Inside Nihon Goshin Aikido ~ #35
February 5, 2016
In This Issue:
Greetings Nihon Goshin Aikido Aficionado!
It’s February. The shortest month of the year ~ even though it is a Leap Year. February, at least the first three weeks of February, is probably my least favorite time of the year. If someone asked me to describe February (for anyone who did not live in Florida), I’d say, “It’s cold, and dark.” Those first two weeks have a surreal, hopeless quality to them that is thankfully short lived because all the sudden you realize, ‘Wait a tick! In another week it’ll be March!’ ~ And before you know it, February is a distant memory and Spring looms on the near horizon.”
1. The Biggest Boon for the Aikido Brand.
Truth be told, Steven Seagal probably has more to do with the rise in popularity of aikido (both Shodo Morita’s Aikido and Morihei Ueshiba’s aikido) in America than anything anyone else ever did. Seagal’s early movies put the aikido name on the martial arts map.
I am the most nominal Bruce Lee fan ever. To date, I have only seen one Bruce Lee movie (Fists of Fury), and that movie was watched the day of my sho dan test. Still, I can remember hearing one of my high school buddy’s dad rave about a movie he had seen in 1988 called “Above the Law” featuring an unknown actor named Steven Seagal.
I had not seen the movie, but he went on and on about how crazy the fighting scenes were. After awhile, I asked, “Is he some kind of Bruce Lee guy?” And the answer surprised me, “No ~ not even close, and he is doing something completely different than anything I ever saw Bruce Lee do.”
Well that was enough to pike my interest, even though my understanding of Bruce Lee was derived off a few posters I’d seen at the mall. It wasn’t until 1994 ~ when “Under Siege” started running on Saturday afternoons on the TBS cable TV network that I finally saw a Steven Seagal movie.
The fight scenes were amazing. What was he doing? I had no idea, but I knew it was so much different than anything I’d seen, and I also knew I liked it. It was over a decade later before I even heard the word, “aikido” ~ and understood that it was the same art Steven Seagal studied. When I realized Seagal was doing aikido, I googled “aikido dojos” in my local area, and a few days later I met Sensei John Carter at the Lexington, SC Nihon Goshin Aikido dojo.
I wonder how many of us have a similar story?
2. The World’s Opinion Of The Biggest Weakness In Aikido, & How Do We Respond To That Criticism?
There are countless videos of aikido on youtube. Even if the aikido video is “good” ~ when you scroll down to the comments section underneath almost any aikido video (in which comments are enabled), you will see the chorus of predictable posts by anonymous youtube antagonists and detractors claiming that:
Most of the critics harp on the idea that aikido has no ground game, and that some styles (not ours) lack realistic strikes and combination punches.
No Ground Game: Here is a classic video that is presented as a “challenge match” between a Turkish Wrestler and a Ueshiba Aikido influenced Vietnamese black belt (see video to the left). I actually doubt it was a challenge match, but more of a demonstration (look at the students’ reactions), but that is beside the point.
Observe how absolutely helpless the aikido practitioner is the moment the fight ends up on the ground ~ which is nearly immediately. Is is clear that the aikido practitioner is simply not prepared for a wide range of potential attacks that you might see in today’s society ~ especially those attacks that attempt to take the opponent to the ground. Also note that he has no ability to even initiate an attack at the beginning of the video. I’m not sure why they don’t spend more time working on their strikes in some aikido dojos.
Combine a lack of even the most basic martial attitude (the ability to throw a punch), combined with the growing popularity of MMA, and you can see why the single most common critique of aikido is that “it doesn’t work.” ~~~~ And we are lumped in with the broader aikido group (for better ~ (eg: Steven Seagal) and for worse (the guy getting trounced in the video).
Speaking of being on the ground.... in one instance on my sho-dan test, I got taken to the ground. The video to the left presents a frame by frame analysis of that very attack. Compare the speed of the two attackers in the video to the speed of the attackers on a non-NGA aikido sho-dan test, and you’ll see a marked difference in the speed in of the attacks. That said, as the attack went down (and by “down” I mean “south”), my ground training kicked in and I think I resolved the situation somewhat nicely under the circumstances. Watch the video to the left with the heading, “What Could Happen When the Fight Goes to the Ground?” ~ And tell me what you think.
Of course, going to the ground should never be our preferred option, but if the fight ends up on the ground, we need to have an understanding of how to finish the fight wherever we find it.
3. Steven Seagal: Here Is A Neat 1 Handed Blocking Concept for Multiple Punches, and Kicks
In part two of our notion of answering aikido’s critics, let’s consider a recent Steven Seagal video. Remember the critics’ comments about aikido (no realistic attacks and no combination punches)? ~ Admittedly, realistic attacks and punching combinations are something we do all the time, but it is interesting to see how Seagal Shihan introduces the notion within his own style.
Watch the video to the left beginning around 14 minutes and you’ll see Seagal’s answer to realistic striking.
Note that the single one handed block against combination punches is not something that transcends all aikido. He got it from somewhere else and incorporated into his martial ideology. The meat of the video begins at 15:55 minutes, but a lot of it is worth watching. Of course, this isn’t what we’d normally do , but still, I think it is interesting, and potentially useful in a wide range of theoretical scenarios.
Incidentally, I suspect he would get lit up with a Jab => Uppercut combination using this block, but one can only assume he has a blocking combination for that scenario also.
Of interest to me is the kick scenario which is immediately followed by the jab=> cross combination that is added later.
I think the video is important because it demonstrates Seagal’s willingness to address documented deficiencies in his own art.
Other points of interest in the video: There is a very intriguing Slap to the Side of the Head Application introduced from a round punch that goes in the opposite direction of the Classical Technique (introduced at 11:45).
Also, note how Seagal finishes his application of the rollover arm bar at 14:45 ~ down through the mat instead of just applying a standing lock. This allows him to perform the technique full speed, and through the full range of motion. Uke doesn’t tap, he just lowers himself on the mat to get underneath the technique. The First Wrist Technique can be done the same way ~ putting uke down on the mat. I like to train like that also. It presents the full range of motion of the technique ~ adding realistic finishes to the training concept. Final observation: Seagal pins uke with a Reverse Wrist Technique Application I find interesting.
Finally, if you pay careful attention to the partnered pairs, it is as if most of them don’t even try to do what he is doing ~ the way he does it.... I wonder why that is?
4. Website Updates:
This month, we are on the hunt for broken links on the website. Rather than add content at this point I want to make sure that all of the web content is accessible. If you find a broken link on the website, or a link that takes you to the wrong place, please let me know by emailing me at email@example.com The website has just become too big for one person to monitor every single link, and I suspect there are problems. That said, I do not have enough time to click on every possible link. Your help in this manner would be greatly appreciated.
5. Seminar Announcement:
A. Charlotte, NC (First Weekend in February): Are you going to be anywhere near Charlotte, North Carolina the first weekend in February? If so consider attending the Grand Opening of Aikido of Charlotte’s new 1,600 square foot, 72 tatami dojo space in Huntersville, NC. Andy Demko, Shihan, and member of USAF’s technical committee will be the primary instructor for the 2 day event. I will be there! Click here for more information, and to register.
B. Spartanburg, SC (April 2016): Date: To Be Determined. Stay tuned for more information on this seminar combing the three leaders of some of the largest Nihon Goshin Aikido dojos in the South East. Instructors will be Nihon Goshin Aikido Sensies John Wyndham (Host Instructor, Spartanburg, SC), John Carter (Lexington, SC), and Joe Beckham (Greenville, SC).
C. Covington, GA (First Weekend in June): There will be a Nihon Goshin Aikido Seminar at the Covington, GA dojo. Sensei MacEwen will be the primary instructor. The dates are the first weekend in June, so mark your calendars. Click here for more information, and to register.
6. Newsletter Subscribers:
More subscribers is the goal ~ so can you help us grow our Newsletter Subscription Base by passing the website along to your training buddies and asking them to subscribe?
Our hope is to be an inter-dojo clearing house for all things NGA, but we need more subscribers to do that. Best of all, it’s free, and who doesn’t like the word “free!” Click Here to Subscribe! (And make sure you forward this link to all your training buddies, and would be training buddies).
Do you have an announcement? If so, we would like to share your information on Seminars, Dojo Expansions, Relocations, Grand Openings, Promotions, and/or Other Information with our subscribers. Please forward all of your announcements to us so we can get the word out. Send us the information on your announcement, and we’ll post it here for you.
Here’s to a solid 2016. We look forward to what the new year will bring in all things Nihon Goshin Aikido. Let's meet on the mat together soon!
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Unless otherwise stated, the author’s views, musings, and opinions do not necessarily reflect the attitude of leadership within any of the various Nihon Goshin Aikido associations, or unaffiliated Nihon Goshin Aikido dojos.
Time Waits for No Man Don’t Let 2016 Go to Waste
What Could Happen When The Fight Goes to the Ground?
Here is a frame by frame breakdown of a ground fighting scenario on my
old sho-dan test.
This is the
Observe This Area ~ with a broad focus ~ in Martial Situations!
Dan Graded Vietnamese Aikido Practitioner ~ Looking Helpless On the Ground
“Disregard the Towel!”
The viewer will understand ~ lol
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