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Erick Mead
08-11-2006, 04:19 PM
[To introduce: this was the offshoot of a discussion on musubi and speed that arose in the ground fighting thread. I thought it warrranted its own space for further development.]

My concern is that without practicing at full speed you not be able to maintain musubi when attaceked at full speed. The [dicussion] is starting to indicate that you actually advocate starting slow and building up to full speed? If so we're in agreement. I do recommend understanding how things change at different speed once people are comfortable, but not in the way it seems that you mean.

For most techniques at full speed, a little touch of true musubi (even just with atemi) is all that is required to effect a throw, drop or transition the attack into osae waza. It really becomes more ukemi-limited for uke's safety than for nage's technique. Someone said that the mistakes in aikido are more dangerous than the techniques. This is one illustration of that. It takes time also for uke to be comfortable in adapting his musubi in the ukemi as well, which can be progressively unpredictable the faster that one goes, and not just harder and faster. There is a fundamental physical reason for this.

Going fast does not necessarily have the effect intended -- if what you are driving at is acheiving close and predictable correspondence between rhythm of attack and rhythm of selected technique at progressively higher speed, just harder and faster. Going fast inherently breaks into different rhythm from going slow (one of the reasons why kaitennage feels different slower, and why "speed" is not exactly meant the same way by different people).

That is why people walk at differnt rhythm than they jog, and jog and different rhythm than they run. It is no just faster, Notice that we have only three normal gaits for getting around at different speeds. There are a couple of others but they are more specialized and are not about moving over large distances efficently.

Chaotic systems theory illustrates this rhythm altering by increasing flow rate in a dripping faucet -- first you get one stable rhythm, then two different stable rhythms, then three, and if you dial up the faucet one more time --- at that point the systems becomes chaotic and indeterminate and any rhythm or no rhythm exists in the system.

By increasing speed of attack in the same way, tactical sequences very shortly go out the window, and only musubi will keep up. Speed also has less advantage when seen from the standpoint of inherently altering rhythm. This creates suki that uke did not intend when he went in full tilt, and which do not even exist if he were moving with somewhat greater deliberation. He will fail to recognize it unless it is shown to him at a training pace (which will seem artificial at that pace, even though it is not.)

Another reason to focus on following the musubi rather attempting to train for tactical sequences in advance and then faster (other than for training to abandon them). Going faster changes more than just energy.

SeiserL
08-12-2006, 01:30 PM
IMHO, rhythm, speed, and connection need proper timing to be effective.

Brad Pruitt
08-12-2006, 05:19 PM
I don't know much but what I do know I feel through practice of the techniques.Through the flow of me and my training partners attempting to keep the connection. I do agree that the rhythm, speed and connection need the proper timing and also I believe the timing is in the rhthym.It's all so very complicated to me while looking so easy.

I really like the dripping faucet example, that helps me visualize and I think I understand what you're saying.


Thanks, Brad

Erick Mead
08-13-2006, 07:19 AM
IMHO, rhythm, speed, and connection need proper timing to be effective. I cannot reconcile that with O-Sensei's own statement on timing, which is what provoked my thoughts in this area. It is in the Stanley Pranin translation of a newspaper interview given by jointly by O-Sensei and Second Dosshu. He denied that ou no sen (go no sen) sen no sen or sensen no sen played any part in aikido. It is on Aikido FAQ. http://www.aikidofaq.com/interviews.html
[Interviewer: Does that [masagatsu agatsu] mean ou no sen? (This term refers to a late response to an attack.)
O Sensei: Absolutely not. It is not a question of either sensen no sen or sen no sen. If I were to try to verbalize it I would say that you control your opponent without trying to control him. That is, the state of continuous victory.
I'll admit that O-Sensei statement is recondite, but his denial of timing is clear. My thoughts have thus focussed more on awareness of musubi as displacing functional timing. So far, the approach has merit in my practice.

DonMagee
08-13-2006, 11:44 AM
Yet, in order to merge and blend with your attacker, you have to be able to move and match his movements (thus the essance of blending, too slow and he will resist you, too fast and you will lose connection). To me this means timing is critical. If you move too soon, I can track you and we end up in a struggle. If you move to late, you get struck. Entering in on an oppoent (as most aikido movements are entering movements) requires percise timing. To late and your eating my fist, too soon and I can adjust my position. But if you enter at just the right momenet, I am helpless.

This became clear to me while working my ippon seoinage throw in judo. In order to have a good chance at completing this throw, you need to get your attack to press in on you (push back twoards you and make a forward motion). To do this, the easiest way is to push him and get him to push back. But if you simply try the throw as soon as he pushes back he has a good chance of countering or defending. You have to lead his mind into thinking that push is where he wants to be so he will commit to it. Try to throw too soon and he will defend or counter. Wait to long and he will have gained the advantage and you will find yourself thrown.

Anytime two people are attempting to interact timing is involed. It doesn't matter if O'Sensei belived it or not. You can't grab my wrist if its not there to grab. You can't puch me if I'm not in a position to punch. Hesitate for a second and you will lose kazushi as your oppenent has time to recover. In the case of seoinage, if you don't enter right, if you dont turn quick enough, if you didn't break his balance properly, and if you didn't break his grip properly you will find yourself in a very bad spot very quickly as you just turned your back to a guy who is standing there with a good position and balance. When we are just working the throw, timing is not important as I can take my time, pull him where I want him, hoist him up on my back and turn. But when we are sparing, if the throw is not executed fluidly and in just the right fame of time, he will have moved and my throw will find itself opening me up to his attacks.

Aristeia
08-13-2006, 02:11 PM
Eric I would not interpret those comments as meaning timing is unimportant, Not at all. Ueshiba's comments are about inititiative,not timing.

Erick Mead
08-13-2006, 09:49 PM
Eric I would not interpret those comments as meaning timing is unimportant, Not at all. Ueshiba's comments are about inititiative,not timing. A distinction without a differnece. "Sen" means "before "; "sensen" means "before before" ie. superlative case; "go" means "after" -- this is order in time, and thus "timing." But the linguistics are a bit beside the point.

My interpretation of O-Sensei's concept of musubi does not involve initiative either. Musubi is extension and acceptance of the expression of hostile intent without opposition. Until that intent forms, musubi does not arise. When musubi does arise, then connection exists, and whether nage or uke acts first, simultaneously, or after the other becomes irrelevant. Yes, different techniques and variations will end up being applied in different ways in the variant timings, especially in learning to perfrom them initially, or in observing the progress of a particular situtaiton. Time certainly is not suspended by the arising of musubi. But timing does not determine victory nor is it part of how aikido properly functions. Timing occurs, but is not operative; musubi is operative. Anytime two people are attempting to interact timing is involed. It doesn't matter if O'Sensei belived it or not. You can't grab my wrist if its not there to grab. You can't puch me if I'm not in a position to punch. Presuming that I wish to punch or grab anyone, anywhere, at a given time. (Don't get me worng, I will and can, and often with great effect, but not because I wish it, but because that is where things sort of lead to.) As I am not attempting to direct any particular sequence of events or a trained combination of techniques, I am freed from the chess-master's limitation in forecasting sequential contingency, a problem Don's next bit of discussion illustrates. Working my ippon seoinage throw in judo. In order to have a good chance at completing this throw, you need to get your attack to press in on you (push back twoards you and make a forward motion). To do this, the easiest way is to push him and get him to push back. But if you simply try the throw as soon as he pushes back he has a good chance of countering or defending. You have to lead his mind into thinking that push is where he wants to be so he will commit to it. You are attempting to "have a good chance at completing" ippon seionage by "getting" the attack to press in. This is not accepting the attack as presented, but trying to set up a means of manipulating it in advance . This will lose musubi to begin with by conflicting with the attacker's intent.

If the technique it presents itself, well and good, but I am increasingly working at being busy with the connection itself, not in trying to set up the technique I "hope" in advance will present itself. In short I am trying to break the training paradigm in my training. Sparring will not necessarily do this if you merely repeat the training paradigm faster and harder. The setting up, from a strategic standpoint gives away too much information, delaying victory.

From the standpoint of musubi, whatever presents itself as things play out is mine to exploit since I am no longer bound by push-me-pull-you contingency created by a set temporal sequence of a priori techniques or combinations. And thus also the preeminent aspect of ukemi in gaining and maintaining this connection. Hesitate for a second and you will lose kazushi as your oppenent has time to recover. In the case of seoinage, if you don't enter right, if you dont turn quick enough, if you didn't break his balance properly, and if you didn't break his grip properly you will find yourself in a very bad spot very quickly as you just turned your back to a guy who is standing there with a good position and balance. All very good training aids for given technique, but very poor in terms of allowing the strategic strength that exists in aikido to fully flower.

DonMagee
08-13-2006, 11:14 PM
Timing occurs, but is not operative; musubi is operative. Presuming that I wish to punch or grab anyone, anywhere, at a given time. (Don't get me worng, I will and can, and often with great effect, but not because I wish it, but because that is where things sort of lead to.) As I am not attempting to direct any particular sequence of events or a trained combination of techniques, I am freed from the chess-master's limitation in forecasting sequential contingency, a problem Don's next bit of discussion illustrates. You are attempting to "have a good chance at completing" ippon seionage by "getting" the attack to press in. This is not accepting the attack as presented, but trying to set up a means of manipulating it in advance . This will lose musubi to begin with by conflicting with the attacker's intent.

If the technique it presents itself, well and good, but I am increasingly working at being busy with the connection itself, not in trying to set up the technique I "hope" in advance will present itself. In short I am trying to break the training paradigm in my training. Sparring will not necessarily do this if you merely repeat the training paradigm faster and harder. The setting up, from a strategic standpoint gives away too much information, delaying victory.

From the standpoint of musubi, whatever presents itself as things play out is mine to exploit since I am no longer bound by push-me-pull-you contingency created by a set temporal sequence of a priori techniques or combinations. And thus also the preeminent aspect of ukemi in gaining and maintaining this connection. All very good training aids for given technique, but very poor in terms of allowing the strategic strength that exists in aikido to fully flower.

But then do you not need to act instantly when the moment presents itself? This in itself is timing. You need a sharp aware mind to have instant recgonition of an opening and instant response before the opening is gone and you are back to waiting.

You seem to think that other arts force openings on their attackers. Quite the opposite, I wait for them to make the mistake, then I correct that mistake into the opening. If my opponent has his guard to low, I will punch to his face, if his guard is too high, his body. The same is true in grappling. I am not going to try to pull my opponents arm across my chest to get an armbar. I'm waiting for him to give me the opening, then when he does, I 'help' that opening into my attack. Maybe he sets his hand on the mat, I see it, and I have a split second to recognize this and grab his wrist or he will lift it back up and I will not be able to submit him from that mistake. At the same time, if I grasp too strongly, or move to fast, he will suspect the submission and defend it. This then requires me to adjust and either try to muscle the submission, or counter his defense by moving on to something else. It can become very mental and require a lot of attention and strategy, or it can be a brawl with pure instinct.

My sense of timing is paramount. Reguardless of what martial art I study or what I want to be true, I still have to use my brain to fight. I still have to see the opening, recognize it and then react to it. All in perfect sequence. Of course the faster I can do any of these, the better. And the more perfect the execution (timing and technique) the better.

This is not a chess match. We do not move and wait, or take turns. There is anticipation and prediction however. If I know my attacker seems to throw a jab cross leg kick combo. I can prepare for it. Maybe he hit me with it twice already. Or maybe I notice he drops his guard when he kicks. I can anticipate his actions and respond properly when he attacks. The same is true for grappling. If I am in someone's guard and I am aware I have reached past his belt line, and I feel him grab my elbow and start to apply preasure, my body knows from instinct that he is preparing for an armbar and I defend accordingly. Sometimes this can seem almost supernatural like mind reading. But really it is just increased sensitivity to these motions, and visual ques (eyes, feet, shoulders, etc).

The more I think about it, I think the concept of musubi is just like most other japaneese words used to describe something. Instead of explaining what is happening, it is an abstract word to wrap up all these concepts of timing, speed, motion, rhythm, etc. As non-japaneese we tend to mystify these concepts and act as if they are almost supernatural. In the end though, you are still having a conection with your partner, feeling his movements and reacting with good rhtyem and timing. Anything else and you will find your movements too late or too soon. The difference is in that I am searching for the opening, and you are waiting then suggesting you can act however you please to defeat your attacker. I find this intriguing because you have to match his rythem to blend (if you are moving faster or slower you are in conflict with this partner), then you have to see and respond to the opening he presents. If you are not within the window he provides, you are too late. This is timing. Also you must move at the correct pace, to slow and your timing with suffer, too fast and you may spoil the attack. So again, I would say that musubi is really just a word to describe speed, rhythem, timing, and sensitivity. Just like I feel ki is just a word to describe the proper use of mind and body mechanics.

George S. Ledyard
08-14-2006, 12:35 AM
I cannot reconcile that with O-Sensei's own statement on timing, which is what provoked my thoughts in this area. It is in the Stanley Pranin translation of a newspaper interview given by jointly by O-Sensei and Second Dosshu. He denied that ou no sen (go no sen) sen no sen or sensen no sen played any part in aikido. It is on Aikido FAQ. http://www.aikidofaq.com/interviews.html
I'll admit that O-Sensei statement is recondite, but his denial of timing is clear. My thoughts have thus focussed more on awareness of musubi as displacing functional timing. So far, the approach has merit in my practice.

O-Sensei stated on a number of occasions that it wasn't about "timing". Timing is essentially a relative term. It refers to the actions of one person and reaction by another.

O-Sensei's take on this came from his spiritual training in which he experienced the essential oneness of all things. He talked about the idea that the attacker and defender were one. This is how he saw it. He was so fundamentally connected with the attacker that it was impossible for the attacker to move separately from him. As the attacker prepared to initiate his attack, O-Sensei had already, in his mind, executed the technqiue. Hence statements like the one he made about being surrounded by spears but feeling like he was already behind them.

If you can achieve that kind of connection with the attacker, relative timing doesn't apply any more. Katsu Hayabi, or victory in this instant, implies that there is no progression of steps in the interaction, which is what "timing" is really about. For O-Sensei, before the attacker ever moved he had already won.

I think Aikido people should understand about the various principles of timing that are part of Japanese martial arts training. None of us are O-Sensei, yet, so we need these relative concepts to help us understand what we are doing. But it is also important that we try to understand how O-Sensei experienced these concpets because it is only by trying to understand and master these concepts that one has any prospect of taking his training to the that level.

Aristeia
08-14-2006, 01:15 AM
Nice post Don. I think we're all talking about more or less the same thing. Eric calls it musubi, we call it timing. Same concepts.
To get this slightly back to the original topic - I spent alot of time working witht he concept of just responding to the attacker with no preset mind in Aikido classes. I encouraged my students to try and invent their own aikido as it happened rather than look for a technique. It worked moderately well. What I found really accelerated my ability to stay in the moment and take what is given was when I started sparring in grappling. I found that environment much more conducive (after a teething period) to developing that mindset. Maybe that's just me <shrug>

Good discussion.

Erick Mead
08-14-2006, 01:48 AM
O-Sensei stated on a number of occasions that it wasn't about "timing". Timing is essentially a relative term. It refers to the actions of one person and reaction by another. This discussion arose in the context of training regimens and the proposal, made by others, and here paraphrased that beyond basic instruction, "real training" required sparring at "full speed" and "full" contact.

I took exception, because of O-Sensei's statement about timing and my own thoughts in this area. As speed changes, rhythm changes, and not just by speeding up the beat. At faster speeds of interaction more than one beat exists, and at a certain point the rhythm goes entirely chaotic. This is simply a physical fact.

O-Sensei seemed to have no difficulty in this regime. If Aikido is to be effective at full speed -- where all rhythms are possible or all rhythms are lost -- timing cannot be applicable. If we truly want to train for "real" situations at "full speed" it seems to me that we must address ourselves more directly to musubi, because timing is an ill-fitting substitute for it in training for what the sparring proponents want in "full speed" interaction. I'll repeat what I said before: I am looking at techniques, acknowledging that while timing occurs, it ought not be operative; musubi should be operative. As a somewhat dimensionless quantity, it is not bound by the ordering or relative quantities in time, once it has arisen.

O-Sensei's take on this came from his spiritual training in which he experienced the essential oneness of all things. He talked about the idea that the attacker and defender were one. This is how he saw it. He was so fundamentally connected with the attacker that it was impossible for the attacker to move separately from him. As the attacker prepared to initiate his attack, O-Sensei had already, in his mind, executed the technqiue. Hence statements like the one he made about being surrounded by spears but feeling like he was already behind them.

If you can achieve that kind of connection with the attacker, relative timing doesn't apply any more. Katsu Hayabi, or victory in this instant, implies that there is no progression of steps in the interaction, which is what "timing" is really about. For O-Sensei, before the attacker ever moved he had already won.

While there is without doubt a psychological component to this, I have always been impressed by the very concrete nature of the man's thinking (even in his spiritual flights). Musubi is not merely psychological, but objectively real in my experience, and given your own teaching, I suspect you agree. When, depending on very subtle cues -- including relative differences in timing -- an attack may flow into any of several dozens of techniques and their many varaitonal taisabaki, it is the musubi that dictates (too strong a word) the technique variation and its timing, not the other way around.

I think Aikido people should understand about the various principles of timing that are part of Japanese martial arts training. None of us are O-Sensei, yet, so we need these relative concepts to help us understand what we are doing. But it is also important that we try to understand how O-Sensei experienced these concpets because it is only by trying to understand and master these concepts that one has any prospect of taking his training to the that level.

The question is how to address training speed, timing and rhythm concepts to musubi as a primary matter, and not a derivative one.

ian
08-14-2006, 05:08 AM
Another reason to focus on following the musubi rather attempting to train for tactical sequences in advance and then faster (other than for training to abandon them). Going faster changes more than just energy.

I completely agree. I like to break down training into 3 types:
1. mechanical (usually for beginners, showing how your body can move from a static position to achieve a mechanical advantage)
2. Slow and continuous (what people would call 'soft') where an uke provides a consistant and usually slow force such that Nage can alter technique and adapt to ukes force (training in blending)
3. Hard attacks at speed - to utilise timing and distancing correctly.

Correct timing and distance cannot be achieved through practise of 1 and 2 alone. Indeed, I believe type 3 should be the standard type of training unless body mechanics or blending is starting to suffer.

As a side note, I finally realised what Ueshiba meant when he says when someone attacks with fire, respond with water (in his Budo training manual). Then he goes on about Japan being surrounded by water and that was why it is so well defended (the book is pre WWII). 'Water' is the gap created between you and uke when they miss their target (due to your body movement).

I also believe that this 'victory in an instant' is more than just about one-ness with the attackers thoughts. The reason he said that the outcome is decided when contact is made is because the timing/distancing of the attack has to be disturbed to take advantage (Musashi said the same thing). Watching Christian Tissier as a good example, where uke is unbalanced from the instant contact is made, and never regains their balance - thus there is only one real action in the technique; that specific timing for unbalancing (the rest is just uke falling in the direction you want to take him, and if uke is truly unbalanced, uke cannot resist).

For practical training consideration has to be taken over whether the attacker is doing an initial 1st strike, presuming you to be unprepared (like a lunge); for which current aikido training methods are well suited, OR if the affray has already been met and you are in the melee. In the second case I think it essential to be able to enter and strike and to spar (and to be fit), since the attacker is more prepared for a response to his attack (the yin to the receptive yang response). When they withdraw or pause a disconection is made if you don't attack. Of course, all real self-defence situations are different.

P.S. if training is full contact (without protection) and Ueshiba said treat each strike as if it would kill, training would become very dangerous. I believe in aikido we should learn to strike much for powerfully and effectively to understand the dynamics of the rest of the techniques.

P.P.S. we are intending to introduce occasional scenario based 'sparring' i.e. a selection of simulated situations which are context based (to understand how to deal with situations before the fight comenses) with head and groin guards and light gloves. Of course strikes will be dealt, and throws will be carried out (on mats) with a no holds barred attitude from all parties. The benefit over sparring and competition is that the nage does not even know if a fight will start, what the attack will be etc and it will include multiple attacks (which I am starting to think is more common than one on one for males).

ian
08-14-2006, 05:30 AM
My apologies - I just have to add this. Much of what Ueshiba says is also misleading; for example in the same article Sensei Ledyard quoted Ueshiba says there are 3000 basic techniques with 16 variations. I don't know if he was being ironic but I doubt if many people would seriously tell a student this. - personally I cannot yet match what he says about the peace and harmony side of aikido with his own behaviour in real challenges and his own advice to his uschideschi in real situations. Unfortunately it seems that Ueshiba was unable to teach anyone to be as good at aikido as he was - he was either a bad teacher or it is the sign of a man who was hiding something.

ian
08-14-2006, 07:02 AM
read this also:
http://www.budoseek.net/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=92654&postcount=1

ian
08-14-2006, 07:30 AM
I hate to bore people again - but this is something that really strikes a chord with my recent change to training. The fact that Ueshiba has said that 90% of aikido is atemi MUST SURELY relate to this concept of misubi (inducing a reaction in uke, and nages reaction to uke). I agree that Misubi isn't really timing (it relates more to the psychological/physical interaction). Whereas in aikido we also say things like 'this is an atemi which would make you want to flick your head backwards' in reality people have tunnel vision and a strong physical strike is often required to actually induce that. To me aikido is a 'training method' that needs to be understood, not a simulation of reality.

Erick Mead
08-14-2006, 08:44 AM
My apologies - I just have to add this. Much of what Ueshiba says is also misleading; for example in the same article Sensei Ledyard quoted Ueshiba says there are 3000 basic techniques with 16 variations. I don't know if he was being ironic but I doubt if many people would seriously tell a student this. - personally I cannot yet match what he says about the peace and harmony side of aikido with his own behaviour in real challenges and his own advice to his uschideschi in real situations. Unfortunately it seems that Ueshiba was unable to teach anyone to be as good at aikido as he was - he was either a bad teacher or it is the sign of a man who was hiding something. Actually, I was almost as intrigued by that same statement. It is not really misleading at all, although people may reasonably disagree with what goes into the calculation. I have yet to seee any canonical version of the elements.

If you multiply the known attack/response combinations (33~34/15~16) times the two initial tai sabaki musubi (omote/ura) and then times the three basic hanmi -- all counted as separate techniques -- it comes out to be right about 3000, give or take (e.g.-- 34*15*2*3= 3060). If you then lay out the receive/send (in-yo) portions of the nagewaza into its possible tai-sabaki permutations --each portion being either irimi-omote/ura or tenkan-uchi/soto -- then you get exactly 16 variations.

All told that is ~48,000 variational techniques with which to play plus the ones you get to make up at need (I love THAT allowance in the interview). If you did four technique variations every single day it would take you 32 or more years to run through them all. I don't know if any deshi stayed with him that long, other than Second Doshu.

This only emphasizes to me the importance of understanding musubi in its own right as bringing these techniques into being spontaneously, rather than as the presumed result of exhausting the catalog of techniques. My memory ain't that good.

George S. Ledyard
08-14-2006, 11:06 AM
I am looking at techniques, acknowledging that while timing occurs, it ought not be operative; musubi should be operative. As a somewhat dimensionless quantity, it is not bound by the ordering or relative quantities in time, once it has arisen.

While there is without doubt a psychological component to this, I have always been impressed by the very concrete nature of the man's thinking (even in his spiritual flights). Musubi is not merely psychological, but objectively real in my experience, and given your own teaching, I suspect you agree. When, depending on very subtle cues -- including relative differences in timing -- an attack may flow into any of several dozens of techniques and their many varaitonal taisabaki, it is the musubi that dictates (too strong a word) the technique variation and its timing, not the other way around.

The question is how to address training speed, timing and rhythm concepts to musubi as a primary matter, and not a derivative one.
I definitely think you and I are on the same page here...

If anything stands out about Aikido in its martial incarnation, it's about the idea that the fight is over at the instant of physical contact. It is very Japanese in that sense in that its central principles comes from sword... one cut, one death. We take that core idea and then at the moment when we could have cut the enemy down, we have the option to choose not to. In practice this is what should be happening. However it is often not what is going on. mnay practitioners think they should vacate their space in response to an attack and they call that blending, then they try to get kuzushi someplace along the line in the interaction. In the real world of fighting that might happen since we aren't yet O-sensei and our technique isn't perfect. But it isn't a correct understanding of what we are shooting for.

Ki musubi is about reaching out with ones attention and "touching" the opponent. He, of course is doing the same thing and the coming together of the two attentions creates musubi. In an objective, scientific sense one can always talk about "timing" because one is looking at an interaction from outside. But that isn't what O-Sensei was talking about, I think. When he talked about these issues he was talking about how we experience them subjectively.

This is something I have been working on quite a bit. Ushiro Kenji talks about this in his classes. Also, I am convinced that this is what Saotome Sensei is doing when he enters (although he doesn't explain it). The mind must precede the body if one is to move. The body doesn't simply move on its own. By projecting ones attention out to the partner, by placing ones attention "inside" the opponent's guard rather than "outside" in a defensive sense, one attains the feeling that the movement is in some sense already accomplished. What remains to be done is simply allowing the body to actualize what has already happening in the mind.

Doing this completely shifts how one experiences time. Things start to slow down, much like how you see things when you've had an accident and you can see every detail of an interaction which actually took a couple seconds. It comes impossible for the opponent to move separately from you, to create that gap that gets him ahead of you in order to strike some opening. No matter how fast he comes, you feel like there's plenty of time to move, no feeling of having to hurry. Total relaxation of the mind and body is essential for this to happen, mental tension will make this impossible to do.

People talk about getting kuzushi instantly at the moment of contact but this is very difficult, if not impossible if one hasn't established musubi before the movement ever started. I have been experimenting with observing my students at the dojo and my practice partners when I travel, attempting to discern where they are placing their attention when they stand across from me. Most folk’s attention stops at their own physical extension. You tell them to extend and their attention goes out to their hands or the tip of their own sword. More advanced people extend their attention out to the partner but usually their minds are caught by the attack itself and their attention only extends to the attacking limb, not inside it to the attacker's center. When you start to be able to see this, you realize that the folks who can't place their attention "inside" your attack and connect with your center, are always a bit late in their response. Normally I find that I can hit them at will or at lest, they can't take my center on the moment of contact and they end up in danger of being reversed.

I have a variety of ways to get people to project their attention. One that works well for students of all experience levels is to give the students shinai. One student will start in seigan and then move through all of the various kamae in sequence (order doesn't matter). The other will look for the mental opening that would allow him to attack. We do a tsuki attack but the targeting is kept purposely lower than normal so that no one gets hurt. His job is to "feel" when there is the mental opening that allows him to attack. The defender should be able to counter any attack no matter what point the defender is at in his movement from one to another. Many folks are ok at each point when they are in the kame but have trouble keeping their mental projection when they shift from one to another.

Another method I am using to get people to place their attention inside the attack, rather than on the attack is to have the students do the atemi before they do the technique. In other words the attacker is doing shomen uchi or yokomen uchi and the defender simply moves in with his own shomen strike. This gets the student to focus on the openings rather than the attack. If they can keep this feeling even when they shift to doing a conventional technique, their attention is at a totally different place than it was when they were trying to deal with the attack.

Anyway, the visualization of already being inside the attack with your mind is very powerful. You definitely start to experience things differently and many of the principles that O-Sensei talked about start to make sense. At least that has been my experience and I can see it making a marked difference in my students.

Brion Toss
08-14-2006, 03:39 PM
I agree that musubi is not the same thing as timing, or as some combination of timing, rhythm, speed, motion, etc. All of those things happen, by definition, as they are elements of physical interaction. But they are not the only thing that is happening. I very much like Ledyard Sensei's image of being "inside the attack," and am reminded of an event of a few months ago:
Four police officers had stopped a man on the street, right in front of a hot dog stand in my town. My spouse and I were eating at a table in front of the stand, and we watched as they searched the man's pack (he had an outstanding felony warrant), and a couple of the officers prepared to handcuff him. Everything was very low-key, with the man standing relaxed, the officers all around, overwhelming force and all that. But I kept watching him. Maybe it was the day, but I felt that he was about to make a break. And just as the cuffs were about to go on, away he went, bolting forward and wheeling sharply to his right, towards the stand. In that instant I also wheeled right, and remember feeling as though we were on connected turntables. He had started perhaps 15ft. from us, and given the layout of the tables he had to pass by me on one of two possible paths. One step to my right seemed to steer him towards my preferred path.
As he approached, running full speed, with four officers in pursuit, we were already met. The technique (irimi nage, as it turns out) felt like an afterthought, and in any event was interrupted about halfway through by a flying tackle by the lead officer.
Nothing in my training had specifically prepared me for dealing with someone who simply wanted to get past me, as opposed to attacking me, though the two situations involve significantly different behavior. And nothing in my training has had anything to say about optimal use of outdoor furniture for detaining fleeing felons. I have long taken it on faith that Aikido's methodology, though not obviously effective to many people's eyes (no scenario's, no sparring, relatively little full-speed practice), does in fact prepare its practitioners for "real" situations.
Musubi might be hard to define, might actually be hard to think about -- thus our inclination to explain it away as just a vague Japanese term for testable phenomena. It's hard to think of a parallel, but I am reminded of the old saw that, "Dance is just the vertical expression of a horizontal intent." This is the empirical view, the one that draws obvious -- and perhaps most often true -- connections between partying and getting laid. But a friend of mine responded to this idea rather vehemently, saying, "No, no, that's backwards. Sex is just one expression of dance. Dance is the realer thing." Perhaps musubi can be seen, then, as the source of timing, rhythm, etc.

Erick Mead
08-14-2006, 04:28 PM
I definitely think you and I are on the same page here...
...
Ki musubi is about reaching out with ones attention and "touching" the opponent. He, of course is doing the same thing and the coming together of the two attentions creates musubi. In an objective, scientific sense one can always talk about "timing" because one is looking at an interaction from outside. But that isn't what O-Sensei was talking about, I think. When he talked about these issues he was talking about how we experience them subjectively.There are all sorts of analogies. A rigid rod moves linearly as much on one end as on the other , and is incapable of moving seprately from the other -- thus musubi -- which observaiton underlies the partner jo practice that we in ASU are familiar with. Non-linearly e.g. -- rotation -- the connection is not so clear from the movement itself, but the connection is undeniable all the same. If you oscillate it around the center just right, like the pencil trick when you were a kid, it can even appera to be flexible and rubbery, But that's a trick of perception. Musubi is not a rigid rod, either. But the trick of conscious perception may be onto something worthwhile

In real live conflict we are talking about complex energy states -- kinetic, biochemical, electromuscular. I brought up the issue of symmetry-breaking and chaotic rhythm illustrated in the dripping faucet. In this case, I am working through what I do not believe to be analogy, but of actual physically demonstrable connection between the energy states of two people in musubi and lack fo such connection between the energy states of people as to whom musubi does not exist.

Studies on the chaotic dynamics of signals in the brain have shown that wave-like synchrony and coherence exist at significant physical scales. The phased wave packets observable through EEG appear to be non-local in nature, having, in essence, field-like properties encompassing the central nervous system as a whole. These wave packets propagate on the order of nearly 30 inches of space at velocities of 60 ft/s, and are capable of fundamental changes of state within 5 ms. The study found no upper limit to the spatial progation of thes wave forms within the neural system. They are not readily explainable by means of neural network models. The rate of change of the wave state exceeds the typical firing rate of individual neurons by nearly an order of magnitude. (~40-60 Hz, or 25-50 ms per synaptic discharge) See http://cnd.memphis.edu/neuropercolation/paper/5._WavePacket.pdf

That is not as spooky as it sounds; tsunamis travel are giant waves (inches high) travelling faster than airliners, but the individual water particles that oscillate as they pass do not approach within two orders of magnitude of that velocity. They travel thousands of miles from their origins, barely perceptible, until amplified by external conditions.

These wave states show up also in the neural system as a whole (and by extension in the neuromuscular kinesthetic sensory system also), and are believed to function on the stochastic (chaotic) background "noise" of the nervous system as a whole via chaotic atttactor models. http://cnd.memphis.edu/paper/tnn-ce971R-HK.pdf

If you like this chaos stuff -- you know what I mean. If you don't -- I will boil it down shortly.

Studies on improving postural sway in balance-impaired patients involving stochastic resonance (random noise vibrations) attempted to amplify balancing signals with vibrational noise below the consciously perceptible limit. The success of these experiemnts indicated that similar chaotic, stochastic amplification processes exists in the neuromuscular system as well and that the neuromuscular system can make use of subsensory inputs. http://www.bu.edu/abl/files/fulltext.pdf
Doing this completely shifts how one experiences time. Things start to slow down, much like how you see things when you've had an accident and you can see every detail of an interaction which actually took a couple seconds. It comes impossible for the opponent to move separately from you, to create that gap that gets him ahead of you in order to strike some opening. No matter how fast he comes, you feel like there's plenty of time to move, no feeling of having to hurry. Total relaxation of the mind and body is essential for this to happen, mental tension will make this impossible to do. If we posit the wave-like propagation of neuromuscular activity as thee studies suggest, at speeds exceeding the firing rate of neurons, upon contact uke and nage form one system of neuromuscular wave packet propagation. Neuromuscular informaiton below the perceptible limit is capable of provoking useful feedback -- as in the postural studies.

And what is kuzushi but the inverse of good posture.

If nage is tense or intent on a particular action, he provokes a neuromuscular cascade. He is inputting signal that, by definition, since it is a conscious act or intent, is above the perceptible limit and thus drowns out his own chaotic noise background. It is that "random" background (it is not really random, but chaotic, not the same thing at all) that provides stochastic resonance amplification of faint neuromuscular signals from uke at the moment of contact. Almost literally like a 5 ms or so modem handshake connection.

Even preparatory intent will send signals at or even just below the perceptible limit that will interfere with the stochastic amplification the body's background neural noise is capable of employing to utilize the subsensory inputs from uke.

Since we are capable of using neuromuscular signals below the perceptible limit to provoke feedback for postural balance, they ought to be avaiable for utilization to the now integrated uke/nage sytem. In chaotic systems terms, the combined uke/nage system has now two attractors uke's wave state or nage's wave state. More overt signal may increase the amplitude of the interaction, but only the noisy chaotic subsensory inputs determine whether the combined system is, literally, centered on uke or nage.

Since it is the subsensory signal that is driving the chaotic system, if we remain relaxed, we are not creating our own overt "signal" to drown out the internal background noise that amplifies the neuromuscular signals uke is contributing to that immediate connection.

If we can enter the conneciton without generating "signal" of our own, and train to act as innately as possible upon those subsensory cues at the moment of contact, we are most clearly engaged in ki musubi and are working in aiki.

I can imagine some experimental observation of paired EMG's to see if demonstrable coherence is acheived between the two neuromuscular systems when some trained participants are able to report musubi in their interaction. I need to talk to a neurologist acquaintance of mine and see if this is worth trying some time.
People talk about getting kuzushi instantly at the moment of contact but this is very difficult, if not impossible if one hasn't established musubi before the movement ever started. ... When you start to be able to see this, you realize that the folks who can't place their attention "inside" your attack and connect with your center, are always a bit late in their response. Normally I find that I can hit them at will or at lest, they can't take my center on the moment of contact and they end up in danger of being reversed. Huygens Law says that for wave propagation through an arbitrarily sized opening, say a door or window, it does not matter where in the space or room beyond that aperture the signal is actually being generated. The signal, to the observer on this side, comes entirely from the door. Thus, almost instantly upon contact, and through that very narrow aperture, I have all the signal of uke's neuromuscular state that I need for my neuromuscular system to adapt -- unless I am drowning it out with too much signal of my own.
I have a variety of ways to get people to project their attention. One that works well for students of all experience levels is to give the students shinai. One student will start in seigan and then move through all of the various kamae in sequence (order doesn't matter). The other will look for the mental opening that would allow him to attack. ...
Anyway, the visualization of already being inside the attack with your mind is very powerful. You definitely start to experience things differently and many of the principles that O-Sensei talked about start to make sense. At least that has been my experience and I can see it making a marked difference in my students.The purpose for these modes of thinking, is to provoke ways of approaching the material that are fresh, applicable and accessible. I suspect mine may fail on the latter point somewhat. But this line of thinking gives some concrete foundation to what may too often be seen as airy spookiness.

And musubi is not that at all -- it is exceedingly concrete. Ledyard Sensei's musubi is about as concrete as I have fetlt, in every sense of that expression ... His instruction in a seminar last year provoked this line of thinking for me, particualry on figuring out how to understand and access the subsensory aspects of musubi. He repeatedly was catching me out doing things subconsciously, PRECISELY THE SAME THINGS that I catch my students doing at a more rudimentary level. That was a watershed for me on this topic. Clearly, I had some inkling of something I was doing wrong, although not consciously so, and thus was subconsciously disposed to perceive that same error in my students -- and this is the important point -- most clearly when I was PERFORMING UKE FOR THEM.

The thinking on neuromuscular coherence underlying musubi has made me also start thinking about kokyu principles and the mechanism by which the (I hesitate to say "forces" because that gets us into a too-linear model -- structural dynamics is better) structural dynamics at play -- both within nage to produce the kokyu, and within uke to produce the kuzushi as well as in the musubi conenciton between them.

I'll discuss a little of my current interest in this area later, although I am not as far along in looking these issues yet as I have gotten on trying to suss out the musubi thing.

Erick Mead
08-14-2006, 04:45 PM
And nothing in my training has had anything to say about optimal use of outdoor furniture for detaining fleeing felons. Your training has really suffered from a most egregious lapse then --- we train in lounge chair waza all the time ....

MaiTai-nage anyone?

Brion Toss
08-14-2006, 06:25 PM
Come to think of it, we do sometimes practice on couches: Cushy-nage.

Aran Bright
08-14-2006, 11:20 PM
Ki musubi is about reaching out with ones attention and "touching" the opponent. He, of course is doing the same thing and the coming together of the two attentions creates musubi. In an objective, scientific sense one can always talk about "timing" because one is looking at an interaction from outside. But that isn't what O-Sensei was talking about, I think. When he talked about these issues he was talking about how we experience them subjectively.

This is something I have been working on quite a bit. Ushiro Kenji talks about this in his classes. Also, I am convinced that this is what Saotome Sensei is doing when he enters (although he doesn't explain it). The mind must precede the body if one is to move. The body doesn't simply move on its own. By projecting ones attention out to the partner, by placing ones attention "inside" the opponent's guard rather than "outside" in a defensive sense, one attains the feeling that the movement is in some sense already accomplished. What remains to be done is simply allowing the body to actualize what has already happening in the mind.

Doing this completely shifts how one experiences time. Things start to slow down, much like how you see things when you've had an accident and you can see every detail of an interaction which actually took a couple seconds. It comes impossible for the opponent to move separately from you, to create that gap that gets him ahead of you in order to strike some opening. No matter how fast he comes, you feel like there's plenty of time to move, no feeling of having to hurry. Total relaxation of the mind and body is essential for this to happen, mental tension will make this impossible to do.


I was hoping this might come up some where in the dicussion. Is it not the case that musubi can occur in the mind?

As mentioned in a very scientific manner in this thread ,and very well too i might add, is it possible for uke to pick up stimulus from uke wehther those stimulus be visual or kinesthetic, from physical pressure or electromagnetic (ki) stimuli and be able to respond mental seperately or with some level of co-ordination with the body. I loved the description of the feeling of the body playing out what had already occured in the mind

My training has been predominantly Ki aikido and the mantras are the mind moves the body and know your opponents mind.

After many years of fumbling around in the dark I believe that i am getting a feel for ukes movements that are not at all physical. And what is further more getting some idea of how to get some sort of musubi without moving or blending with my opponents mind.

Wadaya think?

Erick Mead
08-15-2006, 07:50 AM
Come to think of it, we do sometimes practice on couches: Cushy-nage. NO! NO! -- Not the ... COMFY CHAIR!!!!

Erick Mead
08-15-2006, 08:48 AM
I was hoping this might come up some where in the dicussion. Is it not the case that musubi can occur in the mind?
As mentioned in a very scientific manner in this thread ,and very well too i might add, is it possible for uke to pick up stimulus from uke wehther those stimulus be visual or kinesthetic, from physical pressure or electromagnetic (ki) stimuli and be able to respond mental seperately or with some level of co-ordination with the body. I loved the description of the feeling of the body playing out what had already occured in the mind.
...
Wadaya think?From a neurological standpoint, stimulus is stimulus. The sensory apparatus does not itself care where the inputs come from. Indeed, beyond the point of entry into its range of detection (lower than your conscious awareness of it) it only knows the point of entry (Huygens law) -- anything beyond that is a matter of a model or representation (conscious or otherwise) in the brain and neuro-muscular system, based on either instinct or learning.

The studies I provided and others suggest that the modelling wave-forms the kinesthetic and other cognition systems use happen not just within the brain alone but throughout the whole neuromechanical feedback system of the body. There is no reason to limit this to exclude visual or other sensory cues whether above or below the level of conscious awareness.

George Fox, the statistician, once said " All models are wrong; some models are useful." models that include subsensory cues, are therefore more complete, as they have not excluded information by the conscious threshold. Additionally, the models that are conscious may be manipulated consciously, and thus may not reflect the true internal state. Those models that are not conscious are not disconnected in this way from the real cues that created them.

Which is another reason to rely on subsensory cues, and to train for subsensory cues --- they are incapable of lying about the internal state. Subsensory cues only reflect models of real internal states, not hypothetical constructs. Constructs are the business of consciousness (and thus potentially, lying). Poker players rely on this fact for subliminal "tells" that disclose a player's card strategy.

So the short answer is -- yes. Does that mean it is easy or the subject of conscious manipulation? -- No, or at least not without great difficulty and lots of apparatus. Can your subconscious, which sees, knows -- and even wills -- far more than you know it does, learn? -- Equally, yes.

I tell my students that they need to quit letting the schemer brain do the thinking and let the monkey brain function more strongly. It is faster, stronger and knows more of what is actually going on. It just can't talk too good.

The way most people have learned to operate cognitively is like a train with a mute, but keen-sighted conductor in the engine. They decide to let the talkative brakeman, located in the caboose, who can only see where he has just been, not where he is going -- neverthless run the train -- on the theory that only he can talk to give directions to the conductor and because the conductor can never explain why he is doing what he does. Great, if you want to have after-the-fact narrative reports. But it's a really bad way to run a railroad.

Ledyard Sensei discusses the need to relax and lose tension in order for musubi to function properly. Anxiety and tension in general, in fact, may almost be defined as the glimmering awareness of dissonance created by a disconnect between what your conscious state of awareness believes (hopes, fears) is going on and what your subconscious is desperately trying to find a way to tell you is actually happening.

If you simply abandon the need to consciously perceive a possible opponent as a threat, or more frequently, (less clearly seen by many people, but equally a problem) abandon trying to imagine yourself to be "safe" from consciously feared threats not actually present, the rest of you is going to operate more efficiently. You will be better able to deal with any threat that actually presents itself on the basis of subsensory cues that are present before you are even consciously aware of them. This allows your background senses to do their work without extraneous internal signals overwhelming their function.

These facts should suggest why there is such a strong and natural affinity between contemplative practice and budo. Those who (falsely) imagine contemplation to be a pleasant idyll or retreat from their conception of harsh "reality", often see these two as somehow irreconcilable philosophically, when they are cognitively identical.

DonMagee
08-15-2006, 08:34 PM
eh, I just choke things.

Seriously though, I'll have to think about that for a bit.

Erick Mead
08-15-2006, 09:50 PM
eh, I just choke things.

Seriously though, I'll have to think about that for a bit.That's OK.

Chokin' 'em out pretty much qualifies as an unconscious cue.

Pauliina Lievonen
08-16-2006, 07:44 AM
I have been experimenting with observing my students at the dojo and my practice partners when I travel, attempting to discern where they are placing their attention when they stand across from me. Most folk's attention stops at their own physical extension. You tell them to extend and their attention goes out to their hands or the tip of their own sword.Funny how sometimes a few words can be just the nudge in the right direction that you need...I read that yesterday and started playing around with it in my living room where I was sitting, trying to feel if my attention was actually reaching out anywhere beyond the sphere of my own physical reach, and then trying to place it over there at that chair or lamp or whatever. It was kinda scary at first actually, because in a way it meant that myself became less concrete to me in my awareness and so it felt somewhat like a loss of self to some extent.

Having done this little mental exercise I then went to give a couple flute lessons, and attend an aikido session. There were a few times during the flute lessons where I was accompanying a student and felt like what I was playing just fell into place just so and it all fit perfectly. This was exiting because I tend to be a player that is always a bit behind, late, dragging, and I've never found a way to change that very effectively until now.

Our dojo is on summer break but some of the more fanatic members had rented the gym where we train for the night yesterday. I had a go at a drill that I first learned from David Valadez where your partner is randomly attacking and you are only allowed to step away, hands behind back, in the first level of the drill. (you can find it on aikiweb by searching for a discussion called "David's drills")

The nice thing here was that how well I managed to maintain my attention on my partner showed up instantly in my ability to keep free of her. In the best moments I stepped just right - without planning to!- to have her almost loose her balance completely just by her own attack. In the moments that I lost it and retreated into my own sphere, I'd walk into a fist or a knee, and get stuck.

In the past when I tried to go on to the next level of the drill, where you're allowed to use your arms to deflect the atttacks, I'd invariably get stuck. This time it wasn't a problem at all, I think because my attention didn't get stuck at my own arms but was beyond them where my partner was. It felt like my arms were just floating freely in the space between us, and free to go to any spot that was open between us.

Once I had gotten the difference between having my attention inside my own sphere, and outside of it wherever I want it to be, the practice now would seem to be being able to maintain it under different conditions. Heck, being able to maintain it under the most favorable conditions would be a nice start...

exited kvaak
Pauliina

George S. Ledyard
08-16-2006, 04:26 PM
Having done this little mental exercise I then went to give a couple flute lessons, and attend an aikido session. There were a few times during the flute lessons where I was accompanying a student and felt like what I was playing just fell into place just so and it all fit perfectly. This was exiting because I tend to be a player that is always a bit behind, late, dragging, and I've never found a way to change that very effectively until now.

My favorite activity, aside from Aikido, is going dancing with my sweetie. Neither of us has any formal training so we don't do any set pattern or steps, it's just movement. I do the very same thing when I dance with a partner... I extend my attention to include the both of us and just relax... It's not set who leads or initiates a move...when we are on, it's like we become alomost a single unit. I make instantaneous adjustments to her movement, even when I had started to initiate my own, it's one of the great experiences. Definitely another form of moving meditation.

ian
08-17-2006, 09:24 AM
...Since we are capable of using neuromuscular signals below the perceptible limit to provoke feedback for postural balance..

Jes' man - do you have to write your PhD thesis on aikiweb? ;)

Are you saying that there is some unstopable cascade of thought/movement from uke which we are able to react to because we are relaxed, and thus by 'not-controlling' we can actually control the movement?

- I like your exercises Ledyard Sensei. I have a student who is a fencer (with swords - not selling stolen goods) who is particularly subtle with giving away any intentions. This idea of Musubi is certainly something I wish to develop further in my own training. If it does work it is surely the ultimate strategy. This year, due to pressure from my students, I have done lots of jo practise. I was certainly suprised at how spontaneous awareness of the next persons move (even outside forms) develops.


P.S. for anyone interested, though I'm not a John Stevens fan, this book by hip I think is excellent:

Teshu - Sword of No Sword

And it illustrates that teshu (on achieving enlightenment) also felt that this projection of intention/spirit was vitally important in sword fighting.

George S. Ledyard
08-17-2006, 10:07 AM
Are you saying that there is some unstopable cascade of thought/movement from uke which we are able to react to because we are relaxed, and thus by 'not-controlling' we can actually control the movement?


Erik is on to something here, although I'd need a bit more science up my sleeve to quite be able to get it all. Anyway, I was trying to understand why Saotome Sensei could move almost languidly around the mat while I tried to strike him and I would be ABSOLUTELY sure that I had him this time and then miss. He had never moved rapidly he simply moved and I missed.

I finally understood that, he never thinks about where he is moving to. His attention stays directly on your center and "inside" the attack. He is always going forward to the center in his mind. I tried this out on my own and it was dramatic. I had a couple of my San Dan students go after me with shomen-uchi. First, I tried to do irimi, tenkan, dodge, feint, etc. Every time their strikes stopped dead center on my forehead. Then I tried to do what I believed I had noted Saotome Sensei doing and the result was dramatic. They couldn't hit me any more, even though I was now moving at a fraction of the speed I had been. They had the same looks on their faces that I have had a million times with Sensei when I simply couldn't understand how I had missed him.

This made me understand that there is something going on beyond just the visual input. If visual information is the only input you are getting from the partner, your movements are too slow. So when you stand across from an attacker and execute an irimi, there should be no shift in your attention, no feeling of trying to escape from the attack. That is a yin energy and it will pull the attack right to you. Irimi is like the spokes of a wheel with the attacker at the center hub. I might change my angle from the one directly in front of the attacker but I am always facing the center of the hub. If I place my attention on the center and don't change it at all when I move to a new angle, the attacker simply doesn't register what I am doing soon enough to track me.

This brings me to one of my own pet peeves, so to speak. Aikido is commonly described as the art in which the defender gets off the line, leads the energy of the attack past him and then puts it back in to the attacker. I think this very concept is wrong. The picture in Saotome Sensei's book is an excellent one in this regard. He shows two opponents on a log bridge over a chasm. Anyone who tries to get "off the line" is going to fall into the gorge. Aikido is ALL about irimi. Inside every tenkan movement must first be an irimi. I don't "get off the line" I go to the center and rotate. That's very different and the attacker perceives what you are doing quite differently.

In Aikido we "own" our space. As a visualization to counter the misconception that we are in some way "escaping" from the attack, I have students say to themselves "this is my house and I am not leaving just because you are coming in". Aikido entry is quite simply about creating rotation at or just before the moment of physical contact. This rotation is created by the relative movement of the hips. But the mind, how you place your attention, does not change at all when you enter. The mind is simply "inside" the attack at all times, even before there is an attack. A step coupled with hip rotation will change the angle relative to the attacker but there is no perceivable shift of attention to the place to which one is moving.

dps
08-17-2006, 10:14 AM
The mind is simply "inside" the attack

I don't understand what you mean by "inside the attack".

George S. Ledyard
08-17-2006, 10:39 AM
I don't understand what you mean by "inside the attack".

Most people's attention is "outside that attack" or one could say "on" the attack. Their attention is on grabbing the arm or getting out of the way of the strike. The attack is not the same thing as the attacker's center. The attack originates at the attacker's center, that is where the attacker's mind is, that's where you place your attention. The attack itself is unimportant, it's controlling the mind of the attacker that allows you to do the physical technique. That's why the "reactive mind", the one that thinks in terms of speed and timing etc is not what O-Sensei was talking about. Your mind is already "in", not on the attack but inside the attack. If you understand this you can put the would be attacker in a position in which he will feel that he can't attack you because on some level he perceives that he has already lost.

dps
08-17-2006, 10:40 AM
Thank You,
David

Mark Freeman
08-17-2006, 10:50 AM
Most people's attention is "outside that attack" or one could say "on" the attack. Their attention is on grabbing the arm or getting out of the way of the strike. The attack is not the same thing as the attacker's center. The attack originates at the attacker's center, that is where the attacker's mind is, that's where you place your attention. The attack itself is unimportant, it's controlling the mind of the attacker that allows you to do the physical technique. That's why the "reactive mind", the one that thinks in terms of speed and timing etc is not what O-Sensei was talking about. Your mind is already "in", not on the attack but inside the attack. If you understand this you can put the would be attacker in a position in which he will feel that he can't attack you because on some level he perceives that he has already lost.

Nice explanation George, thanks. In your experience, at what sort of level of practice do you see people 'getting' this concept?

regards,

Mark

George S. Ledyard
08-17-2006, 11:21 AM
Nice explanation George, thanks. In your experience, at what sort of level of practice do you see people 'getting' this concept?

regards,

Mark
The problem with how most people train is that they aren't made aware that this is a big deal right from the start. We start right at the beginning, right from the moment that one offers his hand for katatetori, right when one grabs that wrist. We teach the sword exercises I mentioned to the beginners. So I see people being aware of this issue and being able to work with it a bit quite early. But definitely one should have a fairly good sense of it by the time one is taking his shodan test.

Ron Tisdale
08-17-2006, 11:39 AM
Excellent thread. Thanks everyone.

Best,
Ron

Mark Freeman
08-17-2006, 11:44 AM
The problem with how most people train is that they aren't made aware that this is a big deal right from the start. We start right at the beginning, right from the moment that one offers his hand for katatetori, right when one grabs that wrist. We teach the sword exercises I mentioned to the beginners. So I see people being aware of this issue and being able to work with it a bit quite early. But definitely one should have a fairly good sense of it by the time one is taking his shodan test.

I too was made aware of this right from the start, but I can't say that I really started to understand it until much later (around 1st Kyu :) ). That was 10 years ago, so I now feel that is part of my aikido - although I'm working on improving it, and this for me is where I feel the most progress can be made.
In turn I am doing my best to teach my students the same, which is where I need to be getting off to right now.

regards,

Mark

Erick Mead
08-17-2006, 01:18 PM
Jes' man - do you have to write your PhD thesis on aikiweb? ;) Nah. just thinking out loud, really. :p
Are you saying that there is some unstopable cascade of thought/movement from uke which we are able to react to because we are relaxed, and thus by 'not-controlling' we can actually control the movement? If you mean stoppable by uke, stoppable implies that it is under voluntary control, and subsensory cues are, almost by definition, not under voluntary control. There are many consistently enriched poker players, and many consitently busted one's, who prove the point with some force.

If by stoppable you mean stoppable by nage, then yes they are eminanetly stoppable -- too stoppable in fact -- by the least intent or preparation we might make to control or correct uke's perceived actions.

However, even dumb animals may be trained (on either side) -- and this part of the psyche responds to the same basic methods as they would - train, train, train...

Ledyard Sensei's points about how to deal with the conscious attention we cannot (and would not) do away with is well put, however.

Erick Mead
08-17-2006, 01:44 PM
Erik is on to something here, although I'd need a bit more science up my sleeve to quite be able to get it all. Gives my overly analytical brain something to distract it so the rest of me can train properly...
The picture in Saotome Sensei's book is an excellent one in this regard. He shows two opponents on a log bridge over a chasm. Anyone who tries to get "off the line" is going to fall into the gorge. Aikido is ALL about irimi. Inside every tenkan movement must first be an irimi. I don't "get off the line" I go to the center and rotate. That's very different and the attacker perceives what you are doing quite differently. I can't attribute it properly, it may have been Bernice Tom when I trained in San Diego, and she may have attributed it to Saito, I cannot remember now, but the statement was to the effect that :

"Tenkan begins with irimi and irimi ends in tenkan."
In Aikido we "own" our space. As a visualization to counter the misconception that we are in some way "escaping" from the attack, I have students say to themselves "this is my house and I am not leaving just because you are coming in". Aikido entry is quite simply about creating rotation at or just before the moment of physical contact. This rotation is created by the relative movement of the hips. But the mind, how you place your attention, does not change at all when you enter. The mind is simply "inside" the attack at all times, even before there is an attack. A step coupled with hip rotation will change the angle relative to the attacker but there is no perceivable shift of attention to the place to which one is moving. Neurological studies of Christian nuns and buddhist monks (which I have mentioned in more detail in a thread in the 'Spiritual' forum some time ago) have looked at the signal changes and focus of activity in the brain with profound religious experience in contemplative practice. They have found that the portion of the brain that distinguishes self from non-self becomes altered in its perceptual activity, so that the sensation of non-self is lost (or sense of self enlarged, however you prefer).

The experience of reality becomes subjectivity writ large, and in the extreme cases to the limits and total constituents of the universe.
This is precisely what O-Sensei's ecstatic visions also describe. (I believe the statement "I AM who AM" reported by Moses in his ecstatic vision in Exodus has some resonance here, as does the statement to Moses at that same time, while stopping on some wide spot on a mountain trail of no particular importance, he was told "YOU stand on holy ground." Think about it. But I digress.)

The mechanisms that I have posited as to the physiology of mususbi experience from the perceptual studies in body mechanics seem to corroborate that same perceptual function at a smaller uke/nage scale -- changing the subject/object division of uke nage into one subject so that, in essence, the experience of uke's attack becomes like me hitting my own head with my hand.

The experience of budo and contemplative experience are not so foreign, really.

Erick Mead
08-17-2006, 01:53 PM
Most people's attention is "outside that attack" or one could say "on" the attack. Their attention is on grabbing the arm or getting out of the way of the strike. The attack is not the same thing as the attacker's center. The attack originates at the attacker's center, that is where the attacker's mind is, that's where you place your attention. The attack itself is unimportant, it's controlling the mind of the attacker that allows you to do the physical technique. That's why the "reactive mind", the one that thinks in terms of speed and timing etc is not what O-Sensei was talking about. Your mind is already "in", not on the attack but inside the attack. If you understand this you can put the would be attacker in a position in which he will feel that he can't attack you because on some level he perceives that he has already lost. In light of this worthwhile advice, and the expansion of selfless subjectivity apparently involved in both ki musubi and contemplative experience, this is appropriate:

"God is an infinite sphere -- whose center is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere." Nicholas of Cusa.

In other words, there is but one and only one center; he who sees the "other" instead of a slightly more remote part of himself -- is not standing there.

SeiserL
08-18-2006, 05:00 AM
The attack originates at the attacker's center, that is where the attacker's mind is, that's where you place your attention. The attack itself is unimportant, it's controlling the mind of the attacker that allows you to do the physical technique. That's why the "reactive mind", the one that thinks in terms of speed and timing etc is not what O-Sensei was talking about. Your mind is already "in", not on the attack but inside the attack.
Osu Sensei,
A very clear operational explanation of an abstract concept.
I could not agree more.
Compliments and appreciation.

mjchip
08-18-2006, 08:10 AM
Ledyard Sensei wrote:

In Aikido we "own" our space. As a visualization to counter the misconception that we are in some way "escaping" from the attack, I have students say to themselves "this is my house and I am not leaving just because you are coming in". Aikido entry is quite simply about creating rotation at or just before the moment of physical contact. This rotation is created by the relative movement of the hips. But the mind, how you place your attention, does not change at all when you enter. The mind is simply "inside" the attack at all times, even before there is an attack. A step coupled with hip rotation will change the angle relative to the attacker but there is no perceivable shift of attention to the place to which one is moving.

A great point you are making here Sensei! Thank you!

What personally works for me on the mat is the following: I try to keep my mind empty until I perceive an imminent attack and at the moment I perceive it I think of completely dominating my opponent by penetrating his circle of power and displacing his center. This usually puts me well inside the attack without trying to avoid the attack proper.

At a seminar, I've heard Chiba Sensei say "you must penetrate" in this context and he related to us a koan given to him by O'Sensei in the form "how do you cut the center of a circle?" After many years of sitting on this he realized that in order to cut the center of a circle, you must 1st be inside the circle. As I was taught, this is the purpose of irimi.

Best regards,

Mark

Erick Mead
08-18-2006, 10:11 AM
What personally works for me on the mat is the following: I try to keep my mind empty until I perceive an imminent attack and at the moment I perceive it I think of completely dominating my opponent by penetrating his circle of power and displacing his center. This usually puts me well inside the attack without trying to avoid the attack proper. No doubt your technique is effective, but ... if, in light of what has been discussed here I am striving to be "in" the attack, I am not trying to dominate the attack -- I am participating in it.

I will what occurs -- not what I wish to occur. This is recommended in my religious tradition and many others. I am simply willing the attack that is already occurring as though I were uke making that attack. An aphorism in line with this thinking:

"If you will be happy, you will what happens."

I find that when this sensibility becomes particularly vivid for me it takes on a deja vu quality, where the time sequence is slightly disjointed in my favor, even though I do not consciously perceive the actual events any more slowly, nor am I able to consciously act upon them any quicker. And yet things seem to fall into place of their own accord. The deification of luck, Fortuna, in many cultures, is likely predicated on this same experience. William James decribed this as the "noetic" quality of mystical religious experience.

When I am "in" it, I do not feel that I am dominating uke, any more than I dominate my own hand to scratch the back of my neck. It itches -- I scratch it right where it itches -- even though I cannot see either my hand or the back of my neck when I do it.

This sensiblity is most distinct for me at times in performing kumitachi variations in ki no nagare. In those moments, uchitachi's sword feels simply never in the way, any more than my head is in the way when I scratch my neck. My regular kumitachi partner is our resident iajutsu yudansha instructor. I know she gives me nothing, whatsoever. When it clicks I seem move to the right spot without having to "see" where I am supposed to be moving to, anymore than I need to see the back of my neck to scratch it.

I wish I could walk around with that feeling. It seems I get snatches of it a little, more and more, at various points in the day as time and training go on. I guess the "abstract term" is expanded proprioception, but whatever you call it, it is a fascinating state to experience, even if only for brief flashes.
At a seminar, I've heard Chiba Sensei say "you must penetrate" in this context and he related to us a koan given to him by O'Sensei in the form "how do you cut the center of a circle?" After many years of sitting on this he realized that in order to cut the center of a circle, you must 1st be inside the circle. As I was taught, this is the purpose of irimi. I have trained with Chiba Sensei, for a brief time, and this koan makes much sense to me from that training. I recall him being quite amused at me as uke when he performed kokyu tanden ho on several occasions. He chuckled at me as we sped up and I kept coming back in again and again, almost jiyuwaza, but he was always there just as I thought I got back in.

My sensibility is more in striving to never leave the center, even for a moment, and never having to seek to move to the center since, if I get my mind right (as my D.I. used to say) I am (hopefully) already there. Uke's attack is centered there, and by centering his attack on me he cannot be the center any more -- unless I allow it. This is sort of the obverse perspective of what Ledyard Sensei describes, but not in any way different from it.

My sense is that if I wish to be in the center, I should simply -- be in the center. I have found that the more I try to distinguish the center from where I am, the further it seems from me. Tautology or not, it has helped me to think about the problem.

Erick Mead
08-18-2006, 10:31 AM
My sense is that if I wish to be in the center, I should simply -- be in the center. I have found that the more I try to distinguish the center from where I am, the further it seems from me. Dang edit limit -- I didn't finish. Anyway, here it is:

To put it in abstract terms, anyone who has seen a chaotic Lorenz attractor (the butterfly-like picture) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorenz_attractor , would undertand that the "center" is only the "basin" of the attractor where the current state of the system is organized -- around one of the two orbits (wings) of the butterfly. Chaotic attractors shift from centering on one basin of attraction to the other from exceedingly tiny differences in initial conditions. Arbitrarily large changes in variable can still be oriented around either attractor basin because of very small differences in values clustered around the new quantitative level. Fine qualitative differences are therefore far more critical than gross or large quantative changes in determining the center of the attractor at any given moment.

Nick Pagnucco
08-18-2006, 10:44 AM
I'm sorry I dont have anything to add, but I do so love when I find threads online that result in me taking notes. Thanks :)

Esaemann
08-18-2006, 02:32 PM
I believe this will fit into the context of this discussion.

Mostly directed toward Erick and George Sensei.

Do you believe "projecting" self into open areas or into/toward inanimate objects can help in doing the same with uke(s)? For example, in meditation or doing solo forms/movements. If so, please elaborate.

I ask because my time in aikido training where there are ukes to practice with is much too little to become effective in this. Although, I realize that will be where the rubber meets the road.

Second, I find it easier to concentrate on whatever I need to when I'm doing solo work than when a partner (uke) enters the picture. I'm just trying to think about what's going on internally (as I do when no uke is present), albeit not very successfully, when an uke is present. It seems from this discussion that I could also think outside self and beyond uke (into open space). Any suggestions.

Thanks.

Erick Mead
08-18-2006, 03:13 PM
Do you believe "projecting" self into open areas or into/toward inanimate objects can help in doing the same with uke(s)? For example, in meditation or doing solo forms/movements. If so, please elaborate.

I ask because my time in aikido training where there are ukes to practice with is much too little to become effective in this. Although, I realize that will be where the rubber meets the road.

Second, I find it easier to concentrate on whatever I need to when I'm doing solo work than when a partner (uke) enters the picture. I'm just trying to think about what's going on internally (as I do when no uke is present), albeit not very successfully, when an uke is present. It seems from this discussion that I could also think outside self and beyond uke (into open space). Any suggestions.
It's funny you should ask.

I had the advantage of two six-month deployments with no training partner, and a lot of solitary time on my hands. I did a lot of carefully thought-through free-form shadow boxing, working through a standard aikido technique curriculum, plus every other technique I could remember seeing or doing.

I projected an imaginary partner for training to give some sense of connection rather just than doing empty movements. I was forced to break techniques down into component movements, which helped articulate the nodes of transition to other techniques and variations. I would sweat more in doing those than I have in some energetic ki no nagare paired practices.

I was 2d kyu the first time and 1st kyu the second time and so I knew enough techniques, basically, plus some weapons suburi and other solo and companion forms to work through. (If any sailors on board make jokes about the goofy pilot swinging the broomstick and the bent stick on the flight deck or fo'c'sle, they didn't do it to my face :D )

My conscious awareness was busier in modeling the movements of my imaginary partner for training than it was in deciding how I would move in repsonse (which was virtually a given once (he)I had determined his move). It left me to simply move in response to the companion move he (I) had made. Once he (I) had moved -- I moved without thinking at all, because, well, I didn't have to -- he(I) was doing that for me. Sounds a little schizoid, I suppose, but it really was very much the the opposite of that in feeling.

It has stood me in good stead, particularly as it helped my instinct for musubi, by learning rigorously how to dispose my mind to let uke decide my movement for me, while still playing an active but not dominating role in the cascade of movements that led to the outcome. I could not -- if I was to approach the training in any realistic context -- move before I had allowed my mental image of the attack to move first -- and then simply adapting my movement to that premise.

Oddly enough, since I could "dominate" my imaginary friend at any time, it seems there was absolutely no motivation to do so. I think there is an aiki/budo principle there to explore -- in the sensibility that leads to the attitude of noblesse oblige. By disposing my self to HAVE to will the attack, I was no longer disposed to will the response -- it just was what naturally had to happen at the point given what the attacker had just done.

I ended up shifting my perspective from uke to nage and back again -- just to move correctly. At the time, I just wanted to practice and had no training partner, so I had to imagine him. I realize now this was a unique gift. It made me internalize uke as I was performing as nage.

DonMagee
08-18-2006, 09:24 PM
This thread has reminded me something that Matt Thornton posted in his blog aliveness101.blogspot.com back in March. It said

"Aliveness is about the freedom to use whatever works in the moment. Right action at right time. Which is another name for true compassion. A freedom that is only fully felt when one is completely immersed in the present moment of now, and free of the burden of beliefs, which manifest as thoughts. A clear mind fully aware of reality as it is now, and operating with absolute synchronicity within time and space, that is the real beginning of Aliveness."

Sounds very similar.

Ron Tisdale
08-21-2006, 07:56 AM
And that quote sounds like it was written by an aikidoka.

Best,
Ron ("things that make you go hmmmmm")

ian
08-21-2006, 08:37 AM
This thread has reminded me something that Matt Thornton posted in his blog ...."

I presume you are a fan of Matt Thornton - do you have his 'JKD' DVDs; I've thought of getting them recently but not sure.

Ledyard sensei; firstly I keep sending your fantastic posts to my students - many thanks. Secondly. Can I clarrify exactly what you have to do to achieve this 'being inside the attack'. Effectively you occupy the area (and thus may even move towards an attacker if you feel they are about to encroach on your space). When someone attacks you can perceive this because they have had to encroach to initiate, at by that time you are already in the process of irimi.

More practically, if for example, I was doing sokumen irimi-nage, this is not an entry whilst turning, instead, I am entering, but uke just happens to be at the angle at which I then perform the technique. Indeed, I would be pretty much facing them. Also, for tenkan techniques, practically would you advance with irimi, and then tenkan at the last moment (possibly through necessity due to the force of the contact). Thus you always do irimi first, and tenkan is a second option. This makes sense, but I've never thought of it in this way.

Ian

Gerry Magee
08-21-2006, 11:30 AM
Sensei Coyle wrote this on MAP hop it helps..

ATEMI AND WEAPONS TRAINING

Often I shall take up a bokken adopt seigan or yodan kamae and ask that someone attack me empty handed. However spirited he may be there is always a pause, an uncertainty in facing the sword unarmed.And indeed should he attempt to close with me he is cut.
Placing the sword aside the explanation is given that little has changed since all of the principles and attitude of the sword remain. All that has gone is the sword and the tegatana shall act as a sword.Our training we choose to call aikido riai (aikido complete) in that we believe that the integration of the weapons and empty hand techniques give a more holistic and effective approach to aikido.
I have been told many times " do not fight the opponent FENCE him"
Example sen sen no sen irrimi nage
sen sen no sen is the pre-emptive principle of swordsmanship as the opponent approaches or hesitates a shomen strike is made to his head as we enter triangularly to his right side if he manages to block his right ribs are exposed these may be struck with a short punch (choku tsuke from jo waza) passing on a kessa giri cuts the left side of his neck cutting him off balnce backwards to the side. Irrimi nage is executed with a shomen cut driving deeply through to throw the opponent. The complete technique may be executed using only tegatana with no need to grasp the attacker in any way.It has been applied using sword principles and sword cuts.
This manner of dynamic technique demands not only an understanding of sword principles but also sword technique.
In almost every dojo I have ever visited I have heard the command "raise your arms like a sword" or "at this point cut down like a sword." Saddly these commands are often given by "teachers" who have little or no training in sword to students who have no knowledge of sword. To this end I would like to give my thoughts on atemi and the sword relations for your comments.If you think this may. be of value.
I await your replies

Regards

Koyo
Edit
SEIGAN KAMAE sword held at the middle level kisaki (point) threatening the face.A very versatile posture since attack and defence to any area is possible.
YODAN KAMAE sword held above the head in a very aggresive manner an intimidating posture purely attack oriented.
CHOKU TSUKE a short direct thrust with either sword jo or fist.
TEGATANA aikido handblade
SHOMEN front of the head any blow directed here is called shomen.
SEN SEN NO SEN the act of initiating the attack giving the opponent no time or space in which to act.
BOKKEN wooden sword. This is not an alternative to the sword it is a weapon in it's own right. Many samurai used it rather than the sword perhaps the most famous (infamous) being Musashi Minamoto.Hence when speaking of the bokken sword is often used after it's introduction.
KESSA GIRI diagonal cut from neck to hip (in this instance)

Gerry Magee
08-21-2006, 11:39 AM
sorry, I should clarify..
We train in three distinct timings..
Sen: This is the worst case senario, Uke is able to mount a powerful attack and Nage has time only to protect his centreline and move out of line of the attack.
Sen no Sen: This is the most common timing in martial arts training, we enter in on uke's attack before he is able to kimi, unbalancing him to a kusushi and applying a technique.
Sen Sen no Sen: This is a pre-emptive strike, perhaps when uke is hesitant allowing nage to initiate an attack and make a technique.

In all these situations we try to avoid Aiki, we must seek to break the attackers rhythm at all times. This is done by moving quicker than him and having a stronger spirit.

Erick Mead
08-21-2006, 03:13 PM
sorry, I should clarify..
We train in three distinct timings..
Sen: This is the worst case senario, Uke is able to mount a powerful attack and Nage has time only to protect his centreline and move out of line of the attack.
Sen no Sen: This is the most common timing in martial arts training, we enter in on uke's attack before he is able to kimi, unbalancing him to a kusushi and applying a technique.
Sen Sen no Sen: This is a pre-emptive strike, perhaps when uke is hesitant allowing nage to initiate an attack and make a technique.

In all these situations we try to avoid Aiki, we must seek to break the attackers rhythm at all times. This is done by moving quicker than him and having a stronger spirit.Sente training is, of course, familiar and worthwhile in approaching these questions initially. But the point of takemusubi aiki appears to depart from questions of timing and initiative, as was noted here, earlier in the thread, in O-Sensei's own words:
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=150140&postcount=4.

The same is noted in Ledyard Sensei's practical examination of the issue, and in my tentative attempts to put some analytical flesh on what too many see as dismissable, esoteric bones. I do not feel that way at all, but I recognize the trivialization of ancient, esoteric but very practical concepts that often biases the analytical worldview. One way to cure this bias is to chasten the analytical mind with some data, physiological studies and suggestive physical theories derived from them, and then explore their practical consequences for training.

Considerations of sente for instance, considered merely in terms of time, are, past a certain point of training, easily addressed in terms of either space or interval adjustment in maai (irimi), or rotation (tenkan), so that the question of who starts or finishes first becomes somewhat academic. A simple turn of the hips often changes sensen no sen into sen no sen or sen no sen into go no sen. That, too, is the point of takemusubi from my perspective. I personally like many techniques in go no sen timing, and feel no particualr burden or rush in that timing mode, nor does it affect or diminish the effectiveness of my technique.

My approach in exploring these issues is equally practical, as well as scholastic and scientific. Most ancient knowledge is exceedingly empirical -- what it lacks is a quantifiable, and testable theoretic basis to persuade the overly analytical mind. Analytical knowledge is not better, nor is it even remotely as useful to most practitioners as what Ledyard Sensei teaches in this regard, and indeed it was his observations in actual training that set me on this road.

Given Sensei Coyle's long experience, I would be very grateful if you could solicit and report his views on ki musubi, rhythm, speed and sente -- especially in light of ki ken tai ichi.

George S. Ledyard
08-21-2006, 07:22 PM
In all these situations we try to avoid Aiki, we must seek to break the attackers rhythm at all times. This is done by moving quicker than him and having a stronger spirit.

I am sorry but this comment doesn't show a good understanding of what "aiki" means. This is written as if "aiki" simply means some sort of matching of movement.

I would point out that "avoiding aiki" is avoiding Aikido. It's just plain not Aikido if there is no aiki. I suspect I know what you are trying to say but this is an incorrect way of expressing it. If you are doing Aikido, you never try to avoid "aiki".

The whole point of "aiki" is to operate on another level than trying to be quiker than your opponent. If what you have stated is correct, an older practitioner would never be able to defeat a younger, stronger attacker because the younger attacker will always be quicker in an absolute sense. This what O-sensei meant when he stated that it wasn't about timing.

It also isn't about having a "stronger spirit". That is essentially a competitive, oppostitional concept. It is also not "aiki". Aikido is about having a non-reactive, calm spirit that is imperturbable, no matter how strong the opponent's spirit is.

The principles you have described are basically from a kendo outlook. This is the level on which a good solid practitioner operates until he starts to get to the higher level principles which go beyond these. There's nothing essentially incorrect about these principles as outlined but they are not what O-Sensei described when he talked about Aikido, in fact he was at pains to make sure that people understood that these were NOT what he was talking about or teaching.

DonMagee
08-21-2006, 08:35 PM
I was talking to a few guys tonight about an 80 year old judo instructor I've trained with on a few occasions. He would randori with me and throw me around like a rag doll. I would ask him, how at 80, with 2 replaced knees and a replaced hip, lighter then I by some amount of weight, physically weaker than I, and with much less endurace, how he could always defeat me. He told me that he had been there before, he knew what I was trying to do, and he knew what I was planing to do, so he was ahead of me and already defending before I began. I guess that is what I get for thinking my strategies unique or clever. He had been down that road, attacked the way I might attack a million times. So he was faster in the mind at recognizing what to do before I could realize what was happening.

So remember, there are many aspects of bigger, faster, stronger. A stronger, faster mind can keep you ahead of the fastest attacker. We talk about overcomming someone physically bigger, faster, or stronger a lot. But I have never seen anyone but that judo instructor talk about dealing with someone with a more cunning mind.

George S. Ledyard
08-22-2006, 12:59 AM
So remember, there are many aspects of bigger, faster, stronger. A stronger, faster mind can keep you ahead of the fastest attacker. We talk about overcomming someone physically bigger, faster, or stronger a lot. But I have never seen anyone but that judo instructor talk about dealing with someone with a more cunning mind.

Once again, I understand what you are trying to say but it isn't about being stronger or faster. It's about being connected to the point that the attacker cannot act separately from you. This connection exists in the mind (this is what was meant when O-Sensei talked about joining one's ki with that of the opponent) and it exists on the physical level (this is what is meant by ittai ka or "single body").

Anyone who has taken ukemi for someone at the level of Saotome Sensei can recount what it is like to attack as fast as one can and have their teacher move almost casually to enter in without being struck. It is not about being faster, it is about moving when it is necessary to move. The mind isn't faster, it is slower, in the sense that when one is very calm, one's sense of time changes and one sees things more slowly. Attempts to go "faster" simply result in feeling like there is less and less time available. What I am talking about results in a feeling that one has all the time in the world.

Karl Friday in his book, Legacies of the Sword: The Kashima-Shinryu and Samurai Martial Culture has a whole section on why someone who is older and slower but more experienced can actually be perceived as faster by an opponent. It is very interesting.

At summer camp I was asked by a young man less than half my age how I got so fast. I explained that I am just over three hundred pounds and 54 years old. I am not fast in any absolute sense. This fellow was much "faster" than I. I am simply relaxed and I move at the right time, therfore I do not need to rush. I am efficient. This is possible because I am connected in a way to my opponent that I never was when I was less experienced. Then I had to hurry.

Abasan
08-22-2006, 03:22 AM
I don't understand. When you go into uke's center are you saying move forward, but not directly into his attack... eg move forward with your center focused on his center but at an angle that will allow his strike to miss your body?

Isn't this still moving offline?

Now. What about attacks that do not originate from the accepted center? Instead of tanden, it comes from the shoulders or the hands or the chest? Do you move towards that center as well?

Doesn't this require your movement speed to be faster than the strike speed? Or do you move before the strike is initiated? As in guessing or intuiting the timing of the attack?

I'm very confused right now.

Pauliina Lievonen
08-22-2006, 03:47 AM
As I'm very new to this kind of training myself, maybe I can try to explain it from my point of view: If you look around you where you're sitting now, in front of a computer I'm guessing :) , you can pick an object in the room. For example I can look at a chair over there. I can keep my mind sort of inside myself, inside my head, and look at a chair over there from inside my head. There's a distance between me and the chair.

OR, I can send my mind to the chair, and so I'm (of course I'm still just sitting here where I'm sitting, but this is how it feels like) there where the chair is, and there's no distance between me and the chair (again, of course there really is a distance, but this is how it feels like).

The difficulty I had at first was that I would try to strain to send my attention over to what I wanted to observe, sort of trying to stretch my mind all the way from here to there - but instead the trick is to let go of your sense of yourself and let your thought move freely to over there. So instead of trying to stretch a long elastic mind over the gap, taking your attention and placing it on the other side of the gap.

I've been practicing this with all kinds of things, inanimate objects in the room, people on the street, moving balls in a computer game. It always improves my ability to see what is going to happen, way earlier than I'd expect. I already wrote about my experience in light "sparring" the other night.

I hope this makes sense to someone! I also hope that the more experienced people in this thread will correct me if I'm way off of what they are talking about...

kvaak
Pauliina