Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Aikido Styles and Music

Aikido ju-dan and Hombu Chief Instructor Tohei Koichi is the fountainhead of the majority of all aikido practitioners in the world for the simple reason he taught people how to teach aikido.

There are other styles of aikido, such as yoshinkan, which were developed by Tohei sensei sempai Terada, so it is aikido, but parallel.  His style is widespread because it is a good style.

There are many styles that developed under Tohei Sensei, such as Yamada of New York, Chiba of San Diego, Murayama of Kokikai and Kobayashi of LA.  It is all aikido but an analogy with music might explain some differences.

There is the music as it is written and the note as played and the timing.  After that each artist will style it anyway he likes.  For example, John Lennon was unique for rushing the front end of the note, not singing on the center of the note, but on the front.  Jimi Hendrix and Prince are well within the note, but jazzily are all over it, here and there.  Bruce Springsteen is phenomenal in his ability to keep his band on dead center.  Dean Martin advanced his "happy drunk" schtick by working the trailing end of the note.  Randy Newman keeps it tight and small.  Boys choirs fill each note from end to end, top to bottom.

Yamada Sensei has a precise, tight hard style, which tends to be right on, and very much in control.  Kobayashi Sensei taught "into nage's range of effectiveness (close to nage's hara) where nage is strong and uke is weak..." which he called One Circle but was viewed technically as "small circle."

Take a throw like shiho nage.  It is executed when your nage's "one point" is lateral with uke's.  This can be executed early, mid, late or full.  Kobayashi would be early, by taking uke down even before the spin if finished, small circle style.  Mid might be Yoshinkan style, where the arm is spread out and back, just at the point where shiho nage often goes wrong, yoshinkan centers all weight at the barred arm.  If you do not go up and over, your arm will break.  One learns to do awesome high trajectory hard falls in yoshinkan.

Yamada sensei would head straight through with tight control and send people sailing backwards.  The Tohei style is to go large and end up in total control looking into the ear of the uke.  The take down from here is devastating.  There is no stronger uke takedown by nage.  Tohei Sensei taught a full open style, but if you slo-mo his videos, he did everything.

There are more styles, but the point is most come from Tohei, they are all aikido, and all simply styles.  At any given point with any given partner, any given style may be employed.  It is good people develop these styles and codify them, keep them alive, so one can draw on them in a pinch.  Learn them all.

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