Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Separating the martial from the art

A few years ago, Terry Dobson wrote a book called It’s a Lot Like Dancing. Fabulous book. I liked the photos and the interesting stories a lot – though I was somewhat disgruntled by the comparison of aikido to dancing – after all, we’re doing this deadly serious life-or-death martial art – not some frivolous postmodern experiential dance. But, what if Dobson was right? What if aikido is sort of a subset of a type of dance. A form of dance upon which we have imposed martial constraints and principles.

Here is a video of some guys doing Contact Improvisation, a form of modern dance that, if I understand my history correctly, was invented by a New York aikido practitioner/dance instructor who was not hung up on the martial part of aikido so much as some of us. Check out the video – particularly the part where the instructor has a partner ‘listening’ to his finger and following (ignore the first couple of minutes of them running amok – that’s probably just a warmup). If you watch with a fairly open mind, it’s pretty cool.

This is, in essence aikido hand randori without all the martial constraints that we put on randori (i.e centeredness, unbendable arm, same-hand-stuck-foot, making the other guy fall down, etc…). It is the substrate of motion upon which aikido hand randori is built.

Looks like fun. I bet it would be easy to teach this group of dancers to do aikido randori.

1 comment:

  1. That was very interesting, the "follow the finger" excercise is nearly exactly the same as a small-circle jujitsu drill we do for fingerlocks (advancing and retreating while maintaining proper stance and contact with opponents finger), very interesting.


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