Inside Nihon Goshin Aikido ~ #68
1st Quarter 2019
Inside This Edition:
Kata: Do you know the Word?
I was recently reading a passage from an english translation of a Japanese novel, and the word "kata"(not translated to english) came up. I thought, "Hey! Here's a word I know." ~ then the definition followed, and I realized that I really didn't know as much as I thought I did about what kata means.
I once heard Sensei Gary Boaz say, "the struggle with translating japanese is that you typically lose half the meaning in the act of translation." Maybe that was also the case here.
So what is kata? According to the author of the book I was previewing, it means "formal training for all of life's circumstances." Kata whether it be kotegaeshi (Front Wrist Throw), kokyunage (Pivot Take Down), a tea ceremony, or how you are to ask for someone's hand in marriage (the situation in described in the passage), there is a proper way to do it. It's all there pre-planned and ready ~ laid out plainly for anyone to follow. Japanese see kata as a "recipe for success" in every task. Follow the directions carefully, and you'll turn out fine. Kind of cool.
Incidentally, when I first started my study of aikido, my brother's wife (who had studied taekwondo in her high school years), asked me to show her a kata that I had learned in Aikido. Since we refer to kata as "Classical Technique," I had no idea what she was talking about ~ lol ~ but I did show her nikkyo (First Wrist Technique).
New Year's Resolutions?
If you made one awesome. That said, many studies show that typical New Year's Resolutions don't make it out of the month of February. If you are lagging a bit, you can be encouraged by this article. It was written a few years ago about martial arts goal setting and can apply to almost any goal.
Remember these steps to successful goal acheivement:
1. Write the goal down
2. Tell everyone about it
3. Take pictures to document your progress
4. Keep everyone updated on your progress
Must Read Book:
Book Review: "Aikido's Hidden Ground Techniques" by Jose Andrade and David Nemeroff
As we planned a family trip to Orlando a few summers ago, I realized that I might be able to secure some aikido training at some point during our week long visit. I did some web searching in hopes of finding a nice aikido dojo to visit. I knew my search was over when I visited the instructor page at aikitenshi.net ~ on that page I read:
Jose Andrade’s interest in martial arts dates back to his childhood in Cuba. He began studying Nihon Goshin Aikido in 1969 under Richard A. Bowe Sensei.
I also noted on the website that he had developed his own aikido style which was coined, "Mukei No Ryu Aikido by japanese leadership who had observed him as nage in one of the Martial Arts demonstrations held in Tokyo, Japan.
Of further interest to me was his deliberate and unapologetic incorporation of newaza (ground fighting techniques) into otherwise traditional standing aikido techniques. As I have cross trained in Brazilian Jujutsu (which is essentially Japanese Judo taught to the Gracie family and subsequently spread over Brazil through the Gracies), I felt an immediate kinship with what he was trying to do. I watched a few of his videos which were posted on his website, and thought ~ I'll train with these guys if I have an opportunity during my stay.
As it turns out, over the course of the week my family spent in Orlando, I managed to train at Jose, Andrade's Aikitenshi dojo twice with Sensei David Parker instructing. The transition from standing to ground, and ground to standing was fluid. In the true spirit of aikido, they allow uke to pick the demise of his choice: if uke desires to fight on the ground, they will cooperate fully, subduing him at the altitude of his own choosing. It was a blast to finally see my Aikido working standing and on the ground ~ wound seamlessly together in formal training.
I have kept in periodic touch with Sensei David Parker since then, and was flattered to be asked to review Jose Andrade and David Nemeroff's new DVD and book release titled, "Aikido's Hidden Ground Techniques."
Let me tell you about the DVD and book ~ which I highly endorse.
As somewhat of a writer myself, the aspect of "Aikido's Hidden Ground Techniques" that first jumped out at me was the quality of the writing. Whoever Andrade and Nemeroff are using as a publicist, sign me up! The document is very well written, with a dynamic control of the language that is quite exceptional.
The initial argument for learning Ground Technique is a must read ~ as there is some controversy on the topic in almost every aikido circle. Here Andrade asks a simple question: namely, "Is Aikido a hodgepodge of self defense techniques, or is Aikido a philosophy of self defense?" If you concede the later over the former, then Aikido philosophy should be able to work anywhere self defense might be required: to adapt to any situation - including altitude. In other words, aikido principles which work standing should and can work on the ground.
Andrade tells the story of a visitor to his dojo, who, when seeing a picture on the wall of Andrade performing a technique translated "Rock Drop" said, "That is not aikido." ~ Later, Mr. Andrade showed the visitor several pictures of very high ranking Japanese Aikido practitioners, including O'Sensei himself, doing the Rock Drop. The visitor was at a loss for words, and conceded that maybe the Aikido universe is bigger than he had ever imagined. Addressing the reader at this point, Andrade presents two pictures of Morihei Ueshiba performing two different ground submissions ~ underlying that same theme... that if you have pictures of high ranking people doing it, be valid.
The standing question is clear as it relates to Aikido: Is Aikido only what you have seen, or might it contain more than that? If you have just seen standing techniques, does that mean there are no ground applications? To that point, I have a great picture taken in Hokkaido Japan that presents a mirror image of the point Mr. Andrade and Mr. Nemeroff make. In the shot, Mr. Bowe is doing a fantastic Come Along application from the ground at the Chitose Dojo ~ something Master Morita obviously taught him.
I believe the aikido universe is bigger than standing defense only. We all agree that fighting in a standing position is the ideal and preferred way to defend yourself whenever possible, but it is refreshing to know that you can easily execute a myriad of effective aikido applications from the bottom of a fight if you need or have to.
The best part of this new paradigm as Mr. Andrade and Mr. Nemeroff introduce it is that it is not new at all. You don't have to learn new techniques: just a new way to apply techniques you already know. In fact, nearly every tool in your existing Aikido tool belt that works when you are standing will also work on the ground. The book and DVD series demonstrates many ground applications of existing standing aikido techniques we are very familiar with including: First Wrist Technique, Jacket Grab, Front Wrist Throw, Whip Throw, Arm Bar, Come Along, Pivot Takedown, Hold Down, Hand Shake, and the 2 Hand Lift Up, etc.
In my mind, aikido influenced ground fighting is a much better approach to adopting a ground game than trying to adopt a new martial arts style like Brazilian Jujutsu or Judo ~ because everything in ground based aikido is familiar to standing aikido. In other words, you don't need to learn a bunch of new techniques; you just need to learn a new way to apply your existing Aikido techniques.
I believe that the DVD and book "Aikido's Hidden Ground Techniques" should be purchased as a set. The DVD especially shows very close ties to Nihon Goshin Aikido (as both authors were Nihon Goshin Aikido students) standing applications which are then translated to the ground in a variety of scenarios (see highlight video to the left). The book goes to great length to explain the why and most importantly the "how" behind the techniques you see in the video.
Personally, I am an advocate for being able to translate my Aikido to any altitude. In endorsing the clear newaza applications of Aikido, I am not advocating for a change in the art of Aikido, I simply recognize the possible ground applications inherent to the Aikido system of general self defense, and seek to explore these ground applications for my own personal safety. Like everyone else who studies Aikido, I hope to fight standing, but if I can not fight in that fashion for some reason, I take comfort in knowing that I can fight on the ground also. I hope I do not offend anyone in saying that.
Please consider adding the DVD and Book, "Aikido's Hidden Ground Techniques" by Jose Andrade and David Nemeroff for your martial arts resource library.
I have held this newsletter back in hopes of having an offical announcement which I could disclose, and finally I can tell you that I am final stages of opening up a new Nihon Goshin Aikido dojo. I'm pretty stoked about the decision, and I have included a link to my new dojo's information here. If you are ever in Columbia, SC ~ please look me up so we can train together. Hopefully classes will be starting in March.
Of further importance, I have also decided to align myself and my new dojo with the Nihon Goshin Aikido Association, now led by Sensei MacEwen. Thank you Sensei MacEwen for accepting me into the Nihon Goshin Aikido Association fold. I hope to be coming to NY to train with the Middletown, NY students very soon!
Wishing you a happy first quarter of 2019!
Mystery Articles of Interest
Let's meet together on the mat ~ and soon!
All the best,
Aikido of Charlotte Aikido: Suspended Floor Cross Section
Take a Close Look!
Bottom Layer: 1.5 inch closed cell foam blocks.
Middle Layer: 0.75 inch sub-flooring
Top Layer: 1.5 inch Zebra mat
This Should Be the Standard for all Aikido Flooring Systems.
Make it Happen!
Tricks Are For Kids
Want a Solid Arm Bar?
1. Ki Finger of Gripped hand Extended
2. Shuto Driving Fulcrum Just Above Elbow
3. Power from Tenkan Hip Pivot Driving Uke Off His Base and to the Ground
This guy’s aikido makes me smile. This is what my Aikido looks like.
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.
2014 - 2019 ngaexperience.com
Aikdio’s Hidden Ground Techniques Video Trailer