Our aikido approach- as requested in the aikido on knees thread
Ok folks, this is going to be a long coupla posts. A little background.
I train at the Itten Dojo in Harrisburg PA. We are currently involved in aikido training with Ellis Amdur, out of Seattle. He is helping us devise an approach to aikido that is trainable under resistance, effective against a variety of common attacks, relativley simple to learn, and that lives up to the promise that aikido makes- the ability to resolve conflict.
We ARE NOT the be-all-end-all of combatives. We do not claim to be the best system out there, and you aren't gonna see us taking the MMA world by strom or anything.
Over the next couple posts, I will detail how we practice, and why, as best as I understand it. I ask that you wait till I give you the go ahead to post any commentary, because I will need a couple of posts to get this all down.
I am very interested in your input, because this approach to aikido is a work in progress. It may change and evolve as we continue to train in it, adapt techniques to it, and becoem better at it.
So, without any further ado, I will get down to business.
Last edited by John A Butz; 1/20/2004 11:07pm at .
Ukemi-Taking the Fall
The first thing a new student learns in the proper method of falling.
Now, this doesn't mean the first thing they learn is how to make the seniors look good.
We train three types of ukemi. The first is a front fall, as in judo's mai(front) ukemi. The second is a half-back roll, sit down, curl up and rock, return to your feet.
We do not teach a backroll, because we feel that it is unnecessary and that it ingenders bad habits. A back fall, in our opinion, is a choice you make only when you know for sure that you are safe(ie, your training partner will not hurt you, whice is far more common in aikido then you would think).
The front roll we use is derived from judo. Traditional aikido rolls start from the tip fo your little finger, travel down the arm, to the shoulder, down the opposite side of the back. This path ensures that the roll has to cross both the hip and the shoulder joint. We feel that this repeated tramua is bad.
Instead, we roll from right below the shuolder to right above the hip. THe default "roll" is actually a breakfall, because taking a front roll is another choice you make once you are sure that you can take the roll.
The focus of our ukemi is first and foremost the safety of the student, and secondly the ability to counter. It is not a pretty, smooth looking aikido roll. But it gets us down to the ground in one piece and offers oppurtonities to counter.
We have a series of excersises, devided into five themes, that Ellis has designed for us. As far as I can tell, they are influenced by both aikido and by CMA(Ellis practices xingyi and bagua in addition to all his other MA...I wish I had that kind of spare time)
The techniques we practice all stem from different combinations of these movements. If a technique fails, you revert to one of these movements to cover the failure, or to deliver an atemi(to be covered soon). All power for these movements is derived from the koshi, which is japanese for hips, but actually covers most of the large muscle groups between your knees and you chest.
The themes are simply numbered(1st, 2nd) so I will spare you the Japanese for "First theme" et al.
First theme consists of the traditional aikido excersises of ikkyo-undo and tenkan/tai-no-heenko. Simply put, the theme deals with movement in a vertical circle in front of you.
Second theme consists of excersise in a horizontal circle in front of you. Ingathering is the first excersise, a very basic way to trap. It is also the method by which we deal with short retracting punches. If you hold your hand in front of you, and imagine that you are in a pool pulling water towards your opposite shoulder, you have a feeling for what it looks like. The moves are chained to gether, and you "climb up" your opponents arm/arms as he throws the strikes...I will have to attend a throwdown and see how this works against some boxers, but it has proven pretty effective with the folks I have trained with.
Expansions are next, simply the opposite of ingathering. Think back-fist or forearm strike. In this set we also practice a hooking motion(think elbow strike. Imagine putting a wallet in your breast pocket, and thats it) and "cloud-hands" which I believe is a CMA derivied thing.
Third theme is an upward spiral in space, and is practiced with an uppercut motiom. It is both a strike and a way of attaining control of the bad guys balance, depending on the circumstances(variations on all this can be endless...I will try to be brief).
Fourth theme is an downward spiral. We use furi-undo(rowing) another aikido excersise to practice this, which is usefull for unbalancing uke, and trains all those wrist grabs to actually mean something(we are trying to take nage's balance when we grab him. Thats why he has to do a technique, or we will hit/throw him)
Fifth theme is straight ahead. We have an excersise where we move formward to take the line and hit the attacker in the throat/face.
These movements are the foundation of our aikido. They open up techniques, train atemi, and generaly have a lot of variation. I will talk a bit more about that later.
Atemi- It hits all by itself
Atemit must be able to be used effectively at any point in a technique. The reason uke moves is because if he doesn't, he knows he will get hit. He moves to protect himself.
All of our techniques have many, many oppurtonities for atemi. We use these oppurtonities to move into techniques, cover mistakes, counter, and in general to facilitate technique.
We are not trying to land knockout punches, nor do we ascribe to the eyegouge/tiger strike school of thought.
Our most common atemi are a backfist, a back forearm strike, an uppercut, an elbow strike, and a thrust/jab.
We believe that atmei is used to fix uke in place, whilst nage moves around him to effect the control and throw. Alot of aikido people think the other way, using pain to make uke move around nage to effect the throw. We feel that it unrealistic. OUr aikido acutally doesn't hurt very much, apart from getting hit and pins, becasue we don't try to move uke through pain. We also learn several counters to pain based methods of aikido techniques, for our safety when practicing with unknown aikido/jujutsu people.
Alos, we learn how to throw effective attacks, including jabs, and we throw our shoman/yokomen strieks with intent and minimal telegraphing. We only have one kick, a front push kick, usually used of the lead leg.
Last edited by John A Butz; 1/20/2004 10:49pm at .
Techniques- Do unto to others before they do unto you
All techniques have counters. We are taught them, and we practice them.
When you find that you can not complete a technique, you abandon it and go to a henka(recovery technique). We train to KEEP MOVING and get another technique.
We have a relatively small amount of techniques. We use Ikkyo, Nikkyo, Irimi-nage, shiho-nage, tenchi-nage, sumiotoshi, kokyu-nage, koshi-nage and aiki-otoshi. We do not label each possible variation of a technique as a seperate waza, but rather practice them against all possible attacks. The methods of initiating a technique tend to be the same regardless of how you were attacked.
We are free to go train with other people and get things we like or want. We are not limited to this curriculum, but it is our technical core.
These techniques were selected by Ellis because they either 1) are good at teaching principles, and if so they are taught as such or 2) they are combativley effective.
Where all this is going-the end of a diatribe
Thanks for sticking with me folks. ALso thanks for not posting till I was done. After this, you may disect at will all that I have written. I will try to answer all your questions, and Budd, who trains with me, will surely chime in with his view on things.
We are different from most aikido dojo. We are expirimenting with adapting aikido to the nature of today's conflcit. We are also trying to be true to the roots of the art.
The goal is to be able to effectively stop violence, to be able to make a choice as to how much, if at all, we hurt our attacker. We try to stay grounded in reality. We do not claim to be able to defeat multiples, we do not hanress ki for amazing feats of martial tom-foolery.
We train hard, so that we can go home.
There is contact. We try tp stay fairly light, but will throw harder to the body then the face. MMA folks would not be impressed by our overall level of contact in a normal class, but some of us do work in open mat times that is more vigourus. At some point this year, we will put the gloves on and have at it.
OUr system has been in existence for a little less then a year. It is a work in progress. I have not yet seen Ellis' ground methods, though I know he will be showing us some ground work. We will also be allowed to fill in any gaps we find with appropriate stuff, assuming Ellis agrees that it has a place in our aikido.
Ellis believes in trying new things and seeking new methods, as inbreeding leads to stagnation. We try to follow that as well as possible.
We also question him, as he is only human and ain't always right. We have won concessions and changes from him when we showed him a better method.
I hope to attend a throwdown at some point and show this stuff to you folks. This is not a complete breakdown of the system, and I will try to make it all more clear as I go. Ask questions, please.
And again, thanks for your patience in reading.
Ok I'm not sure how this works but I assume since you started this new thread you want questions to be posted here as opposed to the old one. I have not read the old one at all (it's 12 pages) so I'll just direct a few questions to you right off the bat and hope you answer them. Keep in mind my exposure to aikido is 1) one guy who never wanted to spar with me 2) steven seagal in under seige 1 + 2, and 3) the large Japanese guy with glasses on a A & E show :) So basically I know jack about your art. Now for the ignorant questions :):
1) what type of kicks if at all do you have in your system
2) so if the purpose is not to have knockouts and injuring of the other party is it safe to say that the main goal in a confrontation would be to throw the person down and/or locking them? Or is breaking joints part of the equation too?
3) In locking attempts during a non-assisted sparring session, how is it possible for you to not get punched, kicked, or taken to the ground?
4) Is aikido now a different system from its origins? As in did Morihei Ueshiba's methods get watered down during internal splits? I have heard that as with point fighting leading to change in techniques, so too has reliance on assisted training altered aikido techniques
I'm a little skeptical about how you have specific "back up techniques" when your normal technique fails. It doesn't sound like your abandoning the choreography that people find fault with in Aikido, but that you're just taking it one step farther. I'm not sure how good an idea it is to see things in terms of your first move, his counter move, then your finish. A wrestler won't do a counter move, he'll shoot on you and drive and move until something works. A boxer will keep swinging until you're down, and somehow I doubt he'll do exactly what technique B requires him to do. Other disciplines have set ups that seem analagous, but I don't think they're quite the same; in BJJ (where I'm still a bare beginner) I was taught to try a sit up sweep (or whatever the proper name is) and then, if they post an arm and drive you back look for a kimura. I suppose that's a technique and then a back up. But for us there's no assumption that this combination will work, or that they have to counter the sweep in any one way then have to fall victim to the lock. It's one thing to look for while rolling, completely fluid and ajustable. It just seems like your approach is a bit artificial
John, thanks for this, must have taken quite a bit of effort to produce. On the "backup techniques" that Pojac referred to in his post, I assume you mean if you're losing a technique, don't force the issue but move on. If another technique does't present itself, continue with defense and setup rather than having a set series of a) doesn't work so move to b)?
(apologies if my q makes absolutey no sense)
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