Monday, February 18, 2008

Back to basics

Probably owing to all the hold-over visitors from the party on Saturday, Yamada-sensei taught the Sunday morning class, one he is not usually scheduled to teach. I had left the party at about 7 p.m. as it seemed to be winding down, but I asked sensei when the party finally broke up. "Oh, about midnight." Wow, I guess I missed some good party hours...

We did lots of katatetori techniques, very standard stuff for a change. :) Some instructors tend to try more complex techniques, but I tend to prefer a more basic workout. Sometimes it's fun to try those so-called advanced things, but I must confess I take a skeptical view of much of it.

Most of those very involved techniques wouldn't occur in a real world situation, and I doubt they would be of any practical use to any but the most advanced practitioner. Even then, a good fighter would probably get out of them. Of course, we practice aikido for many other things besides its practical application "on the street" -- in fact, that is the least of my concerns -- but one has to draw the line somewhere.

Anyway, there is so much to learn about the "simple" techniques to keep me busy for a very long time. I think doing them to a very high level is already "advanced" aikido. There really is no end to the subtlety and quality that can be found, learned or attempted. Why muck that up with silly moves that seem to be an intellectual curiosity?

One thing that tells me I'm on the right track with this is that most the high level aikidoka I know seem to concentrate on the standard aikido canon. For the most part, it's some guys in the level directly below them -- meaning very good, but not yet shihan -- that seem to be fooling with all the advanced things. Yamada-sensei himself always expounds on "the power and the basics." I guess I'm a clear Yamada student, then. :)

Here's a clip of Yamada-sensei from his video, "The power and the Basics" with a very young Donovan Waite as uke:

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