- Aiki/Isshin Friendship Camp (April 25-27)
- Windsong Summer Intensive - June 20-22
- Fall Aiki Buddies Gathering (September)
Interesting stuff. Apparently identical to judo, perhaps with less dependence on the jacket for throwing. And shoes. I wonder what the cultural link is between judo/jujitsu and this type of Chinese wrestling. Who got which parts from whom?
- The warrior spirit seems to be something that pervades or accompanies warriordom of all types of all ages. It is common to the times and cultures of Achilles, Gilgamesh, and Beowulf as well as those of World War II and the Civil War soldier.
- It has something to do with manhood, though there were notable female warriors (eg Dido, Boudica, Amazons. Perhaps even Rosie the Welder).
- It seems to be associated with sacrificial service to a group (i.e .samurai, Heckler). See this quote at Nathan's blog.
- It is associated with several virtues (honor, courage, strength, etc…)
- There are conspicuous potential mis-uses of it (machismo, misogyny, etc…)
Do not engage. Refuse to engage. Roll the ball, brush off, and disengage.
- There has to be a particular representation, or structure in the brain for that ability. This could be demonstrated by observing the effects of stroke on ability. For instance, a stroke may destroy kinesthetic sensitivity, so kinesthetic ability must have a physical structure in the brain.
- There have to be populations that are naturally good or bad at that domain. For instance, each of the above domains has to potential to be expressed anywhere from genius to total incomprehension in a given person.
- The domain has to have had a plausible evolutionary or selection value. It is not too much of a stretch to figure out how each of the above domains might have created survivability in a genius of that domain.
Everybody pretty much does some form of shihonage. It is one of the fundamental ways to force somebody to the ground. Most everybody does some variation of a two handed grab, turns under, and forces uke down backward. But perhaps some folks don’t know that there are (at least) two very common forms that appear in randori.
Tomiki, when he started formulating the fundamental randori no kata, had both variants in the kata. He called them shihonage and tenkai kotegaeshi. At some point he combined these two into one technique called shihonage in the 17 basic forms.
The differences between the variants mostly wash out when tori is able to take a two-handed grip on uke’s arm, but if tori is only able to get one hand on uke’s arm, the technique that pops out depends on the relationship. A cross grab (aihammi) results in tori’s strength being behind uke’s shoulder, so you get the standard shihonage as above. A mirror grab (gyakuhammi) results in tori’s strength being more off to the side of uke, so tenkai kotegaeshi results, similar to the model below.
I do seem to remember reading that somewhere (I can’t find the source) but I also seem to recall reading that Ueshiba wrote that aiki cannot be written down in a book. The gist of that is, I think, don’t take any partial written description of aikido (even Ueshiba’s) as gospel. Also, blasphemous as it might be, Ueshiba's ideas on aikido were the first - not the last.
Didn't Ueshiba specifically say NOT to look into the eyes of your attacker?
If I remember it right, Ueshiba’s proscription about eye contact was related to something about the attacker stealing your soul or sapping your ki or something. And there is definitely something there, though it is hard to quantify. I remember a girl in high school and another one in college that had freaky, inhuman, blue-grey eyes. You couldn’t look at them but you couldn’t look away from them either. They were hypnotic, mirror-like eyes. And it wasn’t just me in my adolescent dorkiness that was affected this way. Virtually everyone did doubletakes when they glanced at these two girls’ eyes and the only way you could talk to them was to look away from them. It is also possible to look into the eye of violence or hatred and be paralyzed, but in the course of about 15 years of randori, I’ve only met one guy whose eyes freaked me out. I just couldn’t look at him. He had his way with me during the randori session too. Which hints at the value of metsuke (eye contact) in aikido.
The first tactical motion in nearly all aikido techniques is to get your body off the centerline, while occupying the centerline with your unbendable arms. When you are able to do this, uke’s attacks tend to miss and tori tends to automatically intercept uke. Controlling the centerline of the attack is key, and this centerline is defined by eye contact.
The point is to not shift your eyes from one focal point to another (i.e. face to hand to center to feet, etc…) because this constantly changes your perception of the centerline of the conflict. It also changes your perception of distances and angles. The only way to develop accurate perceptions of these timings, distances, lines, and angles is to focus your eyes on one point on the attacker’s centerline and keep them there. We actually tell people to look between uke’s eyes at the bridge of his nose- so you don’t really have to look directly into uke’s eyes and risk getting lost there.
In my post on attacking I suggested using eye contact as a sort of measuring stick to determine when tori was in shikaku, which can be defined as the ‘safe spot’ or ‘dead angle’ or even ‘blind spot’ with relation to uke. If uke can easily focus on your centerline then you are not in his blind spot and you are not safe.
So, in summary:
- Tori should look at one point on uke’s centerline, I suggest the bridge of the nose.
- Uke should lock onto one point on tori’s centerline. It makes him more of a viable threat.
- Tori, as part of his motion, should seek positions and motions that break uke’s visual lock.
- Uke, in response, should seek to regain that visual lock.
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This is how we were taught utsurigoshi, as a response to an attempted hip/shoulder throw, tori tosses uke into the air then gets under the falling man so that you can turn him into an ippon as he falls. Our first question was always, "If you can throw him into the air, why get back under him?" This situation should often be resolvable with ushiro goshi, uranage, or taniotoshi. Thus, all utsurigoshi does is impress rank examiners with tori's dexterity.
Following is the best application of utsurigoshi that I've ever seen, but even here it is not one technical principle. Rather it is a failed first attempt at ushirogoshi or uranage followed by any hip throw you can pull off. What makes this better than the demo form is no retarded throwing uke up then getting under him.
- elbows out to the side and knees bent
- weight on the balls of the feet
- vertical posture lost - butt out to the back
What do you see in these videos? What is the warrior spirit portrayed here?
- avoid, evade offline, do not engage, refuse to engage, brush off and disengage
- maintain ma-ai – regain ma-ai
- release instead of throwing
- keep moving behind or away
- if given the opportunity, cover uke’s hands
- never stop moving long enough to execute a technique
What I’m getting ready to start emphasizing in my own practice:
- Get precise parallel or perpendicular kuzushi before every technique
- Sidestep at the end of the line to avoid losing your butt
- Safety takes priority over effectiveness, which must come before efficiency
- You should have a prolonged basis of experience in some system under a live instructor. Don’t go playing with a martial art with no experience and no instructor.
- Find sources with the most informational content: video is better than picture/text/audio. More video=more information. Video on all of a system is better than fideo on selected parts. Multiple varying sources are better than one source from one faction.
- Find sources as close as possible to the original - primary sources better than secondary sources
- Consider remotely related info. For instance, you can get some idea about how kendo might work by studying Philippino or European martial arts.
- A source must be internally consistent – it can’t blatantly contradict itself. If you find information that says the Musashi lived in the 16th century and that he fought in 14th century battles, doubt the source.
- A source should be consistent with (or complementary to) your existent base of knowledge.
- A source should be consistent with what you know of physics and the way the real world works.
- If you think a source is inconsistent but can’t prove it, give it the benefit of the doubt.
- Try to get info on both theory and application. Was it ever used in battle? Tested in sport?
- Frame your research as a 'study group' instead of a 'class'. You probably don’t want to get students to pay you to teach them something you don’t know, but it should be pretty easy to find 1-2 buddies who will play with something with you.
- Make sure your ideas are falsifiable and testable. You must have a randori/sparring/shiai system and a test-cutting/makiwara/pell system.
- Document everything, including your starting assumptions and results.
These are pretty basic guidelines for re-creating an art that you don't have access to. Your end result may not look much like the original. You will, in essence be building your own art from the ground up, based on the sources you can find and your own research and experimentation, but the process will be educational and so long as you have some objective link to reality (randori), you should come up with a system with some validity.
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.
Faik Bilalovik at the Martial Art Science blog has some interesting opinions about flow drills found in some martial arts. His post is worth reading and thinking about – he’s pretty much talking about exercises similar to the contact improv that we’ve been discussing between Mokuren Dojo and Formosa Neijia. Scott from Weakness With a Twist also has a cool inside perspective on contact improv in his comments here.
I respect all these guys’ opinions and I see their points, but I can still see a potential value to “noodle circle” drills like contact improv. Basically, I think it is a good thing to do some randori under different rulesets – not just your normal mode of randori.
These noodle circles are basically randori (or push-hands) under the most liberal possible set of conditions. Any motion is okay so long as uke and tori continue moving in contact with each other. There is no way to lose or win, except maybe to be unable to continue moving in contact with the other guy – and even then it is unclear who is the loser. Under this sort of ruleset, you’re playing with what’s possible – not necessarily what will probably bring about certain outcomes (like winning). What do you learn in this type of play? Who knows! It’s free play! You develop a base of experience of possibilities when you move freely in contact with the other guy.
In more conservative rulesets there are more ways to win and lose (knock-out, points accumulation, submissions, time limits, penalties, etc…) Here you learn to use motion and skillfully conform to a set of conditions or ideals or principles in order to increase the likelihood of certain outcomes (like the other guy falling down or submitting instead of you).
Most rulesets for randori are somewhere between these extremes, you have some leeway to experiment with both possibilities and probabilities. I say it’s a good thing to spend some of your practice time (not necessarily a lot of time) on both extremes and then work most of your time somewhere in the middle. You want to play with a variety of conditions of freedom (e.g. contact improv) and constraint (stab-twice randori).
Oh beautiful, for pilgrims' feet Whose stern, impassioned stress A thoroughfare for freedom beat Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev'ry flaw; Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law!
Oh beautiful, for heroes proved In liberating strife, Who more than self their country loved And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine, 'Til all success be nobleness, and ev'ry gain divine!
Oh beautiful, for patriot dream That sees beyond the years, Thine alabaster cities gleam Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain. (John Adams)
Standing here, one faces a magnificent vista, opening up on this city’s special beauty and history. At the end of this open mall are those shrines to the giants on whose shoulders we stand. Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man. George Washington, father of our country.A man of humility who came to greatness reluctantly. He led America out of revolutionary victory into infant nationhood. Off to one side, the stately memorial to Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his eloquence. And then beyond the Reflecting Pool, the dignified columns of the Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln.
Beyond those moments -- those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery, with its row upon row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom.
.Each one of those markers is a monument to the kind of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, the Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno, and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.Under one such a marker lies a young man, Martin Treptow, who left his job in a small town barber shop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the Western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy fire. We're told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, “My Pledge,” he had written these words:
."America must win this war. Therefore, I will work; I will save; I will sacrifice; I will endure; I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole
struggle depended on me alone."
.The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.
.And after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.
- Even though it's a pretty elementary drill and top man is not looking for armbars, bottom man has to actively work to protect his arms from being entangled and locked. Bottom man continually moves his arms as top man shifts so that they stay free and viable and so that they act as feelers.
- Also, when pushing back to base from your belly, you don't want to do a push-up type action. Rather, pull one knee up as far as you can and use you arms to slide your butt over that shin as if you were pushing your butt over a roller (your shin is the roller). I can push back to base this proper way with a 350 pound guy on my back, whereas it's hard to do a push-up with anyone on your back.
- Third thing was the crawfish action at the end of the groundwork cycle. Bottom man has to immobilize one of top man's arms against the ground or else he will float with you. Top man has to watch out for putting an arm around bottom man's waistline/beltline because the turnover is almost trivial for the bottom man in this situation.
- Use massive force against an anatomical weakness to break a joint
- Use controlled force to create pain sufficient to control the opponent
- Use a lock to limit uke’s motion and damp out his potential for harm
Other blogs (not as good as mine, but they try awfully hard!) :-)
Nage no Kata Attacks - Uke Gets ... No Smarter?: The Sumo Shuffle - *... Umm... I got nothing. And I don't like it.* As I mentioned in this post, I have a hypothesis that there was some reason for Tori to select the throw ...