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Mike Sigman
12-10-2006, 01:31 PM
My real question is how did you do in deciding to take falls. Thats the part I have trouble with. I willingly take ukemi when showing folks how to do things to actually capture my center. Did most folks have that ability? Were you able to help?Hmmmm... I don't have a problem with doing an Aikido workshop just like everyone else there does, Dan. If someone was practicing a technique, learning it and rehearsing it while needing an accomodating practice partner, I don't have a problem with that. If they did the technique somewhat correctly, I let them throw me. I'm not a Dive Bunny, but I'm not a jerk about being thrown, either. Uke is generally, in my mind, a partner who helps in Nage's learning process... he is NOT the "Leader of the Band", showing everyone that he is Mr. Supremo. ;)

Could I stop someone in their tracks if I wanted to? Maybe so... but that seems usually unimportant to me in a dojo atmosphere where useful cooperation can add to everyone's progress. It didn't cross my mind except with one guy who was being a jerk, but I let it go. Every workshop has a few guys who need to pee on the fire hydrants.

Oh, and "help" people? I was there to take a workshop as a student, Dan. Shaner Sensei was giving the workshop and he did a very good job. There's nothing worse than a guy at a workshop who thinks it's his duty to offer advice and demonstrate to others. Think about it, if you were an instructor, etc., at a workshop and there was some guy who needed that kind of attention... what would your impression be?

I'll write up something later about my perceptions of the Ki-Society's approach to ki-mechanics, but in terms of discussing whether anyone there could do this or do that, I'd rather just stay general and within the realm of how some things, in my opinion, affected the outcome of some of the students' techniques.

And don't get me wrong... I don't want to spend a lot of time critiquing "what those guys did wrong", because I thought there was a nice range of ability represented. There were a lot of "external" guys, some people that were making some good progress, some absolute beginners, some "True Believers" who chanted the opening recitations fervently, and so on. My interest is in the ki/kokyu mechanics and I certainly don't want to give the impression that what knowledge I have of those mechanics makes me somehow skilled in Aikido. It doesn't.

So generally instead of worrying out loud about whether anyone could "take my center" or "take my breeding rights" or anything along those lines, I'd prefer to just warble out loud about the ki/kokyu mechanics. ;)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
12-10-2006, 02:28 PM
Here's probably what should have been the lead-in to the thread:

At the suggestion of someone on AW, I decided to go see David Shaner Sensei
teach at a workshop in Denver. What actually sold me on the idea of going
was that Shaner was a Japanese-speaking westerner, high-ranking in the Ki
Society, etc., that could probably show and explain in idiomatic English
what the thrust of Toheis commentaries, training, etc., were about.

It was a nice workshop, although it turned out to be one of those that
accidentally flooded the dojo space so that when techniques were practiced
you had to be careful on the ukemi or you might crack your widdle noggin.

I went in an old gi with a white belt and determined that I would more or
less keep my mouth shut, without being too obnoxious about it, so that I
could hear not only Shaner Sensei's opinions on the workings of
ki-mechanics, but also the opinions of various yudansha (on how they
perceived/did ki-mechanics) at the workshop. I also made an effort to say
that I "didn't understand the technique, could you tell me what to do" a
great number of times so that I could hear the verbalizations, from
white-belt up to the yudansha levels.

There were various interactions and impressions I could mention about the
workshop (we've all been to Aikido workshops, for the most part, and it was
the usual assortment of interactions, nice people, people wanting to work
the pecking-order stuff, and so on), but I want to focus my discussion
purely on the ki-mechanics stuff, since that's all I really went there to
observe.

After listening to Shaner Sensei's explanations on the Four Basic Principles
and watching a little bit, I began to get a feel for the direction of the
perspective that the Ki Society has and how it differs from my own
viewpoint... so I thought I'd toss my comments out there for discussion,
rebuttal, etc.

Shaner Sensei was very personable and articulate, but at one time he made
the comment that Tohei Sensei described the ki-mechanics "scientifically"... a point I would argue is not really true, although I think I appreciate the
fact (and I've said this before) that at least Tohei made an effort to
systematize Ki-Aikido in respect to the ki-mechanics. How successfully he's done it, politics, etc., are all other discussions. For what it's worth, I thought the workshop was the most explicative and focused qi/jin or ki/kokyu workshop I've ever seen in Aikido.

Actually, just to get it out of the way, there has never been any doubt in my mind that the ki-mechanics Tohei talks about and the qi/jin mechanics are the same thing. It's so much of a given, that it's not worth any prolonged discussion. I also noticed that during his talk and references to thinks that Tohei had said, a number of very famous Chinese sayings came into the conversation, although Shaner Sensei may not have been aware of that. The lead comment at the beginning of the workshop was the term "Fusoku Furi", which he translated as "No Contact; No Separation". The famous Chinese saying in relation to the qi/jin skills is often translated as "No Resistance; No Letting Go".

I tried to think of several very simple remarks to make, so I'll make 4 quick ones:

(1.) Shaner Sensei was very clear about the jin/kokyu force related to weight. Although he referred constantly to "keep weight underside", he was very clear at one point in saying that the point of contact with the opponent was directly connected to the center of the weight. Here we agree completely. I tend to say that there is a "path" or "connection", which I stress in not breaking and not using muscle to effect, but the idea was the.


(2.) The jin/kokyu forces (Ki-Aikido seems to call all things "Ki", but that's part of the problem, I think, which hampers people from really understanding what's going on with the actual mechanics) from the ground (rather than the weight-derived one in the comment above) are simply referred to a "coming from the one point". My comment and suggestion would be that if more people in the Ki-Society simply understood that the "one point" conveys the forces in as pure a way possible from the ground, they would probably go ahead by leaps and bounds.

(3.) The idea that you only have to relax, keep a good attitude, and so on is nice, but it's not the whole story. Missing from the story is that the "connection", the "path", whatever can be developed by not using the primary musculature, but the "connection" needs to be developed and strengthened over time. Instead of developing the connection and so forth, too many people in the Ki Society probably spend a bit too much time focused on just relaxing. Yet I know anecdotally that Tohei himself has done "connection"-type exercises. So I think this should be brought out more as a focus of practice. Just as an example of an ancient traditional exercise in China for the down-weight (heavy-side under) exercises, they used to float an inflated goat's bladder bag in a tub of water and rest the hand on the float, holding it down slightly using just the center. The purpose of the exercise was to strengthen that "connection".

(4.) I watched quite a few times as Shaner Sensei pulled Uke "straight down", etc., etc., and was very "relaxed", etc., etc., but what he did was pull Uke's center into a "hole" where there was no balance. Yet he never mentioned it except once in passing. Meanwhile I watched a lot of people continue to try to pull Uke down into a place where there was no hole and Uke had support under his feet.

Anyway... those were 4 quick comments in the line of suggestions I would personally offer with the intent that they be helpful.

Did I learn something. Yes. I saw a relationship that I vaguely knew about but which I generally ignored because I used something of a different mindset. When Shaner Sensei explained it a la Tohei, it suddenly clicked... so a nice thing that I had way under-utilized will now be worked on. It's not something I can describe briefly and it has to do with a type of jin skill I use, I'm just going to avoid the lengthy (and probably unproductive) attempt to describe it.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Rupert Atkinson
12-11-2006, 03:30 AM
Of your 1772 posts, Mike, that's the first one I find useful in the practical sense. Please go visit some more places and add more comments :)

Cheers.

Mark Freeman
12-11-2006, 06:09 AM
Hi Mike,

thanks for both of your posts above, interesting, balanced and objective.

Did you have an oportunity to take ukemi from Shaner Sensei? Did he in your opinion have the ki/kokyu skills that you talk about, in other words does he walk his talk?

Although I practice 'ki' aikido a la Tohei Sensei, my own teacher has translated some of his sayings into phrases which he feels are perhaps easier to embody. An example would be 'keep weight underside' he changed to 'have a light posture'. Different phrase but similar outcome. I guess as we are not part of the Ki Society, he is free to interpret his own experiences and try put them accross to his students as he sees as being most useful for learning.

I can see your point about 'terminology', and at the end of the day the hoped for end result is to help people gain the 'correct' mind/body state that is required to perform aikido as it was intended.

It seems from your posts that people were making progress in the right direction, which has to be a good thing, doesn't it? or am I reading you wrongly?

I'm glad you came away with a positive view on how you can utilise what you learnt into your own understanding/search/future explanations. ;)

regards,

Mark

Mike Sigman
12-11-2006, 07:45 AM
Did you have an oportunity to take ukemi from Shaner Sensei? Did he in your opinion have the ki/kokyu skills that you talk about, in other words does he walk his talk? Hi Mark:

I did not take ukemi from Shaner. I had originally planned to, but during some of the practices, he came around and demonstrated the partial technique we were working on and I could feel what his power was. Oddly enough there was one person in the room whom I had never met who waited for the proper opportunity (protocol-wise) to touch me for exactly the same reasons. I had to smile... see? you can find surprising things at a workshop.

There is often something like this going on in martial arts, as I am used to it. Often, only a handshake is needed; sometimes you only have to watch someone move a little bit. I felt like I learned what I wanted to learn without formally taking ukemi.
Although I practice 'ki' aikido a la Tohei Sensei, my own teacher has translated some of his sayings into phrases which he feels are perhaps easier to embody. An example would be 'keep weight underside' he changed to 'have a light posture'. Different phrase but similar outcome. I guess as we are not part of the Ki Society, he is free to interpret his own experiences and try put them accross to his students as he sees as being most useful for learning. Well, Shaner's description on the weight understand and his physical demonstrations showed that our core understanding of that one aspect is the same, without any discussion. He has a slightly different take on some perspectives about other aspects and I am taking a while to mull over his approach. Of course, in some things I think we differ widely, but bear in mind that I know many very skilled people in these areas and as long as my own position is functional and it doesn't stray too far from the general spectrum, I'm not too concerned about relatively minor differences between practitioners. It's not a bad thing. ;) I can see your point about 'terminology', and at the end of the day the hoped for end result is to help people gain the 'correct' mind/body state that is required to perform aikido as it was intended.

It seems from your posts that people were making progress in the right direction, which has to be a good thing, doesn't it? or am I reading you wrongly?The approach of Shaner Sensei was not bad at all, although it was quite a bit different than what I would use. I think he could be far more clear than he is... but he himself probably is taking the cue on his explanations from the way that Tohei Sensei taught him.

One of my perceptions was that some of the attendees shifted their practice to accomodate Shaner's instructions, but with the feeling that as soon as they got back to their home dojo they would revert to the "real stuff" (tm). In other words, the ideal, hoped-for end-result is always fighting many, many factors.

I feel like the Ki Society is making some progress overall, but I think that many of them would have progress far more if the terminology and knowledge were made clearer. The "One Point" idea is OK, but the "One Point" does not float by itself in space; at all times the "One Point" is supported by the ground... it IS the ground. And from the One Point there is always a radiated solidity of the ground going to all parts of the body. At the same time, the "One Point" is also always the full weight of the body potential to all parts of the body (that weight will always be on the underside, of course). These are the two basic powers from which all powers come, Heaven and Earth. We are stretched out between them.

There is some progress.... my comment is that there should be much more progress. Certainly there are a lot of skills beyond the simple ones that everyone kept hovering around. (Not that I am an expert in all the ki/qi skills, BTW... I'm a dabbler).

Regards,

Mike

Mark Freeman
12-11-2006, 08:26 AM
I feel like the Ki Society is making some progress overall, but I think that many of them would have progress far more if the terminology and knowledge were made clearer. The "One Point" idea is OK, but the "One Point" does not float by itself in space; at all times the "One Point" is supported by the ground... it IS the ground. And from the One Point there is always a radiated solidity of the ground going to all parts of the body. At the same time, the "One Point" is also always the full weight of the body potential to all parts of the body (that weight will always be on the underside, of course). These are the two basic powers from which all powers come, Heaven and Earth. We are stretched out between them.



Mike,

I feel comfortable with the concept of One Point 'now' but it has taken along time for me to get to this point, and although I use the term often when I am trying to teach, I realise how ephemeral it is for new students (and some old timers alike ;). I find myself more often now, actually placing my hands on a students pelvis and shifting their weight as I feel that they should, at the same time trying to keep their hands 'solid' in relation to their hips. Through this 'hands on' approach they can often get the sensation of where the power is coming from - not the hands or arms, but their centre, which is as you say itself part of the ground.
I am still constantly amazed at how little effort is needed when all the 'connections' are made to move another person. And I am also aware that although this 'direction' deals with the mechanics of it, I know that the 'mind' aspect makes up the rest of the equation. It's my conjecture that the greater the skill in putting the body in the right 'frame/form' the more the mind's side can be brought into play.

thanks for the reply,

regards,

Mark

Ron Tisdale
12-11-2006, 08:36 AM
Thank you for the review, and taking the time to let us in on what transpired.

Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
12-11-2006, 09:32 AM
I have to add that to be fully honest in the evaluation, it has to be accounted that my own perceptions can skew things a little bit. For instance there were a couple of "ki test" things that were, IMO, pretty vague in the explanations (I feel safe saying this because I could see a number of other people having probles, etc.). The first time or two I would try to do exactly the type of visualization that I *thought* Shaner Sensei meant, but then I'd finally go with "heck, I'm pretty sure all he wants is this" and I'd do what I would normally do. My partner (sometimes partners) would clap me on the back and tell me I was getting it. In a couple of instances, this got pretty funny, but those are beer stories. My point is and was that I think a lot of these things can be described and approached far more clearly than through vagaries and the "Ki of the Universe"...BUT please bear in mind my own potential preconceptions when I say those things. And I mean these commentaries in a good, constructive way, not as an aspersion.

Another thing I noticed a few times was that some "instructor" would lead me through how to do an exercise (and he/she would speak slowly, clearly enunciating the words, since I was a white-belt). What would happen was that they'd do something one way and/or have me do something one way (while they told me exactly what to do) and then they would do it another way and ask me if I didn't feel the difference. Now some of these are valid changes and expositional explanations, even though the points were vague to start with, but in some cases, these "now try it this way" things can be very bogus, the way they were doing those examples and changes.

There are some "tests" that are used by kinesiologists, chiropractors, etc., which suggest the relative strengths of joints, muscles, etc., that are somewhat valid... but there are a whole host of similar tests that have been shown to be bogus and which rely on psychology, limb-positioning, physics, etc. What I'm getting at is that some of the Ki-tests with the "now try it this way" were uncomfortably close to bogus, psychological, limb-positioning tests. I'm not saying anything about, though, other than the fact that the validity of tests and demonstrations is something that an astute student should always be analyzing. Far too many "demo's" in the martial arts happen to depend a lot on psychology, the desire to please, positional/physics situations, and so forth.

FWIW

Mike

statisticool
12-11-2006, 10:51 AM
Often, only a handshake is needed; sometimes you only have to watch someone move a little bit. I felt like I learned what I wanted to learn without formally taking ukemi.


Unfortunately, that is a great way to avoid sparring and/or taking falls.

statisticool
12-11-2006, 10:52 AM
Far too many "demo's" in the martial arts happen to depend a lot on psychology, the desire to please, positional/physics situations, and so forth.


Unlike the Teacher Test demo.

Ron Tisdale
12-11-2006, 11:12 AM
Anything positive to contribute, or just taking swipes again??? :(

B,
R

Adman
12-11-2006, 02:02 PM
First of all Mike, thanks for the very insightful review. Nice to see comments from a knowledgeable source, from-outside-looking-in.
What would happen was that they'd do something one way and/or have me do something one way (while they told me exactly what to do) and then they would do it another way and ask me if I didn't feel the difference. Now some of these are valid changes and expositional explanations, even though the points were vague to start with, but in some cases, these "now try it this way" things can be very bogus, the way they were doing those examples and changes.I'm sure I've resembled that remark. Of course, I've never had the intention of being bogus. Confused with good intentions perhaps, but never bogus.

I've pretty much stayed out of most of these discussions, especially when something sounds remarkably familiar. I'd hate to be labeled as someone who's saying they've "been-there-done-that." ;) But it's nice to hear that maybe some of my instincts are correct when I'm attempting to apply some of the solo-training exercises I've heard described in these forums.

thanks,
Adam

Mike Sigman
12-11-2006, 02:18 PM
(in re potentially inaccurate testing methods)I'm sure I've resembled that remark. Of course, I've never had the intention of being bogus. Confused with good intentions perhaps, but never bogus. Hi Adam:

Oh, I wasn't implying that anyone was being deliberately bogus. Sometimes we simply don't want to question any facts which might support our beliefs. And we're all guilty of that at one time or another, so I was simply mentioning the caution. ;) I'd hate to be labeled as someone who's saying they've "been-there-done-that." ;) But it's nice to hear that maybe some of my instincts are correct when I'm attempting to apply some of the solo-training exercises I've heard described in these forums. Frankly, I think some of the guys/gals at that Ki seminar would be able to instinctively have a somewhat accurate idea about some of the training exercises we've talked about. However, my main point... which I hope comes across... was that I think (1.) the training within the Ki-Society could be far more sharply focused (so more people could learn and learn accurately) and (2.) there's a lot more permutations of these things, so some members of the Ki Society may be needlessly dwelling on the same simple skills over and over for years. And that's meant only to express an opinion, not a negative.

All the Best.

Mike

Adman
12-11-2006, 02:37 PM
Mike,

I didn't read anything deliberate (or negative) in your post. I just wanted to relay that I've recognized many things that I have tried, or thought I was practicing, as 'bogus'. Most of the time this was due to the fact that I thought I knew something, when I didn't. I also recognize how ambiguous something like a 'ki test' can be ... depending on who gives it.

thanks,
Adam

Rupert Atkinson
12-11-2006, 05:51 PM
There is nothing wrong with being critical. It's not being negative - just critical. You have to doubt to progress. I am always critical of every class I've been to. Can be risky in an open forum like this, but person to person I'll say exactly what I think. And I am sure people are critical of what I do - I just wish they would tell me :)

Mike Sigman
12-11-2006, 06:06 PM
I am always critical of every class I've been to. Can be risky in an open forum like this, but person to person I'll say exactly what I think. The tremendous edge I have is that I don't teach publicly, nor am I a member of any group/affiliation. I'm a free spirit with no rice bowl that I have to keep from being broken. This puts me at odds with many people on a lot of different forums ("fora" is cool if we were speaking idiomatic Latin, but "forums" is the acceptable English variant). Say what you want to me. I'll simply consider it as honestly as I can, wherever you speak. And I am sure people are critical of what I do - I just wish they would tell me :) You suck, Rupert. (Sorry..... I never pass up a set-up one-liner like that). ;)

Best.

Mike

kironin
12-12-2006, 02:12 AM
Thanks for your review Mike.

Your comments brought back some memories of classes in which we did connection exercises that seem to be in line with what you describe. That hole you mention where they have no balance is I think something that I agree should be more explicit.

When I have had the chance, I have always enjoyed Shaner Sensei's classes. It was interesting to to read your response as someone coming at it from a different angle.

good stuff,
best.
Craig

Mike Sigman
12-12-2006, 08:10 AM
Your comments brought back some memories of classes in which we did connection exercises that seem to be in line with what you describe. That hole you mention where they have no balance is I think something that I agree should be more explicit.

When I have had the chance, I have always enjoyed Shaner Sensei's classes. It was interesting to to read your response as someone coming at it from a different angle.Hi Craig:

Well, it was pretty interesting. I have been thinking about the Ki-Society approach these last few days and I pretty much still have the opinion I voiced previously on the thread that I think a clearer focus and explanation would tremendously enhance the Ki-Society perspective.... although, on the other hand, a clearer and more analytic approach through physics might actually conflict with some of the more esoteric beliefs about the "Universal Ki", etc.

One point I will make though, which I think is important to note. Tohei's approach may not be fully clear and it results in a lot of Ki-Society people missing the fine point and staying always at a fairly basic level, etc....... BUT, Tohei's approach through relaxation and softness is the correct one for the really high-level route, IMO. This is not to say that there are not exercises and explanations that are needed (and I daresay it's a certainty that Tohei used some for the in-door disciples)..... what I'm stressing is that relaxation, not tension, is the road to the higher-level stuff. So kudos for that part of the Ki-Society perspective. "From great softness comes great hardness".

Best.

Mike

Mike Sigman
12-15-2006, 08:48 AM
When I have had the chance, I have always enjoyed Shaner Sensei's classes. It was interesting to to read your response as someone coming at it from a different angle.I've still been mulling this over, Craig (and others). The more I think about the approach I saw in Denver, the more I'm convinced that Tohei's approach is markedly more from Tempu Nakamura's non-martial Shin Shin Toitsu Do in its approach to Ki, than it is related to a more normal martial approach like O-Sensei used. I've been ticking off in my head all the approaches I've seen in various Japanese martial arts, numerous Chinese martial arts, etc., and I can think of *some* that use related "relaxation" approaches, but none quite like this. Tohei's approach to the ki strengths is more from a civil, "qigong" type origin, it appears to me. Maybe that explains the vagueness, to some degree, as not being purely of Tohei's invention. I don't know. What I do know is that when I quit comparing Tohei's approach with all the martial approaches I know and I start comparing it to qigong approaches, it clicks.

I'm just throwing this idea out there to express an opinion that I thought was interesting.

Regards,


Mike

MM
12-15-2006, 09:16 AM
I've still been mulling this over, Craig (and others). The more I think about the approach I saw in Denver, the more I'm convinced that Tohei's approach is markedly more from Tempu Nakamura's non-martial Shin Shin Toitsu Do in its approach to Ki, than it is related to a more normal martial approach like O-Sensei used. I've been ticking off in my head all the approaches I've seen in various Japanese martial arts, numerous Chinese martial arts, etc., and I can think of *some* that use related "relaxation" approaches, but none quite like this. Tohei's approach to the ki strengths is more from a civil, "qigong" type origin, it appears to me. Maybe that explains the vagueness, to some degree, as not being purely of Tohei's invention. I don't know. What I do know is that when I quit comparing Tohei's approach with all the martial approaches I know and I start comparing it to qigong approaches, it clicks.

I'm just throwing this idea out there to express an opinion that I thought was interesting.

Regards,


Mike

Mike,
Since you're mulling things over and since I know little to nothing about Tohei's background, where do you think he got his "ki" ideas from?

I guess that question is open to everyone. :)

Mark

Mike Sigman
12-15-2006, 09:39 AM
Since you're mulling things over and since I know little to nothing about Tohei's background, where do you think he got his "ki" ideas from? Well, first of all, "Ki" is not a mysterious unknown topic to many people in Japan and Asia, particularly if they've been involved in the martial arts world. Notice how generally incredulous or "I don't know what it is" or "here's my guess about Ki" the discussions get on the western martial arts sites. Ki is not at all like that in discussions in Asian circles.

Tohei studied Judo before he studied Aikido. Through contacts in Judo, Aikido, other martial artists from other arts, from the common lore, etc., Tohei would have known generally what Ki was and that it contributed to power... at the very least.

Tohei studied outside of Aikido in several places which could have given him some of the Ki training. Most of his "opened my eyes" material probably came from Tempu Nakamura, the guy they say did the "Japanese Yoga" (I bought a book about it a few years ago, but it was typically superficial and unfulfilling).

I have some indications that Tohei probably has training methods that are not shown to everyone in the Ki Society. Gernot Hassenpflug posted some comments from one good source that supports that. Some earlier students have told me of things that they saw. And so on. I wish I had been in a position to actually get a feel of Shaner Sensei based on me not having to worry so much about decorum and protocol... maybe in the future... but my impression of Shaner's abilities was (and this is a guess) that while he may be "Okuden" level, there are probably some training methodologies that Tohei doesn't show everyone.

The "Relax" stuff will only get you so far. After that you need specific training in order for the body skills to increase and those skills take a while to develop (mine are only moderate, at best, BTW, but in the Kingdom of the Blind.... ) . At one point in his demonstration, Shaner Sensei was showing how to simply leave your arm in someone's grasp, relinquish it, and walk away (I'm not totally sure what the point was, but I assume it was something he thought beginners should be made aware of). Then he briefly showed once how he could walk into Uke even if he didn't relax and relinquish the arm. He said it was an "advanced" technique, indicating that someone had to be trained in order to learn how to do it. Well...... why couldn't he just "relax" and do it? See the point.... "relaxation" has its place, but you will not discover everything by just "relaxing" and making yourself "one with the universe". There are levels of skills and ability and a person needs to be shown how to do these more "advanced" aspects of the skills.

I *liked* what Shaner showed of Tohei's approach and I support it, with the caveat that I think they can do better (and I hope they do... the Ki Society has, IMO, the best shot at doing Aikido with Ki skills if they tighten up the focus and open up the information some more. Bear in mind, though, that just having good Ki skills does not mean that someone is going to be doing "good Aikido". However, "good Aikido" really only comes after these basic skills are in place, IMO (and I don't think I'm alone in that opinion).

Best.

Mike

Budd
12-15-2006, 10:04 AM
This speculation is interesting. If, as others have written/speculated (and I'm typing this on the fly and admittedly not referencing/sourcing, so I'll own up to any errors/misremembering), Ueshiba's core art was Daito ryu where he started on the path to developing his body skills, then later supplemented with additional/other exercises involving the sword and spear (later modified to jo) and even (possibly) qigong-derived type body work from his religious studies/experiences, such that in his later years, his practice was uniquely his own.

Perhaps, by the time Tohei was developing his own practice under Ueshiba, what he was able to "feel" and "see" regarding Ueshiba's skills (I think I remember reading that somewhere in an interview Tohei mentioned learning most from Ueshiba was the ability to "relax") based on his observation was something that he was able to connect to in the manifestation of Ueshiba's religious qigong-derived bodywork (even if it didn't seem "martial"). No doubt Tohei was also able to connect the "relaxation" with the "release" into incoming forces that Ueshiba was able to demonstrate "martially" in his own practice. As a result, Tohei may have identified and used these different "building blocks" to get to a similar result in his practice, even if he wasn't being explicitly "told" how to do it.

Anyhow, I'll be the first to admit that I don't know enough about any of this stuff to have a definitive opinion either way, I'm just tossing my speculations into the pool since I don't feel like working right now ;) . Additionally, I'm interested in the "paths" these greats have taken since they all seemed so keen on seeking out and/or "stealing" this information.

Lastly, to semi-relate it back to the thread topic, I've heard very good things from friends that have trained with Ki-Society folks regarding the way they isolate and train some of the bodywork, so it's high on my list to get to one of the seminars in the next couple of years.

Best/Budd

kironin
12-15-2006, 12:01 PM
I have some indications that Tohei probably has training methods that are not shown to everyone in the Ki Society. Gernot Hassenpflug posted some comments from one good source that supports that. Some earlier students have told me of things that they saw. And so on. I wish I had been in a position to actually get a feel of Shaner Sensei based on me not having to worry so much about decorum and protocol... maybe in the future... but my impression of Shaner's abilities was (and this is a guess) that while he may be "Okuden" level, there are probably some training methodologies that Tohei doesn't show everyone.



Shaner Sensei was an Otomo for Tohei Sensei when he was younger and liiving as an uchideshi in Japan. I think that was after he was following Tohei Sensei around on his tours of the states like a Grateful Dead fan in the 70's.

Shaner Sensei was also a favorite student of the late Iwao Tamura Sensei, 9th dan Ki Society.

Hard to believe he wasn't included on the inner side.

Mike Sigman
12-15-2006, 12:13 PM
Shaner Sensei was an Otomo for Tohei Sensei when he was younger and liiving as an uchideshi in Japan. I think that was after he was following Tohei Sensei around on his tours of the states like a Grateful Dead fan in the 70's.

Shaner Sensei was also a favorite student of the late Iwao Tamura Sensei, 9th dan Ki Society.

Hard to believe he wasn't included on the inner side.Fair enough, Craig. Bear in mind that my comment cuts two ways in that it assumes things that Tohei knows and does. Frankly, I'm a little bit in murky waters here because less than 2 years ago my impression was that the knowledge of Ki things was extremely limited in Japanese martial arts (I'm supported in that, BTW, in evaluations made by Donn Draeger in his writing). I personally see that I was pretty wrong (which means Draeger was, too), but I can't adequately judge how far off I was. Knowing what I know of CMA's, there are still areas of the Ki skills that I have never seen in any traditional Japanese art. So what Tohei knows is still an open discussion; what I'm assuming Tohei knows was not fully reflected in what I could see of Shaner Sensei. I hope you understand that I'm offering as clinical a guess as I can and that I'm detatched from any politics, etc.

Incidentally, I think I'll go copy a comment from the "relaxation" thread over to this thread and wait and see if it moves forward. There's actually a number of telling points that can be made in discussions that critically analyse the physical phenomena, although I'm well aware that you know this as well or better than I do.

Regards,

Mike

Mike Sigman
12-15-2006, 12:17 PM
Here's the post I'm copying from the relaxation thread and bringing over here because it better fits in this thread. If someone wants to get into discussions of exactly what's happening in some of the excellent Ki Society exercises, this might be a good place to do it.

You know, Wayne, normally I would bypass your post, thinking you were out on the fringe somewhere, but after having attended Shaner Sensei's workshop, I realize that the words you're using aren't your own.

Let me see if I can get the ball rolling about "relaxation" from the Ki Society standpoint.

First of all, I don't think I worked with you (maybe I did, but there were so many people I worked with), so I'll just make general comments when I say "you". When you "relaxed", that wasn't all you did. If just "relax", not much is going to happen. So you qualify that you just "relax", but you do some sort of mental adjustment and try to become "one with the universe". Not to mention, and this is very important, you have had someone more experienced than you show you what is the desirable outcome of the "test". Let's say you're successful and someone pushing lightly on your chest suddenly can't move you.

The first question is "what do they feel" when you're "relaxed", but they feel a solidity when they push your chest? I.e., if you're relaxed, what is this solidity, this resistive force that they're feeling? A quick look at Statics analysis tells us that if they don't move you, all the forces are in equilibrium, which means that some force is countering their push. Correct? It's either a Force or it is the Ki of the Universe they're feeling, but let's assume it's a Force ... that force must have an origin somewhere, since it doesn't magically appear from an other-dimensional-outlet in your chest. What is the origin of the force? Simple to check and see that if you were on wheels your partner could move you easily, so the force must be coming from where your feet meet the ground. I.e., ultimately, when someone is doing a ki test by pushing lightly against your chest, they are being stopped by the ground.

But you're "relaxing", correct? Not using your normal mechanics to brace against the ground, so what is different?

OK, I'll stop at that point, Wayne. You've just assured us that all it takes is relaxing and becoming "one with the universe". I say it's more complex than that and I've laid out the start of the argument, which you can either respond to or ignore. But let me suggest that if you want to go very far with these sorts of skills you need to be asking questions constantly and persistently or you will always stay at a low, dues-paying level. ;)

All the Best.

Mike Sigman

Adman
12-15-2006, 01:57 PM
Wow! Now I'm totally confused which thread to post this response to.

I don't have a problem so much with an expansive description such as "Ki of the Universe", "become one with the universe", or "center of the universe", to describe some lofty end-state. However, what's my point of reference? How do I know if I'm really one with the universe? :hypno: Is it because I'm difficult to push off balance? Is that all it takes? I can do that if someone was to just tell me, "hey, I'm going to push you here on the shoulder, but don't step back." A five year old (and most adults) would probably just look at you glassy-eyed, if you told them they would be more stable, if they just relaxed and condensed the universe at their one-point. So anyway, I'm giving my five year old a 'ki' test the other day. It went like this:

"Come here sweety! I'm going to push you on the shoulder, and you just stand there (no, stop bouncing, just stand there, please)."
I barely start to push and she stumbles back, looking like a bobbled-head doll.

"No, no. Don't let me push you back. I'm not going to push hard." This time as I push, she leans in with her head down and shoulders up. Her body is 'tense'.

"Hmmm ... okay, this time have a giraffe neck." She basically knows this as code for 'stand up straight,' from her ballet class. But she is also trying to actually make her neck longer. This brings her shoulders down and helps her focus on keeping her posture, instead of 'pushing' back. Viola! Suddenly she feels 'relaxed' and stable, as I push against her shoulder.

"Yeah! High Five!"

She then skips off, as I call back to her,
"We'll work on 'the ki of the universe' when you're six!"

thanks,
Adam

Mike Sigman
12-15-2006, 02:30 PM
I don't have a problem so much with an expansive description such as "Ki of the Universe", "become one with the universe", or "center of the universe", to describe some lofty end-state. However, what's my point of reference? How do I know if I'm really one with the universe? :hypno: Is it because I'm difficult to push off balance? Is that all it takes? I can do that if someone was to just tell me, "hey, I'm going to push you here on the shoulder, but don't step back." A five year old (and most adults) would probably just look at you glassy-eyed, if you told them they would be more stable, if they just relaxed and condensed the universe at their one-point. Hi Adam:

I hope I didn't waste all that discussion on how a push to the chest, in the normal Ki-test scenario, actually derives its "resistance" from the ground. In other words, there is a "path" from the point where Uke pushes the chest to the ground that can be tracked. But... don't throw out the "Ki of the Universe" just yet. I'll try to get to that, because actually it makes sense if you have a feel for the old perspectives of Ki/qi.

In a very real sense, all the tests that were done at Shaner Sensei's workshop connected the student to either the ground or to his feet. Emphasis was made on the point of ALL of the student being connected, not just a narrow segment/portion of the student, so there were exercises where the whole body turned, moved, etc., and the outlying parts of the body weren't affected (too much, if done correctly) by resistance from "testers".

It's this idea of the whole body being relaxedly connected while turning, moving, etc., that you should focus on. If you push someone's chest and yet the ground receives most of the force, it takes a relaxed "connection" of the body to transmit the pushing force to the ground. It also takes the mind arranging the lines of the connection (the jin/kokyu-force lines), but let's stay focused on that connection and just note that there is the ability within the connection to establish different lines of pull, push, etc.

In turning while someone is holding you, in dropping down and allowing the weight from your center to be at the underside of your arms, and so forth, the connection is also paramount. This is the Ki. This is the Ki that is developed/strengthened with breathing exercises, herbs to the skin, diet, mood, etc. This is the Ki that has to do with the fascia/mind part of the body. This is the Ki that draws its power from the ground and from the gravity pulling the center of gravity (and a couple of other things, but I'm trying to stay simple). The Ki was considered to draw it's power from the Ki of Heaven and the Ki of Earth, because of this relationship to the ground support and the pull of gravity. We are like creatures somewhere in between Heaven and Earth, because of this. And this relationship holds true for the natural laws that hold the universe together. Does that give a better feel for how the "Universal Ki" was considered to pertain to this? Tohei blends some other stuff in, but he's not far from the older traditional view, in reality.

Akuzawa's exercises, which are part of a large corpus of similar exercises from China, focuses on enhancing your power by stretching and differentiating along the axes of the body.... what it should be stretching is not the muscle, but that same "connection", the Ki.

Shaner Sensei's exercises were good exercises that covered the basic points in a good way for beginners, but my personal opinion is that a little more clarity and exposition would help everyone.

FWIW

Mike

Adman
12-15-2006, 03:39 PM
I hope I didn't waste all that discussion on how a push to the chest, in the normal Ki-test scenario, actually derives its "resistance" from the ground.Did you think it was somehow lost on me? That was demonstrated to me the first time someone gave me a 'ki test' and my back heel dug into the mat. ;)But... don't throw out the "Ki of the Universe" just yet.Had I done that?It's this idea of the whole body being relaxedly connected while turning, moving, etc., that you should focus on.I'm assuming you meant "you" in the general sense. As it happens, that is what I'm working on, and will continue to. :p

Since you were asking for a discussion on what is happening in the ki exercises, I thought I'd start out with an anecdote. Mostly in response to part of what brought you back to this thread:
let go mentally, relax, let go physically, relax, and become one with (or realize the oneness already there) the universe. You are the universe and it is you, moving, breathing, relaxed, powerful, in contention with nothing or no one. At peace in unified movement.Where as I like the sentiment, and there is actually much to learn from it, it gets lost on what someone has to work through before they can begin to understand it.Shaner Sensei's exercises were good exercises that covered the basic points in a good way for beginners, but my personal opinion is that a little more clarity and exposition would help everyone. Wish I was there. And I agree with the clarity part. The crude ki test with my daughter was my way to illustrate how some simple steps can go a long way. In any case, I've given her a year before I spring the 'Ki of the Universe' on her.

thanks,
Adam

Mike Sigman
12-16-2006, 10:22 AM
Did you think it was somehow lost on me? That was demonstrated to me the first time someone gave me a 'ki test' and my back heel dug into the mat. ;) "Back heel"??? I had to do it with my feet parallel. You wuss! ;) With your feet parallel, as was done in Shaner Sensei's workshop, you can get down to the nitty-gritty of where you are sourcing your power PDQ.

I was thinking that I'm not totally clear on how "soft" some of the tension guys are (I'm not sure I want to know.... I've already been through this a few times and experience tells me....... ), but I'd suggest that regardless, it might be worthwhile for people to take a look at Akuzawa's stuff (from what Dan is posting, he's using some of Akuzawa's exercises or close to, but all that's unclear), some of Ushiro's stuff, but also no one should hesitate to go to a Ki Society workshop which does an overview of the basic principles (as Shaner's workshop did). Understanding that all of these "different approaches" are actually all working from the same basic principles means that they can get a 3-dimensional picture of the whole beast. It's a complex beast and few approaches cover all facets of it.

FWIW

Mike

Adman
12-17-2006, 11:43 PM
"Back heel"??? I had to do it with my feet parallel.That's what you get for going to a workshop...
You wuss! ;)Yeah ... So? :p
With your feet parallel, as was done in Shaner Sensei's workshop, you can get down to the nitty-gritty of where you are sourcing your power PDQ.As you probably already know, the standard ki test allows for a hanmi posture (helpful for a wuss like me). But yes, a parallel stance is a great way to train with front and back tests, while the 'strong' hanmi posture is good with side tests. Each revealing their own strengths and weaknesses.

In class today, we practiced giving and receiving ki tests while in seiza. We only worked on testing from the side -- a 'soft' push straight through the side of the shoulder. The practice centered on 'matching' and not trying to 'pass' the test.

thanks,
Adam

DH
12-18-2006, 12:07 AM
Adam
This is great reading about this. Thanks.
Of course these tests mentioned here are the very basics.
How does it escalate with rank and training?

What are some of the uses for your ki training in dynamic play that would differentiate it from general Aikido in your opinion?
Do you guys go outside of the art and practice with others and ask them to mix it up and test yourself?
Thanks for anything you can share.

Cheers
Dan

Mark Freeman
12-18-2006, 05:19 AM
In class today, we practiced giving and receiving ki tests while in seiza. We only worked on testing from the side -- a 'soft' push straight through the side of the shoulder. The practice centered on 'matching' and not trying to 'pass' the test.

Hi Adam,

I don't know how far you have taken this particular ki test, but you can have some real fun with this one :) My explanations below are not a how to do, rather a description of what..

the basic soft test ftom the side tests co-ordination,
the next step is a sustained soft push (I think what you are describing), we deal with this by accepting the push (before it becomes physical) and directing it down through the one point down on into the floor. The pusher can then increase the intensity of their push and all of the effect is dissipaited downwards.
The next level, is accepting the push from uke before they get to you and using your fore finger as a pointer to lead and re direct all their force back towards their feet(back foot), once they have made contact they have trouble keeping solid contact, their back foot ends up slipping.
Higher and more difficult levels involve doing similar with a pusher/uke who is taking a run up to bowl you over with a double handed push, and hardest of all when the pushes are feigned / pulled at the last moment only to be replaced by a strong shock like push from close quarters. These higher levels come into our dan grade practice.

I have a feeling that these exercises are similar in flavour to what Dan might be doing?

I love all the various ki tests/developement exercises that we practice, I have been shown literally hundreds of them, and I can't imagine aikido without them. In fact I see aikido as dynamic ki developement exercises. My own practice is to maintain solid co-ordination, under the greater dynamic stress provided by ever higher grade attackers. :D

regards,

Mark

Mike Sigman
12-18-2006, 09:11 AM
As you probably already know, the standard ki test allows for a hanmi posture (helpful for a wuss like me). But yes, a parallel stance is a great way to train with front and back tests, while the 'strong' hanmi posture is good with side tests. Each revealing their own strengths and weaknesses. I guess the point I'd emphasize is that if someone pushed you, then me, then Ushiro Sensei or whoever, the essential body mechanics for being stable will be the same. I'd bet that when Joe pushed on me at the workshop, he may have been slightly surprised that a "white-belt" could do it, but I'll be that he didn't think to himself, "Oh Nooooooooooo..... this is some entirely new form of force!!" Because it wasn't. Joe recognized by the feel that I was stable, as the test required, and that was that.... the basic mechanics were the same. And incidentally, this stability force is the essence of "kokyu" force and it's what I refer to as "jin", or "trained force skill". Granted, there is something more that would make it full-blown kokyu, but that's extraneous to the current discussion.

Part of the point I'm driving at is that regardless of whether you think "Ki of the Universe" and I think "jin" and someone else thinks "nei jin" or "groundpath" or whatever... it's all the same force. True there are variations in terms of skill-levels, the amount of muscle used in conjunction, the amount of "ki" used in conjunction, and so so, but it is at core all the same thing.

Next you have to learn to move with it and move so that the hara controls this power (this is where a lot of guys with great demonstration jin skills peel off... they use jin only sporadically, as they need it, for demonstrations, etc.). It's all going to be the same core principles, even if the variations on those principles begin to diverge. The way I push someone with "kokyu" power may be different by quite a bit from the way Shaner Sensei pushes someone, but if we analyze it to the core principles, I'm dead sure those will be the same.

So, the question is..... regardless of the naming conventions, the belief in "Ki of the Universe" or "The Kami Did It" or whatever, can everyone accept that we're all talking about one basic set of principles? ;)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Adman
12-18-2006, 06:28 PM
Hi, Dan.
Adam
This is great reading about this. Thanks.
Of course these tests mentioned here are the very basics.
Well, we never stop working on the basics. ;)
How does it escalate with rank and training?
Depends on if you're referring to training for the ki test, the actual test itself or using the test as a tool in training? The short answer is, it stays the same, but becomes more challenging. Sorry to be kinda' cryptic. I'll try to be more specific, when I can get a moment.
What are some of the uses for your ki training in dynamic play that would differentiate it from general Aikido in your opinion?
I haven't sampled enough of other styles to give an informed reply on that one. My workload and family commitments keeps me close to home. My limited time is spent on one dojo and at-home training.
Do you guys go outside of the art and practice with others and ask them to mix it up and test yourself?Like I said, I don't get out much. Other students from our dojo visit other styles on occasion and we have a couple of students that experiment with bjj. Our head instructor has been around a bit and trained with practioners of other styles/arts. My exposure to other styles/arts is with those who come to our dojo. I don't go out of my way to 'test' myself with strangers, other than to train with them as I would anyone else in the dojo. I'm not sure that I could say that I do much of the testing ('mixing it up') you're referring to. Although, I feel that I'm testing myself all the time.
Thanks for anything you can share.
Well, it doesn't feel like I've offered much, yet. Like I said, I need to revisit some of your questions.

thanks,
Adam

Mike Sigman
12-19-2006, 09:21 AM
Well, we never stop working on the basics. ;)

Depends on if you're referring to training for the ki test, the actual test itself or using the test as a tool in training? The short answer is, it stays the same, but becomes more challenging. Sorry to be kinda' cryptic. I'll try to be more specific, when I can get a moment.I think any approach to Ki-mechanics is better than none. And obviously somehow the boat got missed by a lot of Aikido experts, so I'd say scramble on where you can.... but the approach through the Ki-Society, while not being all that clear and focused IMO, is probably more along the lines that Ueshiba would espouse. The "soft" approach, with conditioning addenda, is probably more the approach of the art, although the "harder" approach with tensions and axes can be inbounds to some extent. Ushiro Sensei's approach through Sanchin is not the same as the softer approach, BTW, and without getting into a complex discussion, I'd offer the thought that there are pro's and con's to each approach.

The most important thing, IMO, is for people to begin to get an idea of what the kokyu and ki forces actually are. Most people only have a vague (and often surprsingly wrong) idea, even at the higher dan levels in a lot of Aikido. Still, something is better than nothing.

The key point is using the hara/one-point.... I know a lot of people who have some jin/kokyu skills who are *far* off the full concept of using the hara. I would suggest, that keeping an eye on that aspect as a gauge would be a good idea. But other than that, go for it.

The Ki Society curriculum is very much worth getting an understanding of, in terms of approach, methodology, etc., because Tohei was most certainly among the best ever produced by O-Sensei and the Ki perspective of Tohei (minus the psychological stuff) is certain to be a window into Ueshiba's approach, IMO.

FWIW


Mike Sigman