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Planned And Published In Advance Every once in a while the question, “What makes a good sensei?” comes up for discussion. There are, of course, many valid answers for this question. This post is going to take a different approach to the standard responses. This month will kick off a series looking at what makes a good training session. Since the sensei runs the session, a good training session requires a good sensei. The inference being that if you do these things then you will improve as a sensei. This…

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People often talk about modernising aikido, but when they do this they tend to refer to adding techniques and removing others. Very few people ever talk about the techniques used to teach aikido. The closest aikidoka come to that is discussing free-style sparring. Some are against it, others just go ahead and do it. This blog post will introduce a new way to teach your students the irimi entry. The Problem At some point in their training every aikidoka will have been told to “go forward”. For a sensei to…

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There is something that most aikidoka hate to do. It can’t be avoided but most people do try to get out of it. Training with a stiff uke. A large number of people just do not like to do it. Understanding why is not difficult at all either. In contrast to a flowing uke, training with stiff ukes is never really fun. It’s hard to make them move, techniques don’t flow, everything becomes gummed up and clunky. Training with a stiff uke is the worst. The problem with this view…

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This post is the final entry in the four part series on competition in aikido. The last post started presenting the arguments that competitive aikido is bad. That’s Not How That Technique Is Supposed To Work There is, amazingly, a very close analogy to the idea of competition in aikido. There is an art designed for close personal self-defence that can be looked at in this context. In recent years, Krav Maga has developed a competition aspect. What is particularly interesting is that the arguments around competition in aikido, are…

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This post is the third in the four part series on competition in aikido. The series started with a defence of competition, this post will begin the arguments against it. Many aikidoka feel that competitive aikido is bad, and they have valid reasons for doing so. We’ll examine them below but note that these are not counterpoints to the arguments in the previous posts. Define Competition People that think competitive aikido is good often point out that you are already competing against yourself. The idea being that to improve you’re…

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This post is the second in a four part series looking at one of the most controversial topics in aikido. Competition. The last post started presenting the arguments that competitive aikido is good. This post concludes those arguments. Next week will start to present the opposing view. Is That Technique Valid? It is possible that MMA has the most well-known competitive setting in martial arts today. It may only be beaten into first place by boxing. Proponents of MMA are usually quite willing to point out that there are no…

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This post is the first in a four part series that will look at one of the most controversial topics in aikido. Competition. In the aikido community there are fierce divisions over the concept of aikidoka competing with their art. In some places it almost seems like competitive aikido is a dirty secret that we shouldn’t be discussing. This does not change the fact that it does exist, and isn’t going to stop anytime soon. No matter how many letters Aikikai Doshu issue. This post begins the defence of competitive…

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Recently, the Aikikai released the 58th All-Japan Aikido Embukai to YouTube. It’s an interesting watch and, in some places, has prompted much criticism from aikidoka. Some have described it as embarrassing, others have been less kind. These criticisms are a little unfair, but they do shine a light on some of the problems with aikido embu in general. If you watch the Embukai a couple of things should become clear immediately. The first is that in some cases the standard of demonstration was lower than you would expect. There are…

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The new student, after a few training sessions, goes over to the instructor and says, “You are so good, how long have you been training?”, or something similar. Another example is, “How long does it take to get a black belt?” These are common questions that crop up almost every time a new student joins a dojo. They’re important questions, but they’re not the real questions. What the student wants to know is how much work they have to do to achieve the same level. So What Is The Answer?…

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The next in our series of Quotes That Need to Die is an interesting one for several reasons. It would seem that no particularly famous person has said this. It’s not a quote in that sense. It is something that comes up time and again though, it’s something that everybody seems to know, or at least say. You’ll quite often encounter this whenever the subject of grading or skill level has come up. This is less of a quote and more of a phrase in common use; however, it really…

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