Monday, June 30, 2008

To intervene or not to intervene?

If you haven't already, y'all ought to hop on over to John's and throw your two cents in on his recent question - one of the most interesting things on the martial blogosphere in a while...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cost-efficient convenient martial arts training

One thing that can really put a crimp in your study of martial arts is travelling expense. Face it, with the outrageous cost of gasoline getting ever worse, it's hard to make it to class week-in and week-out. Many people are having to work odd schedules just to keep their jobs, and it is increasingly common for the class schedule to not mesh with your dwindling personal life.
Here's an easy and cost-efficient way to relieve these problems. Instead of everyone going to the instructor, bring the instructor to you! Instead of a bunch of people using up their gasoline to get to some central location that is not really ever as convenient as you would like, why don't you get a group together, choose your own venue, and everyone pitches in a little money to bring an instructor in.
Sound interesting?
If you would like to hire me to come teach you aikido or judo, you can contact me at I'll work with you to get you some great martial arts instruction in any venue convenient to you, and at a price that you will like a lot better than having to pay for the gas to come to me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

O.C. can you see...

I enjoyed this video (watch out for non-family language). It brought back memories of when I was in grad school and working as a private security officer. We were made to qualify with OC (oleoresin capsicum) with the same training folks the Sheriff's office used, part of which involved being sprayed.

This video really demonstrated one important point very well:
OC spray is a strong irritant, but is not debilitating in most cases. This girl ran a (simple) obstacle course and performed fairly well in physical combat skills even after taking a goodly dose full-on.
When we were taking the SO's OC ccourse they highlighted some studies that had been done with OC. The researchers would spray a participant and have them navigate an obstacle course (around folding tables, etc...) with the goal of touching the sprayer before having to be washed off. 100% of particiants were able to find, catch, and touch the sprayer (who was told to evade at a walking pace), regardless of age, gender, etc...
The moral of this story: If you are considering OC spray as a self-defense, please reconsider.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New gonokata video

This is interesting. The Go no kata (forms of strength) is one of the "lost" kata of judo. Gonokata was aparently practiced in the pre-war Kodokan school, but was not taught post-war and died out along iwth the pre-war students and instructors. There has been no small amount of talk in the last few years about reviving this kata, either by finding a surviving person who learned it before WWII or by reconstructing it from written accounts. I don't know which of these this demonstration represents, but on first viewing it appears to be a pretty good one for two reasons:

  • It fits with the available written descriptive material I've seen on the old kata, like this and this.
  • It has a similar spirit to junokata, for which it was supposed to be a complementary partner-kata.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Basics and floating throws

Aiki with Patrick M. and Rick
  • ROM, ukemi (Rick overcame a major fear and did several of the turn-back tolls successfully)

  • tegatana with emphasis on leading with the center and keeping a feeling of being drawn upward into proper natural posture. The contrast between these two revealed a place on the turning steps where I am settling onto my back heel, almost into a wrestling-feeling posture.

  • hanasu 1-8 with emphasis on moving at ma-ai, putting hands up, and either brushing off or synchronizing or getting an offbalance

  • we spent a lot of time on evasions R1 and YK2

  • YK2→(maeotoshi or sumiotoshi) depending on whether you float with him onto his near or far foot. This was that super-cool, amazing sumiotoshi.

Grapple outside the box

We're always advised from every angle to, "Think outside the box." Try to find different ways of looking at a thing. I've read that is one of the main attribures of genius, is being able to see things from different points of view. I'm no genius, but This is one of my main strategies on how to teach martial arts.
For instance, grappling, whether you call it judo, jiu-jitsu, ssireum, Greco-Roman, freestyle, or whatever, is still the same thing. It is grappling; contestants mostly in close physical contact with each other, pushing, pulling, bending, twisting, lifting, walking, and rolling. What changes between different styles are the rulesets, or the constraints under which these six-or-so physical feats are done.
I think it is very beneficial to students for the instructor to change rulesets and conditions often in practice. Instead of spending your entire judo career working under the USJF ruleset, play jui-jitsu, push-hands, sombo, Cornish and other rulesets - not just occasionally - often. Play with jackets and without, play with belts and without. Standing, kneeling, supine, prone. Blindfolded, with an arm tied behind you, etc...
This helps develop mental flexibility (the prime attribute of judo) and the ability to rapidly figure out how to push, pull, bend, twist, lift, walk, and roll under whatever set of constraints are at hand, while working toward varying goals.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sensei's killin' buddy runs the gauntlet

Back in the day, I want to say it was around 1992 or so, we had the pleasure of having Steve Steed join our college club. Steve was about 4th dan in tangsoodo and had just come off active Army duty during or around the time of the first Gulf War.
Well, it was a Sunday afternoon practice and it was a kick-punch sparring day, so I showed up and the instructor tells us, "This is Steve," and we began sparring. I thought it was interesting that Steve was made to start with the highest ranked guy and consecutively spar a few minutes with each successively lower-ranked guy. Though I'd never seen it, Steve was pretty savvy. He knew how things worked. He knew he was being made to run the gauntlet, and that was just okay by him.
I watched him demolish our highest-ranked guy quite easily, barely working up a froth. He moved on to his second course of the afternoon, and tore our second-highest-ranked guy apart. Hmmm, I was thinking that the situation looked pretty glum for me, as about the 4th highest rank that day.
Fortunately the head instructor suavely announced that the remainder of the matches would be special condition matches, and when Steve got to me, all lathered up and ready to kill (and eat dead, burnt bodies), they announced that Steve could only kick and I could only punch for this match. AHA, my chance!
They called go, Steve threw a kick, and I slipped it, stepped in, and glued myself to his chest. I didn't even bother punching because that might have separated us back into kicking range. I just moved with him and checked his legs to keep him from getting any momentum going. We went the entire time period with me glued to him, frustrating his ability to hurt me.
After that we rapidly became great buddies and had many adventures. So great was the Legend of Steve, that my first batch of students in southwest Mississippi came to know him as "Sensei's killin' buddy, Steve." I suppose the implication of that title was that Steve was the guy I'd most like to have around when killin' time comes.
Don't know what dragged that memory out of the old data banks, but it popped into my mind this morning and I just had to write it down.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dan Gable, the man, the legend

The first half of this film is composed of clips of Gable-trained wrestlers competing. You can see some of Dan Gable's intensity and aggression in them. You can see it in the close-up of the tremors in his arm. The second half is a short piece of a documentary on Gable. The man, the legend, the demigod of wrestling.

Dan Gable on aggression

Here is a short segment with Dan Gable talking about the role of aggressiveness in wrestling. This really applies to all competitive fight sports like boxing, MMA, etc... The idea is simple. All other things being equal (and I know they never are) the more aggressive fighter will win. Why is this? Two reasons are apparent:
  • The rules are designed to promote a type of fighting that is interesting to the observers. These rulesets award aggression
  • Sun Tzu said, "Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in the Attack." He recognized years ago that this is just the way things are. This is reflected at times throughout history, from Gretzky saying, "you will miss 100% of all shots you don't take," to Neitzsche writing about the Will to Power.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Patrick's ikkyu rank demo

Aikido with Patrick M., Vincent, Chris, and Hashan
  • Tegatana while holding a full cup of water. We played this exercise twice, the second time faster, and I sloshed a little water on the second rep on some of the arm motions. That might indicate that my arms were doing something independent of my body, because my COM motions seem to be pretty well under control. I'll have to play that exercise a few more times and figure out what to think about that.
  • Releases without incident.
  • All of Nijusan with Patrick M. as tori and me as uke. He did great. I asked him what he thought were his strengths and weaknesses in aikido and he said that his faithful daily practice was his strength and the floating throws at the end of Nijusan were his weakness. Sure enough, he seemed more confident with everything before the floating throws, but that is to be expected because the floating throws are his current rank-level material. We probably ought to work on hikiotoshi some more, perhaps getting some other instructors' perspectives on how he can make that thing happen with one arm. But I thought it was all good despite the slight deficiency on floating throws. I thought that his oshitaoshi, hikitaoshi, and wakigatame were especially good. He has gotten good at finding the time to drive uke straight into the ground on those three. I thought he might also need some more work on kotehineri...
  • The whole class worked on oshitaoshi, kotehineri, and kotegaeshi
  • For the cool techniques of the night we worked on #9 and #10 of Ichikata, kotemawashi and kotegaeshi.
  • Vincent called for more practice on the kaitennage that we practiced a week or so ago, as well as a tenkai kotehineri from a wristgrab. Both techniques that are found in his police training.

Dan Gable - it's personal

Dave at Formosa Neijia hit the nail on the head in this following comment to my previous post, pointing out exactly the topics that this book has me wanting to talk about.
...grappling is an intimate sport. It's not like standing back and hitting or kicking ...the tradition there is just so strong that getting second feels like may be an over-emphasis on the sport/winning aspect. Look At Dan Gable now. He's broken. Winning is fine, but is it everything? Are we going to gaze at our trophies from our wheelchairs?
Speaking of Dan Gable now, and gazing at trophies, check out this video...

Friday, June 20, 2008

It's personal

Mark Kreidler describing Dan Gable's mother...

Kate was every bit as hard-willed as one would expect a parent of Dan Cable to be...

"It was so hard on her," Gable says now... "She'd go stand outside the room when I wrestled, just go outside in the foyer. She'd come back to the door every now and then to look through the glass, but she couldn't stay in the gym.

Gable pauses, "This sport, it's a heart-wrenching sport...I'll be at the State Tournament this month, and I'll guarantee I'll choke up. I'll feel so good for the guy who is winning the championship - he earned it, it's finally there. But then you look over at the wrestler he just beat to win it, and that guy is crushed. And I just choke up for that guy. It's personal.

What is is about competitive martial arts in general and grappling sports in particular that seems to engender this kind of attitude... this type of identification of self-worth with performance outcomes? I can remember winning second place in the Mississippi State championships and third place in Louisiana years ago - but did I feel like a winner? No, I felt like a loser. Second or third best.
The above quote comes from Four Days to Glory by Mark Kriedler. A study of the midwest wrestling ethos. I don't know that it really answered my question, but it was an entertaining read that certainly delves into the personal side of amateur wrestling in the parts of America where wrestling counts for a lot.
If it sounds like something you'd like to read, please get your copy from my Amazon bookstore...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Rank tests this Saturday

Aikido with Patrick M., Rick, and Alan
  • ROM, ukemi, tegatanaX2, hanasu #1-4 in detail with variations and emphasis on ping and brushoff.
  • shomenate and variants, including 2-hands to the face (inside control) or the wrong-handed shomenate brushoff from gokata.
  • dropping onto uke's front leg and hiding the head. Discussed not living here, but using the level change to stay safe and look for an out. Try thinking about this technique as dropping into a sprinter's start.
  • ran through all of nijusan with Patrick M. once
Saturday will be rank test day. For Rick, gokyo demo - tegatana, hanasu #1-4, niusan #1-2. For Patrick M. ikkyu demo - tegatana, hanasu, all of nijusan.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Psychology of conflict

One of my students sent me this video on the psychology of conflict done by Richard Gannon. It is quite good - almost to a point stuff that we teach in aikido using different names. Very similar to a seminar that Steve Steed sensei taught in a seminar at our dojo in 1998. There are some subtle differences between this and what we are typically doing - but it is more similar than different.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pins and repetitions

Aikido with Patrick M.
  • ROM, ukemi, tegatana, hanasu
  • shomenate, aigamaeate, gyakugamaeate - plenty of reps of each
  • oshitaoshi, hikitaoshi, wakigatame - all paying particular attention to the pins on the end.
  • Cool thing of the night: ryotedori countered by gyakugamaeate (nikata technique #2)

Embarassing Exercise Lesson #1...

Today I was discussing some training something-or-other with one of our trainers and I mentioned burpees. He asked me what that was and I tried (unsucessfully) to explain two or three times and then did one to demonstrate. My pants bound on my massively muscled thighs and the seam split across my bulging buttocks all the way from the waistband to the inseam under the crotch.
The moral of the story...
...Never demonstrate burpees while wearing slacks...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lost cellphone

Hi, all, This weekend I lost my phone while watching Hulk in Hammond, LA. It was apparently picked up by some guys who gave my wife some lip about getting it back when she called it. So, we wrote that phone off and had the cellphone company suspend service to that number until I can get a new phone tomorrow.
But the real downside is I lost y'all's contact numbers. If you are one of my regular contacts, please send me your contact info for me to plug into my new phone. Send your contact info to

Go Ronda, go!

I can't wait to see Ronda Rousey get Gold at Beijing! She just secured a spot on the Olympic team.

"No American woman has won an Olympic judo medal. Ronda Rousey may be ready to change that...

Rousey...needed less than three minutes to put away three outmatched players and win the U.S. women's Olympic middleweight (154 1-3 pounds) judo trials Friday.

Rousey, from Santa Monica, Calif., is the daughter of Ann-Maria DeMars, the only U.S. woman to win a world judo title. Her daughter's silver last year was America's first women's world judo medal since 1995.

To see Dr. DeMars' account of the trials, check out her blog.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The pre-requisites to do violence

In police training and violence theory there is this idea that in order for someone to violently aggress against you they must have these three things:
  • the ability to hurt you
  • the opportunity to hurt you
  • the intent to hurt you
There is some flex in this theory. For instance, you can reasonably assume that almost everybody in the world has the ability to hurt you. Anyone can put a finger in your eye or trip you if you are not careful. Also, intent is hard to judge and people can hurt other people randomly without intent. But for the most part, the theory holds. In order for someone to do violence against you they mostly have to have ability, opportunity, and intent.
It seems to me (and this may just be my perception or mis-perception) that most martial arts these days are overly focused on removing the opponent’s ability to hurt you as rapidly as possible. You can’t go to a martial arts class without hearing the old axe, “if they can’t see they can't fight, if they can’t walk they can’t fight, if they can't breathe they can’t fight.” There is this emphasis on disabling or killing by producing maximum damage as rapidly as possible.
And that is certainly a valid, though maybe overzealous, method of dealing with violent people.
But what about the other two legs of the violence tripod – intent and opportunity? We need to be working more on making ourselves the kind of people that other folks have no reason to intend to hurt (Romans 12:18), and we need to learn to disrupt the opponents’ opportunities to harm us. If people have no intent nor opportunity to harm us then it is not necessary to disable them. In fact, if you are very good at removing any one of these three prerequisites to violence then you are much safer and better off.
Aikido seems to me mostly about dealing with opportunity. We are constantly shifting our position relative to the attacker to remove his opportunities to attack. We keep our distance, evade, brush-off, cover or clench to dampen his potential, push him away so he can’t reach us. Of course, while the student is learning to evade, avoid, and brush-off, he is learning all the old jujitsu tricks to create leverage to disable the opponent (remove his ability to do harm). Aikido, as a form of jujitsu, has the potential to seriously hurt someone, but typically that potential is held in reserve in case we are not able to stop the opponent’s intent or opportunity.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Why not a fusion of aiki and ju?

Dave Chesser asked me the other day, basically, “Since Tomiki aikido is supposed to be a fusion of aikido and judo, why do you not see folks do more judo techniques in Tomiki aikido competitions?” There is a lot going on there, but I think I can address some of it. First, you have to remember that Tomiki aikido is not a fusion of aikido and judo. It is an interpretation of aikido by a man who was a master of judo. So it is sort of aiki from a ju point of view. With that said...
Judo techniques within aikido
There are some ‘judo techniques’ that are also part of the Tomiki aikido system. Going through the basic Tomiki syllabus, you see gedanate (called sukuinage in judo), wakigatame, and sumiotoshi, for example. These techniques are allowed in both competition systems and you see them thrown in competition pretty often in both systems.
Aikido techniques that are not part of judo
Continuing through the Tomiki syllabus there are a lot of throws that do not occur in judo, at least in the context of competition. For instance shomenate (the frontal face strike) and kotegaeshi (wrist twist) and oshitaoshi (the arm push-down). Some of these are easy to explain – the judo guys never found a good, safe way to allow full power, full resistance striking in competition so they disallowed striking, or even touching the face. Early jujitsu competitions were rife with injury, so Kano disallowed all joint manipulation except for the elbow (the most stable joint on the body).
The real mystery here is the absence of oshitaoshi in judo competition. Oshitaoshi is very similar mechanically to wakigatame, which occurs in judo competitions a good bit. Oshitaoshi is not disallowed in judo (it even pops up in judo kata) – it’s just not done in competition... I’d like someone to explain that one to me.
Judo techniques that are not part of aikido
If you take out the several techniques that are in both systems, you find that there are a bunch of judo things that are just not done very often in aikido competition. Things like osotogari, hip throws, most footsweeps. Again, these techniques are (so far as I know) not explicitly disallowed in Tomiki tournaments, but they are just not done.
I’ve touched on this topic before in various articles. Perhaps best in this one, But also in these…

Eye of the storm

In moments of crisis the disciplined human mind works as a thing detached, refusing to be hurried or flustered by outward circumstance. Time and its artificial divisions it does not acknowledge. It is concerned with preposterous details and with the ludicrous, and it is acutely solicitous of other people's welfare, whilst working at a speed mere electricity could never attain. “Crab Pots” from A Tall Ship by Sir Lewis Anselm da Costa Ritchie

This rightly describes that mysterious time-dilation effect reported often by martial artists. I catch that sensation of time dilation, in which rapid motion appears leisurely, most acutely during aikido practice. I can even invoke that phenomenon at will (with pretty good reliability) in myself during aikido. The other place that I experience it more often than other situations is in newaza randori.
There is this feeling of immaculate in-the-moment-ness during which the chaos and violence in the situation seems to diminish or even disappear, leaving me with the feel of strolling along with uke. Funny thing is this is often a one-sided phenomenon. Uke’s perception of time and violence seems to become enhanced as tori’s becomes diminished. Uke’s world becomes more chaotic and hellish as tori becomes calmer and moves slower. Some writers have described this as similar to the eye of a storm.

Good AM exertion

5AM judo/aiki with Rob
  • groundwork mobility cycle X2 as warmup
  • hizaguruma from the deashi bump
  • newaza randori. I got Rob twice in various positional things and he ran me to a draw the third time. Good sweaty exertional judo.
  • drilled legs-over escape from jujigatame. Rob brought up the point that omoplata might be a threat if you do legs-over from there. In judo you don't have to worry about that but it is something to think about.
  • switched to aiki for a cooldown. repped owaza #1-4 many times into a crashpad and then did a handful of reps of owaza 5-10.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More fundamentals and randori with the new guy

Aikido with Patrick M. & Allen
  • ROM, Ukemi
  • tegatana with emphasis on concervative steps and upright posture.
  • hanasu - releases #1 and #2
  • evasion drills and aiki brush-off
  • aigamaeate
  • standing kokyudosa-like randori
  • cool technique of the night - wakigatame starting from the inside like in shomenate. We even played this with a knife in uke's free hand and it works even better. cool.

Recipes from the Dojo

My victory garden is really starting to produce despite the dry, hot weather we've had for the past month or so. And with the recent and predicted continuing daily rainshowers and cooler weather I figure it will really kick up production. I have been picking a hatful of jalapenos every day as well as anchos and banana and bell peppers. I've gotten a few squash and a few tomatoes. And I have eggplant on the way. Today I concocted a southern feast in celebration of the beginning of the harvest.
Roasted yellow squash sandwich:
Cut one large yellow straightneck squash into 1/4 inch thick planks. Spray both sides with butter-flavored cooking spray. Dust the top with dried basil, garlic powder, and black pepper and toast in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. While that is toasting, prepare...
Cherry tomato, Ancho, and Jalapeno Salsa Fresca
Drop a double handful of mostly-ripe cherry tomatoes into a food processor, add 2 whole jalapenos and 2 whole anchos. Sprinkle liberally with garlic, black pepper, dried basil, and dried onion flakes. Add a pinch of salt and a squirt of lime juice. Chop into salsa.
To complete the sandwich, lightly spread mayo on dark toasted multi-grain bread. Layer the squash planks on the toast, top with the salsa fresca, and serve open-faced with two Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus beers.
Yeah baybee!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Leg, hand, and hip throws

5AM judo with Rob and Rick
  • footsweep to control moving into the deashi bump
  • worked on deashi, kosoto, taiotoshi, and seoinage from the deashi bump. We did the seoinage as a hipthrow to illustrate the point in a simple way, but really it is classified as a hand throw.
  • deashi into ukigatame
  • ukigatame through half nelson into munegatame

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dr. Lee Ah Loi's Tomiki Aikido book

Dr. Lee Ah Loi literally wrote the book on Tomikiryu Koryunokata - the set of six "advanced" exercises in Tomiki's school of aikido. Here she has a nice, crisp demonstration of the begnning of Koryu Daisan, which kata is also known as Goshin no kata and which, as she remarks, bears great semblance to kodokan Judo's Goshin Jitsu (also developed by Tomiki Sensei).

This book makes an excellent reference, particularly after you get significantly far along in the fundamental material like Junnahon Kata (or Nijusanhon Kata) and Owaza Jupon. I refer to her book before almost every class as a reference for the "cool technique of the night." If you would like to purchase a copy of Dr. Lee's book, please check out my Amazon bookstore:

Monday, June 09, 2008


The other day Dave Chesser wrote a couple of good articles on training with the best local instructor you can find regardless of the artform. Good advice. It reminded me of how the Okinawan martial arts developed and evolved. I bet Dan Paden could verify or clarify my history, but basically, on Okinawa folks trained with whatever experts they could get their hands on. According to Funakoshi's autobiography, folks would work out with whatever local bigshot they could get to within a few miles hike. As a result you had a proliferation of local styles all simply named after the place they sprung up, like naha-te, tomari-te, shuri-te, shorin-ryu, etc...
That would be like having a Tulsa-ryu and a Magnolia-ryu and a Houston-ryu,

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Self-Education of Pat

I've given my other blog, The Self-Education of Pat a facelift and have begun posting at it again. That is where I write about things I'm reading that generally don't have to do with martial arts or Christianity (Those posts go here at Mokuren Dojo or in my faith blog, Presbyterian in McComb).
I have a new book geek challenge going on over at The Self-Education of Pat. Check it out:

The training log that had no name...

Aikido with Vincent and Ross
  • ROM and ukemi with emphasis on turn-side rolls and turn-back rolls
  • tegatana with emphasis on how shorter steps help conserve your energy and momentum and help you to stay in synch with uke.
  • hanasu #1 and #3 with emphasis on starting to evade before uke has grabbed and putting both hands up between you and uke in the center like a cowcatcher or a snowblade.
  • R1 and R3 as viable responses to a wrist grab, a straight lead, a grab-cross, or grab-hook
  • R1→oshitaoshi→tenkai oshitaoshi→aigamaeate
  • kaitennage - the push-the-head-through-the-armpit version

Friday, June 06, 2008

New guy in aiki class

Aikido with Kel & Allen
  • ROM
  • tegatana with emphasis on tsugiashi
  • hanasu #1, #3, and #2
  • shomenate
  • chain#2 - YK1→maeotoshi and YK1→wakigatame

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Class cancellation

No aikido class tonight - I have a thing I have to attend. I look forward to seeing y'all again Thursday.

Car crashes into bikers

Boy this is terrible! You never know when this sort of crazy thing will happen.

MONTERREY, Mexico — A car ran through a group of bicycle riders racing on a highway near the US-Mexico border, killing at least one rider one and injuring 10 others. The 28-year-old driver was apparently drunk and fell asleep, crashing into the bikers.

AM judo

AM judo with Rob & Rick
  • warmup with some light-movement randori with Rob
  • footsweep to control drill with the idea of how do you make a reluctant or careful opponent attack so that it is easier for you to counter
  • deashi as a response to stiffarming
  • hizaguruma as a follow-up to deashi
  • groundwork mobility drill with emphasis on positional asphyxia in kesa, mune, ushiro kesa, and tate

Monday, June 02, 2008

Knee jerk

So, I started this series on domestic violence with a couple of videos to get myself and my readers thinking about it. I sure would like for y'all to jump in with some commentary - I know there are some thoughtful folks out there that have been working on this topic... Anyway, I promised some more commentary of my own.
On the surface, upon watching the first video, I had much the same reactions that I would guess a lot of folks had - Why doesn't she fight back or flee? How can she allow that to happen to herself? Similar to my reaction to the Creamed Asparagus cartoon I posted about.
As martial artists, we make a detailed, prolonged study of violence. I would like to be able to say that I have the solution to situations like was portrayed in that video but that would be dishonest. Not because I think it is an insoluble problem or because I think that aikido doesn't have the answer - aikido is very much about this kind of problem, but the problem is deep and wide and any attempt to describe the aiki solution to it in a few hundred words would be ludicrous.
From a purely subjective point of view I thought there was something wrong with the abused woman's affect three years later. There was something disturbing and askew about her apparent ability to create the professional distance necessary to coach law enforcement officers using the videotapes her son made of her husband abusing her that viciously. I can't put my finger on it exactly - just a feeling I got watching it.
In the second video, Patrick Stewart speaks from a position of personal experience to advocate for greater governmental involvement in control of these situations. My knee jerk reaction to that is, "Oh, great! Another goverment program." I have an innate distrust in the ability of any government to compassionately handle this type of problem. But then, if not the government, who will step in? They are the only ones sanctioned by society to exert coersive force in this type of situation, so if a private party steps in they would be ripe for legal action. Still though, it seems like any decent man (or woman) who were to witness this sort of thing would have to stand in the way and to hell with the consequences - but we've seen that this sort of intervention doesn't always happen.
Here is another video with a celebrity stating a contrary opinion on the topic. This is certainly not going to be the last word in this thread, but interesting...

More on the French Curve

The other day I titled an article, 'French Curve' but I didn't really explain why in that post. What we were talking about that day in class was thinking about this particular set of exercises as being like using a French Curve.
That is, in the chains you know that there are points in space (relationships) that uke and tori should move through but it is not the points (techniques) that are important so much as the smooth, flowing, continuous curve through those points. You have to learn to move your body through an arc with uke without a lot of discontinuity. This is the same as a French curve - you plot a few points then find the template that matches those points most closely to help you draw your arc.
The moves in tegatana are small arcs. The moves in hanasu are French Curves. The techniques in nijusan or junana are the points that the French Curve helps you plot a course through.
We got a lot of mileage out of this analogy last class by working it with one-handed shihonage (that is releases #6 and #8). notice, that if you stand in place and hold uke's arm with your left hand and swing them through you describe an arc. Holding uke's same arm with your other arm you get a different arc through space. If you practice shihonage holding with both hands then you never have to develop this sensitivity to the precise arc that uke is moving through. That is why we practice two one-handed variants of shihonage - better opportunity to learn.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Patrick Stewart on domestic violence

More on the topic of domestic violence. This time it is Patrick Stewart talking about his firsthand experience of violence against his mother. Stewart is a great speaker and this is an honest, sober monologue on the topic.

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