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Why tanto in randori but not in practice?


We have been told often by our aikido instructors that Tomiki's aikido was particularly aimed at randori - that is, developing a way for aikidoka to pressure test their skills with a viable randori system.  And I do think that is characteristic of Tomiki's aikido... to a point.
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But go with me down this line of thought...
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Tomiki was out to come up with a way for aikido guys to do real randori - not taking turns being uke for each other, but both guys trying to apply aikido skills at the same time against a skilled player.  To make the game interesting and productive, Tomiki had to get the players to give each other real attacks because aikido guys when they don't want to be thrown by other aikido guys stop exerting and withdraw their energy. So he made uke's attacks count for points.
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But why did he put the foam knife into the mix?
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Why not leagalize punches, like in a karate contest? Aikido folks deal with punches.
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Why not a shinai, like in kendo? Aikido folks deal with swords.
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Why not a padded stave, like in the old-style European quarterstave matches still popular around Tomiki's time?  Aikido folks deal with jo staves.
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Heck, those pre-war aikido guys even played with bayonets like in jukendo - why not have randori matches against a guy armed with a juken?
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What is it about the tanto that of all the weapons that the old aikido guys played with - what made tanto particularly suitable for randori?
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And if tanto was so particularly suitable an instrument for the randori that would be central in Tomiki's aikido, why is the tanto not more prominent in the rest of our practice?
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What I mean is this - we learn all of our aikido empty handed against empty-handed ukes who are making empty-handed attacks.  Then at some point the tanto is thrown in almost as an afterthought - a little bit of knife evasion practice, some junana with a knife, and a pretty minimal nod to tanto skills in a couple of the Koryu no kata.
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If randori (with a knife) is supposed to be so central to our aikido, why don't we do all of our training from day-1 with knives? Ukemi with a knife, taiso (tandoku and sotai dosa) with a knife, junana and owaza and urawaza with a knife, suwari with a knife... Tanto Everything Aikido.

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True, there's nobody telling us we can't practice that way - but (almost) nobody does practice that way.
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Another sort of aside - I wonder what would happen in a tanto match if you gave both guys a foam knife and allowed both guys to score with the blade or with aikido techniques?  Or maybe a hybrid of tanto randori and hat randori where either guy could score with the knife, the hat, or aikido techniques??



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____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com

The Old Man Paradox

Martial arts are intense body contact physical activities - for most folks.  But then you hear stories and occasionally meet nearly crippled old men who can barely move but still have seemingly magical ability.
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As young men, we don't want to do martial arts like old men - even though we do want to eventually have similar magic.
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As young men, we want to be vigorous and strong.  But the old men assure us that if we would reduce the intensity a bit, we would sustain less damage and stay young and capable longer.  These are the same crippled old men that used to be vigorous, intense hellions when they were young.
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Sometimes, you see old men who still exert like young men - geriatric supermen. But realistically, how many of us think we won the genetic jackpot that would allow us to be that vigorous that long?
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I guess the best plan for dealing with the Old Man Paradox is do the best you can for as long as you can and don't feel bad about choosing to practice with either intense power or with delicate finesse whether you are young or are old - and hope that you can still do both power and finesse when you are old.


Want to discuss this blog post?
Come find me on Facebook at my Mokuren Dojo FB group

____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com

Violence is not even a thing

We are always talking about how we are all about dealing with violence, "reducing violence," "leading violence to harmony," "Meditations on Violence," and that sort of hippie language.  But it seems to never occur to us that Violence is not even a thing.  
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Violence is not a noun (I don't care what the dictionary people say).  It is an adverb that has been nounified - almost personified.  Violence is a kind of relationship.
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We are about relationships.  In the dojo we simulate and role play different kinds of relationships so that we can learn from them and grow.  Violence is involved in many of the dojo relationships.
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Often we are very poor at role-playing or nounifying or personifying the violence in a way that we can work with and grow from.  We call this "poor ukemi."
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A lot of times we gripe about partners who are too rough or mean or abusive - who won't play the role like we want so that we can examine it comfortably, but this is just another type of violent relationship - and probably the very one that we need to work on.
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You have to stay at least somewhat safe - after all, we all have other stuff to do besides play-acting violent scenarios stuff like marriages and work and kids.
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I just find it funny that we say we want to learn about violence and then we gripe about the partners who play that role most naturally.


Want to discuss this blog post?
Come find me on Facebook at my Mokuren Dojo FB group

____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com

Injury potential in Hirano's Kata

I just got back from Summer Seminar 2015 at Windsong Dojo in OKC, where I was honored to lead an exploration of Tokio Hirano's ideas that were groundbreaking in the 1950's in European Judo, and which are still amazingly innovative in American Judo.
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Each class we worked on ...
  • ashi-sabaki drills (because Hirano was an amazingly agile guy with great footwork).
  • uchikomi of some of Hirano's tokuiwaza (like osotogari and seoinage and taiotoshi) using his interesting rhythmic practice methods.
  • Hirano's Nanatsu no kata (A.K.A. Hando no kata)
Here is a pretty good video of the type of things we worked on...

At the end of the 3rd day of the seminar, we'd not quite finished all of Nanatsu no kata - we had run out of time for several of the counters, most distinctive of which are uchimata sukashi, harai-utsurigoshi, and jumping around taiotoshi into yokoguruma.
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If y'all want to explore this whole kata including those last few counter sacrifices, I'd like to give y'all some advice - to the degree possible, work slowly and carefully with a compliant partner and a crash pad and make sure everyone involved always knows what's coming.
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The reason I say this is because the jump-around counter to taiotoshi is the only technique that I've ever been seriously injured practicing!  In college we were practicing this exact counter - jumping around taiotoshi into yokoguruma.  It's not too difficult when you go slow and step through it with a compliant partner, but as you get it moving more quickly with both uke and tori moving into their techniques at the same time, it becomes tricky.  Anyway, I moved into taiotoshi and my partner tripped and fell on my leg.  In his attempt to regain his balance, he pulled me down on top of him and we ended up with my leg entangled and trapped under him, with him trapped under me.  I was yelling and he couldn't get off of me because I was lying on top of him.
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Broken ankle. No fun.  Put a major damper on my participation and enjoyment of judo for about a semester.

The technique I'm talking about is demonstrated here by Hirano sensei so smoothly that it looks easy. (starting at about 5:50)
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____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com

Tokio Hirano's ouchigari

Watch Hirano's variety of entries and twitches on this particular throw.  This looks like a whole lot of fun!



Want to discuss this blog post?
Come find me on Facebook at my Mokuren Dojo FB group

____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com