Some Aikido thoughts from Roy Dean

Discussion in 'Aikido' started by gpseymour, Sep 2, 2019.

  1. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I ran into a thread on Reddit with Roy Dean (BB in BJJ, Judo, Aikido) answering questions: Hello! My name is Roy Dean. I have black belts in Judo, Aikido and BJJ. Ask Me Anything. : aikido. A fair number of the questions were about Aikido, and his responses mirror some of my own thoughts. A few key points he made:
    • He references Tomiki's comment that Aikido is "separated Judo" (essentially, Judo from a distance). I hadn't thought of it that way.
    • He emphasizes that learning to strike well really increases the utility of Aikido.
    • He has a few Aikido moves he's put into use on the ground in his BJJ (one of them shows up in this video: ).
    • He repeatedly suggests to folks in the thread that learning Judo early will make Aikido more useful. This and the comment about striking seem to reflect my own opinion that Aikido (as it is commonly taught) is best used as a "finishing school" once you have a foundation.

     
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  2. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    Is this in line with your approach to the system you train?
     
  3. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Nihon Goshin Aikido has roots in Karate and Judo, as well as Aikijujutsu. So we have more techniques and principles in "Judo distance". In my approach, there's a LOT more striking than is normal even in NGA (which typically has more striking than most other types of Aikido).

    So, yeah, in a way, what he talks about is more in line with my approach. More Judo and striking.
     
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  4. Hanshi

    Hanshi Orange Belt

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    While I've trained in both judo and aikido it seems to me that they compliment each other more than is at first apparent. IMHO, the striking arts are essential knowledge for best real-world results also. I've always liked to get up-close-and-personal with my opponent and taught this strategy to my students. But aikido does remain by and large a "distance" art that benefits from familiarity with close-in combat.
     
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  5. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I've often wondered why Aikido (Ueshiba's version) has so little of the close-in work. And when I wonder that, I often come back to the idea that he taught with the assumption that most students already had some basics (striking, clinch, close grappling). Aikido's techniques make more sense as a system under that assumption, IMO.
     
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  6. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    This assumption doesn't make sense. You can't expect other MA system to help your MA system to develop foundation.
     
  7. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    The assumption makes complete sense if that's what the situation actually was. If I end up teaching a bunch of guys who already have a few years of foundational work, I don't need to include that foundational work in what I do, unless I feel it's important they learn a specific way.

    Let me give an example. The kicks I learned in NGA are pretty specific. Some of them, I don't really care that students learn that exact kick - it's not really specifically necessary to the system. So, if someone comes to me who is already trained in Shorin-ryu Karate kicks (that's the primary style taught at our school), I just make sure I don't see any issues with the kicks, and move on. Kicks are necessary to the system, but my kicks are not. So if every student I had come to me was someone with a blue belt (or better) in Shorin-ryu, I'd cut a swath out of my curriculum.
     
  8. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    He's not saying this. At lot of martial arts were refined into components, for example, Tai Chi for fitness, Taekwondo, Wrestling (almost all systems), boxing. This often times becomes a problem when it comes to practical use because many people forget to add the additional components that it was intended to be used with. Olympic Taekwondo is like this where they fight with their hands down. Do that in a practical manner by fighting in the streets or with other systems, and you'll begin to think it's lacking and that you need another martial art "to fix it." The truth is you just have to train the other components that it was intended to be used with.

    If Aikido becomes more effective once punching is added then you'll begin to have a different understanding of Aikido and how to actually use it. I understand the concept of fighting and it's not practical to always wait for an attack or to not punch back

     
  9. frank raud

    frank raud Master Black Belt

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    Isn't training in Tai Chi, Ba Gua and Xing Yi supposed to improve your understanding of each art? Each is its own art, yet works best when combined with the others?
     
  10. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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  11. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    That always struck me as an odd premise, given that they have separate histories. If they had been developed together as different parts of a whole, then that would make sense to me.
     
  12. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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  13. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    Ahh, but Wang... if you accept Gerry's premise that he thinks that Ueshiba did just so assume that people coming into learn from him already had their foundation... just like he did (and this was actually probably average correct in the time & place), then it does make sense.
     
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  14. O'Malley

    O'Malley Green Belt

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    I'll start by agreeing that also knowing judo, grappling or striking would greatly benefit an aikidoka, just as cross-training done right can benefit any martial artist. However, I strongly disagree with the following assumption:

    While I understand why one would make such a statement, it runs counter to the documented history of aikido and I think that it cannot reasonably be considered a credible hypothesis, for the following reasons (I could think of more):

    1) Ueshiba himself had relatively little martial experience besides his Daito-ryu training and had certainly not mastered any style besides daito-ryu. Daito-ryu aikijujutsu was the only martial art that he studied in depth and what he taught was simply his own spin on the topic (with a rearranged curriculum, a slightly different stance, etc.). It seems strange to me that he would teach it as a "finishing school" for already accomplished martial artists while he himself became the best in Japan almost with Daito-ryu alone. Likewise, Yukiyoshi Sagawa displayed abilities similar to Ueshiba's and he exclusively trained Daito-ryu from age twelve onwards.

    2) While a lot of Ueshiba's disciples had done judo, there are also numerous disciples that had no other martial background. To cite a few, Kuroiwa joined after a couple of years of boxing in highschool (and became famous for his dangerous aikido hip throw), Tada had learnt archery, Saito had learnt kendo and some one year of highschool karate, Tadashi Abe joined at 16 and Isoyama at 12! Ueshiba taught a wide range of students, including women and children, and he could not possibly presume that all his students had the basics Gerry described. What's more, there is no record of him teaching such students those alleged basics nor delegating this task to any senior student.

    3) None of Ueshiba's disciples "completed" their aikido teaching with another martial art (with maybe Mochizuki being the exception) so none of those thought that it was necessary to have a previous background in another martial art to effectively learn aikido. Some of them did teach strikes as they were done in aikido kata but, to my knowledge, none of them thought necessary, for example, to incorporate the karate kihon or kata.

    4) When his students would play judo after hours, Ueshiba would storm out of the dojo and tell them to "stop doing this chink stuff" (in reference to the legend according to which the founders of the lineages that made up judo both studied with Chinese). Leaving alone the fact that he seemed to despise judo, if the quoted assumption were true it would be strange that he would prevent his disciples from practicing the very basics his system was supposed to build upon.

    5) I have watched a lot of videos of randori from the old timers (Ueshiba himself, Saotome, Shioda, Chiba, Shibata, Tohei, etc.) and I have not found any video where the aikidoka uses a move from judo or karate, for example. Interestingly enough, most moves are not even following aikido kata: we see a lot of preemptive strikes, counterpunches, body drops, formless rooted strikes (including strikes with the hips or shoulders), formless throws regardless of where one is grabbed...

    I believe that the system is meant to condition and engrain a series of attributes within students (such as grounding, distance, timing, generation and transfer of power to any part of the body, ability to find an opponent's center and take him off balance, etc.) so that they can be used in such a free form and, if an opportunity for a technique (lock or formal throw) appears, why not? This is reflected all throughout the system itself and in the founder's teachings such as his emphasis on formless "takemusu aiki" or his famous quote, "aikido is 90% atemi". This video is a good illustration, albeit the uke are not fully resisting:

     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
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  15. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    From my readings, the history of aikido starts with Danzen Ryu Jujutsu (as I recall; might have name or spellings wrong...). The early aikido students were already highly ranked in various jujutsu systems, and were impressed by what Ueshiba (and I think a couple of others) were doing. Then, following WWII, Ueshiba had an enlightenment experience and shifted the emphasis of his art. Again -- this is just what I recall from various readings over the years. So, in many ways, aikido wasn't a starting art; it was an art that there was an assumption of certain base skills. In time, people got interested in the more flowy, touchy-feely stuff without the base of functional martial arts to shape it. Which, in time, leads to people throwing themselves after half issued attack-like motions...
     
  16. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes MT Moderator Staff Member

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    You’re probably thinking of Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu. Danzan Ryu is an unrelated art created in Hawaii by Seishiro Okazaki from an eclectic mixture of Japanese and non-Japanese arts.
     
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  17. O'Malley

    O'Malley Green Belt

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    Yeah, the "spiritual enlightenment got him to modify his techniques to make them softer" thingy is another aikido myth that has been debunked. Morihei Ueshiba learnt Daito-ryu and taught Daito-ryu until his death, with the few changes mentioned above but without modifying the core principles. You can find pictures of him in his last years that look exactly like what he taught before the war (and, in reality, he rarely taught at the Aikikai central dojo in Tokyo after the war as he stayed in Iwama). When Hiroshi Isoyama came to Ueshiba's dojo in 1949 and enrolled, he signed a register whose title was "registration to the Daito-ryu aikijujutsu"! And Morihiro Saito (just like about any of the founder's direct disciples) confirmed that Morihei Ueshiba's aikido did not change significantly until his death.

    The myth you mentioned was invented a posteriori after Ueshiba's son, Kisshomaru, modified the techniques and tried to bury the connections to Daito-ryu, with the help of a now famous author, John Stevens, who coined the misleading term "way of harmony". By the way, the fact that Kisshomaru has changed the founder's aikido into "modern aikido" has been recognized by the current head of the Aikikai.
     
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  18. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    Yeah... tired, long days, and honestly haven't looked at that stuff in ages, so locked onto the wrong one... which is why I threw a disclaimer in there! :D
     
  19. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    Agreed. I can tell you this from personal experience. I know it's weird, but I put my Tomiki Aikido with Muay Thai and the combination, while strange, is very effective. Not get in the Octogon effective against a 28-35 year-old whose been training MMA for 6 hours a day 6 days a week... but hella-effective against even athletic bar-Baboons.
     
  20. Hanzou

    Hanzou Grandmaster

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    I certainly respect Roy Dean's pedigree, but oftentimes I can't help but think that he uses Aikido as a marketing gimmick. Whenever I've seen him roll, its pretty clear that he isn't using Aikido and is almost entirely utilizing Bjj. He looks no different than your typical Bjj Black belt. Certainly a skilled martial artist, but not really adding much to modern Bjj, which is HIGHLY disappointing, because I had hopes that he would infuse his Bjj with some Aikido techniques and principles.
     

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