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#349448 - 07/02/07 09:03 PM Martial Spirit and Intent
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
I've talked a lot about intent and training with intent on this board, and am interested in other's ideas about "what constitutes martial spirit and intent"? Of course, I have my own ideas, but curious how others verbalize this.

Most of the time, my training partners and I train with serious intent in our techniques, and in all empty handed arts the maxim is "hit me if you can". Just wondering how serious others take this.

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

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#349449 - 07/02/07 11:37 PM Re: Martial Spirit and Intent [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
The difficulty with the English language is that various connotations can be implied from word usage. Intent is one of those.

To me, in the context of martial spirit, it implies resoluteness, purposefulness, an act which is carried out deliberately and without hesitation.

I prefer the meaning of intent as derived from the Latin past participle of intendere, meaning "to direct [one's] attention". In this context, I think the legal definition of "The state of one's mind at the time one carries out an action", is also apt.

Lately, the boys and I have been engaging in sword work... largely due to the release of the 3rd installment of "Pirates of the Caribbean". So, rather than have them smack each other silly with a homemade timber sword, I've been teaching them how to wield the sword properly.

Part of that involves me saying something like, the sword blade is sharp here and here - like our kitchen knives. So when you do a #1-#12 (I use the Arnis numbering system coz it's easier for them to remember), you "cut" here and here and "stab" here.

And there you have it... words like "cut" and "stab" convey both action and the desired intent. Helping out in the kitchen has also instilled a sense of respect for sharp objects... although sometimes it can be difficult to remember with a relatively "safe" wooden facsimile - well... until someone gets hit.

So, I tend not to say "hit me..." coz they bloody will. You know what little boys are like.... Ironically, it's safer for me, and them, if they actually do cut some part of my anatomy rather than simply "hit" me... And of course we play act if one of us gets cut or stab... but that doesn't mean it ain't serious when we get a cut, thrust, parry sequence going...

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#349450 - 07/03/07 11:02 AM Re: Martial Spirit and Intent [Re: wristtwister]
iaibear Offline
Veteran

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

I am interested in other's ideas about "what constitutes martial spirit and intent"? Of course, I have my own ideas, but curious how others verbalize this.




In Aikido my "intent" is not to look as awkward as I feel.

Iaido is something else. That guy, the one I am aware of beyond others, the one I follow with my eyes, is getting ready to kill me. His left thumb has eased his tusba forward. His right hand is inching toward his grip. My intent is to return the favor first.

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#349451 - 07/03/07 11:10 AM Re: Martial Spirit and Intent [Re: iaibear]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Interesting...that there is a difference between your 'empty hand' and weapons study. WT...is it okay for non-Aikido/daito ryu folks to chime in? If yes, then I too find a difference in the level (of martial spirit/intent) in karate and kobudo. As a beginner, I'm too focused on trying to get things 'right', even in bunkai. But even for a beginner, I find a qualitative difference in perception and intent the minute I face another person with a weapon. Things get very, very clear.

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#349452 - 07/03/07 05:33 PM Re: Martial Spirit and Intent [Re: harlan]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Quote:

Interesting...that there is a difference between your 'empty hand' and weapons study.




Weapons are an extension of empty hand technique, and the ma-ai (distance) for execution of techniques is often different, depending on the weapon. Even the ability to "reach in" where a weapon is held is slightly different from making a grip on a "bare" wrist, etc. so there are some slight differences.

As far as the "intent", I don't really change that. If I get hit by a weapon, it's usually my own fault unless the person striking throws a "change up". You can't train against everything, and keeping it real is the best way to "keep it real".

"Weapon against weapon" is full bore... weapons against empty hand, and you have to be both careful and good in your execution of technique on both sides. Weapons deliver some high force concentrations, and if they're edged, they can cut badly, so you have to be prudent in how you train. I don't want to overwhelm someone I'm training with if I'm the attacker with a weapon, and I don't want them trying to skewer me when I'm looking for a shomen attack... so there has to be some restraint practiced.

My training partner asked the class one night "what's the difference between what you're doing and what he's doing ( meaning me)?" Everyone of them answered "he looks like he's trying to kill you"... so I understand and practice as I've said... with intent. The only difference between my open hand and armed technique are the changes necessary to train without serious injury.

Quote:

WT...is it okay for non-Aikido/daito ryu folks to chime in?




Absolutely. Aikido doesn't give anybody exclusive rights to understanding the deeper side of Budo. Like all the other martial arts, it's "a" way to practice, not the only way. Only the intent and spirit should be the same if you're practicing true Budo technique.

Quote:

I find a qualitative difference in perception and intent the minute I face another person with a weapon. Things get very, very clear.




Funny how that works, isn't it??? There's nothing like the point of a sword to focus your attention...

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

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#349453 - 07/03/07 09:27 PM Re: Martial Spirit and Intent [Re: harlan]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
I once read that karate was "hands like swords". Curiously my feeling is that the sai is more closely related to Okinawan Karate empty hand movement, with slight differences in the way the fist is canted due to the prongs - obviously.

It certainly gives you a slightly different focus when you have a weapon, but the intent is (or rather, should be) the same when empty handed.

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#349454 - 07/03/07 11:41 PM Re: Martial Spirit and Intent [Re: eyrie]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Actually, the arm movements and hand positions I learned in Okinawan karate were very similar to Aikido. The "arm sword" is a neutral shape that allows both the triceps and biceps muscles to help strengthen the arm together (rather than depending on one or the other). The hand positions were mostly from "te" or "chinese hand" arts, and they must have had 15 different combinations of "fist art" positions that could be used, depending on the target. The two-fingered strike (nihon-nukite) was done with the middle and forefinger "lapped over" each other for strikes into the soft parts (throat, eyes, and armpits), and other "animal form" positions for other purposes, very similar to Chinese Chuan Fa, but adapted to fight against Okinawan and Japanese armor (hitting where the armor openings were).

The "old style" karate was much different than modern-day karate because of the influences of studies in body mechanics and kinesiology by Japanese karate masters in the 1950's. It was more rigid, and designed to fight "armed" opponents, where today's karate is more "empty hand" oriented and tournament oriented... even the "self defense" versions.

I agree that the intent has to be the same, but necessity requires a few changes in tactical training to prevent injury... but that doesn't mean "I don't want to hit you"

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

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#349455 - 07/04/07 12:59 AM Re: Martial Spirit and Intent [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

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

Actually, the arm movements and hand positions I learned in Okinawan karate were very similar to Aikido.


That's an interesting POV. Unfortunately, my frame of reference is gendai budo to which most of the "old style" stuff is lost - for one reason or another. The only hand/fist formation I was explicitly taught in aikido was nakadaka ippon ken (middle knuckle extended) and there was very little focus on hand/arm positions other than open palm. Even the old style tegatana was largely deemphasized during my time.

However, that's not to say that these cannot or should not be adapted to aiki techniques or movements. Just that the focus is different - at least when I was taught. I think modern aiki is more taiho focused than te waza focused.

Actually, come to think of it, you may be right. Occasionally, I do see similar hand/arm positions in the middle of a technique and think, heck this looks a lot like karate. Sometimes, even the sequence of postures and positions look strikingly similar. But then, I'm less focused on how the postures and positions look than the "feeling" or intent of the movement.

So, whilst I am familiar with the various hand shapes of quan fa and quan fa influences on te and Okinawan karate, and (no pun intended) striking similarities in jujitsu, I don't think these things are explicitly taught in aikido these days. I'm not sure if these are germane to DTR, perhaps someone from that tradition can comment?

Perhaps, there is some underlying expectation or assumption that people coming to aikido will already have some sort of basic striking training in other arts, as was the case in the old days. This is almost certainly not the case today. I was fortunate in that I came from a striking art prior to learning aikido, and the way I hit and teach people to hit is quite different to the stylized striking movements that has become the distinctive signature of most aikido these days.

In any case, aikido is easier to apply if someone is really trying to take your head off, rather than someone hitting "at" you.

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#349456 - 07/04/07 09:45 AM Re: Martial Spirit and Intent [Re: eyrie]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Quote:

I do see similar hand/arm positions in the middle of a technique and think, heck this looks a lot like karate. Sometimes, even the sequence of postures and positions look strikingly similar. But then, I'm less focused on how the postures and positions look than the "feeling" or intent of the movement.





Maybe it's just me, but I've always thought Aikido was very similar in nature to karate. There certainly is a difference in emphasis on the hand positions, mainly relying on "sword hand" or "fist" without much detail, but very similar in movement. That's kind of where I was going with my previous statement (months ago) that "everything's ikkyo"... lots of similarities.

Quote:

In any case, aikido is easier to apply if someone is really trying to take your head off, rather than someone hitting "at" you.




I have to totally agree with you there. The more "juice" you have to work with, the better... and it makes the footwork "work" better as well. Timing things to "change-ups" are where you run into problems... people "half-charging", etc. where you have to go deeper, or add your own energy to make the technique go.

Quote:

I think modern aiki is more taiho focused than te waza focused.





Absolutely. While you hit on every technique, it's usually designed to assist entry into the technique, not as "the defense". I wouldn't miss an opportunity to knock the guy's lights out, but they get heavy and harder to throw...

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

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#349457 - 07/04/07 07:38 PM Re: Martial Spirit and Intent [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

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

Maybe it's just me, but I've always thought Aikido was very similar in nature to karate. There certainly is a difference in emphasis on the hand positions, mainly relying on "sword hand" or "fist" without much detail, but very similar in movement. That's kind of where I was going with my previous statement (months ago) that "everything's ikkyo"... lots of similarities.


I've had more of a think overnight. Given the same basic principles, the multitude of potential variations, I guess you could say it is similar, but different. I can see some crossovers and points of similarities, but there are distinct differences which I would put down to training methods, slightly different focuses and philosophy. Bearing in mind of course, post-war aikido is a very different beast to its pre-war incarnation.

Quote:

While you hit on every technique, it's usually designed to assist entry into the technique, not as "the defense". I wouldn't miss an opportunity to knock the guy's lights out, but they get heavy and harder to throw...


Absolutely... but it's one of those things that is hard to see in someone who has extremely subtle intent and control, or when uke is overly cooperative.

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#349458 - 07/08/07 06:46 AM Re: Martial Spirit and Intent [Re: eyrie]
SeiserL Offline
Newbie

Registered: 04/17/04
Posts: 14
Loc: Marietta, GA
IMHO, intent is the focus and extension of my energy (body, mind, and spirit) without hesitation.
_________________________
We don't rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. KWATZ!

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#349459 - 07/10/07 10:22 PM Re: Martial Spirit and Intent [Re: eyrie]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Eyrie,
I was taught karate from the standpoint that karate was the "arm sword" (a la 1960's) and the idea that the sword shape for the arm is the strongest shape isn't peculiar to Aikido. Blocking and striking patterns of karate were taught to me that way as well, so while you and I have very many common understandings of martial arts, I probably see that commonality more from my beginnings rather than from art comparisons.

Judo taught me how to be centered, and to "make myself heavy" in order to execute techniques, but (of course) depended on leverages and kuzushi from mechanical movements more than from "centering". Throws like the side separation, etc. were clearly aiki-type throws, but still depended on the mechanical "devices" of Judo to execute.

What I noticed long ago was the "centered movement" of all martial arts at higher levels. "All masters move the same".
When my training partner used to attack his Judo teacher, he would say "my attacks must really suck"... His teacher would tell him, "No, you have great attacks... it made me move 2 or 3 inches..." I noticed that from all the master teachers I've trained with and under.

I watched Nishiyama Sensei at a clinic do a 270 degree turn, while defending against an attack, and it was like he was oiled in his movements. Everything just "slid past him". Toyoda Sensei was like that too... he would touch someone and their path would be redirected into the cleanest Aikido technique you can imagine. Kuniba Sensei moved likewise doing karate and jujutsu with us... so while the grounding comes in different paths of training, it's still the same thing... "tomato" and "to-mah-to".

I teach students that "karate is a force delivery art", "Aikido is an art of redirection and blending", and jujutsu is a "locking and pinning art". While all of them have similar characteristics and techniques that "look like each other", the underlying philosophy of force dissipation is different in each one... so it has its own peculiar character, and how that "intent" is expressed is somewhat different.

A mechanical locking technique might not look as "smooth" as a tenkan entry into kote-gaeshi, but effectively do the same thing force wise. The underlying movement to accomplish it might look different, but hopefully, it is based on being centered and creating the correct angles to avoid being hit.

We had some visiting black belts from another Aikido/jujutsu school train with us one night, and expressed to my partner "they would take a punch to give a punch". He laughed out loud at them, and told them if they tried that with either one of us, they wouldn't ever get their punches off... and they didn't. My underlying principle of intent is to knock the other guy's lights out ASAP, and then go have a beer (although I had to stop that).

The saddest day of my life was when I found out I had developed an allergy to beer

Life just ain't fair...

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

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#349460 - 07/11/07 02:17 AM Re: Martial Spirit and Intent [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

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

I teach students that "karate is a force delivery art", "Aikido is an art of redirection and blending", and jujutsu is a "locking and pinning art". While all of them have similar characteristics and techniques that "look like each other", the underlying philosophy of force dissipation is different in each one... so it has its own peculiar character, and how that "intent" is expressed is somewhat different.


That's a nice way to put it. Reducing it to simplest terms, would it be fair to say, it's all about manipulation of forces? And that each art has different ways of delivering, dissipating and manipulating forces?

Quote:

The saddest day of my life was when I found out I had developed an allergy to beer Life just ain't fair...


I agree.... it just ain't fair.

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