Today I sent out a list of questions to a great many teachers of aikido that I have had the pleasure to encounter in my years of practice. J.W. Bode, who has appeared several times in my blog lately was the first to write back. He is a retired police officer that started training in Tomiki aikido in the 1970s. His work is very good and worth at least taking a long think about his words coming from direct experience using his art to survive.
Why did you start training?
Why do you continue to?
Do you have a phrase(s) that sum up your ideal of martial arts practice?
Don't take a knife to a gun fight.
What do you like to see in a practice?
Continued thought process.
What do you not like to see in a practice?
Stopping shit before it gets started. Better summed up by Benjamin Franklin "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
How do you define aiki?
What adjective would you say your technique 'feels' like?
A mental fibulation
When does a practice become not-aiki?
Do you have a favored technique right now?
What is your favorite practice related book?
(He previously told me he loves military strategy texts.)
What is rank? What does rank reflect?
Nothing if you don't have the ass to back it.
What principle have you been focusing on in your practice lately?
Evasion and off balance.
What is your relationship to kata?
Kata is restrictive and mindless
What is your relationship to a competitive feeling in training?
Competitive feelings are normal in Humans, deal with it.
How has your vision of practice changed as you have gotten older?
I have gotten away from kata and have focused on true tactical correctness.
Do you have another hobby or art form that you think about in martial arts terms and ideas?
I train all law enforcement use of force weapons, firearms, police baton, pepper spray, cuffing, cell extraction just like I do Aikido and I train in Aikido just like l do them.
Do you see any problems with the way aikido is practiced in the world at large, and do you have any recommendations for change?
Aikido is practiced with a mindless Uke who does whatever Tori want him to. I never use a trained Uke. I always use the guy who doesn't believe in this stuff and I get a much more realistic feedback and therefore a much more realistic idea of what will happen in a real situation. Remember you will RESPOND IN A REAL SITUATION LIKE YOU PRACTICE. If you are not practicing realistically you are playing house.
What martial art besides the one you practice do you think is interesting?
They all have their highs and lows
What inspires you?
People like you George, Daniel, Dallas, Nick, Kyle, Damon and others. (His friends and students)
Do you have any aspirations for your art, dojo or organization for the future?
Continuing training people to survive
Anything on your mind you would like to add?
Fire everybody elses god (sensei) and hire your own. To many cooks spoil the broth.
And the most important thing is you cannot hope for peace until you prepare and stay prepared for war.
I hope I do not offend anyone with these statements but you ask the questions. Thanks for allowing me to express some less than popular views.
Kenichi Sawai: Taikiken. Meiji Jingu, Tokyo
2 hours ago