a martial arts style to conduct training, examinations and other related encounters.

The concept of a dojo as a martial arts training place is a Western concept; in Japan, any physical training facility, including professional wrestling schools may be called dojos as well depending on the context.

A proper Japanese martial arts dojo; is considered special and is well cared for by its users. In many styles it is traditional to conduct a ritual cleaning of the dojo; at the end of each training session (called souji, which translates from Japanese as "cleaning"). Besides the obvious hygienic benefits of regular cleaning it also serves to reinforce the fact that dojo are supposed to be supported and managed by the student body, not the school's instructional staff. This attitude has become lost in many modern, commercial dojos;koryu dojos; that are founded and run by a small group of people or instructors. In fact, it is not uncommon that in traditional schools (koryu), dojos; are rarely used for training at all, instead being reserved for more symbolic or formal occasions. The actual training is conducted typically outdoors or in a less formal area.

Many traditional dojos follow a prescribed pattern with shomen and various entrances that are used based on student and instructor rank laid out precisely. Typically students will enter in the lower-left corner of the dojo (in reference to the shomen) with instructors in the upper right corner. Shomen typically contains kamidana - an area for a shinto shrine and other artifacts. The term kamiza is frequently confused by martial arts practitioners with the Kamidana. Many other artifacts may be displayed throughout the dojo, such as kanban that authorize the school in a style or strategy, and items such as taiko drums or armor (yoroi). It is not uncommon to find the name of the dojo; and the dojo kun (roughly "dojo rules") displayed promiently at shomen as well. Visitors also typically have a special place reserved, depending on their rank and station. Weapons and other training gear will normally be found on the back wall."


One of the few times they actually have it about right.

Quote:

The word Dojo refers to the place where the Buddha sat under the bodhi tree, to gain his first enlightenment.




I must have missed that class, of course, with only 45 years training, it's entirely possible I haven't made it that far yet. I've always known it as a place of "those that have gone before", and “a place of the way”… nothing even vaguely related to Buddha and his enlightenment.

That being said, for a real aikido dojo,for a more specific constraint, it should have a sensei, a teacher who has learned the art of aikido to a level deemed to be befitting for a teacher. How he is "certified" to do so depends on the particular aikido school.I believe that the sensei should be affiliated with a recognized aikido school ( why else would you call it aikido?)

That sentence has so many parts I’ll have to approach it piece at a time…

That being said, for a real aikido dojo,for a more specific constraint, it should have a sensei.

That’s a good start, but not really necessary. A group of students can conduct business and run a class without someone sitting in the formal position of “Sensei”. True, in order to learn things, they must attend classes where a sensei is present, but many schools operate effectively with “senior students” or “approved students” running the classes. Often, they are uchideshi to a sensei, and are responsible for teaching classes in his stead.

How he is "certified" to do so depends on the particular aikido school.

Agreed, but not so much “certified” as “authorized” to teach. Many schools have teaching certificates that have several levels of teaching authorization, just as they have promotional restraints. You don’t have to be Menkyo Kaiden to teach a class, even up to black belt levels… simply proficient enough to get the job done. Oversight is what the organization is for.

I believe that the sensei should be affiliated with a recognized aikido school ( why else would you call it aikido?)

Not necessarily. My partner trained with Sogunuma Sensei, and is not “affiliated” with any school or organization , and he’s somewhere around Godan in rank now. He actually sits on the board of the USJA Aikido division, although he doesn’t promote through them. Affiliation isn’t a measure of skill… it’s simply a peer group to help you when you need it.

the criteria for that recognition is another topic for another thread

Okay, but every organization has its own standards and requirements. Whether you agree or not, is what determines what group you join. If you like Shin Shin Toitsu, you join Ki Society schools…
Nothing magic about that. You can even join the US Judo Association and practice Aikido under acceptable standards. Who is teaching, and what they know is what’s important. Fred Schmuck could be teaching, and if he knows more than some “name” sensei, he’s who I want to learn from.

The sensei should teach the techniques that would be approved by his affiliated headquarters.

Not necessarily. When I started in karate, I learned what my sensei knew, from the ground up. He taught me the way he learned, and used the methods he had learned from. He didn’t have a list of techniques to teach me… He just paid attention to where I was, and built on the techniques that I could already do. There was no “headquarters” at that time, and nobody was issuing training modules for us to learn from. You learned what your teachers knew, and what you developed on your own.

there should be some outward statement of those requirements, such as the kyu and dan requirements, ie, "5 techniques from tsuki.." for 1st kyu. There should be promotions within that school. There should be seminars from other high ranking sensei/shihans offered to the student.

That’s all “organizational malarkey”. Every organization has its own requirements and benefits, and promotions are based on merit or ability up to a point, and after that, it’s all gratis. With your rank certificate and 50 cents, you can ride the bus. Like anything else tied to money, organizational promotions are to collect fees.

In Judo, we had promotions called “batsugan”… which meant “instant promotion” for people who showed exceptional skill… and they were free. You might show up at a tournament as a brown belt and leave as a black belt if your technique was exceptional. Everybody there was watching your skills, and any one of them could promote you, so it blows quite a hole in your theory of “so many techniques for this rank” and “so many for that rank”. In Japan, at one time, if you had one technique that you could throw from anywhere for ippon (full point), you were shodan… if you had two techniques, you were sandan…. But throwing qualified judo players isn’t that easy, even when you’re good, so it meant something. It was more than simply being able to regurgitate 5 techniques from tsuki, or shomenuchi, or yokomenuchi for your rank. You had to have ability and execute the techniques effectively.

In other words, there should be a "vetting" process, a sort of oversight by peers committee that serves to ensure that the teachings are in accord with aikido.

I have no problem with peer group reviews, only the last part of that statement… “are in accord with aikido.” You and I have major disagreements on what Aikido actually is, and someone from your “peer group” would consider my techniques blasphemy. That’s why the hombu had numerous teachers leave to start their own styles. I wouldn’t think someone doing Yoshinkan would want to be considered the authority on Tomiki, or Shin Shin Toitsu . They should have a voice in a peer group, but not be considered “the authority” of the peers… but , of course, rank also plays a part in that.

This is as good a place as any to review something else you said once, regarding what “O’sensei’s intentions” were. NOBODY knows what O’sensei’s intentions were… just like you can’t read my mind and I can’t read yours. He developed an art… I’ve practiced it for 23 years… and I will never know what was in O’sensei’s mind, and neither will you. John Stevens and all the other writers who have produced remarkably good books about O’Sensei didn’t know what was in his mind. They, like you, were venturing a guess. I’ll give you an example:

Shimabuku Sensei developed Isshin Ryu karate. He was a masterful technician, and has a following like Aikido that is worldwide. He also had a sense of humor… so every time he promoted somebody to black belt that was going back to the United States, he told them “You’re in charge of Isshin Ryu in America”.

It didn’t take long for the different factions in America to start fighting among themselves for control of Isshin Ryu. Every one of them had been sent out and told they were in charge… every one had been “authorized” by Shimabuku Sensei to take over Isshin Ryu in America… and it has taken years for that to settle down. Nobody knows what’s in somebody else’s mind. Shimabuku Sensei laughed over that for years.

“Otherwise, as eyrie says, you're compounding all the mistakes of the past , by "cloning " wrong techniques.”

I hate to break the news to you, but techniques are techniques. You do them well or not, depending on your skill. Is what you teach the same as O’Sensei?.. probably not. Is it using the same principles?... maybe, maybe not. His technique was his, mine is mine, yours is yours. How well they match up is a matter for randori.

“Real” dojos are anywhere you train in your art. As long as you train effectively, give it “real effort”, and stick to the principles of the art you practice, it can be a garage floor or a Budokan. It’s the training that makes it a dojo… not the snobbery to say “your’s isn’t real Aikido” because “blah, blah, blah…” Look at some of O’Sensei’s old films… those guys would almost get crushed, and he hardly noticed. Kisshimaru Doshu had a different movement to his Aikido from that of his father, but I don’t think my films of him ever support the idea that his Aikido wasn’t real… it was different.
There are no “perfect dojos”… only players that train hard or not. Hard, soft, it doesn’t matter… that’s just style or understanding. Aikido is what it is.

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

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#348321 - 06/26/07 11:08 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
aikidonut Offline
Member

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

I must have missed that class, of course, with only 45 years training, it's entirely possible I haven't made it that far yet. I've always known it as a place of "those that have gone before", and “a place of the way”… nothing even vaguely related to Buddha and his enlightenment.





a quote from "Zen Buddhist practice: Recent thoughts on the matter"
by Robert Aitken Roshi :

" The Buddha Shakyamuni was fixed in position under the Bodhi tree, in his bodhimanda, his dojo, his "place of enlightenment.

Although we generally think of dojos as places where martial arts take place, the word "dojo" is also widely used with repsect to the practice of zen buddhism, which has many corollaries to aikido. I put that lesser known definition of a dojo to stimulate thought about how one practices one's art with honesty and intent.

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#348322 - 06/26/07 11:47 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
aikidonut Offline
Member

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

I have no problem with peer group reviews, only the last part of that statement… “are in accord with aikido.” You and I have major disagreements on what Aikido actually is, and someone from your “peer group” would consider my techniques blasphemy. That’s why the hombu had numerous teachers leave to start their own styles. I wouldn’t think someone doing Yoshinkan would want to be considered the authority on Tomiki, or Shin Shin Toitsu . They should have a voice in a peer group, but not be considered “the authority” of the peers… but , of course, rank also plays a part in that.




yes, I would like to clarify my statement:

Quote:

a peer committee that serves to ensure that the teachings are in accord with aikido.




of course, I understand we have major disagreements ( or maybe not?) about what constitutes aikido. So therefore, the selection of which peer should be from peers who are in that school. e.g., a yoshinkan school should be subject to vetting by other yoshinkan peers. Obviously, not hombu peers. WT, your particular aikido has high ranking individuals in it, so that peer group should not contain hombu, or yoshinkan or tomiki people, etc....

So, one might then argue, what use is it, to have others from the same school have oversight? Well, I believe that this becomes a form of self governance, that says, hey , our school is honest.

Therefore, it doesn't matter if our definitions of aikido differ, the vetting process is with respect to its own school, and own set of peers. If you are a teacher of aikido ( I assume you are ) , then it would lend credence to your dojo,if you could say, yes, members of my community hold me, as sensei, in high esteem. ( I'm only using you as an example, not suggesting you have to do this ).

I suppose the real test of this defintion comes when someone breaks off from the aikido fold, be it Ki soc., yoshinkan, hombu, and starts his/her own dojo, and calls it aikido. What do you do then?

Well, if it is someone with obvious talent and understanding , such as Shioda, or Tohei, then the question is moot. But then what happens if the person was not so well known,or knowledgabe/talented, and he just wanted to start his own school? Refer back to our discussion re: Nihon Goshin, is it an aikido school? That's when my definition of a "real " aikido dojo would state, that it should be a recognized school of aikido. I think that if any worldwide body of aikido ( and nihon goshin is not recognized by any,) recognizes the school then you have to allow it.

Of course, this is getting too administrative. The most important issue is whether the practitioner himself feels it is real, and worthwhile studying. I have no right to stop anyone from practicing where he chooses.

There is nothing to stop Joe Shmoe from putting up a sign in the community , that says " aikido " , and getting tons of students. There is no law ( in the US ) that prevents that.
I am not an aikido "snob", but I do demand a little more of Joe Shmoe,since he is not Shioda, or Tomiki, or Tohei,or Saotome, to prove he is teaching aikido.

The reason I am sensitive to this is because I was fooled by such a school. I didn't know any better, and got sucked in. The guy was a fraud. He had no aikido technique, couldn't do or teach nikyo,but he would always say, in class, "this is what they do in aikido.." and we would believe it, who knows any better?

WT , I don't suspect you are one of those, quite the opposite. But I wish there was a better way of keeping these frauds out of the MA world.


Edited by aikidonut (06/26/07 11:54 PM)

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#348323 - 06/27/07 12:11 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: aikidonut]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

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

"A dojo is a Japanese term which literally means "place of the Way". As such it can refer to a formal training place for any of the Japanese do arts but typically it is considered the formal gathering place for students of a martial arts style to conduct training, examinations and other related encounters.




I would think that this definition sufficiently encapsulates ALL "do" arts including zendo - which is the more specific and widely used term in reference to the Zen Buddhist place where zazen is practiced, although the term dojo can also be used in that context.

However, in the interests of being pedantically correct, Bodhimanda (place of enlightenment) would be the more appropriate Pali word in reference to the place where Sakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment - not dojo, which is a Japanese word.

As far as corollaries to Aikido is concerned, that may be true, but... Zen is derived from the Mahayana (exoteric) school of thought. Ueshiba's philosophical framework for Aikido is based on his Omoto-kyo worldview, which itself is a bastardization of primarily Shinto paganism and Shingon Mikkyo (esoteric) Buddhism. Very different schools of thought and I don't think it is the same thing.

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#348324 - 06/27/07 12:44 AM 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
I don't want to sound too aloof about this, but you're way too tedious about the practice and development of Aikido. It's a skillset, and a practice... it isn't the solution to world peace, or how to stop nuclear fission. It's training.

Hucksters have been around ever since before I started in the martial arts(1962), they'll be there after I'm dead and gone because its A way to make money... so they'll always be around. The best way to dismiss them is to study and find out what's actually an art and what's . That way, you can simply pass by their door... because you'll always find "their students" who will fight you tooth and nail to declare them legitimate. Who cares?

Ai-ki-do... same energy way, the way of blending ki... "intrinsic energy blending"... to me, "O'sensei's stuff"... it doesn't matter what you call it, what matters is the practice and whether you're any good at it. I don't care if he's doing aiki-jujutsu, Aikido, or whatever, as long as the techniques work and my technique improves through it... and I don't care what he calls it. I could study "Fred" if Fred would help me in my fighting skills.

I disagree with you about the peer review thing. Anybody with the kind of skills it takes to be a "reviewer" should be able to distinguish "style" from "art", so regardless of whether the guy is Yoshinkan or Hombu, he should be able to see the movement, the footwork, and execution of the technique and know whether you're any good. The dynamics of shihonage will always be the same, regardless of how you get there, as will kotegaeshi, iriminage, etc... so it's really a bluff when I said "you wouldn't want a Yoshinkan guy making judgements on Shin Shin Toitsu or Tomiki. The dynamics and skills are the same... they just look different from the "school" of training where they originate.

Don't take this wrong, but it's guys like you that make style interchange difficult. Unfortunately, there are many different ways to skin a cat, but few to make the cat like it. Aikido's no different.

The techniques of Aikido are infinite, and nit-picking stylistic changes, etc. creates friction more than understanding between styles. There are lots of people I've trained with that weren't worth $hit in Aikido, but they had good hearts and put forth a lot of effort. I've also trained with some people who were almost magical with their techniques, but had the personalities of a ham sandwich. It takes all kinds.

I don't care who trained under whom and historically picked their nose with their left hand... it means nothing to my training. If they can explain the technique, or point out a flaw in my footwork, or mention something I'm doing that is different from their style... I want to hear from them. The rest of that crap is just that.

My very first martial arts teacher was Sensei Bob Alexander, yondan in Isshin Ryu. When we were training one day, I mentioned to him that I wanted to work for a promotion. He said "learn the technique, and don't worry about rank, organizations, and all that stuff... If you can kill everybody in the dojo, you can wear whatever belt you want.". Everything else is window dressing.

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

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#348325 - 06/27/07 02:32 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

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

Anybody with the kind of skills it takes to be a "reviewer" should be able to distinguish "style" from "art", so regardless of whether the guy is Yoshinkan or Hombu, he should be able to see the movement, the footwork, and execution of the technique and know whether you're any good.


Have to agree with you here. Anyone with a modicum of skill would be able to see instantly whether you have the "goods" or not.

Not to blow my own trumpet, but when I was a lowly 2nd kyu, I went to a Rick Clark seminar at a Hapkido dojang - wearing my WHITE belt. Rick used me for a lot of the throwing techniques because he and I had worked out previously at an earlier seminar and he knew what I could do (and couldn't do).

The Hapkido 4th dan in charge of the school later came up to me and in front of another aikido black belt asked me to come back to teach his people how to do ukemi. Despite my protestations of lowly rank and the presence of another black belt, he wasn't interested and politely insisted that he would be happy to have me come teach his people how to do ukemi.

Likewise, when I picked up jujitsu a few years ago. The sensei not only insisted I should wear my aikido black belt but put me in the position of honorary assistant sensei (whatever that means?). I not only got to help out and assist everyone from white belt to brown belt, but I was also asked to sit on several grading panels - including one shodan grading.

The point is, anyone with a modicum of skill can distinguish "style" from "art". Whether the techniques look similar or not, and whether the names are different or not, anyone who understands that body movement, footwork, and technique execution are based on the same principles, would know instantly whether or not you have the "basics" down pat.

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#348326 - 06/27/07 12:19 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
aikidonut Offline
Member

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

I disagree with you about the peer review thing. Anybody with the kind of skills it takes to be a "reviewer" should be able to distinguish "style" from "art", so regardless of whether the guy is Yoshinkan or Hombu,




I meant that at the minimum, it could ( not should ) be just peers from within, but yes, it's even better if a non affiliated person were to also be in the review, sure. I'm trying to say, yes, we don't have to have hombu everywhere.

I am only trying to establish a framework within which one could effectively say ,"yes" or "no" as to whether it was a "real" aikido dojo, for the general public/masses. Of course, this would not be able to distinguish schools that are really teaching aikido, that don't have recognition, and that would be the shortcoming of this method, I admit.

So, a "real" aikido dojo is where aikido is practiced, would be the answer. How one judges if it is or isn't aikido,is the heart of the matter.What do you look for first? Is it basic technique first, is it how the sensei moves ? . But how does someone who doesn't have your (WT) experience in the MA judge if it is or isn't? I wish that I had walked past that BS dojo's door way back when, before I paid them for a full year's in advance,but, I didn't know any better...I wasn't fortunate to have been raised to know good MA from bad.

I suppose you could say that that was part of my MA education, going to a nonsensical dojo w. actually, that encounter did force me to find what really was "real" aikido.

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#348327 - 06/27/07 08:31 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
All training is cumulative… not linear. If you learn in a “proper” Aikido dojo, with a shihan teaching and the structure of a formal school, that’s great… but everybody doesn’t have that available to them. I’ve trained in garages, gymnasiums, out in people’s yards, and in plenty of “proper” schools. I’ve trained in karate schools under the same circumstances. I’ve done jujutsu on the mats laid down in a wood shop.



Where you train isn’t nearly as important as “what” you train. I’ve probably read two dozen books on Aikido over the years, and most of them had the same information in different forms, but basically the same information… so what does that mean? Right… the information that repeats itself is important.



There was a lot of that tedious lineage crap in there as well, but principles and technical data isn’t included in lineage. All that tells you is who discovered “such and such” aspect of the technique, and while I respect all teachers efforts, I’m more interested in transmitting the information than giving credit for it.



You complained that you spent a year in a school and didn’t learn much, but I would beg to differ with you. It taught you something about what “wasn’t” Aikido, or wasn’t good technique, or whatever negative issues you found with training there. So you learned some things, even if they weren’t what you wanted or expected.



I’ve learned a lot from books, and even more when I could ask questions of a “live” teacher or sensei, but there’s a lot of information about Aikido out there that has to simply be tried to be learned. Martial arts teachers are “information in motion”, and sometimes you find it in proper schools, and sometimes on the mats in a wood shop. You simply have to be there, training with someone who has the knowledge.



I like “real” people, and those that are sharing their knowledge and understanding of martial arts are much more respected than those that “parade” their rank in front of you and remain too aloof to answer questions. I’ve trained in schools with both kinds, and while I learned whatever was taught at both places, I enjoyed the experience at the ones where the teachers were friendly and open to help me.

Maybe the hardest thing to learn is that you don't learn everything at once. We all want to see someone fluidly and smoothly gliding through Aikido techniques and then do likewise, but it takes time to develop those qualities. "Doing a technique" correctly is more than just the "mechanical movements" or the 'blending', it is the entire concept of the technique done with understanding.

Much of my aiki-jujutsu movements just look like a "wave" of my wrist, but are dynamic in throwing or knocking someone off balance. I didn't learn that all at once, but from years of doing things "like that" and understanding the feel of it when it worked and when it didn't.

Think of it like thrashing wheat... you beat and beat the wheat until you can take away the stalks and blow away the chaff. What is left is the essence you are working for. One blow won't dislodge the kernels, or separate it from the stalks... it takes doing it over and over until it finally gives way.

I have to say that I learn something from everyone I train with... whether its a new technique, or simply the knowledge that they don't know anything... so no training is wasted. It accumulates over the years. It also becomes easier the more knowledge you accumulate... but it's not "lineage" incantations or the like, it's "body knowledge", for martial arts are learned through the body.

I can't iron a shirt all at one time either... I have to take one sleeve at a time... one cuff at a time, and one part of the collar at a time. That's how you will develop your Aikido as well... one part and piece at a time as you understand it.

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

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#348328 - 06/27/07 09:04 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 meant that at the minimum, it could ( not should ) be just peers from within, but yes, it's even better if a non affiliated person were to also be in the review, sure.


I believe that was the premise for the formation of the ATAMA (now ITAMA) in '81 - to provide teaching certification and independent peer review and advancement for those, who for whatever reason, could not obtain either thru traditional means.

Since the '60s, structural changes have been occurring within the MA industry to address these very issues you raise. The problem is, multiple independent organizations have been set up to address the same issues. As an example, ITAMA has a chapter here in Australia headed up by Barry Bradshaw 10th dan. There is the MA Board in Victoria on which Sensei Bradshaw also sits. Then there is the MAIA whose board is headed by Sifu Walt Missingham.

So we have at least 3 (and there are more than that!) independent organizations addressing the very issue of shonky backyard operators purporting to teach martial arts without any formal teaching qualifications, none of which talk to each other.

On the other side of the equation, we have various style-based independent federated organizations that tend to be largely territorial. Wherever you have organizations, politics is inevitable. You only have to look at the history of Aikido to see that.

So, one way is to look at the person's teaching qualifications - whether such qualifications were certified by the parent organization or some other independent organization. Most registered training organizations have to undergo stringent education standards imposed by the Government, so some of the guesswork is taken out for you.

Quote:

I am only trying to establish a framework within which one could effectively say ,"yes" or "no" as to whether it was a "real" aikido dojo, for the general public/masses. Of course, this would not be able to distinguish schools that are really teaching aikido, that don't have recognition, and that would be the shortcoming of this method, I admit.


Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Largely because that would first require a definition of what is "aikido"? Even now, nearly 40 years after the founder's passing, the aikido community is still undecided what that really means. Whilst people like Frank Doran, Richard Strozzi Heckler, John Stevens, Thomas Crum, and Bill Gleason have written books for the Western audience, it is still largely their interpretation of what THEIR Aikido has taught them.

So, in general, the term cæveat emptor usually applies. The problem of course is, how would the "uneducated" know the difference? And I'll address this below.

Quote:

So, a "real" aikido dojo is where aikido is practiced, would be the answer. How one judges if it is or isn't aikido,is the heart of the matter.What do you look for first? Is it basic technique first, is it how the sensei moves ? . But how does someone who doesn't have your (WT) experience in the MA judge if it is or isn't? I wish that I had walked past that BS dojo's door way back when, before I paid them for a full year's in advance,but, I didn't know any better...I wasn't fortunate to have been raised to know good MA from bad.


The only way to truly know what is good and what is mediocre, is to constantly improve yourself. Training consistently, and training with other stylists is the only answer. There is no shortcut. Listening to what other people, who have been around a little bit longer, have to say, and make up your own mind. That goes for everything else - not just martial arts.

For example, if you wanted to buy a used car, you wouldn't go straight to the salesman in the caryard. You'd talk to someone you knew well enough and whose judgment you would trust, when it comes to these matters. You'd talk to your mechanic, or your brother-in-law who is a car enthusiast, or even the revhead kid next door.

Quote:

I suppose you could say that that was part of my MA education, going to a nonsensical dojo w. actually, that encounter did force me to find what really was "real" aikido.


It's all part of the journey, my friend. Part of the purpose of these forums, are for people like yourself to canvas the opinions of others who have traveled the path before you. People who know the twists and turns, the forks and junctions, the hazards and pitfalls ahead, and the shortcuts.

However, it is no substitute for a good teacher. The question remains, how to find a good teacher? I believe that style, art or system is less important than finding someone who can guide you on the path, so that you can be a good student.

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#348329 - 06/27/07 09:15 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: aikidonut]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Arrgh... wristtwister beat me to it. As my jujitsu sensei said to me "You can ALWAYS learn something from someone else". Good or bad, you always learn something....

Everytime I read something wristtwister posts, I can see what the difference in 25+ years experience makes. And I learnt something today.

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#348330 - 06/27/07 09:51 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
Prolific

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Quote by wristtwister -

Quote:

and most of them had the same information in different forms, but basically the same information… so what does that mean? Right… the information that repeats itself is important.




Grady, that is an excellent point. That "repeated" info is generally what guides me in my own studies of martial arts in general.
_________________________
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#348331 - 06/28/07 06:27 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
Sorry, Grasshopper...

Perspectives change with time as well. My thought at the time was that the important point was that you don't learn it all at once... it all comes in pieces. If you broke techniques into pieces, you might learn "this part" tonight, and "that part" next time... and keep accumulating "parts" until you have a viable option. It just takes time to sort out the

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

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#348332 - 06/28/07 06:36 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: MattJ]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Just for information, I consider this forum part of my dojo training studies too. Bouncing ideas off other people is important in the learning process, and a "perspective" check on my own thoughts at times.

If you teach, it takes more than just a bank of techniques to throw at your students... it takes some perspective of how they think and what is going on around them. Remember that our dojo where I train is basically a "kickboxing school", and the traditional side of things is very small.

I find it interesting that usually after a couple of years, we find the kickboxing students watching what we do, and trying to copy it (usually badly) in their classes. I really think sometimes we're like the two-headed turtle that they keep around as an oddity.

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

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#348333 - 06/28/07 11:49 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
aikidonut Offline
Member

Registered: 12/27/06
Posts: 100
Thanks for the points you made, WT and eyrie, I know
they're culled from years of sweat,pain,and experience. I'm trying to get there too.

Quote:

If you learn in a “proper” Aikido dojo, with a shihan teaching and the structure of a formal school, that’s great… but everybody doesn’t have that available to them.




actually, for the first 8 years, we were itinerant practitioners. We would find a sublet, then lose it for one reason or another , i would hook us up with another, etc...
The constants that we had were:

a shihan
a serviceable mat
a picture of O Sensei.

one place was a karate dojo that had been on the decline for years. We had to go out into the alley to change. Needless to say, there was no toilet, and barely a curtain.

Now we've gotten lucky, someone in the dojo sprung for the money, and we're trying to make a go of it. It's a semi humble place, no mirrors, no calligraphy ( only original artwork donated to sensei, including calligraphy by O Sensei himself,that's waiting to be preserved professionally and framed.) No fancy stuff, just what we need. I hope it stays afloat, as you know , you don't get rich teaching aikido.

Our sensei doesn't care for money, or for fame, he doesn't really want us on the 'net either, hence no further videos until later. We had tried the 'net to publicize him,to get the recognition we feel he deserves, we feel he is a true treasure, but I suppose,for now,until he says ok, we don't get to share him with the rest of the world.

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#348334 - 06/28/07 05:46 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
Mark,
one of the most successful dojos I was ever in touch with, was one in Raleigh, NC that was a "training cooperative". They had converted an old mill into several training halls, and built a number of one room apartments in it. They also had some "larger" apartments that were rented to help cover the mortgage on the building and for uchideshi's to live in.

When they had seminars, you simply booked a room with them, and paid your fees to the dojo rather than renting a motel room, and many times, the rooms were free. They divided the monthly bills among the students and deshis in the school, and as the student body grew, the cost per student went down.

I totally understand dojo openings and closings from sublets, etc. because its tough to get enough space to use in the first place, and many of the places you rent won't let you remodel or put in change rooms, bathrooms, showers, etc. to make training comfortable. I've been in a lot of them where you had to go to the nearest restaurant to go to the bathroom, all because the landlord wouldn't let the dojo put in plumbing.

We no longer have O'Sensei's picture or Prof. Kano's pictures on our walls because there is so much "mixed use" of the facility that the frames kept getting broken (weekly). I like having those things up, but they aren't really necessary either. I have his mission in my mind, and some of the principles in my technique, so I can pay my respects when I come home.

The best thing that can happen to your school is longevity. If you can stay in one place and have some consistency in where you're located, it will help a lot.

Good luck.

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

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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
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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
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Registered: 02/14/06
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
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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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#348345 - 06/30/07 08:16 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
Training with weapons is always difficult for students. The main reason is usually that they only practice when they are in class. Sword required much more than that.

The old training method was "1000 men per day"... meaning 1000 sho"men" cuts with the sword every day "to gain proficiency". I know Aikido students that might not have done 1000 men in the entire time they've been doing Aikido, and have been coming to class for years.

It's much easier to take the attitude that "you aren't getting something in class", or that "sensei has a method I can't copy", rather than blaming yourself for not doing the work necessary to learn. "Instant training"... just add water... that's what people want these days, rather than layering the onion with work.

We have an exercise for doing tenkan that we teach. It's something that anybody could do 100 a day while watching television or holding a conversation... and it is always apparent who's been doing it when we start teaching tenkan entry techniques. I have to remind myself to do them, but if you don't practice, your body loses it's learning.

There is a distinct difference between the intellectual learning of technique and the "body learning" which is necessary to execute technique. "Copying Sensei" is moving like he moves, breathing like he breathes, doing what he does... Like cutting, there is no "cut like..." It is cutting, or not. You are either "moving like Sensei" or not.

You can't blame "Sensei" if you don't do the work to gain the knowledge. Pretty simple, once you think about it.

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

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#348346 - 06/30/07 10:38 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
iaibear Offline
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Loc: upstate New York
Please remember, there is one great difference between "sensei demonstrating cutting" and "cutting like sensei".

When sensei is using you as a target to demonstrate a cut, YOU DO NOT TWITCH OR EVEN BLINK. You are demonstrating your faith in his ability. Anything less is an insult to him.

When you "cut like sensei" do not cut anything you do not wish to kill.

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#348347 - 06/30/07 01:20 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
If you do 1000 men cuts a day, that won't be a problem. Cutting is cutting, and the ability is found in practice. If you do 50 in class, and nothing else... then, it will be a problem.

"Sensei" did his 1000 a day for whatever length of time it took for him to develop his skills, so you have to do likewise to have the same skills. A mirror only reflects what's in front of it, as does a student.

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

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#348348 - 06/30/07 02:25 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
aikidonut Offline
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Registered: 12/27/06
Posts: 100
wrist,

when we do the bokto, we start off with about 200 cuts where we hold the bo and do a shomen cut down towards the mat, stopping as close as possible to the mat without touching. hopefully we get the other 800 in during class. Interesting about the 1000 cuts, I didnt know that.

Iaibear, do you do that, since you are iaidoka?

Unfortunately, wrt myself,in this day and age, I hadn't been doing this everyday,but I think I'll incorporate them into my daily workout. Thanks.

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#348349 - 06/30/07 03:47 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
To be realistic, you have to understand that doing 1000 shomen cuts is only to train your muscles and develop your focus. My method is to position myself with a target just one inch from the "touch point" of my bokken and then use it as the focus of my cuts. That point is just out of reach, and a bit higher than the "head" or "men" position, so that I don't have to constantly "fix" something that I hit, and it causes me to turn my front wrist down slightly in order to hit the men position.

Also, I raise the bokken by pushing the rear hand forward until the bokken is vertical, and then raising it high enough to press my body forward between my arms... a la "funa kogi undo" hip motion. I might do a set of 200 of one strike, and then change to kesi kiri (collar cut) for a set, and then return to shomen.

When I was doing karate, we used to do a thousand kicks and punches for warmup, so it's not extrordinary to do 1000 of anything, it's just basic practice. Most people are lazy, and they do just enough until they get tired, and quit. That's why they can't do what the teachers can.

My bokken practice lately has been spotty, but I still try to do some every day. It might not be a thousand, but it's better than pulling out the suburi-to. If I don't do bokken, I will do jo, and do the same exercises.

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

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#348350 - 06/30/07 06:30 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: aikidonut]
iaibear Offline
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Posts: 1304
Loc: upstate New York
Quote:

Iaibear, do you do that, since you are iaidoka?.



Shomen cuts in sets of 100 starting with the tip above and slightly behind my head, the grip slightly before and higher than my forehead. The speed/strength part of the cut is as high as "his" forehead. The cut ends horizontal, waist high, with my hands wringing the grip inward. I was taught to sink with the cut and no bouncing. Think "reach out and touch someone" ending in a slight pull-in, which is the cutting action itself.


Edited by iaibear (06/30/07 06:39 PM)

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#348351 - 07/01/07 12:31 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: iaibear]
aikidonut Offline
Member

Registered: 12/27/06
Posts: 100
Superb exposition, and thank you, iaibear. You obviously have been doing this a while. I really love the iaidoka's aspect of the sword. After all, it is their "business".I must come to your dojo.

And thank you, wrist.

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#348352 - 07/01/07 08:37 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: aikidonut]
iaibear Offline
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Posts: 1304
Loc: upstate New York
Thank you for those kind words.
Details of the cut vary depending on the ryu you belong to.
Sadly, our local dojo no longer exists.

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#348353 - 07/01/07 09:57 AM 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
Quote:

starting with the tip above and slightly behind my head, the grip slightly before and higher than my forehead




I wouldn't have attempted to describe grip structure or tip placement, but that's very accurate. Most sword work is like having gorillas do knitting... it's all over the place because of the different levels of skill and understanding of what's going on. The most common miscue is the "chopping" cuts, using the sword like an ax, and starting with the tip somewhere around their buttocks.

I'd almost rather teach a pig to sing than somebody to learn bokken practice, because when their shoulders start to hurt, they put everything else aside and up come the shoulders while they're wincing in pain. That's where the "relax harder" instruction came from...

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

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#348354 - 07/01/07 10:08 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
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Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Doing 1000 cuts a day... certainly makes you relax harder.

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#348355 - 07/05/07 02:25 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: eyrie]
SBudda Offline
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Registered: 05/22/07
Posts: 46
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Quote:

Sensei demonstrates the whole technique, then everyone practices. There is no breakdown and people tend to fuddle and muddle along



I have to - again! - give a lot of credit to my sensei. While he tends to do as you suggest (demonstrate the entire technique), he also structures his lessons so all of the techniques that day reinforce a particular component that is common to them all. For instance, we'll do a class that does nothing but various techniques that you can do from a kokyo-ho lead. Perhaps we'll do nothing but ikkyo that day - but do it with many, many variations.

It is humbling to get the first 4 ikkyo techniques right away, but then the last one takes you half an hour to see what makes it difficult. In the end of the day, you have a greater understanding of what the common parts actually have in common. And boy does struggling with the 5th ikkyo make your performance in the first 4 MUCH better.

That being said, I have appreciated the jujitsu method. Perhaps there is something about the flowing movements of aikido that make such a teaching method difficult to integrate. That or the Taiso have already shown you the basics, and the rest of practice is there to show you how to chain them together.

Regardless, thank for making me (again) appreciate the way Shihan structures his class.
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#348356 - 07/05/07 08:44 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: SBudda]
eyrie Offline
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Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Quote:

Quote:

Sensei demonstrates the whole technique, then everyone practices. There is no breakdown and people tend to fuddle and muddle along


I was generally referring to the many Japanese and local sensei I encountered. But that's not to say they weren't good teachers. Whatever I learnt, I stole...

I'm happy for you, that your sensei is making a difference.

Quote:

It is humbling to get the first 4 ikkyo techniques right away, but then the last one takes you half an hour to see what makes it difficult. In the end of the day, you have a greater understanding of what the common parts actually have in common. And boy does struggling with the 5th ikkyo make your performance in the first 4 MUCH better.


Ikkyo is a "mother technique". If you understand one way to do ikkyo, the rest should make sense, since they are merely variations of the same thing - the square, the square in the circle, the square outside the triangle, and all 3 together. There are many ways to do ikkyo, but they all rely on controlling the center thru the elbow.

Quote:

Perhaps there is something about the flowing movements of aikido that make such a teaching method difficult to integrate.


Aikido doesn't have the monopoly on "flow". Every single MA I have done all teach some aspect of "flow". So I don't see why Aikido would be any different, and why it would be so "difficult" as you put it.

Quote:

That or the Taiso have already shown you the basics, and the rest of practice is there to show you how to chain them together.


Precisely. Once people understand this point, they can start to see how one technique is the same as all other techniques. I have stated this before... all aikido techniques are based on the basic principles of movement in the taiso exercises. Understand the taiso, and there is no technique you cannot do. Forget this or that technique, and all movement becomes variations of aiki taiso.

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#348357 - 07/06/07 07:58 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: eyrie]
iaibear Offline
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Posts: 1304
Loc: upstate New York
<< Ikkyo is a "mother technique". If you understand one way to do ikkyo, the rest should make sense, since they are merely variations of the same thing - the square, the square in the circle, the square outside the triangle, and all 3 together. There are many ways to do ikkyo, but they all rely on controlling the center thru the elbow. >>
Obviously I do not understand ikkyo. Been "doing" it only since 1994 and haven't a clue what you just wrote. :-(

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#348358 - 07/06/07 08:48 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: iaibear]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
I think you just made my point...

This gels with what WT said about everything being Ikkyo - i.e. ikkyo is the mother of all techniques.

Ikkyo is basically the shape of a square. To control the center thru the elbow, your arms on uke's extended arm forms 3 sides of a square (your torso forms the 4th side). There are many variations of the same idea - big squares or small squares.

If you add tenkan, the square that I just described lies inside the tenkan circle. If you irimi, there is your triangle inside the square.

There are many variations of the same theme, with the "shapes" of movement in any of the 3 dimensional planes. But it's all ikkyo.

It's just another way to explain how ikkyo works... on a very rudimentary level. How do you understand ikkyo?

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#348359 - 07/06/07 11:58 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
Iaibear,
Do you do ikkyo undo as an exercise? If you do, which you should, the feel of that exercise is how ikkyo should feel to you. Yes, it has some different motions in it to execute the technique, but the feel of the movements should be the same. If there is resistance, you aren't blending with your uke, and need to adjust until the "feel" of ikkyo is the same whether attached or not with your uke.

When you do techniques such as tenchinage, do you do ude furi undo as you move? If so, do you maintain your ikkyo arm sword shape as you do the techniques?

Do you understand kaote?...(reaching for the sword) as ikkyo?

Do you understand shomenuchi as ikkyo?

I'm not asking this to embaress you, but to understand how to help you "figure it out".

If you do a "standard" set of exercises, they should include all of the items that are in your techniques. All the arm shapes, wrist turns, hand positions, etc. that you need to put your techniques together. The only difference is that you're usually doing it with the uke's hand and arm.

Where this guy is swinging the top part of his body as he strikes, correct ikkyo would have his body moving forward as his bokken (stick) was raised and back as the strike is made, as would his hips. So what does that mean?.. it's the most common mistake in "cutting", therefore it's the most common mistake in ikkyo. Your hips drive the cut, not the arms... they simply preceed the hips or move at the same time.

By keeping your arms in the proper shape, moving your hips to drive the technique, and creating one single motion for the movement, you can do perfect ikkyo. Then, you can apply it to your training and work toward getting that same feeling in every technique.

Hopefully, this didn't confuse you further.



Emoticons as training tools... Oh, for the shame of it...


Edited by wristtwister (07/06/07 11:59 PM)
_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#348360 - 07/07/07 08:45 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
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Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Quote:

Emoticons as training tools... Oh, for the shame of it...




OMG, now I have REALLY seen everything!
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"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#348361 - 07/07/07 09:09 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
iaibear Offline
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Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 1304
Loc: upstate New York
First off thank you both WW and er. for your efforts to help me. I shall try to take things in order.
What is ikkyo undo? All these years our class has been taught that ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo, reverse sankyo and kotegaeshi are grabs, not techniques. We drill all of them as part of our warmup at the start of class.
What is ude furi undo?
When uke grabs both my wrists with the grab we call ikkyo in tenchinage, it is never referred to as a square. Among other techniques it can morph into Heaven and Earth, in which I drag uke back and down to where his nonexistant third leg would not support his balance. Lead arm would maintain a sword arm curve.
<<Do you understand kaote?...(reaching for the sword) as ikkyo? >> No Never heard the term kaote.
<<Do you understand shomenuchi as ikkyo?>> No. I understood it as an overhead strike to the head that should be caught from below with my hand/wrist going the same direction as uke's, up, more like the grab we call nikkyo or the start of kotegaeshi.
All turning moves happen from the waist with both arms kept in front of my center, and end with both feet planted flat on the mat.
You are not embarrassing me. I have simply been given different definitions as part of a different way of instruction. It is gratifying to be reassured that my confusion has a genuine basis.

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#348362 - 07/07/07 11:36 AM 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
Quote:

All these years our class has been taught that ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo, reverse sankyo and kotegaeshi are grabs, not techniques.




I understand. Each technique has a grip that is "familiar" with it's execution, and while most Aikido is taught from the principles of ikkyo, nikkyo, etc., it is also taught from the "grip" format. I also agree that it's much more difficult to understand that way.

Ikkyo Undo is an exercise where you step forward and execute the "ikkyo" arm sword. It is practiced "one direction", "two direction", "four direction" and "happo undo" (eight direction). It is designed to coordinate your movement with your breathing and to assist you in timing your technique with your opponents.

Rather than try to explain everything to you, I'll give you a site address that will give you the terminology.
http://www.mancosre6.edu/Curr/studentsite/npg/common_vocabulary.htm

Some of the spelling is atrocious, but you'll figure that out as you go along... such as "one pint"... as in one point.

Ude furi undo is an "arm swinging" exercise that assists you in irimi techniques. Like ikkyo undo, it helps with timing, and coordination of movements and breath. These are usually done during "warm ups".

I'm not sure I could adequately describe the "shapes" for you in words, but I could show you, so I'll skip that for now. I understand what Eyrie was talking about, but describing it in words might take me all day.

Kaote is, as I described it, "reaching for the sword", as if drawing the sword. It is a movement that is probably more used by description in aiki-jujutsu than Aikido, but the same movement is used to "open the wrist" for gripping by someone executing a technique in Aikido.

Think of ikkyo as "pressing forward with the sword" (with or without one). If you have no sword, you must stop the motion of someone's arms as they strike "shomenuchi" at you, and entering to block them before they bring their arms down is how you would block with the sword. It is also how you execute ikkyo properly.

Quote:

All turning moves happen from the waist with both arms kept in front of my center, and end with both feet planted flat on the mat.





That part is correct.

Now, let me digress into a simpler explanation of how many of the techniques of Aikido developed. They were designed to allow someone trapped in a circle of swordsmen to escape from that circle and often displace themselves with someone else in the process. To do that, they often went through the opening created when they cut someone out of the way, and other times by going between them and the person next to them.

That being said, there is a historical basis of all the techniques of Aikido that relate to swordfighting, so to study Aikido, you need to study the tactics of swordfighting. Each principle has a basis in sword arts, and once you understand those, the empty hand applications of them are simple. Ikkyo is the "mother cut" of all Aikido techniques.

I really don't want to confuse you further, but (and I can't believe I'm giving you this advice) google the terms you have problems with, and see what you find on them. The Aikido Journal has a lot of information on it's website and usually a link to video that demonstrates the activity.

Seeing it demonstrated and explained by "someone else" might be the key to learning it. I have often been taught correctly on a technique, I just was on a different page from the instructor... and once I heard it explained differently, I understood.

Give this a run, and then let me know how it's going.

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

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#348363 - 07/07/07 11:11 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
iaibear Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 1304
Loc: upstate New York
Might be a while. I am working on a friend's computer in the Adirondacks at the moment.
Sure do appreciate your help.

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#348364 - 07/08/07 08:25 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: iaibear]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

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

All these years our class has been taught that ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo, reverse sankyo and kotegaeshi are grabs, not techniques. We drill all of them as part of our warmup at the start of class.


It is both tanren-ho (body forging methods) as well as techniques. Unfortunately, the tanren-ho aspect has largely been de-emphasized in modern aikido in favour of waza and ukemi. And so, they are largely taught as "grips", when in fact it is less a "grip" (which connotates "strength" or a method to strengthen the wrists) than a method of offloading the forces on the wrist to the lower back and ground - when you're doing the "warm up" exercises. BTW, all the "warm ups" are tanren-ho.

As an example, I've dropped people to their knees in nikkyo without so much as putting strain on their wrists. Outwardly, the shape of the technique looks like nikkyo, and for all intents and purposes it is nikkyo. The difference lies in HOW it is applied - not so much as a "grip", but as a way to redirect forces and control the other person's center. Sure you can use pain compliance as a way to control the other person, but pain is a "base" method of exerting control over the other person, and it doesn't always work. (Like beating children... doesn't always work... and makes the child resent you).

Ikkyo is the basis for all of the "kyo" - nikyo, sankyo, yonkyo, gokyo, kotegaeshi are all aspects of the square (the basis of applied control) - the differences are in the juxtaposition of the square. Geometric shapes are easiest to convey the "shape" of the movement, easy to demonstrate, but difficult to explain in words.

Quote:

When uke grabs both my wrists with the grab we call ikkyo in tenchinage, it is never referred to as a square. Among other techniques it can morph into Heaven and Earth, in which I drag uke back and down to where his nonexistant third leg would not support his balance. Lead arm would maintain a sword arm curve.


Personally, I don't like the word "drag"... it connotates strength and a lack of finesse (both of which are incorrect). Tenchi is an example of "splitting power". It is also a form of tanren-ho. In fact, I would say ALL aikido "techniques" are NOT techniques as such, and more paired tanren-ho. "Techniques" are what people see - the outer shell. If you "move" correctly, the shapes of the movement manifest themselves as "techniques". An entirely different focus.

Quote:

All turning moves happen from the waist with both arms kept in front of my center, and end with both feet planted flat on the mat.


If your description is correct, then it would be an "external" movement in which movement is initiated from the middle - which I would hazard is incorrect. Rather, it should be the opposite, where the forces should originate in the feet, and the torso twists and spirals the force from the ground to your hands. IOW, the twisting and spiraling of the torso stores power from the ground (the point of origin) for the impending release at the hands (the business end).

Hope I haven't confused you more...

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#348365 - 07/09/07 06:22 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
Quote:

Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

All turning moves happen from the waist with both arms kept in front of my center, and end with both feet planted flat on the mat.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If your description is correct, then it would be an "external" movement in which movement is initiated from the middle - which I would hazard is incorrect. Rather, it should be the opposite, where the forces should originate in the feet, and the torso twists and spirals the force from the ground to your hands. IOW, the twisting and spiraling of the torso stores power from the ground (the point of origin) for the impending release at the hands (the business end).





Eyrie, I hope I didn't confuse Iaibear more by agreeing with him about his turning motions. I had "centered" movement on my mind when I posted, and while you're correct on "grounding", I think for the time being, he would be satisfied with simply being able to "get through the techniques". He simply sounded like he was having a very difficult time getting through the movements of techniques and needs a little confidence in them before getting the details right.

He practices sword work, so his body movements should be very close to what he needs in Aikido. For now, the external portion of it should help.

Just my thoughts...

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

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#348366 - 07/09/07 10:24 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: eyrie]
iaibear Offline
Veteran

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

<<All turning moves happen from the waist with both arms kept in front of my center, and end with both feet planted flat on the mat.>>

If your description is correct, then it would be an "external" movement in which movement is initiated from the middle - which I would hazard is incorrect. Rather, it should be the opposite, where the forces should originate in the feet, and the torso twists and spirals the force from the ground to your hands. IOW, the twisting and spiraling of the torso stores power from the ground (the point of origin) for the impending release at the hands (the business end).
===========
I could nit-pick that the move described clumsily above started from a (receiving) tenkan. The inside foot is the pivot and the outside foot would not plant until the move was nearly over.

BTW If <all the "warm ups" are tanren-ho> what are taiso? (Might have the spelling wrong. Not used to this computer.)

I looked at that glossary of terms. Red and yellow print on a mottled blue ground was not the easiest thing to read. Did find out about undo, tho.

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#348367 - 07/09/07 12:51 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
iaibear Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 1304
Loc: upstate New York
<<I think for the time being, he would be satisfied with simply being able to "get through the techniques". He simply sounded like he was having a very difficult time getting through the movements of techniques and needs a little confidence in them before getting the details right. >>

I was pretty well into 5th and 4th kyu techniques in the first dojo I attended. Three or four weeks and a new technique would feel quite comfortable and start getting smoothed out.

Since 2000, when I had to switch to my teacher's teacher, I have never seen a technique, only variations. They do not stick around more than fifteen minutes during class, never to be done that way again. Believe me, wristtwister, my sensei confuses me more than you ever could. You have brought some sense into what has become a passtime called "Aikido".

<< He practices sword work, so his body movements should be very close to what he needs in Aikido. For now, the external portion of it should help.>>

I am not a left handed swordsman; right handed only, not both sides. Muso Shinden Iaido is straight forward shoulders square, not circular. The butt of the sword is held one-fist in front of my tanden, not in front of my hip bone like the photos of Osensei. The stance is straight ahead or slightly pigeon-toed, not triangular with the rear foot toes out. It's a different breed of cat.

Once upon a time I fenced foil. A third breed of cat. They get in each other's way.

Once again, your concern and advice have been very reassuring. The idea of ikkyo as part of a set of related moves has already removed a lot of clutter. Thank you again. :-)

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#348368 - 07/09/07 08:34 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Point taken Grady, but I was writing under the assumption that iaibear is not a "noob"...

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#348369 - 07/09/07 08:44 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: iaibear]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

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

BTW If <all the "warm ups" are tanren-ho> what are taiso?


taiso is basically calisthenics or physical exercises. tanren is body forging. You can use taiso as a form of tanren - well... in as much as doing some physical exercises is a way to condition the body. But... there's a difference in merely performing a routine physical activity and "conditioning" the body in preparation for martial activity. The difference is in the focus - internal or external.

I would slow down the taiso exercises to taiji speed, and perform the activity without activating the major muscle groups and in many cases, using the breath to do the "heavy lifting".... if that makes sense?

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#348370 - 07/09/07 10:43 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
I didn't think he was a "noob" either, but he's clearly having issues with terminology and (possibly) coordination of movements with that terminology. What he described was "correct" as far as his external movement was concerned for most techniques, and right now, instead of trying to change everything, he might just need to change the things he's having major problems with... the blending and "grips".

Both of us would have an easier time if we could show him, rather than describe it in words, snd he'd be miles ahead, but it is what it is... so I was just letting him focus on "upper body" movement for the moment. Once he gets that, he'll develop the feel of it.

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

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#348371 - 07/09/07 11:10 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Ah yes, the voice of experience... ... my bad...

Sometime down the track, he's going to go... "oh.. why didn't you tell me this before?!!"

Reminds me of the time I had to crawl thru the roof space to run Cat5 cabling to the other rooms in the house, and thinking, why the heck didn't I do this when the house was being built...

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#348372 - 07/09/07 11:50 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
You could have my problem... a floor support that is trying to come up through my floor... which means the floor's sinking.
Pulling cat-5 is a snap compared to jacking up the house...



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

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#348373 - 07/10/07 12:42 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Funny that... the parallels between buildings and MA...

Sorry to get off-topic though, but it doesn't address the issue of what is a "real" aikido dojo.... although, I guess in a roundabout way it sort of does...

If the "foundation" of one's practice is some combination of AI and KI, then by inference, it must be "aikido", and the difference would be in the HOW of the DO?

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#348374 - 07/10/07 07:18 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: eyrie]
iaibear Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 1304
Loc: upstate New York
<< Sometime down the track, he's going to go... "oh.. why didn't you tell me this before?!!" >>

Been there often enough to recognize what you just wrote. Pity is that "telling" is simply not done in this dojo. "Figure it out for yourself" is the "way".

I am not a noob but I might as well be. Should have started twenty years earlier.


Edited by iaibear (07/10/07 07:26 AM)

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#348375 - 07/11/07 02:04 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: iaibear]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Well, bud, I'm sure there's enough "good stuff" here to figure out for a while. It would be good to meet up in a couple of years and see where you're at...

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#348376 - 07/11/07 08:39 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: eyrie]
iaibear Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 1304
Loc: upstate New York
It would be a pleasure. :-)

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