Sunday, June 14, 2009

It was all a lie...

No one likes to discover that what they've been doing for the past 10-20 years is a lie. So imagine if you've been training that long and suddenly someone shows you something that makes sense of everything that you thought was missing.

So what do you do now? Quit? Give up? Throw a fit of anger? At the end of the day, you get what you sow. So even though you've done something 'wrong' the past 10-20 years, if you have trained with at least some common sense and with an objective in mind, you would be much better off than someone who hasn't train that long. Yes someone with a better training method would be better off than you and nothing you do can change that, but it doesn't detract from the fact that you now have a higher base to start training the correct way than if you were to start from zero entirely.

Also, it is quite possible that this new revelation might be actually more positive for you than you really thing. At this point in time in your training, you probably would have thought you know most of what you need to know. Its like a seasoned veteran who don't really pay much attention to minor details anymore and instead focuses on getting the job done, sometimes improperly or with more force than necessary. By starting again using unfamiliar methods, you will perform your techniques with a beginners mind. Conscious of trying to do the right thing. At the sametime you are also reinforced by the knowledge and experience you have garnered over the years.

Life is a journey. There is no ultimate ending nor was there a real beginning. So why create titles for knowledge which has no boundaries?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What is a Shomenuchi strike

Shomen as we like to call it is a strike to the head. Using one hand akin to a hand blade, we propel our movement forward with a shuffling step beginning with the front leg and we strike using the same technique as we would if were to use a sword.

The strike is actually aimed at the head for training purposes. But if misses should stop at around your waist level. At that position your torso is straight and balance and your feet are ready to move anywhere. Weight distribution 50:50 and not too much at the front.

Often you will see Uke's striking with their hands starting behind their head, or their shoulders lagging behind the feet, or that the strike stops suddenly upon contact, or if it misses Uke suddenly finds himself with all his weight at the front of the feet or he's leaning forward.

Those ways are incorrect for whatever reason and from whatever art you learn.

So how come even with the 'correct' form, most people disbelieve the power of Shomenuchi? The argument being, no one on the street attacks that way, or that no one strikes the head, and etc etc.

I guess most aikidoka's have 'defeated' shomenuchi so many times, they no longer perceive it as a realistic attack. Regardless, I too will feel the same way when so many Uke's attack with so little understanding.

I wouldn't want to delve into too much of the story that Gozo Shioda used Shomenuchi to break an attackers leg. Instead we shall use common sense. The shomen is really a strike that cuts down, and it could also cut up. Everyone cuts down on a sword, but sometimes you will see cuts going up. Be it a deflection cut or a thrust upwards, the strike essence remains. Also, a shomen using principles of the sword is a very fast attack, one that is essentially used to cover your front as well. Done properly, it will negate frontal attacks. Lastly, even if you train to hit the head... you don't have to aim there all the time.

Domo arigato.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Aikido and Politics

Firstly I want to say this, I've no interest in Politics and I especially dislike Politics in Aikido.
Funnily enough, politics used to be a good word. I remember when people used to refer to So and so being politic to someone else, i.e. tactful. Now the connotations are different. Politics are more closely related to fraud, embezzlement, corruption and dirty money. 

Ironically, Aikido the art of peace is never far from Politics as well. The saying goes, one man is an island, two a company and three a party. It's not even funny anymore because it's true.

I wanted to write about this, because sooner or later you will encounter politics in Aikido. Sure, at the start everyone is nice, everything is hankydory and everything you learn at the dojo is amazing. But as you progress and the magic seems to be waning (I'll get to this later), you'll here more and more about whose side you should be on, why you can't train with this sensei or that organisation or something like that.

You'll wonder to yourself, what have you gotten yourself into. Don't worry, that's life. Any martial art, any organisation... I bet you that you'll find some kind of political powerplay going on.

The best advise I can give you is just listen politely and continue to train with your principals and objectives in mind. Remember, your aikido rank is only valid in class. It doesn't translate into the real world. A black belt is meaningless if you can't help yourself against despair, anger, fear or defeat. 

If you can do irimi, you can do it. The answer is never, if you're a black belt you can do irimi

Tuesday, June 2, 2009