Found this series on Youtube a couple weeks and I was fascinated by the fact that Aikido was finally featured on the Howcast channel as part of their fitness/health line. From viewing the Howcast feed that I’ve subscribed to I saw Hung Gar Kung Fu, Ninjutsu (seriously!), Karate, and Muay Thai so far. Now granted, I’ve seen some pretty weird and wacky stuff on Howcast (how to spot a psychotic person, anyone?). But I was willing to dive into this and see for myself how well Aikido is represented. This series is a partnership between Howcast and the New York City Aikikai, which is most famously led by Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei, 8th Dan Shihan.
I’m going to showcase all of the videos that show up. Along the way I will keep all of these considerations in mind:
- Accuracy: Do the facts match up with verifiable knowledge? From online and/or otherwise.
- Presentation: Can someone who is unfamiliar with the art (or martial arts in general) grasp the basic concepts of the five W’s of the art (who are the people training in it, what it is, when, where, why)?
- Teacher presence: How are they holding themselves? Do they feel comfortable with themselves? Do they sound and act like they know the material?
- Authenticity: Does the presentation seem scripted, or more on-the-fly? On-the-fly would indicate that the people involved are less likely to relay on technique and are more likely comfortable with surprises. This is indicative any “real world” skill.
- Miscellaneous: Anything else that I wish to add or things that are unique to the tutorial’s presentation.
In the end after watching all of the videos I will use a standard 1-5 scale. Just something that I’d do for fun. There are twelve (12!) videos in all so what I’m going to do is to break this series down into 3 posts – 4 videos each. At the end of each post I will have a mini-review at the bottom and at the end I will have my overall conclusion to this series. Without further ado, here is the first part.
What is Aikido?
Tai Sabaki – 体捌き”Whole Body Movement”
Te Sabaki – “Hand work”
Mini-Review: The first video “What is Aikido” is a nice introduction into the art. I would however disagree with two aspect of the host’s presentation in the first video. First being that there is a “role-play” in Aikido for the attacker and one who executes the movement. Although the term is correct, there is a reason why Aikido is set up that way – one reason I remember from my training is that O’Sensei wanted the art to reflect his vision for the world: Peace between people. I’ve forgotten half of the explanation but my point is that to call one of the mainstays of Aikido simply “role-play” is in my opinion not honoring it in a certain way.
Second there’s Tai Sabaki and Te Sabaki, I have not heard of these terms until I started doing this review! That said, I saw the movements and realized that at my dojo we already do these movements…just without the terms Tai Sabaki and Te Sabaki. Regardless the explanations here are quite standard and ones that an untrained viewer. Finally, the presentation of the Shihonage sounded pretty standard to the explanations that I tend to hear about the technique. One another note the presenter Mike Jones, 2nd Dan has powerful technique.
The presenter himself is good in the info and presentation, but could use some charisma in conveying himself. But I’m going into the art of presentation at this point.
Again, this is the first part of 3, so stay tuned for the rest! Till next time.