Technically this is part ten, but I thought I’d separate my final thoughts from those regarding the videos. I hope you guys have enjoyed the series so far as much as I have despite some reservations that I will get into shortly. Here are the criteria from the first post of this series that I promised that I would keep in mind while doing these posts and while watching the series. Alas, here is my verdict of the series. I have them here now because I realized that for my audience to best absorb the information from the series, it’d be better to keep my opinions until the very end.
Accuracy: Other than differences in explaining how the techniques work and technical words that I had previously not known, this is a pretty accurate rendition of the art. The body-mind meditative portion of the art is missing, which coming from my background in the art is a little disappointing. However for the garden variety person looking for a new martial art to try out, this series gives a good initial.
Presentation: I was genuinely surprised by the quality of the presentation. I’ve visited the other martial art videos on Howcast (Ninjutsu, Shaolin Kung Fu for example) and the Aikido series is one of the premier series on Howcast. Take a visit there and see for yourself. Just now I toke a peek at the Capoeira series and it looks promising as an intro.
In any case, the three “experts” were quite informative and their respective presentations complemented each other. Mike Jones Sensei (the youngest one) had a very technical presentation coupled with powerful movements. In turn he was balanced out by Claire Keller’s flow-y forms and upbeat personality. However I found Pimsler Shihan’s appearance underwhelming in both his martial skill and presence in the series. Perhaps it was done intentionally to give more of the limelight to Jones and Keller Sensei? I don’t know. But true to the art the presence of the teachers here is sufficient for both the experience and the novice.
What make the Aikido series different from the Kung Fu and Ninjutsu series on Howcast was how “unpredictable” it was; that is how the talking would quickly transition to high falls and techniques. There was a clear transition from talking to demonstration and the talking never interfered with the demonstration and visa versa.
Teacher presence: As mentioned before. Steve Pimsler Sensei was I felt underwhelming in the series. It seems that’s his personality, but given the fact that this series is accessible to millions of viewers on the internet I would imagine him needing to be a little more presentable. Keller Sensei was the one that I liked the best, mainly because her transitions between talking and demonstrating the techniques was seamless. It seemed (pun intended) that she has her “teacher face” on she flowed smoothly through her presentations. She also had a slight, self-deprecating humor that made the videos enjoyable to watch while at the same time it didn’t interfere with her art. Last by not least I’ve been raving about Jones Sensei since my first post in this series – and for good measure. It was obvious from the beginning that he has a very strong technical background in his Aikido – it was his movements that gave it away and his explanation style. Now that I’m thinking about it, that’s probably why he was in the majority of the videos – he had the best technical “speak” out of the three. Not to mention his movements were the most powerful out of all the three – most likely due to his youth (he doesn’t look a day older than 28, around my age). Personality wise he does seem a little challenged in front of the camera – weird considering what I’m sure is a long history of teaching in front of large classes of students off camera. Oh well, some people really do get uncomfortable in front of the camera.
Authenticity: Technique wise, it’s all there. The technical aspects of the art are also there – or at least the major ones. The body-mind portion of the art; nonexistent. There is probably the one and only disappointment I have with this series. I suppose it’s just my background talking. Given the situation time wise, I can understand that there will be things that are to be left out for the sake of length and time. However in my training the body-mind portion of the art is very important – if not the most important part of the art. The part that gives the technical portion life! Aw oh well, I can’t win all the time. It is my hope that the body-mind aspect of Aikido is featured more to those who are interested.
Miscellaneous: I hope I didn’t miss anything! This was an interesting series to watch and awesome to see Aikido being featured in a medium that is usually reserved for music videos, video games, personal bander videos, and artists.
At long last this is the end of my series. It took just over a month but here it is! I sincerely hope you all enjoyed it as much as I have writing about it. I’m going to include links to all of my posts below as a courtesy for all of you to see all of my thoughts. Alas, I hope that something like these shows up in the future. Till next time!
Aikido on Howcast by The First Dragon Rider