New Schedule and Location for 2016

Mondays, Tuesdays, & Thursdays from 8-9PM at Rejoice Dance Studio, 1418 Delaware Avenue, McComb MS.

Grossman & Christensen on dialing 911

A practice that we have recently begun integrating into our kids classes (and it wouldn't hurt the adults either) comes from Grossman & Christensen's On Combat: The book talks about how your heart rate is sort of an indicator of stress level, and how as your heart rate gets close to peaking out, you lose find and complex motor skills and experience all sorts of interesting perceptual phenomena, such as tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, and time dilation. I'd heard most of this before, though not this thoroughly presented, but they took it a step further and gave an example of the importance of these phenomena - dialing 911 while under extreme stress.
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Think about it. It is a fine motor skill that requires tactile and visual feedback - all things that are degraded when under acute stress, and it is a skill that you probably haven't ever practiced (how many times have you dialed 911 in your life?)
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So, the practice, suggested by Grossman & Christensen, is to place the students under some stress (breakfalls or kata or burpees or something) and have them intersperse bouts of that stress with repeatedly dialing 911 on an un-plugged phone. We added to this a short lecture about when you should dial 911 (whenever something really bad happens and there is noone around to help you) and we not only make them dial, but state their name and their emergency.
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Grossman & Christensen's book, On Combat, is not only chock full of great info on psychophysiology of extreme stress, but great exercises and suggestions like this. Things that make you slap your forehead and think, "Why didn't I think of that?" Highly recommended reading. If you're interested, please consider purchasing the book from my Amazon link below - they'll throw me a little kickback if you do.
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Look out for those Windsong guys!

I had a weird dream last night. I dreamed I was walking somewhere near Nick's Windsong Dojo and as I walked by a van a guy in the van pointed a long gun at me. I took the gun from him but as I pointed it at him, he said, "Um, er... Scuse me, I just found that gun lying on the sidewalk and I was wondering if you could tell me what kind of gun it is?" I didnt know, so we examined it and determined it to be a pellet gun so I gave it to some passer-by.
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Then I went into Nick's dojo but found that it was an interdimensional space, sort of like a Tardis. It was much bigger on the inside than the outside. There were roads and temples and groves and ampitheatres all inside the dojo. We had a meal but nobody would give me a beer to drink with my meal and somehow I got stuck outside the dojo on the edge of a grassy cliff when I went looking for the fridge.
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Uranage with a leg assist

What a fabulous, amazing technique! Kirby-san, I thought you'd enjoy this, but be warned: if you ever do this to me and I survive, I will kill you. (I think this technique may be illegal in competition anyway - under the new judo rules you can't grab the pants leg...)

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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Otoshi-Guruma

I know y'all are frothing at the mouth in anticipation - waiting to find out what next month's thematic focus will be here on the Mokuren Dojo blog. Well wait no longer!
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June is Otoshi/Guruma month
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That almost certainly has more meaning to aikido and judo folks already familiar with these terms, but I think other martial artists will find a lot of material of interest in the upcoming posts.
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As a basic intro, the word otoshi means "drop" and guruma means "wheel." These terms are very common in judo and Tomiki aikido technique names, but otoshi-guruma is more than that. It turns out that otoshi-guruma is actually a plane of motion for humans, similar to how the planes we usually think about moving in are defined by forward-backward, left-right, and up-down.
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Stay tuned for more on aikido in greater than 3-dimensions!

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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Unbendable arm recap

This past month has been Unbendable Arm Month on the Mokuren Dojo blog. As a recap, January was relaxation month, February was posture month , March was ma-ai month , April was evasion month. This month I have written several good resources on the phenomenon and martial principle of the unbendable arm...
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Stay tuned to find out what next month's theme will be here at Mokuren Dojo.
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Unbendable arm in deashibarai and oshitaoshi

The unbendable arm in deashibarai (that I hinted at in the previous post) is the same kind of unbendable arm you see in oshitaoshi (ikkyo) in aikido. It is not a downward snatching motion, as seen in the previous videos, but when uke's balance becomes disrupted somewhat, and he drops, tori's hand floats downward with uke until it locks into a downward-pressing unbendable arm. Uke drops and tori's unbendable arm holds him down. Check out tori's left arm in the following decent video about the time that uke hits the ground.



Now watch the following video of Kyuzo Mifune doing ashiwaza. Of course it's hard to be certain with this old, low-quality video, but it doesn't appear that Mifune snatches down to smash uke. Mifune does the sweep, and as uke falls, Mifune's arm that is hooked to the falling man extends and ends up straight. There are a couple of times in the video that the arm not only ends up in extension, but has power in it - thus the unbendable arm.

Hop back and forth between the aikido and the judo videos above a time or two, and you'll see the unbendable, downward-pressing arm that I'm talking about.
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Unbendable arm in deashibarai (or not?)

Here are a couple of interesting drills for practising deashibarai solo. And here's your trick question of the day - how can you reconcile the downward snatching motion at the end of each rep with the concept of orenaite (the unbendable arm)? Or can you? Or should you? Does orenaite play a role in judo? Stay tuned for my annswer on what this drill has to do with the unbendable arm.





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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Tsubame gaeshi

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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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The Universal Human Phobia

Perhaps the most amazing concept in Grossman & Christensen's book, On Combat, is what Grossman et al have termed The Universal Human Phobia - interpersonal violence.
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Grossman describes it this way. The most common phobia in the world is snakes. If you were to take a sack of squirming snakes and drop it into a room with 100 random people, as many as 15-20% would have a phobic-level response, meaning they would run screaming blindly. The rest of the people would do something intelligent, like move away or kill the snakes, or something.
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Grossman et al, in their research, have found that around 95% of the population has a phobic-level response to interpersonal violence. So, if you took that same room of 100 people and went in shooting and stabbing, almost all of them would run blindly. There would be virtually no intelligent response.
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This is amazing to me. Amazingly freeing to know that everyone has a phobic or near-phobic aversion to interpersonal violence. Somehow I thought it was just me, and it has made me feel lazy or cowardly for a long time. Somehow, just knowing that I'm not weird (at least not in this instance) is freeing and empowering.
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An example of what I'm talking about is the article I wrote a couple of years ago, titled, "Heroes," in which I talked about Delitha Ward and Kitty Genovese. On Combat sheds new light (for me) on bystander apathy. I'd thought that the bystanders in these cases were just lazy, evil, heartless, cowardly bastards - the scum of the earth. Well, per Grossman's Universal Human Phobia concept, it seems virtually everyone should be expected to act that way. (I understand that Air Florida Flight 90 was not interpersonal violence, but it seems that the same mechanism must be at work.) This really emphasizes to me the extraordinary mettle of people like Lenny Skutnik and Arland Dean Wiliams Junior, for being able to act in the face of such a horrific event.
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I said it then and I still maintain, "I pray that our training will prepare us to do something if we ever are forced to – not because I especially want to be a hero – but because that kind of apathy we don’t need in the world and that kind of hero, we do need."
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Thanks for the great lesson, Grossman & Christensen!




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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Browser errors with Mokuren Dojo

Has anyone out there been having trouble loading the Mokuren Dojo blog? For some reason, IE fails to load it on two of my computers, but other browsers, like Chrome, load it beautifully.
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Anyone else having problems like this?
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Anyone having trouble with the feeds?
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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The problem with warrior wannabes

I don't think it's a bad thing for people to want to be warriors. It is a noble calling. The problem with warrior wannabes is they often want personal power instead of wanting to commit themselves to sacrificial service. Consider that throughout history and across cultures, warriors were considered to be a form of servant. Quick examples from Wikipedia:

Samurai is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan... was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society... the terms were nominalized to mean "those who serve in close attendance to the nobility,"
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The term [chivalry] originated in France in the late 10th century; based on the word for "knight" (French: chevalier...)"... From the 12th century onward chivalry came to be understood as a moral, religious and social code of knightly conduct. The particulars of the code varied, but codes would emphasize the virtues of courage, honor, and service.

...let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. (Luke 22:26;ESV)
So, the problem with warrior wannabes is not that they want to be warriors, but that they don't know what it is that they want to be. I wonder how many people would jump on the warrior bandwagon knowing it meant expending your life in servitude.
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Gedanate, maeotoshi same thing

Regarding Sensei Strange's excellent ongoing discussion of floating throws, following are two decent videos of a couple of techniques – one is classed as a floating throw – maeotoshi. The other is a center-striking technique – gedanate. I tend to think of these two things as the same thing – both floating otoshi throws. The only difference is whether your near leg ends up behind uke where he can trip over it, or in front of uke blocking him from stepping out...
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Gedanate at Nick's Windsong Dojo in OKC


Strange Aikido ukiwaza, including maeotoshi (starting at about 0:43)


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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Warrior, doctor, teacher, farmer, mechanic

The other Day, Chris Marshall left a comment on one of my Warrior Spirit posts. I always get a kick out of his comments because he asks penetrating questions that make me think a lot before I respond. Chris commented...
I see no reason to hold warriors in higher esteem. There must be other, better metaphors to reach for. Doctors don't need to be "warriors", or even "peaceful warriors". Neither do teachers, farmers, mechanics...
Firstly, I have nothing against doctors, teachers, farmers, mechanics, etc... Those are noble, valuable callings - things to be proud of. But regarding warriors, simply put, the warrior is the only profession that civilization cannot do without. Grossman & Christensen's On Combat: actually addresses Chris' question directly, using some of his same examples (Hmmm, I wonder if Chris was setting me up for something by using those examples)...
...If we went a single generation without men (and women) who are willing to go out every day and confront evil, then within the span of that generation we should surely be both damned and doomed. We could go for a generation without the doctors, and it would get ugly if you were injured or sick, but civilization would continue. We could go for a generation without engineers and mechanics, and things would break down, but civilization would survive.We could even go for a generation without teachers. The next generation would have to play "catch up ball," and it would be hard, but civilization as we know it would survive. (page xxiii)
Regarding the ultimate value of doctors, a sensei once told me a (perhaps apocryphal) story once about Canada shutting down elective surgery one year and fewer people died that year but then they had a garbage strike and more people began dying from disease - the question suggested by the story, which is more valuable for civilization, a doctor or a garbage man?
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Another story to the point... I had one absolutely outstanding teacher in high school. He received the Teacher of the Year Award year after year. All his students loved his class and loved him, and he taught us much more than just the subject he was assigned. I was having a discussion with him once and I expressed the opinion that I thought it was a shame that teachers weren't paid more. He asked, "Why?" and I said something about kids being the future, and all that, to which he replied, "Well I don't think teachers should be paid more because unlike engineers and scientists and businessmen, teachers produce nothing of value for society." You could have heard a pin drop. I think I did hear my jaw hit the ground. He went on to explain, and the basis of his explanation was that children would (to a large extent) learn on their own and if a child wouldn't learn then there was nothing a teacher could do about it. There was more to it, but I don't think I could do justice to his argument in this short blog post.
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Anyway, of the examples given... doctors, teachers, farmers, mechanics, etc... All are noble professions and (I would argue) they all produce value for society. But none are indispensable for civilization. Without warriors, society would die of entropy in the form of destroyers (criminals, murderers, terrorists, etc...), and it would be a gruesome death and there would be nothing that a doctor, teacher, farmer, or mechanic could do about it.



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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Taniotoshi as a variant of sumiotoshi

Sensei Strange is doing a very entertaining and instructional series over on his blog about ukiwaza - the floating throws of the Tomikiryu.  In my opinion, sumiotoshi is the archetype, or prime example of the ukiwaza in aikido, while ukiotoshi is the prime example of the floating throw in judo.
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But sometimes you can see the principle of a particular throw more clearly by looking at some other, seemingly unrelated throw.  For example, in his most recent post, Strange talks about sumiotoshi being properly thrown in the back corner instead of the front corner like ukiotoshi.  Check out the following video of taniotoshi.  This is a variation that Mifune was fond of demonstrating, though I couldn't find the video of him doing it on YouTube.  
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I think this throw is remarkable because it is, in principle, identical to sumiotoshi, but also because it emphasizes the 'dropping' nature of the otoshi even better than sumiotoshi.
Also, watch the following and bear in mind the dire warning it implies.  I recall a judo lesson years ago, in which Sensei Clif Norgard  asked me what technique I wanted to work on and I said, "taniotoshi."  Well, he let me know in no uncertain terms that we would not be playing with that technique that day because it was too dangerous.  I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the hell he was talking about.  What is so particularly dangerous about taniotoshi...
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Thanks, Sensei!
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Grossman&Christensen on the Warrior Spirit

Grossman&Christensen's On Combat is an outstanding text on the psychology and physiology of people under extreme stress. I mentioned in my previous review that parts of it mesh directly with a ongoing conversation we're having here on Mokuren Dojo. I'm referring to the Warrior Spirit discussion – whether or not there is really such a thing as a warrior... If so, what is the warrior spirit... That discussion.
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Several well-known martial arts bloggers have jumped in on this topic, including...
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A warrior is someone who makes war for a living. Period. It's not some autonomous, independent, noble killing machine, some reborn knight or paragon. It is someone who is paid money to make big problems go away, often in a messy fashion. Never been in a war? Not a warrior. Get over it. I know that there is a myth and an industry building up around the 'warrior identity' but there are parts of it that I really don't get.
I have come to be of the opinion that a true “Warrior” is someone who goes out into the world and engages in some sort of activity that serves someone other than himself. Soldiers, firefighters, EMT’s, LEO’s and numerous other professions can fit this description. That being said, being a “warrior” isn’t just having a job. There are plenty of people in those ranks that are just “grunts”. Being a “warrior” implies a level of dedication, mindset and professionalism that places one in a different class.
Well, I personally think that the Warrior Spirit does exist...
For the record, I disagree with the folks that say that there is no such thing as a warrior, or that it is a romanticized glorification of violence by weekend soldier-of-fortune wannabes, or that it is an artifact of imperialistic nationalism. The Warrior Spirit is a vague thing, but it does exist, it is noble in some sense, and is worth defining and discussing.
...and On Combat backs me up...
If you are in a war, you are a warrior. Is there a war on drugs? Is there a war on crime? Is there a war on terrorism? Are you confronting and containing aggression as a peace officer at home, a peacekeeper in some distant land, or a warrior combating terrorism around the world? Or perhaps you have chosen to be a martial arts practitioner or an armed citizen, seeking to defend yourself or your loved ones in their hour of need? Are there people out there who wake up every morning determined to send you back to your family in a box?
Then you are in a war and you are a warrior. (page xix)
If you are interested in the Warrior Spirit, or if you think you might be a warrior or even just know a warrior, you really ought to read this book. Great material by two guys who have been there and done that and really know the territory.
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Grossman & Christensen's 'On Combat'

A while back I reviewed Rory Miller's most excellent book, Meditations on Violence, and my comments were glowing. I called it an absolute must-read, vital for any serious martial artist, and I still say that Meditations was the best martial arts book I'd ever read... until now...
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Not to diminish Meditations any, but I just finished reading Grossman & Christensen's On Combat, and found it to be truly inspired and truly inspirational. Nearly every page of the 390+ page tome has something so mind-bending to teach that I'd dare to say it would be hard to read this book without feeling that you absolutely must change some aspects of your training immediately in order to implement some of the suggestions.
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Similar to Meditations, this book simply has too much information for a single review, so I'm planning to do a series of several reviews in the coming week. Even as such, I'll only be barely touching upon the high spots in the book.
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In any case, if you are a policeman, firefighter, or soldier, if you are a martial artist, or even if you just have a passing interest in the psychology and physiology of extreme stress (such as combat) then this book is definitely one that you must have.
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Stay tuned to see how the Introduction to On Combat meshes so well with some of the material here on my Mokuren Dojo blog that it simply blew my mind!
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Unbendable is a means - not an end

So, I said in a previous post or three that the unbendable arm in aikido is not really unbendable, rather it is the arm that is not supposed to be bent - or perhaps you could think of it as the unbending arm.  If you are moving correctly then you should almost never have to bend your arms to do something in aikido.
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This makes the arms a great gauge as to whether or not you are moving correctly.  When you do a wrist release, do you come to a point where you have to bend your arm or twist your own wrist to fit with uke?  If so, you are not in the right place at the right time.  So unbendable arm is not a thing that you have to do because that is how it is supposed to be.  Rather, you can tell if you are doing everything else right or wrong by paying attention to your arm posture.
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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The ebony hakama

Someone mentioned to me in an email that they enjoyed my previous poetic exploits on this blog, so here is a second installment of Budo poetry. Enjoy...

Once upon a crashpad dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious instance of taoshi, sore, While I lay in arm fixation, suddenly there came sensation, As of some one gently pressing, pressing my extended arm. `'Tis my tori,' then I murmured, `pressing my extended arm - If I tap, he'll do no harm.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the dead of winter, And each separate time my tori pressed down upon me with his center. Eagerly I wished release; - vainly there I sought surcease From kansetsu, dire sensation - Fain I would be off my belly - From that rare immobile oshi which Tomiki named taoshi - Lest I stay here evermore.

And the sight of white pajama, rustling of black hakama Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; So that now, to still the creaking of my arm, I lay repeating `'If I tap, he'll press no more - When I tap he'll press no more; - This I know, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer, `Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore; But the fact is I am tapping, for release, you see me rapping, And yet you continue pressing, pressing my extended arm, That I scarce was sure you knew it' - here I lie upon the floor; - Tapping here upon the floor.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I lay there wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no uke ever dared to dream before But the pressing was unceasing, and Dark Hakama gave no token, And the only words there spoken was the whispered phrase, `Tap more!' “What?” I whispered, and an echo murmured back the words, `Tap more!' Merely this and nothing more.

Face into the crashpad turning, all my soul within me burning, Thereupon renewed my tapping, somewhat louder than before. `Surely,' said I, `surely tori's cognizant of my condition; Let me see then, what can I do, and this mystery explore - Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; - 'Tapping, he should press no more.'

Over then, I turned my head, and with infinite increase of dread, Over then my tori stepped, and knelt upon my prostrate head. Not the least concession made he; not a moment stopped or stayed he; But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my outstretched arm - Perched on the elbow of my arm - Perched, and pressed, and nothing more.

Ebony Hakama tricked me thereupon straight into smiling, At my grave and stern position lying there upon the floor, `Now you kneel there on my head, unreleasing arm,' I said Ghastly grim and ancient tori, master of oshi taoshi - Tell me what I have to do now for release from your oshi!' Quoth my tori, `Tap some more.'

Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Unbendable arm in karate-do

Colin commented in a previous post on the unbendable arm that he is familiar with the concept of orenaite (the unbending arm) from both his aiki and his karate-do experience.  Of course, orenaite finds expression in karate-do as well as aikido.  Following are a couple of superb examples of near-magical karate skill.  Watch these videos looking for the unbendable arm, particularly in the contexts of oizuki (the lunge punch) and gedanbarai (low block).  Doesn't it look like he is doing aikido?  It is because of his amazing timing, ma-ai sense, and unbendable arm!




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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Unbendable... foot?

We saw in the previous unbendable arm articles that orenaite is not just an elbow extension trick . Although you can do the unbendable arm trick without it, the wrist posture affects orenaite. Actually, the unbendable arm is just part of a whole-body coordination trick.
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There are two primary ways of using the unbendable arm in aikido – as a separator or as a connector – and each way has its own distinct leg/foot posture associated with it...
  • When using the arm as a separator, you want the same foot weightbearing as the arm that is weightbearing. We call this 'same-hand-stuck-foot.' This lets you create a ground path through one side of your body without involving your center, and the effect of this is that the other side of your body (the unstuck, non-weightbearing side), along with your center, remains mobile. This type of unbendable arm action is a much weaker pushing action, but is much more mobile. In fact, the posture is designed so that if you take too much force, it just pushes you out of the way. You might call this something like “yin hand.”
  • When using the arm as a connector through which to apply force, you want the opposite foot weightbearing, so that the ground path from contact palm to weightbearing foot passes through the center of the body. We call this foot setup 'same-hand-same-foot,' and it is a much stronger, much more stable pushing position but it lacks mobility. Because the center is involved with the pushing action and opposite sides of the body are bound up, mobility is very limited. You could call this, “yang hand.”
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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The unbendable arm is not a parlor trick...



...although there is a sort of parlor trick associated with it.

Photo courtesy of Josh Smith

Similar to breaking boards across a karate-guy's shins or bending iron bars against a kung-fu guy's throat, these are demonstrations of phenomena that might be of some use in some real context, but as typically demonstrated, amount to not much more than a parlor trick to wow the crowd. Ueshiba had several of these, like the unmovable body or the unliftable body or the unbendable arm.
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Chris Marshall wrote an interesting article a while back sort of 'de-bunking' the unbendable arm parlor trick. You ought to read it because it is very entertaining - especially the video - but keep in mind the real unbendable arm is not just a parlor trick. It is also an integral part of the way that aikidoka are taught to generate and apply force and to slip out of the way of the opponents' force.
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The big secret is that paying too much attention to making the arm unbendable is getting the cart before the horse. That is, getting the concept backwards. The big secret is...
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If you move properly, you don't ever have to bend the arm. The unbendable arm in this context of proper whole-body movement becomes either an automatic separator or an instantaneous force-transmitter.
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Automatically unbendable

Unbendable
Photo courtesy of Josh Smith
Orenaite (the unbendable arm) is not just a strong, isometric, elbow extension. It is actually part of a whole-body posture coordination trick. An example of the whole-body nature of orenaite is the effect that wrist posture has on the unbendable arm. Even though you might see the umbendable arm demo done with the hand in various postures, here's the best way to use unbendable arm in application:
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If you are pushing through the unbendable arm with the palm as the contact point, extend the wrist fully, so that the palm is facing away from you with the fingers upward. Try this experiment: Lay your relaxed arm on a table, and with your other arm, feel the triceps muscles on the back of the upper arm that is laying on the table. Now, leave that arm relaxed, but pull that wrist back as far as it will go into extension. Try to get the feel of “popping” your wrist into extension or perhaps of pushing your palm-heel forward by just pulling your fingers back. If you do this right, you will feel the triceps tighten.
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What does this mean? What is happening is the wrist posture is putting a slight tonus (standing contraction) on the triceps muscles that extend the elbow. You can leave that arm relaxed, but if anything runs into the extended palm, the tricep automatically reflexes into orenaite. So, orenaite not only benefits you in the ways previously mentioned, but it turns itself on and off automatically right when you need it!
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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What type of motion is orenaite good for

Orenaite (the unbendable arm) is a good thing for some motions and a bad thing for other motions. But which is which?
  • Good for pushing and pulling directly forward or backward in line with the arm. (Think about how you would push a car.)
  • Bad for twisting (like a steering wheel) or pushing sideways in the plane of your shoulders. For these motions, an arm bent about 90 degrees with elbows close to, and in front of the body, is generally good.
Whatever force you put out is reflected back at you equally. When pushing or pulling through unbendable arms, the reflected force is simpler and more easily managable, but other motions (particularly twisting and pushing sideways) reflect a complex type of force back onto you that is terrible for your posture, balance, and mobility. For those reasons, we typically try to almost completely eliminate twisting and sideways motion from our aikido, leaving us with push and pull, which we do most efficiently through unbendable arms.
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Bram Frank - realities of cutting


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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Never, ever use the hand

Great quote RE: escaping the rear position in BJJ:
“You never, ever use your hand because the hand is the proof that your body is not in the right spot.” Saulo Ribeiro
Saulo Ribeiro is the most aiki-like, the most ideally judo-like of all the BJJ instructors that I've seen much of. Saulo is always preaching things like, “You don't want to fight against his strength,” and, “If he gets you in this position, accept it and go with it instead of fighting there.”
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I have thoroughly enjoyed watching and re-watching Saulo's Revolution DVDs that a friend loaned me. I would highly recommend this set for the BJJ or judo afficionado – or even for the aikido guys wanting to broaden their concept of what is real aiki.
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Why an unbendable arm anyway?

Unbendable arm seems like a pretty cool trick the first time you see it.
But once you stand back and think for a minute, you might think, "So what?"  Why is it a good thing that noone can bend the arm?  How could that help you in a fight? Well, following are three ways that aikido guys use the unbendable arm to good effect...
  • The unbendable arm can be used   as a stiff connector just like a knight would use a lance as a connector between him and the opponent.  In the example of the knight, he stabs the lance into the opponent and hits with the combined mass of horse, rider, and armor.  The lance as a stiff connector allows the knight to hit with much greater effective mass than if he tried to push the lance forward with arm muscles.  Same goes for the aikidoka who learns to apply his mass to the opponent through the unbendable arm.
  • The unbendable arm reduces the use of upper body strength and teaches the aikidoka to use his whole body instead of his relatively weak arm muscles.  Ask yourself - which is easier, to do pushups for 1 minute or to do a yoga plank (pushup position without bending the arms) for 1 minute.  The plank is much easier on the arms, as it makes use of trunk muscles through straight arms to hold you up.  As soon as you let your elbows bend it is no longer just trunk muscles but arm and chest muscles too.  We use unbendable arm to reduce our workload.
  • The unbendable arm can also act as a separator.  When the opponent's body runs into the end of the unbendable arm, if the aikidoka is light on his feet, his body is pushed out of the way by the opponent's force.  This can feel like trying to swat gnats - the passage of the swatter pushes the gnat out of the way.

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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Subscribe now for free updates from the Mokuren Dojo blog

Bram Frank - biomechanical cutting


____________
Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
____________

Subscribe now for free updates from the Mokuren Dojo blog

The bent unbendable arm

If you let your arms hang at your sides, relaxed, you will notice a slight bend at the elbow. This relaxed, natural bend is the proper shape for the basic unbendable arm in aikido. Just leave the arm the shape it is hanging at your side, but raise it up to point forward in your center. Voila – unbendable arm. It's nothing special – just getting your arms in front of your chest without letting them change from that relaxed shape.
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This month we'll be emphasizing unbendable arm in all our aikido classes as well as on the blog. Stay tuned for more tidbits on the unbendable arm.
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Subscribe now for free updates from the Mokuren Dojo blog

Unbendable arm month

Each month this year we are doing a particular emphasis in our classes at mokuren Dojo and on the blog here.  We had relaxation month, posture month , ma-ai month , and evasion month.  Now it's time for...
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Unbendable arm month
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As an introduction, you should check out this previous post on unbendable arm that I wrote in 2007.  I don't figure I could do any better introduction now, but I will certainly have a good bit of detail and expansion on the topic this month, so stay tuned...
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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Subscribe now for free updates from the Mokuren Dojo blog