Chip (darkshadow316) wrote in aikido,
Chip
darkshadow316
aikido

Aikido and The Dynamic Sphere- Organization and Practice of Akido.


Greetings True Believers,
Sticking to my guns on this and actually doing what I said I will do. Read the book in total and notate my thoughts on the each chapter.  I share this on my personal blog and the Aikido group I belong too.  Please, feel free to comment on either one. That now out of the way, moving on.

Continuing from my readings inAikido and the Dynamic Sphere, I move on to Chapter 3 and Chapter 4.

Chapter 3- Organization

Now I study at a old school Aiki-Jujutsu dojo.  Before that I was taking Ninjistu and some Aikido classes while I was attending police academy. Not that they were teaching formal classes there by no means, it was something I took the initiative to do on my own, reach if you are friend on my LJ list you can read about by clicking the martial arts tag on this journal entry.Before that I took Shaolin Kung Fu.

Prior to studying at the Budokan, I had never really been to a school outside of the Shaolin dojo which adhered to a real set structure.  I must confess I tend to gravitate towards order as opposed to chaos when I can. Perhaps one of the reasons I got into law enforcement, who knows.  After academy, I had back problems from an  injury sustained during Aikido class, which I am now over finally ( several yeas later and acupuncture reatment ) so I floundered for a bit.

I signed up for classes at a Knuckle Up Fitness center, hoping to get some ground based BJJ training. I did not like it in the least bit.  No strucutre to the class and just didn't feel right to me.


Which is one of the reasons I like the Budokan I attend.  Very well done, very old school.  But again I digress.


Belt Ranking-
In traditional Aikido schools, you find the ranking system in line with those used by almost all major martial arts systems.   Students are divided into two categories: kyu ( prior to black belt ranking) and dan (black belt and on).

The book talks about how in most schools, if you are not a dan  then you do not wear anything but a white belt over your gi. In my school that is the case  up until I think  2nd and 1st kyu, in which cases the students wear a brown belt.   This is in contrast to the schools which have every color of the rainbow up to the earning of your black belt.  There are pluses and minuses to that approach. In my dojo, only the childrens classes have the rainbow colors and I feel that is best.

Promotions-   You are encouraged to test for your next belt after you have had x amount of hours in the dojo practicing. In th book it lists the Hombu Dojo Grading System. Since I study Aiki-Jujutsu, our schedule is slightly different and what we are required to know is also different then the traditional schools. Still I found it interesting to read on what a traditional Aikido school requires for their testing.

On a personal note, I have had the chance where I could have tested twice by now but I haven't. The reason being is going too many months between classes. Problem with my career is it doesn't always lend itself well to a formalized routine. I just wrapped up our Field Training Program to go out on the road and did not attend classes at the dojo after the first month of training. Partly because of the schedule and partly because of concerns for injury. I had hurt my knee in Ninjistu class once before when I was about to go through the FTEP program and it hampered my ability to quickly get in an out of the patrol car, not to mention chasing people, for quite some time ( the accpunture treatement cleared that up btw).  In my third month, I had hurt my neck ( strained it more then anything) and I just didn't want to risk getting injured when I was so close to finishing the program. 


 

Then once I finished the program, I had the hard time of getting back into the grove of things.  Now I am attempting to do that so I can test for my next belt in a few months.

In the example given in the book, to test for your 5th kyu , you must have 40 hours of practice, be able to demonstrate the following basic techniques.

standing: katate tori shiho nage
               shomen uchi irimi nage-  if you have seen any Steven Segal films, you have seen this.
               shomen uchi ikkyo
               
sitting: kokyu ho



The Practice Hall-

The book details what a typical practice hall entails going as far as to describe the office space. 

Etiquette and Classes-

The art of proper bowing ( ritsurei) is discuessed as well as sitting ( seiza).



Chapter 4

The Pratice of Aikido


In this chapter, the author devles once again into the philiosphy of Aikido and the how it is applied in the application of this art.   The author reminds us " aikido can be many things to many people depending upon the degree of their personal development"n (pg 45).   For some it is " an efficeient art of self defense" while at the higher levels  it is " a Discipline of Coordination, a continuing, ever expanding method whereby a man works toward that fusion of mind and body..."

Aikido in application is basically taking a series of movements, presenting alternatives to how one reacts based on the desired outcome of the practicioner and the implementation of a certain response.  It's almost scientific to me.  You have an incoming force, like a beam of light , coming at you.  You, acting as the prism can bend and alter the force( light) however you see fit to achieve certain results. This is my understanding and not the author's.

The author states the very first requirement in aikido is to "know the enemy".  Not necesseraily know their quirks and habits, but to understand energy dispersion, projection of force, reaction and cause and effect.  In a nutshell, you program yourself, your mind and your body ( perhaps even your spirit it you so believe) to react to a stimuli in a certain way through practice and training.  The author reminds us, that " aikido is an art of reactivity" ( pg46) .  Without a stimulious, there is no Aikido. In Aikido, it really takes two to tango.

Along the lines of knowing the enemy, is the importance of studying the attack, which the author descripes as " that attempted dynamic intrusion which will be neturalized by one or more aikido techniques.".

The Theory of Attack-

In the book, an attack is defined as " an unjustified, unprovoked attempt to destory or injure another person, of even interfer with his freedom of action". (pg48).

In an attack, there are two factors : Inner factors ( mental/psychological) and Outer Factors (physical/functional).  The psychological factors incoporate the desire to actually do harm to another, as conveyed by ones attitude or gesture. This may actually only be revealed prior to the moment of the actual assault.

The physical factors are the parts of ones body which can be used a natural weapons in an unarmed attack, not to mention other items which can be used as an extension of the body ( knives, bats, guns , goats...etc etc).


In Aikido, the strategy of defense is based on how little damage is done to the attacker. To cause significant  and long lasting physical harm to ones opponent is to be un aiki. In other words, the level of skill you  have  ( plus control of self) is reflected in how little pain and or damage you inflict in the applicaiton of your art.

Dynamic Factors-
 In an attack , there are two stages. dynamic stage and technical stage.

The dynamic stage, is the movement stage.  The attacker, unless he/she has a gun, must close the gap to get to you.  Even with an extension of themselves such as a sword or spear, there has to be some sort of movement involved.  This movement creates force and if anything Aikido is about controlling force. The author points out something that I took the time to highlight in my actual copy , as I found it very profound: "the faster a man moves, the less control he has over his movements and the easier it is to unbalance him. Conversely, the more slowly he moves, the more control he has and the harder it will be to unbalance him."  WOW.  On a metaphysical level , I found that to be a very profound thought.

In life, how often do we not find ourselves rushing into things, only to feel afterwards as if we had no real control of ourselves and the actual outcome? As opposed to a measured and thoughtful response?

The author states it is important to never meet dynamic momentum head on.  Don't stand there and take the force. Move! Blend with it, control it. Again, one of things I really love about Aikido, is how well it can translate into other aspects of life. Trouble comes at you, you can choose to stand there and take it, but unless you are the Juggernaught,  
that is probably not the smartest thing to do.



The rest of the chapter goes into the the basic forms of responding to an attack both armed and unarmed.  The book has nice sketch drawings detailing several of basic attacks, holds and combinations employed in the art.


Well that's it for now. More to come.








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  • 8 comments
"True Believers"?

Aikido is not a church.

Please consider using greetings that do not potentially exclude groups of people who are different than you are.
True Believers is a Stan Lee reference.
Ok, but as a person who doesn't know it is a Stan Lee reference it seems exclusionary.

Anyway, at least one person (me) misinterprets it...
I would argue that True Believers can likewise refer to being a believer in a particular system or style. Not necessarlily a matter of faith. Not intending to offend anyone. Just paying homage to Stan Lee.
Since I haven't been a follower of yours I'm not sure if you're speaking of your personal experience or something from the book, but since I have the book I'm guessing the bit about the aiki-jitsu is your current situation?

In law enforcement aiki-jitsu may be more appropriate than more mainstream aikido, but if you are having problems with repeated injury maybe straight aikido would serve your needs better, if its available where you are and if you like what you see when you watch the classes. Just because aikido is 'softer' doesn't mean that it won't be effective for you; with aiki-jitsu if you're getting injured all the time then you won't be able to progress far enough for the aiki-jitsu to become effective.

But straight aikido tends to be somewhat less overtly hierarchical and more ambiguous than some other martial arts, which may not appeal to your disposition.

In the aikikai aikido dojo I attend, we have the same elements in our 5th kyu exam as the book lists. Kids get colored belts; adults get a brown belt when they reach 1st kyu--primarily so that visiting sensei know who among white belts has bulletproof falling skills, since visitors don't know us personally.

"Knuckle-up Fitness Center"? The name makes me giggle. My sensei is always contrasting the attitude of aikido, as a 'warrior way' that develops judgement about which fights to pick, when to retreat, etc., with the attitude of 'mixed martial arts', which has a 'sport' outlook where the focus is on winning tournaments. You said that the Knuckle place didn't feel right to you; I'm wondering if it had a 'sport' focus that maybe conflicted with your prior kung-fu mind-set or your peacekeeping police role.

I've been learning aikido for almost 10 months and have yet to take my 5th kyu exam; though I grasp the concepts well enough I started from very poor physical condition and embarrassingly poor mind-body integration, due to several years of inactivity after crushing an ankle in a back-country fall. Though I still suck at actual aikido, it has had enormous positive effects on my health, so I stick with it (and at every practice silently thank my sensei's seemingly inexhaustible patience).
In law enforcement aiki-jitsu may be more appropriate than more mainstream aikido

I don't think this is likely the case: a fellow I spent the class doing test prep practice with a couple of days ago is a police officer, and his aikido, enhanced by practice in gongfu and possibly other goodies too, seems to me to be plenty effective for law enforcement applications. The issue may be simply a matter of the quality of the available schools.
The injuries I have sustained have not been from my AJ class. It was when I was taking Aikido/Ninjistu back 07 and weighed a bit more.

My concern this past go around was I didn't want to risk getting injured and have it effect my chances of passing the training I was in having gotten as far as I did.

It seems to me that ideally, tori places themself so that uke's action is changed in a way that is advantageous for tori. It's not that the prism bends the light, so much as that by its nature and placement, the prism causes the light to bend itself.

Injuries happen in training; if they are frequent, though, something is wrong.