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Mike Hamer
11-13-2006, 12:21 AM
I was over at a party a couple of days ago with a friend, and I saw something there that I will never forget. Me and this friend of mine (who has been going to Aikido latley) were conversating on the concept of ki. There were two small children in the room, a boy and a girl, both toddlers. The girl was being held and starting reaching for a cup, trying to communicate that she was thirsty. She couldn't talk, so she just kept reaching for the cup. I pointed this out to my friend and told him that the baby more than likely had the "unbendable arm" sensation going on at that very moment. This in turn led to more conversation about ki and it being natural in every human, and that baby's use ki very regularly,subconsciously, without making a conscious effort of it.
Anyway, the girl got a drink and started walking into the living room where we were. She tripped on the edge of carpet and fell down, but she just reached out her hands to absorb the impact. Anybody get what I'm trying to point out here? Here's the best part. After she got up she walked over to the couch and picked up someone's cell phone. She started jumping around just laughing and playing with the phone. The other child, the boy, ran over to her and tried
to snatch the phone from her hand. What happened next is the closest thing to a real "no hands throw" that I have ever seen. As the boy reached for the phone she started to circle around him, tenkan if you will, and the boy of course kept on reaching farther to try and grab the phone from her. The next thing I see is the boy fall flat on the ground, while the little girl simple completed her spiral motion and happily resumed playing with the cell phone. I'm serious! This is exactly how it happened! Phew, I just had to get my thoughts out on that event! Feedback please!

:ai: :ki: :do:

xuzen
11-13-2006, 01:35 AM
I did the same to my nephew once (toddler age)... and I got stare from his mum. I dare not do it again.

Boon.

Aran Bright
11-13-2006, 02:20 AM
That's a great story, now the questions is can you do it?

I have heard that many people said Osensei had a kind of childish nature. I mean this in the best possible way but there is definitely something to the idea of just moving in what ever way feels natural at the time.

Its one of the dichotomies of kata, it can make you stuck in your ways (how many people do you know like this?) but the idea, IMO, is to train those natural automatic responses. Or are they to remember them???

RoyK
11-13-2006, 02:52 AM
David Orange wrote a similar article and posted videos of his toddler doing Aiki movements. Did you read it?

I think this is the link: http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8827

markwalsh
11-13-2006, 05:44 AM
IMO aikido is nature.

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-13-2006, 06:32 AM
I had an experience in a men's toilet once too, amazing really. :D Anyway, as I opened the exit door slowly, towards me, I was astonished to find a hand reaching for the door knob on the other side at the same speed as I opened the door. The other guy had this bewildered look on his face as the door handle just did not occupy the space he thought it did. His hand and body kept following this door knob right up until I had to catch him to prevent him going face first into the wall by my side, as he had completely lost his footing. I used the think that this kind of leading was "ki", but now I no longer think so.

ian
11-13-2006, 08:03 AM
I suppose, in terms of traditional chinese medicine, fundamentally we are born with a certain amount of ki and this either gets used up through drinking coffee and sex, or the ki flow gets interupted by poor posture, stress, poor learnt behaviour. Children do have this directed strength, and resilience, although much of it no-doubt also has to do with the different physiology (they have softer more flexible bones, lighter bodies, more body fat). Maybe we shouldn't be comparing children with adults, but comparing them with older animals of the same size. Compared to dogs of the same size, children are pretty weak. Compared to cats, they have poor reactions. Humans don't seem to have the natural defence ability animals do. Starting to waffle now, so will sign off,

Ian

ian
11-13-2006, 08:07 AM
P.S. also had this discussion of natural posture. Words like 'natural' have to be used carefully because they often used to refer to two different things. For example, your natural posture is the posture you have at the moment. However through training and being more concsious of your posture it can be improved to produce a 'natural' posture, in that it is the posture which you would have if you hadn't learnt bad behviours of standing/walking. So kata (if done properly)can produce naturalness - or more appropriately, be used to loose unnaturalness.

PPS. that other thread - would agree that aikido DOES NOT come from baby movements. Aikido movements are actually very basic however (can't do difficult motor function movements in a fight) with hands generally moving up and down in front of your body as you move around - thus it just seems like a child because their motor functions are basic.

Mike Hamer
11-13-2006, 03:53 PM
David Orange wrote a similar article and posted videos of his toddler doing Aiki movements. Did you read it?

I think this is the link: http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8827



woah :freaky:

Thanks.

David Orange
11-13-2006, 05:31 PM
David Orange wrote a similar article and posted videos of his toddler doing Aiki movements. Did you read it?

I think this is the link: http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8827

Roy,

Thanks for posting that!

And for Mikel, here are two video clips of my 18-month-old son doing aiki root movement. I teach that, when grabbed with a single-hand, same-side attack, you can turn either to the inside or the outside. The inside turn leads to gyaku-te seoi nage or shiho nage. The outside turn leads to sankyo (what Mochizuki Sensei called yuki chigae and Tomiki Sensei called kote mawashi). The root of the two techniques is just turning around in one direction or the other. In the first of these two clips, Ken spontaneously does the outside turn. The second clip opens when he has already made the inside turn and is moving toward gyaku-te seoi nage.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pyx8jv6TNN0

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Yxs0U5QoFI&mode=related&search=

As I said in the article Roy referenced, I have observed aiki movement in a number of children. I'm always surprised that anyone thinks aiki isn't a natural thing. I feel like Ben Franklin saying that the static spark that shocks you when you touch a door knob is the same as the lightning that crashes from the sky. He almost killed himself demonstrating this idea with his kite in a thunderstorm. I think enough people have witnessed children doing beautiful aiki that there should be no more question about where aiki originates. To me, the only question is how to find that original aiki in ourselves and cultivate it to a more powerful level.

Best wishes to all.

David

Jorx
11-13-2006, 05:44 PM
I think the moral of the story is that Aikido works on people with toddlers' sense of coordination and martial ability...

(6)

David Orange
11-13-2006, 07:02 PM
I think the moral of the story is that Aikido works on people with toddlers' sense of coordination and martial ability...

The moral is that nature is stronger than second nature. Everything in every human martial art comes from reflexes that a baby exhibits when he learns to stand and walk. It's all right there. Everything else is just refinement of those basic abilities.

raul rodrigo
11-13-2006, 07:07 PM
The moral is that nature is stronger than second nature. Everything in every human martial art comes from reflexes that a baby exhibits when he learns to stand and walk. It's all right there. Everything else is just refinement of those basic abilities.

David, assuming that this is true, what would be the consequences for the way you or I should train in aikido? Does a student who makes this premise as a foundation of his practice learn to do better aikido?

best,


R

Mike Hamer
11-13-2006, 07:38 PM
Roy,



I think enough people have witnessed children doing beautiful aiki that there should be no more question about where aiki originates.

Best wishes to all.

David


Wow! It's so weird that other people have seen this too! I think we're on to something Davey boy! Hahaha, It makes me feel good inside to think about this kind of thing. Sorry, but thats's the only way I can describe it.

Roman Kremianski
11-13-2006, 08:54 PM
Mikel: That was no fluke or coincidence! That 6th Dan girl in your story goes to my dojo! :freaky:

Aran Bright
11-14-2006, 06:33 AM
Okay at first it just looked like some Aiki-nutter rolling on the grass with his toddler (which I have have to say looks like fun) but i have to admit there is definitely something to it.

From a skeptical point of view i could just say that it is only because Dad is moving in a conditioned way that makes it look like there is real technique happening and that he is actually guiding his kid around...but that was a damn good sankyo.

ChrisMoses
11-14-2006, 10:26 AM
Roy,

Thanks for posting that!

And for Mikel, here are two video clips of my 18-month-old son doing aiki root movement. I teach that, when grabbed with a single-hand, same-side attack, you can turn either to the inside or the outside. The inside turn leads to gyaku-te seoi nage or shiho nage. The outside turn leads to sankyo (what Mochizuki Sensei called yuki chigae and Tomiki Sensei called kote mawashi). The root of the two techniques is just turning around in one direction or the other. In the first of these two clips, Ken spontaneously does the outside turn. The second clip opens when he has already made the inside turn and is moving toward gyaku-te seoi nage.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pyx8jv6TNN0

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Yxs0U5QoFI&mode=related&search=

As I said in the article Roy referenced, I have observed aiki movement in a number of children. I'm always surprised that anyone thinks aiki isn't a natural thing. I feel like Ben Franklin saying that the static spark that shocks you when you touch a door knob is the same as the lightning that crashes from the sky. He almost killed himself demonstrating this idea with his kite in a thunderstorm. I think enough people have witnessed children doing beautiful aiki that there should be no more question about where aiki originates. To me, the only question is how to find that original aiki in ourselves and cultivate it to a more powerful level.

Best wishes to all.

David

The question becomes, do you believe that the root of 'aiki' is simply efficient body mechanics or do you believe it is a system of strategies and intents that can be manifest into a recognizable system? If you believe the root of aikido is simply efficient movement, then what separates it from any other martial art? I believe you can only trace the 'root' of aikido back to a point where it still somehow contains *distinguishing features that separate the art from other forms of combat or martial movement*. The movements of your toddler do not qualify for that in my book. You as 'uke' (and quite frankly, I think that referring to what you're doing there as uke is absurd) offer the clarity that lets us identify the root movements as aikido. The act of ukemi does not in any way indicate the art in question. I don't know how anyone can watch these videos and take them seriously.

George S. Ledyard
11-14-2006, 11:14 AM
The question becomes, do you believe that the root of 'aiki' is simply efficient body mechanics or do you believe it is a system of strategies and intents that can be manifest into a recognizable system? If you believe the root of aikido is simply efficient movement, then what separates it from any other martial art? I believe you can only trace the 'root' of aikido back to a point where it still somehow contains *distinguishing features that separate the art from other forms of combat or martial movement*. The movements of your toddler do not qualify for that in my book. You as 'uke' (and quite frankly, I think that referring to what you're doing there as uke is absurd) offer the clarity that lets us identify the root movements as aikido. The act of ukemi does not in any way indicate the art in question. I don't know how anyone can watch these videos and take them seriously.

I am definitely with Chris on this one. I actually do not think that most folks doing Aikido really understand much of what constitutes "aiki". Yes, relaxation (lack of tension caused by fear) is crucial to actualizing the principles of "aiki" in ones technhique but it's a pre-requisite and not "aiki" by itself.

It is true that kids move in a manner that is natural because they haven't yet had the experiences that build up layers of tension in thier minds and bodies. It's not surprising that they will manifest the movements we see in Aikido since these movements are considered fundamental movement patterns in the universe.

I actually do not think that the body mechanics of Aikido or Aikijutsu are "natural" in the sense that if we can just relax they will come naturally to us. Training in "aiki" is the process of re-programming the body and the mind to believe that tension will not make one safe. Then there are very specific elements that combine in terms of how one joins ones mind and physical movement with that of an opponent. You do not have "aiki" automatically just because you have some kids moving in a relaxed and free fashion.

David Orange
11-14-2006, 06:23 PM
The question becomes, do you believe that the root of 'aiki' is simply efficient body mechanics or do you believe it is a system of strategies and intents that can be manifest into a recognizable system?

Chris,

Why make it a dichotomy? It's efficient body mechanics applied in strategic intent. Babies have the efficient movement because, as George Ledyard says, "...kids move in a manner that is natural because they haven't yet had the experiences that build up layers of tension in thier minds and bodies." And they're not doing anything other than the simplest movements that support their intent.

As I've said before, aiki is expressed when you try to divert a child from something he is interested in doing. And there is where the strategic intent comes in. He intends to do what he is doing and when obstructed by a much-larger person with much-greater strength, he instinctively moves to the position where his small size and power effectively evade and neutralize the larger size and power.

If you believe the root of aikido is simply efficient movement, then what separates it from any other martial art? I believe you can only trace the 'root' of aikido back to a point where it still somehow contains *distinguishing features that separate the art from other forms of combat or martial movement*.

Mochizuki Sensei traced back many different arts and found a commonality at the root of all of them in a mode of movement that enabled him to flow very freely from aikido to judo to karate to jujutsu and back without hesitation or distortion of his movement. I traced that commonality back a bit further and recognized that all those things are based on reflexes that are exhibited by most children as soon as they can stand and walk.'

As to what separates aikido from the other arts, it's as I said above--moving to the position and in the structure that makes the most of one's smaller size and power to neutralize and overcome a larger size and greater power. It does not conflict with the greater power, but flows into the "ura" of whatever "omote" the attacker uses to express his power.

The movements of your toddler do not qualify for that in my book.

What about the child Mikel describes in the first post of this thread? In fact, all toddlers express aiki from time to time. Usually, they stop doing this when their parents are able to overcome that after the first move or two. But if we cultivate that ability, it will grow into a reliable strategic response.

You as 'uke' (and quite frankly, I think that referring to what you're doing there as uke is absurd) offer the clarity that lets us identify the root movements as aikido.

I don't think the "ukemi" is what identifies the move as aiki. It's all in the first four seconds of the video. Stop it there and what do you have? A child is grabbed and without having been taught to do so, he enters into position for sankyo. Could you expect a better response from a beginner in a class you were teaching? That's basic aikido.

Second, as I've said before, I've been to aikido dojos where the sempai were barking "fall down faster!" because that's the way they do it. You once asked, "Why go to such a place?" Now I recall that it was a seminar run by a highly respected aikikai shihan--S. Sensei. That's the way they teach it. Why shouldn't a baby get as much cooperation as a grown man?

The act of ukemi does not in any way indicate the art in question. I don't know how anyone can watch these videos and take them seriously.

The ukemi is irrelevant. Those who take those videos seriously are paying attention to the first four seconds of each. That's where you see an untaught toddler expressing what Morihei Ueshiba meant when he said that aikido is "natural movement".

Thanks for your response, however.

David

David Orange
11-14-2006, 06:43 PM
I am definitely with Chris on this one. I actually do not think that most folks doing Aikido really understand much of what constitutes "aiki". Yes, relaxation (lack of tension caused by fear) is crucial to actualizing the principles of "aiki" in ones technhique but it's a pre-requisite and not "aiki" by itself.

I will agree with you that most people in aikido have a very superficial idea of what aiki really is. Mochizuki Sensei defined aiki as "attacking" the ura of the attacker's omote attack. Or as I replied to Chris, it's moving to the point where the attacker is weak and your smaller size and power more than match his larger size and power.

It's not surprising that [children] will manifest the movements we see in Aikido since these movements are considered fundamental movement patterns in the universe.

Precisely my point. I don't know why anyone finds this surprising or anything to dispute.

I actually do not think that the body mechanics of Aikido or Aikijutsu are "natural" in the sense that if we can just relax they will come naturally to us.

Well, as I have illustrated and Mikel illustrated in the beginning of this thread, we (almost) all begin life by expressing aiki movement. It should be clear that the experiences of life and education deaden the ability to react in this spontaneously super-appropriate way and that only geniuses will be able to maintain it or regain it without extensive re-education.

Training in "aiki" is the process of re-programming the body and the mind to believe that tension will not make one safe.

I think that The Feldenkrais Method is even better at achieving that "re-programming" than aikido. But its point is not to "re-program" oneself, but to release all the erroneous reprogramming that has been crammed into us and return to the natural human modes of movement that arise from a natural relationship with our own feelings, desires and impulses. Children do have that relationship with their physical senses as well as their emotional truth of any moment. Which is why the Zen masters say we should have a mind like a baby's.

Then there are very specific elements that combine in terms of how one joins ones mind and physical movement with that of an opponent. You do not have "aiki" automatically just because you have some kids moving in a relaxed and free fashion.

Well, that very joining of the mind and movement with the opponent is the essence of child aiki and of child Zen. Toddlers are still on the heavenly side of distinguishing between "I and Thou."

One old Zen koan goes, "What is the shape of your original face?" or "What was your face before you saw a mirror?"

To the child, the whole world is his mirror and when he sees you, as far as he knows, that is himself. So he does not need to join your movement. Like Ueshiba, he is already one with it.

Best wishes,

David

Aran Bright
11-14-2006, 07:01 PM
I'm with you on this one David.

Guess I'm going to have to check out some more Feldenkrais now

David Orange
11-14-2006, 07:06 PM
Wow! It's so weird that other people have seen this too! I think we're on to something Davey boy! Hahaha, It makes me feel good inside to think about this kind of thing. Sorry, but thats's the only way I can describe it.

I'm glad you have noticed this aspect of both our art and our humanity. It makes me feel very good that other people are independently noticing these things. I wish we could get more video of this kind of child movement, but I believe you have to be very discreet in trying to capture it. Self-consciousness will completely inhibit the response.

Thanks for starting this thread!

David, assuming that this is true, what would be the consequences for the way you or I should train in aikido? Does a student who makes this premise as a foundation of his practice learn to do better aikido?

I think the lesson is simply to be more observant and put more value on the things that other people overlook and disregard. O-Sensei didn't get better by using more effort but by using less, focused in the appropriate way and using the whole body at once at the most appropriate place to achieve the greatest effect. And to do that, you have to have very fine perception. You can't just grossly notice that there's another person. You have to really perceive what's going on in his entire system and get with what he's doing.

And that means you must first "get with" your own system. So if you see that aiki is natural to babies, and realize that that means it's natural to human beings, then your real aikido pratice should focus on finding the real nature of what your teacher shows you on the mat.

As George Ledyard said, "...most folks doing Aikido [don't] really understand much of what constitutes "aiki"."

And to me, this is because aikido has become a "brand name product" that can only be constituted with the "seven secret herbs and spices" in the recipe of the particular "brand" of aikido one happens to study.

But I believe that the "real" aikido is literally a force of nature. Like Franklin's recognition that static electricity from a carpet is the same as lightning from a thunderhead, we need to see that aikido is not made on the mat by following a repetitious recipe, but that it is made person-to-person from the friction of human beings in relation to one another.

So whatever you study on the mat, the real understanding comes in daily life, watching people interact, and interacting with them. And respecting the value of what a child can show you will give you the finer perceptions needed to take that to a deeper level than ever.

Hope that makes sense.

Best wishes.

David

Erick Mead
11-15-2006, 12:48 AM
I am definitely with Chris on this one. I actually do not think that most folks doing Aikido really understand much of what constitutes "aiki". ...
I actually do not think that the body mechanics of Aikido or Aikijutsu are "natural" in the sense that if we can just relax they will come naturally to us. I think this is a more complex question actually, because what is "natural" to human beings is in part a philosophical question as much as a practical one -- since we are by "nature" highly adaptable learning creatures, and as children we learn like we breathe air -- innately. Which may be some of what David is really getting at.
Training in "aiki" is the process of re-programming the body and the mind to believe that tension will not make one safe. Then there are very specific elements that combine in terms of how one joins ones mind and physical movement with that of an opponent. You do not have "aiki" automatically just because you have some kids moving in a relaxed and free fashion. I like to analogize the problem of aiki movement to the related problem of swimming. It is instinctive for a non-swimmer thrown into water to thrash and fight against the water in an attempt to keep afloat. In fact, it is quite deadly to move in this way. It is natural for them to do this; it is not, however, a natural form of movement in water.

(On the other hand, very young infants naturally hold their breath and move without tension when placed underwater. They seem to "unlearn" this when learning to sit upright, i.e. -- to "fight" gravity, and then must (re-unlearn?, un-unlearn? ) learn to do it again as a complement to the skills of upright posture they have since acquired.)

Aiki may be like swimming in this way -- re-learned innate movement that follows the flow of the medium at every point of contact with it (and this is the important point) -- even when moving partly counter to it. In one case, it is the medium of water, in another it is the medium of physical conflict.

For most people, understanding this aspect of aiki is very hard. They lack a frame of reference in which to embrace conflict and non-conflict as coexisting in such a tightly dependent way. But understanding the related principle of movement in water is intuitively obvious -- for a swimmer who has gained the proper frame of reference.

Once this principle is learned, with practice, aiki movement, like swimming, becomes more and more effortless, and more and more intuitive, until it is just as innate as walking or running. On the other hand, it is more than just the infants' innate skills in acting without tension, since by the time of adulthood a person has a rather great and useful foundation in resistive mechanics to build upon (and to exploit in others). None of that is lost, it is merely altered and built upon.

Once this principle is learned deeply, you naturally find new ways to move (techniques) that operate on the same principle but are different in particular application. And further refinement and innovation is possible at every level of skill.

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-15-2006, 01:25 AM
I partly agree with your thoughts Eric, and also David's, although my following analogy only touches the outskirts of what constitutes "ki" phenomena in a physical sense. Imagine one's body constantly buffetted by randomly-varying forces from each and every direction on each and every portion of our surface (let's leave out the soft parts like eyes, ear channels, nose, groin and so on for a start). In such an environment, it is entirely possible that many people will quickly pick up at a young age the "natural" way to let the body absorb such a force spectrum in the best possible way (i.e., to minimize injury and stress on individual parts), and also will build up requisite sinews, muscle and bone, and develop breathing and behaviour to enable existence in such a hostile environment. Learning how to move where one wishes to (to the best of one's ability), directly if one can, indirectly if not feasible with given conditions, is perhaps analogous to the idea of moving from center, with ki, etc. Negating another person's power has no analogue here, since the external forces have sources far beyond our power to negate. However, if the sources are close-by and human, they will be affected by our action/reaction, and can be negated (or turned against the them) because the human is also only using another source (ground and/or gravity) to create a force on us.

In the absence of such an environment, clearly most people never learn such a mode of movement, nor develop their bodies for it. Exercises for this development exist, as Mike Sigman, Robert John, Dan Harding and others have in several cases explicity described, and their practice is gruelling, exactly because the hostile environment I described above (or a vastly more complex superset thereof) is being mentally duplicated and simulated.

Mike Hamer
11-15-2006, 02:16 AM
I want to thank all of you for teaching me so much about the different points of view on this topic I happened to stumble upon. I didn't even think I would be taken seriously, haha.

ChrisMoses
11-15-2006, 08:48 AM
I don't think the "ukemi" is what identifies the move as aiki. It's all in the first four seconds of the video. Stop it there and what do you have? A child is grabbed and without having been taught to do so, he enters into position for sankyo. Could you expect a better response from a beginner in a class you were teaching? That's basic aikido.
Sorry, don't see that at all. No connection from his center to yours at the moment of contact = no aikido! Simply moving with relaxation is not aiki. Moving with the correct ammount of tension in the correct places can be. Just turning in a circle is not aiki. Aiki is not simple, it's not natural, it's counterintuitive and very complicated.

Second, as I've said before, I've been to aikido dojos where the sempai were barking "fall down faster!" because that's the way they do it. You once asked, "Why go to such a place?" Now I recall that it was a seminar run by a highly respected aikikai shihan--S. Sensei. That's the way they teach it. Why shouldn't a baby get as much cooperation as a grown man?
David
Well I guess that's a difference between us. I don't go to those dojos or train with those shihan. There are a lot of people living in a shared delusion of what aiki is and what it feels like. Just because they call it aiki doesn't mean I have to agree.

Ron Tisdale
11-15-2006, 08:59 AM
Ditto,

Best,
Ron

John A Butz
11-15-2006, 10:20 AM
But can the child replicate the principals of aiki at will, against resistance, in a stressful conflict, with consistency? That is the crux of the argument for me.

Children may manifest aiki movement spontaneously on occasion. So do first night white belts, football players(some great aiki in receivers, they just flow with the go), heck one of my cats has a wicked kitty-koshi nage. So I believe it is possible for anyone to do it right, on shear chance, because relaxed movement is effective movement. But, while relaxed movement definitely improves aiki, it is not all of aiki, as Chris mentions above.

We train to be able to consistently and predictably manifest these abilities in stressful situations with consistent and predictable results. The goal is control of the opponent and disruption of his balance, as soon as possible(preferably on contact). To be able to manifest those skills requires deliberate practice, experimentation, and a willingness to grow through failure. I am just not convinced that children can do that.

The goal of this training is to coordinate our bodies in ways that affect the opponents structure. That requires some tension, some stability, some relaxation, which will all be dependent on the situation. The body needs to be able to change and adapt as the situation changes and adapts so that you remain in control of the opponent. Again, relaxation is not all of it. I think some aikido people tend to fall back on "Relax" as a blanket correction for when we can't really tell what isn't working in the technique(I know I do more often then not), and that has lead some of us to a misunderstanding of what is really going on in the body.

Aspects of David's theory, such as the mental attitude of curiosity children have, and the relaxed strength of a baby's grip, are very valid, but by implying that children just manifest aiki spontaneously is skirting dangerously close to the edge of "idiot-savant aikido" where some folks just get it and can't pass it on or explain how they do it.

I do believe that introducing your child to martial arts at a young age will provide them with a useful skill set, and prevent them from acquiring some bad habits in regards to posture and movement. It can even lay the foundation for acquisition of more advanced skills as the child matures. However, I must part ways with the idea that we all had aiki when we were wee toddlers and just happened to lose it as we got older.

Basia Halliop
11-15-2006, 10:59 AM
Aikido involves human bodies and also involves the laws of physics such as Newton's laws, gravity, etc... small children, lke adults, have human bodies, human brains, and human senses of balance and live in a universe where the laws of physics apply. So I suppose in that sense I can see that Aikido shares some of the same roots... but there are only so many ways a human body can physically move or react. So far I'm really not at all convinced it means all that much if the occasional small child (or adult) happens to twist their arm in a particular direction -- the joints only turn so many ways, so if you wait long enough, I assume you'll probably see most of them.

Toddlers are getting used to their bodies and consiously or unconsiously experimenting with both balance and physical movement. In that sense, I could see the argument that ALL adult physical activities are in some way related to toddler movement.

Like the story about the little girl, though! I like how little kids are willing to experiment and learn for themselves that certain things work.

George S. Ledyard
11-15-2006, 11:28 AM
There seems to be some sort of Rousseau-ean idea that if one just returns to some Eden of original movement one has "aiki".

Feldenkrais is an incredible system that will re-educate the body / mind in very deep ways. But I can guarantee you that an attack by someone with a committed attack will produce tension that is the result from fear. Just because the person is relaxed and moves naturally, doesn't mean he has done anything other than attain the pre-requisite for doing technique with "aiki". The ability to maintain that relaxation under pressure is a specialized skill.

Doran Sensei once told me that he had occasion to do training for some advanced Zen students. He was amused to find that these students, who had all the meditation and probably had the spiritual insights on a deep level, had all the same issues which a typical beginner had in terms of how to use the body.

"Aiki" in terms of technique REQUIRES relaxation of the mind and body but that doesn't mean that that's all there is to it. Aiki has to do with how and where you project your attention. It has to do with very subtle movement at the instant of contact which involves a great deal of sensitivity and an understanding of the geometry involved that one simply doesn't have without extensive training.

A highly trained practitioner of an "aiki" art will execute technique in what looks like a very natural manner. But a person who simply moves naturally, no matter how relaxed, cannot use "aiki" without the systematic application of other principles. There are teachers around like Don Angier Sensei of the Yanagi Ryu who have done a very good job of enumerating these principles. I maintain that the mind and body in no way will react to stress using these principles without a lot of re-programming and study of the specific principles involved. Other activities like meditation, Yoga, body work, etc can be of benefit when added to proper training but none of them in themselves will to anything at all for you in terms of understanding "aiki" in the martial context.

Rupert Atkinson
11-15-2006, 12:35 PM
The question becomes, do you believe that the root of 'aiki' is simply efficient body mechanics or do you believe it is a system of strategies and intents that can be manifest into a recognizable system?

I think it is both. Firstly, I think the child did what we are constantly trying to do, and did so in a 'real' situation. We need to move natuarlly, but the problem here is, we need to learn to move naturally! Maybe we have forgotten :( what the baby knows. Secondly, we need to train in set ways to develop it into a more powerful and repeatable useable essence.

I think other arts do have aiki, or rather, some people within those other arts have a measure of it, but because they do not name it or aim for it, they do not know what it is, they cannot easuly develop it further, and they have and cannot, of course, pass it on. That is the difference. Aikido names it and aims to acquire it, yet even so, how difficult it is to ... get on track.

Erick Mead
11-15-2006, 01:52 PM
There seems to be some sort of Rousseau-ean idea that if one just returns to some Eden of original movement one has "aiki". .... Just because the person is relaxed and moves naturally, doesn't mean he has done anything other than attain the pre-requisite for doing technique with "aiki". The ability to maintain that relaxation under pressure is a specialized skill. ... I maintain that the mind and body in no way will react to stress using these principles without a lot of re-programming and study of the specific principles involved. There is, however, a barrier to learning those things that comes very much from the level of awareness/response and the developmental change in perception and action that David is speaking to. It is probably a chicken and egg question -- but I sense that in developing aiki skills the one cannot occur without the other and vice versa.

Not to beat the dead sea mammal, but one can only speak authoritatively from experience, and mine includes -- (wait for it) -- a lot of swimming. A point was once made by a fantastic swimming coach of mine early on in my training. God help me, I was ten then, now I am forty, and she has coached my kids.

It had to do with the finish. The finish is a moment of critical concentration of simultaneous effort, relaxation and rhythm that is a peak experience very much akin to that of budo in how the body mobilizes its resources to give effect to the principles underlying proper technique.

Some guys (lookit me) had technique that went to hell the moment they began to "compete" seriously with the guy next to them. Those guys would start to beat the water furiously, as though it could submit to brute force, and lose all the breath (ki) necessary to finish strongly at the end. So there is an aiki lesson in here somewhere.

She said:

Don't waste energy struggling with the water -- it always wins.

Don't struggle for breath while under water -- it doesn't help.

ian
11-15-2006, 02:35 PM
Chris,

Why make it a dichotomy? It's efficient body mechanics applied in strategic intent. Babies have the efficient movement because, as George Ledyard says, "...kids move in a manner that is natural because they haven't yet had the experiences that build up layers of tension in thier minds and bodies." And they're not doing anything other than the simplest movements that support their intent.

David

I know how to solve this - David, I hereby challenge your toddler to a fight! ;)

I think you'll then agree that those 'natural aiki movements' as you call them do not have real application since aikido is more than just the movement (as Sensei Ledyard said).

If you can produce the same type of video footage when a todler is being attacked even by something its own size (e.g. a small dog) I would start to believe aikido (in its completeness) is natural within us. It is completely evident from your video that the todler is not unbalancing you, you are unbalancing you.

P.S. Erik - a couple of years ago when I learnt to swim properly (i.e efficiently instead of forcefully) I also saw so many correlates with aikido. Indeed it led to my belief that aikido training should really break down the movements into component parts prior to building them up (just like swimming drills). I would say there is no way that humans swim efficiently naturally (for those interested, 'Total Immersion' is the best book you'll ever get on becoming an efficient and fast swimmer)

David Orange
11-15-2006, 03:24 PM
Erick, I appreciate your analogy to swimming and I agree thoroughly with your approach. It's also interesting to consider that babies lose the breath-holding instinct after they learn to sit up and are affected by the desire to be vertical in gravitation. Interesting points all around.

Gernot, I see what you're saying, but you're already on the level of "refining" the natural abilities into an art, while I am looking below the level of refined art to the raw materials from which the art is created.

It seems to me that almost everyone now believes that the martial arts were "figured out" or "thought up" abstractly by some genius somewhere and then worked out from an abstract concept of principle to a reliable application in human interactions. I used to believe that, myself, but now I see it more like production of wine. We sometimes hear of animals that get drunk off fermented berries and I suppose the first discovery of wine began with finding some of those berries. But while it is natural for berries to ferment if left alone, it's another thing to find enough of them to do anything with and quite another thing to find these berries on a consistent basis. You finally have to figure out what's happening in nature and cultivate that, then refine the process until you have a reliable and consistent way to produce the effects that we originally find in nature. And in many ways, the product so far exceeds the quality and appearance/effect of the natural product that one can forget entirely that it all comes from something that happens naturally in the world without human intervention at all.

...it is entirely possible that many people will quickly pick up at a young age the "natural" way to let the body absorb such a force spectrum in the best possible way (i.e., to minimize injury and stress on individual parts), and also will build up requisite sinews, muscle and bone, and develop breathing and behaviour to enable existence in such a hostile environment.

From my observation, all children do this reliably unless they are psychologically or physically traumatized at an early age. But they tend to lose it quickly because it is such a subtle thing that it's easy not to notice its workings and because an older, experienced person can soon defeat even the best of naive babies. However, if the parent prevent's the child's being traumatized and actively guides their development to cultivate these responses, I believe that a great, refined skill can be developed while they are very young. A good example is the son of Akahori Sensei, the judo teacher at the Yoseikan in Shizuoka. I met that boy when he was twelve years old or so, doing judo like everyone else. But he was being raised by a master of judo, 24 hours a day, and by the time he was fifteen, although he still was not terribly large or muscular, he had become unmoveable for me and I was nearly 40.

...clearly most people never learn such a mode of movement, nor develop their bodies for it. Exercises for this development exist, as Mike Sigman, Robert John, Dan Harding and others have in several cases explicity described, and their practice is gruelling, exactly because the hostile environment I described above (or a vastly more complex superset thereof) is being mentally duplicated and simulated.

I think these things can be developed in a natural lifestyle without their being experienced as "grueling" if the child is never led away from his natural mode of movement. That doesn't mean that he keeps moving "like a baby," but that the baby evolves through adventurous interaction with the world, climbing, digging, pulling, pushing, even wrestling, etc., into a well developed adult. If an experienced teacher introduces the important principles into such a natural life, they will act like yeast and make the refinements in a natural process that will not be perceived as anything special at all. It's like the Zen saying that Zen practice is like walking in fog. You never notice it while you're in it, but when you go inside, you find that you're soaking wet.

So the final art is neither entirely natural nor inevitable, but must be built on natural materials to be reliable, consistent and replicable.

Best wishes to all.

David

David Orange
11-15-2006, 03:34 PM
Aiki is not simple, it's not natural, it's counterintuitive and very complicated.

Chris, while I would like to agree with you, I prefer to agree with O-Sensei that aikido is natural movement.


Well I guess that's a difference between us. I don't go to those dojos or train with those shihan. There are a lot of people living in a shared delusion of what aiki is and what it feels like. Just because they call it aiki doesn't mean I have to agree.

It's not really a difference, because I haven't gone back and I've never gotten along well with anyone who had that attitude, but from what I've seen, that's the prevalent attitude for black belts.

On the other hand, we are discussing beginners. How much resistance would you give a sixteen-year-old beginner in lesson #1?

David

David Orange
11-15-2006, 03:56 PM
But can the child replicate the principals of aiki at will, against resistance, in a stressful conflict, with consistency? That is the crux of the argument for me.

Well, who really can consistently show aiki at will? It depends on many factors. It might take decades of training to be able to "do aikido" consistently and at will against "any and all" attackers. If that's the case, then only a few eighth dans even do aikido at all.

while relaxed movement definitely improves aiki, it is not all of aiki, as Chris mentions above.

Well, first, it's not simply relaxed movement. It's relaxed, balanced, centered and in timing and harmony with the obstructive movement of another person. And at a certain phase of child development, it is reliable.

We train to be able to consistently and predictably manifest these abilities in stressful situations with consistent and predictable results.

And yet, many people go decades and still cannot reliably do aikido on "any" comer. I think a large part of that is because of a real illusion of what aikido really is. As Jesus said, "Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

The problem is that most people are trained "away" from "the way that they should go" early on in life. Before they can be trained away from the right way, children frequently demonstrate aiki movement. Social stress is what squeezes that ability out of them with physical/emotional tension, which changes everything about how they relate to the world.

The goal is control of the opponent and disruption of his balance, as soon as possible(preferably on contact). To be able to manifest those skills requires deliberate practice, experimentation, and a willingness to grow through failure. I am just not convinced that children can do that.

Well, re-read Mikel Hamer's first post on this thread. The little girl did a beautiful tenkan with the cell phone and the boy tried to follow and fell down. Sounds just like Tohei or Ueshiba.

The goal of this training is to coordinate our bodies in ways that affect the opponents structure. That requires some tension, some stability, some relaxation, which will all be dependent on the situation. The body needs to be able to change and adapt as the situation changes and adapts so that you remain in control of the opponent. Again, relaxation is not all of it.

And relaxation is not all the baby does. They wriggle, they squirm, they drop their weight, they pull, they push, they twist and turn and all directly in time with what you're trying to do with them. When you want to put the diaper on the baby and he doesn't want you to do it, you can have a hard time getting it on him. Those whole-hearted and whole-body movements are something a martial artist should aspire to.

I think some aikido people tend to fall back on "Relax" as a blanket correction for when we can't really tell what isn't working in the technique(I know I do more often then not), and that has lead some of us to a misunderstanding of what is really going on in the body.

I don't think I have ever emphasized "relaxing" as the core of how a baby expresses aiki. Especially if you read the aikido journal blog entry Roy Klein linked. The baby drops his weight, turns, pulls, pushes, squirms and moves to the position where you are weakest and he is strongest. It's willful movement with all the force he can summon. It's real "shuchuu ryoku" or concentrated strength.

I do believe that introducing your child to martial arts at a young age will provide them with a useful skill set, and prevent them from acquiring some bad habits in regards to posture and movement. It can even lay the foundation for acquisition of more advanced skills as the child matures. However, I must part ways with the idea that we all had aiki when we were wee toddlers and just happened to lose it as we got older.

Actually, it disappoints me to see parents dress their kids up in dogi and put them into lessons on the mat--especially pre-school children. That's when the parents can be learning from the children.

I think that most people who don't accept this idea either have never had children or were at the dojo when their children were going through these levels of development unobserved. Then, later, when they have lost the "nature"of aiki, they have to have it "re-programmed" into them as "second nature."

David

ChrisMoses
11-15-2006, 04:06 PM
Chris, while I would like to agree with you, I prefer to agree with O-Sensei that aikido is natural movement.
After a lifetime of study it probably felt pretty natural. I played guitar for years and years, and even though I hardly ever practice now (and haven't regularly for probably 10 years) I can still pick up a guitar and burn through scales up and down the neck. It feels completely natural to me, but I remember how very difficult it was to learn, and how unnatural the shapes of the hand needed to be to accomplish those very scales.

It's not really a difference, because I haven't gone back and I've never gotten along well with anyone who had that attitude, but from what I've seen, that's the prevalent attitude for black belts.

On the other hand, we are discussing beginners. How much resistance would you give a sixteen-year-old beginner in lesson #1?

David

Well then why do you keep bringing them up as justification for experiencing aiki where there is none?

As for beginners, we don't have many beginners where I train now, almost everyone there has at least one blackbelt or blackbelt level skill in at least one art. The only beginner we have is a relative of my teacher, and is about that age. He has to put up with the same level of resistance as anyone. His first day he didn't get to throw. In fact he just took ukemi and lifted weights for the first six months. The first day he got to do a technique (osoto gari) I gave him more resistance than I would for most mid level students in a typical aikido dojo. Strong constant resistance so that he had to actually accomplish the goal of the exercise. No backleading at all. He did great and is coming along really well in a very short period of time.

David Orange
11-15-2006, 04:08 PM
I know how to solve this - David, I hereby challenge your toddler to a fight! ;)

I think you'll then agree that those 'natural aiki movements' as you call them do not have real application since aikido is more than just the movement (as Sensei Ledyard said).

If you can produce the same type of video footage when a todler is being attacked even by something its own size (e.g. a small dog) I would start to believe aikido (in its completeness) is natural within us.

If what you say is relevant, then your aikido would have to be effective against someone 18 feet tall and weighing about 1600 pounds (considering that I am about three times my child's height and about 9 times his weight, guessing you are about 6 feet and 180 lbs. [90 kg, apx]).

Do you suppose your aikido would be effective against someone that size, who had thirty years of aikido experience with beings of his own size?

Does that mean that your aikido is not aikido?

What we're talking about here is the "ROOT" of aikido. That it is an innate part of the human nervous system, that aiki is natural to human beings and that it must be cultivated--not that babies are already full-blown masters of aiki-jujutsu. We are all born with the roots of it and we can develop it from those roots with guidance or we can attempt to "program" it into ourselves, based on something other than our natural nervous responses.

Lacking someone 18 feet tall and 1600 pounds, do you suppose your aikido would work against, say, Jon Bluming?

Best wishes,

David

David Orange
11-15-2006, 04:18 PM
David Orange wrote:

I haven't gone back and I've never gotten along well with anyone who had that attitude, but from what I've seen, that's the prevalent attitude for black belts.
David



Well then why do you keep bringing them up as justification for experiencing aiki where there is none?

Frankly, the shihan in question could probably convince even you that he knows aikido. I just don't like the way he teaches people concerning ukemi. When he saw my ukemi, he announced to the class that that was "judo ukemi" and that it was bound to lead to injuries. Also, I didn't refuse to fall. I just didn't fall when the technique didn't cause me to fall. I understand that this is because, in the shihan's case, he would knock you down with atemi if his general movement didn't cause you to fall. Frankly, most of the students there could have hit me with full power without knocking me off balance, though I believe the shihan could have done it. I would never say that he didn't have aiki, but that method of teaching does not seem to be passing on the essence of aikido to modern students.

As for beginners, we don't have many beginners where I train now, almost everyone there has at least one blackbelt or blackbelt level skill in at least one art. The only beginner we have is a relative of my teacher, and is about that age. He has to put up with the same level of resistance as anyone. His first day he didn't get to throw. In fact he just took ukemi and lifted weights for the first six months. The first day he got to do a technique (osoto gari) I gave him more resistance than I would for most mid level students in a typical aikido dojo. Strong constant resistance so that he had to actually accomplish the goal of the exercise. No backleading at all. He did great and is coming along really well in a very short period of time.

And is that what your own first experience was like? Is that how you would start an eight-year-old?

David

ChrisMoses
11-15-2006, 04:22 PM
I think these things can be developed in a natural lifestyle without their being experienced as "grueling" if the child is never led away from his natural mode of movement.

This quote was in reference to "...clearly most people never learn such a mode of movement, nor develop their bodies for it. Exercises for this development exist, as Mike Sigman, Robert John, Dan Harding and others have in several cases explicity described, and their practice is gruelling, exactly because the hostile environment I described above (or a vastly more complex superset thereof) is being mentally duplicated and simulated."

Having spent a couple hours with Rob and the Aunkai and a few weeks working on their basic exercises (in addition to some of our own compatible solo work that I'd already been working on) I can say that in my own experience neither the teaching methodolgy nor the skills themselves are natural or intuitive. In the interest of full disclosure, I don't think the skills they're teaching exist anywhere within mainstream Aikido, but they would go a long way towards explaining people's reactions to OSensei should he have picked them or something like them up along his path. (Ellis' blog over on AJ about solo spear work is a good related read). It was also obvious how the skills/abilities that they're working on would be immediately applicable to ones Aikido in a very beneficial way.

ChrisMoses
11-15-2006, 04:27 PM
David Orange wrote:
Frankly, the shihan in question could probably convince even you that he knows aikido. ...in the shihan's case, he would knock you down with atemi if his general movement didn't cause you to fall.

There's a lot of behavioural conditioning in mainstream aikido. It's destroying the art. I've dealt with similar teachers, possibly even the same one. I just don't deal with them now, and don't use their actions to justify anything.

And is that what your own first experience was like? Is that how you would start an eight-year-old?

David

No I wasted a lot of time. I would start an eight year old in judo and let them learn about kuzushi and have some fun.

ChrisMoses
11-15-2006, 04:40 PM
I should point out that one of the problems with talking about what Aiki is, or Aikido is or should be is that different teachers, organizations and practitioners have wildly different takes on what those words even mean. For some lines of aikido moving the whole body as a unit in large motions is correct, for what we do that's completely wrong. So I should conceed that what you may be practicing as aikido may indeed be found in the movements of babies, but I have found that the stuff that really works on me and for me is far from intuitive or something which I feel was unlearned. For example, it is not intuitive to have a very relaxed hand, bicep and major pec simultaneous to having flexed triceps and shoulder/back muscles while grappling, but that's one example of how we *sometimes* transmit force. These skills are very hard to develop and don't reflect how humans natually move.

Mike Hamer
11-15-2006, 04:46 PM
On another note, before the little girl did this, me and my friend were talking about baby's being full of a natural positive outlook, or positive ki if you will. The girl walked by us, and my friend looked at her and said " Life is beautiful, isn't it?" The little girl just started laughing.

David Orange
11-15-2006, 04:51 PM
I would start an eight year old in judo and let them learn about kuzushi and have some fun.

So where do you start an 18-month-old?

I think he's doing just fine. The second step, which he's already entered, is a game called "get your nose." I gradually got him interested in grabbing my nose, then I got him to keep going for it even when I evaded with "chi sao" types of parries. Then I got him to keep going when, after evading his grabs for my nose, I would grab his. Now, at age two, he is continuing to go for my nose while rather effectively parrying my attempts to get his nose. By the time he's four, it will be hard for any of his contemporaries to hit him in the face, I believe. And he should be able, by then, to flow from an evasion, into the natural sankyo he can already do.

In this way, I'm building on the roots of his natural movement, rather than trying to "teach" him by a totally self-contained external set of lessons based on one-two-three programmed responses.

Best wishes.

David

David Orange
11-15-2006, 04:53 PM
...it is not intuitive to have a very relaxed hand, bicep and major pec simultaneous to having flexed triceps and shoulder/back muscles while grappling, but that's one example of how we *sometimes* transmit force. These skills are very hard to develop and don't reflect how humans natually move.

Well, again, I think that's an example of a refined art that has come a long way, like a fine wine that has been fermented, aged, cleared and bottled, then left to age longer.

Still, it came from grapes.

Best,

David

David Orange
11-15-2006, 05:08 PM
There seems to be some sort of Rousseau-ean idea that if one just returns to some Eden of original movement one has "aiki".

No, it's not that "if one just returns there." It's saying "that's where we came from." It's not easy to go back there once we have left, though Feldenkrais does help us re-discover it.

Feldenkrais is an incredible system that will re-educate the body / mind in very deep ways. But I can guarantee you that an attack by someone with a committed attack will produce tension that is the result from fear.

I don't think that any training makes any human being impervious to fear--especially when taken by surprise. But I do believe that the arts of aiki took fear responses into account and built some of the technique upon them. I can show how techniques of both aikido and karate can emerge directly from the instinctive response of snatching one's hand away from someone who grips it. Fear can never be completely eliminated from one's responses and it will always emerge if the stimulus is sudden and strong enough. In those cases, the nerve responses that reach the brain first are more primitive than those that can be trained, and the signal from the brain back to the muscles will get their earlier on those primitive pathways so that we may do something entirely unexpectedly and unconsciously before we have any opportunity to enact any trained response. And those repsonses will remain when conditioned reflexes have faded, if conditioning is stopped. And they will still be there below even the most consistently trained reflexes, to emerge predictably if the stimulus is sudden and intense. So the question is what do you do with those fear responses if they enact before the trained response has a chance to be chosen?

Just because the person is relaxed and moves naturally, doesn't mean he has done anything other than attain the pre-requisite for doing technique with "aiki". The ability to maintain that relaxation under pressure is a specialized skill.

True, but I have never put "relaxed movement" as the most important aspect of aiki movement. True, we seek to be relaxed in any muscle we're not actively using, but even standing up requires a balance of relaxation and tension, so any active movement has to be the same.

Aiki has to do with how and where you project your attention. It has to do with very subtle movement at the instant of contact which involves a great deal of sensitivity and an understanding of the geometry involved that one simply doesn't have without extensive training.

Well, we can see children doing these things naturally, and they do have the right mental attitude from early on. But, yes, to cultivate it to a high degree of reliability and effectiveness, they at least have to be guided by someone who knows what he's doing. I can agree with that.

I maintain that the mind and body in no way will react to stress using these principles without a lot of re-programming and study of the specific principles involved.

And I maintain that these principles are all deeply written in our natural nervous systems. But by adulthood, for most people, they have been thickly over-written with a lot of mistaken ideas and data that only hamper their ability to be spontaneously effective.

But even in someone with a good foundation, it takes someone to guide him in refining it.

Best wishes,

David

David Orange
11-15-2006, 05:34 PM
...my friend looked at her and said " Life is beautiful, isn't it?" The little girl just started laughing.

The rays of the rising sun flow in,
My mind is clear.
Going to the window, I run about the Heavens
Shining like the dawn.
- Morihei Ueshiba

ChrisMoses
11-15-2006, 07:44 PM
So where do you start an 18-month-old?



I think I'd start with letting them be a kid. I find it really amusing how you simultaneously talk about how you're child understands the nature of aiki and then immediately afterwards talk about the drills you're using to teach him aikido. How do you know that what you're doing isn't tearing down what he already knows and you've forgotten? It's absurd.

Wrestling with your kids sounds like fun though. I think more parents should play with their kids like that. :)

Mike Hamer
11-16-2006, 01:19 AM
The rays of the rising sun flow in,
My mind is clear.
Going to the window, I run about the Heavens
Shining like the dawn.
- Morihei Ueshiba

Words of wisdom.

David Orange
11-16-2006, 08:41 AM
I think I'd start with letting them be a kid. I find it really amusing how you simultaneously talk about how you're child understands the nature of aiki and then immediately afterwards talk about the drills you're using to teach him aikido.

No, Chris, a drill is preset movements that he has to repeat to a count. "Get your Nose" is just a game, free-flowing with no win-or-lose, no right-or-wrong and full of fun and laughter. I'm observing his creativity more than trying to teach him anything. It's pretty amazing to see the amount of determination a child can build and the tricky ways they develop to restrain your hands while freeing their own.

How do you know that what you're doing isn't tearing down what he already knows and you've forgotten? It's absurd.

Only if you fail to really see the spirit of what we're doing. I know it's not tearing down what he knows because I'm not covering up his innate knowledge with programming that I'm imposing on him. I'm drawing out his responses and seeing what he does, letting him find out for himself what's effective and letting him discover new approaches by the second. This also exercises his hand-eye coordination without imposing any set patterns on his movement.

Wrestling with your kids sounds like fun though. I think more parents should play with their kids like that. :)

Well, he's still too small to really "wrestle" with, but we can roll around on the floor and have a good time. And I see the roots of a lot of martial arts in the simple defensive movements he uses while we play. For instance, the te gatana. Since he was tiny, and as Mikel pointed out in is first post, he has used the Unbendable Arm in movements quite like you'll find in Tomiki aikido to casually shove my head aside or push up under my chin when he doesn't want to be bothered. Relaxed, yes, unbothered, yes, but STRONG and with the appropriate muscle tensions required.

Whenever I go to get his ribs, his elbow automatically comes back to cover the ribs and brush my hand away from him. This is the root of why karate pulls the elbow back when punching. All martial arts are built on these kinds of defensive reflexes found in babies.

Best wishes.

David

ChrisMoses
11-16-2006, 09:18 AM
Done here. Sufficient to say I disagree with your entire premise completely. It flies in the face of my own experiences and all developmental science that I have studied.

David Orange
11-16-2006, 10:18 AM
Done here. Sufficient to say I disagree with your entire premise completely. It flies in the face of my own experiences and all developmental science that I have studied.

Well, we have established before that you disagree and I understand that you have views based on studies. But I developed these ideas after long aikido training and direct observation of many small children. And since first promoting the idea on e-budo and then on Aikido Journal, I've received many more examples of direct observation of untrained children doing the essence of aiki--maintaining their own posture and balance, moving in circular patterns and neutralizing another person's strength and ability to control them.

People disregarded Ben Franklin's claim that the tiny spark that jumps from a doorknob is the same as the lightning that comes down from the sky, but today we know that this is true. Giant oaks come from acorns, huge trees come from mustard seeds, wine comes from sweet berries and samurai arts evolve from child reflexes.

Best to you.

David

Ron Tisdale
11-16-2006, 10:40 AM
In your opinion...for that last part...

Best,
Ron

David Orange
11-16-2006, 12:02 PM
In your opinion...for that last part...

Best,
Ron

Well, it's not a beginner's opinion in aikido or in child development. I've observed numerous nieces and nephews, taught scores of children in formal aikido classes, studied Feldenkrais (which is based largely on studies of child development) and observed and interacted with my own chidren (three of them, all exhibiting aiki movement at the toddler stage) and I have numerous examples from other people observing children in action. Plus, a major part of my aikido experience was in Japan with an uchi deshi to O-Sensei.

So if it's my opinion, it's a deeply informed opinion.

And again, I say that those who dislike the idea either probably don't have children or just haven't paid much attention to them when they were doing things not considered to be worth paying attention to.

To me, that's a very important part of aiki: paying attention to little things that other people don't consider meaningful at all.

Best wishes.

David

Ron Tisdale
11-17-2006, 08:48 AM
No children of my own, but when in the presense of the children of others, I pay quite a bit of attention. Just don't come to the same conclusions. But, hey, good discussion anyways...

Best,
Ron

TAnderson
11-17-2006, 11:46 AM
David,

I am curious how you would explain the derivation of "aiki" systems that evolved from armed and armored soldiers. These systems required unique articulations based on the weapon and armor of choice.

I would also like to note that when a person/child cedes their position to an incoming stressor does not denote the blending of aiki. In other words moving from your position and blending are not the same thing. Also, some microorganisms (including single cells) will respond to stress by trying to alleviate it in some manner including locomotion. I would not call this aiki.

Regards,
Tim Anderson

Michael Douglas
11-17-2006, 01:24 PM
I think David Orange is wishfully (willfully?) deluded in this 'toddlers show aiki movement' theme.

And this I absolutely disagree with. Most young kids have terrible balance.
Well, first, it's not simply relaxed movement. It's relaxed, balanced, centered and in timing and harmony with the obstructive movement of another person. And at a certain phase of child development, it is reliable.
At what phase of child development is this harmonious movement reliable?

Ron Tisdale
11-17-2006, 02:17 PM
I just remember falling on my face a lot.

Course, that might be why they called me a klutz... :(

Best,
Ron

Michael Douglas
11-17-2006, 06:28 PM
Didn't O-Sensei return to his dojo one time and shouted at the students ;
"That's not MY Aikido!! Youz all Klutzes!!"

Yes' I'm sure that's how it went ...
and
"90% of Aikido is tatami"

David Orange
11-17-2006, 08:03 PM
No children of my own, but when in the presense of the children of others, I pay quite a bit of attention. Just don't come to the same conclusions. But, hey, good discussion anyways...

Well, you have to be in their presence a lot at all kinds of times of day and night, in their many moods.

My insistence, of course, cannot make this idea true, but I have documented examples and my reasoning. I never mind a contrary view if it's supported by reasoning.

Best wishes.

David

David Orange
11-17-2006, 08:10 PM
I am curious how you would explain the derivation of "aiki" systems that evolved from armed and armored soldiers. These systems required unique articulations based on the weapon and armor of choice.

But all those things were based first on the human skeleton and muscles. All those warriors were first humans, and first children. And most of them were fathers as well as warriors. Armor, weapons, etc., are all limited by the nature of the human body and nervous system, all minds formed by life with parents and children.

I would also like to note that when a person/child cedes their position to an incoming stressor does not denote the blending of aiki. In other words moving from your position and blending are not the same thing.

No, they're not always the same thing. And aiki does not always even move off the line of attack. But in the first video, when grabbed, the child extends his ki arm and turns around, spontaneously, never having been taught to do so, into perfect position for sankyo. And in Mikel Hamer's first post of this thread, the little girl leads the little boy smoothly around until he falls. Both are good examples of blending.

David

raul rodrigo
11-17-2006, 08:15 PM
It seems to me that David O has constructed the following argument: aikido is "natural" movement, toddlers can move "naturally" in ways that (to some) look like aikido movement, therefore toddler movement is at its roots the same as aikido movement. Its not quite a syllogism, but it can seem persuasive to some. To me the two premises that lead to David's conclusion could stand a lot more scrutiny. What is "natural" about aikido? Is a toddler movement really "aiki"? When pressed, David tends to repeat the conclusion instead of reexamining the premises. It seems to me that within his argument the words "natural" and "aiki" have been defined in such a way that they support his conclusion virtually by definition. So the thread goes around in circles; its persuasive to those who agree with it already, but it doesnt seem to have any traction with those who don't. For David: is there a way of restating the argument in a way that isn't just preachng to the choir?

David Orange
11-17-2006, 08:18 PM
I think David Orange is wishfully (willfully?) deluded in this 'toddlers show aiki movement' theme.

Did you read the aikido journal blog post? And did you watch both videos? And what about Mikel's examples? This isn't something I've seen once or twice. I've seen it consistently in children as soon as they are able to walk.

Most young kids have terrible balance.

And all acorns have terrible root structures. Yet giant oaks result from their growth. Aiki is like that. It comes from the weakness of children, the ura of strength.

At what phase of child development is this harmonious movement reliable?

I'm not sure what you mean. It will reliably appear in children as soon as they can stand and walk. And the roots of it appear even earlier. Do you mean when does it become a reliable fighting skill? In that case, I'd have to say that for most people it never does become reliable. After their parents are able to catch them time after time, they get the idea that strength rules and that their impulsive escape measures are useless. As I've said, these skills must be guided and cultivated by someone who understands them. The child must be innocently encouraged and taken through activities that develop these skills without his noticing. This gives him a strong foundation without his realizing it. Eventually, he will need explicit instruction, but with a natural foundation, he will be able to grasp it so quickly it won't take much rote repetition.

David

David Orange
11-17-2006, 08:49 PM
It seems to me that David O has constructed the following argument: aikido is "natural" movement, toddlers can move "naturally" in ways that (to some) look like aikido movement, therefore toddler movement is at its roots the same as aikido movement.

Raul,

The premise is this: ancient fighting masters had developed many types of jujutsu techniques. At some point, one of them noticed that children's instinctive escape movements were able to momentarily neutralize their parents' best efforts to control them. Invariably, the parents won through superior size and strength, scooped the children up and the evasion was finished. But some master must have said, "If that child just grabbed the wrist with his other hand, he could dominate or at least gain the moment to escape."

It is my idea that this jujutsu master then began to practice moving as he had seen the child move. But he added the wrist lock that the child didn't know about and he was able to beat larger men convincingly by moving into their weakness, to the point where he was strongest.

This is how I think aikijujutsu was first born, the first second it came to be. That is my serious premise. So I think that you can guide a child in such a way that he builds on that same evasive ability until he is old enough to be shown some joint locks and throws. But I think that observation of children momentarily overcoming superior size and strength is the source of aikijujutsu and, therefore, of aikido.

...the two premises that lead to David's conclusion could stand a lot more scrutiny. What is "natural" about aikido? Is a toddler movement really "aiki"?

When I was uchi deshi in Japan, Mochizuki Sensei, an early uchi deshi of Morihei Ueshiba, showed me some little things, now in then, in minute detail. And he told me some things that he didn't say as part of normal classes. Some of these times were when no one else was at the dojo and he and I were waiting for someone to show up. Other times would be in the mornings, when he was sitting in the kitchen, writing, or in the hours past midnight, when I would get up to use the restroom and find him sitting in the kitchen having a beer and some blue cheese. He would pull a stool over with his foot and take down a glass for me to share his beer, and he would tell me about the war or his time in Mongolia, or France, or his childhood, his training with Mifune or Ueshiba Sensei.

Also, we used to do sumo sometimes and I got a lot of my ideas from that. He said there were two kinds of jujutsu: yawara and judo descend from sumo, while aikijujutsu descends from sword fighting. But both are jujutsu and both are influenced heavily by sumo.

Now what do you have in sumo? Two big babies in diapers. They say the sumotori represent small gods, but I think they also represent giant babies. Who hasn't seen two babies pushing each other like sumotori? That give-and-take, pushing and yielding is a great example of the principle of ju--letting the force build up, then defeating it by yielding. Sumo is also very strongly connected with children. It's a big sport for children in Japan, beginning around the local Shinto jinja. And there is a day when babies are handed over to sumotori to see which baby can cry the loudest.

Well, to me, the big question is "What is not natural about aiki?"

To us, it seems unnnatural because of the pajamas and the belts and hakama, the exotic samurai sword. But to the Japanese, all that stuff is as normal as Little League baseball is to Americans. There is nothing exotic about any of it. They grow up seeing it. We think it's unnatural because of the costumes, accoutrements, language and foreign customs.

But Mochizuki Sensei told me to think about whirlwinds and how water goes down a drain. Aiki, he told me, is related to those things. So I guess another reason aiki seems unnatural to us is that Western culture tells us that we are separate from natural phenomena such as windstorms, lightning and whirlpools.

Last, Sensei clearly defined aiki as "the ura of kiai." He explained that when someone attacks, he is using kiai in a straightforward way, which is the "omote" of his attack, a punch or kick or downward strike. Aiki is to attack the "ura" of his "omote" attack. So it is, essentially formless, or more precisely, it is tailored to the form of the attack--the ura of the omote of the attack. This means that we do not go force-on-force, but flow around the strength to its weakest point--the ura of his strength--where our own strength is most effective.

And that is exactly what babies do when they don't want to be held, or picked up, or diverted from what they are doing. You straightforwardly go to pull them by the hand, they twist and step to a position where your grip cannot move them and they can maintain their position. Maybe that means stepping behind you. Maybe it means sitting on the floor. The only reason it isn't far more powerful is the baby's lack or knowledge of joint locks and throws, as well as the low level of development of the voluntary nervous system. However, those patterns are written in our DNA and are expressed not accidentally, but because they work.

When pressed, David tends to repeat the conclusion instead of reexamining the premises. It seems to me that within his argument the words "natural" and "aiki" have been defined in such a way that they support his conclusion virtually by definition.

Well, I'm using "aiki" as a judan meijin uchi deshi of Morihei Ueshiba explained it to me, so I feel very secure in holding to it.

And by "natural," I mean "innate to human beings, written in our DNA."

So the thread goes around in circles; its persuasive to those who agree with it already, but it doesnt seem to have any traction with those who don't. For David: is there a way of restating the argument in a way that isn't just preachng to the choir?

How was that?

Thanks.

David

David Orange
11-17-2006, 09:34 PM
What is "natural" about aikido? Is a toddler movement really "aiki"?

I just saw this really interesting article on the Aikido Journal website:

http://www.roleystoneaiki.com/The%20Secret%20of%20Aiki.html

It reminds me of that saying "Masakatsu Agatsu," or "true winning is self winning," usually translated as "True victory is victory over oneself."

But now I am convinced that "Masakatsu Agatsu" means that "True victory is winning oneself" or "winning the right to be oneself."

And no one is more himself than an eighteen-month-old child.

Best wishes.

David

Michael Douglas
11-18-2006, 05:32 AM
I have to disagree with David again on these points ;
Who hasn't seen two babies pushing each other like sumotori? That give-and-take, pushing and yielding is a great example of the principle of ju--letting the force build up, then defeating it by yielding.
...
And that is exactly what babies do when they don't want to be held, or picked up, or diverted from what they are doing. You straightforwardly go to pull them by the hand, they twist and step to a position where your grip cannot move them and they can maintain their position. Maybe that means stepping behind you. Maybe it means sitting on the floor. The only reason it isn't far more powerful is the baby's lack or knowledge of joint locks and throws, as well as the low level of development of the voluntary nervous system.
OK first, those pushing babies.
Simply, the stronger or heavier or less unbalanced pushes the other over or they both fall, or they both topple to the side. This is because of their absolutely terrible balance, wobbly structure and weakness. They aren't conciously or subconciously letting force build up then yielding, they are just so bad at shoving that your deluded observation sees such 'ju' things there. Please don't be offended I'm not trying to insult you but I need to use the 'deluded' word to make myself clear.

Now this ; "they twist and step to a position where your grip cannot move them and they can maintain their position."
They pull, usually directly on your hold which is inefficient. They flail randomly until you (not me) might feel they are at a place where you cannot move tham and they can maintain their position : I say not true, even in the slightest.
Or they sit down on the floor. Genious (Sarcasm).
... The only reason it isn't far more powerful is the baby's lack or knowledge of joint locks and throws, as well as the low level of development of the voluntary nervous system.
Or maybe it isn't powerful because they are uncoordinated, weak, and have terrible balance. They just 'struggle' and are easily controlled by an adult or older child who is concentrating on the task.
When a child is seen to escape or be unmoved by an adult I see an adult who is distracted, exasperated, and actually unwilling to control that child by force ... for example by actually pulling or gripping hard. We are still talking babies and toddlers right?

ViciousCycle
11-18-2006, 07:42 AM
Anyway, the girl got a drink and started walking into the living room where we were. She tripped on the edge of carpet and fell down, but she just reached out her hands to absorb the impact.

Of course, trying to absorb the impact of a fall through one's hands is a good way for an adult to sprain or break their wrists. It is safer for children to do so because they have a shorter distance to fall and thus less time for the force of acceleration to take place. This is a case where the natural movement that the child does might be counterproductive for an adult.

Of course, a big part of aikido is refining and and reshaping natural movement. Think about how walking is natural, but an aikidoist reshapes their walking to allow walking to unbalance an attacker.

markwalsh
11-18-2006, 11:33 AM
Human being are born with less concrete "instincts" than all other organisms - this means we can learn more but are vulnerable as infants. If interested in this topic suggest studying the research as to what these instincts really are - less than you might think, more predispositions than stone commands.

The basic attack pattern of human animals is a fisted downwards blow to the front/top of head (kinda like 2001 Space Odyssey shomen) and can be seen in riots and infants worldwide (cross cultural comparison essential here). This instinct is very relevant to aikido as is the "flinch" response and the mechanics of how babies breath as compared to adults (we're all messed up basically)

Just facts and opinions here from a body orientated psychologist whose done some homework - not taking sides as both profoundly agree and also disagree with the "baby" aikido notion. Recommend reading Paul Linden and Mosh Feldenkrais as excellent starting points, and gald that people are observing kids too.

One thing I think we can all agree on is that we have a basic design and that aikido is about working with this model not in antagonism to it (driving with the brakes on).
Mark

DH
11-18-2006, 01:52 PM
Sorry David. You know I like ya. But this theory is just more of the same "natural movement" hypothosizing out there. Rediscovery because we forgot this great skill we used to have?.....nonsense.

The higher levels of what your body can do are simply not natural at all. In fact they are un-natural in nature and take years to perfect.
The body? Has no essential need for them and therefore no happenstance to have discovered them. Aside from the concept being poppycock...... Why would the body adopt them for movement in the human frame as a "natural need" in the first place, for a child-only to lose them? Did the child morph into a cucumber or a quadraped or a motor vehicle and not have the "natural need" anymore? No need to answer, as I said I already wrote it off anyway.

Percentage wise, how many men can do them, even among those who have searched half their lives to find them in the first place. A child not only cannot have "discovered" these un-natural movements or body methods- by a natural process of discovery- and then lost them-they cannot have learned them in the first place. It takes a greater level of concentration and mental control then they posses. And last it takes years of concentraion in interplay to develope them to a high degree with interaction.

Followng the examples offered in the videos and descriptions- if a person thinks "leading" in front of a push or "blending" by moving and "opening your door" is something akin to what aiki is, or is anything of a high order. I wish them well in their pursuits.

Cheers
Dan

Tim Fong
11-18-2006, 03:07 PM
David,
What would it take to prove your theory wrong? Can it be falsified? Is there any experiment that could prove it wrong? I'm curious.

David Orange
11-18-2006, 03:27 PM
OK first, those pushing babies.
Simply, the stronger or heavier or less unbalanced pushes the other over or they both fall, or they both topple to the side.

Well, that's really what happens in a sumo match.

This is because of their absolutely terrible balance, wobbly structure and weakness. They aren't conciously or subconciously letting force build up then yielding, they are just so bad at shoving that your deluded observation sees such 'ju' things there. Please don't be offended I'm not trying to insult you but I need to use the 'deluded' word to make myself clear.

No, I don't think you need to use that word. I understand your emotions. It's okay. You're flailing. However, babies do push and give way. Again, it's the "root".

They pull, usually directly on your hold which is inefficient. They flail randomly until you (not me) might feel they are at a place where you cannot move tham and they can maintain their position : I say not true, even in the slightest.

Well, you're very broadly generalizing in a way that tells me you have not really observed babies in action. Do you have children of your own? How much time have you spent really dealing with toddlers?

Or maybe it isn't powerful because they are uncoordinated, weak, and have terrible balance. They just 'struggle' and are easily controlled by an adult or older child who is concentrating on the task.

If they were your size, doing what they do, you would be hard-pressed to control them. Again, you generalize very broadly. Children are not really that terribly uncoordinated or weak. Their nervous systems are learning and developing coordination second-by-second. It is the time of the most spectacular rate of learning that a human ever experiences. You should observe chidren much more before you continue commenting.

When a child is seen to escape or be unmoved by an adult I see an adult who is distracted, exasperated, and actually unwilling to control that child by force ... for example by actually pulling or gripping hard. We are still talking babies and toddlers right?

And I'm only talking about a phenomenon about as long-lived as the spark you get when you touch a door knob. I don't think you have the perception to detect something that fine from your comments. For a very brief instant, babies are able to willfully escape. As I've said repeatedly, their parents are almost always able to catch them right away, which is why the babies themselves don't recognize and learn to capitalize on that kind of movement. If they did realize how powerful their evasions are, they could develop it as they grow and we soon would be unable to control them at all.

However, if we guide them gradually and creatively, we can still protect them, yet nurture that ability so that it can eventually become as powerful as the lightning that is the correlate of the spark.

And now a question for you: can a rabbit eat an oak tree?

David

Rupert Atkinson
11-18-2006, 03:32 PM
From another angle, I have been doing Aikido for over 25 years, and did Judo before that. In 2002, when my kid was about 2, he had a plastic sword and came at me with it while I was practising outside. Of course, I did not want to clobber him with my bokken, but he managed to hit me several times in a random kind of way. Since that moment I realised that my bokken training was useless. As as result of that, I took the bokken patterns to pieces and tried teaching/practising the basic parts with my students in Korea - with the aim of creating something more freestyle or realistic. I have no idea if what I am working with works since there is no ready battlefield nearby to test it, but it has been a lot of fun. The name I have adopted for my new creation is Assault and Battery :) But it is not really freestyle, rather, an attempt to reach freesyle.

My kid is my teacher!

David Orange
11-18-2006, 03:32 PM
Of course, trying to absorb the impact of a fall through one's hands is a good way for an adult to sprain or break their wrists....This is a case where the natural movement that the child does might be counterproductive for an adult.

But it's not the only way children fall. I've spent hundreds of hours watching children naturally at play and in general they are able to fall quite well. Considering some of the falls I've seen children take, it's a wonder anyone reaches adulthood. But most of us do. And that is a testament to the effectiveness of the reflexes we're born with.

Of course, a big part of aikido is refining and and reshaping natural movement. Think about how walking is natural, but an aikidoist reshapes their walking to allow walking to unbalance an attacker.

I would say the aikidoist does not actually reshape his walking, but changes where he walks. On the other hand, children walk to that place from a very early age. If we help them cultivate that kind of movement from the beginning, they won't forget it and won't later have to be "re-programmed" at long and frustrating pains.

Best to you.

David

David Orange
11-18-2006, 03:39 PM
Human being are born with less concrete "instincts" than all other organisms - this means we can learn more but are vulnerable as infants. If interested in this topic suggest studying the research as to what these instincts really are - less than you might think, more predispositions than stone commands.

True, but they are well oriented to survival, otherwise the death rate among humans, with such a weak infancy, would be 90% by age five, I would guess. But the vast majority of children grow to adulthood, despite all manner of obstacles and threats.

The basic attack pattern of human animals is a fisted downwards blow to the front/top of head (kinda like 2001 Space Odyssey shomen) and can be seen in riots and infants worldwide (cross cultural comparison essential here).

What Ellis Amdur called "simian-like overhead flailing."

Recommend reading Paul Linden and Mosh Feldenkrais as excellent starting points, and gald that people are observing kids too.

Most of my ideas were formed from reading extensively in Feldenkrais ("Body and Mature Behavior" and "The Potents Self" as well as others) after twenty years of aikido--five of those in Japan with a judan master--and applying that thinking to direct observation of children in action. And since you are aware of Feldenkrais, you will appreciate the tiny levels at which I am observing.

One thing I think we can all agree on is that we have a basic design and that aikido is about working with this model not in antagonism to it...

Mark, that says it extremely well. My point is that we have that model from the beginning and that we can cultivate aikido from the qualities of that model from early childhood straight through into old age.

Best wishes.

David

David Orange
11-18-2006, 03:58 PM
David,
What would it take to prove your theory wrong? Can it be falsified? Is there any experiment that could prove it wrong? I'm curious.

Tim,

I don't know what could prove it wrong. Aikido is a human art, developed from the qualities of human beings. Children are humans. The nervous system they have remains with us until death. Many of the reflexes they possess remain the most basic responses to situations in adulthood and training cannot replace them.

What training can do (as far as reflexes) is make us tend to over-ride some basic nature, as long as we continue to condition those other responses. But with any living creature (such as Pavlov's dogs), the response will fade away once the conditioning is stopped. And then what will you have? The creature will revert to the natural responses it had before training.

Also, there are multiple levels to the nervous system. The higher levels can be conditioned, but the lowest levels cannot. And those levels communicate with the brain via pathways with greater speed of transmission than the higher levels. If there is time to decide on a response, we can substitute conditioned responses for the primitive response. But if the stimulus is sudden and intense enough, the primitive response signals will reach the brain first and its reply will reach the muscles before there is any opportunity to respond differently.

If you slip on a banana peel, you will likely be able to catch yourself without falling, or fall in such a way that you aren't seriously hurt, all before you can think to respond in some other way. That is a reflex response. But if you consciously try to do something else while slipping, you will likely be injured. You might be so highly conditioned that you respond in a different way, but only if you have time for those conditioned reflexes to communicate with the brain and get a response.

Children are working very close to the innate level. They have not yet learned to over-ride impulses and they have not yet been conditioned to respond differently. When a child pulls, pushes, twists and turns, he is acting according to nature's directives inscribed in his most primitive nervous system. Not all of those responses are "aiki". Not all of them are necessarily "good". But all of the "aiki" responses are there as soon as the child learns to stand and walk. They are simply there in root form that can only be seen if you know where and how to look and if you look very carefully and constantly.

I grew up and trained in aikido for twenty years without ever imagining that aiki was directly based on child movement, so I was effectively convinced of that for most of my life. In the past ten years, I've only seen evidence that it is true and I've seen many examples that it is consistently true for all but the most damaged children.

On the other hand, there are experiments and tests that can be devised that can prove all but the most powerful aiki men incapable of expressing and using aiki, regardless of how long they've been training.

I am always open to anyone who can give me reasons and examples as to why this might not be true, but mostly what I get is sheer denial without any real reason.

Dan Harden just posted some views that I don't have time to addess at the moment. I will get back to that later tonight or tomorrow.

Thanks for the question. And please post any suggestions you might have for tests or whatever.

David

David Orange
11-18-2006, 04:01 PM
...when my kid was about 2, he had a plastic sword and came at me with it...he managed to hit me several times in a random kind of way...I took the bokken patterns to pieces and tried teaching/practising the basic parts...an attempt to reach freesyle.

My kid is my teacher!

Rupert, you're very close to what I'm talking about. Taking the patterns apart and looking very closely at the tiniest components. Then see if you can find even tinier parts of the tiniest parts.

Thanks!

David

ChrisMoses
11-18-2006, 04:08 PM
In 2002, when my kid was about 2, he had a plastic sword and came at me with it while I was practising outside. Of course, I did not want to clobber him with my bokken, but he managed to hit me several times in a random kind of way.

Here's where one of the problems exists as I see it. It wasn't that his attack was so good, it's that you didn't want to hurt him. Take that out of the equation and it probably would have been trivial. Same with the (often cited) idea that it's impossible to open a child's hand. BS, it's easy, but you run the risk of injuring their delicate features, so your brain steps in to limit the ammount of force that you're willing to use.

At a BBQ this summer I was pulling a bunch of flaming hot sausages off of the grill. I had a plate almost full and super-hot greasey tongs in the other hand. Just then one of the barely-upright ones made a mad dash, hands out, for the side of the grill. Along the way he evaided his mother, father and several other adults attempting to restrain him. I didn't have time to put everything down so before I could think I stuck my leg out between him and the grill. He ran into my shin, and I used my foot to coaxe him around 180 degrees. He couldn't evade me, he couldn't trip me and he was effectively powerless against my gentle direction. Why? Because I was using the principles of ju/aiki to affect his skeletal structure, concepts that he has no notion of. Those to me are the roots of ju/aiki, not the gross physical movements.

David, we're bipedal creatures, of course you're going to see similar movements between children and aikido. But again, to be a true root of aiki, I believe it has to be something unique to the methods and strategies of aikido. Beyond that, it's just human movement *and would be common to every single human physical endeavor. Good Aikido requires good basic body skills and awareness, but someone with those attributes does not in any way automatically personify aikido.

Finally, not everyone likes Feldenkrais, it is far from a universally accepted concept.

Michael Douglas
11-18-2006, 04:35 PM
...
No, I don't think you need to use that word. I understand your emotions. It's okay. You're flailing.
...
Well, you're very broadly generalizing in a way that tells me you have not really observed babies in action. Do you have children of your own? How much time have you spent really dealing with toddlers?

Again, you generalize very broadly. Children are not really that terribly uncoordinated or weak. You should observe chidren much more before you continue commenting.

And I'm only talking about a phenomenon about as long-lived as the spark you get when you touch a door knob. I don't think you have the perception to detect something that fine from your comments.
David

It seems you really want to patronise and insult me David.
Well, you are a deluded fool.
I have raised four children and observed them just fine, but not from the misguided point of view of trying to find techniques and principles of aikido in their movements, that'd just be silly.

How much time have you spent really dealing with toddlers?

TWELVE YEARS.

Rupert Atkinson
11-18-2006, 09:55 PM
Here's where one of the problems exists as I see it. It wasn't that his attack was so good, it's that you didn't want to hurt him. Take that out of the equation and it probably would have been trivial .

Yes, but in training in the dojo, I do not want to hurt you either ...

David Orange
11-18-2006, 11:29 PM
...one of the barely-upright ones made a mad dash, hands out, for the side of the grill. Along the way he evaided his mother, father and several other adults attempting to restrain him. I didn't have time to put everything down so before I could think I stuck my leg out between him and the grill. He ran into my shin, and I used my foot to coaxe him around 180 degrees. He couldn't evade me, he couldn't trip me and he was effectively powerless against my gentle direction. Why? Because I was using the principles of ju/aiki to affect his skeletal structure, concepts that he has no notion of. Those to me are the roots of ju/aiki, not the gross physical movements.

So how many years of ju-aiki training do you have? And you were the only one there who could stop that toddler? You have made my point for me, Chris. He had more ju-aiki than anyone there except someone who had been training for many years. He evaded all of them with ju and aiki. What you're talking about is only more highly developed ju and aiki.

David, we're bipedal creatures, of course you're going to see similar movements between children and aikido. But again, to be a true root of aiki, I believe it has to be something unique to the methods and strategies of aikido.

What about Mikel's first example does not show the unique methods and strategies of aikido? The girl did not conflict with the boy. She used circular motion, timed to his motion, in harmony with his direction and effort and fulfilled her own goal, which was not to throw him, but to keep control of the cell phone.

When we start practicing these things not as a support of daily life but to throw for throwing's sake, maybe that's what Morihei Ueshiba meant by "You are not doing aikido."

Finally, not everyone likes Feldenkrais, it is far from a universally accepted concept.

Which part is not accepted? There are some things he says that I can't accept, but in general, I find, through experience and observation, that most of what he says is true. And his Method has produced great results for thousands and thousands of people. But it comprises a very broad and subtle range of ideas. Which ones, in particular, do you reject?

And last, what about that interesting article on Aikido Journal, in which Morihei Ueshiba says "If you could understand the secret, you could do aikido at my level in three months"?

What secret does he mean by that?

http://www.roleystoneaiki.com/The%20Secret%20of%20Aiki.html

David

David Orange
11-18-2006, 11:45 PM
It seems you really want to patronise and insult me David.
Well, you are a deluded fool.

Let it out, Michael. I feel your pain. You are afraid that all the hard effort you've put into learning aikido is being mocked. Well, it's not. The art of aikido has my highest respect. And no effort is really wasted. But I am telling you that you could gain more with less and have a better relationship with your children as well.

You have directed all your efforts to replacing your natural reflexes with a set of responses that you seem to think were invented outside humanity, in an abstract, intellectual vacuum, like nuclear formulae, then pressure cooked into human beings.

I am telling you that aiki already resides in the more primitive part of your nervous system that cannot be conditioned and which will remain and express itself when your conditioning stops or when the stimulus is too sudden or intense. Your primitive responses will over-ride your training.

The method to make aiki sure and permanent is to build it on those primitive reflexes that will always be with you and which have gotten human beings through the millenia without special training. The trick is to find the particular reflexes on which aiki is based and understand aikido techniques deeply enough to train your techniques on those primitive reflexes.

I have raised four children and observed them just fine, but not from the misguided point of view of trying to find techniques and principles of aikido in their movements, that'd just be silly.

Unless it's true. Again, we're talking about very subtle moments in the behavior of children, mostly when they are "misbehaving" and you are either intent on forcing them to do what you want or calling for your wife to control them. From all your comments, you don't seem to respect childhood much at all, so I doubt you have really paid much attention to the subtle communications that are going on with "misbehavior" and resistance to your iron will. If you're that rigid with your training partners and don't observe them any better than that on the mat, it's no wonder that you don't really see the point of aiki.

TWELVE YEARS.

And how many years of aiki training, with whom, and where? And how much of the twelve years you've been dealing with children have you really not even been around them, but in a dojo trying to learn about nature? I submit that you have not really observed those children very closely at all.

And last, please comment on the Aikido Journal article in which Ueshiba O-Sensei says that if you caught the secret of aiki you could be doing aikido on his level in three months. And don't forget my question: can a rabbit eat an oak tree?

Best to you.

David

David Orange
11-18-2006, 11:46 PM
Yes, but in training in the dojo, I do not want to hurt you either ...

:D

ChrisMoses
11-18-2006, 11:48 PM
So how many years of ju-aiki training do you have? And you were the only one there who could stop that toddler? You have made my point for me, Chris. He had more ju-aiki than anyone there except someone who had been training for many years. He evaded all of them with ju and aiki. What you're talking about is only more highly developed ju and aiki.


Ju/aiki is not evasion. It's subtle direction and *control*. Period. Your definition of aiki seems to include any physical skill.

ChrisMoses
11-18-2006, 11:50 PM
Yes, but in training in the dojo, I do not want to hurt you either ...

Your scenario included weapons. Weapons confrontations (particularly swords which was the specific scenario) traditionally ended in one of three outcomes. A dies, B lives. A lives B dies. A and B die. That's it. By not wanting to do harm in a (theoretically) lethal scenario you forfeited the encounter.

David Orange
11-19-2006, 12:03 AM
Ju/aiki is not evasion. It's subtle direction and *control*. Period.

I don't agree. I think it means to walk your own way, regardless of who tries to stop you and make you do something else. And babies are excellent at that. And that is the root of aiki. It's when we turn it into a brand-name product that people lose sight of the purpose. We don't practice throwing and joint locking just to be throwing and locking joints. We practice them so that we can be free to be ourselves and not susceptible to bullies who would try to control us. We don't necessarily have to get tied up in their game. Ueshiba O-Sensei often did not do anything at all "to" his attackers. He just evaded and kept moving and they fell down from their own efforts. The baby you described could only be controlled by someone with more highly developed aiki than his own.

Your definition of aiki seems to include any physical skill.

Well, it has to have certain qualities. But where's all the terrible balance I keep hearing about in babies? That baby seems to have had great balance. He had speed, he was able to change direction and elude vigorous adult efforts to catch him. Sounds like a little O-Sensei. Could you do as well in a crowd of 18-foot-tall and 1,600 pound opponents, all trying to capture you?

David

David Orange
11-19-2006, 12:14 AM
Your scenario included weapons. Weapons confrontations (particularly swords which was the specific scenario) traditionally ended in one of three outcomes. A dies, B lives. A lives B dies. A and B die. That's it. By not wanting to do harm in a (theoretically) lethal scenario you forfeited the encounter.

So if you're teaching basics of sword to an eight-year-old, do you try to hurt him? Do you try to frighten him? Does he ever come back to learn more? You're dealing with a sprout. Don't you stake up your tomatoe plants, or do you expect them stand on their own against the wind when they're barely growing?

What Rupert learned was that even a child could hit him with a sword. Sobered him right up.

As I mentioned to Tim Fong earlier, there are many "tests" of the reality of aikido that most aikidoists, in my experience, will fail. One of those is a serious sword attack. I've seen lots of aikidoists who deliberately strike far wide of the defender and the whole group is seriously deluded about the quality of their aiki movements. They really freak if you cut straight and true--even if you make the allowances necessary not to hit them. But if you were trying to hit them, it would be easy, so their aikido is not real, is it? There's no substitute for the rubber sword, where that test is concerned. Wakes you right up and one must know that whatever is touched is cut completely off the body. So understand that when I talk about aiki, that's my standard. But you have to make allowances for beginners and you don't expect a baby to perform at the level of a trained adult. Sometimes, they're better! :D

David

David Orange
11-19-2006, 12:27 AM
Ju/aiki is not evasion. It's subtle direction and *control*. Period. Your definition of aiki seems to include any physical skill.

But I say that evasion is the first step of aiki--evasion while keeping one's own balance and ability to move at will.

If you can't keep the opponent from landing his force on you, then you can't effect direction and control. If you can't keep him from trapping you, you certainly can't then trap him.

So evasion is the root of aiki, and that's all I have ever said that children have: the root. But they have the whole root, viable and able to be cultivated. They can evade the efforts of much larger, stronger people, maintain their own position and be ready to move again at will. You just gave an excellent example of a toddler doing all that.

Once they can do that, they can learn to subtle direction and how to take control. But without that ability, you have nothing to build on.

Does that make more sense?

Best to you.

David

Rupert Atkinson
11-19-2006, 02:07 AM
Your scenario included weapons. Weapons confrontations (particularly swords which was the specific scenario) traditionally ended in one of three outcomes. A dies, B lives. A lives B dies. A and B die. That's it. By not wanting to do harm in a (theoretically) lethal scenario you forfeited the encounter.

So, if you are still alive, then you must be A. How many people have you killed lately?

Me, I just train in a dojo with a fake sword against mostly fake attacks. My kid is the only one who really tries to get me - and I am serious! To him, with his plastic sword, the glean in his eye is as real as it gets.

ChrisMoses
11-19-2006, 10:36 AM
So, if you are still alive, then you must be A. How many people have you killed lately?

Me, I just train in a dojo with a fake sword against mostly fake attacks. My kid is the only one who really tries to get me - and I am serious! To him, with his plastic sword, the glean in his eye is as real as it gets.

Look, I'm supposing that you weren't trying to hit your kid, but only trying to block his attacks. If you take away the ability to attack and only defend, you are lost already. I would imagine that given the same scenario but with a teenager (who supposedly whould have already been programmed away from the natural aiki movements of his infancy) it would be *more* difficult not less. That's what I'm getting at. Even though we train in dojos, we must struggle to make the encounter as real as possible, that means both parties having the intellectual maturity to enter into a very dangerous headspace and cooperate in an honest manner.

ChrisMoses
11-19-2006, 10:40 AM
But I say that evasion is the first step of aiki--evasion while keeping one's own balance and ability to move at will.

If you can't keep the opponent from landing his force on you, then you can't effect direction and control. If you can't keep him from trapping you, you certainly can't then trap him.

So evasion is the root of aiki, and that's all I have ever said that children have: the root. But they have the whole root, viable and able to be cultivated. They can evade the efforts of much larger, stronger people, maintain their own position and be ready to move again at will. You just gave an excellent example of a toddler doing all that.

Once they can do that, they can learn to subtle direction and how to take control. But without that ability, you have nothing to build on.

Does that make more sense?

Best to you.

David

Thanks David. In my mind this is the first useful post of this thread, because now we can understand what you consider to be the root of aiki movement. I now fully understand why we disagree so completely. I totally and utterly disagree with that understanding of what the 'root' nature of aiki is. Therefore it would follow that we would be in disagreement.

Here's something to ponder:
-If the goal of aikido's movements is to defeat the opponent at the moment of contact, how is this defeat manifest if one has merely evaded the initial attack and the attacker is free to launch another attack?

DH
11-19-2006, 11:24 AM
I don't think we really have anything in common as far as movement and understanding of Aiki. Evasion of that order isn't Aiki in my view. It is of the lowest order and nothing more than gross motor movement. I guess with practice if you can lead someone offerng an attack then it is better but still gross motor movement.
I see where you are coming from since I used to think that evasive movement stuff had merit years ago.
So Dave, as a motion experiment....
Lets say you grab me and start, try to fit in for O' Goshi.
Lets say you have my arm and gi.
Version one
a. I don't move my feet
b. I don't move my arms
c, you can't move at all

Version two
a. I don't move my feet
b. I don't move my arms
c, You get in to the point where you start to fit in with your feet and hip
d. you lock yourself up and collapse at my feet or pop yourself off.

1. What did I do?
2. Since you can't move or control your own body where does Aiki fit in?
3. Since it is of a higher order and far more controlling- is it superior?
4. Where did evasion happen
5. What child knows this and can do it? I know of few men who actually train to do it who can with any consistency.

Cheers
Dan

DH
11-19-2006, 11:52 AM
Sorry I couldn't edit in.
What I was clearly defining and discounting is that none of what I outlined is or ever was "natural movement." If someones goals were higher level martial arts, then the pursuit of natural movement is a waste of a decade or two.

Cheers anyway bud
Dan

David Orange
11-19-2006, 12:05 PM
My kid is the only one who really tries to get me - and I am serious! To him, with his plastic sword, the glean in his eye is as real as it gets.

And that is kiai in a baby. It should be no stretch for anyone to recognize that toddlers have kiai. Since aiki is only the ura of kiai, and "every front has a back," logically, toddlers cannot but have aiki.

That's the grape juice from which the wine of aiki is aged.

Thanks.

David

David Orange
11-19-2006, 12:48 PM
Here's something to ponder:
-If the goal of aikido's movements is to defeat the opponent at the moment of contact, how is this defeat manifest if one has merely evaded the initial attack and the attacker is free to launch another attack?

The point you are missing is that you are talking about the goal and I am talking about the root. You're talking the roofbeam and I am talking about the footing. You're talking aged wine and I am talking grape juice before yeast has even been added.

Talking about the "goal," let's look in terms of sword attacks. If one does not somehow evade the attack, he is dead and the attacker will not need to launch another attack.

At the root, evasion is the primary thing but what surprised me in my observation was that children were evading in ways like I had learned in aikido--turning, slipping past the power of the adult, maintaining posture, ending where they were strong and the adult was weak.

In the intermediate range, while developing combat aiki, I have seen people such as Kondo sensei, doing aiki technique without tai sabaki. He stood in place, parried the overhead strike and wrapped it into a throw that brought the attacker into a pin at his feet. But then we see O-Sensei weaving among his attackers in randori with many of them falling because he is not where they are striking.

So there are many ways to evade, including entering before the attack can be fully formed. But his does not obliviate the fact that some of aiki uses evasion through tai sabaki.

The fact that children's aiki movements are rudimentary, brief and usually quickly overcome by people three times their size and probably nine times their weight should not prevent anyone's seeing that it was, nonetheless, there for a moment, like a spark jumping from the doorknob to your finger. If you look closely enough, like Franklin, you will see that that tiny spark looks exactly like lightning and shares its fundamental nature.

Best to you.

David

Comments on O-Sensei's article? Can a rabbit eat an oak tree?

ChrisMoses
11-19-2006, 01:18 PM
The point you are missing is that you are talking about the goal and I am talking about the root. You're talking the roofbeam and I am talking about the footing. You're talking aged wine and I am talking grape juice before yeast has even been added.

Talking about the "goal," let's look in terms of sword attacks. If one does not somehow evade the attack, he is dead and the attacker will not need to launch another attack.

[snip]

Comments on O-Sensei's article? Can a rabbit eat an oak tree?

Again, you're assuming we're taling about the same thing. We're not. Any system which presupposes that evasion or avoidance is the root of aiki isn't what I'm talking about. Irimi could be considered the fundamental priciple of aiki. This is the counterintuitive aspect of aikido strategy, that I'm safest by moving into an attack than away from it. You're giving examples of something else which I don't consider to be aikido.

I don't feel like commenting on the article. I'm not interested in rabbits and oak trees.

If you have the manual translated as "Budo Training in Aikido" would you care to comment on the total lack of avoidance or evasion as a strategy, but rather the constant emphasis on an overpowering attack or at least irimi?

David Orange
11-19-2006, 01:27 PM
The higher levels of what your body can do are simply not natural at all. In fact they are un-natural in nature and take years to perfect.

Dan, I used to believe that about aiki. But the fact is, if something really is "un-natural" for human beings, we cannot do it at all without some kind of mechanical support. Flying is un-natural for humans. Natural for birds, but humans need a flying machine to enable us. Breathing underwater is unnatural for humans. It's natural for fish, but humans require self-contained underwater breathing apparati or compressed air tubes to send air down to us below the surface of the waves.

But anything that can be done by the human body without mechanical aid and without causing long-term damamge, but actually improving health and well-being must, by definition, be "natural".

The body? Has no essential need for them and therefore no happenstance to have discovered them.

Well, how were these skills discovered, then? Were they conceived intellectually, in abstract thinking, then forced unnaturally on the body? My point is that we can only cultivate from the body things that the body is naturally capable of doing. Some of those things can be destructive, such as staying awake for days at a time or having sex with everything that moves. They are a distortion of nature. Likewise, some kinds of excessive conditioning by striking objects with the body, or certain types of breathing methods. I think you will agree that improperly done chi gung can destroy the practitioner's health. I have heard, in fact, that people who practice san chin kata tend to die younger than others. Haven't researched that, but it's always been said that improper training in internal arts can be deleterious to the health.

If you're doing a kind of training that is not destructive to the health and can be done without mechanical aids, then the most I will agree to is that it is a highly counter-intuitive cultivation of some fine skills of the body. As I've referred to wine in many posts, I'll say again that grapes sometimes ferment and produce alcohol in nature, but to produce large volumes of high-quality alcohol and keep it from spoiling, we have to go through a very careful process. Still, that does not, at any point, conflict with nature or go outside the processes of nature. It simply refines them to a very pronounced level, resulting in something not likely to be found in pure nature. Still, the grape on the vine is the source of it.

Why would the body adopt them for movement in the human frame as a "natural need" in the first place, for a child-only to lose them? Did the child morph into a cucumber or a quadraped or a motor vehicle and not have the "natural need" anymore?

The body does not "adopt" the roots of aiki. They are innate. The child loses them because he loses many aspects of himself due to social conditioning. His parents always overcome his rudimentary aiki, so before he can even recognize it as a potential method, he learns that size and strength are superior and he gives up subtle methods to get bigger and stronger. And, to a large degree, he loses the ability to focus on anything except what he's told to focus on, to think about anything but what he's told to think about. But if he becomes big and strong, but has no ability to think for himself because social pressure has made him emotionally afraid, then how is he better off? In other words, the child is pressured far beyond his ability to resist, resulting in the belief that size and strength and the group opinion are more important than individual thinking and subtlety.

Percentage wise, how many men can do them, even among those who have searched half their lives to find them in the first place. A child not only cannot have "discovered" these un-natural movements or body methods- by a natural process of discovery- and then lost them-they cannot have learned them in the first place.

Well, again, children do not "discover" the methods of aiki. They use them because their nervous systems contain them innately. They use them because the feel the opportunity to escape into the weak point of greater strength and they apply their whole being to the effort. What about Mikel Hamer's first illustration of the girl with the cell phone? I believe that Morihei Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei would both agree that what she did was natural aikido.

It takes a greater level of concentration and mental control then they posses. And last it takes years of concentraion in interplay to develope them to a high degree with interaction.

Well, again, you're talking ultimate development--not root. If it's innate to the nervous system, but very subtle, most people will lose it because social pressure crushes their ability to perceive very fine distinctions.

Followng the examples offered in the videos and descriptions- if a person thinks "leading" in front of a push or "blending" by moving and "opening your door" is something akin to what aiki is, or is anything of a high order. I wish them well in their pursuits.

Dan, I'm just not sure what it is that yo do. I don't think it's primarily aiki. What you do could be applied to any martial art, but it does not, in itself, define any of them.

What I mean about aikido is a lifetime of experience of ordinary people learning to move in harmony with others to overcome their strength and prevent the other person from dominating them.

Morihei Ueshiba began his martial arts training because he witnessed his father's being beaten by a group of people who disliked his political views. Many women began training because they didn't want to be raped. I began because I had always been small and non-atletic and had been bullied a lot by people who were stronger and more athletic.

Now let me recount some experiences. A girlfriend of mine joined the aikido class I attended for a few months. One night a guy grabbed her in a bear hug from behind. She took one step forward and bowed, sending the guy face first into the sidewalk, leaving her able to stand up and laugh at him.

A young lady trained for a few months in my class in the early eighties before moving to New York City. On two different occasions, she was "attacked" by two men at a time and in both cases, she dispatched both attackers with a single move--each time a move no one had ever taught her, but which was spontaneous to the situation and totall effective at getting rid of both guys.

A number of times, I have faced two people at once and stopped the attackers without having to fight them and without having to give up anything, including my position and my dignity. I didn't change anything for them and I didn't have to hurt any of them. In fact, in all my serious encounters since beginning martial arts, I've only had to touch someone one time.

Which brings us to another aspect of aiki--recognizing the opponent's intentions and disuading him with a single glance--as Sokaku Takeda said, "The art of aiki is to overcome the opponent mentally, at a glance, and win without fighting."

I have been very successful at that many times since beginning aikido training in 1975.

All this is to say that, along with my time in Japan as uchi deshi, I am perfectly satisfied with what I have gotten from aikido, what it has done for me, what it has done for my students and what I am able to do with it now. If I have missed anything that you have learned, it has not meant that my aikido has not worked every bit as well as I have ever hoped for. So I think you're talking about something other than aiki in these things you describe.

Not that I discount what you do. In fact, I'm still hoping to meet up with you one of these days and experience the things you are talking about. But I have had perfectly fine results from the aikido I have learned over the past 31 years and I have observe children able to do things that could easily be trained into advanced aikido if anyone recognized it in them and knew how to train it.

Hope we can get together sooner rather than later.

Best wishes.

David

David Orange
11-19-2006, 01:34 PM
Irimi could be considered the fundamental priciple of aiki. This is the counterintuitive aspect of aikido strategy, that I'm safest by moving into an attack than away from it. You're giving examples of something else which I don't consider to be aikido.

In the first baby aikido video, the baby uses irimi tenkan to get into position for sankyo.

I don't feel like commenting on the article. I'm not interested in rabbits and oak trees.

Well, maybe you don't consider Morihei Ueshiba's ideas on aiki to be relevant, but even students of Sokaku Takeda had to grudgingly admit that he was outstanding in his aiki ability. Did you read the article?

The question on rabbits is directly relevant to your belief that children can't do aiki.

If you have the manual translated as "Budo Training in Aikido" would you care to comment on the total lack of avoidance or evasion as a strategy, but rather the constant emphasis on an overpowering attack or at least irimi?

As I said, I've seen Kondo Sensei demonstrate standing in a spot, parrying the incoming shomen uchi and throwing the attacker with that. And as I said, the baby used irimi to enter into position for sankyo.

But could you use such pure-strength tactics against someone three times your own size? When the strength and size are so overwhelming, no one can. Evasion and turning are essential aiki in that circumstance.

David

ChrisMoses
11-19-2006, 02:11 PM
But could you use such pure-strength tactics against someone three times your own size? When the strength and size are so overwhelming, no one can. Evasion and turning are essential aiki in that circumstance.

David

This last post has demonstrated to me at least that you have no real concept of how irimi works. I'm not talking about strength on strength, neither is Dan. Bye now.

Tim Fong
11-19-2006, 02:51 PM
David,

Do you remember the "pushout" exercise/videos that Rob posted a while back? You can use that type of movement to stop someone much larger than yourself, and off balance them without moving your feet. You should give it a shot. It's not "technique" the way you think about it, as vectoring and angles through large externally visible movement. It's more about technique that is developed to learn how to move _inside_ the body.

David Orange
11-19-2006, 06:44 PM
David,

Do you remember the "pushout" exercise/videos that Rob posted a while back? You can use that type of movement to stop someone much larger than yourself, and off balance them without moving your feet. You should give it a shot. It's not "technique" the way you think about it, as vectoring and angles through large externally visible movement. It's more about technique that is developed to learn how to move _inside_ the body.

Tim, I've actually tried that a bit. It seems interesting, in light of some of the explanations I've read--yours in particular.

Actually, I have had great success moving people much larger than myself and being unmoveable to them with just the aikido training. Recently, a large, young football player for my university team came by and wanted to try aikido, so I showed him the fundamentals.

Among other things, I had him grab my arm with both hands, then pressed down and curled in and up. It's one of the basic kokyu ho in Saito's book, "Aikido: It's Heart and Appearance." The football player, much larger and heavier than I, and a weight trainer used to muscling people around, came off his balance and didn't move me, even though I was standing in a shoulder-width stance.

I didn't try the push-out exercise with him as I don't really know it that well, but I was able to move him around from a shoulder-width stance without stepping and without working hard. He was pretty impressed and my regular training partner was impressed. He said it was interesting to see me do those things to someone else. He'd felt them many times, but had never seen what it looked like when I did it to someone else.

After that, I did two-man seizing with one of them on each arm. I moved both of them around easily.

So while I don't consider myself on Dan's level, I'm not a stranger to moving bigger, stronger people around and neutralizing their strength.

I do know that you can uproot force by entering, but there may be a limit to this. Anyway, if I can't overcome their force, I can change directions and move them in another way.

Second, if the attack is with a sword, you must evade the attack, no matter how you slice it. There is no way to overcome a sword cut or thrust but by evading it and not being in its path.

And third, if the attacker is Akebono, I wonder how well Chris or Dan or any of the other internal adherents would do? I think they would be doing well to hold up as smartly as the baby. So it's a relative term. Chris gave examples of the baby evading all those adults who had to be three times his height and nine times his weight. And while that may not have illustrated all the principles of aiki and none at the height of the potential development, I maintain that it did illustrate important root qualities of aiki.

Thanks,

David

David Orange
11-19-2006, 06:50 PM
This last post has demonstrated to me at least that you have no real concept of how irimi works. I'm not talking about strength on strength, neither is Dan. Bye now.

Yes, Chris, I do have practical experience in irimi. That is the only way to deal with a sword attack and a serious sword attack will tell you how real your irimi is. However, that is only one of the omote forms of the ura of kiai. There are also ura forms of aiki. Irimi has an ura form as well as the omote. The baby illustrated elements of that in his entry for sankyo and Morihei Ueshiba demonstrated many other forms of aiki than irimi. So that is neither the only form of aiki, nor the only root.

Best to you.

David

David Orange
11-19-2006, 06:52 PM
I'm not talking about strength on strength, neither is Dan. Bye now.

Well, I know you're not, but can you demonstrate these powers on the current grand yokozuna of sumo? Can you neutralize Akebono?

David

Tim Fong
11-19-2006, 07:05 PM
David,
Funny you should mention Akebono. Here is video of him with a Chen taiji practioner:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpdzhYjx_zw&eurl=

It isn't a free fight, but it does show Akebono attempting to push the Chen guy off his base... and yeah, the Chen guy has to put a leg back.

Without the internal skills though, I think, he would have gone flying.

DH
11-19-2006, 07:41 PM
So I think you're talking about something other than aiki in these things you describe.

Not that I discount what you do. In fact, I'm still hoping to meet up with you one of these days and experience the things you are talking about. But I have had perfectly fine results from the aikido I have learned over the past 31 years and I have observe children able to do things that could easily be trained into advanced aikido if anyone recognized it in them and knew how to train it.

Hope we can get together sooner rather than later.

Best wishes.

David

Hi Dave
First Up I appreciate the time it took you to put together such a long reply. Even though we completely disagree it just goes to show it can be done and still remain friends eh? To completely disagree but do so with respect is something I wish more folks could manage.

Man O man do I think you're wrong though :D
First up what you call Aiki.... I call basic jujutsu or Judo. It isn't aiki to me at all. Pushing on a proverbial door and having someone pull it open is no bid deal. It is neither high level or anything I'd want to do and call a high level anything.... anytime soon.
So for you to identify that and go "Oooohh look look, Aiki in a child" Is to me just saying "See a child can do my art." Its not something I'd be bragging about anytime soon. So saying to me (your quote) " So I think you're talking about something other than aiki in these things you describe." Is really just another way of you saying the equivilent of: Dan this is all I know of what Aiki is. Since I don't know about, and haven't felt anything more profound- its all I can relate it to."

Again, these skills are of a higher order. They have less to do with the other guy and more to do with ourselves. That, is the real key. The rest of the blending stuff is nonsense if you don't develop your self first.And there are far more efficient ways to move then that stuff.These skills need to be explored where ever we may find them. Others are finally contributing and describing what they are doing and/or others in Aikodo finally getting out and experiencing them: Ledyard, Murray, Holz, Moses, Fong, Hassenpflug, and a few others in Aikido who choose to be silent and remain behind the scenes are reporting what they have found. In fact, don't you find it even in the least bit odd, or strange, that no one.....not one, has reported back that these skills are baloney? Rather the opposite is true, they are reporting back in a consistent voice. How'd that happen? And it appears they report these skills are profound and essential to what aiki really is. That you do not see it or can even fathom it as being Aiki is understandable.

As Ellis said "Hidden in plain site"
As Mark Murray said To borrow a phrase from Amdur, it really is hidden in plain sight. But you'd need to be a genius to actually know how to read it and pick up the internal stuff on your own.
And this goes to what is being taught. It is indeed what Ueshiba learned from Takeda in the first place. But you cannot learn in a vaccuum. You mentioned Ueshiba's quote about people who get it ....can do what he does in months. Takeda said the same thing. So did Sagawa.
So .......where are the people doing it? If it was supposedly taught?

I'd not settle for anything less in my life. I'd be out searching and finding them wherever I could.

Cheers
Dan

David Orange
11-19-2006, 07:43 PM
It isn't a free fight, but it does show Akebono attempting to push the Chen guy off his base... and yeah, the Chen guy has to put a leg back.

Without the internal skills though, I think, he would have gone flying.

Sure. That's good for a brief demo. And I don't present Akebono as the ultimate in anything, especially now that he's quite a while out of the ring. I just don't know how the top champions are anymore since I left Japan.

However, how would you do against Akebono? How do you suppose Chris or Dan would do?

I know people who can't do what I can do and I know plenty of people who can do more than I. But my aikido has never failed me when it counted and there's more to it than physical technique, including the whole realm of "overcome the opponent mentally, at a glance," in which no touch is even necessary. That's where I have always won when the situation was really serious. But I wouldn't expect it to work on the current sumo champion.

And there is still the matter of the sword. The only way to "beat" the sword is to not be there when it arrives. And whether you do that with irimi or tenkan or whatever method, there must be an element of evasion to it.

Still, even if you successfully evade the sword with irimi, if the guy is still too powerful (internally, externally or any mixture of the two), you can't effect him and he will be able to attack again (in reference to Chris' earlier statement).

Thanks for the clip.

David

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-19-2006, 07:52 PM
This last post has demonstrated to me at least that you have no real concept of how irimi works. I'm not talking about strength on strength, neither is Dan. Bye now.

Since there are limits to everything, even special and secret training, clearly there would be a limit, as Dan has also pointed out to dispel notions of invincibility - I remember Minoru Akuzawa saying after having some really big guy (twice his weight, lterally) pushing against him (Ark has his feet parallel, and his body arches back while he maintains his balance at his own limits) that he thinks at his level probably his training lets him face people up to twice his weight. Any more than that and he'd be overpowered (if he did not move, that is). So that means that the special training can make up for, give or take, one more times one's own weight against a TRAINED opponent (trained to a high level in boxing and some amount of grappling, in this case). I would say most aikido people do not qualify as trained in this sense, so a small guy could surprise people more than twice his own weight.

DH
11-19-2006, 07:55 PM
Dave it isn't about fighting skills, never was. That's a different topic. Fun, but different topic all together
Stick to the skills themselves.

Dan

Mike Sigman
11-19-2006, 08:05 PM
David,
Funny you should mention Akebono. Here is video of him with a Chen taiji practioner:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpdzhYjx_zw&eurl=

It isn't a free fight, but it does show Akebono attempting to push the Chen guy off his base... and yeah, the Chen guy has to put a leg back.

Without the internal skills though, I think, he would have gone flying.Hi Tim:

I think that there has to be a distinction between "rooting" and "neutralization". Grounding an incoming force is more considered "rooting".

I had an interesting thought last weekend when I worked-out with a couple of fairly large guys. I'd be willing to be that I could teach them enough in one weekend to defeat anyone who thinks they can "neutralize", etc., someone just because they've had success in doing it with someone who is clueless about jin. I.e., it's easy to do tricks against the uninitiated, but I fear that these tricks against the uninitiated can become somewhat of a goal in themselves. Any honest person who does these kinds of tricks should recognize how tenuous the edge can be and not get too carried away with the fantasy of what they can do to "others". I've seen some pretty embarrassing moments happen to some of these people in the past. ;)

Regards,

Mike

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-19-2006, 08:11 PM
I thought I'd add something here quickly, after a few days of thought: I had a chance to train VERY briefly with a man who took ukemi from O-Sensei, felt Kisshomaru Ueshiba in training, trained with Morihiro Saito for many years until his passing, and was Koichi Tohei's chief uke. From the stories I'd imagined him over 6 foot tall and 200 lbs, but no, a slight man with soft hands and arms, thinnish, and very friendly. And yes, he could do. In brief, he extended his hands (body leaning back if needed, back straight) and I could no longer feel where his strength was (i.e., his arms, shoulders, upper body were invisible tactile-wise). Fingers move first, he said, and it worked that way (he giving me feedback as I tried). The extension is much more than just sticking arms out though, but he emphasizes that for him he has to stretch out the arms, he cannot do aikido with arms that are not extended (has to do with breath power). Of course I had questions, so...when pressured up close, he would drop his body (while stretching up) without actually dropping his limbs. He does not apparently do any solo exercises, except for standing and breathing LOL. So it's all there. He also said the new Ki Society does not train like Tohei used to. He himself received extra training to show off aikido. He also said Tohei was the worst to take ukemi from, because you could not feel where his strength was coming from...suddenly BOOM and you were flying.

Well, so, the next night I trained with Minoru Akuzawa in Tokyo. Comparison: Ark does generate power form any position, not necessarily extended. I would say Ark does not feel the same, so there is a difference as far as I ma concerned, but not I think at a basic level, more at the power release level, in the choice of doing the transfer to the partner. Ark's aiki-age is not lifting practice, the upward motion is not relevant at all, according to him. The importance is a training of self-control wrt connection of elbow, hip, knee and the inner-body feeling. Thus, the extension, if you will, is not visible externally but takes place internally. I am not sure, but maybe the aikido of Tohei emphasizes one type of extension (which covers all 6 directions) with the breath prevalent, while Ark's training covers a different application of extension which is more a matter of flow/transfer of power across the body based less prevalently on breath. I cannot describe this yet though, nor do it, so maybe I am entirely wrong here. Maybe Rob or others who train with Ark can shed light on that point...

David Orange
11-19-2006, 08:56 PM
Hi Dave
First Up I appreciate the time it took you to put together such a long reply. Even though we completely disagree it just goes to show it can be done and still remain friends eh? To completely disagree but do so with respect is something I wish more folks could manage.

Absolutely, and I do want to meet up with you and see what you're doing. However, as I've said, from the descriptions, it sound much more like what I've experienced from Chinese martial artists than from any Japanese artist I've ever met. (and very few Chinese stylists, for that matter).

First up what you call Aiki.... I call basic jujutsu or Judo. It isn't aiki to me at all.

Well, Minoru Mochizuki called it aiki and he was a long, close friend of Morihei Ueshiba. Also, while I was in Japan, the daito ryu published a commemorative magazine to go along with a demonstration. Mochizuki Sensei was featured prominently in that magazine. The daito ryu listed him as one of about eight very prominent masters. I'll dig that magazine up and give some more detail later. Anyway, I don't know what you're doing but I do know what he did and how he explained to me, in detail, what the essence of aiki is and I'm not concerned that you think I don't understand what it is. I'm also not angry or offended. I'm challenged, but not to re-think what aiki really is--only to learn more about what you are doing.

When I was living at the yoseikan, there were two other uchi deshi there, one a yoga man who had been uchi deshi at a Japanese yoga dojo (that's what they called it). The master of the system was a good friend of Mochizuki Sensei's and Sensei used to go and give little seminars to the students at the yoga school. This one guy was young, very strong, very limber and had developed a lot of internal skills through yoga. He came to live with Mochizuki Sensei and was able to advance very quickly.

The other uchi deshi was a skinny Japanese fellow who was a student of shiatsu. He was on track to be a shiatsuist, maybe a seikotsu-in. He used to show me things in magazines about guys who specialized in hara development and he talked about the amazing feats they were able to do. But while we understood hara to be the center of all Japanese arts, this kind of hara training was understood to be a separate field of specialization. Doing it didn't make them masters of aiki but doing full-out aikido and judo also would not take you to the level of hara mastery those guys had.

Still, as I said in an earlier post, I've been able to move around some pretty big and strong men in my time and aikido has never failed me. I don't need it to be any more than it has been to me.

Still, I am intrigued by what you are doing and I'm interested in learning more about it, specifically from you because I've been able to deal with you better on an intellectual basis than with some others. So again, looking forward to meeting.

So for you to identify that and go "Oooohh look look, Aiki in a child" Is to me just saying "See a child can do my art." Its not something I'd be bragging about anytime soon.

Well, I don't say a child can do my art. I do say that all the martial arts in the world are based on human nervous system qualities that all healthy children manifest from the time they can stand up and walk. I can illustrate the roots of karate and judo in child movement just as well as I can show aiki. It doesn't reduce the art to say that children already have the "roots" of it. But it does cue me to the fact that there is a better way to train the responses than we see in most martial arts schools.

Really, Mr. Miyagi, in The Karate Kid, was showing the same idea in the way he trained Daniel without the boy's realizing it. When that movie first came out, I thought that the polish and snap and sharpness were the important parts and I ridiculed the movie for showing Daniel progressing to a high level in a mere six months. Now I realize that that movie really did show a lot of the truth of karate (though I still don't put any stock in that standing on one leg kick).

So saying to me (your quote)
" So I think you're talking about something other than aiki in these things you describe." Is really just another way of you saying the equivilent of: Dan this is all I know of what Aiki is. Since I don't know about, and haven't felt anything more profound- its all I can relate it to."

Well, considering that Mochizuki Sensei showed me some pretty profound things and explained a lot of it in tiny detail, I don't feel bad about that and I still don't think that what you're talking about is essentially aiki. It sounds like those skills would make anyone better at whatever art they were doing, including tai chi and judo, aikido, karate, xing yi or whatever. But it won't necessarily make one better at facing a sword.

Again, these skills are of a higher order. They have less to do with the other guy and more to do with ourselves.

I won't deny that I could use some of that. A lot.

The rest of the blending stuff is nonsense if you don't develop your self first.And there are far more efficient ways to move then that stuff.

Maybe so, but that stuff has served me very well for the past thirty years. Birmingham is currently rated #6 in the most violent cities in the US. I've been all over this town and in lots of places I should never have gone. The aikido I learned through yoseikan has gotten me through some very bad encounters, let me recognize traps before I walked into them, some others after I had walked into them but before they could be sprung. Whatever the violent types needed to see, my aikido training had supplied it for me.

Well, really, like Ueshiba, I attribute most of that to God's mercy, but part of that mercy was that He made me a direct student of Minoru Mochizuki. And, frankly, I believe that part of it is in letting me get to know you.

These skills need to be explored where ever we may find them. Others are finally contributing and describing what they are doing and/or others in Aikodo finally getting out and experiencing them: Ledyard, Murray, Holz, Moses, Fong, Hassenpflug, and a few others in Aikido who choose to be silent and remain behind the scenes are reporting what they have found. In fact, don't you find it even in the least bit odd, or strange, that no one.....not one, has reported back that these skills are baloney? Rather the opposite is true, they are reporting back in a consistent voice.

I don't find it odd or strange at all. I believe you can do what you say. But I also believe that, as you admit that you're still discovering a lot about it (as Mike Sigman also admits), you're having to draw a lot of conclusions and I don't think these are always correct. I think what you're doing would be a big help to aikido, but good aikido training will give people a tremendous amount of benefit--almost superhuman abilities--without the specific training you advocate. Because you don't claim that it makes you infinitely undefeatable, do you? Do you suppose you could neutralize Akebono? Or the current #1 yokozuna in Japanese sumo? It is, after all, all relative.

...it appears they report these skills are profound and essential to what aiki really is. That you do not see it or can even fathom it as being Aiki is understandable.

I can accept that the skills are profound, just not that they are essential to what aiki really is. Either that or I have developed a lot of those skills despite many people's claims that I have not. I can move people bigger and stronger than myself with the skills I learned in yoseikan. I have stopped many attacks by unbalancing the intended attacker mentally and stopping his ability to organize himself to attack. I did live and train and actually taught some in Japan with a judan meijin and rolled regularly with his top shihan.

In fact, I think the truth is that aikido (yoseikan, at least), judo and jujutsu, do develop those skills to some degree. What you're describing appears to be just a more intensive specialization in that particular area of development.

And this goes to what is being taught. It is indeed what Ueshiba learned from Takeda in the first place. But you cannot learn in a vaccuum. You mentioned Ueshiba's quote about people who get it ....can do what he does in months. Takeda said the same thing. So did Sagawa.
So .......where are the people doing it? If it was supposedly taught?

Well, he did tell outright in that article what the secret is. And it is a frame of mind. A frame of mind which babies, by the way, possess in spades.

I'd not settle for anything less in my life. I'd be out searching and finding them wherever I could.

Well, Dan, that's exactly what I did when I was young--when everyone else I knew was developing a career and building retirement accounts. And after twenty years of that, I found myself in Japan with a lot of "real life" problems that martial arts could not solve for me. I had a lot of trouble when I came back from Japan and it went downhill from there until 2000, when I got into my current job. In the past six years I've had to develop a career where people at my age were retired from twenty years in the military or had law degrees or Master degrees and some real incomes. I had my pen, my sword and a family to support.

Now, at age 51, I'm a project coordinator in epidemiology and a study coordinator in an international biostatistics study. I can't pour more into traveling around when I want to--not to mention getting the time off work. I appreciate what I have and I'm interested in learning more, but that's really less important than meeting my house note and building my retirement fund. So I hope you will remain favorably disposed toward me until I can catch up with you and see first-hand what you do.

Best to you.

David

David Orange
11-19-2006, 09:02 PM
... I remember Minoru Akuzawa saying...that he thinks at his level probably his training lets him face people up to twice his weight. Any more than that and he'd be overpowered (if he did not move, that is). So that means that the special training can make up for, give or take, one more times one's own weight against a TRAINED opponent...

Gernot, that's a lot of what I'm getting at, too. Once it goes so far, then you have no choice but to move. And then it becomes a matter of precisely how you move. And when the attacker has a sword, even a higher degree of precision is necessary.

So for a baby to neutralize people three times his height and nine times his weight, even for a moment, is relatively fantastic.

Best wishes.

David

Tim Fong
11-19-2006, 09:06 PM
David,

Re: the sword. I think it's about weight transfer. Weight is the force of gravity acting on mass. It's another force passing through the body. The person who can manipulate the force of another pushing in on them, and bring it to their feet could also manipulate the force of their weight. So that perhaps they might look like they were standing with weight on the front foot , when in fact, they weren't. Think about the advantage that could give a person.

Here's some fodder for idle speculation. In "Modern Bujutsu and Budo" Draeger writes that the lifted rear heel in kendo is "...traditionally attributed to the secret teachings of Ito Ittosai." Why do you think it was a secret? And how/why do high ranking kendoka get away with turning the foot out, and fighting relatively flat footed?

Mike,

Point taken. I have had to take a break from judo, and it'll be interesting to see how the skills fare during randori, aka, it'll probably be humbling.

What would you say is the difference between rooting and neutralization? Is neutralization more active? I have had maybe one or two times in pushout where suddenly it felt like my opponent wasn't pushing hard at all...is it something like that? Sorry if we went over this before and I've forgotten.

David Orange
11-19-2006, 09:08 PM
Dave it isn't about fighting skills, never was. That's a different topic.

Okay, Dan. That expresses perfectly what I've been saying. Aikido is a fighting art. It is an art of self defense and it has served me very well ever since I began training in it. It took me from someone who was next-to-last chosen for every game, afraid of all the bigger kids, to a 51-year-old who meets those old bullies and finds them much worn down by time, rather shrivelled and nothing like a threat to me anymore. The years and what I've trained in have been far kinder to me than to them. Their response, of course, is that they have a lot more money than me, now (most of them), bigger houses and cars and they're going to retire with big pensions.

But as a method of self-defense, I am very happy with aikido as I have learned it. This doesn't detract from what you do, but it does show that we are talking about different things. I am talking about aikido as I learned it from a meijin and I see the roots of that art in every child who learns to stand and walk.

David

David Orange
11-19-2006, 09:17 PM
Re: the sword. I think it's about weight transfer. Weight is the force of gravity acting on mass. It's another force passing through the body. The person who can manipulate the force of another pushing in on them, and bring it to their feet could also manipulate the force of their weight. So that perhaps they might look like they were standing with weight on the front foot , when in fact, they weren't. Think about the advantage that could give a person.

Interesting points, Tim, but I'm not sure how they relate to being unarmed and facing an attacker who is armed with a sword. There's no way to deflect or redirect that without being cut unless you evade it with the body. Chris' statements don't address that. He does say "irimi," but irimi does have to evade the attack. So evasion is central to aikido.

Best wishes.

David

Erick Mead
11-19-2006, 09:29 PM
This thread has illustrated a couple of points for me.

First: the limits of the power of description. All these different ways of trying to describe the elephant to the those who have never seen one. I credit David for observation of an instructive principle of movement underlying much of what we do. It is not complete, but it is not wrong either.

Like Zen, the mountain is again a mountain and the river again a river. But by the time that realization is reached there is much that has informed our awareness of both mountain and river. They are netither more nor lor less than what they simply are, and yet they have become are far more to our awarenss for having contemplated them to the point that they assumed, for a time, a far greater dimension, illusory though that may ultimately be.

Likewise, Dan, Mike,and I take it, also Gernot, are invested in a paradigm of desrcription that seems to defy easy reduction to common language. May be I am wrong about that, but after a number of iterations in the attempt, I have yet to get one. That's not a criticism, but an observation of this and other discussion in which these things come up, particularly with Mike. I fully admit am equally liable to explore other paradigms that they do not share, and which are perhaps no better in that regard, although my purpose in doing so is somewhat different.

I agree with the point about the open secret, but I disagree strongly with the manner in which you all have attempted to describe it. That is not to say it is not useful in some contexts, or at least useful to them. I part company simply because it seems not generally useful to those not already familiar with the paradigm on which it rests. The description should not obscure the thing itself. The thing itself should be approachable from other paradigms as well.

Lastly, I disagree that aiki techniques are "unnatural." On that basis, walking is "unnatural" because it must be learnt and practiced. Human beings are given really only one "natural" faculty -- learning and adaptation. It distinguishes us in degree from every other creature. It is also precsiely this aspect of our nature that we have in common with the process of takemusu aiki in which all these "techniques" are intended to be melded into a intuitively seamless and fluid whole.

David's exploration is very worthwhile. I may not agree with the extension of his observations in the degree he may suggest it, but neither do I think he is wrong in attempting to justify a position in that direction. His effort it has the singular benefit of making the question of movement as an element of aiki more approachable for the more average student of the arts than those more esoteric and recondite.

As for things like the "pushout" exercises -- I have detailed my observation of the mechanics in play there elsewhere on this forum and the underlying mechanical principles that " hide" where strength is coming from. I find nothing mystical about it, although training to employ thoe mechanics is a skill -- as much as walking. I'll be the first to say that getting a body of complex and uncommon mechanical knowledge thoroughly mapped into aiki principles and getting it into a common language framework of description is a task of significant further lifting.

As for my own experience, I know I have advanced further and expanded my understanding, facility and verstatility in application more by dwelling deeply on the simplest of things in the art. I have not had that same experience in succumbing to fascination and allure of the more esoteric possibilities that the history and the multidimensional nature of the art may also afford. I truly think that it is distracting to many students. I do not find David's approach at all problematic in that way.

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-19-2006, 09:44 PM
Eric, regarding "natural", I cannot find any reason why you would call learning and adaptation any more "natural" than walking. As far as I can gather, this kind of "natural" is a fluke, something that comes to certain people without their knowing the process of having come to this point. To all other people (and to them if they try to teach it) there needs to follow a step-by-step process of training and improvement (self-realization). This applies equally to walking (whose differences in the minute useage of the body differ widely between individuals) as to learning the use of the mind for reasoning. IMHO.

Erick Mead
11-19-2006, 10:51 PM
Eric, regarding "natural", I cannot find any reason why you would call learning and adaptation any more "natural" than walking. I meant to express my view that one is not more natural or unnatural than the other. Call it what you will, human beings learn walking without being affirmatively taught how (other than by example). The only "natural" thing from one point of view is the capacity to observe and learn -- the rest is an artifact of that process.
As far as I can gather, this kind of "natural" is a fluke, something that comes to certain people without their knowing the process of having come to this point. Which I suppose underlines my point -- the thing has a reality quite indepedent of the process we may select to teach it. More than one proces can encode and decode knowledge of that thing.
To all other people (and to them if they try to teach it) there needs to follow a step-by-step process of training and improvement (self-realization). This applies equally to walking (whose differences in the minute useage of the body differ widely between individuals) as to learning the use of the mind for reasoning. IMHO. What you have described is the difference between pre-conscious or unconscious learning and adaptation and a conscious programmattic form of it. My point, and I take it to be David's as well, and with no small amount of authority, O-Sensei's too, is that under the right conditions human beings learn because they have an innate nature to do it. Takemusu aiki is possible because we all have it in us to do it "naturally."

A seed grows into a tree, naturally; that does not negate the importance of certain absolute preconditions at every stage of that that natural process which set limits on its commencing, continuing and completing its course. These are limits on what it means to be a tree, not limits on how to go about understanding what a tree is.

Programmatic forms of teaching that depart from these conditions usually get in the way of the learning, because they intentionally obscure certain real connections that exist, all in the service of conscious "simplification." I have discussed this with several others in the thread on systematic teaching and its proper role and benefits.

I have no brief against that form of teaching, although I do not use it. It works for many; it does not work for all. so long as it is addressed ot the preconditions of what aikido is, as opposed to how we understand what that is. Unavoidably, the latter tends to sever the teaching, in part, from the reality that it is there to try and represent. It sets an intentional limit on the ability of the far-ranging learning faculty of the mind to make a real connection, because that connection has been disallowed at that stage of the programmattic training.

It is a tenet of natural learning that the mind learns faster without many boundaries. It also learns in a manner that is not linear, and thus comes in for criticism from a linear perspective that without a program to follow, it is not getting to the "important" learning soon enough, or not at all, yet.

When you have a limited set of goals in learning, unstructured learning is inefficient. When your goals are not limited because you seek to teach an art with universal aspects of its applicaiton, then unstructured learning is in fact more efficient, because many more connections are formed by the inituitive exploration of the space of that knowledge without concrete barriers against making such connections as they come up. It will offend any preconceived notion about the particular path that learning is "supposed" to take.

The typical admonition along these lines in most dojos I have been in is simply this: "Keep training."

DH
11-20-2006, 05:55 AM
Okay, Dan. That expresses perfectly what I've been saying. Aikido is a fighting art. It is an art of self defense and it has served me very well ever since I began training in it. It took me from someone who was next-to-last chosen for every game, afraid of all the bigger kids, to a 51-year-old who meets those old bullies and finds them much worn down by time, rather shrivelled and nothing like a threat to me anymore. The years and what I've trained in have been far kinder to me than to them. Their response, of course, is that they have a lot more money than me, now (most of them), bigger houses and cars and they're going to retire with big pensions.

But as a method of self-defense, I am very happy with aikido as I have learned it. This doesn't detract from what you do, but it does show that we are talking about different things. I am talking about aikido as I learned it from a meijin and I see the roots of that art in every child who learns to stand and walk.

David

David
You missed the point entirely. I was merely trying to keep the conversation on track about your natural movement theory VS my argument for unnatural, trained body methods. And to keep it out of a discussion centered around fighting. THAT is why I said fighting is different topic.You could of course talk about these skills and how they are valid for stability, balance, and health and ways to train them........Then..... talk about training the body to fight using these skills. As for testing under pressure- an MMA format is far more trying then doing aikido anyway. It also gives validity to provable skills in a changing pressured environment as opposed to more cooperative play or "static tricks." Connection, Aiki, and setting up a throw is a whole different topic with collegiate wrestlers or MMA guys with 5 oz gloves and knees smashing into your head and chest. And sword, spear, and the ways the body moves while using them is a great discussion as well....But as I said again and again, that's a different topic.
I enjoy debating with you here and there bud, but sometimes its hard to keep your mind from wandering all over the place. The real question was about a method of training the body. I didn't, and still don't, see the need to bring up play time.

Maybe a more interesting topic is to address Gernot's post about the AIkido guy having to extend the arms to do his aikido and what that says about a skill level? Or what about breath power? How would that affect his fingers? What connects them? How about what is happening on the inside of that Aikido guy, as oppossed to enountering power at a touch anywhere in the body in the other method with Arkuzawa. Or Mark Murrays experience in feeling me VS Ikeda in the same week. There are two men, who don't know each other, feeling two different means of holding the body together and telling you they are different. Both have given a written opinion about their views as to whether they would call it "aiki" vs "aiki"-do and how it felt different. How about follow up questions to them about the feel and what they think is going on? About what this "whole body feel" -they who are thousands of miles apart- both try to describe? How or why is there such a difference that it is tangible upon contact? How did it affect them on the inside? Why or how could that be natural or unnatural-the subject of the thread?

Or would you rather relegate the discussion to single leg shoots to a side mount crucifix with knees in the head? Why do you keep bringing up fighting? What does fighting have to do with anything we are discussing?

Cheers
Dan

DH
11-20-2006, 07:03 AM
Edit ran out.

Another question that goes to the heart of your whole debate about kids and movement and higher levels is addressed in the Sumo VS Tai chi video

Why did Akebonna get off balanced and land foward?
Do you suppose if I were to push you -that I'd fall over if you moved? First off...I wouln't. Second, lets say even if you were to try and off-balance me by moving away then "leading or pulling and I just stood there...How would I do that? What am I doing? How?
Why did Akebono fall down?

I appreciate your earlier statement telling me what I do isn't Aiki. No problem. Your ealier Aiki description (of opening the door or leading the knob)....offers a solution..to a problem I'd never present you with.
Your solution is nullified by the fact that while you would be most likely pushed over...I am not pushing on you that way.
Aiki is not the two of you..never was. It is in you.

Cheers
Dan

ChrisMoses
11-20-2006, 08:46 AM
Why did Akebonna get off balanced and land foward?
Do you suppose if I were to push you -that I'd fall over if you moved? First off...I wouln't. Second, lets say even if you were to try and off-balance me by moving away then "leading or pulling and I just stood there...How would I do that? What am I doing? How?
Why did Akebono fall down?

I appreciate your earlier statement telling me what I do isn't Aiki. No problem. Your ealier Aiki description (of opening the door or leading the knob)....offers a solution..to a problem I'd never present you with.
Your solution is nullified by the fact that while you would be most likely pushed over...I am not pushing on you that way.
Aiki is not the two of you..never was. It is in you.

Cheers
Dan

First to comment on this part. This has been a weird aspect of the push out exercise (if we're talking about the same one: legs mostly straight, mugamai/natural posture, one partner resists while one extends the arms...). Most people in Aikido think that to generate a lot of force, the attacker has to have a lot of momentum or must be off balancing themselves to throw their weight into the attack. Before ever dealing with the Aunkai, I knew this was false, but particularly after working on their exercises I'm getting a sense of how to actually do this. One of the guys we train with hasn't been able to move me in this exercise unless he leans into me with all of his weight, at which point I release the tension in my arms and he stumbles forward in a rather dramatic fasion. When it's my turn, I've pushed him back so suddenly that he's forgotten to absorb with his arms and had to take a few steps backwards. The guy in question is much stronger than I am, but he hasn't figured out how the exercise works *yet*. He will. I should point out that this isn't a rank beginner, we've been training together for well over a decade, and he has blackbelts in several arts. He has gotten frustrated at my pulling my arms back when he's leaning forward and started doing the same thing to me, only I wasn't leaning forward at all, so it didn't affect my balance in the slightest (my arms just shot out the rest of the way lacking any resisitance). *I'm not great at this exercise* but just doing it for a couple weeks has changed my ability to generate power and maintain body structure. However, I really believe that I would have never stumbled onto this method for power generation myself. Which leads me to...

...a point I made the last time we had this little discussion. I HATE the term "natural movement." By definition we can't really move unnaturally, so it's a really terrible way to describe things and leads to lots of confusion. I prefer to think of "intuitive" and "counter-intuitive" movements. Aiki works because it takes advantage of intuitive/reactive movements (in uke) through counter-intuitive strategies and movements (as I see it anyway). That's why I get my panties all in a bunch over people talking about "natural" movements in aikido. The real 'aiki' stuff is specifically the kinds of things that you wouldn't stumble across, and that's why they work.

Mike Sigman
11-20-2006, 08:53 AM
What would you say is the difference between rooting and neutralization? Where you direct the jin. ;) There is only one jin.

Best.

Mike

Mike Sigman
11-20-2006, 11:47 AM
Eric, regarding "natural", I cannot find any reason why you would call learning and adaptation any more "natural" than walking. As far as I can gather, this kind of "natural" is a fluke, something that comes to certain people without their knowing the process of having come to this point. To all other people (and to them if they try to teach it) there needs to follow a step-by-step process of training and improvement (self-realization). This applies equally to walking (whose differences in the minute useage of the body differ widely between individuals) as to learning the use of the mind for reasoning. IMHO.Hi Gernot: The type of "natural" movement so often commented upon in Asia is sort of a misnomer (or at least a misleading term) in the same way that "harmony with the universe" can often be misinterpretted by westerners.

The "natural" movement idea is movement that is in accord with the "laws of the universe"... so it is in akin to the idea of "harmony with the universe". To cut a long story short, "natural" movement does not mean "intuitive" movement; it must be taught. True, there are segments of Asian thought that will attribute small segments of this kind of movement to babies, but that is in a very limited sense and, IMO, reflects a sort of logical filler to explain how a foetus is "natural" because it is curved over due to the yang nature of stresses up the back and the yin nature of forces closing the front. I.e., the foetal position in the womb.

My opinion, FWIW.

Mike

ChrisMoses
11-20-2006, 12:56 PM
Comments on O-Sensei's article? Can a rabbit eat an oak tree?

Out of morbid curiosity, were you referring to this article? (http://www.roleystoneaiki.com/The%20Secret%20of%20Aiki.html)? If so, I don't know where the rabbit/oak tree reference comes in.

If you are talking about this article, then the *only* thing that was actually said (supposedly) by OSensei was, "The secret of Aikido is to harmonize ourselves with the movement of the universe and bring ourselves into accord with the universe itself. He who has gained the secret of Aikido has the universe in himself and can say, "I am the universe." " That doesn't tell me much actually, next to nothing from a practical standpoint, but then I guess that's why 20 years later it's still the 'secret' of Aikido instead of the beginning of an amazing 3 month course. ;)

Dennis Hooker
11-20-2006, 01:12 PM
We have the natural an involuntary actions (movements) of our lives and then we have those that are voluntary. The involuntary, or unconscious movements are pure and uncorrupted as infants but as we grow older we add voluntary actions to our lives and all of these actions are born of conflict. From the act of standing to the many aspects of voluntary movement are a result of conflict. Conflict with gravity, conflict with the earth and conflict within ourselves as the body structure sets up opposing dynamics to cause action and reaction. As we grow older the conflict sometimes works itís way into the involuntary realm. We start to breath high in the chest using conflict of the muscles in the chest. We let the conflict interfere with the heart rate and our nervous system. What was once only useful conflict now becomes un-useful. I canít speak to other arts but in Aikido we strive to remove as much unnecessary conflict as possible and it is sometimes called learning natural movement. If you watch Ti Chi and Aikido people seem to float across the ground at times and at times are rooted to it like trees. These are both natural and in accord with the harmony of nature at the moment. Natural is what it takes to blend and not break.

Erick Mead
11-20-2006, 03:56 PM
Where you direct the jin. ;) There is only one jin. There are, however, many, many jinni ...

Tim Fong
11-20-2006, 05:36 PM
Erick,
The movement is "natural" because it is based ultimately on finding a particular feeling in the body, then working to maintain that feeling in all joints and in all ranges of motion. Doing this, one discovers how the body is wired together, so to speak.

But without some guidance, only the most talented people will find this, and even then they may not reach their full potential.

It sounds paradoxical for me to say this, but you have to have a structure without a structure. You have noted before that you don't want to teach through an esoteric framework, but I'm afraid that if you are actually trying to teach/study the skills then you don't have much of a choice. Part of the problem is that when most people say "esoteric" they mean "hard to understand" or "silly hippy garbage." But if we go back and examine exoteric vs esoteric we see that what differentiates the two is that exoteric things have a measurable existence outside the body --words, overt physical motions etc. Esoteric things, deal with the world of feelings , sensation etc. Now, as I've said before, I think the two are merging with some of the latest scientific developments in physiology and neuroscience, but that's a different topic.

However, all is not lost...though the process may be esoteric, the results are not. As Dan points out, many people are going out and seeing and experiencing these skills. Thus, the esoteric knowledge (how does this feel) can be checked against exoteric tests (can I stand here in this stance/can I shift my weight without overt motion). I should add that I think it is very important to test otherwise, one risks the potential for delusion. If you are familiar with the ideas of the late Col. John Boyd, this is essentially Observing the Action part of the OODA loop, with Orientation provided by the esoteric context created during solo practice. Without that, a person is going to get delusional pretty quickly. This also requires a lot of honesty --I constantly find myself asking "am I really feeling this? does this actually work? " Sometimes I am self deceptive, which usually means I'm going to get dumped on my ass later.

You claim that Dan, Mike and Gernot are "invested in a paradigm of description" that defies reduction to common language. That sentence does not make sense because the paradigm and language we are using is what is allowing us to communicate. I've never met Dan or Gernot or Rob. But I can talk to them about these things and see where there is some common ground and how to further tune my own training.

That's ultimately how an esoteric process works-- one experiences things internally, tests them in the real world, and sees how the two relate. Then they can only describe the process to someone else, but in the end, as Dan says, it is up to a person to train solo and figure it out.

What's that old saying? A teacher can only show a student a door, but ultimately the student has to go through the door himself.

DH
11-20-2006, 06:11 PM
Hi Chris

Yes on the push out exercise. But we do it different then the Aunkia. I stand with feet shoulder width apart, knee's locked, arms out in front-arms locked. Then the other guy stands in a power stance-(hanmi) and the goal is to push straight through the arms and hands. No rising up or moving the arms to absorb redirect.....nothing.
Now, the goal is for the guy pushing to try and push through me, and try to lift a foot and step forward. Then with him in a power stance-he tries to hold me back as I step forward from the weak stance.
Its fun

We do the same thing with both standing facing the same direction say a common left wall in the dojo. First guy extends his right hand, palm out, toward the other guy. Second guy extends his left hand, palm out, to meet guy one. Both push into the palm. Straight through. Now lets say second guy tries to step -around himself- to his left and move forward into first guy, or vice versa.
usually they can't lift their feet.
Other ones are we have a guy hold your hips and you have to walk through their resistence on your hips, or pulling on your arm while you agree with them and neutralize their ability to pull on you.
There are any number of fun tests. But the more potent ones are while moving, with someone setting up, feinting and fighting you at every turn and you not being allowed to do anything but absorb, bounce them off or toss em.
These are just simple examples about testing structure and being able to hold your body together. Muscle and any isolated flexation and you.... are done. Then the flip side is training wayds to undo everything you have learnd .....to do. There are ways to "take apart" the frame of a guy with structure too. ways that give the idea of a "soft art" a whole new meaning.
Loads of fun.
Cheers
Dan

eyrie
11-20-2006, 07:55 PM
Whilst I applaud David and think that what he is doing is commendable in observing seemingly natural movement and drawing it out, I am reminded of a comment that my teacher once mentioned in passing, almost casually, that aiki is like "reprogramming your software".

raul rodrigo
11-20-2006, 08:53 PM
I think that the danger here is taking something true but trivialóthat children's movement can sometimes resemble aikido movementóand expanding its importance so that it supposedly becomes a basic principle of the art. In the ongoing debate, I'm afraid that I would tend to side with people like Dan Harden, on the grounds of "fruitfulness." You can take what Dan (and Mike Sigman and Rob John and others) is saying about the root of aiki movement and use it to actually improve your waza. It actually means something in the real world. If you take what David is saying as the base of your aikido, then what? What difference will it make? Do the shihan whom we admire say, "my aikido works because I try to imitate my toddler's movement"? The test is always on the mat. Not in how a proposition reinforces things we believe in anyway.

R

Aran Bright
11-20-2006, 09:40 PM
Thanks for what is a fantastic thread.

If I can add my two bob. How can aikido be anything other than natural movement, what ever the definition. We started as toddlers and have all learnt to refine our movements. How can we understand counter-intuitive without developing intuitive?

Anyway, the depth of understanding and reflections presented hear are just solid gold for someone who feels like a toddler in the aikido world.

Aran

Upyu
11-20-2006, 10:07 PM
<snip>at whatever art they were doing, including tai chi and judo, aikido, karate, xing yi or whatever. But it won't necessarily make one better at facing a sword.


I think I understand where you're coming from, but I'd have to disagree with you on this point as well.
The skills being discussed were developed from weapons use, and were more or less used to survive a weapons encounter where there's even less room for error, as you so aptly described.
Irimi isn't a "technique," so much as a result of the "internal" movement inside of you that manifests itself as movement.
A sword comes down towards your head, you simply "irekae" or "turn" inside yourself, which results in the irimi movement.
Its the principle behind the (and anyone else with a different view on this feel free to chime in) "He moves first, I move later, but still arrive first" description you often hear.

Tim Fong
11-20-2006, 11:01 PM
Dan,
Thanks for those exercises. I will try them out for sure =)

Erick Mead
11-20-2006, 11:02 PM
But without some guidance, only the most talented people will find this [natural feeling], and even then they may not reach their full potential. I agree there is no substitute for direct experience. The problem usually comes in communicating correction to ineffective movement and emphasis on appropriate movement. What do you say to the wide-eyed 19 year-old gamely trying to follow along? "There is only one jin. Use it." ???
It sounds paradoxical for me to say this, but you have to have a structure without a structure. On that we agree. I am more and more confirmed in using a non-linear model of instruction.

I had many excellent teachers. They cannot be replaced. But I have also had periods of intense isolation in my own training -- not chosen -- but invaluable in retrospect for deepening certain connections between movements that I am only now begining to realize were made as I am finding myself teaching them.
You have noted before that you don't want to teach through an esoteric framework, but I'm afraid that if you are actually trying to teach/study the skills then you don't have much of a choice. ... But if we go back and examine exoteric vs esoteric we see that what differentiates the two is that exoteric things have a measurable existence outside the body --words, overt physical motions etc. Esoteric things, deal with the world of feelings , sensation etc. I deny the premise. Exoteric and esoteric go together. One is the "safe" stuff to be allowed to those "outside" and the other is the secrets, held only for those admitted within. The process of moving from one to the other is one of measuring individual worth to be admitted within the inner sanctum. The process of koryu and menkyo kaiden was of this nature, but that was merely a matter of trust and loyalty -- knowledge of the core would allow an enemy to defeat the art with inside knowledge. In most other settigns the judgment was more in the nature of judgment of moral worth or merit. Aikido has abandoned that aspect of the koryu model.
If you are familiar with the ideas of the late Col. John Boyd, this is essentially Observing the Action part of the OODA loop, with Orientation provided by the esoteric context created during solo practice. It is funny you should bring up Colonel Boyd. For alI of Col. Boyd's devotion to the conceptual aspects of the limitations of knowledge and meta-knowledge (Rummy, we hardly knew ye) his paradigm was still linear, and dare I say, dialectical. He describe it accurately as a dialectic of creation and destruction. I appreciate analytical approaches, and his was invaluable in its context, which I appreciate on many levels, not the least of which was as a naval aviator.

Aiki is explicitly intended to operate beyond/outside that cycle. One cannot read O-Sensei's expression of takemusu aiki in operation and realize that it is not within Colonel Boyd's paradigm. Aiki is not dialectical.Aiki is about denying the premise of dialectic, of inner v. outer, esoteric v. exoteric. Aiki is an open secret, free for the stealing.

O-Sensei was very much about making aiki motion and technique the natural, even inevitable response to any interaction. It is about denying the premise of dialectical conflict (attacker/defender) in the first instance. As Hooker Sensei noted, we begin that dialectic with the first battle with gravity, and as we become more and more habituated to it, it progressively infects and hinders our physical, mental and emotional responses. As David suggests, we have other, and earlier developed, resources to draw upon as well. That is why I find his observations useful and appropriate.

Many people have related Zen and aikido, even though the root of Aikido is not Buddhist. The difference is that Zen is about awareness and Aikido is about action. Aikido is also about moral action, right action, that we ought to do as the proper or natural response to another action, in a way that ceases to distinguish one action from the other.
You claim that Dan, Mike and Gernot are "invested in a paradigm of description" that defies reduction to common language. That sentence does not make sense because the paradigm and language we are using is what is allowing us to communicate. But it is true. Jin I understand, because I have the background. I do not think it means what Mike thinks it means, but then, we have very different views of how Chinese knowledge is intended to communicate meaning. Either way, for students in the West, we must find images and metaphors that work better than the cultivation and manipulation of arcane essences that lack common reference.
I've never met Dan or Gernot or Rob. But I can talk to them about these things and see where there is some common ground and how to further tune my own training. Of course. You have all seen the elephant. Having done so , as long as you agree on referents to a known reality you could communicate in Romanian verse and it would not matter to the clarity of discussion -- but only for those with the prior references to draw upon.

My task is in aiding those trying to acquire that original reference. Beyond that it is a matter of invdividual motivaiton and contemplation to follow that reality where it leads. Through training, training, and more training

Mike Hamer
11-20-2006, 11:24 PM
So for you to identify that and go "Oooohh look look, Aiki in a child" Is to me just saying "See a child can do my art." Its not something I'd be bragging about anytime soon.



I think that is a very good reason to be bragging Dan! For me, seeing that baby with my own eyes do something that I just naturally picked up as aiki movement, is pretty cool. I take pride in the fact that my martial art can be spontaneously seen in toddlers by someone with a slight knowledge on the basic footwork and principles. Have you ever gotten that feeling that sometimes when you perform a technique smoothly for the first time, is when it's the easiest? When you stop worrying so much about what to do next, or if your doing it "right" and you just go with the flow? I recall my Sensei saying on multiple occasions during training, "It's simple, not easy" The mentality of a baby is a simple one, they don't second guess their movements. The little girl in my case, simply wanted to be left alone to play with the phone. Her movement led her "opponent" away from his goal, which is exactly what she wanted, and her mind moved her body automatically to accomplish this goal. As we get older, this automatic reaction sort of dies down. Maybe it's because we start learning more about the world around us, and based on certain doubts and fears, we start second guessing ourselves. So maybe one trains to fine hone their reflexes, and reactions to their surroundings? They still have to go through the "middle man" if you will, or the second step in the process of stimulus to action. The small child puts their entire willpower into his or her minds desire, and mind and body move as one. IMHO!!

I hope I got my point acrossed , actually I'm not even sure that had a point, I'm just sharing my personal thoughts on the topic. :ki:

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-21-2006, 01:56 AM
Mike, thanks for the explanation there. The thinking behind all these sayings mentioning the universe or heavens is very confusing to me, I'm not even sure what universe people are referring to here! (Taking Ten-Chi-Jin as an example, where Ten is translated as "heaven", Chi as "earth" and Jin as "person", the focus is on combining outside forces(mostly gravity, and the buoyancy of the atmosphere I suppose) and internal forces (inside the body)).

Regarding the issue of what the Aikido teacher and Minoru Akuzawa are doing, I'll take Dan's train of thought and run with it. What are they doing and what are they doing differently?

First of all, I believe now (after some comments by Akuzawa on the weekend) that the martial arts are a set of moves designed to hide the real techniques, and deceive the observers as to what is going on on the inside, and prevent the opponent from discerning what is being done to him from where and when. This kind of deception is not the kind where one opens a door at the same speed as someone tries to reach the doorknob!

At the very basic level, I think there is the connection of the lower back (coccyx perhaps) to the elbows on the one hand, and the lower back (I think) to the knees on the other. This explains why people who may be good in seated position fail to be as strong when standing.

The aikido teacher opens the shoulder and forward hip joints by extending arms relaxed and stretching the body up. The elbow and wrist, knee and ankle joints, and the spine, are probably lso stretched, but I think the main focus is on the shoulder and hip area (in seated position). Then, regardless of breath action, dropping the
coccyx a few millimetres as though about to sit down (without dropping knees or neck) powers the elbows and arms slightly, certainly in the opposite direction of whichever way the partner may be twisting or pushing. This affects partner's shoulders and balance, allowing the practitioner to unblanance further, using again the lower back drop to "extend" the arms. The connection to the knees comes about from the outward turn of the legs (which closes the buttocks and opens the front hip arch or "kua", IIRC) and the inward turn of the feet (from below the knees). The palpable connection of the knee, hip, elbow in this manner during movement allows upward (by the lower back drop stretch) and downward (by a rise of the lower back) powered movements to be generated from a point far away from the elbow joint, and thus "under" the partner's strength. If the partner puts pushing pressure on the practitioner, the latter should not tense up the joints but simply power the elbows and knees from the lower back at will, since the power will be generated regardless, as long as the relaxation is there and the joints are open, even if the partner is moving the arms in some way. Once the power generation starts, the partner's balance will be instantaneously affected. Together with the stretch/compression of the lower back is the action of the ribcage which also does this action, and in this way one can imagine how the breath can easily and directly be added to the mechanical leverage described above. I would not call this "ki" though, as it is too basic.

The above is what the aikido teacher did, after I can recall how his outstretched arms affected my shoulders and body.

Minoru Akuzawa says and does the same thing, thus the point of aiki-age is not to lift but to train this connection of knee-hip/back-elbow. If the partner takes good ukemi, i.e., shoulders rise but body stays down, then to lift the partner's weight up demands great efforts from the practitioner, and the connection(s) get a hard work-out.

However, Akuzawa does not need or want extended arms and legs. Instead, he focusses on keeping the connections (trained with the various shiko, tenchijin, mabu and other exercises) and utilizing them to flow incoming forces around from one part of the body to others (and to the ground). That sounds very similar to the idea of good aikido, so I think at the source both the Aikido sensei and Akuzawa are based on the same thing. The emphasis in actualization is different though. I gather that the aikido is invariably powered from the lower back (connection to the knees makes the power come from the ground, of course, finally), whereas Akuzawa talks and demonstrates often that he is only using one finger, or the wrist, or the forearm to power the connection (to avoid injuring the other party) as opposed to using the whole body (presumably with this he means utilizing the back and legs as well as breath). So although the connections may be similar, the powering of them may differ. But I am not sure of this.

What I can be sure of, to the degree that I an feel the difference myself (not in me, but in the partner, to my great surprise I may add), is that Akuzawa's methods are completely applicable to aikido. For example, in kote-gaeshi, if the partner stiffens his arm, fist and shoulder, I cannot throw him even if he is a little lighter than I am. But by remaining open in the joints above, and powering from the lower back (for example) it is easy to unbalance the partner at the next part of his body which is not tensed (chest, or hips, or thighs) with no perceivable effort, even though his strength in the arms does not lessen. This Akuzawa demonstrated on Saturday and I could do it today to my own satisfaction at aikido. Second, kicking with teh kua open, as in shiko, something I had pointed out to me on Saturday, adn which I can now relate to how the lower back is connected to the knee: it is easy to take out someone's leg even when they have their weight on it, with a simpe 1cm motion. To say that I was surprised is an understatement, I was flabbergasted, as was the partner, and the gasps from the students next to us watching my explanations were proof. And I recall feeling exactly... nothing, and neither did my partner. So, at the end of the day, before breath and other advanced methods of generating power, the standing and training of connections is paramount, I think. In that regard I cannot see a difference between what the Aikido sensei and Akuzawa do.

grondahl
11-21-2006, 02:01 AM
Does Akuzawa have any planned seminars in Europe in the near (a year or so) future?

Upyu
11-21-2006, 02:25 AM
I think we're supposed to have two in April, in Paris and Holland... :)

Tim Fong
11-21-2006, 03:36 AM
Erick,

I think we might agree more than we disagree. I mentioned Boyd specifically because I remembered that you were a naval aviator. As far as the linear cycle, I read a brief by Dr. Chet Richards last year where he detailed how really the OODA loop was meant to evolve to be a simultaneous process, after the practitioner grasped the basic meaning. I think it was on one of his briefs at D-N-I.net actually.

Yes, I realize that traditionally esoteric knowledge was held close to the vest (and indeed that is one of the meanings of esoteric, i.e. hidden knowledge, or knowledge that requires initiation) but I think the rise of the internet means that is pretty much over. It's not going to stay hidden for long, in other words.

As far as jin etc, I tend to actually use the word body connection in my regular conversations with people on this topic. As to how to explain this to the notional 19 year old, I have no idea. That's really not a concern for me right now. I know that I first saw pieces of this puzzle when I was in my early 20s, and if someone had explained to me the drills that we've discussed in these threads, it would have made sense. Just for context, I was doing 15 to 20 minutes of standing practice a day at that time.

I'll drop my discussion of esoteric vs. exoteric, because I think it is cluttering up the thread and not too helpful.


Gernot:
When you say the back drop, do you mean that the shoulders drop back while the hip tips forward, stretching open the front of the hips?

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-21-2006, 05:27 AM
Hello Tim, everything from the lower back to the fingertips is moved when the lower back drops, so someone hugging the waist from behind feels upended and dropped, someone holding the shoulders feels a force into his own shoulders, and someone gripping the elbows or wrists feels the force coming from underneath his own (shoulder-powered) strength. The front of the hips are open in two senses at least: once in the upward direction, opening the leg-hip joint in the same way as the shoulder (and elbos) joints are opened by the feeling of the arm that is dropping as though to pick up something on the ground. The hips are also opened in the sideways sense, as both legs are twisted outwards, pressing the buttocks together as part of the stretching up process. The knees thus are turned outwards, but below the knees the feet are turned back in again. I would not say the hips tp forward or the shoulders drop back in any overt sense, though that position may exist (how to check this?) asa result of the above. With back drop I mean drop the lower part of the back at the coccyx without dropping the hips or neck/shoulders, so I suppose actually the ribcage and expands a bit downward and probably there is some change in the spine and hip relationship. Certainly, when asking students to do this most of them cannot easily imagine what to move and what not to, so most drop their hips (from the knees) taking the whole body with it, which does not create any expansion (or compression if opposite way). What are you referring to (bearing in mind my low level!)?

Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 07:27 AM
What do you say to the wide-eyed 19 year-old gamely trying to follow along? "There is only one jin. Use it." ??? I agree with the general idea of what you're saying, Erick, but that comment about the one jin was in response to a side discussion about the difference between "rooting" and "neutralizing".... which, for all practical purposes, are simply variations of the same thing. I've spent a lot of time writing out long explanations of how to do many of the jin/kokyu things on this forum and others... it would be too much to re-write what *should* be basic knowledge already, every time I use a word.

Most of this stuff, as has been noted, is really useless to discuss unless you've seen and felt it... AND had someone competent explain what's really going on. Just like describing an "exercise" without telling someone how to do it is a waste of time, BTW.

The thing of the most benefit to the wide-eyed 19-year-old is that he sees an extended conversation which clues him/her (assuming he/she's beyond a certain threshold IQ... the good stuff *does* take a certain amount of smarts, curiosity, etc.) that there's more to Aikido than smoothing out your techniques and learning to rap endlessly about the correct way to fold a hakama. There are a lot more clues out nowadays than there were even a decade ago. The 19-year-old has to follow up. And that doesn't guarantee that more mistakes won't be made, either.

Right now is an interesting time in Aikido and a number of other arts. Many, many people are aware that there is something missing. Information is scarce, people are offering guesses as knowledge, status is being protected, yada, yada, yada. It's fun to watch. Being a 19-year-old trying to find information isn't easy, I agree, but these conversations tell a lot to them anyway.

FWIW ;)

Mike

Cady Goldfield
11-21-2006, 07:35 AM
Toddlers have not yet learned how (or been conditioned) to flex muscles and hold them tense, so, they are naturally relaxed. This natural state of relaxation is something that is overcome by conscious and unconscious emotional concern as we get older and more aware of our surroundings.

I'd say we learn, counterintuitively, to become tense, despite the fact that it impedes our natural movement. Relaxation/non-flexing of muscles is key to making a lot of methods work, but is not in itself the methods themselves. A lot of observations have been made of little children doing "amazing feats" such as the anecdote provided above, and it isn't surprising that adults are so amazed by these things, given most of us have forgotten what it was like to be so relaxed. Muscle tension is almost a constant in the adult human demeanor.

In doing what we do, we have to re-learn the natural state of relaxation. So that we can do the "unnatural" movements of our art. (Actually, I like the earlier-mentioned terms of "intuitive" and "counterintuitive" in place of "natural" and "unnatural" movement. )

As an aside: While I do agree that, as humans are creatures of nature, all of their movements -- however contrived by conscious thought -- must then also be natural. When I was studying primate evolutionary ecology during one of my grad student stints, I often wondered why a chimpanzee, when compared to a human of comparable body mass, seems capable of greater "feats of strength" than the human. If I had continued my studies, I would have tested that apparent fact to see whether, in fact, chimps have more muscle power, pound-per-pound, than humans do. Now, along with that aspect, I would ask whether chimps are more "naturally" relaxed than humans are, and thus -- in their non-tense state -- able to do many more things than we seem capable of.

We can learn a lot from toddlers and chimps. But not aiki technique, so don't go getting and strange ideas. ;)

Erick Mead
11-21-2006, 07:38 AM
As far as the linear cycle, I read a brief by Dr. Chet Richards last year where he detailed how really the OODA loop was meant to evolve to be a simultaneous process, after the practitioner grasped the basic meaning. I think it was on one of his briefs at D-N-I.net actually. "Rapid-cycle" OODA. It really is old school week ...

As to how to explain this to the notional 19 year old, I have no idea. That's really not a concern for me right now. I am selfish. I have begun to find that I actually learn much more, the more I try and teach it. Truly, in giving, we receive, I suppose ...

Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 07:46 AM
When I was studying primate evolutionary ecology during one of my grad student stints, I often wondered why a chimpanzee, when compared to a human of comparable body mass, seems capable of greater "feats of strength" than the human. If I had continued my studies, I would have tested that apparent fact to see whether, in fact, chimps have more muscle power, pound-per-pound, than humans do. Now, along with that aspect, I would ask whether chimps are more "naturally" relaxed than humans are, and thus -- in their non-tense state -- able to do many more things than we seem capable of. Animals utilize their qi; they have better developed qi than we do. The theory among Chinese, Indians, etc., is that we evolved to a point where our natural qi is not what it once was, when we were more animal like. Hence, you have to do qigongs, etc., to build your qi strength back up. Jin/Kokyu powers are not natural to animals... those are learned skills.

FWIW

Mike

Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 07:54 AM
I am selfish. I have begun to find that I actually learn much more, the more I try and teach it. Truly, in giving, we receive, I suppose ...Hi Erick:

This is sort of a hot button of mine. "Teaching" is not meant to be a time of experiment and fulfillment just for a teacher. That's why I don't teach. I didn't know enough to teach (I only know a few basics) and I'm glad I didn't saddle some well-meaning "wide-eyed 19-year-old" with what turned out to be incorrect ideas.

And I've listened to and worked with many people who were taught something wrong... and almost none of those people can now make the effort to overcome those wrongly imbued habits to any great extent. Their well-meaning "teacher" led them down the wrong road, thinking that "years of practice" must mean "I'm getting better". You get the drift.

I'm not singling you out, but I've been there and seen that problem of "teachers" for too many years. And I've met too many really nice people who were taught shoulder instead of hara and now they'll never make it back... a beginner can pass them easily.

Let's be careful with the idea of "teaching". It's a loaded gun and it's destroyed many lives. Reading some of the posts on various martial arts lists, I shudder to think of the many personal theories that are being foisted off as "The Real Stuff" (tm). ;)

FWIW

Mike

MM
11-21-2006, 08:21 AM
I'm nowhere near competent enough to provide a detailed analysis on this subject. So, here's my rambling thoughts...

Mikel and David's examples and theories do have an underlying truth in regards to a lot of aikido. Expanding that, the theories given also have a basis for aiki in a lot of aikido.

Let's face it, some (I won't say how many because I really don't know) schools of aikido teach relaxation, timing, and body movement as a basis for "affecting" uke. In certain regards, what toddlers/children do can actually be seen as a crude level "natural" basis for aiki and aikido.

Don't get me wrong, this is just rambling and I really haven't come to any conclusions on the theories and ideas presented here. Give me a few years. :)

But, there is an aikido that uses "effect" rather than "affect" and in the former instance, I really can't see how this theory holds up to aiki and aikido.

Let me explain ... when one uses body movement and relaxing to physically off balance uke, then one is "affecting" uke. It's a very direct, action verb and something is being done to uke.

When one uses internal arts to keep oneself centered and uke attacks, then there is an "effect" on uke that is more of a cause and effect situation. It's more of a secondary matter and there is no direct, action done to uke.

So, when doing internal aiki and aikido, I'd have to say that this really isn't "natural" or "intuitive" and that the theory doesn't hold. As I said before, you'd have to be a genius to figure this stuff out on your own.

However, I've been trying to get a handle on how Ikeda sensei felt as related to how Dan felt. And I'm wondering if somewhere down the line, at some point in aikido training, all this technique-driven practice and going from big circles to little circles and hip driven movement and relaxing doesn't somehow provide an opportunity for one to find these internal arts, albeit in a different manner. Granted, it isn't going to be an opportunity that's easily recognizable. And there are much better training methods for learning this internal stuff.

Eh, anyway, that's my rambling thoughts regarding this thread's theory.

Mark

ChrisMoses
11-21-2006, 08:23 AM
So, at the end of the day, before breath and other advanced methods of generating power, the standing and training of connections is paramount, I think. In that regard I cannot see a difference between what the Aikido sensei and Akuzawa do.

I can, Akuzawa is able to teach it in a very short period of time, where in Aikido, there is a lingering idea that it will take a lifetime to ever be even a shadow of your nearly magical teacher... :)

Ian Thake
11-21-2006, 08:27 AM
I've spent a lot of time writing out long explanations of how to do many of the jin/kokyu things on this forum and others... it would be too much to re-write what *should* be basic knowledge already, every time I use a word.
Unfortunately as these discussions get longer the explanations become almost impossible to track down by any interested newcomers.

Mike,

if you've taken the trouble to create a detailed explanation, is it possible for you to put it somewhere referenceable on the web, as you do with your force diagrams?

Similarly, there are plenty of questions about the terminology that keep recurring that could be handled by an agreed link, perhaps to an entry this site's wiki.

Would anyone like to take a stab at 'jin'? Instructions on how to add an entry to the AikiWiki can be found here (http://www.aikiweb.com/wiki/aikiwiki) .

Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 08:43 AM
Unfortunately as these discussions get longer the explanations become almost impossible to track down by any interested newcomers. Hi Ian:

One time I hosted a very well-known martial artist for a seminar and he asked me what I would like for him to teach. I told him. He shook his head and said that those sorts of things should not be taught to the public. I told him that he didn't understand westerners... you can tell them the secrets of the universe, but they'll never use them, so it's perfectly safe to tell anything freely. They can't distinguish between the truth and the local water-cooler discussions. And they'll never think hard enough to figure it out. ;)

if you've taken the trouble to create a detailed explanation, is it possible for you to put it somewhere referenceable on the web, as you do with your force diagrams?

Similarly, there are plenty of questions about the terminology that keep recurring that could be handled by an agreed link, perhaps to an entry this site's wiki.

Would anyone like to take a stab at 'jin'? Instructions on how to add an entry to the AikiWiki can be found here (http://www.aikiweb.com/wiki/aikiwiki) . Well, to understand "Kokyu", you first have to understand what "jin" is. For instance, Ushiro Sensei was trying to teach "Kokyu" via his favored kata, Sanchin. Sanchin works both jin and the body fascial development that is the focus of what "ki" really is, in the practical sense of body usage. Ushiro tries to teach Kokyu as a wholistic thing; I try to break it into components to make it more easily understood.

I've said before that jin is the "essence" of kokyu because of the fact that you have to understand jin before you can get the whole things. "Jin" is not something any baby is ever going to do, BTW.

If Jun will allow a couple of outlaw (i.e., not purely Aikido) terms in the AikiWiki, I'll give it a shot when I've got some time.

Best.

Mike

Erick Mead
11-21-2006, 09:02 AM
When I was studying primate evolutionary ecology during one of my grad student stints, I often wondered why a chimpanzee, when compared to a human of comparable body mass, seems capable of greater "feats of strength" than the human. If I had continued my studies, I would have tested that apparent fact to see whether, in fact, chimps have more muscle power, pound-per-pound, than humans do. Now, along with that aspect, I would ask whether chimps are more "naturally" relaxed than humans are, and thus -- in their non-tense state -- able to do many more things than we seem capable of. Animals utilize their qi; they have better developed qi than we do. The theory among Chinese, Indians, etc., is that we evolved to a point where our natural qi is not what it once was, when we were more animal like. Hence, you have to do qigongs, etc., to build your qi strength back up. Jin/Kokyu powers are not natural to animals... those are learned skills.
Chimps and other non-hominid apes actually have greater mechanical advantage on the length of muscle attachment from nearly every limb joint. Thus, they have better "springs and pulleys" than we do, Mike. ;) With one exception, -- the hips and buttocks. We are the big-ass apes in more than one sense... :blush:

What we lose in leverage, though, we gain in degrees of freedom of joint rotation, responsiveness and flexibility, which also allows our highly dynamic stance -- but I feel like things are going to start gyrating in a moment -- so I'll sit down, now. :D

Erick Mead
11-21-2006, 09:24 AM
... He shook his head and said that those sorts of things should not be taught to the public. I told him that he didn't understand westerners... you can tell them the secrets of the universe, but they'll never use them, so it's perfectly safe to tell anything freely. That's not true, at all.

We'll immediately forget it, and when doing something else utterly unrelated, later remember it, apply it, and then think we invented it ...

Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 09:24 AM
Chimps and other non-hominid apes actually have greater mechanical advantage on the length of muscle attachment from nearly every limb joint. Thus, they have better "springs and pulleys" than we do, Mike. ;) With one exception, -- the hips and buttocks. We are the big-ass apes in more than one sense... :blush: I don't disagree with that, but to avoid the discussion of muscle-bone attachments (don't get me started... you'll lead me into my "Neanderthal skeletal mechanics can still be found in some Europeans" theory), I deliberately said "animals", not "primates". ;)

Mike

Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 09:27 AM
We'll immediately forget it, and when doing something else utterly unrelated, later remember it, apply it, and then think we invented it ...That's only done by teachers, but they do it "naturally". ;)

Mike

Erick Mead
11-21-2006, 09:28 AM
(don't get me started... you'll lead me into my "Neanderthal skeletal mechanics can still be found in some Europeans" theory) ... Don't talk about my uncle that way.

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-21-2006, 09:40 AM
I can, Akuzawa is able to teach it in a very short period of time, where in Aikido, there is a lingering idea that it will take a lifetime to ever be even a shadow of your nearly magical teacher... :)
Hee, gotcha! You're wrong :D I asked this teacher in front of his students how long, using his system, it would take for a beginner to get his body trained to a level that he could use this in his aikido. The reply, from the teacher and from several students, was "about a year", of dedicated practice. Akuzawa, I don't remember the exact figure thrown around, but I believe Robert John mentioned 1.5 or 2 years as ballpark figures. For me, depending on the level the teacher has in mind when he makes the calculation, I think they're the same length of time. Both guys know what they want to teach, and they know how to get there, so they can give an honest and tested answer. I would trust the aikido guy more at this stage, since he's in his 70s and has several generations of students to judge from. But I'm not picky, 2 or 3 years doing something is fine with me, compared to the 15 I previously wasted :grr:

MM
11-21-2006, 10:34 AM
Slightly off topic, but does concern "natural" or "intuitive" movements.

Seiza.

It's a thing we all do in aikido. But why? It certainly doesn't feel natural or intuitive. I've never seen a baby/toddler/child sit seiza either.

But consider these points:

http://www.koryu.com/library/dlowry17.html

The best, though not necessarily most pleasant, way to assume the correct posture is to imagine there is an eyelet in the very top of your skull connected to a rope that is stretching you up to the ceiling. Or imagine the floor and ceiling are pressing gently together and it is only your posture holding them apart, your spine stretched, though not beyond its natural curve.

and

From "Classical Fighting Arts of Japan ? A Complete Guide to Koryu Jujutsu" (Serge Mol):

"Some researchers maintain that 'Oshikiuchi' are non-martial methods of etiquette, while several key figures within Daito ryu state that, in addition to etiquette, there are actual techniques - hanza-handachi to be specific - that were created to be used within the inner chambers of Edo-jo (Tokyo castle). The martial techniques or principles may have actually been referred to as 'aiki no inyo-ho' (aiki methods based on yin/yang) - perhaps a part of Oshikiuchi. They were techniques that were prohibited to be shown in public and were only shown within the Takeda household."


The former sounds a lot like Rob's exercises for internal arts and the latter references them as "aiki no inyo-ho" and it's from ... drum roll ... seiza.


We're talking IN PLAIN SIGHT here. LOL! Kudos to Ellis Amdur for that phrase. It's actually a great one. I hope he doesn't mind me repeating it so often.

Mark

ChrisMoses
11-21-2006, 10:38 AM
Hee, gotcha! You're wrong :D I asked this teacher in front of his students how long, using his system, it would take for a beginner to get his body trained to a level that he could use this in his aikido. The reply, from the teacher and from several students, was "about a year", of dedicated practice.

Well good for him. I haven't found anything like that here in *mainstream* aikido however. Personally I've progressed more in the last 3 years of training with my current teacher (way outside the mainstream of aikido) than I think I had in all the time I've spent in aikido before that.

Cady Goldfield
11-21-2006, 10:42 AM
We are the big-ass apes in more than one sense...


:D

Yeah, that's the price we pay for being completely bipedal.

What we lose in leverage, though, we gain in degrees of freedom of joint rotation, responsiveness and flexibility, which also allows our highly dynamic stance --

The long arms and muscles definitely account for apes' mechanical leverage, and also the greater area they have, over which to accelarate and gain momentum when they spin or turn and flail their arms. I would not want to be in the way.

But in addition to that, it does seem that they are much more relaxed and unified in their movements, perhaps being less self-conscious than most humans.

Luc X Saroufim
11-21-2006, 10:56 AM
and also the greater area they have, over which to accelarate and gain momentum when they spin or turn and flail their arms.

angular momentum is based on mass and angular velocity, not total area.

also, their longer arms means a higher polar moment of intertia, causing them to spin slower.

man, i'm really picking on you today. :D

Cady Goldfield
11-21-2006, 11:06 AM
Yeah, Luc, you're like an avenging Aikido angel of doom! :p

It goes even further than what you are saying, though. Apes and other non-human mammals do tend to move their body parts in a much more unified way than we uptight humans do, and as a result, all of their body parts are moving in tandem instead of one against the other. So, their movements are naturally more powerful and directionally focused than ours. When you don't have parts moving oppositely and at odds with each other, you get a lot more power.

A slap from a chimp can be much more powerful than one from a human -- not just because of leverage and all the good mechanical-physics stuff you cite :D , but also because their entire body is relaxed and poured into the movement.

I wonder whether we can get a government grant to study chimp and gorilla slaps? Who wants to be a volunteer? Luc? :D

Basia Halliop
11-21-2006, 11:11 AM
Don't chimps also have MUCH higher muscle mass (and bone density, etc) than humans? That makes it much harder to compare anything. I mean, they might look relaxed partly just because it doesn't take them much energy to do something because they're so darn strong :).

Or maybe swinging from ones arms builds relaxed coordination and efficient movement :).

Cady Goldfield
11-21-2006, 11:17 AM
Being strong doesn't make you relaxed. Extra muscle mass and bone weight requires an increased amount of energy used in order to move, and even to just "be."

I believe that non-human mammals are not intellectually engaged in controlling their musculature, and so do not tense up. Even intelligent primates such as chimps and gorillas (who are mostly terrestrial, not arboreal) are a lot more comfortable in their skins than are humans. We think, therefore we tense. ;)

Basia Halliop
11-21-2006, 11:30 AM
Being strong doesn't make you relaxed

I know, that's not quite what I'm saying. I'm thinking more of how you get a smaller person to do a physical task (say lifting something heavy) and they visibly tense or strain to make the effort, maybe also distorting their posture. Someone much bigger comes along and just tosses it on their shoulder. Of course they're using more total energy, but it's a smaller proportion of their total available, and the thing doesn't 'look heavy' and they don't have as much of a sensation of having used their muscles (even though, of course, they have).

I'm not sure it applies to chimps, but that was my thought... if someone is much stronger, they may often _appear_ and even _feel_ more relaxed doing the same task, all other things being equal (of course all other things aren't always equal, etc).

Edited to add a more Aikido-specifc example. When I'm training with someone smaller than me, I tend to find it much harder to tell whether I'm just forcing through with muscle power from my arms -- I can't feel the muscle I'm using as well because it's so easy. If someone is noticeably heavier or stronger than me, I tend to notice much more clearly if I'm trying to bulldoze through or not.

DH
11-21-2006, 12:14 PM
From "Classical Fighting Arts of Japan ? A Complete Guide to Koryu Jujutsu" (Serge Mol):

The former sounds a lot like Rob's exercises for internal arts and the latter references them as "aiki no inyo-ho" and it's from ... drum roll ... seiza.

We're talking IN PLAIN SIGHT here. LOL! Kudos to Ellis Amdur for that phrase. It's actually a great one. I hope he doesn't mind me repeating it so often.

Mark

Mark
This goes into the other thread on that other forum where I was discussing resolving yin yang (In-yo ho) in us and it not being about the other guy.
The comment about seiza has nothing to do with that. And nothing at all to do with another person. It is all in you. That test with the pushes or the hand-pull where it negates and neutrailizes their effort so they feel they can't even push or pull anymore? It was the exercises you're now doing to create that movement and attention to connection in you that is the start of in yo ho. Sinking/rising.expanding/compressing pushing /pulling. And having them all present and moving in us- not the other guy being involved.
It is the essense of being both ghosty and 100% solid all at once.
Where someone trying to play you gets their whole body moved and not just a part of them being captured.

Speaking of which the idea of Ellis's great multi-faceted article, and just -what- was -hidden in plain site- evolved from the begining to the end with Ellis's excellent research and Koryu history. I said at the start the CMA had nothing to directly do with Ueshiba. Though the Chinese Arts influences are generic and had an inescapable influence, it was Ueshiab's training in a Japanese art that was his inspiration. And Koryu In-yo ho is a part.
Cheers
Dan

MM
11-21-2006, 01:01 PM
Mark
This goes into the other thread on that other forum where I was discussing resolving yin yang (In-yo ho) in us and it not being about the other guy.
The comment about seiza has nothing to do with that. And nothing at all to do with another person. It is all in you. That test with the pushes or the hand-pull where it negates and neutrailizes their effort so they feel they can't even push or pull anymore? It was the exercises you're now doing to create that movement and attention to connection in you that is the start of in yo ho. Sinking/rising.expanding/compressing pushing /pulling. And having them all present and moving in us- not the other guy being involved.
It is the essense of being both ghosty and 100% solid all at once.
Where someone trying to play you gets their whole body moved and not just a part of them being captured.

Speaking of which the idea of Ellis's great multi-faceted article, and just -what- was -hidden in plain site- evolved from the begining to the end with Ellis's excellent research and Koryu history. I said at the start the CMA had nothing to directly do with Ueshiba. Though the Chinese Arts influences are generic and had an inescapable influence, it was Ueshiab's training in a Japanese art that was his inspiration. And Koryu In-yo ho is a part.
Cheers
Dan

Hi Dan,
True, it's about internal, but what brought me to seiza was those quotes and some others (I couldn't find them again). It seemed to me that seiza wasn't just a kneeling type position. It appears that seiza was actually used as an internal exercise. Not only that, but that once one was adept at this internal exercise called seiza, one could use in in motion in hanza-handachi mode. In other words, hanza handachi wasn't what Ellis had talked about as a means of a person in seiza defeating a person standing (Ellis even mentioned that in some koryu the person standing won all the time). It was a means of using this internal art (which one build by doing the exercise of seiza) in motion, in technique, or in a dynamic atmosphere.

As for Ellis' CMA influence -- I don't know. Ueshiba spent quite a bit of time with Omoto kyo. There could be a link there if anyone could dig into it. Or maybe not. As I said, I don't know the answers.

Mark

Neil Yamamoto
11-21-2006, 01:32 PM
Iíve stayed out of this but guess Iíll mess up the environment a bit.

First, I totally disagree with the premise of budo springing from children. Yeah, there may be some similarity in general to what has been called ďChild like natural movementĒ but so what, you can say the same for similarities in all human movements.

What others have said of aiki and why it works in my opinion, is it is counter intuitive to most human patterns of movement on a psychological level. In the examples David and Mikel used, a child may have only the thought of getting away in mind, but itís also not being applied against any real intent of harm or aggression nor is the intent of purpose the same for the child.

As others have posted, how people define aiki is a major stumbing block. Suffice to say, what works for one doesnít work for another as satisfactory mentally and emotionally. David and those agreeing with him are not going to change their minds so Iím not going to argue this point beyond the above. On to the second part of my post.

Iíve been working on many of the same concepts discussed here based upon my own practice and purposes and what Iíve been taught. Now, having felt some of what Chris showed, talked about from his visit to Ark, I do many of the same things. So do several other instructors I know. What I believe makes Arkís method work well and develop the traits described is the training methodology. Aikido as it is popularly taught lacks knowledge of this in almost all cases Iíve experienced with hands on contact or seen demonstrated.

Aikidoís methodology for teaching these things are there, but are so totally misunderstood by almost everybody Iíve encountered, including numerous higher ranked instructors, they are almost useless for developing those body skills. As a result, I believe aikido for most people lacks much of what is needed for control over positioning in relation to uke. Which is why tenken is used so often, as is evasion, sped up techniques, and excessive torque applied to limbs. My impression is the Japanese arts are way behind the Chinese arts in how these things are taught. I have my own pet theories on why, but Iím not going to get into that here.

Arksí method is very much the xingyi drills Iíve seen and dabbled in earlier in my training. The drills mentioned reinforce the body skills. Good stuff to develop the traits discussed in my take. What is different is the purpose. Aiki aspects of these same body skills tend to ocus on stability and control to throw as Iíve been taught these things, with power as a secondary aspect.

What is being discussed here from it appears, Arkís approach (as is Danís and Mikeís) is for striking and then closing. While it can be used for throwing grappling quite easily, it takes a different approach. The approach discussed gives better power release Ė fa jin - than the sequencing of movement I was taught in aiki arts.

In my own case, Iíve had to piece it together and I know Iíve been missing pieces. Makes me wish Iíd done more of the Chinese arts back when. The quicker release of power is one of the blocks Iíve had in my own training. Iíve been told I hit and can throw hard, but not to my own satisfaction in progress, which I felt had stagnated. Iíve struggled with the bits Iím missing and the stuff discussed are puzzle pieces Iíve found fills in holes in my own training. What is it Iíve been missing? Nothing much, just the point of view (and time) to put it all together. I spent the last few years trying to clean up problems for others in the group Iíve been dumped in charge of and that severely sidetracked my own training progress. (Another good reason not to want to be in charge of anything or teach!)

For what itís worth, in my opinion there is nothing in the body skills discussed Iíve not encountered in a good martial artist (to greater or lesser degree) that isnít done but for differing intent and purpose for the art being taught. Heck, Andy Dale, one of my first aikido seniors under Bernie Lau does many of the same exercises in the taichi and bagua he teaches. What is different is the intent, Andy doesnít focus on the same things as Chris brought back from his visit to Arkís class.

The upper body cross, (front and rear) hip and torso stability, compression, hip canting, rooting, etc. Iíve felt in good aikido sensei- Yoshioka from Hawaii and what he was capable of springs to mind as one of the most capable in this regard. I couldnít put words to it back then, but I remember the feel extremely well.

Ikeda has some similar skills as those discussed but uses it in a very different intent and manner. Iíve been taught the same things by Don Angier as well but with a different purpose in mind for how itís applied. (The terminology was very different and could be very misleading as well as to what was being done too). Ushiro Kenji as mentioned, is a good example of what most should be trying to achieve I believe.

Applying some of what Ark showed Chris made a difference in what I do, in just a matter of a few weeks, in my power generation. It connected the dots in my own puzzle. It was nothing dramatic either, it was simply a matter of connecting the pieces together in a different sequence that my brain could wrap around properly.

What the block is for most people I believe, and as was already mentioned, is focus on the wrong things and not being willing to step back and start afresh. I know from direct experience with several aikidoka, karateka, etc. they were willing to admit what they did didnít work on me, just not willing to let go of what their status was in their own world of training. Dogma within an art and in a group is a powerful factor to try and overcome. Those who do over come it usually end up good and on their own, or good and not well liked in the group.

I had much of the same problem as a kid with not fitting in and being held back by trying to belong. Now itís just about sucking less each week and who cares who likes me any longer. As Chris will second, the rule we follow is ďI suck. I will try to suck less. Someday I may even get good enough to do this well.Ē Or something along that line of thought. And in case anyone wonders, the only reason I'm teaching is I suck less than the other guys in the group.

Last point as Mark just posted this, anyone ever done any of the exercises Shirata Rinjiro taught? Internal exercises indeed!

Dennis Hooker
11-21-2006, 01:41 PM
"Last point as Mark just posted this, anyone ever done any of the exercises Shirata Rinjiro taught? Internal exercises indeed!
Neil Yamamoto
Tuesday Night Bad Budo Club and Icho Ryu Chief Fluffy Bunny"

Yes, I do some of them every day and have for over 30 years.

Ron Tisdale
11-21-2006, 01:51 PM
Hi Neil, can you describe some of those exercises?

Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 01:55 PM
I've stayed out of this but guess I'll mess up the environment a bit.Helluva a long post, Neil. My lips are still tired from reading it. What is being discussed here from it appears, Ark's approach (as is Dan's and Mike's) is for striking and then closing. While it can be used for throwing grappling quite easily, it takes a different approach. The approach discussed gives better power release -- fa jin - than the sequencing of movement I was taught in aiki arts. I just wanted to note that I disagree with this, in my own case. You mention "fa jin".... before there is fa there must be na. I.e., you don't release power until you have the position and balance. That being so, you can either release or throw. Technically, this means that you can handle an attack with either "hard" (release) or "soft" (throw). In other words, the difference you're positing tends to disappear in a realistic discussion of martial arts. In my own case, I've had to piece it together and I know I've been missing pieces. Makes me wish I'd done more of the Chinese arts back when. The quicker release of power is one of the blocks I've had in my own training. I've been told I hit and can throw hard, but not to my own satisfaction in progress, which I felt had stagnated. I've struggled with the bits I'm missing and the stuff discussed are puzzle pieces I've found fills in holes in my own training. What is it I've been missing? Nothing much, just the point of view (and time) to put it all together. I spent the last few years trying to clean up problems for others in the group I've been dumped in charge of and that severely sidetracked my own training progress. (Another good reason not to want to be in charge of anything or teach!).

For what it's worth, in my opinion there is nothing in the body skills discussed I've not encountered in a good martial artist (to greater or lesser degree) that isn't done but for differing intent and purpose for the art being taught. Heck, Andy Dale, one of my first aikido seniors under Bernie Lau does many of the same exercises in the taichi and bagua he teaches. What is different is the intent, Andy doesn't focus on the same things as Chris brought back from his visit to Ark's class. Well, I'd disagree. I don't know of a single westerner who I'd consider skilled in Taiji, Bagua, etc.... the same missing elements in Aikido are usually missing in almost all western teachers of Chinese martial arts. Not to disparage Andy by any means, but simply to suggest you consider that what happens in Aikido is actually pretty common in most of the western versions of Asian arts.

In terms of the mechanics being the same, I'd disagree there, also. I recently did a workshop in Berlin at an MMA school with the instructor, Frank Burczynski, attending out of curiosity. He's good, BTW. He responded to a question (on the Kampfkunst-board, if you speak German) about whether the mechanics were different. He now thinks they are different, although from his encounters with other "internal martial arts teachers" in the past, he hadn't seen anything that was different from the mechanics he already knew. It's worth considering.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

MM
11-21-2006, 02:07 PM
I've stayed out of this but guess I'll mess up the environment a bit.


Can't hurt. ;)

Seriously, thanks for the post. I'll snip some of it, though. Hope you don't mind.


What I believe makes Ark's method work well and develop the traits described is the training methodology. Aikido as it is popularly taught lacks knowledge of this in almost all cases I've experienced with hands on contact or seen demonstrated.

Aikido's methodology for teaching these things are there, but are so totally misunderstood by almost everybody I've encountered, including numerous higher ranked instructors, they are almost useless for developing those body skills. As a result, I believe aikido for most people lacks much of what is needed for control over positioning in relation to uke. Which is why tenken is used so often, as is evasion, sped up techniques, and excessive torque applied to limbs. My impression is the Japanese arts are way behind the Chinese arts in how these things are taught. I have my own pet theories on why, but I'm not going to get into that here.


Got to agree with you here. Still, if it is there with some high ranking Aikido instructors, why isn't it being taught? Or is it, just silently and without a lot of fanfare?


The upper body cross, (front and rear) hip and torso stability, compression, hip canting, rooting, etc. I've felt in good aikido sensei- Yoshioka from Hawaii and what he was capable of springs to mind as one of the most capable in this regard. I couldn't put words to it back then, but I remember the feel extremely well.

Ikeda has some similar skills as those discussed but uses it in a very different intent and manner.


Which is why it felt differently but was still very subtle and smooth. Good to know it for sure, though.


What the block is for most people I believe, and as was already mentioned, is focus on the wrong things and not being willing to step back and start afresh. I know from direct experience with several aikidoka, karateka, etc. they were willing to admit what they did didn't work on me, just not willing to let go of what their status was in their own world of training. Dogma within an art and in a group is a powerful factor to try and overcome. Those who do over come it usually end up good and on their own, or good and not well liked in the group.


Ugh. Much the same thing I heard from someone else. I'm still looking for Option C. :)


I had much of the same problem as a kid with not fitting in and being held back by trying to belong. Now it's just about sucking less each week and who cares who likes me any longer. As Chris will second, the rule we follow is "I suck. I will try to suck less. Someday I may even get good enough to do this well." Or something along that line of thought. And in case anyone wonders, the only reason I'm teaching is I suck less than the other guys in the group.


LOL! I like the quoted sentences. If you don't mind, I may use that.


Last point as Mark just posted this, anyone ever done any of the exercises Shirata Rinjiro taught? Internal exercises indeed!

Um, not that I know of. Is there a place online that explains them?

Thanks,
Mark

ChrisMoses
11-21-2006, 02:29 PM
I just wanted to note that I disagree with this, in my own case.

In terms of the mechanics being the same, I'd disagree there, also.

Mike, I think you misunderstood some of what Neil wrote there. I'd also like to point out that you've never (to my knowledge) trained with Neil, Don, Bernie or anyone from the Aunkai, so you're not in the best position to comment on the similarities or differences between what may or may not be there. I'm not trying to be defensive or arguementative, just pointing out the limits of your insight. Neil's speaking in pretty general terms about some pretty detailed stuff.

Ron, I know personally I wouldn't feel comfortable posting any of the Aunkai's exercises for the world to read, and I doubt Neil would either. First, I only had a couple hours to work with them, so there's a very real possibility (certainty more likely) that I'm missing some things and doing others incorrectly and second, I don't really feel I have any right to share those kinds of specifics. Sorry man, maybe if we get Ark out here sometime you can come couch-surf.

Ron Tisdale
11-21-2006, 02:33 PM
Sorry...I meant Rinjiro Shirata's exercises...

Best,
Ron (Rob John's descriptions are more than enough to work on)

Alfonso
11-21-2006, 02:35 PM
Hi, great thread!

Rob John 's posted a couple of detailed description of two Aunkai exercises on this site..
I think Shirata sensei's exercises were the question ? Are you talking about the sword/jo suburi?

Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 02:46 PM
Mike, I think you misunderstood some of what Neil wrote there. I'd also like to point out that you've never (to my knowledge) trained with Neil, Don, Bernie or anyone from the Aunkai, so you're not in the best position to comment on the similarities or differences between what may or may not be there. I'm not trying to be defensive or arguementative, just pointing out the limits of your insight. Neil's speaking in pretty general terms about some pretty detailed stuff. Hi Chris:

Well, I'm not trying to be argumentative, either, but if you look at my reply to Neil, it was more in response to comments that he made, not in terms of singular assertions on my part. I read your post on E-Budo and it seemed fairly straightforward that you weren't used to jin mechanics. No big deal, because ALL of us have had to start from scratch on those mechanics... even though there are variations and levels of sophistication in those mechanics.

If you posted that you were unfamiliar with those mechanics, I can at least make a general read on what has been included and not included in your own training by your own teachers; i.e., either what they know or what they may/may-not have taught you about basics in a number of years. Same leeway you have whenever I post anything. That's how these discussions move forward without any friction: the basis for good debate. And let me interject here that I've always enjoyed your posts (still do) and I take them to be almost always good and honest discussion material.

All the Best.

Mike

ChrisMoses
11-21-2006, 03:23 PM
Hi Chris:

Well, I'm not trying to be argumentative, either, but if you look at my reply to Neil, it was more in response to comments that he made, not in terms of singular assertions on my part. I read your post on E-Budo and it seemed fairly straightforward that you weren't used to jin mechanics. No big deal, because ALL of us have had to start from scratch on those mechanics... even though there are variations and levels of sophistication in those mechanics.

If you posted that you were unfamiliar with those mechanics, I can at least make a general read on what has been included and not included in your own training by your own teachers; i.e., either what they know or what they may/may-not have taught you about basics in a number of years. Same leeway you have whenever I post anything. That's how these discussions move forward without any friction: the basis for good debate. And let me interject here that I've always enjoyed your posts (still do) and I take them to be almost always good and honest discussion material.

All the Best.

Mike


That's fair, like I said, just pointing out the limitations of the medium. I don't really have a good concept of "jin mechanics" as a term, I'm almost exclusively a budoka and Chinese arts and terms are totally new to me (and after all this is aikiweb). ;) There are aspects of our training that (while different in specifics from what little I've seen of the Aunkai) work to develop similar skills. Like Neil said, the specifics and application of these skills are different (but so far at least seem to be very complimentary). I have no doubt that if we hadn't already been working on our own version of this kind of training, I would have had absolutely no reference point whatsoever for what we did with Ark. Note: not trying to backpedal from my posting on e-budo in the slightest, but I've had some time to work on what we did there and play with how it can fit into what I/we do. Seems like every night there's 10 things where I think, "Aha! So THAT's how Neil/Rich/Johnny/Joe/Don do that!" As I hope I made clear on the referenced thread, the only thing I'm more impressed by than Ark's formidable skill is his clear and replicable teaching methodology.

Thanks Mike.


Ron:

Doh! I should have caught that... Narf.

Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 03:41 PM
I don't really have a good concept of "jin mechanics" as a term, I'm almost exclusively a budoka and Chinese arts and terms are totally new to me (and after all this is aikiweb). ;) Hi Chris:

Doesn't matter. "Jin mechanics", "ki tests", "ki demos", "fa jin", "rooting", "neutralizing" (in the ki/kokyu sense), "listening".... all that stuff is the same stuff.... Chinese or Japanese martial art, regardless. Anybody that tries to tell you different doesn't know what he's talking about... and he's archiving an 'embarrassing moment' that could come back to haunt him. ;)

Regards,

Mike

Mike Hamer
11-21-2006, 05:18 PM
Wow, this thread has been completely derailed, and has turned into a completely different topic. Oh well, STILL A GOOD THREAD! Never though it would get this huge though...

Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 05:26 PM
Yeah, but Mikel... how many people does it take to get across the idea that the "baby's movement" stuff will only go so far? ;)

The ki, kokyu, jin, etc., stuff is what they really mean by "natural" movement. It's not a reliance on muscular movement; it's a return to using the strengths of ground-support and gravity (the ki of heaven and the ki of earth) as the power behind our movements, rather than just brute force.

Regards,

Mike

David Orange
11-21-2006, 06:14 PM
I enjoy debating with you here and there bud, but sometimes its hard to keep your mind from wandering all over the place. The real question was about a method of training the body. I didn't, and still don't, see the need to bring up play time.

Dan, I think I've been smack in the middle of the topic of the thread the whole time. Ueshiba said that aiki is natural movement. Mikel started with the example of the young girl moving with aiki, Roy Klein mentioned my article on Aikido Journal, I added the videos and the discussion went on from there for many pages, primarily on whether aiki and aikido were developed based on children's movement.

Much of that discussion involved "what is aiki" and whether I understood what aiki is. I gave Mochizuki sensei's definition and there was a lengthy discussion on how large a part evasion plays in the nature of aiki. As it is defined as the "ura" of kiai, it cannot exist unless someone else is there, exerting kiai against us. Doesn't that stand to reason?

Hence, the focus on "fighting," though as I've said, aikido comes from "not fighting" someone who is trying to fight us. And that leads back to Ellis Amdur's comment that babies fight with a simian overhead flailing, to which I replied that aiki comes from the movement of babies who are not already embroiled in a conflict, but are too interested in what they're doing to be bothered by anyone else, so they just brush it off.

However, for aikido, as budo, the key question has always been effectiveness in self defense and combat. And the sword has always been the ultimate measure of that.

Maybe a more interesting topic is to address Gernot's post about the AIkido guy having to extend the arms to do his aikido and what that says about a skill level?

Maybe, but as you say, it is a different topic.

Or what about breath power? How would that affect his fingers? What connects them? How about what is happening on the inside of that Aikido guy, as oppossed to enountering power at a touch anywhere in the body in the other method with Arkuzawa.

Well, as I've said before, that sounds to me like a difference between Japanese and Chinese approaches to martial arts.


Or Mark Murrays experience in feeling me VS Ikeda in the same week. There are two men, who don't know each other, feeling two different means of holding the body together and telling you they are different.

And it's fascinating to read about that, but I've addressed that. I think what you're describing is something other than Ueshiba meant when he said that aikido is natural movement. Frankly, once, Mochizuki Sensei did a technique on me that locked my wrist. Normally, when someone does that technique, I can move other parts of my body to some degree, but that one time, I felt that I was unable to move any part of my body. The lock was firm but not especially painful. Still, for a moment, until he let me go, I couldn't move anything at all. No one else ever did that to me.

Still, what he did in the dojo, what the fantastic shihans there were doing, can all be explained in movement that children could easily make--if they were larger and simply more coordinated. Everything could be simplified to basic combinations of movements of the body, arms, legs and head to prevent the attacker's strength from pinning them in place. And the attacker's efforts to restrain them always took the attacker off balance. This aspect, after learning basic, general techniques, depended more and more on a higher organization of the body in "centering" which is to say "tanren". You can tell someone of my mediocre skill that you're more developed in tanren, but that's why I always come back to the more highly developed people who have proven their higher degree of organization by rising through the objective levels of an art like judo. Someone who has reached a legitimate sixth dan in judo would surely give you a different feeling of strength than an old Harry Dean Stanton type, such as myself. But even the strong judo man might still lack the knowledge of how to evade the sword, despite all his strength. And I say that because you have so frequently commented that "blending" as aikido is nonsense. But when the opponent is swinging a sword, any failure to blend is the nonsense.

Both have given a written opinion about their views as to whether they would call it "aiki" vs "aiki"-do and how it felt different. How about follow up questions to them about the feel and what they think is going on? About what this "whole body feel" -they who are thousands of miles apart- both try to describe? How or why is there such a difference that it is tangible upon contact?

Very interesting, yes, but as I've said before, I know how I feel when I use my whole body to move people who are resisting me. It's grounded. It's unified and aligned. It has ki flow. Surely it could be more refined, but Mochizuki told me that I "pretty well" understood aikido. So I think it's either a confusion of descriptive terms or we're really talking about something other than aiki.

How did it affect them on the inside? Why or how could that be natural or unnatural-the subject of the thread?

Well, what I could see as aiki would be that you are describing a method by which you are able to access the ura of the opponent's strength through his very touch upon you. That would be a very high level of aiki, indeed. But can it work "at a single glance" to win without fighting, though the opponent really intends to kill you? And would that kind of aiki be able to overcome a sword attack?

If you're saying, though, that you're describing aiki as accessing the ura of the opponent's strength through his very touch, that could explain a lot of things that Ueshiba did--though he said very explicitly that aiki is "natural movement". So if what you are doing is aiki, it must be natural.

Why do you keep bringing up fighting? What does fighting have to do with anything we are discussing?

No discussion of budo is complete without addressing the fighting application. That is the real test of what we say. Which doesn't mean that you and I need necessarily fight. There we would be comparing different things. But how you or I could face a random attack "on the street" is the important consideration for a discussin of budo, all ideas of self-improvement, strength and ability notwithstanding.

Best to you.

David

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-21-2006, 06:24 PM
The ki, kokyu, jin, etc., stuff is what they really mean by "natural" movement. It's not a reliance on muscular movement; it's a return to using the strengths of ground-support and gravity (the ki of heaven and the ki of earth) as the power behind our movements, rather than just brute force.

Hello Mike, can you specify which is which: Ki of heaven = ground support, Ki of earth = gravity? Seems like one of those definition things like wind: do you define where it comes from or where it is going to.

David Orange
11-21-2006, 06:24 PM
He has gotten frustrated at my pulling my arms back when he's leaning forward and started doing the same thing to me, only I wasn't leaning forward at all, so it didn't affect my balance in the slightest (my arms just shot out the rest of the way lacking any resisitance).

Yes, that's centering. Sounds like you're doing it well in a very subtle exercise.



But you see these kinds of reactions in children. So they were not always counter-intuitive. It was our intuition that was fooled over the years by being taught again and again that strength and force are superior and cannot be overcome without superior force.

[quote=Christian Moses]That's why I get my panties all in a bunch over people talking about "natural" movements in aikido. The real 'aiki' stuff is specifically the kinds of things that you wouldn't stumble across, and that's why they work.

And yet, Ueshiba said that it is natural. It does take a very subtle mind to grasp that strictly through observation, but with thousands of hours of training plus very subtle observation you could stumble across it. But most people never would and for the vast majority of people, it will always work.

Best wishes.

David

David Orange
11-21-2006, 06:32 PM
The "natural" movement idea is movement that is in accord with the "laws of the universe"... so it is in akin to the idea of "harmony with the universe".

Mike,

Do you consider lions and tigers to move in harmony with those universal laws?

Why would only man be created to move out of harmony with those laws?

We begin moving and living naturally but gradually become distorted because of social stress. The exact process is due to anxiety, which is felt in the stomach. To quell that anxiety, people tense the stomach unconsciously in a partial fight-or-flight response. This bends the body somewhat, but it also puts pressure on the nerve plexus in the abdomen and partially soothes the feeling of anxiety. Living in long-term social stress makes most people unable really to stand straight as they are naturally meant to. At that point, none of their senses can be accurate because they can't properly feel or adjust to gravitation. Everything they do has to compensate for that unconscious misalignment of the body. This is the basis of most of my ideas on learning any subject.

Best wishes.

David

David Orange
11-21-2006, 06:38 PM
Out of morbid curiosity, were you referring to this article? (http://www.roleystoneaiki.com/The%20Secret%20of%20Aiki.html)? If so, I don't know where the rabbit/oak tree reference comes in.

That's the article. But the rabbit and the oak tree refers to your saying that you can control a child.

But what do you think? CAN a rabbit eat an oak tree?

"The secret of Aikido is to harmonize ourselves with the movement of the universe and bring ourselves into accord with the universe itself. He who has gained the secret of Aikido has the universe in himself and can say, "I am the universe."

And babies are like that. If they had our size and strength along with their attitude, fearlessness and sense of self as universe, very few people could stand up to them.

But, again, it does say that repetition is not the secret, but a mental attitude.

That's something to think about.

Now, as to the rabbit....?

David

Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 06:39 PM
Hello Mike, can you specify which is which: Ki of heaven = ground support, Ki of earth = gravity? Seems like one of those definition things like wind: do you define where it comes from or where it is going to.Well, what does it matter over knowing how to do it???? ;) Let your head be held up with the Ki of Heaven.

Mike

Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 06:41 PM
Mike,

Do you consider lions and tigers to move in harmony with those universal laws? Give it up, David. Learn to quit while you're behind. The "baby's motion" stuff only goes so far and then you have to start ad-libbing, as you know.

Regards,

Mike

ChrisMoses
11-21-2006, 06:42 PM
And yet, Ueshiba said that it is natural. It does take a very subtle mind to grasp that strictly through observation, but with thousands of hours of training plus very subtle observation you could stumble across it. But most people never would and for the vast majority of people, it will always work.

Best wishes.

David

Care to cite a source for that, and what word he used in Japanese for 'natural'? If it's 'natural' why would we need careful observation, we should just do it?

ChrisMoses
11-21-2006, 06:43 PM
Well, I'd disagree. I don't know of a single westerner who I'd consider skilled in Taiji, Bagua, etc....

I just have to point out, that if that were true, you wouldn't get it either. Perhaps you're painting with a bit too broad a brush. :D

David Orange
11-21-2006, 06:46 PM
The involuntary, or unconscious movements are pure and uncorrupted as infants but as we grow older we add voluntary actions to our lives and all of these actions are born of conflict. From the act of standing to the many aspects of voluntary movement are a result of conflict.

Dennis, the big breakthrough in my thinking came when I began to conceive that we don't stand through conflict with gravity, but through cooperation with it. Ben Lo gave five rules for tai chi practice. The first two are: 1. Relax; 2. Stand up straight.

As I mentioned a couple of posts back, our bodies become distorted when we tense the stomach to soothe the abdominal nerves stimulated by social stress and sensed as anxiety. If we release that tension (relax), the body naturally straightens.

We stand up because of a series of nerve reactions that occur when we sense pressure on the soles of our feet. When our weight presses certain nerve points on the soles of our feet, our legs reflexively extend, our spine lengthens, and our head changes its relation to the torso. And, voila: we stand up as a response to gravity. We don't have to fight gravity to stand: it stimulates our nervous system to stand. The less we fight gravity, the better and more easily we stand, with less effort involved. We stand our best when we don't interfere with that process at all--which is natural standing.

Best to you.

David

David Orange
11-21-2006, 06:52 PM
Loads of fun.
Cheers
Dan

Dan, I hope you don't get me wrong in any of what I say. What you do does sound like loads of fun. It's intriguing and very interesting.

It sounds like maybe you are accessing the ura of the opponent's strength through his own touch.

How does that description sound to you?

Thanks.

David

David Orange
11-21-2006, 06:56 PM
Whilst I applaud David and think that what he is doing is commendable in observing seemingly natural movement and drawing it out, I am reminded of a comment that my teacher once mentioned in passing, almost casually, that aiki is like "reprogramming your software".

Ignatius,

I would agree with him. But I'd more likely say "de-bugging" our software.

When you get a brand new computer, everything works just as it should. But through use, especially on the internet, you pick up all kinds of memory-hogging and resource-abusing bugs that leave you barely able to get any little thing done.

By high school or college, most people have gotten far from their natural state of mind--so far that they have no idea what natural even means. So, by that point, "re-programming" is easy to conceive.

However, in Feldenkrais, I learned that you can "reset", which is sort of like "restore software," putting you back to pretty much the original condition you had when you were brand new. And then you find out that the functions you thought you had to "program in" are actually inculded in your original operating system.

That's how I see that.

Best to you.

David

David Orange
11-21-2006, 07:09 PM
If you take what David is saying as the base of your aikido, then what? What difference will it make? Do the shihan whom we admire say, "my aikido works because I try to imitate my toddler's movement"?

Raul, you miss my point entirely. It is not to imitate the toddler's movement and go back to moving like a baby. Far from it.

The point is to realize that aiki movement is innate to our nervous systems. We, of course, would do adult aiki--not baby aiki at all.

What this means for our technique is that we have to realize that aikido is not "second nature" stuff that has to be programmed into us. We have to look carefully at the techniques to find out how they are really built. Like a house, they are built "on" something. If we build them on "second nature" responses developed through conditioning, then the techniques will disappear if we ever stop conditioning the responses we have based the techniques on.

However,"first-nature" responses do not have to be conditioned. They will never fade because they are innate to us. How can we tell that they are innate? Because babies have them, old men have them and young men demonstrate them unfailingly when the stress is sudden or strong enough. We will always "revert to nature."

And if you stop conditioning "second nature" responses, those "first nature" responses will reappear in every case (unless you've injured yourself in "second nature" training.

So my point is to look at your natural, unconditioned responses, look deeply at your aiki techniques, and perceive "where" those techniques can be based on your "first nature" responses that cannot be changed by conditioning.

If you will always "revert to nature," but your aiki techniques are based on your true nature, then you will always revert to aiki. Not baby aiki, but adult human aiki, effective among humans because it is true to human nature. That will never disappear.

Now, does that make more sense?

The test is always on the mat. Not in how a proposition reinforces things we believe in anyway.

Haven't you noticed that Dan is always scolding me because I insist on keeping the topic close to fighting applications? How I always relate aiki to dealing with the sword? What I say holds true to what you say: the test is always on the mat (or, more precisely to my way of thinking, on the street).

Best to you.

David

David Orange
11-21-2006, 07:10 PM
Thanks for what is a fantastic thread...the depth of understanding and reflections presented hear are just solid gold for someone who feels like a toddler in the aikido world.

I agree with you, Aran. It's a very good thread and I see that it now has five stars on it.

This one has gone pretty well.

Cheers.

David

David Orange
11-21-2006, 07:14 PM
A sword comes down towards your head, you simply "irekae" or "turn" inside yourself, which results in the irimi movement.
Its the principle behind the (and anyone else with a different view on this feel free to chime in) "He moves first, I move later, but still arrive first" description you often hear.

Rob, if it really takes you out of the way of the sword, that's all that counts. On the other hand, that is evasion, which is one of the basic things I'm talking about as aiki.

I thought I would make it to Aunkai next year, when I attend my sister-in-law's wedding, but apparently she has decided to have it in Hawaii. So I don't know when I'll get to Japan again. Chris Moses' description of Ark's power was quite intriguing. And he had good things to say about you, too.

BTW, what do you think of the description of those skills as "accessing the ura of the opponent's strength through his own touch"?

Best wishes.

David

Tim Fong
11-21-2006, 07:51 PM
David,
I think you really have to consider how the movement is powered, which makes all the other things you're talking about possible.

Have you seen the national geographic documentary on the guys taking the 8th dan test? Did you notice how the guys who pass, can pick up their front foot and zoom forward to nail the opponent with a men and a fumikomi-ashi? That's no accident. They're carrying their weight primarily on the back foot. Otherwise there is no way they could pick up the front foot without leaning back.

My comment re: the uplifted heel-- like I said on e-budo, if you do this you will see that it makes it easier to open the front of the his. I believe (tentatively) that this is what the Chinese call the kua. This means that the weight goes to the back foot while the front knee bends and presents a front-leaning stance.

And I don't think it is limited to Japan and China either. I'd be very curious about the Spanish , and the Muslim systems, but that's probably beyond the scope of this discussion.

Upyu
11-21-2006, 08:17 PM
Rob, if it really takes you out of the way of the sword, that's all that counts. On the other hand, that is evasion, which is one of the basic things I'm talking about as aiki.

BTW, what do you think of the description of those skills as "accessing the ura of the opponent's strength through his own touch"?


Well, if you gave me the original japanese from Mochizuki's quote, I could probably comment better on it. (Since I assume that's where you got the ura statement)

Sure, getting out of the swords way is paramount, but how to do so unfailingly? The movement has to be completely non-telegraphic, and without setup. So how do you accomplish that? Is the real question I think. How do you move the body first (without it moving externally) and then cause the arms and legs to move first?

There's an interesting clip by Hino here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On5eEyDvmLs

He doesn't show all aspects of what I'm talking about, but he does show that when you move the body, that movement should NOT be felt on the surface. And that's what allows a killer blow.
The "ura" to that, (to borrow yours or mochizuki's terminology, feel free to correct me if im wrong) is that you use this same skill to avoid said blow. The person that has less Bure/sway/etc in the body, has more time to deal with the incoming blow.
By the same token, the person striking wants to reduce the same thing in his body if he wants to up the chance of his strike landing. It comes down to, who has the most unshakable core.
All other movement, irimi, strikes etc are merely a result.
Ken no ugoki ha setsuna de ugoku to iu koto, would be the japanese round about way of saying this.

As for chris's comments, he's too kind. I still got a long ways to go, and I'm a punk I'll admit it ^^; So take his words with some salt lol.

I do hope you get the chance to get out here at some point though. It'll be throughly educational for both of us I think :)

Btw, if anyone wants to discuss some of the finer points of bujutsu stuff in japanese, feel free. I think sometimes its easier for me to discuss those points in that language... I could come back and translate the more salient points for those watching the thread ^^;

Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 08:46 PM
I just have to point out, that if that were true, you wouldn't get it either. Perhaps you're painting with a bit too broad a brush. :D No, I don't consider myself skilled in those arts, either. In fact, I don't teach any martial art... I don't feel like I know enough.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

David Orange
11-21-2006, 09:31 PM
Seiza.

It's a thing we all do in aikido. But why? It certainly doesn't feel natural or intuitive. I've never seen a baby/toddler/child sit seiza either.

Mark, my kids have all sat in seiza naturally. I have pictures of them in seiza. Well, on their knees with their feet under--not with toes crossed, but close enough that I consider it seiza.

David

David Orange
11-21-2006, 09:35 PM
The former sounds a lot like Rob's exercises for internal arts and the latter references them as "aiki no inyo-ho" and it's from ... drum roll ... seiza.

Mark,

I don't think that all the aiki no inyo-ho methods are done from seiza. I believe that refers to the whole range of original aiki methods, including standing and sword, though if you find an exact reference, I'll listen.

David

David Orange
11-21-2006, 09:38 PM
But in addition to that, it does seem that they are much more relaxed and unified in their movements, perhaps being less self-conscious than most humans.

Cady, one thing they lack that kills human spirit is anticipation of evil things to come down upon them. Humans are able to worry about what might happen next. Chimpanzees seem not to do that.

Another thing, of course, is carrying the past around with them, feeling bad about things that happened before.

Babies are like that in the beginning and I think that as they develop both anticipation and bad feelings over past things, they lose that freedom, hold fear in their muscles and lose their natural posture through chronic tensions that they don't know how to release.

Best wishes.

David

David Orange
11-21-2006, 09:57 PM
Give it up, David. Learn to quit while you're behind. The "baby's motion" stuff only goes so far and then you have to start ad-libbing, as you know.

No ad-lib, Mike. I've been working this out for a long time. And the baby stuff doesn't have to go far. Babies are only toddlers for a year or so--from the time they learn to stand and walk until they start talking. Then most of that natural ability gets lost through social pressure.

But that doesn't mean it wasn't there, as many examples have reinforced. It just takes subtle perception to see it.

David

David Orange
11-21-2006, 10:02 PM
Care to cite a source for that, and what word he used in Japanese for 'natural'? If it's 'natural' why would we need careful observation, we should just do it?

I suppose he said "shizen" for natural. It should be clear why we need careful observation to see something natural. We have typically been squeezed out of naturalness into various degrees of neuroses by middle school and most people have lost touch with their real sense of self and their real sense of sensation by college. Sports don't help bring that back, but typically lead further from it. Though I think wrestling is probably the closest to natural.

Why didn't people recognize that a static spark was the same thing as lightning from the clouds? I think it was because the spark was so small and because it was a function of the human body itself. People don't have respect for the small and typically cannot relate it to the large and powerful. But in fact, the nature of the small static spark and lightning are one and the same.

David

David Orange
11-21-2006, 10:30 PM
Well, if you gave me the original japanese from Mochizuki's quote, I could probably comment better on it. (Since I assume that's where you got the ura statement)

I didn't get that statement from Sensei, but derived it from something else he said. In most aikido I've seen, ura and omote mean simply the front side (in front of, to the front) and the back side (behind, to the rear). But he defined them in terms of kenjutsu, as the intent (omote) of the attacker, expressed in his technique, and the weakness (ura) of that attack. He explained aiki as exploiting the ura of an attacker's kiai technique. So the attacker punches (his omote) and aiki uses the ura of the punch (the weakness behind the punch) as the mode of its own technique. So aiki technique is tailored to the ura of whatever method the attacker uses (his omote).

From what Dan was saying, it sounds like this could relate to somehow accessing the ura of the opponent's strength so that when he pushes you with strength, it is somehow converted to its ura, which is weakness.

That's what I mean by "accessing the ura of the opponent's strength through his own touch."

Sure, getting out of the swords way is paramount, but how to do so unfailingly? The movement has to be completely non-telegraphic, and without setup. So how do you accomplish that? Is the real question I think. How do you move the body first (without it moving externally) and then cause the arms and legs to move first?

Well, the way Mochizuki Sensei taught it was irimi tai sabaki. And it had to be non-telegraphic. For one thing, the attacks were sudden, so that you had no moment to "get ready" and thus display what you were going to do.

So you had to be centered and non-moving from the first. Then, when the attacker came, you had to see him coming, from whatever direction he was coming from, and move instantly from that place to the appropriate place relative to the sword. I never really thought much about the internal aspect of it or how I felt on the inside. There was seldom that much time. You would throw one fellow from a punch or kick, then the next attacker would be coming with a club, bo or sword and you had to move instantly to avoid it. And that meant you had to be in zanshin from the previous throw so you'd be ready for the next attack.

But looking back and considering what you wrote, "turning within yourself" sounds familiar. Just as I think about what I feel inside when I'm grabbed two-hands-on-one and I bring the seized hand down and in, then up in a scooping motion. Why am I not pulled off balance when I do that against a bigger person? I know the feeling, but I've never tried to analyze it in those inner-feeling terms.

...when you move the body, that movement should NOT be felt on the surface. And that's what allows a killer blow.
The "ura" to that, (to borrow yours or mochizuki's terminology, feel free to correct me if im wrong) is that you use this same skill to avoid said blow. The person that has less Bure/sway/etc in the body, has more time to deal with the incoming blow.

That's what I mean by you have to be centered and motionless, in zanshin from the previous movement, not swaying or jerking around, frozen, but completely relaxed and soft.

By the same token, the person striking wants to reduce the same thing in his body if he wants to up the chance of his strike landing. It comes down to, who has the most unshakable core.

Well, which is what makes me unpopular when I visit other aikido schools. I only know how to strike down with sincerity and without a lot of quaver and wriggle, and without cutting way off to the side so that your avoidance is bound to work. I am absolutley not going to hit anyone with a bokken in any class, but when I've visited classes, they seem to think I'm trying to hit them because in their classes they do strike wide and slow and without much real sword technique. Mochizuki Sensei was a master of katori shinto ryu and he really took kenjutsu very seriously. His aikido was always geared to working against the sword.

All other movement, irimi, strikes etc are merely a result.
Ken no ugoki ha setsuna de ugoku to iu koto, would be the japanese round about way of saying this.

Mochizuki Sensei said it with the name of one of his greatest kata: "Ken tai ichi."

As for chris's comments, he's too kind. I still got a long ways to go, and I'm a punk I'll admit it ^^; So take his words with some salt lol.

I'm lucky to have lived through my twenties, the places I went and the things I said...better to eat some salt than a lot of crow.

I do hope you get the chance to get out here at some point though. It'll be throughly educational for both of us I think :)

My wife and I have been talking about the possibility of moving back to Japan to live someday. I wouldn't have to worry about a sponsor anymore and could run my own juku. But I have a lot to accomplish here before I do that, at least until the study I'm currently working for comes to an end.

Don't know when I'll get another chance to visit.

Best wishes.

David

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-21-2006, 11:00 PM
Well, what does it matter over knowing how to do it???? ;) Let your head be held up with the Ki of Heaven.
Mike
Hehe, true. What I get is that you can't have one without the other
(or, if the one wouldn't be there, you'd have another in its place,
and our bodies would be way different).

Tim Fong
11-21-2006, 11:34 PM
Gernot,
Re: the lowering back issue.

I think what you could do is this:

fix two spots on the ground with tape. Then put up a background with the distance marked on it (say in increments of 1 foot or maybe 6 inches. Then stand on the marks, and place the camera so that you were in profile.




______________Background with marks__________________



x

x




Camera

So then when you move, the amount you move your back relative to your feet (which are fixed in place) will be easy to measure. "X" marks the feet positioning.

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-22-2006, 12:33 AM
So what you expect is some backward movement in the shoulders? Not by a foot I hope :-) Certainly I feel (and so does the partner) that this puts force into the partner's shoulders if he is holding mine from behind, so I would hazard that some parts are moving up and others down. From the outside I agree it might be interesting to see what it looks like, to allow comparison with other people. I'll give it a try tonight.

MM
11-22-2006, 05:40 AM
Mark, my kids have all sat in seiza naturally. I have pictures of them in seiza. Well, on their knees with their feet under--not with toes crossed, but close enough that I consider it seiza.

David

David,
Just to play devil's advocate. They're kids of a martial artist, they probably learned from you -- subconsciously. ;)

Seriously, though, I don't know about kids and seiza. I'd guess you're right. But toddlers and younger? Really can't say that I've seen them in seiza. How does that fit in your theory? If toddlers aren't sitting seiza (most don't, they sit on their butt with their feet out) yet kids do, why? Why later and not sooner if it's something natural or intuitive?

MM
11-22-2006, 05:50 AM
Mark,

I don't think that all the aiki no inyo-ho methods are done from seiza. I believe that refers to the whole range of original aiki methods, including standing and sword, though if you find an exact reference, I'll listen.

David

No, not all. Agree with you there. But, it's a striking revelation that seiza just isn't some position that we sit in because of "tradition". Heck, I'd already had enough revelations with the internal stuff that I didn't need any more. LOL. I told my aikido class that I felt like going back to a white belt. To borrow the quote from Neil, "I suck. I will try to suck less. Someday I may even get good enough to do this well."

Back to the theory, though. If seiza is one of those things that is used to learn the internal arts, hence things that made Mochizuki, Ueshiba, Shioda, etc better at their art -- and kids sit seiza naturally or intuitively, why aren't they also picking up on the internal aspect of seiza, too?

Perhaps they naturally, or intuitively, know the physical aspect but not the complete internal skill? Whole body movement such as when a toddler goes from crouching to standing and back to crouching rapidly in succession about a million times but yet couldn't really have a strong internal center. Dunno ... it's your working theory. :)

Mark

ChrisMoses
11-22-2006, 08:27 AM
Well, the way Mochizuki Sensei taught it was irimi tai sabaki. And it had to be non-telegraphic. For one thing, the attacks were sudden, so that you had no moment to "get ready" and thus display what you were going to do.

So you had to be centered and non-moving from the first. Then, when the attacker came, you had to see him coming, from whatever direction he was coming from, and move instantly from that place to the appropriate place relative to the sword. I never really thought much about the internal aspect of it or how I felt on the inside. There was seldom that much time. You would throw one fellow from a punch or kick, then the next attacker would be coming with a club, bo or sword and you had to move instantly to avoid it. And that meant you had to be in zanshin from the previous throw so you'd be ready for the next attack.



Without speaking for Rob, I think you're talking about something else. This just sounds like good hard training, but again you're focusing on external strategies (good strategies mind you, awareness, speed, learning where to move...) but I think what Rob's talking about (and what I think separates aiki from ju) is the ability to move without the act of moving registering with your opponent. This is more about how your body moves through space and what happens internally than what you do externally or where your feet go. I'd describe what you're talking about as moving without a 'wind-up', also good, but not the same.

Erick Mead
11-22-2006, 08:54 AM
Well, I'd disagree. I don't know of a single westerner who I'd consider skilled in Taiji, Bagua, etc.... the same missing elements in Aikido are usually missing in almost all western teachers of Chinese martial arts. ... wrote:
I don't really have a good concept of "jin mechanics" as a term, I'm almost exclusively a budoka and Chinese arts and terms are totally new to me (and after all this is aikiweb). Doesn't matter. "Jin mechanics", "ki tests", "ki demos", "fa jin", "rooting", "neutralizing" (in the ki/kokyu sense), "listening".... all that stuff is the same stuff.... Chinese or Japanese martial art, regardless. I do not find the equivalence here. There is nothing "missing" here, any more than a snake or a shark is "missing" legs, or a bull is "missing" fangs and claws. All dangerous things are not dangerous for the same reasons.

I do not deny the points Mike raises about internal arts (even while differing on our understadnig of the precise mechanics of them), they are just not aikido in the way he describe them and their use, and the way in which the nei-jia are typically explained to function..

While I have no problem with "Ki tests" etc. as means to discover and explore different modes of coherent movement, they are not aiki either. I have seen everything from Saito's tightness and flow to Tohei's frighteningly dissmissive throws. I have felt version of these from students in their lineages. I have seen (and felt) modes of body carriage as different in their own ways as the Tohei lineage is different from Yoshinkan.

They are all aikido. They are NOT working on the same principles as the nei-jia. The aspects of carriage and movement could not be more different. Yoshinkan (no offense) body carriage is far divorced from prescriptions of nei-jia and internal power, however it is underestood in mechanical terms. However, it, like Tohei's art, all works as aikido.
The ki, kokyu, jin, etc., stuff is what they really mean by "natural" movement. It's not a reliance on muscular movement; it's a return to using the strengths of ground-support and gravity (the ki of heaven and the ki of earth) as the power behind our movements, rather than just brute force. It is a comfort knowing that Mike is around to clarify what we really mean. ;)

I don't know nuthin' 'bout no jin mechanics. (Well, I do, but I don't need to in this instance, and they have little to do with aikido, per se.) I do know about mechanics. Power is the capacity to do work. Aiki is premised on the opponent providing all the power he or she desires to commit. That power has to have resistance in-axis to do external work, however, otherwise it is just creating addtional internal momentum, i.e. -- more potential energy, not actual energy coverted to work.

Nei-jia, however you understand it mechanically, is about internal power, creating implied momentum (springs, Mike???), if you will, that counters external momentum of attack. That is resistive in principle ("rooting," "grounding," "neutralizing"), even if internally focussed, or whetehr it is viewed as an instrumental and passive channeling of ground resistance.

It is, therefore, not aikido. Aikido is not resistive.

Aiki is about work -- but not about my power, internal or otherwise. It is about HIS power, and it is about my selection of mechanics to convert all fo his added momentum to actual work, typically, in impacting the ground. These are mechanics that translate that power into a differential axis in which the axial control that the opponent has committed behind that power is no longer connected to it, robbing him of the ability to further direct that momentum he created with his power.

I convert that momentum mechanically, perpendicularly (juji), taking it onto a different axis in which he has not established any control. If he exerts power on that new axis in an attempt to wrest back that control, well, ... away we go again, all the while departing his center, movign from axis to axis to axis, as he surrenders his power by continuing to express it against no resistance.

Coming at the problem direct, but going sideways. Back to David's point about the naturalness of aiki movement -- Aikido is a sophisticated game of tag. Or tag is cradle training in budo. Or both.

Here's wishing you joy in battle.

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-22-2006, 09:04 AM
Hello Erick, just my 2c to your discussion. One, from my perspective, as yet not understanding how to do even basic things, I still perceive that nei-jia is also mechanical. Mechanical using mechanisms not usually used or developed.
Two, you speak of rotational momentum, axes and taking control by directing power into directions opponent does not control. I do not disagree here on the use of such tactics. But I respond with: what to do when opponent does in fact control all 3 axes of his movement? Without going into whether you have control over all axes in yourself, I postulate that without the so-called 6-direction training internalized you won't be able to do the above against someone who has internalized it.

George S. Ledyard
11-22-2006, 09:11 AM
Care to cite a source for that, and what word he used in Japanese for 'natural'? If it's 'natural' why would we need careful observation, we should just do it?

Once again, I think that Chris is spot on here... My own understanding of what O-sensei meant when he said that Aikido was "natural" was that the movements and energy involved in Aikido were the movements and energy found in nature. This does not mean it is necessarily "natural" in the sense of being how we, as human beings, are born with it and some how lose it as we get older. or some such.

The word "natural" means somethig different to the Japanese than it does to an American. The Japanese aesthetic strove for a sense of "naturalness" which was anything but natural. It takes a high degree of training and imposition of structure in order to learn to attain that so-called "naturalness".

For O-Sensei, the movements of Aikido were the movements of the Gods. I think that O-sensei saw training as allowing us to regain, in some sense, what Man did not have. It was a Divine Path for him, not something we already had naturally.

This discussion only points out what has been lost in Aikido. It is the folks from outside the art who have the best understanding of what "aiki" is. The folks from within the art have very incomplete notions of what constitutes the various principles which combine to create "aiki". The vast majority of what passes for Aikido out there is overly physical and dependent on muscular strength when compared to technique done using the principles of "aiki".

Aikido folks just need to get out more. The Expos offered a tremendous opportunity to expand our vision but only a very small portion of the Aikido community participated. I think those that did got a vastly expended notion of what our art should be but generally is not. The very best of the Aikido teachers have understood the principles of aiki but there has been a systematic dumbing down of what the art entails and with the rapid expansion in the number of practitioners world wide with the commensurate growth in the number of instructors who are teaching long before they have reached the level of understanding the original deshi had attained, there are now many people doing "Aikido" who only have the foggiest notion of "aiki" as it is understood in the aiki arts.

Mike Sigman
11-22-2006, 09:17 AM
I do not deny the points Mike raises about internal arts (even while differing on our understadnig of the precise mechanics of them), they are just not aikido in the way he describe them and their use, and the way in which the nei-jia are typically explained to function.. Wow, Eric. You may want to re-write that sentence. You appear not to understand that there is a difference between "nei jin" and "nei jia", which sort of shoots your argument in the foot from the get-go. While I have no problem with "Ki tests" etc. as means to discover and explore different modes of coherent movement, they are not aiki either. I have seen everything from Saito's tightness and flow to Tohei's frighteningly dissmissive throws. I have felt version of these from students in their lineages. I have seen (and felt) modes of body carriage as different in their own ways as the Tohei lineage is different from Yoshinkan. Gee. I wouldn't know where to start to debate this, Erick. It's sort of like, to you, the relationship of Chinese to Japanese martial arts, all the allusions Ueshiba made to classical discussions of Chinese nei jin, etc., don't exist. You're simply making assertions. They are all aikido. They are NOT working on the same principles as the nei-jia. The aspects of carriage and movement could not be more different. Yoshinkan (no offense) body carriage is far divorced from prescriptions of nei-jia and internal power, however it is underestood in mechanical terms. However, it, like Tohei's art, all works as aikido. Can you give us something specific, instead of general assertions? Try explaining what you mean about posture, for instance. It is a comfort knowing that Mike is around to clarify what we really mean. ;) I frankly have no idea what you "really mean", Erick. As I told you in a thread some months ago, you pretty obviously don't understand what internal power, ki, etc., are... so I tend to disregard your assertions in that area. In terms of what the classical meaning of "natural" is, I stand by my statement and if you want to make a heavy-enough wager, I'll be glad to find some references stating the well-known fact that "natural" refers to "natural laws" and not intuitive movement, etc. I don't know nuthin' 'bout no jin mechanics. (Well, I do, but I don't need to in this instance, and they have little to do with aikido, per se.) I do know about mechanics. Power is the capacity to do work. Aiki is premised on the opponent providing all the power he or she desires to commit. That power has to have resistance in-axis to do external work, however, otherwise it is just creating addtional internal momentum, i.e. -- more potential energy, not actual energy coverted to work.

Nei-jia, however you understand it mechanically, is about internal power, creating implied momentum (springs, Mike???), if you will, that counters external momentum of attack. That is resistive in principle ("rooting," "grounding," "neutralizing"), even if internally focussed, or whetehr it is viewed as an instrumental and passive channeling of ground resistance.

It is, therefore, not aikido. Aikido is not resistive. Put this one in the archives, Erick. You just made a series of ludicrous statements showing that you have no idea about internal strength, which is ki/qi, which a supposed Aikido teacher should know. I.e., your statements suggest heavily that you're teaching something to some students that is not the Aikido with Ki that Ueshiba taught. Aiki is about work -- but not about my power, internal or otherwise. It is about HIS power, and it is about my selection of mechanics to convert all fo his added momentum to actual work, typically, in impacting the ground. These are mechanics that translate that power into a differential axis in which the axial control that the opponent has committed behind that power is no longer connected to it, robbing him of the ability to further direct that momentum he created with his power.

I convert that momentum mechanically, perpendicularly (juji), taking it onto a different axis in which he has not established any control. If he exerts power on that new axis in an attempt to wrest back that control, well, ... away we go again, all the while departing his center, movign from axis to axis to axis, as he surrenders his power by continuing to express it against no resistance.

Coming at the problem direct, but going sideways. Back to David's point about the naturalness of aiki movement -- Aikido is a sophisticated game of tag. Or tag is cradle training in budo. Or both.

Here's wishing you joy in battle.Hmmmm... that doesn't seem to be what Sunadomari, Inaba, Shioda, Tohei, and others are talking about. Perhaps you've evolved beyond them. Instead of a general rant using unsupported statements, try to explain what you mean. Maybe start with posture. Frankly, you appear to have no idea of what "internal strength" means and surely you don't think that Taiji is "resistive", do you? Yet it uses "internal strength"... as do all CMA's. You're simply lost.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

TAnderson
11-22-2006, 10:02 AM
They are all aikido. They are NOT working on the same principles as the nei-jia. The aspects of carriage and movement could not be more different. Yoshinkan (no offense) body carriage is far divorced from prescriptions of nei-jia and internal power, however it is underestood in mechanical terms. However, it, like Tohei's art, all works as aikido.


Erick,

Wow, that statement denotes a lack of understanding Gozo Shioda's (among others) body movements and writings. All I can say is I am not quite sure how you could come to this conclusion while saying you understand the notions of Aiki, Ki, Kokyu, etc. This is probably too far off topic and you might want to explain this in a different thread.

Tim Anderson

Erick Mead
11-22-2006, 10:34 AM
Wow, Eric. [nei-jia nei-jin] ... You just made a series of ludicrous statements showing that you have no idea about internal strength, which is ki/qi, which a supposed Aikido teacher should know. ... Instead of a general rant using unsupported statements, try to explain what you mean. Maybe start with posture. Frankly, you appear to have no idea of what "internal strength" means and surely you don't think that Taiji is "resistive", do you? Yet it uses "internal strength"... as do all CMA's. You're simply lost. Where to start on matter of "rant?" Willful obfuscation of the generic for the specific on matters of relatively specialized distinction -- i.e. (internal strength v. internal arts in general). A tone of distinct disrespect in respsone to a merely observational post. I really don't care, actually, but the lack of engagement is noticeable.

I explained (fairly succintly) what I mean by aiki in erms of the discussion on movement, power and these ideas of internal arts. The reply was, in short, evasion, plus ad hominem, ad hominem, and some more ad hominem for good measure. A point or two of actual engagement would be fun.

Try responding to the points in argument, or do you really maintain that nei-jin (internal strength) as a concept is not within the set of nei-jia (internal family [of arts]) as related principles of action??

DH
11-22-2006, 10:45 AM
George
As always, excellent post. And sadly, I'd agree. The real point being that I don't count. To have folks from within the Aikido community finally acknoweledge and support these obeservations ...made from without. Mark, Chris, Gernot, and now you. You being a clear distinction of having more time in and position.

Ya know when I heard that Ikeda donned a white belt and showed up to take a Systema class at an Aiki expo a few years back, I thought "What a hell of a guy." Shear confidence and a willingness to admit he didn't have all the answers. Some of the best men I know hold no truck with rank or affiliation and consider themselves perpetual students over being considered teachers.

I just couldn't let your excellent post go unanswered. I hope to meet up one day.
Cheers
Dan

Mike Sigman
11-22-2006, 10:53 AM
Try responding to the points in argument, or do you really maintain that nei-jin (internal strength) as a concept is not within the set of nei-jia (internal family [of arts]) as related principles of action??Who cares? Of course there is neijin in the neijia... but there's neijin in the waijia, too, so you're fumbling in the dark.

Your comment about neijin being "resistive" is exactly as ill-informed as it would be to look at a picture of Tohei demonstrating jin/kokyu/ki by letting an Uke push on his forearm and saying "Aha! Aikido is 'resistive'!" What you said is exactly like that. How can what Tohei does be called Aikido if what he shows is "resistive"? Now do you see how silly your comment is?

I asked you a precise question in order to pull you away from your general assertions. Heck, I'll even open it up some... tell me how neijin skills differ from the ki skills shown by Ueshiba,Tohei, and others.

In terms of storing up energy and releasing it, Ueshiba did that, too, BTW. You should know that power-releases are actually just a variation of what is demonstrated as kokyu power. As I've said many times, there are only a few principles, but the variations, levels of skill, etc., across many martial arts can be quite wide.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
11-22-2006, 10:58 AM
Try responding to the points in argument, or do you really maintain that nei-jin (internal strength) as a concept is not within the set of nei-jia (internal family [of arts]) as related principles of action??Incidentally, just as a side-note, Aikido would not qualify as one of the "neijia", the "internal arts family". They have a specific way of "hitting with the dantien" that is a variation of the jin/kokyu powers not found in Aikido. Even though Aikido uses "neijin" and "ki development", it would technically be part of the "waijia", the "external family". Not that that really means anything, except to people who may be wrongly focused on the idea that "it's kewl to be internal", without understanding what it means.

Aikido, as Ueshiba describes it, attempts to focus on a very refined aspect of the ki/kokyu skills that stays within what is considered the higher-levels of martial arts accomplishments.

FWIW

Mike

Mike Sigman
11-22-2006, 11:10 AM
This discussion only points out what has been lost in Aikido. It is the folks from outside the art who have the best understanding of what "aiki" is. The folks from within the art have very incomplete notions of what constitutes the various principles which combine to create "aiki". The vast majority of what passes for Aikido out there is overly physical and dependent on muscular strength when compared to technique done using the principles of "aiki".

Aikido folks just need to get out more. The Expos offered a tremendous opportunity to expand our vision but only a very small portion of the Aikido community participated. I think those that did got a vastly expended notion of what our art should be but generally is not. The very best of the Aikido teachers have understood the principles of aiki but there has been a systematic dumbing down of what the art entails and with the rapid expansion in the number of practitioners world wide with the commensurate growth in the number of instructors who are teaching long before they have reached the level of understanding the original deshi had attained, there are now many people doing "Aikido" who only have the foggiest notion of "aiki" as it is understood in the aiki arts.

Hi George:

I more or less agree with what you're saying, but I'd note that there are indeed a number of people within (mostly Japanese) Aikido that have various levels of accomplishment in these skills. The tradititonal idea that only a few should reach certain levels seems to have had an effect on slowing down the knowledge drip. Don't forget that the same thing appears to be true of Judo, but most western Judoka are clueless that they're missing anything.... the thought is just beginning to stir in their little punkin haids. ;)

The same lack is found in western karate, kendo, iaido, jiujitsu, etc.... so while I'm sometimes embarrassed about how many years I went with some pretty good techniques but no clues, I realize it's just the way things worked out. It happened to all of us.

In terms of how to get Aikido back out ahead of the curve, I think there was to be a quick check made to see how many people in Aikikai, ASU, Yoshinkai, etc., are even interested, at this point. Secondly, I think this stuff needs to be publicly talked about (just as is being done) so that the whole idea of getting past the "face" issue is addressed.

Lastly, I think getting people like Ushiro, Akuzawa, etc., into arenas where you can pick their brains is paramount. Time is passing by... and these are interesting times. ;)

Best.

Mike

Erick Mead
11-22-2006, 12:20 PM
Wow, that statement denotes a lack of understanding Gozo Shioda's (among others) body movements and writings. ... This is probably too far off topic and you might want to explain this in a different thread. It is and I'd be happy to. Kokyu tanden ho is a point where David has the harder side of the argument, becasue it is a highly learned skill. But aiki is not kokyu tanden ho alone, although they aid one another immensely.

But the earlier discussion on taijuuido/weight transfer addressed Shioda's thoughts and clearly distinguish his ideas from what Mike is addressing in regards to (OK -- nei-jin, -- if he prefers to be specific in this instance), which is, I do not dispute, very much cognate with kokyu-tanden ho.

Terminology or turf debates are pointless when trying to form overlays in three unrelated languages. Kokyu tanden, which is in the family of the "unnatural" movement (in the sense of requiring much practice) aids immensely in the application of aiki -- but it is not aiki, per se.

Drunken boxing forms (in whichever of the several schools), from my observation, is a case in point. It is premised on natural unresisting movements of the drunkard (not too far afield from the toddler, perhaps). Lots of angular momentum and weight transfer. Virtually no kokyu tanden technique evident. Loads of aiki going on, though.

The putative six spring theory does not, as I understand Mike's position, involve any necessary external movement. It is necessarily resistive, since springs don't operate any other way, a point that MIke did not deign to answer in regard to nonresistive principles of aiki. It is highly trained, from all accounts, and so is definitely "unnatural" in that sense.

Stance and movement are highly relative things, which is to say that the subjective frame of reference movement, standing alone, is not reliable. What some practitioners percieve as not involving relative movement is an illusion, and the videos show that. I, or any trained pilot, can tell you what tricks the vestibular and kinesthetic senses are subject to. You can be made to perceive movement where there is none at all, and no movement at all where there a great deal of very dangerous motion occurring. What you think you know when it comes to stance and balance -- ain't necessarily so. Ask anyone with Parkinsons' or Minier's.

The vidoes I have seen are supposed to show these "pushout" exercises not employing external movement. They distinctly show instead, movement according to what I understand to be Shioda's Taijuuido/weight transfer principle. This was discussed at length in the weight transfer thread.

Even if some practitioners make connections between them, I have not read that Shioda ever did, and what these exercises claim to do I see working on Shioda's principles, not those that Mike describes. But he and I differ on our understanding of what mechanics are actually involved, so there you go. Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics, too.

I do not in any way equate Shioda's approach with any version of nei jin or the mechanics (as I understand them) typical of the nei-jia schools. (As an aside, Shioda's kihon dosa paradigm does however fit the "rapid cycle" OODA paradigmatic training regime, earlier mentioned, FWIW)

In fact, I think Shioda has the better of the argument in terms of what is actually happening from what I have seen and felt in the pushout exercise, as opposed to what Mike describes. Having tried the same exercises according to the principles I have seen demonstrated, I say what I know and have felt and have seen.

Mike Sigman
11-22-2006, 12:35 PM
It is and I'd be happy to. Kokyu tanden ho is a point where David has the harder side of the argument, becasue it is a highly learned skill. But aiki is not kokyu tanden ho alone, although they aid one another immensely. Without the basic skill involved in *correct* kokyu tanden ho, there can be no aiki. The idea that they "aid" each other falls far short. Drunken boxing forms (in whichever of the several schools), from my observation, is a case in point. It is premised on natural unresisting movements of the drunkard (not too far afield from the toddler, perhaps). Lots of angular momentum and weight transfer. Virtually no kokyu tanden technique evident. Loads of aiki going on, though. Kewl. Except that "Drunken Boxing" is not a real martial art; it's a display art that was made up. Sort of like "Duck Boxing" and a few others. So your analysis of it and the deep principles of it.... well.... ;) The putative six spring theory does not, as I understand Mike's position, involve any necessary external movement. It is necessarily resistive, since springs don't operate any other way, a point that MIke did not deign to answer in regard to nonresistive principles of aiki. It is highly trained, from all accounts, and so is definitely "unnatural" in that sense. Why don't we just leave this one at "you don't understand my position" and move on? You'd have to know what "jin" actually is. Even if some practitioners make connections between them, I have not read that Shioda ever did, and what these exercises claim to do I see working on Shioda's principles, not those that Mike describes. But he and I differ on our understanding of what mechanics are actually involved, so there you go. Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics, too.

I do not in any way equate Shioda's approach with any version of nei jin or the mechanics (as I understand them) typical of the nei-jia schools. (As an aside, Shioda's kihon dosa paradigm does however fit the "rapid cycle" OODA paradigmatic training regime, earlier mentioned, FWIW)

In fact, I think Shioda has the better of the argument in terms of what is actually happening from what I have seen and felt in the pushout exercise, as opposed to what Mike describes. Having tried the same exercises according to the principles I have seen demonstrated, I say what I know and have felt and have seen.Have you ever stopped to think it through that the implication in what you're saying is that Ki and Qi are two different things? Do you understand the magnitude of interrelated phenomena that are involved in qi/ki? It's no simple thing, except to a westerner or someone else with only a superficial idea of the terms they're tossing about.

So far, I've asked twice for specifics in relation to posture or even ki/qi, but you haven't replied.

Tohei, BTW, encourages people to "extend ki" at all times. Problem is, he doesn't really explain how to do it. Worse yet, in relation to your own argument, "extending ki" correctly involves pure "six directions" training. Maybe Tohei doesn't really do Aikido, either?

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Erick Mead
11-22-2006, 02:27 PM
Incidentally, just as a side-note, Aikido would not qualify as one of the "neijia", the "internal arts family". They have a specific way of "hitting with the dantien" that is a variation of the jin/kokyu powers not found in Aikido. Thank you, Mike, for confirming the distinction I have made. In which case -- Tell me again why are we having this conversation??

I learn a lot from taking down the arguments presented on the evidence given, which is my vocation otherwise and and my practice in aiki in these settings. So please, by all means, let us keep this up.

But why do you keep talking like any of that really has anything to do with aikido, which you are willing to admit?

Ledyard Sensei is criticizing a tendency toward muscular resistive approaches in aikido, which is destructive of its fundamentals. What he is concerned is being lost, is not the same thing as what you are saying is missing.

THESE ideas you are saying are "missing" are not in any way an improvement on that. Nei-jia (nor the employment of nei-jin/jing, per se) are not meant to be "non-destructive," which is the purpose of Aikido. They are just more subtley destructive.

內 家 have no moral or principled advantage over 外家, they are just less obvious in operation. They simply compress the same resistant mind and body into a much smaller arc. Which your overall responses to my points and questions only confirms me in believing.

Similarly, Jin/Jing 勁 has no principled advantage over Li 力.
Li 理 "internal principle or structure" however, does have a distinct advantage over both of them, and it is this latter mode or principle in which Aiki properly operates and exploits.

That is what I perceive Ledyard Sensei is getting at in what is "missing," in "whole body movement" and what I have taken from his discussions here and in seminar of Ushiro and Kuroda Sensei's thoughts on these matters, and in Saotome Shihan's expression of the art, and in whose lineage I presently practice. I am sure Ledyard Sensei will qualify or or severely correct my impressions if I have strayed.

Aikido is simple, not easy (which I think he said at the last seminar). What you are proposing is neither simple nor easy.

How can what Tohei does be called Aikido if what he shows is "resistive"? Now do you see how silly your comment is?

I asked you a precise question in order to pull you away from your general assertions. Heck, I'll even open it up some... tell me how neijin skills differ from the ki skills shown by Ueshiba,Tohei, and others. Wherein you point out the precise question that eventually divided Tohei from Aikikai. Way above my paygrade. As I pointed out earlier, however, kokyu tanden is not really distinct from much of nei jin in principle; it is the application that distinguishes it, and the application in which you present it does not use those skills to aid the aiki of the interaction.

Tohei's redirection of force is a skill he demonstrated for training in redirection of force as a kihon waza. That skill, in and of itself, IS NOT AIKIDO, and does not necessarily lead to aiki in technique. It may be employed toward that end but they are not the same thing at all.
Your comment about neijin being "resistive" is exactly as ill-informed as it would be to look at a picture of Tohei demonstrating jin/kokyu/ki by letting an Uke push on his forearm and saying "Aha! Aikido is 'resistive'!" What you said is exactly like that. Since we are in an ad hominem mode -- unlike you, I have nothing I am trying to sell in seminars across the country, and thus, I have no vested interest to be offended. I simply want to teach, explain and bring the benefit of aikido to students who wish to learn it. That is all.

Neo-Confucianism was my particular study, so I don't need lecturing on my Chinese philosophical concepts, thank you. I am happy to meet you there at whatever level you wish.
猪头 有的是 豬油 嗎.

You do not point to error, but only attempt to exploit presumed ambiguity of reference between three tongues. Your approach fails Occam's Razor in terms of any explanatory power to a modern audience. That suggests it is not meant to explain anything.

Which is my point. I do not care to go in my training hall and make myself the world's most formidable warrior. I got over that when I was about seventeen. A bullet or a bomb will take care of that (or me) at need, quite handily.

I gain nothing material from this. Discussions looking at various strains of thought or training aid in that endeavor, and which I am thankful people like David, Ron and others can discuss in an engaged manner, even when they address or even advocate some of the same points you do.

You seem to enjoy obscuring matters with dark secrets, whispered only to worthy candidates behind closed doors. You even brag on teachers who would not teach the unworthy bai gui. The fact that those who have trained with you seem to take some benefit of your skill, does not excuse it. It is the definition of esotericism. It is not worthy of the open spirit of Aikido.

You may have much useful to tell me, but you should just do it, instead of -- all this ...

I just call 'em like I see 'em. I like the exercise, it just doesn't mean what you think it means. I don't much care about my "reputation" or anyone's approval in these regards, as it just gets in the way of learning something.

Mike Sigman
11-22-2006, 02:46 PM
Thank you, Mike, for confirming the distinction I have made. In which case -- Tell me again why are we having this conversation?? Now what? Erick, maybe you should go back and read the previous conversations. You don't seem to understand the difference between "neijin" (which Aikido, Taiji, Bagua, Japanese sword arts, etc., all use) and "nei jia", which you compared Taiji to out of the blue, with the idea that I had first made that attribution. I never did. I have no idea where your brain-hiccup is, but you appear to have lost yourself.But why do you keep talking like any of that really has anything to do with aikido, which you are willing to admit? "Nei jin", Erick. It has everything to do with Aikido. The problem here is really not that this is a worthwhile debate, but the fact that you don't already know it. Yet you "teach". 內 家 have no moral or principled advantage over 外家, they are just less obvious in operation. They simply compress the same resistant mind and body into a much smaller arc. Which your overall responses to my points and questions only confirms me in believing.

Similarly, Jin/Jing 勁 has no principled advantage over Li 力.
Li 理 "internal principle or structure" however, does have a distinct advantage over both of them, and it is this latter mode or principle in which Aiki properly operates and exploits. Again, I'll say it. You simply don't know basics. Despite your lengthy post, which I'm snipping, you won't address the areas I mentioned 3 times. You forget that it was you who started this particular tangent of assertions that neijin has nothing to do with Aikido. Other than assert it and then dodge and weave, you've done nothing to support your assertions. In fact, other than mentioning your own "studies", you haven't been able to knowledgeably discuss the first detail of jin and you even seem to be blowing this very physical phenomenon off with the idea the you have some book-larnin' in Chinese philosophical concepts. Guess what, BTW? Confucious (Kung Fu Tzu) understood how to develop and use ki skills and he wrote extensively about it.

Insofar as your casting Tohei out of the fold because he didn't really understand proper Aikido, I really have no comment.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Erick Mead
11-22-2006, 03:15 PM
So far, I've asked twice for specifics in relation to posture or even ki/qi, but you haven't replied.
1) I stand up straight.

2) I have it (but so does my bed lamp).

That was productive, and about as specific as your questions.

To be more specific - qi 氣 must be expressed (or exploited) according to Li 理 or it is not effective (which may also waste jing 精 but that is another topic). Thus, setting my electric bed lamp on fire is not in accord with the li of the lamp, although it may be in accord with the li of other kinds of lamps, and may even give me some light while it chars my bed table.

Just becasue the bulb is getting hot and will burn me as much as the flame does not mean that the innner principle by which the different lamps function is the same, although the type of energy each gives off is precisely the same.

Aiki simply follows that same dictum -- harmonizing completely with the internal principle/structure of the attack, which means that the attacking ki is turned back on itself. Just because the same energy is involved in the attack and procured by the movement, doesn't mean you are doing aikido to obtain it.

You are just making bunch of heat and light, either way.

Aiki is like flipping a lightswitch -- not like starting a fire.

The fact that the desired result is simpler by flipping the switch does not diminish the immense sophistication and expression of inner principles that underlies that simple act.

Your argument with me, when it comes to movement, is really about li 理, not really about jin 勁.

Next. :D

TAnderson
11-22-2006, 03:24 PM
Even if some practitioners make connections between them, I have not read that Shioda ever did, and what these exercises claim to do I see working on Shioda's principles, not those that Mike describes. But he and I differ on our understanding of what mechanics are actually involved, so there you go. Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics, too.

I do not in any way equate Shioda's approach with any version of nei jin or the mechanics (as I understand them) typical of the nei-jia schools. (As an aside, Shioda's kihon dosa paradigm does however fit the "rapid cycle" OODA paradigmatic training regime, earlier mentioned, FWIW)

In fact, I think Shioda has the better of the argument in terms of what is actually happening from what I have seen and felt in the pushout exercise, as opposed to what Mike describes. Having tried the same exercises according to the principles I have seen demonstrated, I say what I know and have felt and have seen.

Well Erick, I think this has come down to how we each understand the terminology involved. The problem, among others, I have with David's model is that he has defined Aiki in such a way that his hypothesis cannot be disproved (this is according to him).
Your definition of Aiki, Kokyu, and Ki seem to greatly differ from mine. If you like, read the section on Kokyu Power in Aikido Shugyo by Gozo Shioda. I have no problem reconciling what is discussed there with the previous description from Mike, Dan, Rob, and others. I can say this about many other works as well....
I can say with some confidence that what Ushiro has been teaching at camp is no different from what has been described by the aforementioned individuals. Ikeda seems to link what Ushiro is doing directly with Aikido so there we have another connection.
We could go round and round discussing this but without some hands on experience it won't matter. As with most things, these elements need to be felt. Much is lost in verbal descriptions.

Tim Anderson

Mike Sigman
11-22-2006, 03:27 PM
1) Aiki is like flipping a lightswitch -- not like starting a fire.

The fact that the desired result is simpler by flipping the switch does not diminish the immense sophistication and expression of inner principles that underlies that simple act.

Your argument with me, when it comes to movement, is really about li 理, not really about jin 勁. I don't think this is very productive, Erick. You've already cast Tohei to the wolves for "resisting", without seeming to have remembered that many of Ueshiba's 'ki demo's' also involved him resisting a push to the head, to the stomach, to the leg, to the jo, etc. He didn't "play a game of tag" with them nor did he use angular momentum to resist them. But you seem heavily invested in your theory, so I'll leave it to you.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Erick Mead
11-22-2006, 03:47 PM
You don't seem to understand ... ... you don't already know it. ... You simply don't know basics. ... you've done nothing to support your assertions. Please. Just call me "ignoramus," get it over with and move on. It will save time in confirming the absence of any actual argument.
Insofar as your casting Tohei out of the fold because he didn't really understand proper Aikido, I really have no comment. Really, now. That is a debate I distinctly declined to enter ... Wherein you point out the precise question that eventually divided Tohei from Aikikai. Way above my paygrade. I think there is no debate that it happened, and I expressed, and express no opinion on exactly why, who left whom, and whether justified or not.
.. and "nei jia", which you compared Taiji to out of the blue, with the idea that I had first made that attribution. I never did. I have no idea where your brain-hiccup is, but you appear to have lost yourself. Perhaps you should read as well ... actually you brought that strawman up wholly on your own -- don't go blaming me ;) ...
I don't know of a single westerner who I'd consider skilled in Taiji, Bagua, etc Frankly, you appear to have no idea of what "internal strength" means and surely you don't think that Taiji is "resistive", do
you? I don't think this is very productive, Erick. On that we agree, since I made a few more substantive points you snipped away as though that disposes of them. But it is a bunch of fun. I'm having fun, are you?

And while we're counting strawmen -- there's this one, too:
You've already cast Tohei to the wolves for "resisting", without seeming to have remembered that many of Ueshiba's 'ki demo's' also involved him resisting a push to the head, to the stomach, to the leg, to the jo, etc.

Mike Sigman
11-22-2006, 05:21 PM
And while we're counting strawmen -- there's this one, too: I know. Just keep doing it your way, Erick. But if there's a question in your mind and you're teaching students..........

Regards,

Mike "Seen This Before" Sigman

Tim Fong
11-22-2006, 05:42 PM
Erick,

Since you can read Chinese, I strongly suggest you check out ř≤»≠“™Ķ„aka YiQuan YaoDian or "The Important Points of Yiquan" by Wang Xiangzhai. It's available in Chinese, online for free in a lot of places. I read it with the help of an electronic contextual dictionary.

I think you are pretty wrong about the difference between li (principle) and jin. I need to check with a classicist friend of mine, but I think the principle of using qi is ....jin.

As far as Ѷ£¨°°Wang discusses the importance of jin over li. And I have heard several different kung fu instructors explain to me _in Mandarin_ that they _specifically_ wanted me to use jin over li. So it _is_ considered to be a superior usage. Wang talks about how to use and develop the 6 directional power, and how that is connected to the mental training in a kind of feedback loop (doh, there that is again).

I'm still a beginner, but doing the qigong type training has given me a new appreciation for the things I studied academically as an undergrad.

Mike Sigman
11-22-2006, 06:45 PM
Instead of just blowing it off, I should have at least said something, because the conversation is wider than just Erick and I. Thanks for the reminder, Tim.

"Li" refers to strength. Generally a strong person has more li than a weak person. In martial arts, "li" is considered to be the "normal strength" we all have. "Jin" is a "refined strength skill", not the normal strength. I *think* Erick supposed that the two types of strength are equivalent. If that were true, it would be pointless for Tohei or O-Sensei to demonstrate the ki things that they did. If nothing else, the "ki tests" are meant to show the difference between normal strength and "jin"... what Tohei calls "ki strength".

In the early translations of Chinese comments on "jin", many translators, because they had no personal knowledge of what "jin" could be, opted for the translation of "jin" to be "energy". Hence, a lot of talk about "the energy", etc.... or "I can feel the energy". It was harmful and misleading.

Because Tohei or O-Sensei could resist a push to the body and the pusher could feel the resistance, it could be argued that it was the same sort of "force" that could be felt with normal strength. The answer is in the postures that they took to demonstrate those forces... normal strength cannot easily duplicate most of those unusual postures. I.e., the point is that an unusual form of strength is the basis of real Aikido.

Not angular momentum.

Regards.

Mike Sigman

Erick Mead
11-22-2006, 11:14 PM
Since you can read Chinese, I strongly suggest you check out ř≤»≠“™Ķ„aka YiQuan YaoDian or "The Important Points of Yiquan" by Wang Xiangzhai. (Your hanzi don't come through. If you are using Big 5, try Unicode -- also avoid parentheses without a space offset)
I think you are pretty wrong about the difference between li (principle) and jin. I need to check with a classicist friend of mine, but I think the principle of using qi is ....jin. I'll save you time: Huang Kan (son in law and successor to Chu Hsi) wrote in the Xingli daquan shu that:
Human life is simply jing[精] (vital essence) and qi [氣]. What constitutes hair, bones, flesh and blood is jing. What constitutes breath, cold, and warmth is qi. But humans are the most numinous (ling [靈]) of the myriad things; they are not trees and rocks. Therefore their jing and their qi are full of spirit (shen [神 -- i.e.-- same as "shin" in Shinto]). The spirit of jing is called po [魄]; the spirit of qi is called hun [魂]. What enables the eyes and ears to see and hear is the po; what enables this mind to think is the hun. Together, the po and hun are the spirit of yin and yang, and yet they are full of li. Only in the hun and po is there the fullness of li [理] (moral order/principle) (I supplied the bracketed hanzi for clarity, I won't bother with tone marks.) Mindfulness (po/hun) of inner principles is critical to proper exercise of either qi or jing, in the proper mode (yin/yang). As far as Ѷ£¨°°Wang discusses the importance of jin over li. And I have heard several different kung fu instructors explain to me _in Mandarin_ that they _specifically_ wanted me to use jin over li. So it _is_ considered to be a superior usage. My statement was that there is "no principled advantage" of jin over li (strength), and there isn't. If there were, then body would always lose to mind, and that is not the case, they are deeply interdependent. They have only relative circumstantial advantages in empahsis -- that is, as they are applied in situations according the li (inner principle) of that situation. And in many wushu it is so considered that jin is superiro to li, given the principles [理]according to which they teach, or the art operates.

For instance, the application of jin as an inherently advantaged mode might cause one to try to use these "strength skills" as Mike likes to call them, to lift a car. Attention to the inner principle of the automobile would call for the use of li [力] augmented by considerations of li [理] -- in the form of a hydraulic jack. I do not think even Mike would qualify that as"jin."

The six-directions stability training as it has been explained to me, is framed around po -- "what enables the eyes and ears to see and hear." as well as hun --"what enables this mind to think." (And yes, no-mind is also a type of mind.)

Aikido is attending to unity of principle with the mind and of action with knowledge far more more than physical perceptions and reaction involved in jin and li (strength). It has a feel of being a more cerebral art than some others for this reason. Also for this reason aiki is often criticized because it operates not so much as a wushu [武朮] [J. -bu jutsu] a fighting technique -- but as bing-fa [兵法][J. hei-ho], a strategic method. It is concerned with the spiritual reaility, ling [理] according to concrete principles, li [理]

My focus on li (principle) and Mike's on jin (strength) illustrates this distinction in approach, which is not broken down over the qi/jing dichotomy, as he seems to asume, but rather in asserting against that dualism the unity of knowledge and action and of the mind and principle. This is the debate in Neoconfucian thought as to Wang Yangming and Chu Hsi respectively. This is same the disconnect that I keep finding in what Mike is speaking about and how I have come to understand aiki.

To bring this full circle to David's point, the child has not yet experinced the acculturated assumptions that sever mind from principle and knowledge from action. They act in one intent, mind and body and move together accordingly in the whole-body manner that Ledyard Sensei has been speaking about. It is highly unrefined action, but it is whole.

That wholeness is what I hear being sought in "natural movement."

Tim Fong
11-22-2006, 11:33 PM
Erick,
I was using the GB character set because I am most comfortable in Simplified.

I have to settle in for finals so I'll have to let this go for now.

Thanks for your post.

Erick Mead
11-22-2006, 11:51 PM
"li" is considered to be the "normal strength" we all have. "Jin" is a "refined strength skill", not the normal strength. I *think* Erick supposed that the two types of strength are equivalent. I have explained my thoughts on this point in the post to Tim.
... If nothing else, the "ki tests" are meant to show the difference between normal strength and "jin"... what Tohei calls "ki strength". Is it your position that jin cannot be applied to be resistive?

I am looking for the text Tim suggested. I find the issue of "vibration" in Yiquan very suggestive on both the mechanics and the feedback systems. It will take me sometime to get through it when I do find it.

However, I did find this in a discussion on Yao Chengguang's website giving the second step of the yiquan training regimen:Shi Li - Although you have sought "jin" (resistance from exterior body) in Zhanzhuang, the very slight movement will cause total loss of the resistance. Therefore, you should seek "jin" again in shi li process. There should be mind guidance in the acts, and the main demands are: focused spirit, actual mind, small, slow and continuous movement. After having feeling of resistance, small and slow movements should change to big, quick ones, with the principle of "use the mind instead of force". In short, you should sense the inner "jin", that is, the feeling of resistance. That seems pretty unequivocal to me on the "jin means resistance" issue, and is therefore not aiki.

The answer is in the postures that they took to demonstrate those forces... normal strength cannot easily duplicate most of those unusual postures. I.e., the point is that an unusual form of strength is the basis of real Aikido.

Not angular momentum. Unusual postures?? Hmmm. Do you possibly mean postures that would alter the physical center of gyration of a limb or body?? Doing so alters eccentricity of both the reaction force and the moment potential of the structure on which the impinging force is operating, and radically alters the resultant. It is not a function of strength, though, of either kind.

:D

Ellis Amdur
11-23-2006, 12:08 AM
Well, I've been reading and reading and reading. When I first read David's original essay, way back when, I found it both charming (which is praise, by the way) and an interesting take. That there is one element in adult grappling which is similar to that of babies, however - this is sutemi waza - does not make the overall assertion true.
Essentially, I think David's essay highlights the idea is that baby's are moving "naturally," because, in theory, at least, they find the best "line" to do what they want to do because they have not yet learned stereotypical movement patterns brought on by life happening to them. However, on reflection, I don't think even that is actually true, because even toddlers present with varying degrees of coordination and grace. Life happens very early - even in the womb. My two sons, born with much the same build and weight had significantly different movement signatures from birth. One had a difficult birth and that was reflected in his nervous system and physical organization from the first hour of his life outside the womb.
Other points that come to mind. Human movement is almost infinitely "plastic," because of mind. With all the idealization of animal movements, they are, in fact, locked into very limited, stereotypical, almost programmed patterns, based on survival, whereas we can train ourselves to accomplish almost anything we imagine. To a considerable extent, natural movement in the animal kingdom is elicited by stimulus: either from perception or hormonal. For example, a beaver raised in a bare concrete cell will, at a certain point, never having seen a tree, begin chewing the air and dragging none-existent logs, in a pathetic mime of what they were born to do. Mother dogs will retreive a puppy that wanders from the den for the first fourteen days after birth. From that day, the instinct "switches off," and if a puppy wanders away and is crying and freezing outside, the mother will no longer retrieve it.
Consider this - human beings have a capacity to develop movement skills for activities not found in "nature," things that, if humans hadn't thought of them, would never have occured. Dancing on point in ballet.Throwing a baseball with a true overhand rather than 3/4 pitch. Arcane sexual practices involving traffic cones. Turning a screw in a watch that can only be seen with a lense with a tiny screwdriver - a micromovement that must be trained. (NOTE: this is one of Feldenkrais' examples).
Which leads to qi/jin/kokyu. This is a refined skill that requires a tremendous amount of training, including mental imagery, attention and exquisite deliniation of the functions of the musculature, nervous system, etc. This is not "natural" - no one will accidentally come upon it, nor will such skills develop if a person merely does what comes naturally in growing up. And although missing in most aikido training today, it was almost surely a part of pre-war aikido, and perhaps some post-war as well.
Going full circle, however, what makes it "like" that of a baby is that is must become a "pseudo-instinct" - one becomes so versed in it, so trained, that the body moves and reacts without the need to consciously order the body to do so.

Upyu
11-23-2006, 12:45 AM
That seems pretty unequivocal to me on the "jin means resistance" issue, and is therefore not aiki.

<snip>

It has a feel of being a more cerebral art than some others for this reason. Also for this reason aiki is often criticized because it operates not so much as a wushu [武朮] [J. -bu jutsu] a fighting technique -- but as bing-fa [兵法][J. hei-ho], a strategic method. It is concerned with the spiritual reaility, ling [理] according to concrete principles, li [理]



Erick, if you could do "Jin" yourself, it would be an open and shut case that it's not "resistence".
The opposing tensions mentioned are only tensions held within the body for training purposes. Those tensions are not in opposition to another incoming body.
Also, the description given is more for training purposes than a final "product" of "this is what jin feels like."


Funny thing is even Abe sensei down in Kyoto who spent a lot of one on one time with Ueshiba seems to espouse stuff to his students that stand in stark contrast to what you're saying. (In that its more in line with what Mike, Dan etc have been saying in this thread as well)
Also it's kind of funny that he talks about Aikido more in the context of Bujutsu, than a strategic method.
I seem to recall Gernot saying that Abe said that once you build a "bujutsu body," everything else will follow.

Academically discussing all of this is all very interesting, but I suggest you find someone with concrete jin/kokyu skills who teaches you first how to do it. Once you have the skills, then maybe you can contribute something substantial to the thread ;)

Rupert Atkinson
11-23-2006, 01:19 AM
What about a few online vids to get from the talk to the walk?

Anyone suggest some good links for someone keen to learn?

DH
11-23-2006, 05:32 AM
I just wanted to jump in again to clarify Erics understandably miscontrued notion of resistence. To be clear Eric. no one who can do these things is thinking much of the other guy in training. When you hear discussions of resistence, bouncing off, casting, disruption, etc, you are hearing discussions of the "affect" on the opponent apllying force on us due to the "effect" that bujutsu training -in-our bodes has on that force. Not on concentrating on the other guy. That's why blending -the afformentioned door knob leading and pulling open... is so basic a movement principle as to be insulting as a training goal to someone pursuing deeper things.
Further, at its heart, while it has become Aikido in many places...it is full speed...in the wrong direction.
,
Training
Training is mostly done at home, alone. You get together and practice what you did at home. Lets again talk about a simple basic, thought process to help you "see" why the other guy isn't involved.
Simple exercise #1
Connecting right to right-then Joining right and left.
This is one of the first things I learned in pool. I've written about it before. Stand in Hanmi right leg / right arm forward. Left leg / left arm back. You right arm is going to be facing palm out to the right. you are going to pull as if you are pulling on water to go around you on your right. (*substitue doorjamb). As you pull around you on the right you are "pulling" with a straight arm keeping the triceps slack. Pay attention to the spine; head erect, sacrum dropped spine being stretched open. You are pulling away with your spine and drawing in on the inside lines of your body. (if you do this as a single action in a pool- the resistence of the water will make you pull yourself off your own feet landing foward. That is another argument point for whole body power VS isolated movement)
As you draw-pay attention to your feet- you are pushing on the ground with your right foot, which is the grounding force giving action to the connectins in the body. *As you push on the ground with your right and drawing away with the spine you are pushing across your lower center into your hips and activating/joining your left side. And the pulling across your right is activating /feeding your upper center connection (scapulars/sternum) keeping the arms connected across from fingertip to fingertip.
Since your right lower center is now activating your left lower center and you upper center is joined- your pulling force is connected to a pushing force across your spine. you are now using the power on the right to do the opposite on the left. Allowing it to push forward with your left hand as you pull with the right. This prevents you from being pulled off your feet in a pool. The action of pulling water would be the power that is pushing the water all from a joined connected body at the center. You will feel your right axis supporting your left axis in work. And, your right axis (foot to hand, knee to elbow, hips to sternum), will be working in sync to itself while working in sync with the left (which is workng in sync to itself). It is a monster mental and physical workout. You'll be amazed at sweating.....in water. As I said though it works standing alone in a room, or standing in a door jamb.
You use imagery and gentle resistence to identify and activate those paths in you. While you are sinking on the front you're using the arch of your feet to draw in the hands while your back is opening and rising on the outside.

Testing
When you get back together you have someone pull on that right arm. If you are sinking and drawing-in while rising and opening up, while pulling with your right to push with your left the person pulling has little effect on you. You can actually use your body- which is now stable- to to push into his pull aiding him. In fact he may tell you that he is finding it hard to pull. That he feels a wierd neutral feel. This is important to understand. You are working on you-not them. Your work is on YOU on the inside, maintaining a small series of contradictory forces in you. Holding together the lower center and upper center joining the front and the back to sink and rise and pulling-in while pushing-out.

There are many exercies to do, and anyone doing them will tell you "They are changing." You feel it inside and you can train anywhere all the time. Even standing in an elevator or sitting being board in a meeting. Why....I wonder where s many famous Budoka off by themselves. Takeda was seen many times training alone, guys saw him training even while in bed. What did they know? that we lost.

Where you fall short Erik is thinking this work you see in testing is resistence training. When in fact the opposite is true its neutral training. The "effect" it has on your body to connect and empower you has a dramatic "affect" on somone trying to apply force on you.
However....the "affect" on your opponent is neither your training intent or your goal.

There are many ways to blend that have nothing at all to do with overt movement. While the terminology may not be the same (wasn't in me either) saying your center is in your hand and then actually having it there- are two very different things. It's why you hear such critism of those Aikidoka who move all over the place just to "blend" and move an opponent.

Cheers
Dan

DH
11-23-2006, 05:51 AM
Happy thanksgiving everyone.
I have to go peel the squash. :)

Dan

Mike Sigman
11-23-2006, 08:25 AM
That seems pretty unequivocal to me on the "jin means resistance" issue, and is therefore not aiki.
"Jin" means a force-skill. Unless you're doing your Aikido with beams of mental power, you're using various forces, too. If we want to be needlessly silly, we can equate "force" to "resistance" and say that you are doing your "Aikido" with "resistance". But I think it's a pointless exercise.

I've said it before.... you confuse strategy and tactics (the Aikido) with the conditioning and usage of the body. When Tohei or Ueshiba stand and let Uke push on their "unmoveable" postures, they are NOT showing Aikido... they are showing the conditioning and usage of the body which should be used in Aikido. And it so happens that what they're showing is simple jin/qi mechanics... regardless of whether they're doing it in a static posture of if they use those powers later in the movement of Aikido.

You're trying to see everything people are telling you in some way that will fit into your self-built paradigm and it won't work. You're going to have to change, if that's possible.

Incidentally, you mis-read what that yiquan comment meant and what the "resistance" being referred to actually was. He was discussing a method of training, not a method of martial usage.

And of course, I'm sure you're aware that the "jing" (and "qi") referred to in part of your post is not the exact "jin" we're talking about here. That usage of "jing" refers to sexual essence.


FWIW

Mike Sigman

David Orange
11-23-2006, 11:12 AM
David,
Just to play devil's advocate. They're kids of a martial artist, they probably learned from you -- subconsciously. ;)

Mark, that's a possibility. I do sit in seiza a lot around the house. I couldn't guarantee it's not imitative.

But toddlers and younger? Really can't say that I've seen them in seiza. How does that fit in your theory? If toddlers aren't sitting seiza (most don't, they sit on their butt with their feet out) yet kids do, why? Why later and not sooner if it's something natural or intuitive?

Yes, I know kids do somehow begin sitting in "seiza". But my toddlers have done it. Of course, the first two were born in Japan and lived on tatami for a few years. The current toddler began sitting in a loose form of seiza early on. I've assumed it was natural, but it could be imitative.

Best to you and happy Thanksgiving!

David

David Orange
11-23-2006, 11:34 AM
If seiza is one of those things that is used to learn the internal arts, hence things that made Mochizuki, Ueshiba, Shioda, etc better at their art -- and kids sit seiza naturally or intuitively, why aren't they also picking up on the internal aspect of seiza, too?

Mark, I do think that seiza is key to gaining real aikido. "Sei" = "correct" and "za" = "sitting". I think it was Dave Lowry that you quoted describing the suspension of the head. He may have developed that idea after some looking into tai chi because they say very similar things. Then he could have experiemted with those feelings in seiza. Just a guess.

As to why kids don't pick up on the internal aspect of seiza, I wouldn't say that they don't, but again, they're so little and changing every day... unless you watch them really carefully, you might think they're not picking up on anything at all. And even watching carefully, you might not see that. But most of what they're doing is both internal and external because until about age two, they don't even recognize a distinction between themselves and "others".

Perhaps they naturally, or intuitively, know the physical aspect but not the complete internal skill?

Well, it really is true that "incompleteness" is the hallmark of being a child. I think that's the basis of people's biggest objections to my idea that aiki begins with child movement. They don't see childhood as the starting point, the root or the beginning: they mostly see it as "incompleteness," "lack" of development, etc. But they throw the baby out with the bathwater in most cases, reject all our innate responses and think that all the innate responses have to be discarded and replaced with trained reflexes.

An analogy for me would be that, if you have a piece of land, you can build a house on it. The typical martial arts training attitude is like you have to shovel out all the existing dirt from your land and have new, special dirt replace it before you can build on it. I'm saying that real, permanent martial arts are built on innate reflexes and, thus, are "first nature," human martial arts instead of "second nature," mechanistic martial arts.

Whole body movement such as when a toddler goes from crouching to standing and back to crouching rapidly in succession about a million times but yet couldn't really have a strong internal center. Dunno ... it's your working theory. :)

Well, I think they have a really strong center considering that their bodies are changing in size and coordination every day. Adults' bodies don't change that much in length or structural dynamics once they are fully grown, so you can make incremental changes against a pretty-well standardized background. But for children, the basic unit of the body is changing constantly and they have no standardized background against which to develop changes. But if they kept at that crouching to standing and back very reapidly a million times a day until they were fully grown (sounds a bit like shikko, doesn't it?) I think they would have phenomenal development.

However, I have always said that this child movement is the root and that its development must be "cultivated," meaning that someone who understands it still has to guide them. The big difference in what I'm saying is that if you're cultivating their nature, it takes less effort and modification than if you're trying to replace their nature with "second nature."

In other words, you don't leave them entirely au naturel, but develop their nature as opposed to teaching them that their nature is no good and must be replaced with something better.

Thanks.

David

David Orange
11-23-2006, 11:37 AM
I think what Rob's talking about (and what I think separates aiki from ju) is the ability to move without the act of moving registering with your opponent. This is more about how your body moves through space and what happens internally than what you do externally or where your feet go. I'd describe what you're talking about as moving without a 'wind-up', also good, but not the same.

Chris, it sounds fine to me, but all I really care about is that the sword doesn't hit me and, if you tell me you do something internal, whether the sword will hit you. But that's why I always come back to the unarmed man facing the sword. Aiki against pushes and pulls maybe be expressed in one way, but when the sword comes down (or comes forward), evasion is essential.

Best to you.

David

Mike Sigman
11-23-2006, 11:41 AM
Mark, I do think that seiza is key to gaining real aikido. "Sei" = "correct" and "za" = "sitting". I think it was Dave Lowry that you quoted describing the suspension of the head. He may have developed that idea after some looking into tai chi because they say very similar things. Lifting the head and dropping the butt in order to straighten the spine (or "keep a straight line between the Hui Yin and the Bai Hui") is a basic tenet of internal strength and is found in all Asian martial arts. Akuzawa's exercises include the same basic tenet, BTW. This stretching of the body in order to strengthen the connection of the whole body and to make the spine a sort of "bowstring" is found in everything from Aikido to Zen seiza. Once you become aware of that one fact, you'll see a staggering number of martial arts, statues of Buddha, you name it, that are showing this basic principle.

FWIW

Mike

ChrisMoses
11-23-2006, 12:14 PM
Chris, it sounds fine to me, but all I really care about is that the sword doesn't hit me and, if you tell me you do something internal, whether the sword will hit you. But that's why I always come back to the unarmed man facing the sword. Aiki against pushes and pulls maybe be expressed in one way, but when the sword comes down (or comes forward), evasion is essential.

Best to you.

David

I'm reminded of a conversation I had with a (very good IMHO) MJER teacher and friend of mine a couple years ago that has stuck with me. We were at an iaido embukai, and were generally being underwhelmed by what we saw. This was despite watching some fairly senior folks. His comment was along the lines that too many people in iai see the moments of stillness, the postures if you will, within kata. They are able to replicate these postures to perfection, nearly every time, and yet, their waza is empty. This is because they have been studying the end result rather than the actual lesson. Where the real meat of any art lies is in the *way* that a practitioner moves from position A to position B. How does the body coordinate itself to generate power in the transition from sitting to standing? From a sheathed sword to the moment of impact? What internal lessons can we learn from the act of chiburi? So going back to your point above, merely getting from A to B, avoiding the sword, or sidestepping the tsuki does not in any way ammount to much of anything in my book, but rather all of the internal and specific events that shape HOW you avoid being cut/punched/thrown are the real meat of the art. And finally no, when the sword comes down, evasion is not essential. It may be a part of something else, but to be considered aikido/jutsu, it must be (if there at all) part of something greater, possibly only how you were able to keep from being cut/hit.

Happy Turkey Day to those who celebrate such things. Thanks for the discussion.

David Orange
11-23-2006, 12:16 PM
All dangerous things are not dangerous for the same reasons...I do not deny the points Mike raises about internal arts (even while differing on our understadnig of the precise mechanics of them), they are just not aikido in the way he describe them and their use, and the way in which the nei-jia are typically explained to function.

Erick, you and I are definitely on the same page here. I've experienced things with Chinese martial artists that I never felt anything like from any Japanese artist. The nature of what they were doing was so completely different that I can't accept the idea that they are the same. I will admit that both work from the center and that there are some commonalities, but these are two very different cultures with very different attitudes and the martial arts are expressed in completely different ways, though we can find some common qualities at various points. But the concepts are not equatable. Relatable, but not equal.

Mike Sigman wrote:
The ki, kokyu, jin, etc., stuff is what they really mean by "natural" movement. It's not a reliance on muscular movement; it's a return to using the strengths of ground-support and gravity (the ki of heaven and the ki of earth) as the power behind our movements, rather than just brute force.

I never knew any good aikido people who used brute force as aikido. And they moved their bodies with muscular movement, but did not effect their techniques with muscular force.

Likewise, babies cannot use muscular force but naturally go to the weak point of their "opponent's" strength, where their own power--based on ground support and gravity--is greatest. That's why it's not wrong to say, at that root level, that it's an expression of aiki for the baby even to sit down on the floor.

Best to all.

David

David Orange
11-23-2006, 12:36 PM
My own understanding of what O-sensei meant when he said that Aikido was "natural" was that the movements and energy involved in Aikido were the movements and energy found in nature. This does not mean it is necessarily "natural" in the sense of being how we, as human beings, are born with it and some how lose it as we get older. or some such.

George, I agree with you to a large degree in that. But I do think O-Sensei did mean "natural for human beings." I used to think he meant "natural for nature but necessary for humans to learn." That's why it was such a shock for me to conceive that he really did mean "natural for humans," as well.

As others have pointed out, of course, babies do many things and react in many ways. Most of them are not aiki or aiki-like. But on occasion they do behave in accord with the principles of aiki. Sometimes the smile and hug you and sometimes they cry and give you an overhand right to the eyeball. Both aspects are completely natural. Of course, we want to cultivate the desired behaviors in our children and not cultivate the undesirable.

My whole point is that, by careful observation, we can see where aiki is naturally expressed in child movement and, therefore, where it is natural to human beings. Then the job is to locate those roots in ourselves and make sure our techniques are connected to those roots, which will always be with us, rather than to a conditioned response that will fade if the conditioning is stopped. And in teaching, it means to cultivate the natural ability inherent in people so that they do aiki that is natural to humans. But it won't develop to a high degree unless someone who understands it guides the cultivation, just as you can't get a big crop of okra without understanding how to tend it and create the best conditions for it to thrive.

The word "natural" means somethig different to the Japanese than it does to an American. The Japanese aesthetic strove for a sense of "naturalness" which was anything but natural. It takes a high degree of training and imposition of structure in order to learn to attain that so-called "naturalness".

This is true, but the essence of that, in the Zen sense, is to allow one's true self to be expressed through that structure. So two great masters perform the same kata, but each clearly has his own way. Lower level people look like robots doing the "unnatural" movements. Masters are clearly distinct and unique individuals showing "their own" art. I think that the key is to find where that apparently unnatural structure is really a reflection of original nature as opposed to the manufactured "self" and "nature" which most people have adopted by "adulthood."

For O-Sensei, the movements of Aikido were the movements of the Gods.

But I think it's terribly interesting that both Zen and Tao agree, essentially, with Jesus when he says "Except you become as a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven." (Zen, "Have a mind like a baby"; Tao, "Like a newborn babe before it learns to smile, I am alone, without a place to go.")

I think that O-sensei saw training as allowing us to regain, in some sense, what Man did not have. It was a Divine Path for him, not something we already had naturally.

George, I think that the key word there is "regain."

The vast majority of what passes for Aikido out there is overly physical and dependent on muscular strength when compared to technique done using the principles of "aiki".

Agreed, although we also see a lot of people pretending to do aiki where no real energy exists, no force is exerted to be neutralized, no kiai happens, thus no aiki can reply.

No question that few (if any) have even approached the level of the old deshi. And I would be most inclined to say "if any."

Best wishes.

David

David Orange
11-23-2006, 12:53 PM
Without the basic skill involved in *correct* kokyu tanden ho, there can be no aiki. The idea that they "aid" each other falls far short.

I believe that's an overstatement, Mike, and for that reason, the statement fall short. I know of many people who have had a few lessons of aikido, far too little to develop kokyu tanden ho, and used the little they had learned to effectively defend themselves. For instance, a girl who was grabbed from behind, stepped forward, bowed and threw the attacker on his face--not with a judo-like ogoshi, but with something like Ueshiba's or Tohei's throws in randori demos. That was aiki though she had never developed kokyu or tanden.

Tohei, BTW, encourages people to "extend ki" at all times. Problem is, he doesn't really explain how to do it. Worse yet, in relation to your own argument, "extending ki" correctly involves pure "six directions" training. Maybe Tohei doesn't really do Aikido, either?

I've pointed out somewhere before that the old aikido model was spherical extension--not six directions, but all directions simultaneously. To me, this is a very similar concept, but it seems the six-direction training allows and works through more specific methods. Still, once past basic training in that method, it would seem that the spherical extension would be the next order.

David

David Orange
11-23-2006, 02:38 PM
Well Erick, I think this has come down to how we each understand the terminology involved. The problem, among others, I have with David's model is that he has defined Aiki in such a way that his hypothesis cannot be disproved (this is according to him).

Terminology is at the heart of the problem of miscommunication in most cases. If you add the willful refusal to allow any kind of agreement that some people personify (not speaking of you), it becomes impossible. BTW, I didn't say my hypothesis cannot be disproven. I just said i don't know how you could disprove or prove it. I've done my best to "prove" it with numerous examples, but my definition of aiki comes direct from a judan meijin who was an early uchi deshi to Morihei Ueshiba. It's the only succinct definition I know of: aiki is the ura of kiai.

This brings on some more terminological difficulty because most people understand ura and omote only in terms of direction--in front of the body or behind the body. But Mochizuki Sensei used it to refer to the primary intent (omote) and the unavoidable weak side of that intent (ura). A front punch is the attacker's omote. The ura includes any of the hundreds of ways to exploit the weakness of that extension of force.

And babies show incredible ability to slip around our efforts to pick them up, restrain them, change their diapers or whatever else we want them to do when they don't want to do it. They don't directly confront our force (usually), but instinctively twist and turn and slip through, past our strength, to a place where we are unable, for at least a moment, to apply our strength to them.

We have many examples that they do this. What is there to disprove?

Best to you.

David

David Orange
11-23-2006, 06:38 PM
Erick, you just jumped up a whole magnitude in my esteem. Very, very interesting analysis. Please continue.

Best to you.

David

David Orange
11-23-2006, 08:54 PM
When I first read David's original essay, way back when, I found it both charming (which is praise, by the way) and an interesting take. That there is one element in adult grappling which is similar to that of babies, however - this is sutemi waza - does not make the overall assertion true.

Ellis, thank you for all your involvement in this idea. You read the original essay on e-budo and influenced the changes I made before posting it to Aikido Journal's blog. I appreciate your comments then and since. However, sutemi is not the major aspect of similarity I find with children's movement and adult grappling, in particular aikido. If you saw the video clips I posted early in the thread, it makes it clear that I mean that children naturally show the roots of some standing aikido techniques such as sankyo and shiho nage. The first four seconds of each clip show the opening of both those techniques, respectively. And other people have supplied examples of other children doing other aiki-type movements. Sutemi, for me, is an interesting aspect, as well, but I think general "grappling" tendencies become clear as children get older. In particular, lately, my two-year-old is becoming a real grappler when we try to change his diapers. Just this morning, my wife was changing him and to prevent her fastening the velcro on his diaper, he looped his right leg over her left arm, looking just like a judo man going for sankaku jime. And awhile back, when I was going to pick him up out of his crib, he was wrapping his arm over my arm just like Mochizuki sensei would do to catch your arm under his armpit for a sutemi waza. So I think the roots of standing aiki become visible when the child is very small and this includes the roots of sutemi. But real grappling begins to appear as they get older. Then, when they've become used to playing with other children, they naturally begin freeform wrestling. And I think this is where sumo originates, and from that, judo and jujutsu. But I think it's also the origin of Greco-Roman wrestling as well. They're all human arts, all adhering to human nature.

Of course, babies demonstrate only the root. The real sophisticated art must be cultivated from that.

Essentially, I think David's essay highlights the idea is that baby's are moving "naturally," because, in theory, at least, they find the best "line" to do what they want to do because they have not yet learned stereotypical movement patterns brought on by life happening to them.

That and the fact that they act on what they feel: they sense the direction to move rather than "thinking" of it. They go by direct inspiration rather than abstract intellectualization.

However, on reflection, I don't think even that is actually true, because even toddlers present with varying degrees of coordination and grace. Life happens very early - even in the womb. My two sons, born with much the same build and weight had significantly different movement signatures from birth. One had a difficult birth and that was reflected in his nervous system and physical organization from the first hour of his life outside the womb.

That's why I've always said "all healthy children, unless they have been too physically or emotionally traumatized." I think that it does hold true for 90% of children at birth, 80% by age 1, maybe 70% by age 2 and increasingly less at older ages. But for the healthy child without significant physical or emotional trauma, I think this does hold true: children move with spontaneity and an instinctive application of their greatest strength (whole spirit, mind and body) into the weakest part of their parents' strength.

Other points that come to mind. Human movement is almost infinitely "plastic," because of mind. With all the idealization of animal movements, they are, in fact, locked into very limited, stereotypical, almost programmed patterns, based on survival, whereas we can train ourselves to accomplish almost anything we imagine.

Quite true. As Feldenkrais points out, baby animals can usually stand and run within minutes of birth. Others can't even open their eyes for many days after birth, but can run and play after a few weeks. Human babies are 100% dependent on caregivers for the first year, maybe 99% for the second year and only become somewhat able to care for themselves after some years. And unlike animals, the human child is learning the entire time. Learning and changing. But even in the earliest independent stage, when they learn to crawl, babies demonstrate some survival instincts and innate skills. When they fall down, they may be "hurt" and cry, but relatively very few are actually injured when they fall. And they do all kinds of crazy, weird things that put them in danger, but relatively very few are killed by that. If 50% were killed, we could say that their survival is pure chance. But the actual percentage of children killed in self-generated incidents is relatively tiny, suggesting that survival skills are a major factor. It is important, then to consider the nature of those survival skills and ask whether they can be culitvated into an art. Indeed, I believe that they can be cultivated into many different arts with widely differing characteristics, such as karate, judo and aikido.

Consider this - human beings have a capacity to develop movement skills for activities not found in "nature," things that, if humans hadn't thought of them, would never have occured. Dancing on point in ballet.Throwing a baseball with a true overhand rather than 3/4 pitch. Arcane sexual practices involving traffic cones. Turning a screw in a watch that can only be seen with a lense with a tiny screwdriver - a micromovement that must be trained. (NOTE: this is one of Feldenkrais' examples).

But Ellis, I think two of those examples are famous for causing chronic injuries. I think that dancing on point is a distortion of the natural tendency to go on tip-toe. Some sadistic trainer forced young women to go further onto pointe. They also forced them at great pains to do some of the extreme turn-outs of ballet that lead to lower-back and leg problems later in life. When something really is natural, it doesn't cause chronic injury.

Likewise for the baseball throw. However, that is less extreme. For a long time, I was sure that the underhand movement develops first in children because they reach up to their mothers and they reach up to grab things to pull up with. But observation showed me that the overhand move is also developed very early on. But I still think that the thrust tends to be developed earlier than the overhead strike. Babies in the earliest stage tend to hit with a straight reach, either to bop the nose or to shove the chin straight back or to one side.

The true overhead baseball pitch, rather than 3/4 overhand may not actually be the cause of the problem. It may really be parents' desire to see their ten-year-olds throwing 100 mph fast balls that causes them to blow their elbows out early. And along with this, it's now popular to put young kids through preemptive elbow surgery--not to repair any damage, but to make the elbow stronger specifically for throwing a baseball, which strikes me as the ultimate foolish departure from nature.

On the matter of turning a tiny screw with a screwdriver when the screw can only be seen with a lens, that is something that, alone, could not occur but results over decades and centuries of industrial development of metals, metal-working, optics, machining and so on. Still, the action does not in any way conflict with human nature as does standing on pointe or fourth position in ballet. If the human forearm could not rotate, that movement could never be accomplished. So in that perspective, it is still relatively natural.

Which leads to qi/jin/kokyu. This is a refined skill that requires a tremendous amount of training, including mental imagery, attention and exquisite deliniation of the functions of the musculature, nervous system, etc. This is not "natural" - no one will accidentally come upon it, nor will such skills develop if a person merely does what comes naturally in growing up. And although missing in most aikido training today, it was almost surely a part of pre-war aikido, and perhaps some post-war as well.

Unquestionably, ki and kokyu are integral parts of aikido. But they are not the only parts of it. They are the hallmark of refined aikido, but one can develop quite far in aiki waza with only limited development in those areas. Of course, they have to be developed to reach the full potential of the art, but that is part of the process of refinement and cultivation that takes a natural quality and makes an art of it.

On the other hand, I am still not ready to equate jin with kokyu or kokyu with "power" in itself. Ron Tisdale asked, "What do they mean by kokyu ryoku, then?" I said it's "power with kokyu", not necessarily "the power of kokyu." Otherwise, when Jigoro Kano says "Sei ryoku zen yo," we would have to be explaining "the power of sei." And while I think that there is great power in sei/tadashi, I don't think that it's right to speak of "sei power" or "tadashi power." So thinking of kokyu as integration of mind and body through the medium of the breath, kokyu ryoku is power with the mind and body coordinated through the breath. I don't think it's "power generated by coordinating mind and body through breath."

Going full circle, however, what makes it "like" that of a baby is that is must become a "pseudo-instinct" - one becomes so versed in it, so trained, that the body moves and reacts without the need to consciously order the body to do so.

And I have come to believe that it can be based directly on natural instinct so that it need never become "pseudo-instinct." I believe this requires deep consideration not only of the nature of the techniques and methods, but very deep consideration on the nature of the human being. I think that most martial artists are so involved in that training that they don't observe human naturalness much at all and consider it inferior to the learned material when they do.

However, I think that close observation of both the methods and of the nature of humanity yields the truth that the nature of humanity is the root of the methods.

Thanks for your insights.

David

Mike Sigman
11-23-2006, 09:09 PM
I believe that's an overstatement, Mike, and for that reason, the statement fall short. I know of many people who have had a few lessons of aikido, far too little to develop kokyu tanden ho, and used the little they had learned to effectively defend themselves. For instance, a girl who was grabbed from behind, stepped forward, bowed and threw the attacker on his face--not with a judo-like ogoshi, but with something like Ueshiba's or Tohei's throws in randori demos. That was aiki though she had never developed kokyu or tanden. You basically just told me that your vision of Aikido is someone applying a technique well, David. I've pointed out somewhere before that the old aikido model was spherical extension--not six directions, but all directions simultaneously. To me, this is a very similar concept, but it seems the six-direction training allows and works through more specific methods. Still, once past basic training in that method, it would seem that the spherical extension would be the next order.I don't want to get off into a tangent from an otherwise basic discussion, David, but yes... "six directions" can be done and is done in "all directions", but the how's and why's are beyond this discussion. Let's just say that for training purposes, the progression normally goes 2 directions, then 4 directions, then 6 directions..... 3 planar directions which can be used to describe all directions.

Regards,

Mike

David Orange
11-23-2006, 09:15 PM
Where the real meat of any art lies is in the *way* that a practitioner moves from position A to position B....merely getting from A to B, avoiding the sword, or sidestepping the tsuki does not in any way ammount to much of anything in my book, but rather all of the internal and specific events that shape HOW you avoid being cut/punched/thrown are the real meat of the art.

I'll accept that to the degree that you do, in fact, get out of the way of the sword. If you're not doing it right, even if you avoid the sword, you won't be able to do anything to the opponent after that. As you said, he will be able to counter attack.

If you do it right, then you will both avoid the sword and be in position with the capability to throw him and take his sword.

But if you do it all "right" and still get hit with the sword, then the meat of the art will by lying on the floor.

We learned to avoid the sword and throw, taking the sword as uke left the scene. And believe me, if you didn't do it right, uke did not fall or release the sword. Everything I say is based on experience of doing it when the people you were working with would not let you do it if they could resist you. So if they can't hit you and they can't stop you from throwing them and taking their sword, what's missing? To me, that is the essence of aikido. But without that evasion, the meat of the art will by lying on the floor. So I don't see how you can say that evasion is not essential.

Happy Turkey Day to those who celebrate such things. Thanks for the discussion.

Well, I have a lot to be thankful for and I've given a lot of thanks today, but I think we should all take a moment to Thank Jun Akiyama for providing this excellent forum in which we can all meet and pick over bones. I haven't yet forwarded a financial thanks to him, but I will and I want to encourage everyone else to support Jun with some dough and thanks and encouragement for his efforts.

Best to all.

David