Tag: Aikido, Martial Arts, William Stynetski

Are adults allowed to strike children in martial arts?

I hit mine all the time to show where and how they are open.

It isn’t a death blow, if it is to the face, it is a tap on the forehead. I have also used a fist making connection to the jaw line, again not a strike per say, but I simply place my fist along their jaw and keep it their a couple of seconds. I may also use it to push through, turning their head a bit.

For the body it is a little different. I usually will target the ribs or the chest, and use just enough force for them to squirm if it is to the ribs, and a decent little thump if it is to the chest. To the chest, I am not looking for any kind of force or power, but more wanting the nice thud sound effect.82bbcd1a7e1621a0db451a5f2c4a3ee3

At the same time I show them how to correct their position to reduce the chances of being hit again. It may take a few times, but eventually they get it.

I also encourage them to strike me from time to time exposing my own openings to them (or what would be the openings of a potential attacker).

This does not always fare so well for me, because they have not yet learned to control their power, but so be it.

William Stynetski


Yin Yang Described, by William Stynetski

How Would You Describe Yin and Yang?

They are two different and inseperable states of being, of energy.

Think of a large wave rolling up onto shore. As the wave crashes onto the shore washing up seaweed and driftwood, this is yang.

That same wave, as it recedes and goes back out to sea is yin. It still has power and force, just in a different direction/manner.

It is powerful enough to take that same driftwood back out to sea, or carry a person caught in its undertow miles away from shore.

Hot is yang…enough to boil water.

Cold is yin…enough to freeze water.

Hot water releases steam which can be ussd as energy.

Freezing water expands as it freezes and this expansion also has a force of its own. Think of water entering a geologic fissure and then freezing, causing a fracture in a rock formation.

Yin is just as powerful as yang, just in a different way.

As a sidenote, the expansion of the freezing water technically is a yang feature, and is an example of what is meant when you hear that there is yang within yin and yin within yang. In this instance the freezing water is yin, and the resulting force of the expansion of the freezing water is the yang within yin.

This is represented, in the yin and yang symbol, by the black dot in the white half of the circle (yin within yang), and in the case of yang within yin (expansion of freezing water), the white dot in the black half of the circle.

It is always a state of flux, waxing or waning, and nothing can be completely either 100% yin, or 100% yang.

-William Stynetski


How Do You Fight Defensive Battles?

It is all relative. There can be no defense without offense, and no offense without defense. They are inseperable.

Battles are very fluid. There are constant changes taking place from moment to moment. Makes no difference if these changes are realized at a troop or command level or not. They are taking place.

Some of these changes could be so minor as to be insignificant, and others could be major changes on the battlefield in terms of troop numbers, armament, equipment, and position.

The key is being able to recognize and discern which changes illicit a response or reaction. Not always easy to do, cosidering that some of the most experienced generals on a battlefield have lost battles either by not recognizing these changes, or by issuing orders that resulted in an incorrect response to those changes.

Next it comes down to how well trained and fluid your own forces are. Remember the saying the key to a good offense is a good defense? Well the same holds true for defense. The key to a good defense is a good offense, and preferably, in this case, one that is swift, powerful, and completely unexpected.

The question then is: At what point does this change take place? When does the defensive battle become more of an offensive battle, and to what degree(s)? It is all very much yin and yang.

How defensive do you want to be? Are your troops so defensive that they will not deal with any threat until the first shot is fired? Or is there enough autonomy to handle actual and percieved threats as those threats are forming and taking shape before the repercussions of those threats are introduced into the battle?

As stated earlier, position is a key element. Does this current defensive position also offer the opportunity to fluidly go into offensive maneuvers when the time arises?

That pretty much is the key. Being able to fluidly switch from one to the other, and knowing when to do so.

Of course this goes full circle to offense and defense are inseperable. They are really one and the same. It is how and when the strategies and tactics of each (for the purposes of this discussion) are used in a battle, and to what degree.

William Stynetski


Fun With Shihonage

While practicing kata te tori ai hamni shihonage I get to stress the importance of moving correctly from the first touch, and have a little fun with this young aikidoka.

Shihonage is a difficult technique to do efficiently and correctly.

There is a wealth of information gleaned from that first moment of contact. Being open and sensitive to it is key on both sides, for uke and nage.

Then, being able to move, adjust and fit your body in a way that utilizes and takes advantage of that information (the attackers position and movement, their intentions, their structure…) must also be facilitated.

All in an instant.


Training of Sumo Wrestlers

An entire book could be written on the training of sumo wrestlers (infact they have). Here, I will give the brief, condensed version. Training takes place at what are called stables. The stable is where a sumo wrestler will live until they reach a certain level when they are then allowed to travel out or live away from the stable. This is usually after several years, I believe something like 5 or 7 years if I recall correctly.

Anyways, the junior guys start at the bottom. They are responsible for cooking, cleaning, massaging and training with the more senior guys. The cooking part is very important because not only do the sumo wrestlers in stables eat a lot, but many of them are also excellent Japanese chefs after their years of cooking in the stables. Many sumo champions go on to open their own restaurants after they retire from wrestling.

As for the training it consists of wrestling drills, technique and repeated practice. There is also a high emphasis placed on flexibility. These guys might be huge but they can all do the splits. They can all sit on the tatami with their legs open and touch their chest, forehead, nose, etcetera to the tatami. There are also different weight classes for sumo wrestlers, so although they are all trying to get big, not all are as huge as the famous ones we have all seen.

This training last a few hours in the morning and a few hours after a long lunch and nap. Yes a nap. It is one of the techniques used to get these guys big. A huge lunch of usually chanko nabe in the order of 9,000 to 10,000 calories is standard. Then comes the beer. They get to drink a lot of beer right before their nap. The nap is about 2 or so hours. Eating and sleeping after a huge meal is a great way to put on weight, and the beer helps. After the nap comes another round of training, stretching, and massage.

Then comes dinner, another round of 9000 to 10000 calories.

The cool thing is, once a stable decides to take you on you start to earn money, through a small stipend (again if I recall correctly) and more money through pre arranged matches to get you ranked and move up the ladder to progressively more bouts and higher pay. Since for the majority of your career in sumo you live at the stable and cannot leave, not even to go shopping or visit the sights of Japan, sumo wrestlers have a pretty decent bank account when at higher levels they do get permission to depart the stable or get their own apartment. Then of course winning champion matches earns them even more money.

Just as a side note, there have been Brittish and American wrestlers accepted into stables for training, so it is not strictly limited to Japanese. This is Akebono Tarō (Chadwick Haheo Rowan) a sumo champion from Hawaii.


Aikido Lineage Chart, by William Stynetski

Aikido Lineage Chart

Below are the main influences of aikido lines that comprise my aikido training.  It is quite a unique path with influences coming from many of my great teachers. Each one of them has given me a special gift that has left their own signature on the aikido I practice today.



Aikido Checking for Correct Movement

Other times I will need to check that the defender (nage) is moving correctly.  Had this kick landed, it would have been a harsh reminder to be moving in the correct direction.  Fortnately, for this other blackbelt, he was doing just that.