Aikido on Howcast – Feature & Review, Part Two

Now with part two. The first was a pretty good intro, with the charisma a little lacking. However overall a good setup for any grasshopper to go into Aikido. Now to continue this series.

Irimi Nage

Kokyu Nage

Shomen, Yokomen, Tsuki

Morotetori and Ushiro

Mini-Review: The Irimi Nage demo was quite good. I keep on being attached to the presenter’s form; very powerful.

The presentation for Kokyu Nage I found a little on the entertaining side. This was because of the spontaneity of the interaction between the presenter and her uke. Especially the accidental punch 0:44; very genuine movement. I’m sure they realized that this would up for thousands to see on Youtube! I disagree slightly with her explanation of “dropping your weight”; although that’s what happens, that’s not how one arrives to performing the technique – or at least that’s not how I was taught. Overall though for this video I like the energy, very light and funny yet informative in its explanation.

For the Shomen/Yokomen/Tsuki video, one of the first things that I notice is that the instructor doesn’t give an explanation of why an Aikidoist would do an overhead strike. I’ve seen a couple of instructors (not mine) that don’t explain the reason for this strike – which will leave any novice wondering why people would want to strike this way. Yes, there is a reason. Despite not providing historically background in these strikes, he does a very good job just “doing it”; performing this techniques and not being “wordy” often. What I’ve noticed with Mike Jones is that he’s very technical when it comes to Tai Sabaki – the footwork. So far I like this series of how it’s presented: there’s a lot of talk from the presenters but it is balanced by the fact that they perform the techniques as they are talking.

Finally the Morotetori and Ushiro presentation is excellent. I felt that this video is extremely spontaneous, thus revealing what really happens in an Aikido school. The way Claire Keller Sensei demonstrates showcases how the uke and nage would normally be conducting a technique. The high point for me  was at 1:50 when the movement that she did was random and thoroughly displayed! You don’t see too many Aikidoists willing to admit to randomness in front of an official media medium.

That’s it for now, look forward to part 3. So far there’s already two more videos added to the Aikido list, so there’s the possibility that this review feature will go on to 4 posts. Hope you guys are enjoying this so far and till next time!

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6 thoughts on “Aikido on Howcast – Feature & Review, Part Two

  1. Just considering the “strikes” video, I really do prefer the Iwama (and Yoshinkan, correct me if I am wrong with that) method of Nage/Tori initiating the Shomenuchi strike as the Kihon version of the technique.

    As for the others, I totally agree with you, I am really enjoying them, I especially enjoy watching the instructors technique, as you said, very technical, solid footwork and powerful.

    1. It’s funny you mentioned that; JWS was experimenting with that type of movement just a month ago. The Uke (Tori for the earlier Aikidoists) initiating the attack was a good experiment for me as well as for the rest of the class. He was doing it as an experiment on how O’Sensei’s martial techniques evolved over time.

      1. It just makes more sense to me from a practical and martial stand point. Obviously you could make the argument that doing so is counter to O Sensei’s vision for Aikido but as a practitioner, this is just the way I prefer it. It eliminates the primary strike as well as considerably reduces the likelihood of a secondary attack as uke’s focus is diverted from the attack to protecting their face, it also takes (or makes it far easier to take) uke’s balance and present an opening for the technique. As you pointed out Drew, shomen uchi is an attack you are likely to encounter in very few circumstances, so from a purely self defense stand point, it make’s more sense. That’s not to say that it’s not important to practice it “the other way” of course, it becomes highly important when doing weapons work, especially tachidori.

        What did you make of doing techniques this way? You said you found it a good experiemnt but did it alter how you did the techniques or your approach to them?

  2. As a young man I don’t mind attacking first , but O’Sensei’s aikido in his 30s (when Yoshinkan was invented) was very powerful and attack based. Lots of katas and very powerful since he was very muscular and powerful himself at that age. When he was older he simply couldn’t “attack, attack, attack” because of his cancer, among other things, so his presence changed to what would be considered “Aikikai” now.
    My experience with initiating attacks has been mixed; obviously with novices it’s easy to have your way as a brown belt (they will listen to you, etc.). But going up with yudansha they have more experience against aggressive uke/nage – some won’t hesitate to do reversals on you (as have been done to me on a few occasions!).
    To me it’s not just initiating an attack, it’s simply having a presence that accommodates a movement.

    As for my Sensei’s experiment, it was good to experience how the older Aikido might be. Did it alter what I was already doing at that time? Not really – or not yet anyway; as I’ve been trained it’s all about presence where having the right technique isn’t as important; this is regardless of whether you’re stepping back, turning, or initiating.

    1. I see what you are saying and I totally agree. One of the class regulars is a black belt in Karate, with a good number of years and successful competition experience under his belt and with him, if you don’t do a technique right, he will point out any openings you leave and in some cases exploit them and counter them.
      You are also totally right when you say its not just an attack, it’s not, one of the short term instructors we had over the last six months while Sensei recuperated, was very much of the opinion that (and I am paraphrasing here) it is not an attack in and of itself but is a movement that must be made with commitment and spirit so that in that one instant the attacker/uke’s focus becomes protecting themselves from the perceived threat and it is that movement that we blend with. It’s like a kiai. A kiai isn’t just a shout but is an entire subtle art in and of self, as is this.

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