Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Aikido3D review

A couple of months ago a friend showed me the Aikido3D software. I hesitated a lot until I actually started writing about it (which I'd been planning since I got to know about its existence) because I have mixed feeling about it (and so have my friends).

It gives you aikido techniques demonstrated by a skilled master (Donovan Waite). You can watch the demonstrations in 3D, you can stop or slow down any time, you can change viewpoints and there is also some commentary to the techniques. The 'videos' can be grouped by they type of attack, technique or kyu grades. There are buttons to turn features on and off, for example, whether to show the footsteps of tori (aka. nage, who throws the other) during the execution of a technique. You can also switch between hakama and simple gi and you can even turn off either the display of tori or uke. There is another option to turn on the "center radials" which show the centres of practicing partners. You can also adjust the playing speed and turn on/off commentaries.

All this is nice but there's always a question in my mind when using aikido3d: what is it good for? Why is this needed? I understand it's different because of the 3D display but why is that better than series of videos?

I think the main problems that made me think about the possible purpose of the software are the commentaries and the limitations of the display. To explain the latter, I can adjust the camera's position, rotate around the aikidoka left to right or right to left, I can zoom in or out of the centre of the scene, change between top, front and 'follow' views but I just wanted to grab the screen with the mouse pointer and rotate the view freely - left to right, up and down, zoom to one certain thing I wanted to understand. Maybe it's just my personal preferences, it's not really a crucial problem.
However, my main concerns are the commentaries: they don't say much to a beginner and don't say enough to an advanced student about the techniques. For example, comments such as "to drop Uke's center, Nage must extend and relax his arm" are exactly like this. It reminds me of a childhood tale about the girl who was asked to "bring something but don't bring anything" to the King*.

The interesting bit with Aikido3D, however, is that when you slow down you can see the minor mistakes and problems. I was watching hanmi handachi kaitennage and I was like "Ha! He's losing tegatana now! Ha! Again!". It was even funnier when I "turned on the footprints". Sometimes I could see the irimis and tenkans in the line of attack as I was taught but, particularly for longer techniques, the footprints just looked like blood splatters on the mat :).

Maybe I'm a bit too much of a perfectionist but I would have preferred the digitalising of the moves of top shihans such as Yamada Yoshimitsu who's in the "special thanks to" section of the software. Waite shihan is really good but I don't know much about him and would have trusted the demonstrations by very top masters more.

A note to myself: as a technique can't be done twice exactly the same way to be 'perfect' (O'Sensei famously refused demonstrating exactly the same technique once again after being asked so because the first photo might not have been good enough) and different technical bits are usually emphasized in different demonstrations so I think I keep training and reading about aikido but don't watch the same recording 100 times unless it is really instructional with loads of explanations and helping instructions.

My rating is 3/5, what do you think?

*the girl brought a bird but she released it just before giving it to the King. She brought something but didn't bring anything...

1 comment:

Porthos said...

Aikido3D is a bit controversial, but still it has got a good purpose. The today's people like to read or learn about something interactively. People who are interested about aikido and heard about it they have a great opportunity to see (interactively) techniques without going to a real dojo. Probably they won't learn much but I think it can make people more interested and make them to go and try it in a dojo. This case it's purpose is already fulfilled.