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Learning from Aikido?
Active Kutakian
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I am currently in a place where the only class I can afford is a free Aikido group that meets nearby. There's no taijutsu less than a few hours away, far as I can tell. Since body awareness and energy flow are not currently personal strengths, this gives me a good chance to build those up. Any other suggestions on things to focus on learning while I'm here?

Thanks!

Leam

Posted on: 2011/6/11 13:21
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Leam Hall
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Re: Learning from Aikido?
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Do you do "breathing exercises" Leam? Charles gave me some years ago that I do daily and they are very helpful.

Posted on: 2011/6/11 22:55
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Re: Learning from Aikido?
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Papa-san,

Not really, though I did read before about breathing in, holding it a bit,and breathing out. All done slowly and with a medatative state of mind. If you have any recommendations I'm listening!

One of the issues I've faced with doing body control techniques is that I'm a largish fellow. It is way too easy to use muscle or mass to make up for not knowing the technique. That's a primary focus in this class for me; using the technique. I can add the muslce and mass after I know the technique.

Of course, back in CLT I was working out with the group and the instructor demonstrated a technique that just didn't work on me as well. Instead of making up some mumbo-jumbo excuse, which I've seen, we stopped and he worked with everyone to make it work on someone with the size differences. I probably had 4-6 inches in tall and maybe 60 pounds in wide on the rest of the students. I rather enjoyed letting them figure out the technique on me!

Thanks!

Leam

Posted on: 2011/6/11 23:13
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Leam Hall
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Re: Learning from Aikido?
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Mr. Hall,
I had a similar experience while deployed to the middle east last year. I was afraid that my budo would deteriorate since there were no fellow Bujinkan practitioners in my area, however, I met up with some of the Canadian coalition forces who studied Aikido and formed a class twice each week. I attended this class not knowing what to expect, the results were surprising.

Among the students were practitioners of many arts to include Judo, Shotokan Karate, MMA grappling, Muay Thai, Bujinkan (another man other than myself appeared several months later for a few classes) and Krav Maga. Despite our different backgrounds we all trained together in Aikido as the gentleman hosting the classes was Canadian and therefore only he was authorized to use the facilities we would meet at.

Throughout the entire year we learned the fundamentals of Aikido and the instructor took special care to try and relate and/or find similarities in the basics of body movement and our various arts. In a sense, it was more of a pooling of resources from all of us, of course the emphasis was on Aikido however, everyone that attended was able to improve at something in their chosen art/school. I myself found that the Aikido helped me with my ukemi to a significant degree, at the very least it kept me in shape while studying on my own and preparing myself for my 2 week visit to Noda.

After 6 months of training with the Canadians, I made my first trip to Japan and I was very well prepared even though I had been absent from my dojo in the US for so long. I guess what I am saying is, that if you have an open mind (as Soke always says) you can learn or take away something from other arts if no Bujinkan training is available to you.

Some training is better than no training in my opinion! I wish you the best.
~Jarod

Posted on: 2011/6/12 10:50
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Re: Learning from Aikido?
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Leam,

I feel your pain. I spent quite some time in the wilderness of Wyoming with little in the way of training opportunities.

I found a legitimate iaijutsu group, and that was great, as it allowed me to focus on kihon in terms of sword work (hasuji, tenouchi, etc.).

I still worked on my ukemi, sanshin, and did kihon happo with my wife. I also just worked Goho from Kukishin ryu bojutsu a lot on a telephone pole.

Spending time with Sanshin no kata is extremely important, and by spending time, I mean taking the kata apart inch by inch and understanding how your kamae changes through the movement. Just doing repetitions is useless unless you spend a lot of time feeling how your body flows through the movement while maintaining efficiency. Doing it very slowly will keep you honest and is very difficult at first, then it becomes addictive. This is similar in theory to what beginning (less than five years of practice) taichi practitioners do with their forms, but it is of course not taichi. The method is sound.

Just spending six months on that alone, with honest practice can completely change your taijutsu for the better. You can also do the same with ukemi and the kihon happo. Really, everything else is just gravy beyond that, imo. If your foundation isn't good, the rest doesn't matter.

I found, by doing this, that when I would practice with people of good quality, that I did not have any problems. My breadth of technical exposure was not great, but my depth of understanding of kihon was sufficiently deep to allow me to catch on to new things much easier than if I had not spent that time in such in-depth training, and I got a lot of very nice compliments when they found out that I trained on my own 95% of the time for three years (not the point, but it was nice to hear).

There is a reason why each of the Sanshin and the Kihon Happo are done the way they are (and this applies to henka as well). Being on your own is a great time to delve into those things and get to know them for yourself. It requires a lot of self-direction and self-honesty, but it is so worth it.

Still go practice with the aikido people though, it will be fun, just as long as they are a good group. Figure out how it is different from what we do and how it is similar, then tuck that stuff away for the future.

As Papa-san is alluding to, breathing is important. Sanshin has breathing excersise incorporated into it, and there are a lot of ways you can change up rhythms in your movement and breathing as you get better.

I know what it is like to be isolated from good training partners and teachers, but I was encouraged by my teacher before I moved away to keep going and just dive into the foundations without reservation. It was excellent advice.

Even if you have been doing the Kihon Happo and Sanshin for a good bit of time, this sort of training is invaluable, as many people really haven't taken that kind of time to root themselves in the foundations of our art. Think of it as a typeof Shugyo.

Check in when you can with a teacher whom you trust and make use of other available training material on the fundamentals. Be excited about the potential, and don't let the situation get you down.

Posted on: 2011/6/13 14:25
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Re: Learning from Aikido?
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Quote:
Think of it as a typeof Shugyo.


Where's the like button?!

In 1999-2000 I was in rural Shikoku where there were no budo taijutsu people and trained in Aikido twice a week.

Good luck!

Posted on: 2011/6/13 19:15
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Re: Learning from Aikido?
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Leam, Glen has given you some excellent advice! Did you know that running a movement through your mind is almost the same thing as actually doing the movement? You use the same part of the brain. This art of ours is a very personal thing and we each individually make it what it is in our own body.
A very important aspect to learn is doing movements without tension, without use of muscle strength and that is a continuous task in your training, ----- as it is in mine too!

Posted on: 2011/6/13 22:03
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Re: Learning from Aikido?
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On the flip side, one of my Bujinkan students is a senior aikidoka. I asked them if anything that they've studied with me for a year comes out in their aikido class. "I stand on peoples feet a lot" they said "They don't like it one bit".

Sweet.

Posted on: 2011/6/17 23:30
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Re: Learning from Aikido?
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I am trying to work out if this is the same as 'cross-training'? I suppose it is, except that if you taijutsu is only practiced solo you are more likely to absorb more of the art in which you actually interact with other budoka.

The biggest value for me in training in another art (simultaneously in my case, although I only have a year in my 'new' art JKD Concepts) is that they don't play by Bujinkan rules, either in 'technique' training or 'free/randori/kumite/sparring' training.

"But we have no rules" I hear you cry, "and this lack of rules is the very strength of our art, and is why we have no sporting application etc etc ad infinitum...."

Well, maybe not rules, but you have to admit, in taijutsu training you have a pretty good idea how uke is going to attack you, no matter what with, if it is a punch it will most likely be a tsuki or uppercut, and if it is a kick it is unlikely to be a spinning back roundhouse, and you also know how Uke is going to 'receive' the technique, which is usually in a manner that ensures their safety whilst allowing you to not hold back too much, and is because they know or sense what is happening and even if with some resistance for training purposes, usually eventually 'go with it' and flow to the ground, roll, breakfall etc. They don't usually freeze into an immoveable posture or start kicking like a donkey or going for a flying armbar etc.

It is simple, if we ever do have to use the skills derived from training in taijutsu, we should at least see how those skills transfer into the unknown territory of another fighting art, under controlled but challenging conditions.

My personal weakness is sparring in JKD, because they tend to spend far far longer in the free movement phase of their training, when in reality both the taijutsu practitioner and the JKD practitioner would be looking to move quickly to tie up and move to a safe position from which to counterattack. But almost all taijutsu classes don't tend to spend much time circling one another and making tentative attacks and feints etc, but get straight on with the business of what to do once contact has been made. The problem I find with this is that the Wing Chun guys and kickboxers are very good at stopping me closing with them, because they are far more practiced in the toe-to-toe area, with quick honed reflexes and conditioned flinch responses, along with good attacking stategies, e.g. fast combinations, centre-line control, straight blasts etc.

And at the grappling end it is helpful too, because this is not their strength, and even though the JKD instructor is a 30+ year serving police officer, they do not concentrate on mimimum strength techniques, but rather on full strength applied scientifically, which make sense in many ways, but as taijutsuka we tend to hold strength as the last resort, and aren't really sure what might alter if we suddenly did start putting oomph into everything we do. I know this goes against the principles of taijutsu, but you are probably going to get tense in a real fight, rather than flow around your enemies like Robert Twigger's goldfish, and therefore application in a real environment may find your training environment wanting. It's all about balance though.

Posted on: 2011/6/19 7:29
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Re: Learning from Aikido?
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You've made some good points but also some that show lack of understanding what taijutsu really is. If you have trained well you WILL flow and you will NOT tense up in the real situation. The adrenilin dump comes from fear that you can't handle the situation.

Posted on: 2011/6/21 22:38
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