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Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 09:18 AM
I was re-reading my old and yellowed copy of Koichi Tohei's "Aikido in Daily Life"... I haven't read it in many years (it was first published in 1966), but it's an interesting read from Tohei's earlier publications in relation to how he approaches learning "ki".

There are a great number of perspectives on ki/qi and that's what gets so confusing to a beginner trying to find information. There's an ultra-practical, overly-simplistic one that I read in Robert Smith's old book, "Chinese Boxing: Methods and Masters" (I'll edit for space):
There were, he said, four kinds of ch'i used by him.

The ch'i of inahalation ("swallow")
The ch'i of exhalation ("spit")
Holding ch'i up ("to float")
Holding ch'i down ("to sink")

The mind is paramount. The fingers (hand) are geared to the breath, and the eyes look steadily ahead. Lin held that the ch'i is not stored in the navel but comes from the sole of the foot through the navel to the head, where it is used as the occasion demands"

There is what appears to be a totally different view of qi/ki in Mantak Chia's book "Iron Shirt Chi Kung" that has a lot to do with the breath and fascia.

Then there are Tohei's "feel the Ki" sorts of things. There are more disparate examples, but just using those 3 examples, it's like we're talking different languages.

In reality, the ch'i in Smith's excerpt is more referring to the "jin"... but since jin is considered just a facet of qi, then the major conversation is still qi. The glossed-over comments about "inhalation" and "exhalation" are references to breath and fascia that establish the commonality to other talk of qi.

Mantak Chia doesn't really understand what qi is, nor does he really understand the functional use of the hara/dantien area. So he focuses on breath and fascia and how it connects the body and improves health. I.e., he is the blind man describing the same elephant that the blind man Smith described in his book, but they're simply focusing on different parts of the same elephant.

Tohei's descriptions about how to develop Ki are, in my opinion, deliberately incomplete. He goes by "feelings" and vague descriptions. Yet, I've seen an interview of him in which he casually mentions being "unliftable" by sinking his middle... instead of "imagine heavy side down". I.e., he can be more explicit when he wants to be. I've also noticed that his close students can do ki demonstrations that involve some knowledge of the body mechanics that Mantak Chia is more explicit about in his book.

The thrust of my comment is that while I like a few parts of the perspective that Tohei gives for developing Ki, the whole of his instruction is needlessly vague, given the clues that he indeed knows how to be clearer. Just relaxing and "breathing in the ki of the universe" won't magically develop any skills. I think that many of the Ki Society upper dans know this by now... they should speak up, perhaps. Ki skills are a part of all Aikido, not just Tohei's branch.

Just my 2 cents. ;)

Mike Sigman

Luc X Saroufim
11-21-2006, 02:36 PM
Just relaxing and "breathing in the ki of the universe" won't magically develop any skills. I think that many of the Ki Society upper dans know this by now... they should speak up, perhaps. Ki skills are a part of all Aikido, not just Tohei's branch.

Just my 2 cents. ;)

Mike Sigman

you know i keep saying that if i wanted a purely martial combat art, i wouldn't study Aikido. i study aikido to try and see the invisible; and i agree that there needs to be more instruction on developing one's ki; otherwise, what's the point? study something else...

but then again; how many martial arts incorporate "ki" or ch'i? you know the answer better than i do, but i'm confused as to whether they're talking about the same thing, or if they're interpretting the same concept differently.

Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 02:57 PM
but then again; how many martial arts incorporate "ki" or ch'i? Every Asian art I've encountered uses some variation/approach to ki/qi. In the last 2 years, I thought I'd take a look at the "behind the times Japanese martial arts" (remember, I did Judo, Okinawan karate, and Aikido), and voila', I found out that higher level Judo, Karate, the Koryu, Aikido, Sword arts, etc., etc., ALL have pronounced Ki components. Just as you see in most western versions of most Asian arts... it's missing, though. Who knew??? ;) you know the answer better than i do, but i'm confused as to whether they're talking about the same thing, or if they're interpretting the same concept differently. It's the same thing. There the mind/force- skill that is called "jin", "neijin", "pengjin", "kei", etc., that is also the basis of "kokyu power"... and there is the Ki proper that is developed with breathing exercises, stretching, pressure, etc. Those 2 basic components are in all the Asian martial arts, although the terms and the way they do them (everybody has got their own "best, secret way" to do them) will differ from art to art.

In other words, the special "Ki" that Tohei espouses is nice, but the actual methods of doing the body demo's etc., the power used in Aikido, etc., is the same as is used in other arts at the higher levels. The only problem is that the operative phrase is "higher levels".... these are the hidden skills in a lot of arts.

Best.

Mike

Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 03:10 PM
Incidentally, as an example of "it's used in other martial arts", take a look at the ki demos at the end of this video clip:

http://www.youtube.com:80/watch?v=InlQtTMK5Ys

That's not basic-level, crude jin. He's pretty good. Made me go back and watch his sword techniques again because I now know that he's using unusually powerful strength, even though it's very difficult to spot that strength in his movements.

Regards,

Mike

James Davis
11-21-2006, 04:06 PM
The thrust of my comment is that while I like a few parts of the perspective that Tohei gives for developing Ki, the whole of his instruction is needlessly vague, given the clues that he indeed knows how to be clearer.


Maybe he's just one of those guys who expects us to "steal" technique. The japanese language often has implied meaning.

Perhaps he's changed; Have his metaphores gotten any clearer since the sixties?

Tim Fong
11-21-2006, 04:28 PM
Well, that first form he demos:
IANAJSAP (I am not a Japanese Sword Art Practitioner):
To me it looks like he baits the opponent into striking by showing an opening. But it's not really an opening b/c he's not really off balance-- he can control his weight shift. Once the opponent attacks, he attacks, and closes the distance without telegraphing, then reverses his opponent's technique and strikes.

That is fairly sophisticated strategy to say the least. Without the weight/balance control it won't work either. To my eyes anyway...

The hopping thing is interesting too. He's creating the power for block/strike by his body shifting, but never changes his range. Nifty.

Mike Hamer
11-21-2006, 04:45 PM
This book changed my insight on life, no joke.

Mike Sigman
11-21-2006, 04:56 PM
To me it looks like he baits the opponent into striking by showing an opening. Hi Tim:

I'm not sure if you caught the part about the 2 demo's at the end of the video: the ones about the little-finger arm-wrestling and the nose-jerk. Those are the ki tricks. All I was saying was that the sword arts and many other Japanese arts, at higher-levels, all have these "ki skills". They actually seem to try to out-do each other on how cool their displays of ki-skills are. O-Sensei's "jo trick" was really a take-off on a basic principle, but it was a "hey, look at this one" demo anyway.

The "little-finger arm-wrestling" trick on the sword video is really an example of the "rooting/neutralizing" discussion we had on the other thread. Watch the sword guy set up his jin path.

Best.

Mike

Tim Fong
11-21-2006, 11:56 PM
Mike,
I watched it again. It looks like Kuroda rotates his right "axis" against the ground as he does the pinky move.

Watching the hands on thing he does with Crudelli, my only thought is that he must be reinforcing Crudelli's structure? And disspating the force from the student through himself, and then giving it back...which is why his hips drive forward.

Just a guess. I can't replicate it.

Aran Bright
11-22-2006, 12:10 AM
Tohei's descriptions about how to develop Ki are, in my opinion, deliberately incomplete. He goes by "feelings" and vague descriptions. Yet, I've seen an interview of him in which he casually mentions being "unliftable" by sinking his middle... instead of "imagine heavy side down". I.e., he can be more explicit when he wants to be. I've also noticed that his close students can do ki demonstrations that involve some knowledge of the body mechanics that Mantak Chia is more explicit about in his book.

The thrust of my comment is that while I like a few parts of the perspective that Tohei gives for developing Ki, the whole of his instruction is needlessly vague, given the clues that he indeed knows how to be clearer. Just relaxing and "breathing in the ki of the universe" won't magically develop any skills. I think that many of the Ki Society upper dans know this by now... they should speak up, perhaps. Ki skills are a part of all Aikido, not just Tohei's branch.

Just my 2 cents. ;)

Mike Sigman

I agree with you.

I beleive the reason for this lack of explanation is we need to maintain the basics, ie relax completely, and then the higher levels of understanding become obvious. One of his no 1 students teaches the concept of focusing on the triceps and extending or stretching them to help develop the feeling of 'ki' or using ki.

I take the vagueness as a method to stop people analysing too much...but I can't help myself.

2c + 2c = 4c

:)

Mark Freeman
11-22-2006, 04:46 AM
Watching the hands on thing he does with Crudelli, my only thought is that he must be reinforcing Crudelli's structure? And disspating the force from the student through himself, and then giving it back...which is why his hips drive forward.

Just a guess. I can't replicate it.

Hi Tim,

I can, it's really easy if you start from a stable base, ( by that I mean posture, relaxation, mental extension etc )

I learned a similar exercise, which was a more simple form of what is seen on the clip. I guess my teacher got it from Tohei along with many other similar 'ki developement' exercises. After I had seen the Crudelli programme on the tv. I tried out the 'extensions' I had seen on a willing uke at my dojo, voila, success. I was able to recreate almost exactly the resposes you see on the film, much to my uke's surprise :D he had no idea what I was trying to do, so could not have been 'helping out'.

Analysis of what is happening is ok, but it is no substitute for hands on practice. If I were to describe what it is I do, I would probably use language that some would make sense of and others wouldn't.

All of the ki skills/tricks/'how the hell is that done" moves are learnable by anyone. Some people describe them in a purely mechanical way, some in an esoteric fashion, and most use varying degrees of the two. The best way to progress is to find someone who can both 'do' and 'teach', then practice what they show you, how they show you, until it becomes yours.

I like Kuroda's sword work, precise, clean and effective. :)

regards,

Mark

Alex Megann
11-22-2006, 06:30 AM
I found the Kuroda clip very impressive.

The little finger trick reminds me of something that Kanetsuka Sensei often shows at weekend courses. He lies on his back (sometimes on his front) and gets four people to try to hold him: one on each wrist, and one on each ankle. He then topples all of them at once with an almost imperceptible movement.

On a good day I can manage two at once, but usually I can expect a shout from the other end of the crowded dojo "No Alex - all at same time!".

Alex

Mike Sigman
11-22-2006, 06:58 AM
I watched it again. It looks like Kuroda rotates his right "axis" against the ground as he does the pinky move. Well, he just uses the jin from the ground as opposed to local strength. In the secondary effort where he "helps" the other guy, watch his body as he helps. You can extend a jin path through another person if the connection is good.
Watching the hands on thing he does with Crudelli, my only thought is that he must be reinforcing Crudelli's structure? And disspating the force from the student through himself, and then giving it back...which is why his hips drive forward. Just a guess. I can't replicate it.He "acquires" the part he wants in Crudelli. Like "acquiring uke's dantien through the wire-cage structure" sort of thing.

FWIW

Mike

Mike Sigman
11-22-2006, 07:17 AM
I agree with you.

I beleive the reason for this lack of explanation is we need to maintain the basics, ie relax completely, and then the higher levels of understanding become obvious. One of his no 1 students teaches the concept of focusing on the triceps and extending or stretching them to help develop the feeling of 'ki' or using ki.

I take the vagueness as a method to stop people analysing too much...but I can't help myself. Hi Aran: But I think there are definite instances, as I pointed out in the first post, where Tohei has definitely been more explicative to *some* students and not others. Gernot cites an anecdote where the same conclusion is mentioned by one of Tohei's students. Tohei had to go out and lood for it because Ueshiba wouldn't tell him.

I found an interesting passage in "The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts", an 18th-Century writing by Issai Chozanshi (translated by William Scott Wilson), which says (speaking of the way students were taught in the "old days"):

At first their instructors would teach them techniques, but say nothing of the principles that were hidden within them. They only waited for their students to uncover those principles by themselves. This is called "drawing [the bow], but not releasing [the arrow].' It's not that they spoke grudgingly. They simply wanted the students to use their minds, and to master what they were studying in the interval.

Disciples would thoroughly exert their mind and make great efforts. If there was something they understood on their own, they would still go and confront the teacher; and he would acknowledge their understanding when their minds were in accord. If the teacher released [the arrow], nothing could be learned. And this was not just in the martial arts. Confucius said, 'I am not going to go on with the fellow who does not respond by lifting up three corners when I have already lifted up one.' This was the teaching methof of the men of old. In this way, the students were sure to be serious whether in scholarship or in the martial arts.

Regards,

Mike

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-22-2006, 07:56 AM
Mike, that's obviously a teaching paradigm for creating elites rather than masses of useful though not as expert fighters. It's also rather hit-and-miss and arts don't really develop: unless one postulates that development is practical only, i.e. winning the next battle. At least that's my view. Nowadays it's hard to both a) figure out if a teacher has something, and b) to be surrounded by hard-working students, say in an aikido dojo. Without some direction people will wander all over the place. I would say the old teaching only works with direct transmission, not with large organizations with an extended hierarchy spanning continents. To keep the old methods means effectively assuming that in such large organizations, a small elite is continuing the tradition. Which is good. But if you have to ask you don't deserve to know and all that... There's also the issue of personal connections over merit.

Mike Sigman
11-22-2006, 08:16 AM
Hi Gernot:

It's a complex issue. What I would mention, though, is this..... many of today's teachers had clues that there was something missing, the general idea where it would be if they looked, etc. They're desultory and status-satisfied. And time continues to go by. The older I get, the more I understand why many of the accomplished traditional teachers didn't teach everyone all the good stuff.... they weren't really worth it. Besides, if you show someone whatever you reasonably can, you can never show anyone everything... there's always a certain amount that they have to figure out for themselves, because the subject is just too complex.

Maybe the old guys knew what they were doing? ;)

Mike

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-22-2006, 09:11 AM
No argument there, the old guys clearly knew what they were doing, I believe they weren't inventing teaching styles any more than they were inventing the principles they had internalized. What is important as far as individual progress goes, as you've discussed so many times, is finding out where to go and get snippets so that one can grow. Sitting meditating alone can only take one eventually to, say, a nap. If everyone could figure this out alone there'd be no secrets. So we have tradition, kept secret, and to get initiated individuals have to demonstrate some particular skill set which they need to get hints about wherever they can, so that the teacher decides they are worth it. He might not, in which case one needs to have an alternative teacher lined up if one is motivated enough to actually study this stuff seriously. And those two items are ones which the internet can really help with.

Tim Fong
11-22-2006, 11:13 AM
Gernot,
That's a sucinct description of the process that I am using as well.

There's a really long rant that I have about the hierarchy of knowledge in East Asia, but I'll save it for another time. Suffice to say, I don't think it's an accident that Western Europe refined calculus and kinematics first.

Aran Bright
11-23-2006, 06:51 AM
I have to say, when I first started on my still fairly brief martial journey I was taught the importance of sticking with one teacher and staying dedicated to that school.

Nice idea, but there seems to be more practicioners out there who have respect that have left, split, formed there own school/style or just done their own thing than there are who follow the traditional line.

It makes me wonder, is it only those, for example Tohei or Shioda, that are truly motivated, not for selfish reasons, to break with there teacher in search of some 'higher good' that really create anything new?

DH
11-23-2006, 07:24 AM
Quote:
I have to say, when I first started on my still fairly brief martial journey I was taught the importance of sticking with one teacher and staying dedicated to that school.

Nice idea, but there seems to be more practicioners out there who have respect that have left, split, formed there own school/style or just done their own thing than there are who follow the traditional line.

It makes me wonder, is it only those, for example Tohei or Shioda, that are truly motivated, not for selfish reasons, to break with there teacher in search of some 'higher good' that really create anything new?end quote

There are many reasons for breaking away. Some are different goals, some are demands that cannot be met at the time. Sometimes the break can be very painful. Most guys won't talk about and just accept it, and any critisism that may come their way.
I believe that men in the past who trained in a system with deeper teachings "got it" and started seeing things on their own in their personal training. As well they may have seen truths beyond a static training regimen that they might have struggled to cope with to an eventual breaking point. It has long been my view that you can't create talent in a person You "find" the talented and groom them. It is those men that some teachers focused on. Even then obssesive focus and a willingness to fail and experiment and fail yet again and keep researching has to be a trademark of that same student. It is a prerequisit to advancing. In the end, what system or method has it all? I doubt there is one.
In any event perhaps the paths to power in bujutsu is really more of a personal journey and a mind game of personal discipline anyway. Sweating alone, trying to make things work is not very glamorous, nor is it flashy. Its not something the kiddies are going to enjoy any time soon.

Cheers
Dan

crbateman
11-23-2006, 09:25 AM
I think it's definitely about personal thought. In a culture or time where a group mentality or deep respect for tradition exists, change occurs slowly. But in a time or culture where people do not feel obligated to suppress individual thinking, excursions "outside the box" are much more frequent. Unless there is only one truth that all must accept, then there are bound to be many different paths up the mountain.

Mike Sigman
11-23-2006, 09:39 AM
Unless there is only one truth that all must accept, then there are bound to be many different paths up the mountain.Ouch, Clark! ;) I hate that old saw about all paths lead to the top of the mountain. They don't. If you study piano-playing, you will NOT wind up being a mathematician!

Surely on a basic level we all know through practical experience that Joe Blow who studied with an ill-prepared teacher can often be far off the mark from Aikido's higher-sophistications, right? Different paths often lead to the top of different mountains, or hills, or swamps.

Working things out for yourself can have some limitations, too. Many of these skills were developed by successive generations of martial artists, priests, whatever.... in the tradition-focused Asian cultures, it was destiny that many skills were added to by the discoveries of many people over a long period of time. A single person cannot sit down and re-discover the work of generations... he'll have to be taught.

There was a purported comment from Yang Cheng Fu (who wasn't so hot, himself) to Cheng Man Ching to the effect: "The things I have shown you are simple, once they have been explained; but it would take you several life-times to discover them on your own."

Ellis' idea for everyone to start asking questions is a good one. Flog the bushes, boys and girls. Lest you wind up on some podunk hill far away from the mountain. ;)

FWIW

Mike

crbateman
11-23-2006, 01:17 PM
Mike, I didn't say anything about getting to the top... There are cliffs, and bears, etc. But every path leads up, and not all are the same. That is the metaphor I was reaching for. Those people who have broken away from the Aikido "mainstream" will not all arrive at the same destination, but it is the notion that creative individual thought is part of the equation now, rather than a stigma to be avoided, as it once was in most places. Personal initiative is now the norm, rather than the exception. The trick is knowing when and how to implement it.

I am totally in agreement with Ellis that questioning everything is good, internally at least, and outwardly as well, if done in a constructive and humble way. Too confrontational, and the answers may not come freely. But all learning begins with the realization that "I don't know...".

Mike Sigman
11-23-2006, 09:25 PM
I am totally in agreement with Ellis that questioning everything is good, internally at least, and outwardly as well, if done in a constructive and humble way. Too confrontational, and the answers may not come freely. But all learning begins with the realization that "I don't know...".I dunno, Clark. Although I understand your opinion about "confrontational" (I'm not sure that's the correct term, but I won't quibble), my own opinion is that sometimes you have to be quiet and sometimes you have to be confrontational. Depends on where you're trying to go. As a good example, the "don't make waves, blend with the universe in the "Aiki Way" and use "Aiki Speak" stuff would always be my preference, even though I may come from a harsher background than you do. But if you look at the recent and VERY belated consensus beginning to form that something critical is missing from a lot of western Aikido, wouldn't you at least consider the idea that "maybe if we'd been more inquisitive and more 'confrontational' within our Aikido hierarchies, maybe we'd be a lot further ahead"???

I admire Jim Sorrentino's approach with Dan... "OK, so come here and teach it". That's the way it should be done. Look at the "confrontational" aspect of what Ikeda Sensei has done by openly importing a karateka in order to get information on kokyu and ki mechanics.... in Japan, such a "confrontational" thing would be a complete no-no, but hey, we're talking about results. And so on... you get my drift.

Personally, within the Taiji, Xingyi, CMA communities, I am now watching a number of "teachers" who are getting well into their 50's and some in their 60's and they missed out. Some of them realize it and are angry at everyone but themselves. The same thing is happening to the same-aged generation in karate (although most of them are oblivious), Aikido, and many other arts. You suggest "humble" (yin)... I suggest "balanced"; some humble, some 'confrontational' (direct). ;)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

crbateman
11-24-2006, 02:51 AM
But if you look at the recent and VERY belated consensus beginning to form that something critical is missing from a lot of western Aikido, wouldn't you at least consider the idea that "maybe if we'd been more inquisitive and more 'confrontational' within our Aikido hierarchies, maybe we'd be a lot further ahead"???
I definitely agree that something is missing, but I don't think it's because students don't get in their teachers faces enough. If there's something you feel is lacking from your training, you ask politely (you do not demand) if your teacher could expand your training in that direction. If he/she will not, then you must pursue it on your own. "Inquisitive" is not the same, at least to me, as "confrontational". One implies the proper level of respect, while the other doesn't necessarily do so. But you are right, in my opinion, that something is missing out there. Some would say the growing notion that Aikido is not martial is the big problem. Others would hold that vacating the more benign spiritual/philosophical components of the art is the biggest "hole" in the program. I'm not sure which is the bigger problem, perhaps both. But it does worry me. I'm not sure how to fix it. I do know that, as the surviving deshi of O'Sensei leave this plane, it will become harder and harder to know what his notion of Aikido was. Soon there will be only those who never knew, professing only their own opinions about it. Sad.

Mike Sigman
11-24-2006, 08:31 AM
But it does worry me. I'm not sure how to fix it. Hi Clark:

I don't worry about it too much, although I do make an effort to bring what little I can to the table and to keep looking. The reason I don't worry about it is that I've kept my own world very small. I don't teach or do anything in martial arts that has any real effect on my livelihood or family. I avoid martial organizations or anything that gives me "status" that I might feel be tempted to defend.

What I think of is 3 things:

1. I've been there, learning from teachers who were "nice guys", good with techniques, etc., and who simply didn't know these basics, so I was frustrated. I always picture that somewhere out there are younger versions of me who don't get into the rol-playing BS and who simply want good information about this puzzle of the movement/body skills.

2. It would be a complete and utter shame to watch a soap-opera where people are claiming intense loyalty and love for a certain martial art and yet who won't expend their every effort to find out all there is to know.

3. If I was a teacher and truly concerned about students instead of my own life, the "how to fix it" would be paramount in my mind. The way my mind works, the thought that I might have wasted some other human being's life and loyalty by being his/her "teacher" and then having not been able to give them what they wanted and needed ... that thought is repugnant to me. I would and do automatically move to correct holes in what I know, particularly if I have put out a shingle as a teacher.

But that's just my sad story. ;) I worry about people.

Best.

Mike

crbateman
11-24-2006, 11:12 AM
Nothing wrong with worrying about people, Mike. I wish more folks did that. As for me, I just try to put what I have learned, little as it is, out there for others to benefit from if they so choose, and go about my business looking into those things I haven't learned (which could fill libraries, I'm afraid). I try to ask productive questions of everyone, and I encourage others to do likewise. It is my feeling that whenever two people meet, there is ALWAYS something each can learn from the other.

Change will naturally occur. But I think it's important that much of what O'Sensei put together for us during an extraordinary lifetime be made available for those down the road, and that is what I see disappearing. People should at least have the chance to evaluate those lessons and decide for themselves. But with time, the authenticity of the transmission is fading, methinks.

Mike Sigman
11-24-2006, 11:17 AM
Change will naturally occur. Hi Clark:

Well, it's been my experience that change of this sort only comes about by a lot of effort by a few people.... and gradually and grudgingly the others follow (that's the operative word) along. ;)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

jeff.
11-24-2006, 04:14 PM
as someone pretty young in the art (3rd kyu -- two years in), but who has read a lot of the lit (been reading books on eastern thought, esp aikido, for 15+ years of my 31), i think i can back up the notion that being told, in a sense, doesn't really do anything for you. i can recite to you osensei's bio, discuss the finer points of ki theories (including as related to chi & shakti / prana, etc.), etc. but applying these to technique, my life, or even really understanding the feel is, i think, beyond me.

i got all excited yesterday because i made a rather minor breakthru while practicing aikitaiso and bokken kata on my own... but i'm sure its nothing that could not have been helped along by a teacher ready to teach such things. not that my sensei isn't awesome, but its not his focus.

but, esp here in west virginia, there is so little access to anything. i don't know who to talk to, and even if i did i'm not sure how much time i have. and i certainly do not have the money to back up expanding my practices or traveling.

i'm sure for me some of the gaps could be filled by training in serious yoga and sincere internal chinese arts, but again the time and money issues and the simple fact that its frustrating that its not all available to me via aikido. that this hole even exists. i watch videos of abe-sensei or sunadomari-sensei and feel like this knowledge is out there. but how do i access it? here in west virginia, with limited resources?

so i see the value and problems in this training methodology. and i am certainly aware of the holes. i'm in love with aikido, but...

jeff.

crbateman
11-24-2006, 11:23 PM
Jeff, just do the best you can with the resources you have at hand. Get in the dojo and train. Continue to reach out through the 'net. Read more books (most libraries will borrow the ones you want if they don't have them). No, you can't learn everything from books, but books make you think, which gives rise to questions, which presses you forward to get more answers. (But remember, just because you read something in a book does not mean it's factual, so keep a lively mind.) There are many online articles and videos that may prove useful. Get in the dojo and train. Check out any seminars you may have access to, particularly those with several instructors from different backgrounds. And get in the dojo and train. You'll be surprised how many things you experience there will remind you of something you've read. At 31, you are still young. Give yourself time to experience, and don't be frustrated if your resources are lacking, as it will likely get better with time. Enjoy the journey. And did I mention to get in the dojo and train?

tedehara
11-25-2006, 09:27 AM
...The thrust of my comment is that while I like a few parts of the perspective that Tohei gives for developing Ki, the whole of his instruction is needlessly vague, given the clues that he indeed knows how to be clearer. Just relaxing and "breathing in the ki of the universe" won't magically develop any skills. I think that many of the Ki Society upper dans know this by now... they should speak up, perhaps. Ki skills are a part of all Aikido, not just Tohei's branch.

Just my 2 cents. ;)

Mike SigmanThis breathing in the ki of the universe is becoming one with the universe. This is aikido on a universal or absolute level.
...To unify mind and body and become one with the Universe is the ultimate purpose of our study. - Ki Society MottoWhere did he get this concept of becoming one with the Universe? From the founder.
(Aikido) is the path that brings our hearts into oneness with the spirit of the universe to complete our purpose in life by instilling in us a love and reverence for all of nature. "Enlightenment through Aikido" pg.8
The Founder often spoke of "becoming one with the universe." "Enlightenment through Aikido" pg. 100

Because of the political fall-out that is still around from K. Tohei's leaving Aikikai, it might be wiser for those in Aikikai who want to study "ki" skills to label them "kokyu". This distinguishes them from the focus that K. Tohei had and links them more closely to traditional training.

However since many people studying aikido are only interested in how to win a fight, kokyu skills are not really needed.
The cultivation of kokyu power is a state that comes through a lifetime of training and the attainment of the highest level of unity of body and spirit. "Enlightenment through Aikido" pg. 136 Why waste the time? Those who are actively seeking these skills will find them. You did.

Mike Sigman
11-25-2006, 09:39 AM
i watch videos of abe-sensei or sunadomari-sensei and feel like this knowledge is out there. but how do i access it? here in west virginia, with limited resources?
Personally, I don't think many people understand that a lot of the arts we think of as having "been around a long time in the U.S." are simply incomplete versions of the full art. I was reading some comments from some of the old-timers on rec.martial-arts about how they had been sure that they were the cat's meow with the Karoddy, Judo, and things that they practiced "back in the day". Now they realize how embarrassingly incomplete it was.

I think the same thing is going on here. We're on the cusp of some fairly big changes in terms of the ki-skills, etc., and they're not just levels of sophistication.... they're basics that got missed by a lot of the current teaching population (although most will brazenly tell you they have those skills, in my experience).

In other words, Jeff, think of it like this. Instead of being the beginner who is far behind, you're actually out in the front wave of some very exciting things. Learn what you can, but keep your mind open to the idea that there's usually some glaring omissions that you'll have to leave room in your head to correct for later.

One of the things in my thinking is the possibility that if some of this stuff can be openly broken out into the open, more of the old deshi will perhaps begin to share more of what they know.

Mark Reeder and Ron Meyer at the Boulder Aikikai Dojo attempted to write a book on how to use the "Center" and they did a lot of interviews with Hiroshi Ikeda. In some ways, I think their questioning forced Ikeda to think more about these things. When Ikeda damaged his knees in hard practice, I think he thought even more about the necessity of the ki/kokyu skills and hence the next step winds up with his getting Ushiro Sensei involved. The dam has a big crack in it, so I have pretty positive feelings.

In terms of "just practice", I don't believe in that because too often you have a teacher who doesn't really know as much as he should and the "practice" is not really practice that moves you forward.... it's just Aikido-like exercise.

Do what you gotta do, but keep your eyes open and go see the real "big dogs", not just the usual seminar circuit, whenever you can. That's what I do.... I try to go and see only the best so I can find out what the "best" do and then I can set my sights on the real "best", not someone else's "take on what the best might be". ;)

Regards,

Mike

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-25-2006, 09:41 AM
I have a quote to show that the final part of Ted's post is contradictory to the subject matter of a budo or bujutsu forum: "From the start, that which is called bujutsu is not something to cause victory and defeat or distinguish strong from weak between people. If a person is studying bujutsu for that purpose, it is better for him not to have started at all. Instead, that which cannot exist as competition is bujutsu."

Kuroda Testuzan, from "Ki-ken-tai-icchi no bujutsu-teki shintai wo tsukuru"

Mike Sigman
11-25-2006, 10:01 AM
This breathing in the ki of the universe is becoming one with the universe. This is aikido on a universal or absolute level.
Where did he get this concept of becoming one with the Universe? From the founder. Hi Ted:

There was an old story (and I think it's discredited now, but what the hey... it's a good story) told by D.T. Suzuki in which a man used a knife to carve the flesh from animals (he was a butcher, I think) and because he always allowed the blade of his knife to follow the path of no resistance when cutting through the meat, the knife never got dull. This is a symbolic story that is very much in line with the actual idea of "becoming one with the universe", Ted. It is not a some mental high, some ethereal "zoning out", that makes you a spiritual partner with far-away galaxies.

Aikido is supposed to lead to this same sort of "no resistance; one with the universe" state, in theory, but it is speaking of the real-world, not world of shared water-pipes in rooms with colorful pictures of the "Energy Body" on the wall. ;) Because of the political fall-out that is still around from K. Tohei's leaving Aikikai, it might be wiser for those in Aikikai who want to study "ki" skills to label them "kokyu". This distinguishes them from the focus that K. Tohei had and links them more closely to traditional training. Maybe I'm a dullard, but I just don't see it. Other than Tohei's quasi-religious, self-help stuff, I don't see any of his physical stuff that is really and different from the things Ueshiba espoused. My only problem was that in the earlier days of Aikido, there wasn't as much information about all the things Ueshiba did... so we thought Tohei was doing new and different stuff.

The point being... Tohei did good Aikido using ki/kokyu, Ueshiba certainly did, Shioda did, Sunadomari did, Abe does, and so on. Some of the factions have indeed gone off on, IMO, tangents that lead away from Aikido, but few of the founders of the original groups were doing anything much different from good Aikido. So rather that fostering a separation of the factions, I think the commonalities should be enjoyed.However since many people studying aikido are only interested in how to win a fight, kokyu skills are not really needed.
Why waste the time? Those who are actively seeking these skills will find them. You did.Whoa... Ted. There are some people doing martial arts who want to fight?????? Can you pm me with some names??? ;)

There is a comment by Shioda Koncho in his "Aikido Shugyo" where he mentions that both he and Ueshiba did a lot of the ki stuff "for old age". It's an investment in old age. And how long and healthily you live is a fixation in the Orient.

Health and strength, Ted. Not fighting. Cynic that I am, I'm willing to testify, from personal experience, that my strength and physical health have improved in ways I would not have imagined possible when I first heard all the hyperbole about Ki and "health". That's why I do it. That's why I recommend it.

Best Regards,

Mike

Mike Sigman
11-25-2006, 10:06 AM
This breathing in the ki of the universe is becoming one with the universe. This is aikido on a universal or absolute level. Ted, if you will follow the simple directions I gave in the "deep breathing" thread, it's a *start* to making you "one with the universe" and it will "condense the ki at your navel" and all the other ancient ways of describing it. When you breathe correctly, you can feel a part of you under the skin (and more places, later) expanding and contracting. If you are breathing without that, you are not doing Ki breathing. Imagination isn't enough.

Regards,

Mike

DH
11-25-2006, 10:07 AM
I agree with Mike except to add that thinking the big dogs "have it."
Will prove to be a long path frought with many winding turns that may lead nowhere.

In truth, I think a lot of the guys at the top ain't got squat. Just technique, and maybe a relaxed body, technique, and a good measure of cooperative students.
It would be facinating to see just how few have truly worthwhile pieces.

Here's another unpopular opinion.
Men hide what they don't have just as often as what they do have. It is a long road to discover which is which if you don't have the tools to discern the difference in the first place.
Last
It is my opinion that you don't get there unless you train solo bodywork.
Where are the solo training drills to build the connections that have been there under which Big dogs?
Takeda trained solo, Sagawa did, Ueshiba did.
When I talked about solo training eleven years ago no one knew, gave a rats ass and even scoffed at the idea on the net.
What changed? Or never was, but now has become... something that was always there. ;)
Another big question is who has what?
I find it hard to believe that some-one- has it all.
I find the concept of "exploring the internal landscape" intriquing. But in itself is a life long, difficult road.
Who has a -great kernal of truth- but has not trained it or learned it well... so is dissmised as having real depth.
Who has a -lesser kernal- that he trained really, really, well so he sends folks down a lesser path.
Its hard to tell the difference.
Cheers
Dan

Mike Sigman
11-25-2006, 10:48 AM
In truth, I think a lot of the guys at the top ain't got squat. Just technique, and maybe a relaxed body, technique, and a good measure of cooperative students.Well, maybe that's true (although nactherly I is too genteel to say it like that), but many times the guys at the top (GATT's) have *something*, but it turns out to be charisma, body-size, fighting skills from other arts than the one they're supposedly training people in, aggressiveness (particularly in relation to the stoog.... er, students whom they train), and so on. It's a morrass out there.

What interests me over and over (through the years that I've been around) is the number of GATT's who will demonstrate with unmistakeably external strength, no jin, lots of body mass, etc., and *still* think they've "got some of this stuff". Even with the obvious clues staring them in the face. I see it time and time again. There are more guys who have a piece here and there who are satisfied that "they've got it", than I can shake a stick at. This is what most beginners have to watch out for. Everyone wants to be a "teacher" and wear that cool black skirt. Digging deeply into this stuff is like going to Heaven... everyone wants to do it; but not yet.

Mike

Joe Jutsu
11-25-2006, 01:01 PM
Do what you gotta do, but keep your eyes open and go see the real "big dogs", not just the usual seminar circuit, whenever you can. That's what I do.... I try to go and see only the best so I can find out what the "best" do and then I can set my sights on the real "best", not someone else's "take on what the best might be". ;)

Regards,

Mike

Shaner sensei, Dec.8-10th in Denver, I believe at the Denver Aikikai. It's on the Denver Ki Aikido website. I'll be there, and can't wait!

:ki:

raul rodrigo
11-25-2006, 04:01 PM
Mark Reeder and Ron Meyer at the Boulder Aikikai Dojo attempted to write a book on how to use the "Center" and they did a lot of interviews with Hiroshi Ikeda. In some ways, I think their questioning forced Ikeda to think more about these things.


"Attempted" to write a book? Would that be a criticism of the book that eventually appeared? In your opinion, how effective was the Reeder/Meyer book as a guide to developing internal power and using the center?


R

Mike Sigman
11-25-2006, 04:07 PM
"Attempted" to write a book? Would that be a criticism of the book that eventually appeared? In your opinion, how effective was the Reeder/Meyer book as a guide to developing internal power and using the center?Hi Raul:

Just take it as a garbled attempt on my part at saying "while they were attempting to write the book, Ikeda had to think how to say things...".

I haven't read the book in a while, but I think that it was a start in the right direction, although not really complete. You have to remember that when they wrote that book (not all that long ago) they were essentially trying to come to grips with how to say something that the Aikido population at large would have nothing to do with (other than to try to imply "we already do that", of course).

Best.

Mike

Thomas Campbell
11-25-2006, 08:45 PM
"This is the first book that seriously discusses how Aikido works. Buy it."
---Mike Sigman, former editor of "Internal Strength Magazine"

from the back cover

;)

tedehara
11-26-2006, 02:34 PM
I have a quote to show that the final part of Ted's post is contradictory to the subject matter of a budo or bujutsu forum:...No judgments, I just tells it like I sees it. ;)

...There is a comment by Shioda Koncho in his "Aikido Shugyo" where he mentions that both he and Ueshiba did a lot of the ki stuff "for old age". It's an investment in old age. And how long and healthily you live is a fixation in the Orient.

Health and strength, Ted. Not fighting. Cynic that I am, I'm willing to testify, from personal experience, that my strength and physical health have improved in ways I would not have imagined possible when I first heard all the hyperbole about Ki and "health". That's why I do it. That's why I recommend it.

Best Regards,

MikeThere seems to be a real difference between your view of old age and Jon Bluming (http://www.kyokushinbudokai.dk/interview_with_kancho_jon_blumin.htm)

Don't forget that the injuries you get when you are young stay with you, and the ones you get when you are 70 years old will not go away as easily as they did when you were a young kid. Trust me. The old injuries will play a big part in your daily life after you are 55 or 60 years old. Arthritis will set in on these joints and old fractures. I can honestly say that I have hardly had a single day without any pain for the last 30 years. And it is getting worse as we speak. My doctor says I'd better stop fighting right now. But I told him it is my hobby and that is the price I must pay. If I stop, I will die.

...Imagination isn't enough.You can call it imagination or daydreaming. However because of the structure, I would consider it guided imagery. (http://www.webmd.com/content/article/46/1833_50754.htm)

After looking around, I have to agree with you on your position concerning K. Tohei. From Dec. 1997 Seidokan Communicator "Shodo-O-Seisu" (http://www.seidokan.org/communicator/1297/Comm1297.html)
He (Rod Kobayashi) related all this to Tohei Sensei one day in a private lesson and his teacher said, "Oh yes, that's shodo-o-seisu. (control the first move)" Kobayashi Sensei saw that he was on the right track and continued to develop applications of the principle. He was surprised when his teacher never mentioned it again or described its importance to others.

Mike Sigman
11-26-2006, 05:18 PM
There seems to be a real difference between your view of old age and Jon Bluming (http://www.kyokushinbudokai.dk/interview_with_kancho_jon_blumin.htm) Heck, I thought we'd already seen that Bluming disagrees with a lot of famous Japanese martial artists. I know the classical view of the ki skills are for...and that's as an investment in old age because it allows an older person to be unusually strong without having to be big and mean. Shioda and Ueshiba appear to agree with that classical view. You may agree with the big and mean view. Each to his own.

Mike

Nick Pagnucco
11-26-2006, 09:48 PM
I own the Meyer & Reeder book, and I like it. Aikidokas often like to talk about one's center, and it definitely does that.

Just as Mike predicted, I had a 'we do that already' reaction when I started the book... Then I very quickly ate my words (thoughts?) when I started realizing that I have rarely experienced the effects of a good center-to-center connection. I've felt something I think qualifies twice, when I got to feel Takeguchi Shihan and Konigsberg Shihan at seminars. It gave me some things to think about involving connection.

It also is very much in line with the ground-path stuff that Mike talks about. It uses that vocabulary instead of others. As such, it reads very differently than Tohei's books, to the point that its hard for me to connect them (caused by my lack of experiential knowledge, I suspect). Meyer & Reeder seem to associate connection to ground path, and Tohei seems to promote kokyu / extending ki through visualizations & metaphor (as has already been mentioned).

Thomas Campbell
11-26-2006, 10:29 PM
[I own the Meyer & Reeder book, and I like it. Aikidokas often like to talk about one's center, and it definitely does that.

Just as Mike predicted, I had a 'we do that already' reaction when I started the book... Then I very quickly ate my words (thoughts?) when I started realizing that I have rarely experienced the effects of a good center-to-center connection. [snip]

I like the Meyer and Reeder book, too. I bought copies for local libraries in towns I was living and working in, largely because of Mike's recommendation and the clarity of exposition in the book taking the idea of ground path and connection to center and putting it into an aikido context. Playing with some experienced aikidoka at the time, they were able to put the material into real-life physical context.

My limited practical understanding of the concept of "ki" as Tohei presents it in "Aikido in Daily Life" does differ from what I see Meyer and Reeder writing about . . . but there's got to be a bridge somewhere.

I was talking about this with someone else, who suggested that the tanren "body skill" paradigm hinted at in Akuzawa Minoru's training methodology and Dan Harden's descriptions, which focus on the practitioner's development and control of his own body, and the "ki extension" Tohei taught, which seems to focus more on what the uke is feeling, are two sides of the same coin.

As Mike pointed out, it is worthwhile to go back to books and teachings like Tohei's and re-evaluate what was being said and taught at the time, in light of what we're investigating today. Ellis Amdur's multi-part writings on (possible) sources of Ueshiba Morihei's skill and practice, which you can find at his aikidojournal.com blog, are very worthwhile reading as well.

akiy
11-27-2006, 09:01 AM
Thomas and Mike's personal "discussion" has been excised and moved here:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11366

... although, in the future, please take this kind of exchange to private e-mail/messages and not here in the Forums.

-- Jun

Thomas Campbell
11-27-2006, 09:15 AM
Thanks, Jun.

Mike Sigman
11-27-2006, 09:20 AM
Hmmmmm..... Jun, wouldn't it be better to change the subject header, too, so that there's not two threads of the same name?

Mike