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.
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).
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.
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.