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Beginnings, middles, and ends

Aristotle wrote in his Poetics that "A whole is that which has a beginning, a middle, and an end."  This applies to aikido as well as to poetics because an encounter also has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
  • Hanasu is the main exercise that we use to study beginnings.
  • Randori is the main exercise that we use to study the middle.
  • Kata is the main exercise that we use to study the endings.
A student told me today, "under previous aikido instructors I used to spend a whole lot more time kneeling on the ground trying to finish a pin on uke."  I pointed out that different classes like to emphasize different parts of the whole of aiki but my preference is to spend most of our practice time on beginnings and middles because if uke is finished then he's finished but if he's not finished then it's not time to play the end-game.  You're still in the middle.
[Photo courtesy of Shugyou]

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Helpful handful; judo chokes

Between yellow and green belt in judo we start to integrate choking techniques into our game for most adults.  Following is a handful of helpful hints for making the most out of this set of techniques.
  • Safety - Technical blood chokes (unlike crushing strangles) are generally considered safe, but for an additional measure of safety, we try to follow these guidelines... Don't practice chokes on children under 13 or people with history of heart or cardiovascular problems.  When practicing chokes on people over 50 years of age, position the choke but don't clamp down on it (uke tap before tori clamps it).  Try to refrain from choking on both sides of the neck during one practice, and try to refrain from practicing chokes in every class.  If you don't want chokes done on you, let your instructor and your partners know ahead of time.
  • Target - The carotid sinus (the target of most choking attempts) is located at the corner of the jaw slightly above the level of the Adam's apple, underneath the SCM muscle that runs from your ear to your collarbone.  Depending on the position of uke's head, you may have to push this band of muscle out of the way to get to the artery underneath.
  • Position then anchor - On most chokes, you position the choking surface of your hand or forearm directly on one carotid sinus, then grab whatever is at hand to anchor your hand there.  Go in that order - position then anchor.  Don't grab a handful of collar and then try to find the right position because you will nearly always end up out of position and have to use much more force over a longer period of time.
  • One artery is sufficient - Because you are pressing the carotid sinus to cause a reflex knockout, you don't have to clamp both carotids to get an effect.  In fact, pushing into a carotid sinus can cause a much faster, much lower-force knockout than squeezing both carotids.  The carotids are not the only arteries carrying blood to the head, so you can't cut off all bloodflow anyway.
  • Position, choke, armbar - Having a controlling position is usually pre-requisite to making an effective choking attempt.  It is almost impossible to choke uke when you are between his legs because he is controlling your hips.  When uke begins using his hands to resist a choking attempt, he often gets himself into an armbar.  So, the flow of groundwork often goes from position to choke to armbar.
For goodness sake, have some sense and don't practice this stuff without an experienced instructor on hand!
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Thoughts on Sanchin bunkai


One of the more ubiquitous kata found in the various forms of Okinawan karate is Sanchin.  The movements found in Sanchin are said to be foundational to the rest of karate, and several practical applications can be found for every motion in the kata. 
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A pretty smart guy in the blogosphere told me a while back that at their school they taught that every move should have at least three applications - strike/block, throw/takedown, and pressure point/joint destruction.  I'm not too much on pressure points, so I tend to say that every move should have at least two applications (atemi or grappling) but that vital points should definitely be kept in mind.
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Following are some of my thoughts on the mostly-grappling applications of Sanchin kata...
  • The hands together pointing down over your groin thing at the start is not a salute. It is a wrist break response to a chest grab/push.
  • The first step forward from yoi into a stance looks like shomenate. It is basically entering strongly and violently with your whole body into the attacker's center while using the arms to wedge in and attack his face.
  • The basic arms-up stance looks and acts a lot like a basic judo clench.
  • The punch/block motions look a lot like vying for an inside grip just like in judo. The center punches also work great as kuzushi.
  • The big elbow motions followed by spearhands are clearing their hands off you and reaching into their center to do something (strike/grab).
  • The swirly motions are basically like the "swimming" motions we use to get around the other guy's arms when grappling. Also implied in this is the idea that your strikes should be able to originate from anywhere along these paths. Thus, you get the exotic atemi, like ear slap, groin slap/chop, overhand hook, eye rakes, and various other vital point strikes.
  • Any step that comes thru a center point under you (i.e. tsugiashi) can be replaced by any sweep or kick. This is (to me) where the lethality and finishing techniques come from. The upper body motions, including the strikes and "blocks" are basically gripfighting and setting up throws, and every time you take a step, you are either destroying a leg or hooking a leg to do a smashing gake-type throw onto a table or chair or etc...
Stuff to think about for you guys who think that this kata is a simple punch/block thing.
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Six great strategies for verbal aikido

"Whew, I can't handle this person! Let's get Pat to deal with them..."  I'm no miracle worker but I get this every so often and most of the time I'm fairly successful at diffusing disgruntled people.  Here are some aikido principles for dealing with situations like this at work...
  • Accept the attack without offering resistance - Ask, "What can I help you with," and then listen (really listen) without interrupting.  When allowed to thrust at you without resistance, most folks will overextend their argument, expend their energy, and calm down a little.
  • An attack is an opportunity - In a physical confrontation, every attack presents the opportunity for a specific set of techniques.  It is not possible to grab someone who is calm and balanced and force them to take a fall, but if they will attack you, suddenly they give you a gift of possibility.  In the business world you will find that sometimes your worst enemies can be made into your biggest fans - so an attack is really an opportunity to make a friend.
  • Turn and look at things from their point of view - Place yourself in their shoes and say, "I understand."  A lot of times they are mad about some secondary issue and are using that as an excuse to act out.  You don't have to validate their crazy behavior but you can share their emotion and motivation.  Often this will take the wind out of their sails.
  • Take a chance to step away and re-center yourself - Just like in a physical confrontation, if you can't handle what's going on, you might push back outside of attack range and then re-engage.  In a business context, say, "Hold on for a moment while I go check that out for you." Then leave the room, take a breath, re-center yourself, and re-engage in a more positive manner.
  • Synchronize yourself with them - when you move with their ebb and flow, you reduce their ability to injure you and you let them expend their energy and calm down.  In business dealings, try acting as an advocate for them or a go-between to buffer them from the system they are angry with.
  • Don't add more energy to the conflict - if you don't want a response, don't offer a stimulus.  If you want a fight to calm down you have to avoid counterattacking.  Sure, occasionally you might have to engage and destroy the oponent in order to stop the behavior.  This is called the "dramatic relief technique" in therapy, but this should only be used in the rarest of circumstances.  For the most part, a conflict will tend to go to a lower energy level if you just refrain from adding your own energy.



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It's still in there!

Yesterday I ran through Seisan kata several times - for the first time in 15-20 years! and it's still in there!
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During that time period, I've spent most of my karate kata time on Sanchin, Tekki, and Heian.  I haven't done Seisan regularly since about 1990, but it's still all there.
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I guess if that muscle memory is going to persist for 20 years or more, that it's time to dust it off, knock the rust off, and begin digging into it for real along the lines of Kane & Wilder.


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Stiff-arms and chokes

I don't have one single take-away point from last night's class.
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We worked on breaking down the opponent's stiff-arms and slipping into a throw.  We worked on breaking the stiffarms with a windshield wiper and with an arm drop and we wound up getting into seoinage, ogoshi, hizaguruma, ashiguruma, and koshiguruma.
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On the ground we worked on hadakajime, katahajime, three classic forms of jujijime, and sodeguruma jime. Maybe it's because of all the chokes that I still can't think of a take-away point...
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The stiff-arm and the freeze

In judo, probably the most popular beginner randori tactic is the stiff-arm.  You get a grip on the opponent's gi and lock your arms out straight in order to hold them off of you and prevent them from entering for a throw.
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Problem is, even though stiff-arming may make it somewhat harder for the other guy to enter for a throw, it just about absolutely prevents you from doing any judo either.  So long as you are stiffarming, neither guy can do good judo.  You might not get thrown but you'll never throw them either. This makes it a pretty crude tactic.
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It is also a beginner trick because when we first start randori, everyone comes up with the bright idea of stiff-arming.  It doesn't have to be taught, beginners just do it.  Also, a lot of beginner class time is taken up trying to show folks how to get around the other guy's stiff-arms.  Eventually, as you get better, it doesn't make much difference if the opponent stiff-arms you or not.
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The part about this that really bugs me is not being stiff-armed.  It's okay with me if you try to hold me out.  The part that really, really bugs me is when I catch myself stiff-arming someone.  This is such an easy reflex or habit to fall into that occasionally I catch myself being surprised by someone and resorting to the stiff-arm to try to get control of the situation.  Here I am, 20 years into my judo training and still catching myself making the first day#1 beginner randori mistake.
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I got to thinking about this the other day.  It almost always happens when I'm surprised by something that my opponent does.  When they take me out of my comfort zone, I often respond with stiff-arms instead of responding with ju.  I wonder if this is the same mechanism as what Rory Miller calls, "the freeze."
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Rory is always preaching the freeze.  Apparently, everybody freezes when they encounter a novel (and violent) situation.  It's usually the guy who can un-freeze and get into motion soonest that will win the encounter.
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So, is the judo stiff-arm the same thing as Rory's freeze?  If so, how do you recognize that you are stiff-arming sooner and how do you stop stiff-arming habitually?  Do the same methods for breaking the freeze work to break your own stiff-arm reflex?
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Sanchin - the three conflicts

The Okinawan karate kata, Sanchin, is an interesting study. In most systems/schools it is considered a very advanced form, and is not studied until black belt or later. Fortunately for me, the Isshinryu instructor that taught in my hometown for about 30 years as I was growing up - that particular instructor used Sanchin as the very first kata. So Sanchin is one of the kata that I have the greatest exposure to.
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The name Sanchin means "Three Conflicts," referring to the purpose of the kata being to reduce the conflict between, or coordinate the mind, body, and breath (or spirit).
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When we would practice Sanchin (or any other kata) together as a class, the instructor would have us do three repetitions. One very slow and relaxed with no snap or isometric tension but great attention to detail and precision. The second repetition we would speed up toward normal kata speed and add moderate snap, tension, and breath control. The third repetition would be full blast. I like that practice of repeating the kata three times with different focus on each succeeding repetition.
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Alternately, instead of doing three reps with light, medium, and hard tension, you can do three reps, focussing each rep on one of the three conflicts:
  • Mind - Cognitive learning - concentrate on the pattern, technique names, slow careful precision
  • Body - Psychomotor learning - add in the isometric tension, the breathing, the snap
  • Spirit - (or intent) - Affective learning - repeat the kata a third time paying close attention to one particular bunkai within the kata. Visualize your opponent and run through that one bunkai visualizing in great detail the technique's effective outcome.

Sanchin - three conflicts - mind, body, spirit - light, medium, hard.  If you want a TON of great info on Sanchin kata from a guy whose knowledge of the kata FAR exceeds mine, check out Kris Wilder's book, The Way of Sanchin Kata.

One thing - two actions in aikido

There are only about two things that you ever do in aikido...
  • enter - crash into the opponent's center of mass, occupying their territory to such a degree that they don't have the freedom to mount an offensive.
  • turn away - step aside and give way, letting them spin off of you and creating so much space that they can't effectively attack.
The space between enter and turn... the middle ground... this is a killing field.  You don't want to hesitate in the middle space.  He who hesitates is lunch.

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One thing - Every so often, play around

First I wanted to thank all the great folks that came to our aikido playday this past weekend.  Everybody that I've heard from said that it was a fun, mind-expanding thing.  We looked at some Filipino martial drills and their relation to aiki. We played with getting in synch and blending with uke's rise and fall better.  We got a brief look at how some pressure point attacks can fit into aiki.  And we briefly looked at some interesting similarities between kosotogake, ushiroate, and gedanate.  But the one take-away point is this: 

  • You have to make most of your everyday practice involve probabilities instead of possibilities.  You have to spend most of your time on the most reliable, effective, efficient core of the art.  But every so often (perhaps once per month) you should play...stretch... try possibilities without too much thought to the probabilities.


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What is karate?

Video of Part I of a cool BBC Documentary on Karate...
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Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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One thing - three ways to do this stuff

Three distinct ways to approach the execution of martial arts skills...
  • Injury - do such grievous injury to the opponent so rapidly that it ends the fight immediately.
  • Control - gain such a powerful position of advantage that you can safely control and negotiate.
  • Freedom - get the opponent off of you so that you can flee without them chasing you.
There are probably more, and no particular martial art limits itself to one of these themes, but I bet in general you can see one of these approaches predominant in your martial arts.
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Tomiki's atemi isn't very striking, is it?

A student sent me an interesting question the other day...
...[haven't] I always heard the first 5 techniques in Ju Nana are Atemi waza? If that's the case, I was just thinking about Ushiro......how is that atemi, if indeed it is?
Ushiroate, as seen above performed by Tomiki Sensei, basically just involves pulling the guy down from behind.  You certainly aren't hitting the guy, so why is this thing classified with the atemiwaza (striking techniques).  This question pops up a lot.
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I've heard some instructors say that these are defenses against strikes - not that they are strikes themselves. I don't buy that because a) the atemiwaza can be easily applied against wrist grabs, etc..., and b) the whole of junana can be considered defense against strikes.  That is certainly no basis for classifying these five techniques.
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There are also some instructors who point out that Tomiki probably had a different idea about atemi than we do.  He certainly did not mean atemi to be a "chop uke in the nose," damaging impulse type strike.  Ate in Japanese does mean to strike, but it also implies things like,"touch" or  "apply." This creates enough linguistic give in the category of "striking techniques" to allow something like ushiroate to be grouped here.
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The answer I gave - the one that makes the most sense to me - is that the atemiwaza category contains both direct strikes and immediate consequences (variations/combinations/followups) to those direct strikes.  The atemiwaza starts with three ways to attack the face directly in order to get an off balance and get control of uke's center.  If you practice randori trying just those first 3 things, the next two things will rapidly evolve. Gedanate happens when uke will not allow you to hit his face, and ushiroate happens if uke crowds you too much.
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So, since #4 and #5 are natural consequences of the first three fundamental atemi, they are grouped together.  The atemiwaza includes 3 strikes and 2 what-if's.

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One thing - get off your back!

In general, the first thing you have to do to escape from being held on the ground is get off your back! Turn on your side facing your opponent and you will be much more mobile and slippery than if you allow them to press your back to the ground.  Never turn away or they'll jump on your back, and never allow them to press you flat on your back.
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Top 2 ways to suck at randori

There are several great ways to absolutely suck at randori, and each one will to some extent slow your progress in the art.  But here are the two absolute best ways to make sure that you will take the longest time possible to become anywhere near proficient.
  1. Try to win
  2. Try to not lose
Assuming you don't actually want to suck at randori, the first of these is fairly easy to avoid.  You're not doing shiai (a death match) against an opponent in order to obtain a prize.  You are working with a partner toward the goal of both of you getting better.  No big problem there.
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But avoiding the second of these can be tricky.  In randori, you absolutely do not want to be defensive. You need to attack, even if it means you take lots of falls. You do need to retain enough of your senses that you don't endanger your partner needlessly - don't do stupid stuff - but do try to get your techniques working on him.
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How not to suck at randori:
One of the best ways to avoid the two traps above is for both partners in the randori to declare to themselves, "I will be the one to take the next fall."  Then you set out to find out what kind of fall it will be.  Of course, if your partner presents you with such an amazingly blatant opportunity that you just can't stand it, then you have to take the throw - that's part of that mutual benefit thing.  But then he gets up and you say to yourself again, "I will take the next fall."
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So the goal in randori isn't to get the other guy down no matter what.  Nor is it to keep yourself from having to take falls.  The goal is to get the opportunity to take as much good, varied ukemi practice as possible.
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Wow!  I set out to tell you the two best ways to suck at randori and I ended up telling you how to be the best you can be at randori.

[Photo courtesy of Andrea Vascellari]
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What is Judo?

Cool artsy video of some judo throws...
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Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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One thing - when to do otoshi

When you push someone down off the top of a cliff, they have all the way down to figure out something to do about it.  Likewise, with floating throws, accentuate the peak of their motion, let them figure out a way to get down, and then push them off their base as they plant a foot.  This way they won't have time to come up with something to do about it before they're gone.
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Schedule Flux...

Y'all don't forget now,  No class tomorrow, Saturday 7/10!

I'll be in Jackson at JoyFlow Yoga having my horizons expanded (among other things ;-)

See y'all next week!

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I love this blog: Rory Miller's Chiron

Rory Miller's Chiron blog, named after the centaur that taught Achilles to fight, is a definite must-read for anyone who wants to think they are practicing a martial art in order to be able to survive violence. Every single post of Rory's is a peek inside the head of a guy who has really had to put his knowledge and experience on the line. Every article at Chiron is an education in and of itself. Here are a few of my favorites...
  • If you are going to do a martial art and want it to be effective in a fight, then you need to understand the concept of the OODA loop. Rory Miller's posts on OODA are a really good starting point.
  • A while back in a heated debate on some blog or another, Sensei Strange left a comment mocking the idea that punches are good options for controlling the opponent. The gist of the comment was, "Sure, whatever you don't understand and can't control, just punch it into submission!" Well here is a great article about just that idea from a guy who has had to subdue and control aplenty!
  • And Rory's thoughts from a few years ago on Miyamoto Musashi.
There is so much material at Rory Miller's Chiron blog, you really ought to head over there and delve into his archives to see what you can glean.  Really, I think any chance you get to study with Rory's would be well worth your time!
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One thing - what goes up comes down

Any thing that goes up must come back down.  Therefore, kick uke's foot into the air (e.g. deashi or uchimata) and get ready for it to come back down.  When it touches the ground, throw an otoshi (e.g. taiotoshi or seoiotoshi).  This uchimata-to-taiotoshi combo is a HOOT!
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Judo vs. BJJ


So, the commonly heard axiom is that BJJ derived from judo but evolved a much more advanced ground game while Judo developed a much more advanced standing game. I think that's mostly too simple a distinction to be useful - judo also has very advanced groundwork and BJJ also has a stand-up game that is in some ways superior to that of judo.
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.Studying BJJ (admitedly mostly from video and book) I can honestly say that I have not seen much BJJ that I'd not already learned in judo except for leglocks and omoplata. Perhaps it's just my particular judo background. Coming up through the ranks, our club seemed to spend much more time than average on the ground. Also, nearly all of us that were studying judo were also concurrently studying aikido or hapkido or jujitsu, so it could just be that what I associate in my mind as 'normal judo' is closer to BJJ than it is to mainstream judo.
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I think that what BJJ (and especially Gracie JJ) really has going for it that judo does not have is excellent, excellent instructors. While there are some good judo instructors out there, there are also a lot of regional champions teaching wannabe-champions 1-2 throws and working on conditioning to try to prepare them to use their power to thrive in competition environments. It seems to me that because of their excellent pedagogy, an average BJJ instructor could probably teach a pencil-necked geek more in less time than an average judo instructor could.
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With all that said, here's a quick point-by-point comparison of a few of the differences between judo and BJJ. Bear in mind that these are simple trends - individual clubs can vary a good bit from these ideas.
  • Throws vs. takedowns - Judo players value the perfect throw (ippon) because judo rules reward the perfect throw. BJJ rules do not reward the perfect throw differently than the merely-okay takedown, so BJJ players are generally free to use a wider variety of entries into groundwork. This does not make either art better - it's just a difference. If you want to see larger, higher-impact, more technically perfect throwing techniques, look at judo. If you want to see easier-to-perform, more functional, lower-impact entries into the ground, look at BJJ.
  • Different competition rulesets - BJJ has a more practical, more fun ruleset for competitions - The judo ruleset has been modified to a shameful degree over the years, diluting the virility of the art and reducing interest in the sport. The BJJ ruleset is remarkably like early judo rulesets, and has remained mostly unchanged - resulting in an explosion in popularity and interest in the sport.
  • Inductive vs. deductive - Judo seems to me to be generally more deductive, while BJJ is more inductive. Judo starts with a handful of principles and deduces the techniques through randori. BJJ teaches lots of techniques, one for every conceivable situation, and leaves the student to induce the general principles through experience in live rolling. Both eventually get to the same state. Both end up with nearly identical sets of techniques. The same principles are at work in both arts. But they approach the development of the art in the student from different directions.
Want more info on the differences between judo and jujitsu?  Mastering Jujitsu (Mastering Martial Arts Series) is one of the best books I've ever read on how BJJ and GJJ evolved differently from judo and why they do things the way they do in BJJ.
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One thing - first, best response

One thing from last night's aikido class: Whenever someone startles you, step aside and reach for their face with both hands!  This switches your attacker into a defensive mode and sets up all your aikido techniques.
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Strong side forward or back?


In high-level Judo competition, the competitive gripfighting gurus say to always fight dominant side forward because it makes for a shorter entry for throws like seoinage.  These gurus say that statistically (that is, looking at lots of past matches), folks that switch sides during a match never win.
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But then, boxers always (or nearly always?) fight dominant side back, so that they can have greater power in their straight cross.  I'm not a follower of boxing, so I don't know of any counterexamples or stats about boxers that fight on their off-sides.
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So my question for y'all is, in a MMA-like environment, is it better to fight dominant side forward to facilitate grappling, or dominant side back to facilitate punching?  Does it depend on the particular skills of the fighter?  Does it matter?



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Tomiki Sensei's false modesty

I've recently heard some very highly-ranked instructors express reluctance to refer to what we do as "Tomiki-ryu" or "Tomiki style" or even just "Tomiki aikido." They say Tomiki sensei didn't want it called this. He preferred to simply call it, "aikido."
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I say this is basically false modesty (on the part of both Tomiki Sensei and these later instructors) and this line of argument gets them into a logical deadend...
  • If we think that Tomiki's opinion carries absolute authoritative weight on the subject... If what Tomiki said goes... then it really is Tomiki's thing - Tomiki's aikido that we're doing, and it would be appropriate to call it Tomikiryu.
  • On the other hand, if we don't consider Tomiki to absolutely own the aikido that we do... If Tomiki's opinions are guidelines or starting points but not final rules or laws... then who cares what he wanted us to call the thing? We are free to take his expressed wishes into consideration but still do contrary.
I say we ought to proudly refer to the thing we do Tomiki Aikido because...
  • The thing that we do has been commonly referred to as Tomiki-ryu or Tomiki Aikido for at least 30 years, if not longer. People in the aikido community understand what we're talking about when we say "Tomiki aikido," even if the purists feel like they have to constantly correct that usage.  
  • When we tell someone, "We do aikido," then they practice with us, a long, drawn-out discussion always ensues, "We don't do it that way..." until we finally admit that we do Tomiki aikido.  Why not get that out of the way from the start just for the sake of clear communication?
  • I think an homage to Tomiki sensei is appropriate, and that Tomiki's reported modesty does not carry the weight of law. Tomiki's modifications to Ueshiba's teaching methods were truly revolutionary and worthy of respect and remembrance.
You guys can do what you want, but as for me and my family, we do Tomiki aikido.
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One thing...

I usually don't do much metablogging - blogging about how I go about blogging, but this is an issue that I have continued to try to deal with for quite a while and I'm still trying to figure out.  I figured some other aspiring blogger might get something from hearing this litany of errors from which I've grown.
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This blog started out primarily as a simple training log for the benefit of myself and my students.  When I discovered that other folks were following my blog, I started changing my format to accommodate a wider interest.  Part of this has been a continual attempt to re-work my training logs so that I retain some value for myself and my students but I don't let my other readers eyes glaze over from the tedium.
Now I am going to try a new thing - one single take-away point from each class.  Sort of a condensed, condensed summary.  These should typically be 1-2 sentences about the one "aha! moment in each class," written such that my students benefit but also such that others outside of our particular domain might glean something of value.  If you only remember one thing about each class, this should be it.
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For instance, in this last class, we spent a lot of time on warmup, ukemi, and floating throws, but the "one thing," the "aha! moment" was...

  • Floating throws accentuate uke's upward motion just a touch at the peak in order to unhook them from the earth (their power source), then you push or pull them off their base when they try to regain connection with the earth (during an otoshi).
Let's see how these "One things" work for a while.

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What is aikido?

Film of British Shodokan (Tomiki Aikido) practitioner talking about the art.

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Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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Mokuren Dojo on your Kindle!

WOW! How cool is this?  One more way that you can keep up with your favorite aikido and judo blog - now you can subscribe to this blog on your Amazon Kindle!

So, Dear Constant Reader, you can help me out ...

  1. Hop on your Kindle and go to the Kindle Store.  Type "Mokuren Dojo" into the search bar, and subscribe!
  2. Write a review and, by all means, give me a 5-star rating!
  3. Tell all your Kindle-phile buddies that they can now get this awesome aikido/judo blog on their Kindle!


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President's Challenge

[Mokuren Dojo is a member of the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and I recently received the following announcement from the AAU offices. Whatever else anyone thinks about our current president, I think this particular program is laudable and important.  Mokuren Dojo has taken part in the President's Challenge in the past, but it's been several years (I received a medal and a letter from George W. Bush).  Perhaps it's time to fire that program back up... PLP (the highlighting below is mine)]


THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

June 23, 2010

First Lady Launches President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition
Mrs. Obama joins Washington, DC-area kids to unveil expanded mission of Council, introduce 2010 Council Co-Chairs and Members

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, First Lady Michelle Obama joined kids from the Washington, DC area to launch the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition and introduce the 2010 Council co-chairs and members. In conjunction with the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative, this year President Obama has broadened the scope of the Council, formerly known as the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, to include a focus on healthy eating as well as active lifestyles. Yesterday, the President signed an Executive Order outlining the Council's new emphasis on both good nutrition and physical fitness.

The President has named Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, and Dominique Dawes, three-time Olympian and former U.S. national champion in women's gymnastics, 2010 Council Co-Chairs. Dawes delivered remarks at the event and Brees recorded a video message that was shown there. Joining Dawes at the event were 2010 Council Members Dan Barber, Tedy Bruschi, Allyson Felix, Michelle Kwan, Curtis Pride, Donna Richardson Joyner, Dr. Ian Smith, Carl Edwards, Cornell McClellan and Dr. Stephen McDonough. Council Executive Director, Shellie Pfohl, was also in attendance. Following the announcement, the First Lady, Pfohl and the Council Members joined the kids in participating in a series of activity stations.

"This year we're expanding the work of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition to include not just a focus on active lifestyles, but on healthy eating, too," Mrs. Obama said. "The Council will play an important role in our effort to help combat childhood obesity in this country and I am grateful to the athletes, chefs, doctors and nutrition experts who are volunteering their time on the Council to help make a difference."

The President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition is a committee of volunteer citizens who advise the President through the Secretary of Health and Human Services about opportunities to develop accessible, affordable and sustainable physical activity, fitness, sports and nutrition programs for all Americans regardless of age, background or ability. The Council's mission is to engage, educate and empower all Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and good nutrition. For more information about the Council and its members, visit http://www.fitness.gov/.

In addition to its presidential advisory role, the Council promotes and maintains the President's Challenge Physical Activity and Fitness Awards program (President's Challenge) which encourages all Americans to include physical activity – 30 minutes per day for adults and 60 minutes per day for youth “ in their daily lives. For more information about the President's Challenge programs, visit www.presidentschallenge.org.


 
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Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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Training Log

Kids' Judo
  • ukemi
  • gracie games: base battle
  • we had pairs of kids each put a foot down onto a baton and grapple with the intent of getting the other guy's foot off the baton long enough to pick up the baton.
  • concentration game - listening to the clouds
Judo
  • ukemi w/ emphasis on turning the forward rolling breakfall into a forward airfall
  • warmup with deashibarai (2 on one side and one on the other)
  • deashi-kouchi-ouchi combo
  • kouchi-ouchi-kouchi combo
  • kouchi-seoiotoshi combo


____________
Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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Subscribe now for free updates from Mokuren Dojo
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I love this blog: Zac's Gaijin Explorer

Zacky Chan's Gaijin Explorer is an excellent blog with a lot of great articles about the cultural experiences of a barbarian living in Japan as well as nice technical aikido articles - frequently with a philosophical or psychological or cultural slant. Here are some of my favorite articles from Zac's archives...
  • This is actually (IMO) Zac's best post to date, and is probably one of the very best posts in the entire martial arts blogoshere. What makes it even more interesting than just the excellent content is the lack of engagement Zac's readers have had with it. Many of Zac's articles get at least a handful of good comments but this one (as of this writing) has NONE. You folks are apparently missing out on a true gem!
  • This next one contains a wonderful view of the inside of a student's head as he deals with the frustration involved with making it to regular practices. I like that. In order to excel at blogging you have to expose yourself some and get personal. I think Zac's solution to his problem would help a lot of folks a lot of the time. Check it out!
  • And an example of some of Zac's more philosophical ponderings, "Do our lives have folds in them?"
I think if you aren't reading this blog regularly, you should be.  Please do yourself a favor and go there right now and bookmark it!
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Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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The voice of my kata

I have a confession. I hope you don't think I'm too crazy...
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Kata speaks to me. I don't mean, "I like kata," or, "Doing kata makes me feel good." I mean, kata talks in words and sentences with a voice to me.  Kata and I have long conversations over a beer like old friends sometimes.
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Junanahon kata, for instance, tells me different things at different times...
  • Occasionally it's like a lover's spat, and all my kata will say to me is, "Thou shalt step just so, and having steppest thusly, thou shall press with utmost precision upon uke's chin, and then and only then shalt thou..."
  • But more often it says something like, "Always start with shomenate or oshitaoshi and go with the flow from there."
  • Or it might say, "Try to avoid contact, and if that doesn't work, do #1 or #2, and if those don't work, the rest of the kata is your backup plan."
  • Or it can say something like, "Try #6 and if that doesn't work, try #7 and if that doesn't work, try #8, and if that doesn't work, then try #9..."
  • Or it might say, "Try #6, and if that doesn't work, Try #6 again. And again... and again. I promise it'll work here in a minute."
  • Sometimes it says, "That was pretty good, but couldn't you have been a little bit easier on uke?"
  • But at other times it tells me, "That seems to have worked this time, but isn't being so easy on uke a bit risky?"
Since my kata talks to me, does that mean it is alive?
 
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Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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Other blogs (not as good as mine, but they try awfully hard!) :-)