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Ecosamurai
04-06-2007, 03:08 PM
Sorry this is a long one. Trolling aside, declarations of martial prowess aside, testimony about how great we all are at what we do or how great our teachers are aside...

I think it'd be useful to at least attempt to try the 'internal how to' debate. For the purposes of at least trying at having a decent discussion let's assume and not question that Mike Sigman can do this internal stuff, Dan Harden can do this internal stuff, others can do this stuff. Let's also assume that Aunkai, Ki-aikido and CMA internal training methods Dan's stuff etc.. are all basically aiming for the same end, an end we might call Aiki. I know, broad assumptions but we've got to start somewhere. Also let's try to divorce the martial efficacy discussion from this. I don't think it's useful to argue the validity of a method by saying that it wouldn't provide useful fighting skills in this discussion. Yet. Aikido waza and how they compare to MMA or CMA or whatever isn't going to help the 'internal how to' discussion.

I'll start by describing a few beginner level ki aikido tests (i.e. stuff that will take you to the early dan grades in ki soc derived styles).

For all the below tests the levels as they are applied are as follows:

1) Basic coordination by applying light and increasing pressure (you should be able to pass these tests easily after 6 months to 1 year of training maximum)
2) Uses a fake or hesitation before the test is applied in order to determine if the receiver has a calm mind, if they don't they will move by anticipating the test and try to push into it and resist the testers application of ki.
3) Receiver must not allow testers ki to enter their body. Tester often approaches test with 'intent' before applying a strong test in which the tester extends ki powerfully.

I'll describe a number of different tests (there are many). The tests should not be confused with being used purely for assessment and rank advancement, the word 'test' is a bit of a misnomer in this respect. They are learning tools. Intended to be used to allow a student to gain feedback on their attempts at using internal power, in order that their instructor can determine their ability and help them to improve it.

Unbendable arm. (often totally misunderstood by even the most well-read) receiver extends their arm elbow should be unlocked and arm slightly curved. Testers hand is rested on the bicep area. Testers other hand at the beginning is applied to the wrist, later tests can be applied to hand and fingertips.

Standing naturally. Receiver stands with feet shoulder width apart. Weight on the balls of the feet not the heels. Upright posture. Knees unlocked, hands resting by their sides. Test is applied between the shoulder blades or (in the beginning) on the front of the body at the shoulder. Later tests involve tester walking in with 'intent' from a few steps away.

Walking forwards whilst being held from behind. Tester stands behind receiver and places hands on the front of receivers shoulders at the tops of the pecs below the collar bone. Receiver then tries to walk forwards. If receiver isn't moving from their centre their legs will try to move first and they will let their shoulders remain behind by yielding to the pressure being applied by the tester. After walking 5-6 steps tester suddenly lets go. If receiver lurches forwards they fail, this is because they have been physically pushing against tester by using physical strength instead of moving from their centre.

Rowing exercise. Varied tests, count 1 for receiver to execute fwd part of movement, 2 for the return. At 1 tester may hold receivers wrists and either push or pull them (they do not indicate which one they will do). Hands may be placed under receivers arms and tester may try to lift them. Tester may also push between receivers shoulder blades. On no 2 count, receivers hands should be by their sides. Tester my pull receivers hands downwards or push upwards. Tester may place hand on receivers shoulders and pull straight back.

Leaning backwards. For beginners, this is done with one foot in front of the other, later, feet are side by side. Receiver leans back (bad idea to let their head tilt upwards, receiver should keep eyes front). Tester places hand on shoulder of receiver and pulls straight downwards, later tests may be done by tester placing hand on top of receivers head (not for beginners though).

As previously said these are called 'tests' but they should properly be considered learning tools more than a method of rank assessment. They are only a sample of the many tests available.Eventually, you should be pretty much solid as a rock. Note that they do not necessarily teach fajing or explosive power release as Akuzawa (and others) demonstrates in videos I have seen. But IMHO they are the basic skill needed to achieve fajing and if you can do the above mentioned things then you have the internal skills and the stability with which to do fajing type stuff. I personally view fajing as an application of these core skills, some of the explosive power release is quite intuitive if you have the above developed skills. But like all else, if you don't train for it you don't get it. Or to put it more simply, in the Aunkai vids I've seen on youtube I know I can't kick as powerfully as that (at least as best as I can tell from a video). But. I do know that I can kick and punch more powerfully than many people I know who are karateka, Muay Thai fighters etc would expect me to be able to. Hence my reasoning that the ki tests and the skills that they develop are related and complimentary to explosive power release methods (I have sooo gotta find a way to train with Akuzawa sometime in the future to find out what % of what I just said is actually BullSŁ"^..... :eek: ). Please note, none of the above tests are well descirbed, the descriptions are brief and it is easy to assume that you can do them just by reading what has been written. The only way to really know for sure is to find a qualified instructor to help you learn these things. The tests can be deceptively simple, they are subtle and my vague descriptions are but the tip of the iceberg. If anyone does want to try them, please do so and then describe in as much detail as possible what you found happened (every detail helps), I may be able to give further clarification from this post. I'm sure others might chip in too.

Right. Now, in as constructive and positive a way as possible. Rip it all apart so I can learn some good things.

Regards

Mike

ChrisHein
04-06-2007, 03:46 PM
Internal is a set of natural body movements so it's a bit hard to brake down directly but I'll do my best.

Producing force.
First the body must be relaxed from head to toe, using no effort (by effort I mean no unnecessary muscular force to remain standing, but of coarse muscles will be engaged to remain standing.) The motion will begain with the lower muscles in the calves, and move up the body in a continues fashion, with all muscles along the path of force firing in order, then relaxing after they fire. This will create a current of force moving up your body, and being released at the desired location (Hand, elbow shoulder, hip, knee, leg etc.). The body acts like a whip, the motion being started in the lower body, and traveling out to the desired location.

Rooting force.
Kind of the opposite of the former. This means taking force into the body, and directing it back down into the ground. In reverse direction from before. taking the force into your body from what ever location (hand, head, shoulder, hip etc.) and directing it through your body via skeletal alignment and support muscles back into the ground.

There are also other tid bits about how to align properly, and how to fire your muscles in order. How to direct force in specific directions etc., but that's the super basic brake down of what I would call internal.

Ecosamurai
04-06-2007, 05:20 PM
Internal is a set of natural body movements so it's a bit hard to brake down directly but I'll do my best.

Producing force.
First the body must be relaxed from head to toe, using no effort (by effort I mean no unnecessary muscular force to remain standing, but of coarse muscles will be engaged to remain standing.) The motion will begain with the lower muscles in the calves, and move up the body in a continues fashion, with all muscles along the path of force firing in order, then relaxing after they fire. This will create a current of force moving up your body, and being released at the desired location (Hand, elbow shoulder, hip, knee, leg etc.). The body acts like a whip, the motion being started in the lower body, and traveling out to the desired location.

Rooting force.
Kind of the opposite of the former. This means taking force into the body, and directing it back down into the ground. In reverse direction from before. taking the force into your body from what ever location (hand, head, shoulder, hip etc.) and directing it through your body via skeletal alignment and support muscles back into the ground.

There are also other tid bits about how to align properly, and how to fire your muscles in order. How to direct force in specific directions etc., but that's the super basic brake down of what I would call internal.

Interesting but I think it's a bit too super basic breakdown-ish. It doesn't detail methods used to train and teach, rather a description of what you call 'natural body movement'. So I think it's more of a definition than a description of a 'how to'. Also, the word 'natural' has peculiar connotations and often leads to misunderstanding so I think it's probably a good idea not to use that word too often. For example is air pollution natural? No, man-made. But aren't humans natural creatures? Yes, evolved from apes. So then if humans are natural creatures surely their actions are natural too and therefore air pollution is natural? Er..... Just an example of the trouble you can get into using the word 'natural'. I only used it in my post because one of the ki tests is usually referred to as 'stand naturally', though I find the word a misdirection because it is a decidedly unnatural way to stand when you compare it to the way most people stand. In the case above I think of it as just a label and pay it no real attention. Same as the word unbendable in the unbendable arm test.

Mike

Kent Enfield
04-06-2007, 07:50 PM
As previously said these are called 'tests' but they should properly be considered learning tools more than a method of rank assessmentOkay, I've stayed out of all the "internal skills" threads, as they're all beyond me.

But you haven't actually posted a "how-to". If the thread was titled "The oranges-in-boxes 'how to' thread', what you've posted would be
1) Open the box.
2) Look in the box.
If there is no orange in the box, then
3) Close the box.
4) Re-open the box.
Repeat until there is an orange in the box.

The question isn't whether some boxes have oranges in them. It's how to get oranges into boxes that don't have them. There seem to be two main schools of thought. The first is that having an orange in your box isn't important anyway. The second is that if you keep checking, eventually there will be an orange in your box. But Dan, Mike, and Rob are offering a third way. They are offering actual, step-by-step, explicit methods for getting oranges into boxes.

Do they work? I don't know. Other people who've tried their methods seem to think so, and I'm doing my own investigation. But their way, or maybe ways, can't be any worse than the just-keep-checking method.

To make this a how-to, answer this question: If I fail one of your tests, what specifically should I do, both mentally and physically, to pass the test? And please give the answer in a form that is not equivalent to "do what is required on the test." To borrow some ki-aikido terminology, if I'm not keeping one point, what should I do? If I'm not extending ki, what should I do? If my weight isn't underside, what should I do?

If the answers are "keep one-point", "extend ki", or "keep weight underside", they're not going to help, as by failing the test, I've already demonstrated that I don't know how to do those, and I don't know what they mean in my own body. If, however, you can say something like (and I'm making this up, so don't anyone get on me for it being wrong) contract the middle of my back to pull my shoulder blades together while relaxing my shoulders and stretching my head and neck upwards, that's a how-to.

ChrisHein
04-06-2007, 08:43 PM
Mike, I agree with your example of the word natural, it's a tricky whicket.

However if we don't agree on what "internal" even is, then how are we going to get at "how to"?

I would like to see some super basic ideas of what internal even is. maybe thats a differnt' thread...

Ecosamurai
04-06-2007, 08:46 PM
To make this a how-to, answer this question: If I fail one of your tests, what specifically should I do, both mentally and physically, to pass the test? And please give the answer in a form that is not equivalent to "do what is required on the test." To borrow some ki-aikido terminology, if I'm not keeping one point, what should I do? If I'm not extending ki, what should I do? If my weight isn't underside, what should I do?.

That's a common misinterpretation of ki tests, and to be fair, I could've gone into the how-to details you described but the post was really long anyway so I thought it'd be better to just get things started with the basics. Glad you asked though as the how-to you said you would want is the how-to given by the instructor in person and hugely depends on individual situations.
Nevertheless, here goes.

Unbendable arm. Your arm bends so you fail. The solution isn't as you describe to keep doing it in isolation with no feedback until it magically stops bending, that would be stupid. Instead if I am teaching I usually begin by telling people to imagine a laser beam or something similar moving through their arm (their exact visualization depends on them, but that's as good a start as any to get them moving). That basic idea of energy moving through their arm when displayed in contrast to what happens when they actively try to tense their muscles is the beginners unbendable arm. It usually takes about 2 min to explain and get someone to do and people often think that that is the end of the story (as I've said before unbendable arm is hugely misunderstood by many people IME). That first explanation of the laser beam is the very baby step. Unfortunately, next steps usually need feedback, i.e. you need to see and feel what they are doing to be of much help.

This thread was always gonna be hard because talking about these things on the internet leaves lots to be desired. What I offered in the first post was a snippet of baby level ki stuff, knowing full well that it wasn't a full explanation. I had to start somewhere and I'm not tryng to write a book. In the end the only real way to get this stuff is to go to an instructor. I'm just curious to hear how others use their own exercises to teach things and what theories they are employing when they use those exercises. That's the how-to that you can discuss reasonably well in a forum like this I think.

Mike

PS - Incidentally they're not my tests. They're Koichi Tohei's

Ecosamurai
04-06-2007, 08:52 PM
Mike, I agree with your example of the word natural, it's a tricky whicket.

However if we don't agree on what "internal" even is, then how are we going to get at "how to"?

I would like to see some super basic ideas of what internal even is. maybe thats a differnt' thread...

Yeah that'd be nice. Not sure it'd happen without irritating a whole bunch of people though. I think I know what Dan is getting at when he says internal, and Mike and Rob. It's impossible to be certain without meeting them and practicing but.... I'm pretty sure this is all about the same stuff in a broad sense. It's not about the natural coordination athletes have which they train for very hard. Nor is it about the use of physical strength with a small amount of coordination such as you might need to efficiently lift heavy objects with minimal effort. Weigthlifitng technique or something similar isn't it. It's something else. Once you've experienced it you know what it is. I'm afraid that's the best I can offer in terms of a description :( Wish I could do better, but once you've felt it there's definitely no mistaking it... describing it though is not easy to do without resorting to hyperbole.

Cheers

Mike

Upyu
04-06-2007, 09:23 PM
Internal is a set of natural body movements so it's a bit hard to brake down directly but I'll do my best.

Producing force.
First the body must be relaxed from head to toe, using no effort (by effort I mean no unnecessary muscular force to remain standing, <snip>

Rooting force.
Kind of the opposite of the former. This means taking force into the body, and directing it back down into the ground. In reverse direction from before. taking the force into your body from what ever location (hand, head, shoulder, hip etc.) and directing it through your body via skeletal alignment and support muscles back into the ground.


First off, I hate to say it, but I'm pretty sure from the descrip that Chris just gave of producing force the "internal" way, he's pretty much way off base.

What was just described is more akin to "kinetic linking" say in the fashion that a boxer hits.

The second you initiate movement in your foot you should feel it in your hands. There's no delay.
Actually, scratch that, you should always feel "the ground" (in a metaphorical sense) in your hands. As in it's always there.
It's like your (and I'm stealing M. Sigmans imagery here) body is covered in a huge tight spiderman suit. Tugging on one part of the suit causes an instantenous reaction in the opposite end of the suit.
This is a physicl feeling and not some kind of metaphorical "oh if I visualize it this way it works better" thing.

As for rooting, that's way too vague. You could direct the force to the ground and simply "brace" with your leg but that isn't it either. In fact you can be "rooted" as you move ;)

ChrisHein
04-07-2007, 01:35 AM
First off, I hate to say it, but I'm pretty sure from the descrip that Chris just gave of producing force the "internal" way, he's pretty much way off base.

What was just described is more akin to "kinetic linking" say in the fashion that a boxer hits.

The second you initiate movement in your foot you should feel it in your hands. There's no delay.
Actually, scratch that, you should always feel "the ground" (in a metaphorical sense) in your hands.

How would that happen without "Kinetic linking"?

statisticool
04-07-2007, 08:35 AM
I think the discussion should try and be done without using any ki/qi/jin/kokyu/shui zhu yu/sushi words because they are highly open to interpretation.

guest945984
04-07-2007, 08:53 AM
The second you initiate movement in your foot you should feel it in your hands. There's no delay. Actually, scratch that, you should always feel "the ground" (in a metaphorical sense) in your hands. As for rooting, that's way too vague. You could direct the force to the ground and simply "brace" with your leg but that isn't it either. In fact you can be "rooted" as you move ;)

This is one of the biggest conceptual hurdles I had to (and still have to, alas) get past in my taiji practice -- caveat: I am a rote beginner -- that the "push" or "whatever you are trying to do" (insert pretty much any example here) happens all at once, with the entire body, when you do it right. That's not to say a movement might not take time, or have a direction to it (usually a spiral in some way) but that it starts all at once, and that filling or connection (what I am guessing Mike means by 'the suit') is there all at once, on or off like a switch. At first I was always collapsing a bit in order to extend instead of filling or expanding up. Those are bad choice of words, I think I mean to say peng, but that won't help someone either if they have not felt it.

My guess why shiko is so important in some Daito-ryu is you get a similar connection in the body as what I am describing (or failing to adequately describe) above because instead of lifting say the right knee up from the right knee, instead you keep the arch of the legs fixed and draw the right knee up maintaining the arch by pulling across that entire inner leg structure using all the muscles and fascia of the legs and abdomen in the process. This engages the core of the body (psoas complex, etc) including the wedge shaped structure in the pelvis talked about in taiji and yoga to a great extent and links the entire lower half of the body together up into the abdomen, maybe similar to what Su Dongchen says when he admonishes students to "lift up" during single palm change.

Doing even a couple (e.g. 2 or 3) like this wear me out, and I'm pretty sure I'm not doing them right since I haven't had any instruction on this, just read Kimura's book "Discovering Aiki", and thought about how I feel when I do taiji. For me, when I start the leg raise, there is some wobbling of my torso going on as I use a bit of momentum to get the movement started, and then have to stabilize it. I imagine if I were to do it properly over a longer period of time, that wobble would go away as my body got linked together. So, I'm probably obviously missing stuff but it is still a killer exercise when done without much momentum -- and I freely admit am just fooling around with it once in a while when I remember, since I have a bagua and taiji practice to keep up with. Kind of like an ongoing experiment for myself: "does my taiji and bagua practice improve my ability at this shiko exercise over time?"

My current (again, inexpert) feeling is that the shiko drill might be similar in some way to the taiji basic stepping drill of replacing the walking-falling reflex into another way of movement (e.g. separation of weight), except taken in the left right direction instead of the forward back direction. I don't know if Daito-ryu has a consistent theory of separation of weight, such as that found in bagua or taiji. If so, that did not seem to make it fully into the aikido I've seen or the modern aikido/kempo/jujtusu mix I first learned (and spent ten too many years at) before I discovered the internal arts. Separation of weight does not seem to be in the basic Daito-ryu jujutsu waza I've seen from two different lines, so I am guessing even in some Daito-ryu these are more advanced or inner door ideas? Maybe that is precisely why Sagawa and Kodokai are closed groups -- because these ideas are taught earlier than in other lines?

Dan pretty much gives it away when he calls the practice "inyoho" which means "yin/yang practice" -- if that is not a dead giveaway that not just physically by some accident Daito-ryu has similar ideas to neija, but also they frame the mechanism for doing so in the same fundamental language (e.g. yin/yang, insubstantial/substantial), I don't know what is.

My guess is that the shiko (left-right) really works internal development a great deal, while the stepping (front-back) helps with martial development at an earlier stage of the development because it is dealing with a certain way of movement, versus a certain structure that will drive the movement or lack-thereof.

My guess is also that separation of weight is a tactical idea accomplished by certain structural rules in how one holds the body and accomplishes weight transfers. This is very useful for certain reasons, but works best if you support it with certain internal development of the muscles/fascia of the body. But that muscle/fascia development can be done absent of any tactical goal as well?

This post might be slightly off topic, but in terms of how-to put an orange in the box, it might be rephrased as "learn neija or learn daito-ryu". Or, do shiko many times, slowly, without wobbling, and hope that is enough without further guidance.

I mean not to be dismissive with that comment, but rather to be helpful: in some way trying to do internal development exercises by reading written descriptions, for stuff as subtle as internal skill, would be like someone trying to learn aikido waza by reading Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere and copying the line drawing pictures. I had no idea my whole idea of pushing was flawed until I had someone physically correct me to show me how to do it -- even then I only got it five times out of ten as I was rewiring a new movement.

I think it is perfectly fine to go out to people who have specific skills directly and learn from them if for whatever reason the pedagogy you find in your primary art is not ideally suited to an aspect of its curriculum. If you admit that internal development is part of aikido (and you may not -- go back to your regularly scheduled programming), and if you assume it is the same development as Daito-ryu, and if Dan and Mike are correct in saying it is similar or identical to that found in good taiji or good bagua or good xingyi, it is not a betrayal of your love of aikido to go to one of those four arts to focus some of your training and improve your aikido. After all, the Founder had his own development and if Ellis is on the mark in all his blog entries, I don't think he would be disappointed with anyone going out and seeing where it matched up, and improving one's understanding even further.

Not trying to sound like an expert -- many here could probably push me over with a feather -- but maybe this will spur some comments by the people who are in the know.

Namaste,
Mark

Mark Raugas
www.innerdharma.org

Pete Rihaczek
04-07-2007, 09:16 AM
[QUOTE=Robert John;174820]First off, I hate to say it, but I'm pretty sure from the descrip that Chris just gave of producing force the "internal" way, he's pretty much way off base./QUOTE]

I'm afraid I have to agree. Chris is clearly talking about something else. There is nothing natural about this. Same thing with the guy who posted yoga as an example, that's not it either.

The upside is it's very easy to see when people are talking about something else, the downside is there's not much else to be said about it that's likely to be fruitful.

Pete Rihaczek
04-07-2007, 09:28 AM
I think the discussion should try and be done without using any ki/qi/jin/kokyu/shui zhu yu/sushi words because they are highly open to interpretation.

Not only are you not part of this discussion, but the very fact of you being involved kills any desire to share anything of substance. Here again you have the nerve to participate, with your signature an affirmation of your lack of character, and your total lack of understanding. I've been in online forums since the beginning of online forums on the net, and I've seen all types, but never a more odd, more useless personality. You seem absolutely oblivious to how obnoxious you are, and how obvious it is to normal people that you have nothing whatsoever to say. You're like a bum that asks for money, while being insulting the whole time and somehow expecting people not to care or notice. I've seen my share of online oddballs, but they usually have some attendant quirks that at least keep them interesting. In your case I see nothing redeeming whatsoever. The existence of people like you is why things aren't shared in public.

Ecosamurai
04-07-2007, 09:37 AM
The upside is it's very easy to see when people are talking about something else, the downside is there's not much else to be said about it that's likely to be fruitful.

Which is of course the whole problem really. Exercises and tests as I mentioned above are only a way to illustrate and transmit theory. You actually have to be standing there with someone to be able to help them do it in my experience.

As to the moving all at once. That is what Tohei talks about when he says 'keep one point'. The hara or one-point is the centre of all movement, all movement should be initiated from here. It is our centre of gravity physically so this makes sense. The problem with being told to 'keep one-point' is that people often become internally focused (no pun intended), they have no awareness of their surroundings and so it is easy to take their mind away from their centre (i.e. by grabbing them elsewhere such as their wrist for example). I often try to help people through this by telling them that they need to look at the horizon. By which I mean, if you are on board a ship and it is bad weather, you get seasick when you look at the rail and you tend to fall down more. If however, you keep your eye focused on the horizon your balance improves and you feel less sick. Same sorta thing needs to happen when you keep one-point.

Also, it's easy to move from your centre but leave other parts of your body behind if they aren't coordinated with your centre. But that's a different story.

Regards

Mike

Ecosamurai
04-07-2007, 09:39 AM
The existence of people like you is why things aren't shared in public.

Take it easy, saying things like that doesn't help either...

Mike

Upyu
04-07-2007, 09:46 AM
How would that happen without "Kinetic linking"?
National Geographic did an excellent yet basic overview of how a boxer punches in their spectacularly craptastic MA pseudo research flick "fight science", and for those that know how to use connection, it's a good illustration of how the body mechanics are COMPLETELY different ;)
(Btw that's where I stole the term "kinetic linking, so if you want to know the perspective I'm coming from I'd suggest you give it a look... try not to faint from the overly bad examples they give of other stuff they cover)

fwiw, anyone that I've met that can do an "internal" method of striking would agree that the body mechanics are different Chris ;)

ChrisHein
04-07-2007, 09:49 AM
All right I've been told twice now that I'm way off base. That's cool. But now explain how it is that I'm off base.

We'll never come to an understanding if I explain what I know, and you just say "no, you are wrong." So what am I wrong about?

I do agree with Rob John by the way, the method I'm describing is the same used by boxers. That is also why I have said in the past that top level athletes do internal (not just boxers but golfers, footballers etc.). I believe the description Jack Dempsey gives in "Championship Fighting" of throwing a punch, is a perfect example of internal.

I promise I'll try to keep this from being personal if you will. I would like to root this problem out.

Pete Rihaczek
04-07-2007, 10:00 AM
Take it easy, saying things like that doesn't help either...

Mike

You're probably right, interventions tend not to work with personality disorders. ;) People are amazing, unfortunately often in a very disappointing way. He's ensured that no one in their right mind would ever show him anything of substance. Which is fine, but it lessens the value of the forum for others by ensuring that people take the most productive discussions somewhere private.

Pete Rihaczek
04-07-2007, 10:15 AM
All right I've been told twice now that I'm way off base. That's cool. But now explain how it is that I'm off base.

We'll never come to an understanding if I explain what I know, and you just say "no, you are wrong." So what am I wrong about?

I do agree with Rob John by the way, the method I'm describing is the same used by boxers. That is also why I have said in the past that top level athletes do internal (not just boxers but golfers, footballers etc.). I believe the description Jack Dempsey gives in "Championship Fighting" of throwing a punch, is a perfect example of internal.

I promise I'll try to keep this from being personal if you will. I would like to root this problem out.

Hi Chris, there is nothing personal here. There's no "shame" in not knowing this stuff, everybody is in the same boat until they are personally shown something. "Internal" is not a copyrighted word, and like any other word it can mean different things to different people. In this case (insert acronym for Mike, Rob, Dan, Etc) are talking about a specific skillset that you won't get naturally. It has nothing to do with natural movement, any more than a perfect golf swing is natural. Any complex athletic movement is a learned skill, and people take decades to master this one IF they have a good combination of interest, talent, dedication, and good access to information. It has nothing to do with yoga, in fact IMO yoga would be counterproductive. Skills are highly specific, bowling isn't going to help your golf much. Heavy weightlifting isn't going to improve your endurance, in fact it will do the opposite. Etc. You have to know what the target is, and intelligently shoot for it. To understand the target, you have to get a hands-on demo. There's no other way. The only real purpose of these discussions is to make that point, and if someone isn't interested enough to check it out in person, there's no utility in discussion. I wish there a way to do it all in writing, that would be a huge benefit, but it just doesn't work.

Ecosamurai
04-07-2007, 10:26 AM
All right I've been told twice now that I'm way off base. That's cool. But now explain how it is that I'm off base.

We'll never come to an understanding if I explain what I know, and you just say "no, you are wrong." So what am I wrong about?

I do agree with Rob John by the way, the method I'm describing is the same used by boxers. That is also why I have said in the past that top level athletes do internal (not just boxers but golfers, footballers etc.). I believe the description Jack Dempsey gives in "Championship Fighting" of throwing a punch, is a perfect example of internal.

I promise I'll try to keep this from being personal if you will. I would like to root this problem out.

Ok. Best way I can get you to imagine how it feels when you encounter this stuff in a more mundane everyday situation. Ever try to lift someone who has passed out drunk? Heavy aren't they? They're heavy cos they're not helping you to lift them, they're not using their muscles, they are relaxed completely.

Of the 4 basic principles. 1) Keep one point, 2) keep calm and relaxed, 3) keep weight underside, 4) extend ki. They are doing 2 and 3 as perfectly as is possible. They aren't keeping one point very well (only insofar as it is their centre of gravity so they mus be using it. But keeping one point involves consciously coordinating the rest of your body with your centre by extending ki from it) nor are they extending ki owing to unconsciousness.

Make sense? Now imagine that sort of thing being applied via conscious effort. Then you might have an idea what it's about.

Regards

Mike

Upyu
04-07-2007, 10:31 AM
You're probably right, interventions tend not to work with personality disorders. ;) People are amazing, unfortunately often in a very disappointing way. He's ensured that no one in their right mind would ever show him anything of substance. Which is fine, but it lessens the value of the forum for others by ensuring that people take the most productive discussions somewhere private.

Chris, if you're interested I wrote a couple of articles here describing the basis for the upper body connections (the cross, as ark calls it) in the training section of this forum. It's called "Training the Body for Martial Movement" and "Training the Body for Martial Movement 2: Exercises". Give'em a read and let me know where you think we overlap :)
FWIW no one's looking to hang you out here. It's all good to bicker and yell, a lot of information exchange happens as a result :)

ChrisHein
04-07-2007, 05:49 PM
Well,
Respectfully, what you guys are saying, and what I am saying is in fact the same thing.

First off.

Pete. Maybe just maybe what you are calling internal and what I am calling internal are different. However, what I call internal is natural, and will help you with cross training. Internal the way I am explaining it will make you a better golfer, a better baseball player etc. It is, I believe, the method in which the body is suppose to function. This is why I say it's natural.

I believe the way most of us operate is physically unnatural. This is because we force ourselves to sit in desks and at tables from a very young age. Not that this is the only factor but a major one. Secondly few of use experience long heavy work. Work of the type our ancestors might have done hunting or foraging for food. This type of continuos effort will start to naturally train the body in it's organic use's. I think if you could take a Paleolithic lithic man and look at his movements they would be perfectly athletic, and perfectly "internal".

This is what I'm trying to get at with the word "natural". I think we as humans no longer live "natural" lives so we have never gained our full natural abilities. Maybe it is something you "learn", but you don't need special exercises to do it.

The reason the body works best in this manor is because it was designed (in a manner of speaking) to work this way; it's natural.

Mike,
I agree with your points, but not your reasoning. An unconscious person is pretty natural. No one has to learn to pass out and relax they just do it. So it's a matter of unlearning some unnatural behaviors (when conscious) not a matter of learning something different.

I'm not trying to be a jerk, but honestly I think you guys are making this stuff out to be way harder then it is. I'll try your ki tests and report back how I did. Hmm, I may even make a video.

Rob John. I don't have time to read your stuff this second, but when I get some time tomorrow, I will and let you know what I think.

Pete Rihaczek
04-07-2007, 08:38 PM
Well,
Respectfully, what you guys are saying, and what I am saying is in fact the same thing.

First off.

Pete. Maybe just maybe what you are calling internal and what I am calling internal are different. [snip]

Well, what you just wrote there is a contradiction. On the one hand you're claiming we're all saying the same thing, then you say we're using the word internal to describe different things. I understand the meaning you want to give to the word "natural", and that's fine even though it's not the common usage, but it still doesn't sound the same to me. Even if it was, saying "keep one point" and "move naturally" should mean the same thing then, and they're therefore equally useless in getting much.

Also from a basic common sense standpoint, if I were to say X, and you say that doesn't sound anything like what you were thinking, where would be my basis to claim we're talking about the same thing over your objection? Like I said, this can't be talked around, it can only be demonstrated. Then and only then are you sure what the other person is trying to say.

And for the record, I find these ki tests relatively meaningless. Once someone publishes a test, people can work on just doing whatever the test is. That's not the point. The point is that someone who can do these things could pass all manner of tests on the fly as a byproduct of their training. The reverse is not true - passing the tests doesn't mean you can do much of anything else. As a practical matter, if you know what you're looking for you don't need any tests, you can easily feel what someone knows. You can often see it by looking at them too, once you know what to look for. If you know it, tests are pointless, and if you don't know it...tests are pointless.

For example, here's Chen Xiao Wang (direct descendant of the family that created Taiji, and best of his generation) doing some rooting demos for fun:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldH40uF_f28

But does this really show what he's capable of? No. If you can duplicate these things, can you do what he does in the general sense? No. If you tried pushing him, grabbing him, putting a lock on him, taking a hit from him, would you be impressed, and know why people make a big deal out of it? Yes, very much. Probably more like shocked. If at that point you want to say it's "natural" movement cavemen did, I would still disagree (and I doubt you'd say that anymore), but at least we'd all be on the same page as far as what exactly is being discussed. Then you can get to the discussion of how to do this stuff, how to train it, and all the rest.

Haowen Chan
04-07-2007, 09:07 PM
As Mike Haft said, the ki-tests are learning aids for the student's benefit, used for feedback to the student for the correct feeling and correct effect. They are not supposed to be proof of ability.

RonRagusa
04-07-2007, 09:38 PM
This is a physicl feeling and not some kind of metaphorical "oh if I visualize it this way it works better" thing.

Metaphor (noun) -

Symbol -- one thing used or considered to represent another.

It's like your (and I'm stealing M. Sigmans imagery here) body is covered in a huge tight spiderman suit. Tugging on one part of the suit causes an instantenous reaction in the opposite end of the suit.

Of which the above quote is an example. In this case the metaphor is used to present a picture of a feeling i.e. that of an internal force and how it is instantaneously propagated through the body (as an aside, unless quantum entanglement processes are involved with this force propagation there must be a delay in the reaction at the other end of the suit; the purpose of aikido training and ki development is to have this delay approach zero without limit… my metaphor for coordination of mind and body).

When communicating feelings experienced during a particular exercise ("you should always feel "the ground" (in a metaphorical sense) in your hands" -- Robert John) metaphor is the tool of choice for giving substance to information that otherwise is incapable of being directly transmitted from one person to another. However, metaphorical imagery is less satisfactory when communicating results of a particular exercise. For results to be meaningfully communicated they must be felt. That requires the participants to be in direct contact.

When I am training with students during ki development drills I encourage them construct ever more powerful metaphors for what they feel going on inside of them. The metaphors provide a mental visualization that they can associate with the feelings. As they grow more powerful new metaphors are used to reinforce the feelings in terms that make sense in the real world. I have noticed that eventually students will come to trust the feelings themselves and dispense with the metaphorical imagery.

An example: Weight underside
Standing in natural stance the student extends an arm to the front, elbow and wrist slightly bent. Initially I have the student tense the arm and hold the tension while I lift the arm at the elbow. Invariably, the arm will rise or if sufficiently tense the student will be tipped over. Next I have the student restart the exercise in a relaxed state. I tell the student that in order for the arm to rise the opposite foot must simultaneously be lifted off the mat. If the student successfully internalizes the metaphor of rising arm and rising foot it will take considerably more energy for me to get the arm to move. I have the student compare how it "feels" to practice weight underside both ways. Understanding the process of using metaphors to aid in attaining what S. Maruyama Sensei terms "correct feeling" is the first step. Once mastered the student is free to create personally more powerful metaphors to reinforce the feelings of doing the exercise correctly.

We practice many ki exercises in this manner. Currently our ki development syllabus contains fifteen solo, thirty four partnered stationary, thirteen partnered motion, six solo weapons and seven partnered weapons ki exercises.

statisticool
04-08-2007, 08:04 AM
Not only are you not part of this discussion, but the very fact of you being involved kills any desire to share anything of substance.


I think you need to read the OP again. :cool:


Here again you have the nerve to participate, with your signature an affirmation of your lack of character,


I think the signature is an affirmation of a highly guarded secret to the internal martial arts.


The existence of people like you is why things aren't shared in public.

Why what is not shared? Parlor tricks? One thing that is obviously not shared in public venues, such as UFC-ish competitions, is the martial efficacy of any internal artist making claims that he cannot be pushed over.

I'm not sure why asking for evidence of martial efficacy of a martial art from martial artists who makes claims upsets some people so. Maybe they should not make claims?

Justin

Ecosamurai
04-08-2007, 09:26 AM
And for the record, I find these ki tests relatively meaningless. Once someone publishes a test, people can work on just doing whatever the test is. That's not the point. The point is that someone who can do these things could pass all manner of tests on the fly as a byproduct of their training. The reverse is not true - passing the tests doesn't mean you can do much of anything else. As a practical matter, if you know what you're looking for you don't need any tests, you can easily feel what someone knows. You can often see it by looking at them too, once you know what to look for. If you know it, tests are pointless, and if you don't know it...tests are pointless.

Actually, you're both right and wrong at the same time. Tests aren't meaningless. They are a learning tool. They are not the skill itself. They are a methodology used for helping a student acquire the skills you talk about and that's all. If you're doing this stuff right then the ki tests should help you to understand the fundamental principles being used and you should be able to apply them to anything you do. As I said in a previous post I can look at my students and tell if they're going to pass a test before I even lay hands on them.
Just like you described it, were I ever in the same room as Dan for example or Mike, I wouldn't have to ki test them to tell what they were like, you just see it.

The tests are tools for helping the student to learn the correct feeling. That's all. Also: "Once someone publishes a test, people can work on just doing whatever the test is" is simply untrue, eventually all the tests overlap in their methods, because you need 4 things to pass each and every one of them. Let's assume that you happen to be very good at unbendable arm. But not so good at the walking forward whilst being held from behind. In the beginning you may pass one test and not the other, but, as the tests get higher in level the things that make you bad at one test will make you bad at all of them. You cannot simply train for one and only one test because it doesn't work that way. They are a collection of tests designed to help you learn how to do 4 things, not 30 or 40 separate movements and scenarios, the tests do not work in isolation.

So basically the ki tests are exactly what you said they weren't. When you said:
"But does this really show what he's capable of? No. If you can duplicate these things, can you do what he does in the general sense? No. If you tried pushing him, grabbing him, putting a lock on him, taking a hit from him, would you be impressed, and know why people make a big deal out of it? Yes, very much."

Essentially what you said was that in those vids what Wang is doing are ki tests. Are they the root of his ability? No. Are they ways in which to demonstrate his ability? Yes. Which is exactly what ki tests are. The logic of using them as a learning tool goes like this: If I can duplicate the things that Chen Xiowang does in those vids I'm probably gaining some understanding of how he does these things. So if I continue to practise them and other 'tricks' like them I will continue to understand more about how he does them. Like I said learning tools, not to be thought of in isolation. They are not the skill itself, the skill itself is different.

Mike

PS - And for the record Chen Xiowang is 'cheating' when he does those things. When the guy's are pushing on him (one or 100 makes no difference) he has his hands (watch his right hand in the first part of the film in particular) on them and is redirecting their force and neutralizing it. It's not a very hard thing to do. The reason I know it's not a very hard thing to do is that I can do it and I'm not very good. Though to be fair I've never tried it with that many people all at once, most I've done is four, but I suspect after that the numbers mean nothing. Certainly, going from 3 to 4 people felt little different.

Ecosamurai
04-08-2007, 09:30 AM
I'm not sure why asking for evidence of martial efficacy of a martial art from martial artists who makes claims upsets some people so. Maybe they should not make claims?

As I said in the first post. Martial effectiveness aside, let's try to make this a discussion of internal principles and how to teach them. Not whether or not they are useful in UFC, or useful against a tank or whatever. That said however, feel free to troll away if you think it'll be helpful....

Mike

statisticool
04-08-2007, 12:32 PM
Martial effectiveness aside, let's try to make this a discussion of internal principles and how to teach them. Not whether or not they are useful in UFC, or useful against a tank or whatever.


How can martial effectiveness be put aside? We are talking about martial arts done by martial artists, no?

If they are ways of moving more efficiently they should be able to be used in any movement, no?

Justin

Ecosamurai
04-08-2007, 12:41 PM
Mike,
I agree with your points, but not your reasoning. An unconscious person is pretty natural. No one has to learn to pass out and relax they just do it. So it's a matter of unlearning some unnatural behaviors (when conscious) not a matter of learning something different.

I'm not trying to be a jerk, but honestly I think you guys are making this stuff out to be way harder then it is. I'll try your ki tests and report back how I did. Hmm, I may even make a video.


Yeah, but like I said, the word 'natural' is a pain in this respect, better not to use it at all than risk getting bogged down in a semantic argument about 'natural movement' IMO internal stuff is decidedly unnatural movement, if it were 'natural' everyone would do it from birth. Clearly they do not do so or there would be so much discussion of it here.

I would also say that unlearning a behaviour is learning something different, and yet again we run into the problem of the word 'natural'. Honestly you see the word appear from time to time in the writings of Koichi Tohei and it troubles me then too. When he refers to natural as in standing naturally I think he's probably talking about something different than you are. But I could be wrong, I'm pretty sure that I know what it is that he is talking about, but I'm having a bit of trouble with your descriptions, sorry :(

Also as I said before. They aren't my ki tests, and what I've described is only a basic bit of stuff, even were you to attempt what I'd written you might not be doing the right stuff. That's where instructors come into the picture. As I've said before, the tests aren't the skill itself, and passing or failing them isn't what it's about, they are a learning tool and you need an instructor there to talk to you about what you're doing when you try these things.

Regards

Mike

Ecosamurai
04-08-2007, 12:42 PM
How can martial effectiveness be put aside? We are talking about martial arts done by martial artists, no?

If they are ways of moving more efficiently they should be able to be used in any movement, no?

Justin

Of course they should be, and they are (I use them all the time in a non-martial context as well as a martial one). But that is simply not the topic of conversation, at the moment.

Mike

Pete Rihaczek
04-08-2007, 07:51 PM
Like I said learning tools, not to be thought of in isolation. They are not the skill itself, the skill itself is different.

Mike

PS - And for the record Chen Xiowang is 'cheating' when he does those things. When the guy's are pushing on him (one or 100 makes no difference) he has his hands (watch his right hand in the first part of the film in particular) on them and is redirecting their force and neutralizing it. It's not a very hard thing to do. The reason I know it's not a very hard thing to do is that I can do it and I'm not very good. Though to be fair I've never tried it with that many people all at once, most I've done is four, but I suspect after that the numbers mean nothing. Certainly, going from 3 to 4 people felt little different.

I think you just reiterated my point. Your ability to duplicate any of them does not make you Chen Xiao Wang. I don't think they're very effective as learning tools either, or else we'd have a lot more Chen Xiao Wangs as well. If you got the chance to see what your level is compared to his, I think you would abandon the notion that ki tests as a learning tool will allow you to bridge the gap in ability. This is obviously not how these guys learn to do this stuff, there is serious work to be put in, and that's the real how-to.

Ecosamurai
04-08-2007, 08:25 PM
I think you just reiterated my point. Your ability to duplicate any of them does not make you Chen Xiao Wang. I don't think they're very effective as learning tools either, or else we'd have a lot more Chen Xiao Wangs as well. If you got the chance to see what your level is compared to his, I think you would abandon the notion that ki tests as a learning tool will allow you to bridge the gap in ability. This is obviously not how these guys learn to do this stuff, there is serious work to be put in, and that's the real how-to.

Actually I think we're saying the same thing from different ends. You seem to have missed my point that ki tests aren't actually how you learn this stuff, you learn it by being taught it by an instructor, probably in much the same way you're thinking of. The tests are just the tool for that purpose. Suppose for example that Chen Xiao Wang teaches this stuff by having his students adopt a stance/position or demonstrate a movement(s). He then corrects their movements and gives advice, telling them what they were doing wrong and so helping them to develop the correct feeling to achieve the ends he's aiming for, he uses metaphors to illustrate the feeling they need to aim for and gives them feedback on their performance. That's the ki test pedagogy right there. Only the ki test methods have a basic curriculum commonly taught as a minimum criteria for not only teaching this stuff but assessing rank in ki development.

How do you know there aren't more Chen Xiao Wangs? What makes you think others aren't putting in serious work?

Regards

Mike

Haowen Chan
04-08-2007, 08:39 PM
Pete: Respectfully, what is "serious work"? I'm curious.

ChrisHein
04-08-2007, 09:36 PM
Mike.
I think we are capable of doing them from birth. It's that whole baby squeezing your hand thing. When a baby can squeeze your finger very strongly, he is simply using himself correctly. I think people who are "natural" athleats, are simply people who didn't learn as many bad habbits as the rest of us. I also think athleats do most things "internally".

eyrie
04-08-2007, 10:01 PM
I dunno Chris... what you call "natural" is completely unnatural and counter-intuitive. What is "natural" is that our reticular activating system is pre-programmed for flight or fight response. One of the primary reasons it is difficult to tell someone to try "relax" harder... it's completely counter-intuitive to do so, particularly when under duress.

As for babies doing what they do intuitively is not because it is "natural", it's because they haven't yet been subjected to environmental conditioning.

There's a big difference between "natural" movement and "internal" movement. Picking my nose and scratching my butt might be completely natural...(or unnatural... depending on your perspective) but whether that is internal or external is quite another thing... ;)

Which leads us to what exactly is the definition of "internal"? Until this is addressed and agreed upon, the rest of this discussion is moot.

Gernot Hassenpflug
04-08-2007, 10:45 PM
Hi Ignatius, I think the "internal" is too wide. IIRC Mike Sigman pointed out several times in the past that there are "internal body mechanics" which are used by a wide variety of Asian martial arts, regardless of whether the arts are currently classified as "internal" or "external", then there are specific internal mechanisms which could be used to specify whether an art qualifies as "internal". For most of us, the latter is not really of interest at the moment, as we struggle to come to terms with the baseline internal body mechanics. I think that is what you were referring to, but thought it might help to elaborate.

Pete Rihaczek
04-08-2007, 10:50 PM
How do you know there aren't more Chen Xiao Wangs? What makes you think others aren't putting in serious work?

Regards

Mike

Well, you used the phrase "learning tool", which is fine as far as your description goes, I just question how much they really contribute to learning.

The number of real masters of this stuff is very small, relative to the available pool of practitioners, which wouldn't be the case if all the people who have been exposed to ki tests made good progress. The existence of various tests doesn't seem to be much of a factor in getting people to an impressive level of skill. Some of these guys, like Chen Xiao Wang in particular, are frighteningly powerful. You don't get that just from being told "keep weight underside", and then a few years of pirouettes and you're there. There are bigs chunks of fundamental information missing from the basic stage to the impressive power and ability stage. That all-important information is very closely guarded.

ChrisHein
04-08-2007, 10:58 PM
As for babies doing what they do intuitively is not because it is "natural", it's because they haven't yet been subjected to environmental conditioning.



Yes, this is the way I am useing natural. Current enviromental conditioning is not natrual. The natural state of man is to hunt and gather. Those are the conditions we evolved under.

Pete Rihaczek
04-08-2007, 11:00 PM
Pete: Respectfully, what is "serious work"? I'm curious.

Effortful practice directed toward the goal of achieving particular motor patterning and the body conditioning to go with it. In other words just practicing your Aikido moves over and over will make you skilled at doing that, but it isn't going to make you feel like "steel wrapped in cotton" or otherwise make anybody scratch their head and wonder how the heck you produce a lot of unusual power, and all the rest of the Ueshiba-like qualities that get so many people into Aikido in the first place.

Pete Rihaczek
04-08-2007, 11:26 PM
Yes, this is the way I am useing natural. Current enviromental conditioning is not natrual. The natural state of man is to hunt and gather. Those are the conditions we evolved under.

Chris, with all due respect there is no reason whatsoever to think humans naturally used something like the dantien articulation of the sort that you'll see among many good practitioners. That is an unusual and obviously deliberately learned skill.

In a more general sense, evolution dictates that natural movement is efficient. Our primitive ancestors could not afford to waste calories. If you need to grab something light with your hand, you naturally use local arm strength because that's the least energy demand to get the job done. That is not what the internal mechanics being discussed are about, in one sense they are about getting your whole body involved even if you only need to move your arm. It sacrifices calorie efficiency in order to allow more power to be expressed without losing it somewhere or exceeding the tolerance of part of the linkage. That's just one facet of their unnaturalness, but one is enough to torpedo the notion that this is natural movement by any definition of natural.

To use an off-the-wall example, most people have probably experienced something like this: you open the refrigerator, go to grab the milk, and it goes BWANG! as you hit the top of the fridge with it because it's nearly empty when you expected it to be full. Your brain judged how much arm power you would need to lift it, and before you could adjust you overshot it. Similarly if we imagine it were filled with lead as a joke, many people would practically fall over or at least become unbalanced from the unexpected load. That is the "natural" way of doing everyday things, the "external" way. That is not the way it would be done with internal mechanics. Now you can try to become really fast at sensing and adjusting how much force you apply in what direction so that you stop yourself from overcompensating, and this is what most people do as they develop skill. The internal approach is to move in such a way that your structure isn't going to become easily disrupted by the unexpected size or direction of a force, among other things. This gives the ability to react instantly and have power available instantly, rather than having to regain structure first, and then react, maybe overshoot again, have to regroup, etc. The martial utility of such skill should be rather obvious, and that's only one facet of it. In no way shape or form is it natural or anything that can be learned without *unlearning* what you do naturally, and trying to completely repattern movement.

ChrisHein
04-09-2007, 12:12 AM
Pete,
I get what you are saying. But our ancestors also had to jump on top of prey, and drive spears into huge animals. This requires great force. The body evolved in a manner that can generate this force.

It's the way we were designed to work, and deviating from natural movement (the way our body was designed by evolution to work) will only impair our abilities and not add to them.

I believe talk of the dantain is more confusing then helpful. It's just another vague word that is hard to pin down. Firstly it's from a foreign culture (for most of us). Secondly it's an old world word.

If we want to define amongst ourselves what it means that's great, but otherwise it's just confusing.

eyrie
04-09-2007, 01:25 AM
But our ancestors also had to jump on top of prey, and drive spears into huge animals. This requires great force. The body evolved in a manner that can generate this force.

It's the way we were designed to work, and deviating from natural movement (the way our body was designed by evolution to work) will only impair our abilities and not add to them. That may be so.... but I doubt it. As Pete said, "internal" mechanics requires rewiring/reprogramming the motor-neural pathways in a specific way, which is counter-intuitive to what you describe as "natural" movement. Whilst it may certainly aid in adaptation for hunting/gathering, the only hunting/gathering activity anyone is inclined to do these days, involves a trip to the supermarket, and wrestling the trolley with the dickie wheel.

I believe talk of the dantain is more confusing then helpful. It's just another vague word that is hard to pin down. Firstly it's from a foreign culture (for most of us). Secondly it's an old world word.

If we want to define amongst ourselves what it means that's great, but otherwise it's just confusing. If it helps, "internal" means... using your middle, and more pertinently, your lower abdomen, to power ALL movements, supported by the ground, and expressed thru the extremities, in a "loose" (i.e. relaxed but tensioned) manner, and without engaging the use of the large muscle groups. Which would seem hardly natural nor intuitive now, would it?

Upyu
04-09-2007, 01:37 AM
I believe talk of the dantain is more confusing then helpful. It's just another vague word that is hard to pin down. Firstly it's from a foreign culture (for most of us). Secondly it's an old world word.

If we want to define amongst ourselves what it means that's great, but otherwise it's just confusing.

Actually Chris, it's only a "vague" word for those without access to a teacher that doesn't have those skills. For those that have access to a teacher with the skills, and to those that have the skills, it's not vague at all ;)

Certainly Abe Sensei in Kyoto isn't "vague" at all when he talks about the tanden and what to do with it.

ChrisHein
04-09-2007, 01:53 AM
Ignatius,

I know what Pete said. I disagree with what he says. The fundamental disagreement we are having is: I think internal is natural, and Pete thinks it is unnatural. Now we are trying to hash out what we do agree on.

The quote you used was talking about the word "dantian" not the word "internal".

Moving your body in the way I described seems pretty natural to me. I've also seen people walk in off the street that use their body naturally this way. When you find a “gifted” athlete, this is what I believe people are referring to.

Rob John.
Yes, you know what your teacher means by dantain. And I know what mine means by it. And I know how I use it, and you how you use it, but that doesn't mean we agree on what the word means.

Ecosamurai
04-09-2007, 07:51 AM
Well, you used the phrase "learning tool", which is fine as far as your description goes, I just question how much they really contribute to learning.

The number of real masters of this stuff is very small, relative to the available pool of practitioners, which wouldn't be the case if all the people who have been exposed to ki tests made good progress. The existence of various tests doesn't seem to be much of a factor in getting people to an impressive level of skill. Some of these guys, like Chen Xiao Wang in particular, are frighteningly powerful. You don't get that just from being told "keep weight underside", and then a few years of pirouettes and you're there. There are bigs chunks of fundamental information missing from the basic stage to the impressive power and ability stage. That all-important information is very closely guarded.

No, I agree that you don't, but I attribute that more to the student/teacher relationship than the methodology itself. For the record, I've seen plenty of people who have learned things using the Tohei method that appear (key word) at least as powerful as Wang does in the film I've seen of him. Hell I can even do a lot of the 'trick's he demonstrates. Like you said, just being told to 'keep one point' doesn't help if you don't already know how, but in a class these things are explained and actively taught.

Seems to me that you may have made up your mind about this stuff before experiencing it properly, I could be wrong but that's how it's looking to me at present.

Put it another way. In Tai Chi, the chi kung exercises are ki tests as are the forms themselves. My Tai Chi teacher used to ask us to stop at any point in the form and he would point out weaknesses in what we were doing, he also had us practice 'ward off' against punch bags to 'develop our chi' though he never said how exactly we were to develop it, just that hitting things would do it. When I went to aikido I found someone who was actually explaining all these things in a way I could understand. Imagine a Tai Chi form of X moves and your teaher happened to notice that all his students found it helpful for developing their overall internal skill if he singled out one or two movements of the form and had them work on those in a more focused way. Later when they have absorbed this info he notices that other movements seem to help when they are focused on. Eventually he gets to a point where he no longer has to focus on specific movements which seem the most helpful in teaching the internal skills because they have learned them and they can apply them however they choose. The Tai Chi teacher is developing ki tests (or in this case chi tests). All that has happened in the ki soc is that the ones developed by Tohei Sensei have become a standardized part of the curriculum.

Regards

Mike

Ecosamurai
04-09-2007, 08:05 AM
Pete,
I get what you are saying. But our ancestors also had to jump on top of prey, and drive spears into huge animals. This requires great force. The body evolved in a manner that can generate this force.

Er actually it didn't. Human body structure has little to do with hunting, more to do with locomotion (in our case walking) and having hands free to gather food and use tools. Our bodies in structure resemble closely those of the other great apes who do not hunt with spears and jump on prey. At least that's what I was taught a few years ago during my MSc.

If someone were to hold out their arm and it were totally immovable I wouldn't call that natural, I'd say it was decidedly un-natural and quite an impressive skill. Yet most people can't do this. Let's assume that gifted athletes can, they have to train hard to be so good at what they do, it isn't like they're born being able to run 100m in 10sec. They have to train for it. Your use of the word natural and all it implies would have us think that cavemen could do all these things and that we have lost the ability over thousands of years as we have become more modern. Perhaps it was lost when Adam had a fruit salad he wasn't supposed to? Perhaps this is a reflection of what happens as we move from childhood to adulthood? We lose our natural ability to move naturally and fall down and cut our knee and run to our mothers crying?

Sorry I just don't believe it. I understand where you're coming from but I think the logic and language you're using is thwarting your argument. This movement isn't intuitive in my experience, it's a skill that has to be learned like any other. You position that it is natural movement possessed by athletes isn't totally wrong. If you watch films of Parkour for example the exhibit a good amount of mind and body coordination, same as other sports. Trouble is that amount of coordination is just the beginning step in my experience, there is a great deal more to learn.

Regards

Mike

Mike Sigman
04-09-2007, 08:49 AM
I know what Pete said. I disagree with what he says. The fundamental disagreement we are having is: I think internal is natural, and Pete thinks it is unnatural. Now we are trying to hash out what we do agree on.Sure, but this is an old problem that has been commented on in many of the classical texts. These movements are "natural" in the sense that they follow the "natural" lay of the muscles and tendons and they use the "natural" laws of gravity and the support of Heaven and Earth. However, these ways of movement are not "natural" in the sense that people naturally do them. They must be learned; they are not instinctive. Many, many amateurs think that "natural" somehow implies "instinctive"... that is totally wrong.

Regards,

Mike

Kevin Leavitt
04-09-2007, 09:04 AM
Mike I would certainly agree with that the movements you describe are not "Natural". I don't like using that word since it is too broad. What is natural for one, is not natural for another, and what is natural may not be the "best way" to respond in a situation.

I spend an most of my time teaching my guys how to move properly (as well as myself). I have never had someone come into the dojo and use proper posture, connecting the hips, arms, posture and move correctly in response to an antagonist. Never!

Sure I have had wrestlers and others that seem to have connected it better than others, but everyone can learn to improve.

So I would say that grappling correctly is NOT instinctive. Aspects of it certainly are. Heck I was just watching my 7 year old rolling around on the lawn with his buds...they instinctively do many things such as mount, side control, turtle etc...however they use what you would call alot of disconnected, and not so efficient movement.

So I would agree with you in this respect, that many movements have to be learned, or things unlearned as the case may be.

Mike Sigman
04-09-2007, 09:08 AM
I spend an most of my time teaching my guys how to move properly (as well as myself). I have never had someone come into the dojo and use proper posture, connecting the hips, arms, posture and move correctly in response to an antagonist. Never! We are NOT talking about the same things, Kevin. You need to go see these things.... so we're back in the same rut.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Kevin Leavitt
04-09-2007, 09:19 AM
Oh sorry, I forgot I don't know anything. Thanks for reminding me, I forget sometimes. Sorry for the post.

Mike Sigman
04-09-2007, 09:34 AM
Oh sorry, I forgot I don't know anything. Thanks for reminding me, I forget sometimes. Sorry for the post. Oh please. If you know these things, really know them, you could have posted in all the many threads on how they are done. Your questions alone would show that you know them. No one said you "don't know anything".... let's don't play victimhood as a distraction please.

If you already know how to do these ki and kokyu skills, why don't you explain the "how to" in this thread? There are many readers (a lot of them lurkers) who have some degree of these skills and who can spot who knows and who doesn't know, just by what is posted. It's a fun sideline game.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Ecosamurai
04-09-2007, 09:50 AM
Oh please. If you know these things, really know them, you could have posted in all the many threads on how they are done. Your questions alone would show that you know them. No one said you "don't know anything".... let's don't play victimhood as a distraction please.

If you already know how to do these ki and kokyu skills, why don't you explain the "how to" in this thread? There are many readers (a lot of them lurkers) who have some degree of these skills and who can spot who knows and who doesn't know, just by what is posted. It's a fun sideline game.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Incidentally Mike, while you're here. I know you've posted this stuff elsewhere but would you care to make a contribution to this thread? I'm curious as to what you think are good exercises for developing internal power. Genuinely.

I'm curious because I've heard the term 'feel the floor in your hands' and some similiar stuff around here lately and that is essentially 'weight underside' IMO. I find weight underside to be one of the more difficult things to explain to people and teach to them so I'm always looking for other ways to do it, as I'm sure are others. Anything anyone has to add would be nice.

Mike

Ron Tisdale
04-09-2007, 09:53 AM
Nothing to contribute, just my appreciation for the thread and the general tone. Keep going...

Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
04-09-2007, 10:18 AM
I'm curious because I've heard the term 'feel the floor in your hands' and some similiar stuff around here lately and that is essentially 'weight underside' IMO. I find weight underside to be one of the more difficult things to explain to people and teach to them so I'm always looking for other ways to do it, as I'm sure are others. Anything anyone has to add would be nice.The general idea is to let Heaven and Earth pull from each side and Man is in the middle. Heaven and Earth should do the work.

If I hold up a teacup or a load on the top of my head, I should be letting my body structure transmit that load relaxedly to the ground so that the upward push of the ground is doing the work... all I need is a cohesive structure that holds my path to the ground in place. Since the solid surface of the ground is doing the work, I am in harmony with the universe. Someone pushing in from the side, etc., I also just form a path to the ground (it becomes automatic with practice, as you know).

If I am trying to exert a force downward, I want gravity to do the work. I.e., the weight at the center of my body. So I have to very relaxedly (and very lightly, at first) train the weight of my body to be where I want it. If someone is lifting up under by armpits, I have to allow them to hold the weight of my body which hovers just above the crotch area. If they lift up on one of my horizontal arms, I have to let them be lifting up on that same center of force around the lower dantien and crotch area. After a while, any upward push on my body.... which can only be done on an underside surface, of course... will be immediately connected with the weight at the crotch/lower-dantien.

As I get more skilled, these instantaneous referrals of forces to either the ground or to the weight (on the underside surfaces) become automatic. At that time, I am always "extending ki" in all directions.

Howzat?

Mike

Josh Reyer
04-09-2007, 10:24 AM
Oh please. If you know these things, really know them, you could have posted in all the many threads on how they are done. Your questions alone would show that you know them. No one said you "don't know anything".... let's don't play victimhood as a distraction please.

If you already know how to do these ki and kokyu skills, why don't you explain the "how to" in this thread? There are many readers (a lot of them lurkers) who have some degree of these skills and who can spot who knows and who doesn't know, just by what is posted. It's a fun sideline game.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
The thing is, I think in this case Kevin was just commenting on how "natural", "instinctive" and "efficient" movement are not the same, not necessarily suggesting that what he does is the same thing you do. He was attempting to contribute to the semantic discussion, based on his own experiences. I suppose one could say it wasn't really on-topic in a thread entitled "The internal 'how to' thread", but that's a different argument, and probably not one really worse pursuing.

Kevin Leavitt
04-09-2007, 10:50 AM
Yes Josh, you are correct, contributing to the semantic discussion concerning natural movement. I agree it was not a topic in line with the "how to" aspect, but it seems when we get into "how to", we inevitiably end up on semantics as it is difficult to describe concepts/feelings here.

Without an understanding of the semantics involved, I don't believe you can achieve some common ground to discuss things.

Never implied nor did I ever intend to imply any technical ability in this area, other than to reinforce that natural movement is not necessarily so natural.

Ecosamurai
04-09-2007, 10:59 AM
Howzat?

Mike

Awfully familiar actually. I read a quote by Morihei Ueshiba in an interview once, someone (wish I could remember who) was being interviewed and said that the founder would often say things like "A man stands between the Heaven and the Earth", which the person being interviewed viewed as a rather outlandish way of saying 'stand up straight'. He was likely correct in that what the founder probably meant was 'stand up straight', but he had some other things in mind too it seems. When I teach these things I usually try telling people to stand up straight and make themselves as tall as they can, then allow yourself to relax downwards from that posture.

I usually tell people that if a limb is being moved you have to imagine the tester isn't actually trying to move your limb, but they are in fact trying to move your centre, similar to what you described. The advantage that the many different ki tests have is that they put you in a variety of body positions both static and dynamic which make such coordination difficult, usually if you try to concentrate on copying only the movements you will fail the ki test. Often once you start to get the basic idea and can do the simpler ki tests you fail the tests which involve movement. You tend to be strong at the beginning and end of the movement and weak in the middle.

Who said this stuff wasn't in aikido...?

Mike

Mike Sigman
04-09-2007, 11:00 AM
The thing is, I think in this case Kevin was just commenting on how "natural", "instinctive" and "efficient" movement are not the same, not necessarily suggesting that what he does is the same thing you do. My point was slightly different, Josh. "Natural" is actually a misleading word, in this case, and Kevin's discussing how learned skills are not "natural" is really a tangent to the classic meaning of "natural" in the internal sense (the thread is about "internal", BTW). "Natural" means conforming to the "natural laws of the universe" and qi and jin are considered part of that underlying and esoteric Nature. I.e., I understand quickly and easily what you and Kevin are referring to and I didn't miss the point. But my point is that in terms of "natural" movement, something quite different is meant in the Asian arts.

Regards,

Mike

Mike Sigman
04-09-2007, 11:13 AM
Awfully familiar actually. I read a quote by Morihei Ueshiba in an interview once, someone (wish I could remember who) was being interviewed and said that the founder would often say things like "A man stands between the Heaven and the Earth", which the person being interviewed viewed as a rather outlandish way of saying 'stand up straight'. He was likely correct in that what the founder probably meant was 'stand up straight', but he had some other things in mind too it seems. When I teach these things I usually try telling people to stand up straight and make themselves as tall as they can, then allow yourself to relax downwards from that posture.

I usually tell people that if a limb is being moved you have to imagine the tester isn't actually trying to move your limb, but they are in fact trying to move your centre, similar to what you described. The advantage that the many different ki tests have is that they put you in a variety of body positions both static and dynamic which make such coordination difficult, usually if you try to concentrate on copying only the movements you will fail the ki test. Often once you start to get the basic idea and can do the simpler ki tests you fail the tests which involve movement. You tend to be strong at the beginning and end of the movement and weak in the middle.

Who said this stuff wasn't in aikido...? I dunno.... see my post about "nikkyo" to understand my perspective. So far, nothing you have said indicated to me that you already do these things quite to the full level. You may be doing a variant (like in the nikkyo example), but I'd bet good money that in many ways you're doing something quite different. The reason I say that is that this stuff is tricky to learn and someone who really does it would have said something noting the differences rather than indicating that it's normal stuff. If someone really can do the tricky stuff that it takes to understand this, they know the tricky stuff is there... if you see what I mean. The general descriptions, like in the nikkyo example, sound the same to someone who can do something close to it, but there's a very clear difference. And again, for the umpteenth time, I'm really careful about this stuff because I've been at times the student on the receiving end of some wasted years by teachers who thought they already "knew this stuff". It's not a "who's superior" sort of peeing match at all.

Incidentally, there have been people who posted on this forum (and others) that I can tell they do indeed understand the basics of this stuff (Dan or Rob would be examples that pop to mind, but there are a few others). But there are levels of this stuff. I can tell where someone's level generally tops off by the way they describe things; and I'll bet someone better than me can understand where my level tops off. But I would be able to spot who was better than me from what they say... then I'd go check them out personally and I'd learn from them. The last thing I'd try to do would be to argue them to a standstill because I would, as I've said before, prefer to progress myself than to impress beginners or students. I'm always looking to learn. Maybe that's why I don't spend my time having a school and being a teacher. I don't think I'm good enough yet. ;)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

ChrisHein
04-09-2007, 11:32 AM
Ok, I'm going to give up on the word natural for now. It is getting us into a lot of trouble.

I think we have to try and understand what we are talking about before we go any further though.

What is a way to "prove" you have internal power? If internal power is just subjective to peoples opinions it might not be a real thing at all.

What would you offer up as a proof of internal power? And could you find a video demonstration of it? And if this video demonstration can be duplicated is that proof that the duplicator has internal power, or would the person duplicating still have to meet the approval of others before we deemed him internally powerful?

Ecosamurai
04-09-2007, 12:27 PM
I dunno.... see my post about "nikkyo" to understand my perspective.

Got a link? Must've missed that one.

So far, nothing you have said indicated to me that you already do these things quite to the full level. You may be doing a variant (like in the nikkyo example), but I'd bet good money that in many ways you're doing something quite different.

That's entirely possible. I don't think so but we'll leave it at that. I myself am usually the first to admit that I don't do these things to the full level, I'm just a student of them. I've said that many times Mike. I think I'm only now just getting to the beginning understanding of the really good stuff, every day lately it seems I have lightbulb moments where things I thought I knew become much clearer and I realise that they are in fact something slightly different. But I'm pretty sure, well as sure as I can be, that I've seen the real deal (and I'm not just talking about my own teacher here either). So either way we're left with the notion that what I do in my training isn't exactly what we're really talking about (something I freely admit), what is less certain is whether that's because I'm just not that good yet or whether it's because it is actually something different. I'm betting the former, you can put your money on the latter. We'll see what we come up with....

The reason I say that is that this stuff is tricky to learn and someone who really does it would have said something noting the differences rather than indicating that it's normal stuff.

I don't agree with that statement. Remember my whole position has always been that these things are a part of aikido (not all of it to be sure) and are not actually absent as many people have assumed. Given that point of view I'm bound to begin by saying that things are more similar than different. One of the reasons I've been trying to start more useful threads is to discuss the subtleties and differences in more detail, I may be wrong in my first assumption that these skills are are the same, only time will tell. Certainly there are differences, and if it's what you want to hear then I'll give details of the one of the differences I've noticed.

Rob talks about 'the cross' used to generate power. These things are not commonly taught in ki aikido, usually because we're not trying to learn how to kick and punch with large amounts of power. We are instead trying to learn to be centred and move in such a way that we can absorb and re-direct the power of an attacker. The two skills are not the same, but they are related to each other IMO. That's one quick difference for you. Sound reasonable?

I've found it, like you I suspect, quite ironic that discussions about the founders internal skills which are what made him so noteworthy as a martial artist IMO are in the 'non-aikido martial traditions forum'. For now I think that's where they should stay for the sake of maintaining aikiweb as the pleasant place it has always been. What I find even more ironic and always have done is that people are looking outside of aikido for something that as far as I'm aware is still inside it. People would rather go to Tai Chi teachers to learn this stuff than to the guys who are students of the founders chief instructor.... politics.

If someone really can do the tricky stuff that it takes to understand this, they know the tricky stuff is there... if you see what I mean. The general descriptions, like in the nikkyo example, sound the same to someone who can do something close to it, but there's a very clear difference. And again, for the umpteenth time, I'm really careful about this stuff because I've been at times the student on the receiving end of some wasted years by teachers who thought they already "knew this stuff". It's not a "who's superior" sort of peeing match at all.

Incidentally, there have been people who posted on this forum (and others) that I can tell they do indeed understand the basics of this stuff (Dan or Rob would be examples that pop to mind, but there are a few others). But there are levels of this stuff. I can tell where someone's level generally tops off by the way they describe things; and I'll bet someone better than me can understand where my level tops off. But I would be able to spot who was better than me from what they say... then I'd go check them out personally and I'd learn from them. The last thing I'd try to do would be to argue them to a standstill because I would, as I've said before, prefer to progress myself than to impress beginners or students. I'm always looking to learn. Maybe that's why I don't spend my time having a school and being a teacher. I don't think I'm good enough yet. ;)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Well FWIW my general impression is that a lot of folks have dismissed Tohei's approach out of hand because: 'it's aikido, and these things aren't done in aikido anymore so ki soc stuff can't be right or even close to what we're talking about'. Someone who studies with Dan recently mentioned that supposedly unbendable arm takes a few years to learn and even then it's not the same as what Dan does. Unbendable arm at it's lowest level is something that can be taught in a couple of minutes not a couple of years. Comments like that make it quite obvious that he was totally unaware of what is actually taught in ki soc circles and has dismissed it out of hand. It isn't any wonder to me then that he would be impressed with what Dan can do if that's the place he's coming from. That doesn't mean that what Dan does isn't worthwhile or impressive. I'm just pointing out that there is a lot of misunderstanding of ki soc ki development exercises and general methodology. I'm pretty sure that you yourself suffer from that from time to time too Mike, based on the things you've said. I have a suspicion that you've probably not spent as much time with ki soc or their derivatives as you would have us think.

Of course I could be wrong, but that's just an impression I get from reading what you say. It's not intended as a personal attack, so please don't take it as one.

Mike

Mike Sigman
04-09-2007, 12:51 PM
I pretty much agree with what you've said, Mike. The only addendum to point out is that my time visiting Ki-Society dojo's was reasonably extensive, although most of it was a long time ago... and the general level was not very high at that time. Could be me, could be my memory, could be that I'm accurately reporting what I saw, too. ;)

Regards,

Mike

MM
04-09-2007, 12:54 PM
Someone who studies with Dan recently mentioned that supposedly unbendable arm takes a few years to learn and even then it's not the same as what Dan does.

Mike

Got a link? Must've missed that one.

Mark

Mike Sigman
04-09-2007, 01:00 PM
I've found it, like you I suspect, quite ironic that discussions about the founders internal skills which are what made him so noteworthy as a martial artist IMO are in the 'non-aikido martial traditions forum'. For now I think that's where they should stay for the sake of maintaining aikiweb as the pleasant place it has always been. What I find even more ironic and always have done is that people are looking outside of aikido for something that as far as I'm aware is still inside it. People would rather go to Tai Chi teachers to learn this stuff than to the guys who are students of the founders chief instructor.... politics.I just laughed and sent messages to a bunch of people to go look. It basically just confirms the point that there is a perspective badly awry in Aikido among many people. Even more strangely, it implies that Ikeda Sensei is probably not a good judge of what is or is not in Aikido, since he's bringing in an outsider to teach "kokyu" at workshops. ;)

There's a more subtle discussion of these topics on other forums that avoids the politics, so I tend to spend more time there. I think the people in Aikido who are actively attempting to collect useful information for their Aikido have already begun to do so. Most of the others will go back to sleep as soon as the noise dies down. ;)

Regards,

Mike

Ecosamurai
04-09-2007, 04:17 PM
Got a link? Must've missed that one.

Mark

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12141

Post number 8: "Let's take the "unbendable" arm trick. Supposedly, in a few years, most can do it, right?"

It wasn't intended to be a slight on you saying that you know. I deliberately didn't mention your name for that reason. My point was only that if you start off with a point of view that doesn't include even a basic understanding of unbendable arm, then when you see something like the things that Dan can apparently do it's gonna look really impressive. As opposed to the way you may see it if you know something already.

Mike

HL1978
04-09-2007, 05:10 PM
Ok, I'm going to give up on the word natural for now. It is getting us into a lot of trouble.

I think we have to try and understand what we are talking about before we go any further though.

What is a way to "prove" you have internal power? If internal power is just subjective to peoples opinions it might not be a real thing at all.

What would you offer up as a proof of internal power? And could you find a video demonstration of it? And if this video demonstration can be duplicated is that proof that the duplicator has internal power, or would the person duplicating still have to meet the approval of others before we deemed him internally powerful?

I would not rely on video from it, because if the person in it has skill, it will only be visible to someone else who has some level of that same skill. To anyone else, it may look staged, or they probably can't tell the difference anyways.

The best way is firsthand experience. I had the opportunity to touch Mike, and despite the fact that I don't have much of anything of these skills, I could recognize similarities between him and Akuzawa when I tried to push him. Even if you don't have any skill, it is readily apparent when you push against someone who doesn't have it and someone who does. Further, it feels just completely different when that same person strikes you, grabs you etc. (There is a reason I fly to japan every couple months besides having random Korean girls buy me drinks and sleeping on Rob's floor:D )

The second best way is to rely upon the testimony from others who have felt it or others recognized to have it to some degree. We have plenty of those people around here on Aikiweb.

I must stress, the best possible way is to feel it first hand, and hopefully glean someting from it. there is undoubtably different levels of it, and for me at this time is is more about consistancy than anything else.

As for "how to" you can follow some of the exercises Rob posted, but I think it is really hard to get the "intent" without someone else there to help you, though I have a feeling that overall stability may improve (for example learning to do ashiage).

MM
04-09-2007, 05:14 PM
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12141

Post number 8: "Let's take the "unbendable" arm trick. Supposedly, in a few years, most can do it, right?"

It wasn't intended to be a slight on you saying that you know. I deliberately didn't mention your name for that reason. My point was only that if you start off with a point of view that doesn't include even a basic understanding of unbendable arm, then when you see something like the things that Dan can apparently do it's gonna look really impressive. As opposed to the way you may see it if you know something already.

Mike

But unbendable arm that is taught in a few minutes isn't anywhere near unmoveable arm, is it? That was my whole point. But, if you give someone years of training, then shouldn't that unbendable arm also be the unmoveable arm? It should if they're doing internal training, no? You missed the whole point of my post. Again, if the ki exercises are the same as internal training, then you'll see both with unmovable arm. That's the point. And whether or not the Ki Society has these exercises is the open question that I never answered. Mostly because it depends on the dojo in question, not the society overall.

Mark

Mike Sigman
04-09-2007, 07:32 PM
What would you offer up as a proof of internal power? And could you find a video demonstration of it? And if this video demonstration can be duplicated is that proof that the duplicator has internal power, or would the person duplicating still have to meet the approval of others before we deemed him internally powerful? Thought I'd replied to this one, but I don't see it.

How can anyone offer a video of the famous "concealed strength"? You've seen tons of video of Ueshiba, Shioda, and others using so-called "internal strength"... but you can't see it, even if it's obvious that what they do has some power.

Try this one and see if you can spot the very small moves and the massive power. The "student" is actually another well-known teacher and he doesn't shill for CXW because he has a reputation to uphold, too:

http://www.neijia.com/CXWCB.flv

Can you see how this sort of power is actually helpful to m.a.'s?

Mike

eyrie
04-09-2007, 07:36 PM
What is a way to "prove" you have internal power? If internal power is just subjective to peoples opinions it might not be a real thing at all. It is only subjective to the extent that there are varying degrees of skill usage and abilities. Therefore, any attempt to prove or disprove one's ability to harness internal power is subject to one's ability to do such things at a similar level of skill and ability. Which can only be gauged in a hands-on setting.

What would you offer up as a proof of internal power? And could you find a video demonstration of it? And if this video demonstration can be duplicated is that proof that the duplicator has internal power, or would the person duplicating still have to meet the approval of others before we deemed him internally powerful? Various videos pointing to such abilities have already been offered up - here and in other threads, most notably the baseline skills thread. What more proof do you need? It seems to me that more information and examples presented as evidence does not seem to be accepted as proof unless people first change their perceptions and beliefs. That such evidence may serve to influence one's perception is always a possibility, however, unless a paradigm shift occurs, that is unlikely to occur.

So, I don't think it is so much "the approval of others" as it is the ability to utilize one's body in ways that are considered internal... as opposed to external, and not so much the ability to "duplicate" such proof, but to approach such skills with some degree of ability and understanding.

eyrie
04-09-2007, 07:40 PM
What is a way to "prove" you have internal power? If internal power is just subjective to peoples opinions it might not be a real thing at all. It is only subjective to the extent that there are varying degrees of skill usage and abilities. Therefore, any attempt to prove or disprove one's ability to harness internal power is subject to one's ability to do such things at a similar level of skill and ability. Which can only be gauged in a hands-on setting.

What would you offer up as a proof of internal power? And could you find a video demonstration of it? And if this video demonstration can be duplicated is that proof that the duplicator has internal power, or would the person duplicating still have to meet the approval of others before we deemed him internally powerful? Various videos pointing to such abilities have already been offered up - here and in other threads, most notably the baseline skills thread. What more proof do you need? It seems to me that more information and examples presented as evidence does not seem to be accepted as proof unless people first change their perceptions and beliefs. That such evidence may serve to influence one's perception is always a possibility, however, unless a paradigm shift occurs, that is unlikely to occur.

So, I don't think it is so much "the approval of others" as it is the ability to utilize one's body in ways that are considered internal... as opposed to external, and not so much the ability to "duplicate" such proof, but to approach such skills with some degree of ability and understanding.

eyrie
04-09-2007, 11:35 PM
What is a way to "prove" you have internal power? If internal power is just subjective to peoples opinions it might not be a real thing at all. It is only subjective to the extent that there are varying degrees of skill usage and abilities. Therefore, any attempt to prove or disprove one's ability to harness internal power is subject to one's ability to do such things at a similar level of skill and ability. Which can only be gauged in a hands-on setting.

What would you offer up as a proof of internal power? And could you find a video demonstration of it? And if this video demonstration can be duplicated is that proof that the duplicator has internal power, or would the person duplicating still have to meet the approval of others before we deemed him internally powerful? Various videos pointing to such abilities have already been offered up - here and in other threads, most notably the baseline skills thread. What more proof do you need? It seems to me that more information and examples presented as evidence does not seem to be accepted as proof unless people first change their perceptions and beliefs. That such evidence may serve to influence one's perception is always a possibility, however, unless a paradigm shift occurs, that is unlikely to occur.

So, I don't think it is so much "the approval of others" as it is the ability to utilize one's body in ways that are considered internal... as opposed to external, and not so much the ability to "duplicate" such proof, but to approach such skills with some degree of ability and understanding.

Ecosamurai
04-10-2007, 01:50 AM
But unbendable arm that is taught in a few minutes isn't anywhere near unmoveable arm, is it? That was my whole point. But, if you give someone years of training, then shouldn't that unbendable arm also be the unmoveable arm? It should if they're doing internal training, no? You missed the whole point of my post. Again, if the ki exercises are the same as internal training, then you'll see both with unmovable arm. That's the point. And whether or not the Ki Society has these exercises is the open question that I never answered. Mostly because it depends on the dojo in question, not the society overall.

Mark

If I missed the whole point of your post you missed the whole point of my point. Namely that someone who thinks the way you do/did (you mentioned it elsewhere too and it was quite telling that you didn't know what unbendable arm was at all) about the exercises is going to be far more impressed when they see the real thing than someone else might. That was all. Didn't mean that what you said was wrong, and the ki exercises are and aren't internal training all at the same time, they're just a tool used by a teacher to teach these things. Not the skill itself, people always misunderstand the methods used because they see with a beginners eye the emphasis being placed on the exercises, just as others have said that people practice only the external waza and not the internal skill. The advantage the ki tests have is that they are a way of measuring and assessing that has been formally codified and that they focus on a few movements of the many possible ones that are most illustrative of the feeling you need to attain (when you do it correctly that is, which is of course what your instructor is there for).

Mike

Ecosamurai
04-10-2007, 03:52 AM
I just laughed and sent messages to a bunch of people to go look. It basically just confirms the point that there is a perspective badly awry in Aikido among many people. Even more strangely, it implies that Ikeda Sensei is probably not a good judge of what is or is not in Aikido, since he's bringing in an outsider to teach "kokyu" at workshops. ;)

There's a more subtle discussion of these topics on other forums that avoids the politics, so I tend to spend more time there. I think the people in Aikido who are actively attempting to collect useful information for their Aikido have already begun to do so. Most of the others will go back to sleep as soon as the noise dies down. ;)

Regards,

Mike

Glad I could provide you with some merriment then :cool:

As far as Ikeda Sensei goes, I don't know the man except to say that I would quite enjoy the opportunity to practice with him one day. I really don't much care what his view of this stuff is. I'm sure that he, like many other aikidoka some of who couldn't care less about 'internal skills' have much to offer everyone. I've noted over the years that people without the skills so often discussed lately are plenty good at what they do and definitely worth learning from in many many ways. I certainly wouldn't consider running around telling everyone who does aikido that they need to do it the way I do it, it'd just be a version of my style/art/sensei is better than yours and I'd come accross as a big fat loudmouth. Certainly most aikidoka I've ever met both online and off would never be interested in hearing such things and would likely take offense at it (I remember the ki-wars in the 90s on aikido-l well enough for that, and I only caught the tail end of them, they were mostly done by the time I joined in 97, and sure enough when ever I opened my mouth to talk about these things I sounded like a big fat loudmouth). I suspect that this is why a lot of people have gotten annoyed at all this recently (including myself). Anyway that's not the point of this thread so that's all I'll say about it or it'll just take a nosedive into the abyss.

If I get time later I'm gonna go through the baseline skills thread again and re-read Rob's stuff. I've been thinking about a few things that might be worth adding to the how-to discussion. We'll see.

Mike

Ecosamurai
04-10-2007, 04:20 AM
Just found Mike's nikyo description as he mentioned in an earlier post in this thread.:

"I can go to various dojo's and be shown "nikkyo" and as a "joint lock" it is fine and it "works martially". Some people will immediately jump into the discussion with "timing" and "from your center" and "stand in this angle to apply it" and "how to use it in a bar fight or combat with the enemy" and so on. All of that is fine and is "martial" and different people have different takes on it. AND it works! So therefore, they all "know nikkyo". I admit they can do nikkyo, but it's not really a version (by most people) that O-Sensei or any other skilled Asian martial artist is going to concur with as being correct if jin is not being used to do it. And there are degrees of jin. You don't have any really impressive jin power until your "middle" is extremely powerful. Your middle isn't going to be extremely powerful and connected out to your arms and legs until your "ki" is developed with breath, intent, stretches, and etc."

I'll expand on it the way I was teaching it a few weeks ago. Start with the nikyo where you hold your partners wrist at shoulder level (let's assume you're holding the uke's left hand in your left hand and at your right shoulder) and turn the hand's palm back towards him. A common mistake is that people usually begin by thinking that the left hand is the one that 'does the nikyo', this is not the truth at all, the left hand should be the anchor that uses weight underside to turn the palm outwards and back towards uke (if your left shoulder is tense you aren't using weight underside).

Often with this technique nage takes the right hand and places it on ukes left shoulder. They then draw down the length of ukes arm until reaching the wrist (one of my students went to a Yamada Sensei seminar in Edinburgh not so long ago and this was how Yamada did the nikyo to him so I assume it's fairly common and that people will be familar with it). The right hand then comes to rest on ukes wrist and the nikyo is applied with the familiar 'wringing action'.

IMO there are a few common mistakes made with this (mistakes meaning that internal stuff isn't used, if you're not aiming to use internal skills then they probably don't count as mistakes). They are:

People assume the left hand does the nikyo, if anything it would be the right hand (actually it's both but it helps if emphasis is placed on the right at the beginning as the left is commonly favoured).

People try to 'draw the ki' down ukes arm towards their wrist in a physical way, often dragging their hand along the top of the arm and causing uke to physically resist them in the process, so basically the opposite of what your after in the first place (i.e. no resistance from uke)

Lastly and most importantly. People 'gather ki' from uke into their chest area as this is where all three hands involved in the technique are located, this encourages tension in shoulders and evokes physical resistance from uke. To make it effective, gather ki into your own belly/centre and lightly touch ukes arm instead of dragging your hand along it (last summer my teacher touched my arm as lightly as is possible and I just hit the deck, I've never felt anything like it, it was so gentle as to beggar belief, and it really hurt).
When applying the nikyo, your shoulders shouldn't move unless your hips do. It sometimes helps if you think of your right foot sliding forwards as the thing that applies the nikyo rather than your hands.

That would be a brief description of how to do that particular nikyo with a slightly more 'internal' mindset. It's only a brief and basic description, there is a great deal more to it but it might be useful. I've only touched on the basics as I'm sure Mike will tell you, he left a huge amount out of his description (more than I did). Also it is easy to think you are doing those things when you're not, and I'm not just talking about sitting at the computer and reading the descriptions, it happens in lessons too. When I've explained things people have said to me "But I am doing that" when they clearly aren't and worse, they know they aren't because their nikyo isn't working and mine is. Yet they still say it..... I suppose I did too back in the day.

Mike

MM
04-10-2007, 06:21 AM
Namely that someone who thinks the way you do/did (you mentioned it elsewhere too and it was quite telling that you didn't know what unbendable arm was at all) about the exercises is going to be far more impressed when they see the real thing than someone else might. That was all.
Mike

Yep, nice little dig there. I don't know much, so therefore what I see will impress me. Kind of funny, really. Because in that, you have lumped together quite a few of us: Ron, Mark C., Murray M., Rob L., Erik, etc, etc, etc. And we all have backgrounds in more than just aikido. But hey, what do we know? We're easily impressed because of how we think and what we don't know. Or perhaps, it was just me? I was more impressed than the others because I don't know much. Well, shoot, why not just ask all the others how impressed they were? Heh, and good luck with that. I've already talked and met quite a few of them. I know the answers. I know the backgrounds. And I'm in good company.

Mark

Ecosamurai
04-10-2007, 07:23 AM
Yep, nice little dig there. I don't know much, so therefore what I see will impress me. Kind of funny, really. Because in that, you have lumped together quite a few of us: Ron, Mark C., Murray M., Rob L., Erik, etc, etc, etc. And we all have backgrounds in more than just aikido. But hey, what do we know? We're easily impressed because of how we think and what we don't know. Or perhaps, it was just me? I was more impressed than the others because I don't know much. Well, shoot, why not just ask all the others how impressed they were? Heh, and good luck with that. I've already talked and met quite a few of them. I know the answers. I know the backgrounds. And I'm in good company.

Mark

C'mon, that was never intended to be a dig at you personally, more a comment about the fact that a LOT of the Ki Soc exercises and methods are very poorly understood outside of the ki aikido community and easily misconstrued. If you want to take it as a personal attack then fine, but I certainly wasn't trying to single you out personally nor anyone else, you've just chosen to take it that way.

I'll say no more about it, it'd be a pointless digression.

Mike

Ron Tisdale
04-10-2007, 08:37 AM
Well, not entirely pointless...it kind of goes to show just how easy it is to annoy people, even when you are not trying to. I personally admire the way you came into these discussions, spoke your peace about the "attitidues" you percieved, and then got on to discussing the topics. You have contributed substance, not just sniping about "attitudes". Very positive over all.

And yet, without even meaning to, you just ticked someone off...can you see just a little bit then why Mike and company decided to just not worry about ticking people off...since they knew it would happen anyway? Not saying I agree with that perspective...just that I understand it a little.

Mark, I wouldn't get too tuned up about that little slip...I find out every time I step on the mat how little after 12 to 15 years of this stuff I know. Working on just trying to learn new stuff...personally, I don't have a problem admitting so much of it is new. Just the way it goes...

Best,
Ron

Ecosamurai
04-10-2007, 08:48 AM
Well, not entirely pointless...it kind of goes to show just how easy it is to annoy people, even when you are not trying to. I personally admire the way you came into these discussions, spoke your peace about the "attitidues" you percieved, and then got on to discussing the topics. You have contributed substance, not just sniping about "attitudes". Very positive over all.

And yet, without even meaning to, you just ticked someone off...can you see just a little bit then why Mike and company decided to just not worry about ticking people off...since they http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/images/icons/icon4.gif
Exclamationknew it would happen anyway? Not saying I agree with that perspective...just that I understand it a little.

Well, I do my best. Hopefully it'll keep getting better. That'd be nice.

Thanks

Mike

Aran Bright
04-10-2007, 09:23 AM
I wanted to add an exercise the Koretoshi Maruyama teaches in a effort to help expand on the "how to" component of this thread.

It is a way to teach unbendable arm, slightly different to the visualisation method, more of a kinesthetic method.

Firstly, support the weight of someone's outstretched arm, completely, you can test this by letting the arm drop if it stays there or pauses before dropping it is not completely relaxed.

Secondly, gently massage the triceps muscle by rubbing from the shoulder to the hand. Get the partner to concentrate on the feeling of the triceps being stimulated, this may take a minute but test for unbendable arm, softly at first. Unbendable arm will slowly come.

The receiver's arm needs to be supported in a relaxed out stretched position whilst stimualting the triceps, the recievier needs do no more than just focusing on the feeling.

Another interesting exercise with unbendable arm is how to break it; not literally. Firstly check your partner has unbendable arm, then place the palm of your hand under the blade of your partners. Gently drag the flesh, on the bottom of their handblade, away from your partner's shoulder (taking up the slack) and in an arc move the hand toward the shoulder. This should be quite easy, that slight tug on the partner's skin whilst moving in an arc should be able to 'break' the most unbendable of arms.

Another variation is to pull on the little finger and again move in an arc bringing the little finger to the shoulder.

I'm interested hear what results people get from trying these.

Aran

Mike Sigman
04-10-2007, 09:34 AM
Well, not entirely pointless...it kind of goes to show just how easy it is to annoy people, even when you are not trying to. I personally admire the way you came into these discussions, spoke your peace about the "attitidues" you percieved, and then got on to discussing the topics. You have contributed substance, not just sniping about "attitudes". Very positive over all. Why would "attitudes" be an entre' into any discussion topic about these skills, though? We all have our opinions about others' "attitudes", but generally keep them to ourselves. Here's a good comment showing that "attitudes" can be perceived in 2 entirely different ways:

"Reprove not a scorner (or the self-absorbed. m.s.) lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee." Proverbs 9:8

There are people who talk through these topics and, as Ellis and others note, simply ignore any perceived "personality" or "attitude". They read for substance. I'm not so sure I would pat anyone on the back for making an entry with a few comments about his important perceptions of others' attitudes. I'd just suggest everyone try to stay on topic.

Regards,

Mike

Adman
04-10-2007, 09:58 AM
bold added by me:
Another interesting exercise with unbendable arm is how to break it; not literally. Firstly check your partner has unbendable arm, then place the palm of your hand under the blade of your partners. Gently drag the flesh, on the bottom of their handblade, away from your partner's shoulder (taking up the slack) and in an arc move the hand toward the shoulder. This should be quite easy, that slight tug on the partner's skin whilst moving in an arc should be able to 'break' the most unbendable of arms.

Another variation is to pull on the little finger and again move in an arc bringing the little finger to the shoulder.

I'm interested hear what results people get from trying these.

AranI am familiar with what you describe. I would say that these are not ways to "break" unbendable arm, but ways to illustrate if someone truly had "it" or not. There should be no slack to take out. Pulling on the little finger (as I think you are describing it) should actually provide more stability to the arm.

Ecosamurai
04-10-2007, 10:12 AM
Why would "attitudes" be an entre' into any discussion topic about these skills, though? We all have our opinions about others' "attitudes", but generally keep them to ourselves. Here's a good comment showing that "attitudes" can be perceived in 2 entirely different ways:

"Reprove not a scorner (or the self-absorbed. m.s.) lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee." Proverbs 9:8

There are people who talk through these topics and, as Ellis and others note, simply ignore any perceived "personality" or "attitude". They read for substance. I'm not so sure I would pat anyone on the back for making an entry with a few comments about his important perceptions of others' attitudes. I'd just suggest everyone try to stay on topic.

Regards,

Mike

I believe he was simply saying that I didn't just start using ad hominem arguments and leave it at that as others have done, I actually offered substance. At least that's how I read it. In any case the initial things I posted were just the culmination of months of being annoyed and then deciding to actually join the conversation in a worthwhile way, after I'd been a pain in the backside for a bit of course. But I tend to do that, you'd think I'd know better really, but apprently I don't <sigh>

Anyway, gotta run now (I'm already late), but the extremely brief notm much more than one sentence answer to how O Sensei bounces someone pushing on his chest is (and it is massively oversimplified, so please wait for a better description when I have the time): If he is keeping a correct posture and is in a relaxed state the force someone applies to his chest if their hand were on the middle of it would be loaded onto his spine, the base of which is supported by his centre and hips. He would simply release the force they have loaded and it would travel back up their arm, the harder they were pushing the easier iot would be to throw them a fair distance. Exactly how he would 'release the force' is a much more detailed discussion I don't have time for right now. Gotta run. Catch you tomorrow.

Mike

PS - I reserve the right to think deeply on this matter for the next day and totally contradict what I just said if I should realise I was talking utter bollocks.

Ron Tisdale
04-10-2007, 10:35 AM
I'm not so sure I would pat anyone on the back for making an entry with a few comments about his important perceptions of others' attitudes. I'd just suggest everyone try to stay on topic.

Regards,

Mike

Hi Mike,

I must have mis-communicated...I was trying to pat him on the back for moving on and contributing to the actual subject matter...not the other stuff.

Best,
Ron

Mark Freeman
04-10-2007, 11:54 AM
Another interesting exercise with unbendable arm is how to break it; not literally. Firstly check your partner has unbendable arm, then place the palm of your hand under the blade of your partners. Gently drag the flesh, on the bottom of their handblade, away from your partner's shoulder (taking up the slack) and in an arc move the hand toward the shoulder. This should be quite easy, that slight tug on the partner's skin whilst moving in an arc should be able to 'break' the most unbendable of arms.

Another variation is to pull on the little finger and again move in an arc bringing the little finger to the shoulder.

I'm interested hear what results people get from trying these.


We refer to the above as 2nd ki test (a pre-requisite to passing a 3rd kyu in our school) All that it demonstrates is that the person being tested is creating the unbendable arm feeling by extending their mind out through their finger tips.

If the tester acts as if the fingertips are like the nozzle on a hosepipe and that the testees mind is like the water being sprayed out, it is easy to gently redirect the tip of the 'hose' in an arc back towards the shoulder.

The way I teach to 'overcome'/pass this test is to imagine that their whole being is at the tip of the nozzle and that the 'stuff'' (mind/ki/water/light,whatever feeling) that was streaming from the tip of the fingers is now heading out forward from the head to the feet. This works well enough to be able to pass the test without any extra physical effort.

Teaching, learning and passing these 'tests' are just a building block to eventual 'total' mind body co-ordination. Only when this state is achieved in dynamic situations can 'real' aikido take place.

For me, a proper understanding of the ki developement tests only really sunk in when I started to teach them myself. I had managed to do them by following my teachers instructions, they worked so, hey, bring it on. Teaching helped me to work out what was really happening, that and reading Dan, Mike and others' contributions, which has given me a better perspective on my own physical/facial structure, when I am co-ordinated.

I also now understand that aiki with your uke happens before any physical contact is made, but that's another topic, maybe;)

Like Mike Haft, I am not a Ki Society member, but we do precede all of out aikido training with many ki developement exercises.

It is a stretch for my imagination to think of getting to the point that I am now with my aikido, without so much attention being paid to the correct 'state' required to achieve the levels of aikido that we aspire to ( for me to be able to deal calmly and effortlessly with any attack, similar to the Tohei's of this world ). It must be possible though, as people are writing about what I understand and they are not all from the same background.

Last night in class I thought I'd try something that has been discussed here quite a bit. That is the running push to the chest, which O'Sensei, Tohei, Shioda and others can be seen dealing with on film, by 'bouncing' the attacker away. I was pleasantly surprised and my uke's where flumoxed by the results ( they didn't know beforehand what I was going to do, I just asked them to attack with a double handed running push to the chest). My result definitely wasn't as spectacular as O'Sensei, but the result to all present was similar. I now know what I did to achieve the result I did. I will continue work on getting better, what else is there to do?

regards,

Mark

Ron Tisdale
04-10-2007, 11:59 AM
Hi Mark,

Can you describe what you did? What you did with your hips? What you did with your spine? Did you use any 'tricks' to keep your shoulders from tensing up? Did you use the ball of your foot or your toes in any special fashion?

Thanks,
Ron

Mark Freeman
04-10-2007, 12:52 PM
Hi Mark,

Can you describe what you did? What you did with your hips? What you did with your spine? Did you use any 'tricks' to keep your shoulders from tensing up? Did you use the ball of your foot or your toes in any special fashion?

Thanks,
Ron

Hi Ron,

What I did with my body is entirely secondary to what I did with my mind.

I can tell you that that I didn't consciously do anything with my hips, my spine was upright, and my shoulders completely relaxed. The only 'trick' I use to not tense my shoulders is to not tense them ( sorry Ron I know that that is completely unhelpful ):confused: .I don't know what my feet were doing as all my awareness was out towards uke, I 'guess' one foot was slightly ahead of the other, I will try to be more aware of the foot position next time.

What I did mentally was to feel and accept ukes 'intent' invite in into my centre and then send it back towards him. My mind was ahead of his body so to speak. When he made physical contact with me his mind/ki was already travelling back towards himself, and what he felt was ( his description ) was like a hard rubber post. To be honest that was what my body felt like from the inside.

I have been doing very similar exercises to this for many years, but this particular one my teacher had not shown before.

I belive that all the internal/kokyu skills been discussed here are a pre-requisite to achieving these results.

I hope this description was of some help Ron, but I feel that the internet is pretty poor medium for conveying these skills. I mean, how could I convey the 'correct' timing inherently necessary to perform the exercise?

regards,

Mark

Ron Tisdale
04-10-2007, 01:01 PM
Understood...there are many times when I have performed a waza which had "interesting" results where I couldn't describe what I did either. I'm trying to change that...slowly... ;)

Best,
Ron

Haowen Chan
04-10-2007, 01:45 PM
Mark Freeman sensei (or Mike Haft sensei or any Ki-affiliated sempai/sensei),

Could you describe how your skills developed? Like, first you felt like this, then eventually you felt like that... Sorry, vague question, I know.

But it's helpful for us newbies who currently see the path ahead as:

1) Year 1: Do aikido waza and ki-development exercises as relaxed and correctly as possible while listening to sensei, keeping in mind the 4 principles.
2) ??????...??
3) Year 10-20: You can now redirect force back to your attacker just by thinking about it with no apparent external movement.

Mark Freeman
04-10-2007, 02:10 PM
Mark Freeman sensei (or Mike Haft sensei or any Ki-affiliated sempai/sensei),

Could you describe how your skills developed? Like, first you felt like this, then eventually you felt like that... Sorry, vague question, I know.

But it's helpful for us newbies who currently see the path ahead as:

1) Year 1: Do aikido waza and ki-development exercises as relaxed and correctly as possible while listening to sensei, keeping in mind the 4 principles.
2) ??????...??
3) Year 10-20: You can now redirect force back to your attacker just by thinking about it.

Hi Howard,

How did my skills ( such as they are ) develop? Simple, I kept on turning up and diligently tried to do what I was being shown/told to do by my teacher. In the beginning I felt stiff, awkward and pretty un co-ordinated, but over time, this has been replaced with a better more solid feeling in everything I do (not just aikido).

The most important part of the training equation is the teacher, if they can really walk the walk and teach how they do it effectively, you have a chance of learning from them how to do it yourself. But this is not guaranteed as the student has their own demons to conquer. To counter full on force with total non-dissention is no easy task.

My advice is to:

Year 1: Do aikido waza and ki-development exercises as relaxed and correctly as possible while listening to sensei, keeping in mind the 4 principles.

keep doing this for every year that you practice.

At some point teach what you know to others.

Then at some point you may be able to redirect your attackers force back to him by using your total mind body co-ordination. It is not right to think that it is done by 'just thinking about it';)

Good luck with your training, if you want it bad enough you can have it. There is nothing superhuman about all this, just correct application of the art.

regards,

Mark
p.s. please no 'sensei', I am only sensei to my own students, to everyone else I'm Mark ( to thankfully very few, I'm "that miserable old git";) )

Haowen Chan
04-10-2007, 02:13 PM
Thanks Mark, that helps.

Pete Rihaczek
04-10-2007, 08:53 PM
Well due to time constraints, and then not being able to get into the site yesterday, I'm about 40 posts behind. Most of this looks like so many other discussions I've seen, where no matter what anybody says the answer is "I already do that". And then when people actually meet up with someone it turns out to never be the case. I think most of the ki tests are some variant of "relax", and not keeping undue tension while doing various things, which is level 1 stuff. That's fine, but the degree to which these concepts can be developed is amazing. If you've felt it, you know it's so different that these, "yeah it pretty much sounds familiar" discussions just wouldn't happen. There is no question it's a completely different animal, not just a little bit different. All that can be done is to recommend people to go see that you think are representative of a given level of ability, then you can have a common point of reference.

But, to Mike H., apart from recommending teachers that have a high level of this skill for others to go check out (have you done that? If so I may have skimmed past it) this is a discussion forum, so those who hold out hope that more can be conveyed in writing can keep struggling. ;) I don't count myself in that group, and due to time constraints and other factors I'm seriously hitting the "don't really care" threshold. But since you titled the thread with that hope, how does one take things to advanced levels, in your view? What specific exercises do you recommend as how-to's to develop a high level of this skill? I know what sorts of exercises Rob and Mike recommend, I know what some other practitioners do. I've never seen anyone who knows this stuff that doesn't have a *very* specific regimen to accomplish the body conditioning to do these things. To Chris, saying "it's natural" presupposes that you are talking about the same "it", so the same question. How specifically does one go from the level 1 stuff of relaxation to the storied Ueshiba levels of seemingly effortless expression of power?

Aran Bright
04-10-2007, 09:03 PM
Mark Freeman sensei (or Mike Haft sensei or any Ki-affiliated sempai/sensei),

Could you describe how your skills developed? Like, first you felt like this, then eventually you felt like that... Sorry, vague question, I know.

But it's helpful for us newbies who currently see the path ahead as:

1) Year 1: Do aikido waza and ki-development exercises as relaxed and correctly as possible while listening to sensei, keeping in mind the 4 principles.
2) ??????...??
3) Year 10-20: You can now redirect force back to your attacker just by thinking about it with no apparent external movement.

I think you've pretty much nailed it there, your obviously on the right track.

As for the bounce demo that Michael and Mark are talking about I know Mike S. has talked to this one previously and as this is something that is developed in CMAs more than in aikido; he is obviously the authority here.

Having said that I don't think that this is something that is beyond the skills of those that have the ability to remain relaxed and stable at the same time.

I definitely think that the ability to focus past the point of conflict is one of the skills involved but focusing on what is happening with the body is also important. Otherwise how can you really teach/learn this?

What I think is happening within the body in this case is not that different to what is happening during any technique except that in this case the force of the attack is returned almost straight back at the uke.

I mean think about it for a minute what do you do in any irimi technique? Identify the soft spot in uke's attack and send your force there, right? Now if uke is expecting nage's body to move backward with the force of the push but meets an incoming force that is perhaps directed at their feet or hips, uke is likely to be jacked up in the air at which point nage can easily move uke backwards.

Looking at Shioda and Ueshiba when they do this, their ukes nearly always end up with the feet going forward while shoulders going back.

Now, if you can keep the shoulders soft to absorb the force of the attack allow this force to travel down and be stored in the hips and legs and fired back at uke from the hips, BAM, uke wont know what hit them.

Where those that can do this really well separate themselves from the chaff is when the movements become imperceptible and the uke just 'bounces'.

In short, I think the ability to maintain a relaxed structure (whilst absorbing pressure) and being able to fire off some power from the tanden back at the soft part of the push is what happens. Pure Irimi.

Aran Bright
04-10-2007, 09:10 PM
Well due to time constraints, and then not being able to get into the site yesterday, I'm about 40 posts behind. Most of this looks like so many other discussions I've seen, where no matter what anybody says the answer is "I already do that". And then when people actually meet up with someone it turns out to never be the case. I think most of the ki tests are some variant of "relax", and not keeping undue tension while doing various things, which is level 1 stuff. That's fine, but the degree to which these concepts can be developed is amazing. If you've felt it, you know it's so different that these, "yeah it pretty much sounds familiar" discussions just wouldn't happen. There is no question it's a completely different animal, not just a little bit different. All that can be done is to recommend people to go see that you think are representative of a given level of ability, then you can have a common point of reference.

But, to Mike H., apart from recommending teachers that have a high level of this skill for others to go check out (have you done that? If so I may have skimmed past it) this is a discussion forum, so those who hold out hope that more can be conveyed in writing can keep struggling. ;) I don't count myself in that group, and due to time constraints and other factors I'm seriously hitting the "don't really care" threshold. But since you titled the thread with that hope, how does one take things to advanced levels, in your view? What specific exercises do you recommend as how-to's to develop a high level of this skill? I know what sorts of exercises Rob and Mike recommend, I know what some other practitioners do. I've never seen anyone who knows this stuff that doesn't have a *very* specific regimen to accomplish the body conditioning to do these things. To Chris, saying "it's natural" presupposes that you are talking about the same "it", so the same question. How specifically does one go from the level 1 stuff of relaxation to the storied Ueshiba levels of seemingly effortless expression of power?

Pete,

I know you want to talk in specific exercises but if I could distract you with theory for one moment, would you agree that if you develop the global connection from head to toe but at the same time have a free 'power source,' such as the tanden, that can deliver power to any part of this connection, are you on the right track?

Aran

Pete Rihaczek
04-10-2007, 09:43 PM
Pete,

I know you want to talk in specific exercises but if I could distract you with theory for one moment, would you agree that if you develop the global connection from head to toe but at the same time have a free 'power source,' such as the tanden, that can deliver power to any part of this connection, are you on the right track?

Aran

Hi Aran,

I think specifics are necessary, because general statements can be interpreted to mean anything the reader wants. What you're written covers everything from basic "relax and move from the center" to actual high level skill. In the beginning, every track is close to every other, so being on the right track itself isn't that meaningful. It's going a long way down the right track that counts, and that requires specifics. ;)

Aran Bright
04-11-2007, 12:48 AM
Hi Aran,

I think specifics are necessary, because general statements can be interpreted to mean anything the reader wants. What you're written covers everything from basic "relax and move from the center" to actual high level skill. In the beginning, every track is close to every other, so being on the right track itself isn't that meaningful. It's going a long way down the right track that counts, and that requires specifics. ;)

And here we reach the limitation of written forums, there are some who can describe movements quite well via the written word but that is certainly something I lack.

Ecosamurai
04-11-2007, 07:36 AM
Mark Freeman sensei (or Mike Haft sensei or any Ki-affiliated sempai/sensei),

Could you describe how your skills developed? Like, first you felt like this, then eventually you felt like that... Sorry, vague question, I know.

But it's helpful for us newbies who currently see the path ahead as:

1) Year 1: Do aikido waza and ki-development exercises as relaxed and correctly as possible while listening to sensei, keeping in mind the 4 principles.
2) ??????...??
3) Year 10-20: You can now redirect force back to your attacker just by thinking about it with no apparent external movement.

Hi Howard,

Easy on the 'sensei' stuff if that's ok. In the dojo is one thing and there are various reasons for it. None of which really apply to internet discussion IMO.

I'd say do year 1) for the rest of your life and you're probably on the right track. For me it's more like do years 1-4 for the rest of my life.

If it helps. From between 6 months to 2 years. I could do a lot of the stuff (not all!) that Mike Sigman referred to as the baseline skill in the thread of the same name, for those familiar with ki aikido that would be doing stuff at the level of 2nd test or so, in other words keeping a calm and relaxed posture when being tested with light (maybe 3-6lbs pressure) in a fairly static way, also including some more dynamic tests and some stuff happening in a variety of odd postires such as standing on one leg, leaning backwards etc. After 4 years i could do a lot of the ki tests at 3rd level, i.e. stopping someone elses ki from entering my body. All the rest just builds on that with a variety of different twists and nuances, most of which you are probably unlikely to see much of if you are a seminar hopper who cross trains in ki aikido from time to time (probably, but I don't really know so that's a total guess on my part, I've never bee part of a large organisation that has many seminars over the course of any given year so it's only an impression I get from talking to others who are)

After 5 years I moved away from the area of the UK my teacher lived in and returned to London, my only choice if I wanted to keep learning was to start teaching, which is what I did. To my surprise I found that teaching things was one of the best ways to learn, because it forces you to think about things in creative and clear ways. 5 years after that I can have a 260lb guy push me full force in the middle of my chest and stop him from moving me, and I do mean full force and without deference to me because I'm his instructor (you could say I'm taking ukemi for him if you like). I can't do it all the time, I have good days and bad ones, sometimes I have to take one or two steps back to absorb all that pressure. Sometimes I can do it with my feet side by side, sometimes not. Right now I'm trying to explore why I can't do it consistently all the time and it's a lot of fun doing that.

I can't comment about what happens after 10 years because it'll be my tenth year of aikido in september of this year.

Hope that's helpful.

Regards

Mike

Ecosamurai
04-11-2007, 08:31 AM
Well due to time constraints, and then not being able to get into the site yesterday, I'm about 40 posts behind. Most of this looks like so many other discussions I've seen, where no matter what anybody says the answer is "I already do that". And then when people actually meet up with someone it turns out to never be the case. I think most of the ki tests are some variant of "relax", and not keeping undue tension while doing various things, which is level 1 stuff. That's fine, but the degree to which these concepts can be developed is amazing. If you've felt it, you know it's so different that these, "yeah it pretty much sounds familiar" discussions just wouldn't happen. There is no question it's a completely different animal, not just a little bit different. All that can be done is to recommend people to go see that you think are representative of a given level of ability, then you can have a common point of reference.

The ki tests are unsurprisingly about "relax" just as you say, but seeing as the second basic principle is "relax completely" are you really surprised?

When you say "relax" is level one stuff, yeah I agree, but it's got to be the most important foundation stone to doing the other things, which you can't do if you're not relaxed. The ki test levels increase in sophistication and complexity from what you call level 1 stuff. I think it's likely you just haven't seen them or are perhaps dismissing them because the approach to teaching is different that what you are familiar with, even though the substance of the skill may well be the same or very similar. Unfortunately I don't think there's any way to really determine that for certain.

But, to Mike H., apart from recommending teachers that have a high level of this skill for others to go check out (have you done that? If so I may have skimmed past it) this is a discussion forum, so those who hold out hope that more can be conveyed in writing can keep struggling. ;) I don't count myself in that group, and due to time constraints and other factors I'm seriously hitting the "don't really care" threshold. But since you titled the thread with that hope, how does one take things to advanced levels, in your view? What specific exercises do you recommend as how-to's to develop a high level of this skill? I know what sorts of exercises Rob and Mike recommend, I know what some other practitioners do. I've never seen anyone who knows this stuff that doesn't have a *very* specific regimen to accomplish the body conditioning to do these things. To Chris, saying "it's natural" presupposes that you are talking about the same "it", so the same question. How specifically does one go from the level 1 stuff of relaxation to the storied Ueshiba levels of seemingly effortless expression of power?

I titled the thread the how to thread purely in the hopes of avoiding the does it exist? and is it important? questions, in other words in the hope that the conversation would focus on matters of substance. As you say there is no way to do these things without an instructor present to give you feedback and help. Talking about it can be at best interesting, I think.

Recommending teachers? Can't help you much outside of the UK. There are quite a few ki aikido teachers in the UK, there's actually a lot of ki aikido here but it's all fractured and not under one roof as it were. The first was Ken Williams head of the Ki Federation (of which Mark is a member I think), Ken Williams is the longest serving aikido teacher in the UK. There are various smaller independent ki aikido places too. There are few mainline Ki Society dojo left in the UK as the vast majority left with Yoshigasaki a few years ago, there is also aikido yuishinkai headed by Maruyama Sensei who was formerly the President of the Ki Soc, as of 2004 our dojo became a part of aikido yuishinkai.

It's worth mentioning that I don't have a great deal of knowledge of other ki teachers than my own teacher, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend any of them, but I would say that they are probably good places to at least start looking.

Specific exercises. There are no specific ones, they change all the time depending on circumstance. Tohei style ki development is a theory really. Like all good theories it makes predictions and is testable (ki tests). If you understand the theory (and have enough skill) then you can easily develop your own exercises to train particualr deficiencies in your self and your students IMHO. I'll give you an example of one way I try to get students to feel weight underside if you like.

One of the problems of learning weight underside is that ever since you could walk you have been moving your own body weight around so developing an awareness of how weight is transferred and shifted around within your own body is difficult as it has been quite natural to move yourself for the vast majority of your life. Once you know that this is the problem then there should be a variety of creative ways you can think of for adding weight to people's movements so they can feel it. You could simply ask them to wear a heavy backpack and practice tenkan or irimi movements. If they did so they would learn to adjust what they did to make such movements more efficient, when you do that while wear ing a heavy hiking backpack you would feel that your 'one-point' has been pulled backwards to behind your hips and lower back.

More difficult than that is to learn to feel weight underside in your hands whilst performing say kotegaeshi for example. You will not be able to feel weight underside in your hands unless and until they are 'connected' to your centre or middle or hips or whichever body part you think is the most important. It took me years to learn to feel weight underside in my hands because it's all about connection to your centre (no surprise there seeing as your one-point is also your centre of gravity). The way I find easiest to teach connection and weight underside in the hands is to start with unbendable arm. For beginners, they tend to get the elbow to not move really quickly but the arm is isolated from the rest of the body so if you apply a lot of force when testing the arm often wobbles about all over the place, quickest way to fix this is to ask them to imagine that I'm not trying to bend their arm but to lift their wrist and that their wrist is attached by a pole to their foot. If their foot doesn't move their wrist shouldn't lift. Next step is to make sure that their shoulder blade isn't poking out behind them, if it is then they are over extending with their arm muscles. I could go on into serious detail but it'd take ages.

I think, like I said that you might be confusing teaching approaches for the actual substance of the skill. Tohei ki development is a theory of mind and body unification. It has various tests to help you gain feedback and determine that you are on the correct path. There is no real specific collection of exercises that are standard like you might get elsewhere, not because there are no exercises, but because you tend to make them up to fit the situation you're in and based on what the student needs most. At least, that's how I think of it. If you still want more spcific exercises then I could probably think of many, only they wouldn't necessarily be of any help to you. You might even say "yeah, I already do that". I certainly can't sit here and say put your feet shoulder width apart, move arm like this, head like this breath in when you do this bit etc. But while I'm sitting here I'm trying to apply my knowledge of ki development to what I'm doing. In this case, I'm sitting in front of a computer typing. What happens when people sit at their desk and type in my experience (if you're in an office look around you and check, others may be doing it) is that people slouch, then their chin comes forwards increasing the pressure on the neck. This can lead to neck problems apparently (I'm not medic so don't quote me), what's happening is that the angle your neck is sitting at puts a lot of pressure on the top of your neck at the base of your skull. If someone were to hit you in the head while you were sat like this it would be bad, really bad I imagine. If you instead imagine that you are pushing up from the back of your skull and roll your shoulders back so that your shoudler blades aren't sticking out (incidentally I should mention at this point that my girlfriend had neck trouble and the physio told her to do this, I helped her out by talking to her about ki development, the physio seemed to be impressed at her rate of progress). This psoture straightens your spine and straight away you find yourself 'sitting from one-point'. Once you've learned to do this part and you've also learned how to redirect force through your body and into your one-point (which from here goes to the ground) then people can push on you while you sit in a chair that has wheels on and you won't move.

You may notice that a lot of what I just said, and a lot of what my girlfriends physio told her sound similar to some of the things that Rob has written, which is one of my reasons for thinking that a good deal of the stuff he is doing is similar and has shared skills to what I do. It is not the same by any means but I'd say it's a related skill for certain.

Mike

Ecosamurai
04-11-2007, 08:34 AM
Hi Aran,

I think specifics are necessary, because general statements can be interpreted to mean anything the reader wants. What you're written covers everything from basic "relax and move from the center" to actual high level skill. In the beginning, every track is close to every other, so being on the right track itself isn't that meaningful. It's going a long way down the right track that counts, and that requires specifics. ;)

That makes a lot of sense. Trouble is I've mostly been thinking in theoretical terms and discussing it from that point of view. Hence a lot of people saying they want specific exercises and so on.

Doh, wish I'd replied to this post before writing the other really long one.

Mike

Haowen Chan
04-11-2007, 09:09 AM
Doh, wish I'd replied to this post before writing the other really long one.


Thanks Mike, both those posts were helpful to me.

I found this info on here on aikiweb describing the different ki-test levels. Fun stuff.

http://www.aikiweb.com/spiritual/reed2.html

Ecosamurai
04-11-2007, 09:11 AM
Mike Sigman asked me to describe how O Sensei bounced people who were pushing on his chest. I'll give it a try. Mike please correct my inaccuracies or pick me up if I'm being vague.

First off, let's assume he's standing with one foot in front of the other as this is a more stable stance (doing this with feet side by side is a different issue whilst being also the same if you see what I mean). His partner is pushing squarely on the middle of his chest. Hard.

If he were standing feet together it would be more difficult to redirect the force and maintain balance. Not impossible but more difficult. I say this because I find it easier myself with one foot in front of the other if someone is pushing on my chest, if there's another way and the two shouldn't be any different whatsoever then in all likelihood I've missed something. If you assume he can redirect the force to the ground by first absorbing it into his centre then he'll be pretty much rock solid and no amount of pushing will move him. What's happening here is that his partner is loading force onto the spine which is supported by the hips and centre and the legs, the legs are obviously supported by the floor, the thing that stops him sliding backwards in response to a direct horizontal push (note not up at an angle as that's a slightly different test) is friction on the soles of the feet. I know this because someone in our dojo once mistook a can of furniture polish for whatever it usually was they used to clean the mats and instead polished a large number of PVC mats. Bare feet tended to slide along them until you could adjust the force and use the deformation of the foam under the PVC to check the sliding of you feet. It was a rather fun morning and fwd rolls tended to end up with uke trying to stand up at the end and resembling a snowboarder in the attempt.

Back to the chest bounce.

The harder uke pushes against the chest the easier it is (assuming you can absorb the force and remain in an upright position in the first place). As I said, force is loaded onto the spine. The spine, while being strong is also pliable. So releasing the energy stored in the spine and along ukes arm will move uke backwards (and to an extent the legs although the legs mostly support the back i think, not too sure about that one, I'll have to have a play, but I don't think the legs are anything to do with it because you should be able to do this standing on one leg). The extent to which uke moves backwards depends on their posture and skill in pushing and grounding themselves. An uke who has a coordinated mind and body will propbably be able to absorb the power in the same way the power was absorbed from the initial push uke made. If uke has little to no coordination then they will move, how far depends on them as an individual.

Releasing the power is, I think, a wave that begins at the base of the spine in the one-point or centre. Best way I can explain it is to imagine putting an object like a vase or a plate on the end of a rug. Then lift the other end and whip it downwards to send the wave to the other end of the rug. The plate or vase wil move, possibly break. If you put a heavier item such as an armchair on the end of the rug it would not move when you did this and that is where the analogy breaks down. It breaks down because the rug isn't having force loaded onto it. If it were instead a diving board and you put the armchair on the end furthest from the tower (if we again think of O Sensei and uke pushing his chest his hips and legs are the tower and spine is the diving board) what would happen is someone stamped hard on the end nearest the tower? The force loaded onto the diving board by the weight of the chair would be released and the chair would move. Probably up in the air and then into the pool.

If you watch the end of the 1935 Asahi news film there are a few moments when he kiais into his ukes face and uke jumps backwards. Watch his movement, it starts from his centre and rips up through his back and out of his mouth.

This clip of Akuzawa:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snYlMC6gUoM

The guy is holding his wrists. Watch the force start from his hips and travel up his arms. It's something similar to the bounce demo but not the same. In this case his partner isn't loading the force onto his spine he's doing something similar but sligthly different, it is however the only video I could think of off the top of my head where the movement is clearly shown and fairly easy to see. I suspect Akuzawa starts this movement by creating and releasing tension in his hips and rolling this coordinated movement upwards and out his arms. But that's just a suspicion based only on video evidence.

Is that ok for you Mr Sigman? If not please correct me.

Regards

Mike

Ecosamurai
04-11-2007, 09:21 AM
Thanks Mike, both those posts were helpful to me.

I found this info on here on aikiweb describing the different ki-test levels. Fun stuff.

http://www.aikiweb.com/spiritual/reed2.html

Yeah. What Will Reed said.

This is where being a good writer becomes a really useful skill to have... oh well.

Mike

Kevin Leavitt
04-11-2007, 09:24 AM
Mike, I'd like to see how you'd use those writing skills in the UFC though. How would good writing skills help you in MMA? How else are you going to prove that they are good! :)

Ecosamurai
04-11-2007, 09:29 AM
Mike, I'd like to see how you'd use those writing skills in the UFC though. How would good writing skills help you in MMA? How else are you going to prove that they are good! :)

The pen is mightier than the sword. Do you think I'd be allowed to bring a pen into a UFC fight? Reckon I could probably have the other guys eye out as a minor maiming injury that might secure a vistory. Which is preferable to sticking it into his neck for imparting 'final harmony' to my opponent. It's nice to be considerate of the other guy after all. :D

Mike

Kevin Leavitt
04-11-2007, 09:33 AM
LOL...quick thinking! A good sense of humor is important!

Pete Rihaczek
04-11-2007, 02:39 PM
[snip physio discussion] You may notice that a lot of what I just said, and a lot of what my girlfriends physio told her sound similar to some of the things that Rob has written, which is one of my reasons for thinking that a good deal of the stuff he is doing is similar and has shared skills to what I do. It is not the same by any means but I'd say it's a related skill for certain.

Mike

I was just reading a presentation on physical therapy the other day, and it's amazing how interrelated everything in the body is. Any injury can cause muscle imbalance, and any muscle imbalance can cause injury. An example given was weakness in the cervical spine (ie neck muscles) can lead runners to adopt a posture with their chin poked forward in order to keep their eyes level, which then results in an anterior pelvic tilt as compensation, which can lead to hamstring injury! Much of the discussion was focussed on the idea that weakness in the core (29 different muscles attached to the spine) causes compensation, for example weak abdominal support forces the hip flexors to work as stabilizers, yadda yadda. The upshot is, if your core sucks, your extremities will be prevented from exerting a lot of power, in addition to all the potential for imbalance and problems.

That a strong core is an element/byproduct of this sort of training is obvious. It is different than Western concepts of core training, but even in Western sport science such training is ultimately very specific to a given sport. The whole purpose of Akuzawa's Aunkai is to create a "martial body", which has several points. For one thing every high level person has something similar that they do, whether they openly detail it or not. This sort of training is an integrated mix of skill and actual body conditioning. That's why you'll see Rob, Dan, etc. refer to it as "body skill" or something similar. If it's not hard, you're not getting much conditioning. I've never seen a method that has anything to do with typical Western conditioning. Having just read Stuart McGill's excellent Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance (www.backfitpro.com), he also makes the point that a bodybuilding mentality has polluted even most athletic training. The things most people do in the gym not only don't further athletic performance, they may hinder it, and often risk injury (particularly most everything people do for abdominal and back training). He further makes the point that the value of bodyweight exercise has been known for centuries, and that real core strength has little to do with absolute muscle strength. Motor groove of activity-specific motion and endurance of the core comes first, before building power. In other words, exactly the sort of exercises that Akuzawa does, and the old martial traditions did, that typically have no modern counterpart. Lifting heavy weights, even if done in more functional movements (Olympic lifting, powerlifting) than the typical bodybuilding exercises does not develop the same capacity. Just like powerlifting will impede your endurance and vice versa, such training will directly interfere with the "martial body" trainings of the Ueshibas and others, whatever they are. The ultimate point is that just doing skillwork in terms of relaxing during movement, even though it will always be important at any level, and doing technique work will never produce conditioning effects that lead to this sort of power. The skill and the conditioning are intertwined, but while the conditioning is specific to the skill it still must be deliberately trained, it will not come for free. And it's definitely not natural by any definition. What is being done in the body is not usually visible to the eye, any more than I can tell by looking at you whether your toes are curled inside your shoe, or that Rob is keeping various contradictory tensions while moving. That isn't natural by caveman standards, it's not how children move, nor is it anything you would get from just doing technique. Somebody has to tell you what they are doing inside their body when they move, and there are always specific exercises to develop those things. Those are the secrets that you're lucky to be told.

The things that you talked about earlier that took some years to start getting the hang of, Mike typically covers in a single workshop. And it is years' worth of material because you won't just go aha! and be able to do it all, but knowing up front what you're shooting for and how to go about getting there starts you on the path of being able to see and better grasp what high level people are really doing. Then when you go and see someone like a Chen Xiao Wang you see how high the bar really is, it's obvious that practicing technique and trying to remember to relax will never get you anywhere near there. People go on with stories of Ueshiba, but of course he's passed on. Meanwhile someone like Chen Xiao Wang is a living breathing person who can do these things, tours around the world, and even speaks some English. His nephew Chen Bing is currently touring the states. It is easy to recommend such people as a standard to see and feel, and then you'll understand the interest in digging for information on how to get past basic ideas to real functional ability. Unfortunately like most top people he won't tell you in plain English what exactly he's doing, but that's what all the discussion is for. The more input from people like Dan, Rob, Mike, Akuzawa, and people who go out to train with various "real goods" players. the more can be pieced together in terms of how things are really done and how to train for it. Unless you continue to go and meet people who are recommended as a "go check this guy out, he's got some real goods" you will never know how far down the path you are, and end up convincing yourself that you know it all already. I can promise you there's way more to it than you think, and none of it obvious.

Or maybe I'm wrong and you do know it all, in which case all us poor schlubs, who are scratching our heads trying to work these things out because we've encountered physically unremarkable people who somehow possess the power of hydraulic equipment, are all ears. The floor is yours. ;)

Gernot Hassenpflug
04-11-2007, 07:16 PM
Hi Pete, very interesting post, thanks for putting things so plainly. "Hydraulic equipment" eh? Nice one! For my own, small, part, I had a look at at a career path review I had done some 10 years ago, and it said "in his late 30s, he ... start to see the intereconnectedness of all things". I guess that helps :-) I fully agree. I'd like to add one perspective: I feel that this training is absolute in nature, rather than relative about beating one person and losing against another. Of course, it's still relative to your own body, but the limitations of that are constantly pushed back. So, as Dan has said so often, the training is one thing, fighting is another. Or: Application is another. Since these ways of moving/coordinating are the root of all body motions from then onwards, they apply to everything.

For me, when telling people about this kind of stuff, I tell them to do only one thing: open out from the back, all the time, to the little toes and little fingers, so that they are standing on their heels really, and working the spinal muscles. It's a first step, and pretty hard to do when in practice the feet and hands have to be facing more to the front than out to the sides of the body, but I think that that the mind set change that results and solidifies once a certain amount of conviction is achieved, is most important, so that people can look and see at what another is doing and start to guess what is going on. I hope that more people in my immediate aikido circle will then be interested enough to seek out Akuzawa and others like him.

Of course, the tons of work, and instruction in steps 2 to N in terms of mechanisms, are needed to produce CXWs of this world, but the more people get started, the easier it will be in future to find willing teachers, and willing peers to train with. It's no fun to train in a dojo where nobody does this stuff but they call it aikido and go through all the moves. I've been having fun by teaching as many of the young ladies how to do this, since they seem to be more open to it (only if they ask, mind you) whereas I've only had maybe 1/10th as many guys asking for any details. Most simply don't ask, just work with me for the few minutes, and hurriedly move on. For a while I suspected body odour.

Haowen Chan
04-11-2007, 08:07 PM
Very insightful Pete. Finally a clear answer to "what is serious work" ;) This is great info!

Perhaps the relative emphases on bodily conditioning is the difference between the "hard" internal cultivation style and the "soft" internal cultivation style that Mike Sigman was talking about.

Is it something like:

Hard internal cultivation (bigger emphasis on body conditioning, internal muscles/fascia in spine, etc): Xingyi, Bagua, Aunkai
Soft internal cultivation (bigger emphasis on coordination, sensitivity, mental intent): Taiji, Ki-soc

I'm totally talking out of my ass here so apologies in advance and please tell us more!

Pete Rihaczek
04-11-2007, 09:18 PM
Very insightful Pete. Finally a clear answer to "what is serious work" ;) This is great info!

Perhaps the relative emphases on bodily conditioning is the difference between the "hard" internal cultivation style and the "soft" internal cultivation style that Mike Sigman was talking about.

Is it something like:

Hard internal cultivation (bigger emphasis on body conditioning, internal muscles/fascia in spine, etc): Xingyi, Bagua, Aunkai
Soft internal cultivation (bigger emphasis on coordination, sensitivity, mental intent): Taiji, Ki-soc

I'm totally talking out of my ass here so apologies in advance and please tell us more!

Hi Howard,

I can't speak for Mike, but I think there are a number of approaches to this. I don't know if "hard" vs "soft" is sufficiently granular to describe it. Akuzawa's approach seems to involve some conscious tension, but not what I would call "hard", whereas Chen style taiji doesn't, but that wasn't entirely where I was going. Xingyi, Bagua, etc people are going to have different approaches. I don't know if it was a Chen family member who had his sons practice their forms underneath a table, but that doesn't sound "soft" or "relaxed" to me. ;) No matter how you slice it it's conditioning and it's hard work, and I don't see how you can be any sort of martial athlete and somehow have power without appropriate conditioning. Doing ikkyo and nikkyo endlessly won't do it. It's not fast-twitch muscle conditioning like with weightlifting, it's stuff like being able to move around in a low stance for an hour. You need endurance like that to be able to "relax" and work the skills. The word "relax" is in quotes for a reason. That's a mental visualization, but obviously the body is working. If you think the Chen work is any less strenuous than Akuzawa's stuff, take a look at some of the positions they hold and move around in. Standing practice or similar is invariably part of the foundation, and like everything else the details of what's being done during standing is a big deal, and skill, intention, and conditioning are being worked together. If you just copy a guy doing a standing pose you have no idea what it's for or what good it is. Ueshiba had his exercises, and how they are really worked may be very different than how it looks on the outside. Copying "external" movement is easy (and then you wonder what the heck it's supposed to be good for), what's really being done on the inside has to be explained.

In a way it's analogous to doing forms without knowing anything of the intended application. It's pointless. But in a well-preserved system the form contains the deep knowledge of the system. I recall my early Okinawan karate days, we were told to guess what the point of any particular form movement was, nobody explained it, least of all the depth of something like Sanchin. The instructors had no clue. They were Americans who learned from another American who learned it on Okinawa but probably wasn't shown the real stuff and real intention. On the other hand, when I learned silat from Pendekar Paul DeThouars, the meaning of every tiny movement of a juru was explained. The knowledge of the system is contained in those things, and unless it's explained to you it's mostly empty. In internal systems the bodywork is at least as important if not more so than the application, and there is even less hope of figuring it out from the outer movement. Actually no hope. I can visually copy the shiko exercise from Akuzawa, but without knowledge of the internal contradictory tensions and what I'm trying to achieve, I'm just getting some exercise. Etc. You have to feel the results, then work to understand how the exercises are done correctly, and how and why they produce the results.

eyrie
04-11-2007, 11:28 PM
And if all else fails... just do more ukemi... ;)

Ecosamurai
04-12-2007, 03:42 AM
The things that you talked about earlier that took some years to start getting the hang of, Mike typically covers in a single workshop.

Snip

Or maybe I'm wrong and you do know it all, in which case all us poor schlubs, who are scratching our heads trying to work these things out because we've encountered physically unremarkable people who somehow possess the power of hydraulic equipment, are all ears. The floor is yours. ;)

Which is why I'm interested in this stuff. As I've said before, I want to know if there's a quicker way to learn and teach this stuff, otherwise I wouldn't be reading these discussions. I'm generally pretty slow in learning this stuff, others aren't but that's my fault not my teachers really. I'm not sure its the method that's to blame either but that's a matter for debate and, like I said, why I'm interested in these things.
For the record in a single 6hr workshop I too could get people to do the things it took me years to learn, but like Mike often says, when they leave it would start slipping away, it took me years, because I needed years to absorb the skill properly and to be consistently able to do these things and have them trained into my body and mind. The two aren't the same thing and I think you know that.

As to body conditioning exercises, think you may have missed my point, life in general is one. Anytime I do a hard physically demanding task or anything else for that matter I try to 'do it with ki'. Just like Rob and others have said you have to train hard to learn these things, even if you're just opening a jar in the kitchen you have to try to do it in the right way.

I most certainly don't 'know it all' nor have I ever claimed to. If you want to re-read what I've said, you'll see that right at the start I said that I can't do the things that Dan Harden says (and people who have trained with him say) he can do. I probably can't do the things Mike can do either. I can do some of these things consistently and probably most of them but much less consistently. But I know what my skill level is, I know where it's going and I know what I'm trying to achieve. I also understand the subject matter enough to be able to discuss it in a reasonable way, and seeing as these are discussion forums not a dojo it seems fair to discuss them. As you yourself have pointed out talking about it is one thing, doing it is another.

This whole debate seems a bit like this. People say these skills are absent from aikido. This is not true, though they may be absent from a lot of aikido maybe even most of it for all I know, but they definitely aren't absent from it totally. People start talking about Chinese internal arts and their skills and saying that these are the skills missing from aikido. How do they know? They are certainly similar skills but are they the same? I don't think they are. For example, I'm not sure fajing is necessarily a part of aikido's internal repertoire, it certainly doesn't appear to be hugely prevalent in film of O Sensei and others. The discussion is interesting and productive but I don't think you necessarily have to go to see Dan Harden or Mike Sigman or anyone else to learn these things, I think they are more common than many people give credit. Maybe that's just me being optimistic, dunno.

Mike

Ecosamurai
04-12-2007, 03:49 AM
Very insightful Pete. Finally a clear answer to "what is serious work" ;) This is great info!

Perhaps the relative emphases on bodily conditioning is the difference between the "hard" internal cultivation style and the "soft" internal cultivation style that Mike Sigman was talking about.

Is it something like:

Hard internal cultivation (bigger emphasis on body conditioning, internal muscles/fascia in spine, etc): Xingyi, Bagua, Aunkai
Soft internal cultivation (bigger emphasis on coordination, sensitivity, mental intent): Taiji, Ki-soc

I'm totally talking out of my ass here so apologies in advance and please tell us more!

Like Pete said. I don't think hard vs soft is what it's all about, they overlap a great deal. You can train very hard in ways that some people would call 'external' whilst training internal or soft skills. All our yudansha practice is like this, i.e. really physically hard work with a resisting partner (constructive resistance that is), but the point of this training isn't to build bigger muscles or increase strength, it's to train you to use internal power or ki.

Mike

Beard of Chuck Norris
04-12-2007, 05:43 AM
^SNIP^
5 years after that I can have a 260lb guy push me full force in the middle of my chest and stop him from moving me, and I do mean full force and without deference to me because I'm his instructor (you could say I'm taking ukemi for him if you like).
Regards

Mike

260lb makes me sound like a wrestler! But you forgot to mention dashingly handsome! :D

Peace and love budodudes

Jo

Ecosamurai
04-12-2007, 06:33 AM
260lb makes me sound like a wrestler! But you forgot to mention dashingly handsome! :D

Peace and love budodudes

Jo

You mean you're not a wrestler?! But how can I seriously test my internal skills unless you fight me whilst wearing trunks and a mask??

I can see it now. Ring announcer says "in the blue corner, inventor of the bastard scale of resistance, weighing in at 260lbs + breakfast, the... Beard... of ..... Chuck..... Norrrrrrrriiiiiiiiissssssssss!!!!!" DING DING!

Mike

Beard of Chuck Norris
04-12-2007, 08:15 AM
Right then it's settled; suplexes are now on the syllabus!

I'll leave you sensible chaps to your discussion.

peace and love, rice and peas

Jo

PS I also invented kiwi fruit and the condition globus hystericus

Mike Sigman
04-12-2007, 11:18 AM
Is that ok for you Mr Sigman? If not please correct me.Sorry for the delay. Y'know, I've thought about it and every response I can think of, I realize it's already been said one way or another in a number of posts in the past. I.e., we're just going over the same ground, over and over again. If constant repetition actually forwarded physical progress for some people, I'd be willing to give it another try, but I'm having one of those spells (based on some recent personal meetings with people) where I don't think it accomplishes all that much. There are only so many ways you can say things... ultimately a person has got to be really interested and motivated enough to go look for it, I think.

Best.

Mike Sigman

Pete Rihaczek
04-12-2007, 01:35 PM
This whole debate seems a bit like this. People say these skills are absent from aikido. This is not true, though they may be absent from a lot of aikido maybe even most of it for all I know, but they definitely aren't absent from it totally. People start talking about Chinese internal arts and their skills and saying that these are the skills missing from aikido. How do they know? They are certainly similar skills but are they the same? I don't think they are. For example, I'm not sure fajing is necessarily a part of aikido's internal repertoire, it certainly doesn't appear to be hugely prevalent in film of O Sensei and others. The discussion is interesting and productive but I don't think you necessarily have to go to see Dan Harden or Mike Sigman or anyone else to learn these things, I think they are more common than many people give credit. Maybe that's just me being optimistic, dunno.

Mike

Yes, I think you're being very optimistic. ;) If it were prevalent in Aikido these discussions wouldn't exist. There may be slightly different approaches to getting higher levels of this skill, but I think it's pretty obviously one skill that Asian arts hold in highest regard as being the physical manifestation of Ki. I don't see any reasonable way to interpret the stories of Ueshiba's seemingly effortless power as a different skill. Ellis Amdur has posted video of Ueshiba doing fajin. More than one video isn't really necessary, is it? He could do it, or not. Secrecy is the norm, and when it comes to large organizations like Aikikai or Kodokan dedicated to worldwide spread of an art, the idea of sharing this sort of stuff and openly teaching it has an enormous host of problems, not least of which is that many people high in an organization don't necessarily know anything about it, even if they did it's difficult and might slow the adoption of an art (how many people with jobs and families, particularly in the West, will work on standing practice and other seemingly pointless exercises in lieu of something that seems more immediate?), etc. All these issues have been touched on before.

Again I recall my Okinawan karate days, doing Sanchin while being pushed from various angles, being hit with bamboo, and I thought it was silly. How was I supposed to keep from being pushed? What was the point of being hit? My teachers didn't know, but they were copying the procedure. Had I stayed with it and earned a high rank, how would I react to the idea that I didn't really understand anything about the nature of Sanchin kata? I would hope I would react with an open mind, but the more people have invested in an art the more resistant they are to such an idea. Objectively, it would be the height of arrogance for me to proclaim that there could be anything to Sanchin that I didn't know about, just because I had invested many years in practice. Meanwhile the reality is if I performed Sanchin for some gnarled old Okinawan geezer who happened to know some of the real deal, he could see in two seconds that I have absolutely nothing of the real art, whether I can fight or not. What if he were honest and told me I have nothing? How you handle that prospect I think is a real test of martial character and ego.

The reason that Chinese internal artists are being discussed is simply because the people doing the discussing have actually met them and know that they have real skills. I don't know who in Aikido does. Again it's probably easier to pinpoint in various Chinese lineages because they are small and the knowledge is passed from family member to family member for generations and to select favored students, but as soon as you get a large organization together you get the same scenario. As a percentage, the number of people who are highly skilled in this area vs. the number who do taiji worldwide is tiny, just like in Aikido. It takes more of a Western mentality to try to codify this stuff, analyze it, strip it of decorative ki-based explanations and try to figure out how it's really done so that people with a life can get a handle on it. The only Asian guy I know of who tries to do that at all is Akuzawa. I'm sure there are others, but openly teaching this stuff is not the norm by far. You say this stuff is more widely known in Aikido, but when I asked you to name names of people you would recommend as examples of having a high level of the real goods, you couldn't vouch for anybody. That's a contradiction. How do you expect to advance in this area if you don't know who to see to get more how-to information?

Does it really matter that one guy who knows this stuff may be in Aikido, another from Xingyi, etc? What if we take the position that Ueshiba didn't know as much as Chen Xiao Wang does. If it were possible for them to have met, would Ueshiba have rejected the knowledge on how to manifest ki even more? Pretty unlikely, IMO. Ueshiba clearly traveled far and wide to learn what he did, and obviously Takeda was a rather big influence. If a Daito-Ryu master were to offer to show you shortcuts to get closer to Ueshiba's ostensible level, would you reject it on the basis of it not being Aikido (as if you're in a position to judge)? The whole argument is silly from every angle. The worst outcome I suppose is if you were to actually surpass Ueshiba's level of internal skill. Darn. ;) Then you could debate yourself into a coma about whether you should call it Aikido. It's up to you, but I don't intend to reject any pearls cast before me, regardless of their source.

For example, here's a 94 year old Bagua practitioner apparently discussing such things with family members:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZdtM5p6ZkA

Yes, he is going to be in UFC 75 "Geezer Throwdown", in the open weight class wheelchair division. Sorry, had to throw one out for the 12 year olds in the audience. ;) In the last bit in particular he seems to be explaining how he receives force and uses the ground to return it. To the uneducated eye it may look like nonsense and they'll move on. But he is showing how he can take balance as soon as he is grabbed, and there is virtually no visible outward movement. That's not a necessary condition, but it makes the point. I can't do that, though I know of people who can. Unless you feel yourself what he's doing, you're not sure why anybody would lose his balance from grabbing him when you don't see him do anything. It's all the same general skill. Could Ueshiba take someone's balance as soon as they touched him? I think so, if you believe the stories. And why not, since there are people you can go see, like CXW, who can easily show you this in person. Are there 57 totally different ways to do this? Very doubtful, it's one general skillset, the level is just a matter of the degree of skill and body integration.

In general I hesitate to post videos of any sort, because like with words people will see what they want to see, and the most likely response will be either be "it's crap", or "I can do that, just not as well", which misses the point and whitewashes the difference in skill levels that exist, as if anyone with a golf club is Tiger Woods. If I were fortunate enough to witness such a demo it would show me immediately that he has knowledge I'm looking for, regardless of how good he is or was compared to others. If I could be introduced and ask him to show me some things, because I know that I'm looking to understand how certain things are achieved, even if he's a somewhat secretive guy I may end up learning things despite his secretiveness. Or he may see that I comprehend the value of what he's doing and show more. Meanwhile I'm looking for important details, comparing how he does things to other people, etc. You have to keep experiencing the spectrum of skills to start piecing together how the higher skill levels are achieved. If people don't care, or don't want to look around, or think they will get much just by doing more of what they already do it just won't happen. And importantly, the only reason people like Mike, Dan, Rob, and others care to even do this is that they *have* experienced people whose skills are way beyond what you think can be done. Since you can't rattle off a list of names at that level to recommend, it's clear you have not experienced a truly high level of it or there would be no hesitation. There's a reason why those on the "there's more to it than you think" side make such a fuss about it. If you experience what someone like a CXW can do, you would know what the fuss is about, and like many others, you would report back to the forum that there's a whole lot more to it than you ever imagined. And then all the other people who hadn't had that experience would be debating with you, saying that everything you say sounds just like what they already do or their teacher does, and you'd see there's no way to explain it to them. And you'd fall back on the same thing everyone else does: you have to go check it out. :)

Which brings me back to my first post in this thread, the inevitability of "you have to go look". If I had CXW's knowledge I could easily rattle of page after page of specific how-to's, but even though you started a how-to thread, I haven't seen those pages from you. ;) I know, I know, you don't claim a high level and I certainly don't, but for one thing my musings on the little I know, right or wrong, I could explain in great detail. As the great physicist Richard Feynman said, if we can't explain something so that even a layman understands it, it means we don't know it. The other thing is that I can name names of at least some people who have real ability in case you want to verify if we're talking about the same things. One thing that becomes more and more obvious as you learn more about it is how complicated it is, and how difficult to get the details and get them right. Anyone who expresses the notion that this stuff is *more* common than thought immediately shows he hasn't seen anything all that great. Even if we say for argument's sake that a low level of things is more common in Aikido than thought, how does that meaningfully help one get to a high level? It doesn't. Only dealing with high level people has any chance of getting you to a high level. All I can say is that this is a much bigger puzzle than you're giving it credit for, though whether you believe that is of course up to you.

With that I'm going to leave well enough alone, I simply don't have time to keep up on daily discussions. Good luck in your training, and if all you want is already available to you, more power to you, you're a lucky man. Otherwise, you have to get out and meet people; all the discussion in the world is unfortunately pretty futile as a substitute.

Ecosamurai
04-12-2007, 03:45 PM
Sorry for the delay. Y'know, I've thought about it and every response I can think of, I realize it's already been said one way or another in a number of posts in the past. I.e., we're just going over the same ground, over and over again. If constant repetition actually forwarded physical progress for some people, I'd be willing to give it another try, but I'm having one of those spells (based on some recent personal meetings with people) where I don't think it accomplishes all that much. There are only so many ways you can say things... ultimately a person has got to be really interested and motivated enough to go look for it, I think.

Best.

Mike Sigman

That's fair enough Mike. The thread will still be here if you change your mind. Believe it or not I do actually value your input, even though I may be a pain in the backside from time to time (sorry about that. What can I say, I'm a work in progress...)

I suspect I know a fair amount of what you might say in any case as, like you said, it's been covered a fair bit. I'm pretty sure my description was still pretty vague but I'm not sure if that's due to lack of ability to explain clearly or lack of ability itself.... either way I doubt it can be resolved on an internet discussion forum.

Regards

Mike

MM
04-12-2007, 07:13 PM
Yes, I think you're being very optimistic. ;) If it were prevalent in Aikido these discussions wouldn't exist. There may be slightly different approaches to getting higher levels of this skill, but I think it's pretty obviously one skill that Asian arts hold in highest regard as being the physical manifestation of Ki. I don't see any reasonable way to interpret the stories of Ueshiba's seemingly effortless power as a different skill. Ellis Amdur has posted video of Ueshiba doing fajin. More than one video isn't really necessary, is it? He could do it, or not. Secrecy is the norm, and when it comes to large organizations like Aikikai or Kodokan dedicated to worldwide spread of an art, the idea of sharing this sort of stuff and openly teaching it has an enormous host of problems, not least of which is that many people high in an organization don't necessarily know anything about it, even if they did it's difficult and might slow the adoption of an art (how many people with jobs and families, particularly in the West, will work on standing practice and other seemingly pointless exercises in lieu of something that seems more immediate?), etc. All these issues have been touched on before.

Again I recall my Okinawan karate days, doing Sanchin while being pushed from various angles, being hit with bamboo, and I thought it was silly. How was I supposed to keep from being pushed? What was the point of being hit? My teachers didn't know, but they were copying the procedure. Had I stayed with it and earned a high rank, how would I react to the idea that I didn't really understand anything about the nature of Sanchin kata? I would hope I would react with an open mind, but the more people have invested in an art the more resistant they are to such an idea. Objectively, it would be the height of arrogance for me to proclaim that there could be anything to Sanchin that I didn't know about, just because I had invested many years in practice. Meanwhile the reality is if I performed Sanchin for some gnarled old Okinawan geezer who happened to know some of the real deal, he could see in two seconds that I have absolutely nothing of the real art, whether I can fight or not. What if he were honest and told me I have nothing? How you handle that prospect I think is a real test of martial character and ego.

The reason that Chinese internal artists are being discussed is simply because the people doing the discussing have actually met them and know that they have real skills. I don't know who in Aikido does. Again it's probably easier to pinpoint in various Chinese lineages because they are small and the knowledge is passed from family member to family member for generations and to select favored students, but as soon as you get a large organization together you get the same scenario. As a percentage, the number of people who are highly skilled in this area vs. the number who do taiji worldwide is tiny, just like in Aikido. It takes more of a Western mentality to try to codify this stuff, analyze it, strip it of decorative ki-based explanations and try to figure out how it's really done so that people with a life can get a handle on it. The only Asian guy I know of who tries to do that at all is Akuzawa. I'm sure there are others, but openly teaching this stuff is not the norm by far. You say this stuff is more widely known in Aikido, but when I asked you to name names of people you would recommend as examples of having a high level of the real goods, you couldn't vouch for anybody. That's a contradiction. How do you expect to advance in this area if you don't know who to see to get more how-to information?

Does it really matter that one guy who knows this stuff may be in Aikido, another from Xingyi, etc? What if we take the position that Ueshiba didn't know as much as Chen Xiao Wang does. If it were possible for them to have met, would Ueshiba have rejected the knowledge on how to manifest ki even more? Pretty unlikely, IMO. Ueshiba clearly traveled far and wide to learn what he did, and obviously Takeda was a rather big influence. If a Daito-Ryu master were to offer to show you shortcuts to get closer to Ueshiba's ostensible level, would you reject it on the basis of it not being Aikido (as if you're in a position to judge)? The whole argument is silly from every angle. The worst outcome I suppose is if you were to actually surpass Ueshiba's level of internal skill. Darn. ;) Then you could debate yourself into a coma about whether you should call it Aikido. It's up to you, but I don't intend to reject any pearls cast before me, regardless of their source.

For example, here's a 94 year old Bagua practitioner apparently discussing such things with family members:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZdtM5p6ZkA

Yes, he is going to be in UFC 75 "Geezer Throwdown", in the open weight class wheelchair division. Sorry, had to throw one out for the 12 year olds in the audience. ;) In the last bit in particular he seems to be explaining how he receives force and uses the ground to return it. To the uneducated eye it may look like nonsense and they'll move on. But he is showing how he can take balance as soon as he is grabbed, and there is virtually no visible outward movement. That's not a necessary condition, but it makes the point. I can't do that, though I know of people who can. Unless you feel yourself what he's doing, you're not sure why anybody would lose his balance from grabbing him when you don't see him do anything. It's all the same general skill. Could Ueshiba take someone's balance as soon as they touched him? I think so, if you believe the stories. And why not, since there are people you can go see, like CXW, who can easily show you this in person. Are there 57 totally different ways to do this? Very doubtful, it's one general skillset, the level is just a matter of the degree of skill and body integration.

In general I hesitate to post videos of any sort, because like with words people will see what they want to see, and the most likely response will be either be "it's crap", or "I can do that, just not as well", which misses the point and whitewashes the difference in skill levels that exist, as if anyone with a golf club is Tiger Woods. If I were fortunate enough to witness such a demo it would show me immediately that he has knowledge I'm looking for, regardless of how good he is or was compared to others. If I could be introduced and ask him to show me some things, because I know that I'm looking to understand how certain things are achieved, even if he's a somewhat secretive guy I may end up learning things despite his secretiveness. Or he may see that I comprehend the value of what he's doing and show more. Meanwhile I'm looking for important details, comparing how he does things to other people, etc. You have to keep experiencing the spectrum of skills to start piecing together how the higher skill levels are achieved. If people don't care, or don't want to look around, or think they will get much just by doing more of what they already do it just won't happen. And importantly, the only reason people like Mike, Dan, Rob, and others care to even do this is that they *have* experienced people whose skills are way beyond what you think can be done. Since you can't rattle off a list of names at that level to recommend, it's clear you have not experienced a truly high level of it or there would be no hesitation. There's a reason why those on the "there's more to it than you think" side make such a fuss about it. If you experience what someone like a CXW can do, you would know what the fuss is about, and like many others, you would report back to the forum that there's a whole lot more to it than you ever imagined. And then all the other people who hadn't had that experience would be debating with you, saying that everything you say sounds just like what they already do or their teacher does, and you'd see there's no way to explain it to them. And you'd fall back on the same thing everyone else does: you have to go check it out. :)

Which brings me back to my first post in this thread, the inevitability of "you have to go look". If I had CXW's knowledge I could easily rattle of page after page of specific how-to's, but even though you started a how-to thread, I haven't seen those pages from you. ;) I know, I know, you don't claim a high level and I certainly don't, but for one thing my musings on the little I know, right or wrong, I could explain in great detail. As the great physicist Richard Feynman said, if we can't explain something so that even a layman understands it, it means we don't know it. The other thing is that I can name names of at least some people who have real ability in case you want to verify if we're talking about the same things. One thing that becomes more and more obvious as you learn more about it is how complicated it is, and how difficult to get the details and get them right. Anyone who expresses the notion that this stuff is *more* common than thought immediately shows he hasn't seen anything all that great. Even if we say for argument's sake that a low level of things is more common in Aikido than thought, how does that meaningfully help one get to a high level? It doesn't. Only dealing with high level people has any chance of getting you to a high level. All I can say is that this is a much bigger puzzle than you're giving it credit for, though whether you believe that is of course up to you.

With that I'm going to leave well enough alone, I simply don't have time to keep up on daily discussions. Good luck in your training, and if all you want is already available to you, more power to you, you're a lucky man. Otherwise, you have to get out and meet people; all the discussion in the world is unfortunately pretty futile as a substitute.

I left the whole post in quotes.

Pete, thanks for that great post! I agree completely. You said what I can't convey in words. It's worth re-reading.

Thanks again,
Mark

Pete Rihaczek
04-12-2007, 08:58 PM
I left the whole post in quotes.

Pete, thanks for that great post! I agree completely. You said what I can't convey in words. It's worth re-reading.

Thanks again,
Mark

Hi Mark,

Thanks, I appreciate the compliment.

I think the existence of things like kokyo-tanden-ho in Aikido is a rather powerful indicator that you are supposed to be able to do exactly what the old Bagua guy is showing: taking the other person's balance without "blending" with some large movement like you're bullfighting, without grabbing and twisting anything on the other guy to control him, without any perceptible effort or movement. End of story. If you can't do that in every technique, if you can't immediately make anyone grabbing a hold of you lose their balance without outwardly seeming to do much of anything, consider the possibility that you don't really understand Aikido no matter what your rank is.

I strongly suspect that bearing witness to much aiki-bullfighting and joint twisting was what prompted Ueshiba to say, "that's not my Aikido." But, people are welcome to believe what they like, and good luck to all.

Pete

Aran Bright
04-13-2007, 02:05 AM
Hi Pete, very interesting post, thanks for putting things so plainly. "Hydraulic equipment" eh? Nice one! For my own, small, part, I had a look at at a career path review I had done some 10 years ago, and it said "in his late 30s, he ... start to see the intereconnectedness of all things". I guess that helps :-) I fully agree. I'd like to add one perspective: I feel that this training is absolute in nature, rather than relative about beating one person and losing against another. Of course, it's still relative to your own body, but the limitations of that are constantly pushed back. So, as Dan has said so often, the training is one thing, fighting is another. Or: Application is another. Since these ways of moving/coordinating are the root of all body motions from then onwards, they apply to everything.

For me, when telling people about this kind of stuff, I tell them to do only one thing: open out from the back, all the time, to the little toes and little fingers, so that they are standing on their heels really, and working the spinal muscles. It's a first step, and pretty hard to do when in practice the feet and hands have to be facing more to the front than out to the sides of the body, but I think that that the mind set change that results and solidifies once a certain amount of conviction is achieved, is most important, so that people can look and see at what another is doing and start to guess what is going on. I hope that more people in my immediate aikido circle will then be interested enough to seek out Akuzawa and others like him.

Of course, the tons of work, and instruction in steps 2 to N in terms of mechanisms, are needed to produce CXWs of this world, but the more people get started, the easier it will be in future to find willing teachers, and willing peers to train with. It's no fun to train in a dojo where nobody does this stuff but they call it aikido and go through all the moves. I've been having fun by teaching as many of the young ladies how to do this, since they seem to be more open to it (only if they ask, mind you) whereas I've only had maybe 1/10th as many guys asking for any details. Most simply don't ask, just work with me for the few minutes, and hurriedly move on. For a while I suspected body odour.

Hey Gernot,

What do you mean by opening out along the spine? Do you mean lengthening along the spine?

Aran

Gernot Hassenpflug
04-13-2007, 04:13 AM
What do you mean by opening out along the spine? Do you mean lengthening along the spine?

Hey hey Aran, I mean the muscles directly next to and over the spine are used to twist outwards from the spine (I'm sitting here wondering how to write it!). Yes, to have an effect, the spine is stretched up and down. (PMed you) Gernot

Beard of Chuck Norris
04-13-2007, 04:13 AM
Ellis Amdur has posted video of Ueshiba doing fajin.

Where can one view this video?

cheers

Jo

Ecosamurai
04-13-2007, 08:26 AM
It's a long post and I was gonna reply yesterday but have only just now found the time. But seeing as you went to the trouble of writing it I'll take the time to reply.

Yes, I think you're being very optimistic. ;) If it were prevalent in Aikido these discussions wouldn't exist.

You said that before in your first response to me ;) Trouble with me is I like to be a glass half full kinda guy.

There may be slightly different approaches to getting higher levels of this skill, but I think it's pretty obviously one skill that Asian arts hold in highest regard as being the physical manifestation of Ki. I don't see any reasonable way to interpret the stories of Ueshiba's seemingly effortless power as a different skill. Ellis Amdur has posted video of Ueshiba doing fajin. More than one video isn't really necessary, is it?

I think it's obviously one skill too, when I see Chen Xiao Wang and others doing stuff I see the same stuff as I see when Tohei or Ueshiba does it. Same stuff but in different settings. As I've said before, pour this skill into a Daito Ryu cup get Daito Ryu, into Aikido get Aikido. But once you know what you're looking for you can see it quite easily, so no, more videos aren't necessary.

He could do it, or not. Secrecy is the norm, and when it comes to large organizations like Aikikai or Kodokan dedicated to worldwide spread of an art, the idea of sharing this sort of stuff and openly teaching it has an enormous host of problems, not least of which is that many people high in an organization don't necessarily know anything about it, even if they did it's difficult and might slow the adoption of an art (how many people with jobs and families, particularly in the West, will work on standing practice and other seemingly pointless exercises in lieu of something that seems more immediate?), etc. All these issues have been touched on before.

Agreed. I think Tohei made the attempt to keep the internal skills as a part of the main stream but he left and pretty much took the tools he was using with him.

Again I recall my Okinawan karate days, doing Sanchin while being pushed from various angles, being hit with bamboo, and I thought it was silly. How was I supposed to keep from being pushed? What was the point of being hit? My teachers didn't know, but they were copying the procedure. Had I stayed with it and earned a high rank, how would I react to the idea that I didn't really understand anything about the nature of Sanchin kata? I would hope I would react with an open mind, but the more people have invested in an art the more resistant they are to such an idea. Objectively, it would be the height of arrogance for me to proclaim that there could be anything to Sanchin that I didn't know about, just because I had invested many years in practice. Meanwhile the reality is if I performed Sanchin for some gnarled old Okinawan geezer who happened to know some of the real deal, he could see in two seconds that I have absolutely nothing of the real art, whether I can fight or not. What if he were honest and told me I have nothing? How you handle that prospect I think is a real test of martial character and ego.

Well I agree with that completely. Now try to look at it from this perspective. You do actually know something of the real art (the extent of which we'll leave aside for now but we'll assume you're not as good at it as the Okinawan) and the gnarled old Okinawan teacher is displeased by the others in your dojo who quite clearly haven't got a clue what he is really doing, and aren't paying attention to what you are really doing. The gnarled old Okinawan teacher can be a little bit condescending and has a tendancy to be quite grouchy. He proceeds to tell the other members of the dojo in no uncertain terms that they just don't get it, that they aren't practicing real Sanchin, eventually his irritation approaches the line where it's not totally indistinguishable from haughtiness and verbal abuse of the other students. He isn't telling you personally off, but these other guys are your friends and you've learned a lot from them, even if they aren't doing Sanchin in the same way you are. You've sweated together, bled together and trained together for years. The Okinawan teacher stops being someone you want to listen to and you find yourself wanting to defend your friends, even if it means that you might not get the opportunity to learn to do Sanchin the way he does it.

Amongst other things, Koichi Tohei said:

"Even a one-inch worm has a half-inch spirit. Every man respects his own ego. Do not, therefore, slight anyone, nor hurt his self-respect. Treat a man with respect, and he will respect you. Make light of him, and he will make light of you. Respect his personality and listen to his views, and he will gladly follow you"

One of my favourite quotes from Tohei, I think.

The reason that Chinese internal artists are being discussed is simply because the people doing the discussing have actually met them and know that they have real skills. I don't know who in Aikido does. Again it's probably easier to pinpoint in various Chinese lineages because they are small and the knowledge is passed from family member to family member for generations and to select favored students, but as soon as you get a large organization together you get the same scenario. As a percentage, the number of people who are highly skilled in this area vs. the number who do taiji worldwide is tiny, just like in Aikido. It takes more of a Western mentality to try to codify this stuff, analyze it, strip it of decorative ki-based explanations and try to figure out how it's really done so that people with a life can get a handle on it. The only Asian guy I know of who tries to do that at all is Akuzawa. I'm sure there are others, but openly teaching this stuff is not the norm by far. You say this stuff is more widely known in Aikido, but when I asked you to name names of people you would recommend as examples of having a high level of the real goods, you couldn't vouch for anybody. That's a contradiction. How do you expect to advance in this area if you don't know who to see to get more how-to information?

The reason I stopped short of actually recommending anyone was because I simply didn't think it would be appropriate to throw out names of people I haven't personally trained with, or if I jhave trained with them I was never their uke so wouldn't have 'felt' what they were doing. The only one I could personally vouch for would be my own teacher. I've only seen his level of ability in one other guy and that was when I was dragged along by a friend to some CMA workshop in London. I wasn't particularly interested in going because, well I just wasn't. When I got there the rather diminutive old Chinese guy asked me to push on his chest, I felt what he was like, just as others around here have felt what Mike is like or Dan is like etc. Big deal I said to myself, my aikido teacher can do that. Turns out I was wrong at it was actually a big deal after all. I was rather naive at the time. I don't even remember the guys name sadly, it was about 6 or 7 years ago. Apparently he was some rather well respect Chinese master who had come over from Hong Kong if I'm not mistaken, though I may very well be.

Also, I'm not sure about getting rid of the "decorative ki-based explanations", once you've got a grip on the basics they can actually be hugely informative. I would agree that they're not necessarily too great for total beginners though. 'ok now just extend ki. Wadddaya mean how? You just do ok....'

Does it really matter that one guy who knows this stuff may be in Aikido, another from Xingyi, etc?

Not in the slightest bit. I've never thought it should anyway.

What if we take the position that Ueshiba didn't know as much as Chen Xiao Wang does. If it were possible for them to have met, would Ueshiba have rejected the knowledge on how to manifest ki even more? Pretty unlikely, IMO. Ueshiba clearly traveled far and wide to learn what he did, and obviously Takeda was a rather big influence. If a Daito-Ryu master were to offer to show you shortcuts to get closer to Ueshiba's ostensible level, would you reject it on the basis of it not being Aikido (as if you're in a position to judge)?

Hell no I wouldn't reject it.

The whole argument is silly from every angle. The worst outcome I suppose is if you were to actually surpass Ueshiba's level of internal skill. Darn. ;) Then you could debate yourself into a coma about whether you should call it Aikido. It's up to you, but I don't intend to reject any pearls cast before me, regardless of their source.

What if they didn't look like pearls at first and required closer inspection, for all you know someone could've thrown dog mess in your direction. Would you sit there picking through it just to be sure? I wouldn't if it was flung at me in a contemptuous fashion, might do if it was placed kindly and sincerely before me.

For example, here's a 94 year old Bagua practitioner apparently discussing such things with family members:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZdtM5p6ZkA

Yes, he is going to be in UFC 75 "Geezer Throwdown", in the open weight class wheelchair division. Sorry, had to throw one out for the 12 year olds in the audience. ;) In the last bit in particular he seems to be explaining how he receives force and uses the ground to return it. To the uneducated eye it may look like nonsense and they'll move on. But he is showing how he can take balance as soon as he is grabbed, and there is virtually no visible outward movement. That's not a necessary condition, but it makes the point. I can't do that, though I know of people who can. Unless you feel yourself what he's doing, you're not sure why anybody would lose his balance from grabbing him when you don't see him do anything. It's all the same general skill. Could Ueshiba take someone's balance as soon as they touched him? I think so, if you believe the stories. And why not, since there are people you can go see, like CXW, who can easily show you this in person. Are there 57 totally different ways to do this? Very doubtful, it's one general skillset, the level is just a matter of the degree of skill and body integration.

I agree with all the above. Not sure about the UFC geezer throwdown though. Maybe that's just cos I find it a bit funny when Americans use the word geezer or bloke ;) Can't help it I'm a Londoner.

In general I hesitate to post videos of any sort, because like with words people will see what they want to see, and the most likely response will be either be "it's crap", or "I can do that, just not as well", which misses the point and whitewashes the difference in skill levels that exist, as if anyone with a golf club is Tiger Woods.

I agree, but the "I can do that, just not as well" isn't exactly a total whitewash is it? What if you actually can do that but not as well? What are you supposed to say then? Especially as you can't say to the guy in the video 'thank you very much could you show me more?'
In either case it's just not possible to address in a media like discussion forums. We're all just basically hypothesizing here.

If I were fortunate enough to witness such a demo it would show me immediately that he has knowledge I'm looking for, regardless of how good he is or was compared to others. If I could be introduced and ask him to show me some things, because I know that I'm looking to understand how certain things are achieved, even if he's a somewhat secretive guy I may end up learning things despite his secretiveness. Or he may see that I comprehend the value of what he's doing and show more. Meanwhile I'm looking for important details, comparing how he does things to other people, etc. You have to keep experiencing the spectrum of skills to start piecing together how the higher skill levels are achieved.

I agree.

If people don't care, or don't want to look around, or think they will get much just by doing more of what they already do it just won't happen. And importantly, the only reason people like Mike, Dan, Rob, and others care to even do this is that they *have* experienced people whose skills are way beyond what you think can be done. Since you can't rattle off a list of names at that level to recommend, it's clear you have not experienced a truly high level of it or there would be no hesitation.

That's a straw-man argument. I've already mentioned why I didn't recommend people in this post. Not wishing to publish a list of name-drops does not mean in any way I haven't experienced a truly high level of it. In fact it is so completely illogical to say that that I'm surprised you mentioned it at all. Everything else you've said thus far seems to make a great deal of sense to me until this point.

Also your logic of saying that the reason Dan, Mike, Rob and others teach and talk about this stuff is that they *have* experienced it is totally at odds with your point about how these things being commonly kept secret by those in the know. Ok, well not totally at odds because you're probably referring to asian guys keeping it secret and they're (Dan, Mike etc) not asian. But what of the (non oriental) people who are not Dan, Mike, Rob etc.. who do have this skill and simply have never had any desire to promote themselves because they are quite content to just keep doing what they do with their fairly small group of students? Because they don't particularly wish to meddle in the politics of it all? When would you ever hear about them?

There's a reason why those on the "there's more to it than you think" side make such a fuss about it. If you experience what someone like a CXW can do, you would know what the fuss is about, and like many others, you would report back to the forum that there's a whole lot more to it than you ever imagined. And then all the other people who hadn't had that experience would be debating with you, saying that everything you say sounds just like what they already do or their teacher does, and you'd see there's no way to explain it to them. And you'd fall back on the same thing everyone else does: you have to go check it out. :)

So, you mean that if I experienced someone like CXW and decided to start telling people about it, they would do all those things. Hmmm, so when I stated that in the vid Ellis posted about CXW receiving kotegaeshi that my teacher does that very same thing I was responding in the manner you just predicted. Ok I can see why you would think that, but it seems like I can only be considered to have seen and felt 'the real stuff' if I go to train with someone who is not my aikido teacher. I then have to come back here and rave about how great this guy who isn't my instructor is before people will believe I've felt 'the real stuff'.

Sorry don't like your logic, it's horribly circular and serves only to reinforce your original assumption of 'This stuff isn't in aikido, therefore someone who claims to have felt it in aikido is wrong'

Which brings me back to my first post in this thread, the inevitability of "you have to go look". If I had CXW's knowledge I could easily rattle of page after page of specific how-to's, but even though you started a how-to thread, I haven't seen those pages from you. ;) I know, I know, you don't claim a high level and I certainly don't, but for one thing my musings on the little I know, right or wrong, I could explain in great detail. As the great physicist Richard Feynman said, if we can't explain something so that even a layman understands it, it means we don't know it.

Well, you're quite right, I don't claim a high level of skill, just like you don't. I believe I've mentioned why I titled the thread as I did before now. But I'll repeat it again for you and anyone else. It's called the how-to thread not because I personally intend to use it to hand down internal skill wisdom carved in stone at the beginning of time. But because it directs the conversation in a useful manner, we're not debating here whether Ueshiba had these skills, we're not debating if they are important in aikido we've assumed that both these are true, we're not debating the difference between Daito Ryu aiki and Aikido aiki, and we're not debating whther these skills will help you in the UFC. I think that thus far we've probably succeeded in keeping things fairly well on topic with minimal personal attacks and insults. I never said i was going to rattle of lists of great masters I've trained with, detailed descriptions of the skills. The idea was to encourage sensible discussion. For others to contribute if they felt it appropriate to. You said you can describe what you know in great detail. Well, go on then. Why not do so? Apparently I've tried and failed. Perhaps you should try too :D I know I'd read it with interest, I genuinely would.

The other thing is that I can name names of at least some people who have real ability in case you want to verify if we're talking about the same things. One thing that becomes more and more obvious as you learn more about it is how complicated it is, and how difficult to get the details and get them right. Anyone who expresses the notion that this stuff is *more* common than thought immediately shows he hasn't seen anything all that great.

Again I think that's a straw-man argument. Even if it isn't it just boils down to me being a bit optimistic and you not being so optimistic, and has nothing whatsoever to do with my experience of training with people who have these skills. Your logic in suggesting that this is so is patently false and says to me that you're working from the assumpiton I already mentioned 'this stuff is not in aikido, therefore anyone who says it is is wrong' rather than trying to get at the truth of the matter.

Assume if you will for a moment that my own teacher is as good at this stuff as CXW. It's just an assumption nto a claim I am making and I want to make that VERY clear because people will say later that I said he was when they choose to attack me and tell me I don't know what I'm talking about. It's an ASSUMPTION. So working from that assumption, I see vids of CXW and go, cool looks like the stuff we do. People then start raving about it (rightly so by the way because it is incredible stuff) and while they are raving away I say yeah, we do that stuff too. Not cos I think we do, but because we actually do (remember this is an assumption we're working from), people immediately dismiss me as knowing nothing because if I really knew something I would surely agree with them that it is amazing stuff (never mind the fact that I actually do agree with them, but they ignore that in favour of dismissing me) and that, wait for it... I can't possibly be right because I do it in aikido, and aikido doesn't do this stuff. Therefore I must be wrong.

I say it is more common than people give it credit, because from where I'm sitting it seems to be that is the case. All my sempai do it. My teacher does it. I do it. Others I've met also do it and all to a varying level of skill, we do it to a varying level of skill because it's really quite complicated stuff and it's very subtle and very difficult to get the details right, y'know, basically what you said.

Even if we say for argument's sake that a low level of things is more common in Aikido than thought, how does that meaningfully help one get to a high level? It doesn't.

Nope it doesn't. But does that mean it's not worth saying occasionally and challenging peoples assumptions about what is and isn't 'in aikido'? Y'know, a bit like the way others have been doing, except argued from the point of view of an optimist rather than a pessimist who quickly dismisses aikido as being devoid of these things. I know which one I'd rather be ;)

Only dealing with high level people has any chance of getting you to a high level. All I can say is that this is a much bigger puzzle than you're giving it credit for, though whether you believe that is of course up to you.

Actually I think you've made some assumptions about what I think, perhaps an assumption along the lines of 'this stuff isn't in aikido, therefore anyone who says it is is wrong'. I personally think it is a huge puzzle, it certainly puzzles me a great deal.

With that I'm going to leave well enough alone, I simply don't have time to keep up on daily discussions. Good luck in your training, and if all you want is already available to you, more power to you, you're a lucky man. Otherwise, you have to get out and meet people; all the discussion in the world is unfortunately pretty futile as a substitute.

Amen to that.

Regards

Mike

Ecosamurai
04-13-2007, 09:59 AM
Where can one view this video?

cheers

Jo

I think this might be the vid he was referring to:

http://www.neijia.com/UeshibaKokyu.wmv

Mike

Thomas Campbell
04-13-2007, 11:47 AM
[snip]

For example, here's a 94 year old Bagua practitioner apparently discussing such things with family members:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZdtM5p6ZkA

Yes, he is going to be in UFC 75 "Geezer Throwdown", in the open weight class wheelchair division. Sorry, had to throw one out for the 12 year olds in the audience. ;) In the last bit in particular he seems to be explaining how he receives force and uses the ground to return it. To the uneducated eye it may look like nonsense and they'll move on. But he is showing how he can take balance as soon as he is grabbed, and there is virtually no visible outward movement. That's not a necessary condition, but it makes the point. I can't do that, though I know of people who can. Unless you feel yourself what he's doing, you're not sure why anybody would lose his balance from grabbing him when you don't see him do anything. It's all the same general skill. Could Ueshiba take someone's balance as soon as they touched him? I think so, if you believe the stories. And why not, since there are people you can go see, like CXW, who can easily show you this in person. [snip]

Chen Xiaowang is an outstanding exponent of Chenshi taijiquan, with powerful fajin. But I have not seen any video footage of CXW demonstrating an ability to "take someone's balance as soon as they touched him." I didn't feel that particular ability when I met CXW, nor did he demonstrate it. But I only had very limited time with him, so I'd be curious to hear from others with more extensive exposure to CXW, as to whether he could "take someone's balance as soon as they touched him." I have felt a few people with that ability/skill, and it's a unique and very disorienting experience.

Franco
04-13-2007, 12:25 PM
I wonder if Chen Xiaowang knows that there are people that call him CXW?

Thomas Campbell
04-13-2007, 01:33 PM
I wonder if CXW knows there are people that call him Chen Xiaowang. ;-)

Use of their initials to refer to high-profile practitioners and teachers in the Chinese martial arts is common on Internet forums. No disrespect is conveyed.

Cady Goldfield
04-13-2007, 01:33 PM
I wonder if Chen Xiaowang knows that there are people that call him CXW?

Since even Chinese dtz (kanji) have been modified to simpler forms with fewer lines and brushstrokes, for convenience, I think he might forgive similar shorthand or abbreviation in the Romanized alphabet. Similarly, there haven't yet been any celestial rumblings over the Western use of Xmas (which, I believe, has been used for centuries) and other words referring to Very Important People. ;)

G DiPierro
04-13-2007, 04:56 PM
Chen Xiaowang is an outstanding exponent of Chenshi taijiquan, with powerful fajin. But I have not seen any video footage of CXW demonstrating an ability to "take someone's balance as soon as they touched him."

Here is a clip of CXW (http://youtube.com/watch?v=ODbRxRNhiL4) demonstrating a technique that is commonly practiced in aikido. I don't see him taking his partner's balance in a manner that is different from what you would find in almost any aikido dojo. In only one instance could you even say that he is taking balance on first touch, and only then by grabbing the arm and pulling it, the same way a lot of people like to do in aikido. The rest of the time he is not doing anything at all to disrupt balance on contact.

Gernot Hassenpflug
04-13-2007, 07:08 PM
Here is a clip of CXW demonstrating a technique that is commonly practiced in aikido. I don't see him taking his partner's balance in a manner that is different from what you would find in almost any aikido dojo. In only one instance could you even say that he is taking balance on first touch, and only then by grabbing the arm and pulling it, the same way a lot of people like to do in aikido. The rest of the time he is not doing anything at all to disrupt balance on contact.
I think you should put your sentences in perspective with "I don' t see...." :D
It's a given that the position of the arms/feet are not giving away what is happening along the connecting lines of the body. But if you look at how CXW clasps his hands in front of his chest, does the elbow strikes backwards, or the driving forward downward elbow in the push hands, and I think you can get a glimpse of where the power is coming from, and what is always present regardless of what the limb extremities seem to be doing. From my experience (not with CXW I admit), it wouldn't matter what part of his body made contact with the partner. And if you touched him, I bet you'd rapidly revise the related ideas of "external shape" and "relaxed".

Another point to consider: it's a photo shoot, so is CXW going to give away secrets at such an occasion. Think about it. And he's quite well helped by the fact that he knows people will see what they want to see. He doesn't have to try very hard to hide what he does!

Mike Sigman
04-13-2007, 07:19 PM
Well, in reality, anyone can see that CXW is teaching a bunch of beginners how the external technique works, not demonstrating "here's how to use high-level jin to overpower your opponent". As I've suggested a number of times, people should just go visit. Tell CXW that you can put a kotegaeshi on him... he'll let you try, no problem.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

G DiPierro
04-13-2007, 07:52 PM
I'd bet that if it were a bunch of aikido people rationalizing the performance of some well-known aikido teacher you guys would be up in arms about how people are just blindly defending the hierarchy and the status quo. But when it is a teacher that you respect all of a sudden legitimate criticism is not acceptable and is responded to with the same kind of straw-man arguments that are so typical of debate on martial arts forums. Sorry, I'm just not interested in another one of those discussions. If someone wants to discuss the things I actually said in my post that would be a different matter.

-G DiPierro

Cady Goldfield
04-13-2007, 08:19 PM
Maybe they just are able to see something there that you are unable to see because you've had no prior exposure to the internal skills CXW is using, Giancarlo.

Mike Sigman
04-13-2007, 08:28 PM
I'd bet that if it were a bunch of aikido people rationalizing the performance of some well-known aikido teacher ... I'm not sure what the point is. You can hear from the "audience" that he's trying to explain on a superficial basis what the basic technique is. He's not even doing a demonstration of Taiji. All I'm saying is that your comments have nothing to do with the situation being shown.

Mike Sigman

G DiPierro
04-13-2007, 08:54 PM
Maybe they just are able to see something there that you are unable to see because you've had no prior exposure to the internal skills CXW is using, Giancarlo.

What is it that you think they see that I do not? All I said was that I did not see CXW taking balance on contact in that clip. As far as I can tell, neither Mike nor Gernot have said that I am wrong about that. In fact, they both seemed to be acknowledging that this clip was not a good demonstration of taking balance but rationalizing that fact by saying that he was hiding his skill or just teaching beginners. I have my own opinion of those possibilities but I don't see much point in debating them. Perhaps someone else has a better clip that they think shows him taking balance on contact. If so, then why not just post it without all of the fanfare?

TAnderson
04-13-2007, 09:06 PM
Here is a clip of CXW (http://youtube.com/watch?v=ODbRxRNhiL4) demonstrating a technique that is commonly practiced in aikido. I don't see him taking his partner's balance in a manner that is different from what you would find in almost any aikido dojo. In only one instance could you even say that he is taking balance on first touch, and only then by grabbing the arm and pulling it, the same way a lot of people like to do in aikido. The rest of the time he is not doing anything at all to disrupt balance on contact.

Tell you the truth I don't see the point your getting at. To me it is obvious that CXW is only demonstrating a basic joint lock not the actions needed to break an opponents balance (outside of the joint lock). In other words the point of the demo is the joint lock itself nothing else.

Tim Anderson

Cady Goldfield
04-13-2007, 09:23 PM
What is it that you think they see that I do not? All I said was that I did not see CXW taking balance on contact in that clip. As far as I can tell, neither Mike nor Gernot have said that I am wrong about that. In fact, they both seemed to be acknowledging that this clip was not a good demonstration of taking balance but rationalizing that fact by saying that he was hiding his skill or just teaching beginners. I have my own opinion of those possibilities but I don't see much point in debating them. Perhaps someone else has a better clip that they think shows him taking balance on contact. If so, then why not just post it without all of the fanfare?

I didn't word that quite as I meant it. What I'm saying is it doesn't sound to me like anyone is "trying to defend" CXW or make excuses. If they have seen what CXW does in his internal movements, and know what that would consist of to the knowing observer, then they are qualified to note that this clip is a poor example of such.

I'd give creedence to their suggestion that he is demonstrating a basic application to beginners in that particular lesson. Why would you have a problem with that? Do you think that all clips on YouTube are supposed to be profound? ;)

statisticool
04-13-2007, 09:42 PM
CXW's video is decent, but it would be better if he'd do similar things without cues from the attacker, in more of a live environment.

G DiPierro
04-13-2007, 10:18 PM
I didn't word that quite as I meant it. What I'm saying is it doesn't sound to me like anyone is "trying to defend" CXW or make excuses. If they have seen what CXW does in his internal movements, and know what that would consist of to the knowing observer, then they are qualified to note that this clip is a poor example of such.

I'm not commenting on his internal skill in general only the specific issue of taking balance on contact. If you go back you'll see that the original reason I posted the clip is because someone made the following two statements:

I think the existence of things like kokyo-tanden-ho in Aikido is a rather powerful indicator that you are supposed to be able to do exactly what the old Bagua guy is showing: taking the other person's balance without "blending" with some large movement like you're bullfighting, without grabbing and twisting anything on the other guy to control him, without any perceptible effort or movement. End of story. If you can't do that in every technique, if you can't immediately make anyone grabbing a hold of you lose their balance without outwardly seeming to do much of anything, consider the possibility that you don't really understand Aikido no matter what your rank is.

and

Could Ueshiba take someone's balance as soon as they touched him? I think so, if you believe the stories. And why not, since there are people you can go see, like CXW, who can easily show you this in person. Are there 57 totally different ways to do this? Very doubtful, it's one general skillset, the level is just a matter of the degree of skill and body integration.

Now maybe CXW can "easily show you this in person," but he certainly does not do it in this video clip. On the other hand, there are people in aikido who can and do demonstrate this in person and on video, and I have felt some of them myself, although I will say that the idea that there is a person who can make anyone lose balance on contact is pure fantasy. It's all a matter of relative skill level.

In any case, it would have been a lot different if people had just said "yeah that's a bad clip of CXW, here's a better one" rather than trotting out the worn-out "once you touch him then you'll be a believer" lines that you always hear on martial arts forums. Actually if you watch closely you'll note there's one time he does the technique at more or less full speed, so I'd be surprised if his movement in other clips or in person would look much different from that.

Gernot Hassenpflug
04-13-2007, 11:11 PM
I was not criticizing anyone's ideas, but trying to add my own. So here's a clear clip of some explanations of 6-direction power and taking balance as a result of that:

http://bluedot.us/users/wujimon/tag/cxw

Ecosamurai
04-14-2007, 07:56 AM
I was not criticizing anyone's ideas, but trying to add my own. So here's a clear clip of some explanations of 6-direction power and taking balance as a result of that:

http://bluedot.us/users/wujimon/tag/cxw

Interestingly, in the first video from the above link Chen Xiao Wang stops the guy and points out a void in his form. He then makes some minor adjustments to it. Essentially a Tohei style ki-test but with less physical feedback for his student to feel his mistake. I'm not saying by this that CXW's method is not as good as Tohei's, just a different approach to teaching the same skill. This video is of course only one example so I'm not intending to comment on the broader differences either.

In a similar situation. If I had noticed something like this in one of my students I would have told them where it was and tried to give them as much physical feedback as possible so that they understood the difference between the correct and incorrect feeling. This is what Tohei style ki-tests are intended to do. People seem to have some bizarre ideas about ki-tests and what their point and purpose is. I doubt that they are really all that different from the methods used by CXW or any other teacher of this stuff. I personally prefer them but that's just me, I suspect that as people tend to have different learning styles they may not be suited to everybody. What I do know is that, a number of people around here have held up CXW as an example of these internal skills, they have also said that Ueshiba had them and so did Tohei. My teacher has trained with Koichi Tohei and also with Koichi Tohei's students and says that Tohei has definitely passed his abilities on, I conclude therefore that Tohei's methods work. Maybe they don't work for everyone but they can't be said to be ineffectual. Where I get confused is where people make some strange leap of logic and start saying that Tohei's students aren't doing what he does, when it is quite obvious that they are. The only issue I can see with this is that if you wanted to say that Tohei's skills are a different but related skillset to those of Ueshiba. In which case Tohei has not passed on 'Ueshiba's aikido', but rather 'Tohei's aikido'. I wouldn't argue with this point, Tohei himself said he only kept maybe 30% of the techniques. The interesting question then becomes: What are the differences between Tohei's internal skills and those of Ueshiba? I suspect that Ueshiba's are more in line with some of the things that Mike Sigman discusses and teaches. I do not see these two things as better or worse, just different. If Mike feels like commenting then I think that'd be an interesting discussion I think. My own feeling is that the main difference is fa-jin. To release power like that I think involves an interplay between deliberately held internal tension and the relaxation of muscles groups (I think Rob has covered some of this stuff as well as Mike). In Tohei's teaching such tension is considered bad. The second basic principle is 'relax completely', if you watch film of CXW and Ueshiba you can usually see that they aren't 'relaxed completely', they are releasing power by holding some parts of themselves in tension and releasing this tension at the appropriate moment. Best example I can think of is one I've mentioned elsewhere where if you watch film of Ueshiba doing the rowing exercise whilst partnered with Terry Dobson and then watch Tohei do the same thing, Tohei isn't releasing the power in the same way.

Being that I come from a Tohei style background I don't properly understand how this sort of power release is done, but my view has always been that it shouldn't be done and that correct execution of aikido waza doesn't necessarily require it, though perhaps I should qualify that with Tohei aikido waza. I can do it in small approximations but nothing hugely spectacular. Like I said I don't think that the differences between the approaches make one better or worse than the other, just different. They are related skills IMO. I suspect that Mike Sigman's view is that the Ki Society aren't going far enough because they don't actively teach these things. My view is that they don't really need to and they focus instead on other aspects of these skills.

Think of it like this. Take the skills discussed in the baseline skill thread. Once you have those baseline skills you can either start adding things to them like power release (fa-jin) and what have you, or you can go in a slightly different direction where you develop the baseline skills of relaxation and stability until they aren't baseline anymore but are actually very very advanced versions of the baseline relaxation and centering skills. I think the latter is more in line with Ki Soc internal skills, and I also think that a lot of the CMA internal guys misunderstand that and ask things like 'yeah but where's the fa-jin? That's just basic stuff'. It's not just basic stuff, it's basic stuff taken in a different direction and with different emphasis. It's done like that because it is designed to work with the aikido waza and be in accord with them. Is it Ueshiba's aiki? Not really, not totally in any case, but it's pretty much the closest you're likely to get from anyone who was a student of Ueshiba. If you want the other 70% of what Tohei left out then you'll have to go looking at aikido's roots, Daito Ryu and some of the other things he studied, but I personally don't think that makes what you'd be doing any more aikido than if you didn't do that.

Regards

Mike

Thomas Campbell
04-14-2007, 12:17 PM
[snip]As I've suggested a number of times, people should just go visit. Tell CXW that you can put a kotegaeshi on him... he'll let you try, no problem.



That is a good idea.

Chen Xiaowang's 2007 US Tour

1. Sept 1+2 San Francisco amarapetals@hotmail.com

2. Sept 7-10 San Luis Obispo liuyuwtc@aol.com

3. Sept 14-17 San Diego tao@taoistsanctuary.org

4. Sept 20-24 Seattle kim@embracethemoon.com

5. Sept 28-30 Chicago aloria@uchicago.edu

6. Oct 6+7 NYC taiji@renguangyi.net

7. Oct 10-14 Miami cbii@mac.com

Go to Chenxiaowang.com for more information about seminars in the US and other countries.

statisticool
04-14-2007, 01:50 PM
Re: kotegaeshi on Chen Xiaowang, I'm curious what it actually would mean in terms of his martial skill, if you tell him in advance the exact technique you are going to attempt on him.

Free sparring with limited parameters would avoid these problems.

Mike Sigman
04-14-2007, 03:02 PM
I suspect that Ueshiba's are more in line with some of the things that Mike Sigman discusses and teaches. I do not see these two things as better or worse, just different. If Mike feels like commenting then I think that'd be an interesting discussion I think. My own feeling is that the main difference is fa-jin. To release power like that I think involves an interplay between deliberately held internal tension and the relaxation of muscles groups (I think Rob has covered some of this stuff as well as Mike). In Tohei's teaching such tension is considered bad. The second basic principle is 'relax completely',I certainly don't think Aikidoists should worry about fajin and I've never suggested that it's a worry. There are too many other things that come well before that.

Ueshiba's Aikido is based on the Yin-Yang dichotomy that is so famous throughout Asia, although he tries to couch it in Shinto terms. He uses the standard allusions as a support to the idea of yin and yang. He also openly stated that atemi is a large part of Aikido. Atemi is not done by "relax completely"... how would you do Yang with only Yin?

I think you may be confusing the best way to learn (by relaxing, among other things) with the application of the Aikido techniques curriculum (which involves some hard). No true discussion of Ki is ever going to say that it is all Yin, as you're implying.

I would also suggest that you take the opportunity to go visit when CXW comes to the UK. I suspect you'll find, if you get a chance to do some hands on, that what you think you see him doing is quite a different animal entirely when you meet him. I tend to be fairly cynical from years of meeting people in the martial arts who have overblown reputations, but I have to admit I was nonplussed when I met him. And I'm not easy to impress, no matter what someone's reputation is. ;)

Regards,

Mike

Pete Rihaczek
04-14-2007, 05:20 PM
Sorry don't like your logic, it's horribly circular and serves only to reinforce your original assumption of 'This stuff isn't in aikido, therefore someone who claims to have felt it in aikido is wrong'

[snip]

Again I think that's a straw-man argument. Even if it isn't it just boils down to me being a bit optimistic and you not being so optimistic, and has nothing whatsoever to do with my experience of training with people who have these skills. Your logic in suggesting that this is so is patently false and says to me that you're working from the assumpiton I already mentioned 'this stuff is not in aikido, therefore anyone who says it is is wrong' rather than trying to get at the truth of the matter.

[snip]

Actually I think you've made some assumptions about what I think, perhaps an assumption along the lines of 'this stuff isn't in aikido, therefore anyone who says it is is wrong'. I personally think it is a huge puzzle, it certainly puzzles me a great deal.



Hi Mike,

So by my count you've presumed 3 times that I'm saying "this stuff isn't in Aikido", when I never said it. That's called a strawman. ;) If I believed that, I wouldn't be on Aikido forum having this discussion (about the deepest aspects of the art, in the Non-Aikido forum :rolleyes: ). What I said was that the percentage in Aikido is likely tiny as it is in Taiji, particularly with the size of the population and the existence of a large organization like the Aikikai. If I'm not mistaken, Mike's encounter that set him off on the road to seek this stuff out was a particular Aikido instructor from Japan. I don't know why it's necessary to repeat over and over the belief that this stuff is hidden and not many people have it as a result. That's been the position for many many posts not just from me, so I'm not sure where this "it's not in Aikido" stuff is coming from. You may not agree, but I don't think anyone has been unclear.

The simple reason that I am not as optimistic is that I have seen this very argument in various forms many times, with people being sure they do it, or their teacher does it, and nothing that's said or pointed to sounds any different than what they already have. Then when they actually go and visit, it's always "oops - guess not." Not 40% of the time, or 65% of the time, but 100% of the time. So I'm not telling you what you know or performing a cold reading over the net, but my experience says it's likely you aren't on the same page. I might be wrong, but if so you would be the first.

I think it's time to abandon this discussion, and abandon the hope that anyone would want to post deep insights, as I see the maggots crawling toward this thread (not meaning you or anyone else who has been decent, to be clear). At this point I think the discussion will already have resonated with, and piqued the curiosity of, those possessing the qualities that would make anyone want to show them something and help them go further down the path. As the old saying goes, when the student is ready, the master will appear.

Kevin Leavitt
04-15-2007, 02:28 AM
I think the pareto princple applies to just about everything!

Aran Bright
04-15-2007, 05:04 AM
The simple reason that I am not as optimistic is that I have seen this very argument in various forms many times, with people being sure they do it, or their teacher does it, and nothing that's said or pointed to sounds any different than what they already have. Then when they actually go and visit, it's always "oops - guess not." Not 40% of the time, or 65% of the time, but 100% of the time. So I'm not telling you what you know or performing a cold reading over the net, but my experience says it's likely you aren't on the same page. I might be wrong, but if so you would be the first.


Hi Pete,

I am always going to keep my mind open and assume that everyone has something to offer as a teacher or otherwise, but 100% of the time, come on, Mike Sigman often sights Tohei and Shioda as having the skills, so there must be some of their students that got it and past it on. Of those there is a likelihood they could be in England (or Australia for that matter) I mean Mike and yourself have got to experience these skills and must be able to do it on some level. Don't you think its more likely that some people have some skill but it just may not be as well developed as it could be?

Don't you think discussions of how we use and develop these skills are useful?

Pete Rihaczek
04-15-2007, 08:43 AM
Hi Pete,

I am always going to keep my mind open and assume that everyone has something to offer as a teacher or otherwise, but 100% of the time, come on, Mike Sigman often sights Tohei and Shioda as having the skills, so there must be some of their students that got it and past it on. Of those there is a likelihood they could be in England (or Australia for that matter) I mean Mike and yourself have got to experience these skills and must be able to do it on some level. Don't you think its more likely that some people have some skill but it just may not be as well developed as it could be?

Don't you think discussions of how we use and develop these skills are useful?

Hi Aran,

What I meant was 100% of the time I've seen this exact sort of discussion, with people being sure that they're talking about the same things Mike S. is talking about, the person ends up finding out there's a lot more to it than they thought. Sure Mike H. could be an exception, as I already said. But I think having witnessed the same discussion over and over, that's a fair reason not to be optimistic. Also, the gap between "some skill" and real skill is so big that having "some skill" is not all that meaningful.

And like I said, I don't think further discussion is useful. There is no cure for It Has To Be Shown(tm). Even if it could be done well in writing, no one would do it here.

Ecosamurai
04-15-2007, 08:56 AM
I certainly don't think Aikidoists should worry about fajin and I've never suggested that it's a worry. There are too many other things that come well before that.

Ueshiba's Aikido is based on the Yin-Yang dichotomy that is so famous throughout Asia, although he tries to couch it in Shinto terms. He uses the standard allusions as a support to the idea of yin and yang. He also openly stated that atemi is a large part of Aikido. Atemi is not done by "relax completely"... how would you do Yang with only Yin?

I think you may be confusing the best way to learn (by relaxing, among other things) with the application of the Aikido techniques curriculum (which involves some hard). No true discussion of Ki is ever going to say that it is all Yin, as you're implying.

I would also suggest that you take the opportunity to go visit when CXW comes to the UK. I suspect you'll find, if you get a chance to do some hands on, that what you think you see him doing is quite a different animal entirely when you meet him. I tend to be fairly cynical from years of meeting people in the martial arts who have overblown reputations, but I have to admit I was nonplussed when I met him. And I'm not easy to impress, no matter what someone's reputation is. ;)

Regards,

Mike

Sorry, that was my fault I wasn't intending to indicate it's all yin or all yang, it's pretty much what you described it as, wasn't making myself clear I'm afraid. Atemi is done with the whole body, Ueshiba often said 'manifest yin in your right hand and yang in your left'

As to CXW visiting the UK, already ahead of you on that score, it's a matter of time and money at the moment but I'm working on it :)

Mike

Ecosamurai
04-15-2007, 09:00 AM
Hi Mike,

So by my count you've presumed 3 times that I'm saying "this stuff isn't in Aikido", when I never said it. That's called a strawman. ;) If I believed that, I wouldn't be on Aikido forum having this discussion (about the deepest aspects of the art, in the Non-Aikido forum :rolleyes: ). What I said was that the percentage in Aikido is likely tiny as it is in Taiji, particularly with the size of the population and the existence of a large organization like the Aikikai. If I'm not mistaken, Mike's encounter that set him off on the road to seek this stuff out was a particular Aikido instructor from Japan. I don't know why it's necessary to repeat over and over the belief that this stuff is hidden and not many people have it as a result. That's been the position for many many posts not just from me, so I'm not sure where this "it's not in Aikido" stuff is coming from. You may not agree, but I don't think anyone has been unclear.

The simple reason that I am not as optimistic is that I have seen this very argument in various forms many times, with people being sure they do it, or their teacher does it, and nothing that's said or pointed to sounds any different than what they already have. Then when they actually go and visit, it's always "oops - guess not." Not 40% of the time, or 65% of the time, but 100% of the time. So I'm not telling you what you know or performing a cold reading over the net, but my experience says it's likely you aren't on the same page. I might be wrong, but if so you would be the first.

I think it's time to abandon this discussion, and abandon the hope that anyone would want to post deep insights, as I see the maggots crawling toward this thread (not meaning you or anyone else who has been decent, to be clear). At this point I think the discussion will already have resonated with, and piqued the curiosity of, those possessing the qualities that would make anyone want to show them something and help them go further down the path. As the old saying goes, when the student is ready, the master will appear.

Think you may be right there. Let's just assume I'm the first in your experience then ;) Only way to test that is to meet up in person at a seminar sometime. If I ever visit the US for such a purpose y'never know :) Thanks for the discussion. It's forced me to clear my head of some cobwebs.

Mike

Haowen Chan
04-15-2007, 10:09 AM
this stuff is hidden and not many people have it as a result.

Is an example of "this hidden stuff", the exercises that Akuzawa is teaching openly (in a non-hidden way)?

What do you mean by hidden? There's some secret training method that the high level taiji and aikido exponents are hiding from 99.9% of their own students? :confused:

Ecosamurai
04-15-2007, 10:15 AM
Is an example of "this hidden stuff", the exercises that Akuzawa is teaching openly (in a non-hidden way)?

What do you mean by hidden? There's some secret training method that the high level taiji and aikido exponents are hiding from 99.9% of their own students? :confused:

FWIW I don't think it's hidden at all Howard, I've seen it quite openly taught on many occasions. So Pete is either talking about something totally different from what I'm talking about (and I don't think he is because as far as I know we're talking about the stuff that Ueshiba and Tohei do and others such as Chen Xiao Wang), or he's putting it on a pedestal a little. I think it mostly just depends on perspective though.

Mike

Pete Rihaczek
04-15-2007, 10:16 AM
Think you may be right there. Let's just assume I'm the first in your experience then ;) Only way to test that is to meet up in person at a seminar sometime. If I ever visit the US for such a purpose y'never know :) Thanks for the discussion. It's forced me to clear my head of some cobwebs.

Mike

Mike,

Pleasure talking to you, and may your meeting with CXW take you further down the path. As long as you continue to seek, you'll be rewarded. Dan Inosanto was once struggling to learn something or other from some master, stopped, and remarked with a grin, "I love being a student!" All the best,

Pete

Pete Rihaczek
04-15-2007, 10:53 AM
Is an example of "this hidden stuff", the exercises that Akuzawa is teaching openly (in a non-hidden way)?

What do you mean by hidden? There's some secret training method that the high level taiji and aikido exponents are hiding from 99.9% of their own students? :confused:

Hi Howard,

I missed seeing this earlier. Dang, I am trying to bow out gracefully here since I simply don't have time to keep up on these things, and keep seeing more questions. If I don't respond in the future, it's because I don't have time, not that it isn't a good question.

Short answer: yes, most definitely. I have heard that Akuzawa's peers are not happy that he is sharing these things openly, which is precisely what I would expect. Bruce Lee was challenged as a result of teaching Westerners, and look what happened when Maeda taught the Gracies - who wants to be beaten with their own techniques? It's an old attitude. In some ways it doesn't make sense in modern times because few people have the time to devote outside of work and family to dedicate themselves to an art, and fighting is illegal anyway. So you have the occasional Akuzawa who doesn't see the point of keeping anything secret (though even he may keep many things in reserve, and likely does until you've proven yourself). But the rule is not to show the "real deal".

Because of the nature of internal movement, it really is "internal" in that you usually can't see what's going on by looking at it. As I said before, I could visually copy Akuzawa's exercises, but without knowing about the contradictory tensions and the details of how to do it right, I would likely do everything wrong. You also have to feel what you are going for. I confess I'm amused that people can watch some video of him and people always see what they want to see. For my part, I can see Rob's head snap back as Akuzawa moves his arms, and having felt some things I have a pretty good idea of what it feels like, it's much more power than you expect and it doesn't feel like normal strength. In any case I can copy funakogi undo and get nothing real too. The amount of things that can be done in the body is remarkable, and unless you are specifically told and corrected on it, it's very unlikely you'll get the benefit. So most people don't see the point, and do it as a warmup or something. And those are the known exercises, there are likely many that are not shown, and those would tend to be the most productive.

I've heard about some pretty unusual things, people who feel like they have saran wrap moving under their skin when you touch them (i.e. extreme levels of special conditioning to unify the body), things that people were shown privately that they won't disclose even on private channels out of respect for their teacher, etc. There are levels and then levels of this stuff, which is why it's amusing to see people talk about it as if it's nothing, or commonly available. But even if I had levels and levels to share (I wish!) I wouldn't do anything detailed in public either. You have to seek it out, and if you're a jerkoff, don't bother. ;)

The normal order of things would be for someone like Akuzawa to show what he can do, you feel how powerful he is, and he just says it's ki and you should just copy him. You end up assuming that if you just do 500,000 repetitions you'll get what he has. Meanwhile his power comes from all these exercises you would never know about, and even if you saw him do them, you would get nothing by visually copying them nor are you likely to understand the point and how they give him the results you want. You'd put it down as generic exercise, and go back to the gym to lift weights hoping to get more power that way, which virtually guarantees you won't get it due to the specificity principle.

It's not just that there are secret trainings per se, but the secrets are a part of every motion. In other words they are also hidden in plain sight, not just hidden.

Skill aside, if you are not doing specific exercises with the intent of achieving a certain conditioning, knowing how to do them in detail with the proper visualizations, and why, and what you are trying to achieve with them, you will never get far.

At this point everything will be repeats. If you're curious, you've been given more than enough information to go seek. There's a lot more out there than you think. Good luck in all your training.

Ecosamurai
04-15-2007, 11:07 AM
Before Pete disappears completely. It is worth adding that I am familiar with the idea that these things have been hidden and that those who openly teach them have sometimes been rebuked, but I find that the notion is a tad romanticised sometimes. Koichi Tohei developed his method of teaching specifically to make these skills easily available to anyone who wished to learn them. In the beginning he even left out aikido waza and set up ki only classes outside of aikikai hombu.

My own teacher has said to me a number of times that when he has been to another dojo that does not teach Tohei style exercises he is often told that what he is doing is 'advanced secret stuff' and 'only the masters do it'. He said that this is the sort of thing he tends to hear at karate dojo and other places, less than at aikido dojo. His usual comment after telling us this is 'if it's advanced stuff and only the masters do it, why did I start learning it from the beginning then? And why do I start teaching it to white belts rather than wait until they are yudansha or higher?'

I suspect Pete may not have much experience with the Ki Society and it's offshoots, that's just a suspicion though I could be wrong.

Mike

DH
04-15-2007, 02:15 PM
Hi Pete,
I am always going to keep my mind open and assume that everyone has something to offer as a teacher or otherwise, but 100% of the time, come on, Mike Sigman often sights Tohei and Shioda as having the skills, so there must be some of their students that got it and past it on. Of those there is a likelihood they could be in England (or Australia for that matter) I mean Mike and yourself have got to experience these skills and must be able to do it on some level. Don't you think its more likely that some people have some skill but it just may not be as well developed as it could be?
Personally I'll take Pete's 100%....so far.;) I think many folks have "some skill." Just as many can discuss "some things" till the cows come home. Saying and doing are 10,000 repititions and years of trial apart.
In fact what these arts have demonstrated CLEARLY to me is that most people didn't get the goods and probably never will. The discussion is beyond single arts or styles.
As for wondering where those who have these skills are and what proportion they may have? If you had these skills-you would stand out like a sore thumb in any Dojo. In direct proportion to the depth of your understanding-you could not exist in a dojo without standing out. If we argue our "group" all knows, then they will stand out.
And what group know it all? There are many expressions in the arts. Variations on a theme.

Don't you think discussions of how we use and develop these skills are useful?
No, not any more.
Men will doubt it till they felt them. I have now come to accept the fact that many from here have felt these skills and wrote about their experiences-and they are ignored as well.
It is intellectually dishonest and a damning statement about the true intent of these discussions here. The doubters have no choice but to ignore the many men and women who have gone out to test those with these skills. The doubters are openly ignoring an ever growing contingent from here -right here- at aikiweb, all from varied backgrounds who have felt these things. Were they, as a group, to be engaged, they would have to be believed. Or, as a group, called fools, liars, or incapable of discerning real applicable skills. That is much to difficult to do and would essentially fail. So , as a group they are ignored. It's.


[u]Aikido]/u]
I think it highly appropriate that discussion of these skills exist here being discussed as "a thing" outside of Aikido, non-Aikido related. While it is hilariously wrong, and stupifyingly ignorant to think so-it is just as well.
It is perhaps very appropriate and good that folks in Aikido are convinced that they have all they need.... in the art already.

Aran Bright
04-16-2007, 06:50 AM
Personally I'll take Pete's 100%....so far.;) I think many folks have "some skill." Just as many can discuss "some things" till the cows come home. Saying and doing are 10,000 repititions and years of trial apart.
In fact what these arts have demonstrated CLEARLY to me is that most people didn't get the goods and probably never will. The discussion is beyond single arts or styles.
As for wondering where those who have these skills are and what proportion they may have? If you had these skills-you would stand out like a sore thumb in any Dojo. In direct proportion to the depth of your understanding-you could not exist in a dojo without standing out. If we argue our "group" all knows, then they will stand out.
And what group know it all? There are many expressions in the arts. Variations on a theme.

No, not any more.
Men will doubt it till they felt them. I have now come to accept the fact that many from here have felt these skills and wrote about their experiences-and they are ignored as well.
It is intellectually dishonest and a damning statement about the true intent of these discussions here. The doubters have no choice but to ignore the many men and women who have gone out to test those with these skills. The doubters are openly ignoring an ever growing contingent from here -right here- at aikiweb, all from varied backgrounds who have felt these things. Were they, as a group, to be engaged, they would have to be believed. Or, as a group, called fools, liars, or incapable of discerning real applicable skills. That is much to difficult to do and would essentially fail. So , as a group they are ignored. It's.

[u]Aikido]/u]
I think it highly appropriate that discussion of these skills exist here being discussed as "a thing" outside of Aikido, non-Aikido related. While it is hilariously wrong, and stupifyingly ignorant to think so-it is just as well.
It is perhaps very appropriate and good that folks in Aikido are convinced that they have all they need.... in the art already.

Well Dan I can say for me personally that I believe you, that there is much more to be learnt out there and that is at least one thing that will never change. I really look forward to the day that I get a chance to meet in person some of the people that I met over the internet. I have already learnt so much from people that have contributed to these discussions and it motivates me to search and keep an open mind about my training.
I hope that people take the opportunity to meet with you and anyone like you that can offer anything to aikido and budo.
For me, I'm on the other side of the world from pretty much everyone so I just try and extract as much as I can from these discussions and then put it to work.
For the time being though I am really satisfied that I do have access to a teacher that is worth his salt and then some. If Tohei has anything then I know he has it too. That being said, I now know there is more out there.

Thank you Dan.

Haowen Chan
04-16-2007, 09:41 AM
Thanks Pete.

I don't think there is anything being deliberately withheld in Ki-aikido but I can see the value of checking out different styles whenever the opportunity is available. For beginners though I think focused training in one style for many years is a must so I'm staying focused but I've got an eye out.

So, does anyone know if Akuzawa keeps an updated online tour schedule?

statisticool
04-16-2007, 03:07 PM
The doubters have no choice but to ignore the many men and women who have gone out to test those with these skills. The doubters are openly ignoring an ever growing contingent from here -right here- at aikiweb, all from varied backgrounds who have felt these things.


Let's not go on a witchhunt for skeptics, try and shift the burden of evidence, or ignore the fact that many people skeptical of your claims have backgrounds themselves.

Those that say they cannot be pushed over, etc., are the ones that have the burden of evidence. If one adds up reports, even by reputable people, that does still not constitute evidence.

Justin

DH
04-16-2007, 05:13 PM
Let's not go on a witchhunt for skeptics, try and shift the burden of evidence, or ignore the fact that many people skeptical of your claims have backgrounds themselves.

Those that say they cannot be pushed over, etc., are the ones that have the burden of evidence. If one adds up reports, even by reputable people, that does still not constitute evidence.

Justin

Hmm...
You are the one who continually questions on several counts
a. Whether we can do what we say
b. Whether static testing has any value as a training tool
c. When we discuss and others offer testimony of active, live resistance-, , not even just grappling but kicking and punching as well, you arbitrarily ignore them and almost without hesitation say...
"What good is static pushing on a chest?
Of course you can read Justin, and of course you're an intelligent guy, so the "baiting" as a reply leaves most here convinced you have an agenda.

Personally, I question your real intentions. Were you a neutral person with no agenda and were just wondering about us or what you refer to as "our claims" you would question and ask the now dozens of men from Japan, Canada, and all over the U.S. who are willing to answer you and tell you "You're wrong."

Years of doubt
After years of discussion, mostly sincere doubts, and many interesting discussions, many men and women from all over the world have gotten out to feel these things.
For anyone to stand in the face of dozens of men and women who have come back to report on their findings would have to be fairly substantial. Why?
These men and women who have written back, for the most part do not know each other, they have come to train, and in some cases not too nicely to "test" men from here. The men they have met to test for a long time never even met each other. Yet, here we have folks, over and over and over again stating essentially the same things. For anyone to tell them -all- they are full of it and/or they are incapable of making judgements on effective, applicable skills, in their given arts makes anyone look like a fool. So?
They are ignored as a source. failing to engage them or consider their input as credible. Reveals that you think you are superior to them. That you consider your judgement and discernment to be the final arbitor over all.
It also clearly states that while we opened our doors to dozens from all walks fo life to resolve some doubts in a friendly way-and gave up so much of our time for free-you- are sticking it in our faces for the effort and for offerring to do it hands on in the first place.....and ignoring it. And the baiting continues with everyone's approval.

I did what I said I would do and gave it a good shot at opening the doors.

Trolling that killed Aikido Journal
Your type of continuous baiting, while not offering any substance in reply-Killed Aikido Journal forums. Stan allowed men to bait and harangue serious posters with no reprieve. It continued unabated till eventually everyone who really had something to offer left.
I've lost interest in convincing anyone here any more. Its starting to stink with aganeda and intellectual dishonesty. I've lost interest in posting "past" all the noise, to talk to those who are genuinely interested. So, in the end Justin you win. YOU WON!
You can openly state you shut me up and caused me to leave Aikiweb.
I'm sure many will think Aikiweb the better of for it.
So did AIkido Journal.
See ya.

stan baker
04-16-2007, 05:43 PM
Hi Justin,
what is your background then we can get a better perspective.

stan

Haowen Chan
04-16-2007, 06:26 PM
Well I'm glad Dan and Mike started these discussions because I've got a lot more data now than I did before. Thanks guys. I'm glad I came in time to be able to ask questions and get answers from several perspectives.

HL1978
04-16-2007, 07:47 PM
Let's not go on a witchhunt for skeptics, try and shift the burden of evidence, or ignore the fact that many people skeptical of your claims have backgrounds themselves.

Those that say they cannot be pushed over, etc., are the ones that have the burden of evidence. If one adds up reports, even by reputable people, that does still not constitute evidence.

Justin

Really?

So when you go to court testimony isn't considered evidence?

When you have "expert witnesses" in court, their testimony isn't considered?

You have more than a few people who have felt Dan/Rob/Mike in an alive enviroment.

statisticool
04-16-2007, 08:17 PM
You are the one who continually questions on several counts
a. Whether we can do what we say


When someone makes the claim of not being able to be pushed over, and doesn't give any information on what the actual parameters were, nor video evidence, yes, expect to not be believed.


For anyone to stand in the face of dozens of men and women who have come back to report on their findings would have to be fairly substantial. Why?


It probably has something to do with not believing testimony over evidence, and not seeing any actual video of said claims.

Justin

statisticool
04-16-2007, 08:22 PM
So when you go to court testimony isn't considered evidence?

When you have "expert witnesses" in court, their testimony isn't considered?


Court testimony counts as 'evidence' as far as the technical court definition of evidence goes. It does not, however, count as evidence as far as science goes.


You have more than a few people who have felt Dan/Rob/Mike in an alive enviroment.


Do any of them have a video camera?:D

Justin

Pete Rihaczek
04-16-2007, 09:01 PM
Before Pete disappears completely.

[snip]

I suspect Pete may not have much experience with the Ki Society and it's offshoots, that's just a suspicion though I could be wrong.

Mike

I'm barely an outline now... ;)

Mike,

You are correct about the Ki Society, my Aikido experience is elsewhere. But Mike S. posted his review of a Ki Society seminar, and I'm pretty sure I didn't read that he couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting an expert. ;) I think it was something along the lines of "good starting point".

That you are not sure fajin is part of Aikido is telling. Fajin is not some bolted-on extra trick that has nothing to do with the core movement (like Bruce Lee's inch punch, for example). Short power is an expression of the same principles. I think one of the main reasons this skill was developed was because having power without windup gives various advantages. You can get a lot of power with momentum-based external techniques, and it's easier to learn, but there is a downside to throwing a big punch, or having to spin around when you miss a kick, etc. The strategic use of this power is to maintain the required structure in movement so that it is always instantly available. It's one of the reasons Aikido doesn't kick, for example (although that can be done with internal movement), and doesn't attack. To go after someone UFC-style is often done by compromising such a structure and overcommitting. If you time it wrong, you're wide open. Philosophy aside, this is not the strategy of Taiji or Aikido, and internal movement makes a different strategy possible. The art is clearly geared for this power in every way, and if it has internal movement it has fajin. Tohei said Aikido can kill with one punch for a reason.

[in a fading echoing voice] You can't have a high level understanding of internal movement and not have fajin...keep looking.... :)

Haowen Chan
04-16-2007, 09:35 PM
So, does anyone know if Akuzawa keeps an updated online tour schedule?

To answer my own question... dug up a schedule on the Aunkai website, English version, under class info->monthly schedule->scroll to the bottom.

Ecosamurai
04-17-2007, 04:21 AM
That you are not sure fajin is part of Aikido is telling.

SNIP

Tohei said Aikido can kill with one punch for a reason.

I know what Tohei said and I know what he was referring to, I've seen it felt it and done it, it was not fa-jin, well not very exactly. Don't have time to mess around trying to explain it. I'll only add that re Mike Sigman's opinion of the Ki Soc, I'm not a member of the Ki Soc, nor have I ever been, but our stuff does derive from Tohei. I also don't quite trust Mike's view of the Ki Soc because I know little of who exactly he has practiced with, and going to one or two seminars doesn't guarantee you're going to find what I'm talking about.

Far, far too much work to do from now until the end of summer. Won't see you around here anymore.

Mike

HL1978
04-17-2007, 07:44 AM
Court testimony counts as 'evidence' as far as the technical court definition of evidence goes. It does not, however, count as evidence as far as science goes.

Do any of them have a video camera?:D

Justin

yep poke around youtube and they can be found.

Aran Bright
04-17-2007, 08:27 AM
yep poke around youtube and they can be found.

c'mon Hunter you've got to do better than that, at least a search string!

;)

Ron Tisdale
04-17-2007, 09:02 AM
It probably has something to do with not believing testimony over evidence, and not seeing any actual video of said claims.

S#$@w, the video...get off your lazy butt and go see for yourself...

B,
R

M. McPherson
04-17-2007, 10:48 AM
S#$@w, the video...get off your lazy butt and go see for yourself...

B,
R

I don't know, Ron...seems like video is the farthest Generation Spoon Fed is willing to go. Too bad, when you consider that you can find these things yourself, if you're willing to make the effort.

Oh, and thankfully the rain has held off today.

Best,
Murray

George S. Ledyard
04-17-2007, 11:22 AM
I've lost interest in convincing anyone here any more. Its starting to stink with aganeda and intellectual dishonesty. I've lost interest in posting "past" all the noise, to talk to those who are genuinely interested. So, in the end Justin you win. YOU WON!
You can openly state you shut me up and caused me to leave Aikiweb.
I'm sure many will think Aikiweb the better of for it.
So did AIkido Journal.


Just use the "ignore function" folks... the "noise" goes way down along with the stress.

Ron Tisdale
04-17-2007, 11:51 AM
You are of course, correct George. My appologies to the board...

R

statisticool
04-17-2007, 07:44 PM
S#$@w, the video...get off your lazy butt and go see for yourself...


'Seeing for myself' is not the same level as having the claimaint performing in a UFC-ish environment.

Gernot Hassenpflug
04-17-2007, 08:31 PM
The Hiden martial arts journal issue 2007/6 is titled "what is Ki?" and proceeds to give examples of all kinds of ancillary ki using some well-known Japanese exhibitionists. To save the journal, there are two (!) pages featuring Kuroda Tetsuzan and one of his workshops. For those who know anything at all about the core needed to do anything with "ki", the entire issue is a bit of a laugh, covering the necessary basic information with a thick gooey layer of impenetrable hand-waving. There are all manner of diagrams, showing swirls of energy, the power of the eyes, circular motions, but nothing concrete that would help anyone to learn how to start doing anything along lines that would prove fruitful in the future. The whole thing is cloaked in mystery for public consumption, and perhaps that is how it should be with anything about these skills that is really easily publicly available...?

PS: When replying to posts, please consider if your reply would intrude into people's ignore lists. A number of much appreciated posters cannot seem to hold back from responding so some of the less esteemed posters. Please don't feed the trolls guys and gals. My ignore list thanks you.