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(With due apologies on the title to Angus Young and Jerry Lee Lewis, respectively)
I am a firm believer in the Eastern approach of encapsulating complex observations into concrete images. But i also value the Western approach of analysis of concrete observations to find generalized principles of behavior. I believe they work far better in concert than does either one alone. Too few try to draw out the connections more rigorously and imaginatively. Both are required, I find.
This discussion, with props to Mr. Campbell, below, flows from this diagram I prepared and now christen as
Big Balls O' Aiki Water & Fire:
I have for some time used (here) a typical mechanics textbook illustration of torsional shear, shown on a cylinder, with those right-angle spirals of opposite stress. Then I realized that the issue of discontinuities in the body, their creation and resolution, controlled a great deal of the concerns on this issue. Then I recalled the "spherical" language used by both M. Ueshiba and K. Ueshiba. I also recalled that M. Ueshiba used the images of fire (upward flow or extension ) and water (downward flow or compression). So, I drew my own spherical model of the same stresses to see what it might reveal. It has revealed a more coherent dynamic that I did not suspect before I thought about this model.
Thomas Campbell wrote:
I will venture that it is an interesting comparison, to the extent I understand it. I'm not completely familiar with shear as it would be expressed in the human body, so I won't venture an opinion on the "shear spirals" in one of the sphere images.
It seems like the compression and tension spirals could map onto Chen Xin's drawings--particularly in connection with the "coiling inward" and "coiling outward" described in the translation of Chen
Xin's writing mentioned above:
Coiling power (Chan Jin) is all over the body. Putting it most simply, there is coiling inward (Li Chan) and coiling outward (Wai Chan), which both appear once (one) moves. There is one (kind of coiling) when left hand is in front and right hand is behind; (or when) right hand is in front and left hand is behind; this one closes (He) (the hands) with one
conforming (Shun) (movement). There is also one (coiling) that closes the inside of the left (side of the body) and the back of the right (side of the body), and another which uses the through-the-
back power (Fanbei Jin) and closes towards the back. All of them should be moved naturally according to the (specific) postures.
Let me point out some other "mapping" correspondences of possible interest. As noted in bold in Campbell's quote above, "coiling inward" and "coiling outward" "both appear once (one) moves."
In my spherical diagram, the tension and compression spirals are broken out for simpler viewing, but the combined set of stresses occur together in any object in torsion and thus in shear. The tension and compression appear simultaneously at right angles to one another once torsion is present. (The angles of my diagram's spirals are not at all accurate, due to my limited graphical sources). The poles are the axis of action for the torsion applied. As you may note, the shear stresses become concentrated at the poles. This concentration forms a discontinuity.
Another point of correspondence is to note the interest on this topic in fascia or the "suit". The sphere model of the body may be seen as simply the sheet of the fascia joined to itself -- basically, as a deformed sphere (topologically speaking). Shear (whether from bending or torsion) is strongest at the extreme fiber of the structure; it diminishes to zero at the core. Thus, the sensation of a "suit" is a proper indication of a structure loaded in shear, and the fascial tissues near the limb and torso surfaces would feel these stresses most. Concerns about "creases" in the "suit" are indicative of a local buckling. A crease is just a buckled sheet. Buckling is a shear-dominated phenomenon.
If one allows the sphere to be highly flexible - and twists the whole sphere too much, it responds by a buckling twist in the middle -- like making a balloon animal. I promised you Balloon Animals.
This intermediate discontinuity forms another pole -- two poles actually form and divide the single sphere into two. From the one spherical region of torsional shear that existed before, we now have two connected regions of torsional shear joined at the poles. Just like the balloon animal. Obviously, the inverse can occur as well.
This image is a model of action. Obviously, the human body does not have the same pliability or degree of discontinuity as a twisted balloon animal -- unless you are the Michelin Man. But the same kind of stress concentration does indeed occur at joints, just to a lesser degree. When discontinuities are allowed to be completely buckled/creased/etc., the joints swing free, like a beads on a string, links in a chain. When they unbuckle, they become progressively continuous and monolithic and allowing whole-body action.
The same can be observed between two partners, for instance, as between two limb segments. If one of them "unbuckles" their mutual connection, a couple of things can happen. The two (mostly) independent spheres suddenly pop into one spherical system -- in aikido this may be called musubi. M. Ueshiba used precisely spherical terms to describe what he was doing with an opponent in describing "spheres of strength." The two poles of the unified system of two partners in one sphere then become respective points of attachment to the ground, each of which may each be grounded or ungrounded.
Second, the sphere that drives the "unbuckling" in one mode causes displacement of the formerly "independent" sphere because in one direction it results in an increase in axial length. The concrete appreciation of this observations can be shown by standing, facing a wall, and with both hands palm up, at maximum extension, move to place the middle finger of both hands to touch the wall and then turn the hands palm down and then thumbdown palm out. You will be driven back by the additional extension created wholly by the torsional action. If can also be unbuckled in the reverse displacement mode which is sometimes called asagao.
Third, to the extent that the opponent's body is not unified in the sense of a single spherical system to begin with (unbendable arm/whole body action), but is rather already disposed as chains of subspherical limb segments, an unbuckling can driven from one to the other can cause them to unbuckle progressively -- unifying their whole body into a single spherical system -- which may be either grounded or ungrounded.
Grounding or ungrounding does not imply control versus no-control. One can be grounded and in control or ungrounded and in control -- or in either condition and out of control. What matters is which one is driving the change, and from the proper orientation.
Receiving (ukemi) in either of these modes mode allows for similar manipulations -- i.e. -- one can have everything operated in a buckled (loose and chain-like) or in a unbuckled mode (coherent "unbendable" whole-body movement) and use the transititons between to good effect. A strike in this mode begins very chainlike but unbuckles as it deploys until the whole structure is monolithically connected to the strike at the instant of delivery but then all buckles into chain-like recovery. Conversely, ikkyo begins very monolithic at contact, then instantly cascades into a chain-like whipping action of the partner, and then resolidifies into a unified control connection.
FWIW, the other image I have provided often is the Lissajous curve -- it is the typical path of a multiple pendulum action, i.e -- an indication of chain-like behavior in resonant (90 degree out of phase) relationship:
The two systems' dynamic shapes are plainly related in form. They have a mathematical relation as well, through the concept of resonance -- involving parts out of phase by 90 degrees (as with the 90 degree offset spiral stresses). Juujido(cross-sign-way) is an intriguing name in this regard, and M. Ueshiba himself used to describe for the art that he also called Aikido.
Thomas Campbell wrote:
The question is what the primary driver of the coiling is. Is the "close" and "open" simply compression and expansion of (connective and other) tissues that are laid out in a spiraling pattern . . . what drives the compression and expansion?
The fascinating thing about shear manipulation is that a compressive load on one line can be relieved by compensating, not by acting directly against the compressive load on that line, but by loading the tension line that lies 90 degrees offset from it. -- and vice versa.
The two stresses are necessary complements that occur to together and affect one another innately. If one disposes the body to receive force in this way -- and wherein lies the art, of course -- the action in the complementary axis is not directly perceived by the person pushing on its companion axis. Their action is diminished, cancelled or even overcome by an action they could not not directly perceive occurring because is it 90 degrees offset in its action .
Obviously, these two modes -- buckled and unbuckled action -- have different kinds of efficiencies. Whole body/unbuckled action is efficient in protecting structural integrity under relatively large loads. Unbuckled/free-swinging action is more energetically efficient -- both in the conservation sense such as walking, and in the peak efficiency sense such as swift movement and strikes.
Moving to some developmental speculation, one can surmise that infants begin in a very much whole-body mode -- all loads are large and dangerous to the structure of such small bodies. David Orange had an intuition about this (largely correct) but he had no foundation that allowed him to extend this observation into a more general explanation and application. Only later do children steadily learn to move with buckled joints that swing more freely - to walk, run, throw, etc.
Sedentary work creates yet a third mode of action, which is neither fish nor fowl -- using small loads, fine voluntary motor action and isolated joint leverage. Many people these days may assume this is the only way the body works, because it is the only way they do work -- IOW, our common methods of doing work have biased and diminished our perceptions of the other ways the body can do work. By the time of adult-hood, many people who do not do regular heavy labor, largely lose the sense of whole-body action and its structural efficiency.
The fourth mode, if you will, is really where the topic of our concern really begins. It involves the smooth manipulation of this torsional or shear transition between the two types : from whole-body action to free-linked action, and back -- at will. The "windings" in this approach are controlling the shift between the two unbuckled whole-body forms of action action -- one in contraction (illustrated by asagao) and the other in extension (illustrated by tegatana), as well as the longer period transition from buckled to unbuckled connection in action and back again over a relatively long-period action. This is illustrated in things like funekogi undo and ude furi.
The long period transitional action allows two important things that the whole-body and free-linked modes themselves alone do not. First, it allows the reception of relatively large loads (strikes/displacements/throw) in whole-body body mode then to be dissipated/converted by shifting to freelinked mode to allow loose movement to eat up momentum with little other effect, and thus effectively making it possible to deal with larger loads or impacts than might other wise be the case. Second, it allows the swift deployment of the free-linked mode to solidify into whole-body instantaneously behind a throw or strike, putting the entire body's dynamic into the action swiftly and with far more applied momentum than the overt movement would suggest. This is the essence of the "no-inch" punch. The fact of such transitional actions is not simplisticly observed because they occur so quickly over such a short distance of action.
Lastly, there is a kind fifth mode of action, and it also depends on this transitional mechanism -- which involves the rapid successive and continuous transition action between them, a shuddering, vibratory action shown in furitama/tekubi-furi and described as the "spirit of bees" in the Doka. Ark is well-reputed to use this mode to great effect as can be seen on various videos. I use it routinely in kokyunage throws without having to shift weight laterally.
This layout of five types of action may, perhaps not coincidentally, to track at least one way of seeing the five-elements but it definitely tracks the Five Rings, -- though I have given short shrift to the third mode above.
Long period expansion/contraction in looseness = Wind/Wood
Long period expansion/contraction in firmness = Earth/Earth
Short period expansion/contraction in looseness= Fire/Fire
Short period expansion/contraction in firmness = Water/Water
Sharp, resonant oscillation = Void/Metal (think of ringing and echoing -- yamabiko)
In any event, I leave these concepts to you to see if it helps. It is helping me.