- Fall Aiki Buddies Gathering - Starkville. (November 14-15)
- Winter Clinic @ Windsong (Matl, Lowry, Rea, Bieler, Parker) - Dec 27-30
Once I was in St. Louis on a business trip. I'd parked in a parking garage downtown near the Adams Mark. The area included a beautiful park and lovely eateries on the streets, so not exactly the type of dump where I'd expect to get accosted. Anyway, walking through the apparently deserted parking garage at night I turned a corner and almost walked into a young adult male, perhaps late 20's to mid-30's dressed in a dirty, smelly, Vietnam-looking army jacket. "Hey man," he asked me. "You got a few dollars?" Well, the combination of this guy's appearance and the time of day and the remote location set my Spidey sense off. I side-stepped as he was talking and glanced around to make sure I wasn't being flanked by his buddies. No buddies in sight, I made sure I was outside ma-ai, back against a wall, clear escape route to the side, placed my hands between him and me in the 'stop' position and said firmly and finally, "No." There was a couple of seconds of calculation in his eyes and then he backed down, saying, "No problem, man," and I left.
Nothing happened, so does that mean I was just paranoid and that nothing would have happened even if I'd responded more passively? No. In my book, my gut had saved my butt. Score one for the home team.
Again, a few years later, I was on a driving vacation to the Grand Canyon with my family and a couple of exchange students (talk about an endurance test!). We stopped for lunch in New Mexico or Arizona (might have been Winslow or Gallup) and on the way into the restaurant a guy stepped out from between a couple of cars and asked me, "Hey, man, can you give me a few dollars? My car's broke down and I have to get back to my sick wife..." Having heard this exact con done several times before, I responded (after I'd sidestepped and checked my surroundings), "No, but I'll be glad to call the police for you. I'm sure they'll help you out since they're supposed to protect and serve." He disappeared almost instantly and a couple of minutes later I saw him driving off to try a different location. Score two for the home team.
How about a story of a time when my gut didn't save my butt and my technical martial arts skills came into play?
Anyway, I highly recommend deBecker's book, Gift of Fear. If you buy it from my Amazon link below they'll throw me a little kickback.
No, most everyone with any sense slows way down on the ukemi [falling practice]after about 40 or 45 and stops almost entirely sometime soon after that. This is simple self-protection. Fortunately, you don't have to fall down to do aikido...
I have run a decent-sized cohort of beginners [in their 80's] and they did great...
These octogenerians did aikido just like everyone else and worked on the same stuff.
The only other training tool common in aikido that I'd dispense with for 80 year olds is suwari [practicing techniques while kneeling] - but that is an after-black-belt thing anyway. sort of a neat little bit of historical preservation, and not really a core training method of aikido. I have seen people with bad knees perform suwari seated in chairs. Works great. So, in summary, yes, 80 year olds can do all the same aikido that the youngsters do - except ukemi and kneeling suwariwaza.
- No suwariwaza (kneeling techniques), or perhaps suwari from chair
- Minimal, easy ukemi (falling), maybe only w/ crashpad
- Emphasis on lower extremity strength/flexibility and balance. Footwork exercises can be done very slowly, leading to great increases in balance and mobility. Basically this is aikido done in a slow, deliberate way in order to get some of the proven benefits of taichi. Note that I'm not saying that slow aiki=taichi. It is not, but slow aiki does have some of the same physical health benefits as slow taichi practice.
- Wrist releases and chains of techniques based on wrist releases
- Evasion and brush-off
- Toshu randori (slow sparring) again, I am hesitant to draw connections between aikido and taichi, but this slow-motion partner exercise has many similarities to some of the push-hands practice I've seen tai chi guys doing.
Working in this way on this large subset of aikido is easily within many elders' ability and it produces great martial artists, in many ways equal or superior to their younger counterparts.
- Mobility games
- Ukemi - lots and lots of ukemi
- Walking kata
- Evasion drills with partners
- Brush-off and escape
- Wrist releases
- Aikido atemiwaza (shomenate, aigamaeate, etc...)
- Suwariwaza and kokyudosa (kneeling knock-down games)
- Positional newaza basics
- Cool ki tricks (mind games, concentration, etc…)
- Talk about how to deal with interpersonal conflict
- Situational self defense
- Competition of some sort - not sure how I'd do this because all the competitive aikido randori systems I've seen are awful.
...And speaking of that "feeling of release," there's this article by Beth Shibata on throwing vs. releasing in aikido. I mentioned it in an earlier post on shihonage, but a while back I found this thread of commentary on the article. The reviewers basically blast her as being a silly little pacifist who can't write complete sentences and probably a commie feminist too! Damn her!
Well, here's my two cents: I think she's right on target with her core premise, which is that the way we think about what we are trying to do affects our performance. When we try to create performance goals for ourselves so that we can try to learn a new technique, the name that the instructor gives it influences our thinking process.
Now, I'm not talking about absolute linguistic determinism, but rather an influence similar to that demonstrated by the ideokinesis guys. So, when we tell a student "here's how we do this throw..." they hear the word "throw" and begin to think about how they would throw anything else in the world, like a baseball or a stick - namely, with sharp acceleration, sudden stopping, and ballistic motion. I defy anyone in the world to throw another adult person using the same type of ballistic motion used when we commonly think of the word "throw."
So Shibata suggests perhaps it would be better to call these things "releases." Now that's not a big leap for me because we are used to doing an exercise called "hanasu" or "releases" in every class since day one. And for the past few years, I have really been getting the feeling that "releasing" is such a HUGE part of aikido that it might even be the one central principle - almost a Grand Unification Theory for aiki. We really might just be "releasing" uke instead of "throwing" him!
- You can't expect the aiki brush-off to end the fight and you can't run away forever, so something has got to end the fight. This is where the technical part of aikido comes into play - wristlocks, armbars, projections, etc... I didn't say that the aiki-brushoff was everything you do in aikido - just that it is the first thing you do and that it facilitates all the cool techniques in aikido.
- You want to minimize running backwards in a fight because you will tend to fall over stuff you can't see, so when we are working on brush-off, I tend to tell people to evade and push back 1-2 steps to get just back outside ma-ai (2 arms length). From this point you can decide whether to evade some more, engage and destroy, or flee.
The Warrior in America
My dad was a warrior. He was a Lieutenant Commander on a destroyer in the Pacific in World War II. He's never talked much about the war, just an occasional hint or two, but today he told me about some action that occurred in the Philippines. His destroyer took part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which saw the first use of kamikaze aircraft in the war. Dad says he watched a plane pass over him and miss its target by about 30 feet, piling into the water and exploding. Not yet realizing that the pilot's intent had been to fly into the ship, dad's thought was one of awed sympathy, "that guy never had a chance!"
Later he said he saw two planes fly into the USS Mississippi. During this action in the Philippines, a shell from a shore battery hit a nearby ship and utterly destroyed everything from the mast forward. My dad took a whale boat into the wreckage and picked up 20-some-odd survivors. As he was offloading the men onto a mid-sized transport, the transport was hit and destroyed and he had to go pick up the survivors again. For this action he earned an award (a Bronze Star Medal?)
After the war, he gave up warrioring and became an engineer, a businessman, and a family man. But beneath these hats there was still a warrior. There was (is) some part of the warrior, noble and stern, dignified and proper, remaining in him.
How are you doing today?My name is Karl Bayero from Sand ton,South Africa.I came across your email address when i was searching for an instructors in Karate or any form of martial art that you teach,i would like to know if you are available to take my colleague and i in a private lesson during our vacation in USA? We don't have any experience in martial art but we are really interested in it for self defense.How much do you charge per hour?We need to know this because we would be available 2-3 hrs a day and 3 times in a week.
I would appreciate a quick response to my inquiry,have a nice weekend and
- Ukemi (learning to fall safely) is emphasized from the beginning. Ukemi ends up being the most practical self defense skill that there is because you will fall down many more times in your life than you will be attacked.
- Partners - Everything in judo is practiced with a partner, providing better feedback than solo practice. I have often wished that judo had some solo forms so that I could practice without a partner, but overall the fact that everything you do in judo is done with/against a real person instead of an inagined attacker is advantageous.
- The randori (sparring) system in judo allows a limited set of "safe" techniques to be used full force and full speed against fully resistant opponents. This creates a very practical, testable martial art - if it doesn't put the other guy on the ground, it simply doesn't work. If you can reliably put your opponent on the ground then you can have some confidence in the validity of the art.
- Standardization - Judo has an amazing degree of consistency/standardization throughout the world. What you practice in southwest Mississippi is about the same thing you would practice in Japan.
- Cross-over - Judo guys share part of their niche with amateur wrestling, jiujitsu, and even gymnastics so judoka can benefit from studying how these other guys approach movement and grappling.
- Competition rules - Because of the nature of judo randori, there have to be rules against strikes - the rules prevent even touching the face. Judo guys can become conditioned to this, learning to leave their head and face dangerously open during grappling.
- Grappling problems? - Judoka may become too conditioned with the strategy of taking one opponent to the ground even at times when it would be better to remain in a standing, free-movement phase of combat (e.g. multiple opponents, vs. weapons, etc...)
- Uniform - Unless your club does a decent amount of no-gi randori, you can become dependent on the uniform jacket for grip and leverage. There are great stories of teachers evening the playing field between white and brown belts by making everyone grapple without jackets.
- Solo practice methods (kihon, kata) allow you to practice without a partner, thus allowing karateka to potentially get much more practice time than do judoka.
- Strikers' effective and devastating atemiwaza (striking techniques) can shut down a fight instantly. For that matter, so can a judo throw, but the judo techniques can tend to overcommit the judoka more than the karateka's atemiwaza do.
- Karate is vastly more popular in the USA than is judo, so you are more likely to find good quality karate instruction most anywhere you look. You might be hard pressed to find a good judo school except in a city or larger town.
- Karate can be practiced in any environment and requires less special equipment (i.e. mats) than judo. This makes karate clubs cheaper and easier to operate than judo clubs.
- Cross-over - Karate shares its niche with boxing, and karateka can benefit from studying up on boxing's conservative, practical footwork and striking techniques.
- Sparring rules - In sparring, you have to pull your punches and kicks to avoid injury. This helps karateka develop great control of their limbs, but this type of sparring can become a game of tappy touches. If you subscribe to the idea that in a fight we behave the way we train, then this can reduce the karateka's potential combat effectiveness.
- One punch one kill!? - Realistically, most people can take one punch from most opponents – especially under imperfect conditions (and no, I'm not willing to test that assertion). If the 'one punch one kill' karate theory fails, then you are likely to be outside of karate's domain of practice and into the realm of judo (ie. clinched or grounded).
- Solo kata - Because of the solo nature of karate kata, unless you get a good bit of bunkai (kata application practice with partners) or at least one-step engagements (ippon kumite), the karate kata can allow practitioners to develop fantasies about what they are learning.
- Fragmentation - There is a great deal of fragmentation in the art, creating a lot of diversity between dojos. This can be a good thing if you are able to crosstrain and take the best that multiple karate instructors have to offer, but on the other hand, if you move, it may be hard to find someone doing something similar to what you learned.
- Lack of groundwork - The Gracies demonstrated dramatically that karateka are as helpless as anyone else when they are laying on the ground. There has been a lot of cross-germination of groundwork ideas since then, but still, ground fighting is nowhere near a specialty in karate.
Want to know more about my thoughts on karate-do? Check out this thread of karate blog posts!
Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: email@example.com or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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Anyone want to comment on this? Bob, maybe you want to volunteer to be the enforcement agent for this rule?
12.6 Gender Control :After the finals a gender control will be done on the three female competitors nominated to undergo the anti-doping control. If a competitor nominated to undergo a gender control test and presents a certificate issued by an official institution or an authorized organization confirming her gender (e.g. IOC, Union's certificates), she is exempted of this control. Note: The expenses related to the anti-doping control and gender control shall be borne by the National Federation organizing the World Championships. (Excerpted from the IJF rules)
- you cannot flee if you are leaving someone in danger.
- you cannot retreat if the enemy is faster than you.
- it's almost never smart to avoid a fight that is inevitable.
- your most expedient defense may be to attack directly.
- you may not be confident in your ability to evade and stay out of trouble.
- it might not be good to flee from someone who is both careful and relentless.
- it's harder to hit a retreating target
- if uke has to put more energy into simply getting close enough to touch you, that's more energy you have for your technique and less energy he has in reserve to hurt you with.
- if a technique goes wrong or fails, it's easier to disengage and flee or flow to another technique if you never engaged in a 'stand and deliver' type fight
- it's nearly impossible to be sensitive enough to synchronize correctly when you are toe-to-toe scraping and scratching and clawing for your life, but it is much easier to get in synch when you begin retreating.
- A lot of karate guys like to talk about hitting then escaping while the enemy is stunned, but more often in the karate classes I've seen and been in, we train to hit two or three or five or seven times when the opportunity presents itself. We practice pursuing the attack from opportunity to attack to stun to knockdown to finishing. We want to hit and run but we train to hit and hit and hit and hit... and there's never any 'run' in there.
- Typical sparring in karate does not simulate 'normal' violent encounters (and judo and aikido randori are not too much better). Sparring/randori simulates a duel. So, we stand the chance of getting into a violent encounter and behaving as if it were a duel. Sometimes that works and sometimes it fails miserably. (But on the other hand, practicing a martial art with no sparring/randori system at all is also prescription for sucking. You have to have a sparring system but you want to consider the congruency between the rules and what you think you really want to be training.)
- How much time in a conflict is spent standing still and striking? Not much. How much time is spent in karate class standing in a prescribed stance and repeating blocks and strikes? Much. Even though most conflicts are mostly movement with just a moment or two of standing still, we spend way more time standing still than we do moving (but on the other hand, the momentary strike might be the most important part of the conflict).
- When attacked, do you, “turn aside and lead uke into offbalance?” If so, you've just attacked him!
- Do you, "enter inside his force and strike him down?" Well, that's pretty blatant.
- Do you, “get offline and set your strong stance line so you can do shomenate?” You just chose to participate in a fight with him.
- Do you, “blend with his energy and lead him into an immobilization?” Again, you just chose to engage the enemy and do something to him.
UPDATE: Be sure not to miss the following Veterans Day messages...
- Tori is getting a knee or shin against uke's torso pretty soon after he lands. The purpose of this position is to limit uke's movement and slow him down as tori transitions to newaza. Thus ukigatame is a great intermediate position between throwing and ground grappling.
- Make sure you don't pounce on your partner's ribs - it's very easy to crush ribs under your knee. In fact, I tell my students to deliberately put the shin across uke's ab muscles, avoiding the floating ribs that are such a tempting target.
- Notice when tori puts his feet on the ground and knee(s) against uke, if tori's posture is not just right it is easy to pull him over into a forward roll. To stop this, tori puts a knee or shin against uke and rocks his hips forward, putting weight onto uke and floating vertically over him. If uke pulls on the arms or shoudlers, tori rocks more hip weight forward into him.
- As uke moves, tori floats on him, out-riggering his free leg for balance and leverage. Tori is not trying to crush uke into submission here, but is floating...riding on top of uke until he can find a good time to drop into a better position or submission technique.
- Notice how easy it is to transition to munegatame or tateshihogatame or (if uke is rolling) to the rear position with legs around. Jujigatame is also blatantly obvious here.
- Find a good judo instructor and participate regularly in classes. You can't learn judo worth a darn from a book and it's ridiculous to think you can (though books are an indispensable help to your learning process.)
- Purchase the six must-read judo books I've hyped earlier. Those six contain virtually all the book knowledge you'll ever need and those books will form the core of your judo reference library.
- Then, pick up copies of Hoare's Judo (Teach Yourself)
and Watanabe&Avakian's The Secrets of Judo: A Text for Instructors and Students
- unbendable arms
- evading off the line of attack
- moving generally in tune with uke's energy
- ROM, ukemi
- footsweep to control with emphasis on bumping uke to get his front foot floating and then reaching out and touching his foot to see if he is really floating or not.
- deashibarai uchikomi early and late
- deashibarai uchikomi - 2 of any variation on one side and one on the other. This really develops the feel of randori because of the type of synchronization
- osotogari - four variations that allow tori to throw uke right-sided no matter what foot uke is moving or what direction.
- tegatana, slightly faster than normal with emphasis on keeping a dynamic tension between floating and weightedness. This tends to draw you upright into a perfect shizentai (natural posture)
- releases with emphasis on #6 and 8 as ways to get into the #2 and #4 positions by following when uke does something wrong. That sort of makes the kata 4 repetitions of a pure release form followed by four in which you have to synch and follow along with uke until you can find the place to turn into the position from the pure release form.
- chain #3, including near and far wakigatame and near and far kotegaeshi
- ichikata section B, techniques 1-3 (oshitaoshi and tenkai kotehineri) with emphasis on using ki bumps to diffuse uke's strength so you can walk around it, breaking down his posture. This stuff is pure magic, amazing how tori can move around uke's strength. Great example of how inappropriate strength destroys uke.
October 30, 2008 SAN DIEGO – ...co-owner of a Ramona martial arts studio pleaded guilty Thursday in in federal court to possession of child pornography ... William Joseph Hazlitt entered the guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge William McCurine Jr. Hazlitt, a 27-year-old karate instructor, was arrested in September by FBI agents and sheriff's deputies … the defendant admitted having a computer containing more than 600 images of minors engaged in sexually explicit acts...could face a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing hearing … scheduled for Jan. 20, 2009..NOBLESVILLE, Ind. -- Parents are angry with a martial arts business they said owes them thousands of dollars after several schools closed. [These parents apparently purchased a $3600 lifetime membership for their 4-year old child, complete with all the uniforms, equipment, etc... that the child would need for his lifetime practice.] …but the center closed in September. Another studio in Zionsville also closed, as did one in Carmel with no explanation... In 2006, the Indiana Attorney General's Office accused Champion Martial Arts owner Johnathon Stowe of deceiving and misleading customers in northern Indiana. Stowe agreed to a court order and made $20,000 in refunds in that incident. More than a dozen new families said they are out tens of thousands of dollars. "These are new situations, so we're investigating those and we hope they'll be forthcoming and remedy these things for consumers," said Attorney General Steve Carter. "If not, they will likely face a lawsuit by the attorney general's office."
- Social relationships: some adults particularly enjoy the social aspect of martial arts classes - getting to meet and hang around with interesting people. For some of these people the before-class and after-class interaction cna be the most fulfilling part of the experience.
- External expectations: This is probably the least motivating factor in the martial arts. Adults just don't usually seem to get into classes to comply with some formal authority's instructions. The exceptions to this include someone who might get instructions from their doctor to get some exercise or maybe police or paramilitary personnel for whom it serves as part of their job requirements.
- Social welfare: This is not cited as much as it once was, but it is certainly a motivating factor. Some people get into martial arts practice because they see it as their duty to become better prepared to help serve their family or community. They see it as a benefit to their society to make themselves better people.
- Personal advancement: Some adults are purely intrinsically motivated. They do it for no reason other than to improve themselves. These are probably the instructor's favorite students.
- Escape/Stimulation: Some adults especially enjoy the martial arts for the simple reason that the dojo is not real life. For these folks, martial arts provide a de-stressing break from their daily routines.
- Cognitive interest: to simply learn something of interest. Some people see martial arts as an intellectual puzzle to solve, and as such it can provide a lifetime of diversion.
- Adults are autonomous and self-directed. They need to be free to direct themselves. Their teachers must ... get participants' perspectives about what topics to cover and let them work on projects that reflect their interests. They should allow the participants to assume responsibility for presentations and group leadership. They have to be sure to act as facilitators, guiding participants to their own knowledge rather than supplying them with facts. Finally, they must show participants how the class will help them reach their goals...
- Adults have ... life experiences and knowledge that may include work-related activities, family responsibilities, and previous education. They need to connect learning to this knowledge/experience base. To help them do so, they should draw out participants' experience and knowledge which is relevant to the topic. They must relate theories and concepts to the participants and recognize the value of experience in learning.
- Adults are goal-oriented. Upon enrolling in a course, they usually know what goal they want to attain. They, therefore, appreciate an educational program that is organized and has clearly defined elements. Instructors must show participants how this class will help them attain their goals. This classification of goals and course objectives must be done early in the course.
- Adults are relevancy-oriented. They must see a reason for learning something. Learning has to be applicable to their work or other responsibilities to be of value to them. Therefore, instructors must identify objectives for adult participants before the course begins. This means, also, that theories and concepts must be related to a setting familiar to participants. This need can be fulfilled by letting participants choose projects that reflect their own interests.
- Adults are practical, focusing on the aspects of a lesson most useful to them in their work. They may not be interested in knowledge for its own sake. Instructors must tell participants explicitly how the lesson will be useful to them on the job. As do all learners, adults need to be shown respect. Instructors must acknowledge the wealth of experiences that adult participants bring to the classroom. These adults should be treated as equals in experience and knowledge and allowed to voice their opinions freely in class.
Other blogs (not as good as mine, but they try awfully hard!) :-)
The language and practices of Koichi Tohei: Reconstructing Omote and Ura - *One of my longest standing essays was exploring the history in Aikido of the use of the terms, "Omote" and "Ura." These are the terms used to distinguish...
Quick Recap of the Kaze Uta Budokai Summer Intensive - *Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals...* Instead of heading to the North Carolina camp this year (which is consistently awesome, and one of my studen...