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dalen7
06-19-2007, 01:42 AM
You know, I have seen mention of the unbendable arm on the web, and yesterday I saw a description of it (and how to implement this technique) on a website linked from this forum I believe.

Is this something that all 'branches' of Aikido teach or just 'ki' aikido?
Also, didnt seem to work. I wonder if its more psychological where both parties dont realize that the 'uke' is not trying and the 'nage' is actually tightening.

anyway - who knows...I was limp as can be and there was no way to perform this without at least relaxing all my muscles, but at the same time firmly using the muscles in the key parts where the technique was to be implemented. (I should say all muscles are used, but in a more relaxed way but focusing on tightening only the direct areas affected.)

Peace

Dalen

grondahl
06-19-2007, 01:50 AM
In my limited understanding, you should rather focus on "expansion" then "tightening" if you want to pull of the unbendable arm.

dps
06-19-2007, 02:03 AM
I understand "unbendable arm" as a balancing of muscle tension in the arm.

David

eyrie
06-19-2007, 02:05 AM
Aikiweb is supposed to serve the Internet community as a repository and dissemination point for aikido information, such as this..... try using the search function!

dalen7
06-19-2007, 02:13 AM
I understand "unbendable arm" as a balancing of muscle tension in the arm.

David

This seems to go along with what I tend to 'feel'/think about this.
It seems you can 'tighten' everything, which is apparently not the point...or distribute the tension where your muscles are more relaxed but you shift the extra tension into the point of focus. (such as when your fingers and thumb are shut and you are trying to keep someone from opening them.)

As with the arm, its slightly bent so I think there is something to just the pure physics of this vs. when something (2 points meet) that can actually 'break' faster.

Again, I have seen on the forum this mentioned, but it seems that it is limited to ki-aikido? Or is this something I am to expect to learn in my aikido class in the future?

Peace

Dalen

dps
06-19-2007, 02:16 AM
I learned "unbendable arm" when I practiced Aikikai Aikido. I am not sure what other styles use it. It might be more up to the individual sensei.

David

Ecosamurai
06-19-2007, 02:23 AM
anyway - who knows...I was limp as can be and there was no way to perform this without at least relaxing all my muscles,

There lies your problem. Unbendable arm isn't about being limp, there is a difference between being limp and relaxed. If I say relax to you that doesn't mean allow your arm to go floppy.

Try this. Extend your arm with the elbow unlocked and the arm slightly curved. With a partner, close your hand and make a fist and tense your arm as much as you can, your arm will bend when they test you (tester places one hand under the wrist other on the bicep and tries to elbow), now do it correctly by opening your hand imagining something like a beam of light or something flowing from your navel out through your fingertips.

If it worked you were doing the basic unbendable arm exercise (there are many levels to this test), if it didn't you were doing something else. It should show you the difference between relaxation and tension, which is the purpose of this exercise.

Mike

PS - It's definitely a ki-aikido thing.

dalen7
06-19-2007, 02:34 AM
There lies your problem. Unbendable arm isn't about being limp, there is a difference between being limp and relaxed. If I say relax to you that doesn't mean allow your arm to go floppy.

PS - It's definitely a ki-aikido thing.

Thanks for the explanation...I associated 'relax' with 'floppy'.
I think I am seeing how this works, and actually how it can apply with aikido movements. (Im usually tense in class 'waiting' for whats about to happen from uke...)

Peace

Dalen

nagoyajoe
06-19-2007, 04:10 AM
Good post, Mr. Haft.

Hanna B
06-19-2007, 04:17 AM
You know, I have seen mention of the unbendable arm on the web, and yesterday I saw a description of it (and how to implement this technique) on a website linked from this forum I believe.

Is this something that all 'branches' of Aikido teach or just 'ki' aikido?
Also, didnt seem to work. I wonder if its more psychological where both parties dont realize that the 'uke' is not trying and the 'nage' is actually tightening.


Are you seriously telling us that you think you can read a description on the web, try it and conclude if the exercise works? :confused:


Again, I have seen on the forum this mentioned, but it seems that it is limited to ki-aikido? Or is this something I am to expect to learn in my aikido class in the future?

"Not limited to ki-aikido" does not necessarily mean they teach it in your dojo. If you want to know if they do it in your dojo, ask somebody who trains there. Even if your Hungarian currently is not up to it (although I am sure you are working on it) , probably there is someone in the dojo who speaks somewhat decent English.

Ecosamurai
06-19-2007, 04:41 AM
I learned "unbendable arm" when I practiced Aikikai Aikido. I am not sure what other styles use it. It might be more up to the individual sensei.

David

It originates from Koichi Tohei, if you learned it in an aikikai dojo it's probably one of a few possibilities:

1) They have a ki aikido background and have since joined the aikikai
2) They have an ordinary aikikai background and just retained it after Tohei left the aikikai
3) Someone picked it up cross training and thought it was cool.

At a guess (I don't mean to be presumptuous) I'd say that if it's no 1 then you might have unbendable arm right, if its 2 or 3 chances are you've only got the baby level of unbendable arm that takes 5 minutes to learn (that's what I described in my other post).

There are many levels and subtleties to this exercise, most people who dismiss it as a trick tend to have only seen the baby level in my experience. Exceptions granted as its a big world and I am not omniscient.

Cheers

Mike

Hanna B
06-19-2007, 04:51 AM
It originates from Koichi Tohei, if you learned it in an aikikai dojo it's probably one of a few possibilities:


Unbendeble arm seems to be a very common concept. I am sure several Aikikai teachers learned it in Aikikai and kept the exercise just because they like it. Not all of Tohei's influence vanished on the day he left Aikikai. I wouldn't be surprised if the unbendeble arm is one of the most common traces of him.

Ecosamurai
06-19-2007, 04:55 AM
Unbendeble arm seems to be a very common concept. I am sure several Aikikai teachers learned it in Aikikai and kept the exercise just because they like it. Not all of Tohei's influence vanished on the day he left Aikikai. I wouldn't be surprised if the unbendeble arm is one of the most common traces of him.

I believe that was my point.

I also believe that only the lowest level of the unbendable arm exercise is the one that most people know of outside of ki-aikido circles, based on my own personal cross training experience.

Mike

Hanna B
06-19-2007, 05:03 AM
I believe that was my point.

I missed your point 2, it seems. Sorry!

dalen7
06-19-2007, 05:06 AM
This whole concept if 'ki' aikido is fascinating to me indeed.
The one thing I know in my dojo is that they want me to 'relax' (well the shodan that had practiced with me) more.

It was kind of confusing, as I 'thought' I was relaxed.
The guy that was working with me wanted me to be relaxed as if I was on the street...but at the same time I see 'uke' standing there and 'need to get ready'.

Not sure if Im clear with how Im saying this, but in short Im trying to figure out how to integrate this 'relaxed' attitude while at the same time being tense enough to execute a move without being a limp noodle.

For me it seems that 'ki' aikido (and no Im not taking that form) is similar in concept to regular aikido.

I ran across a site from this forum that had a link to ki exercises.
Its the same exercises we do for warmup...so Im sure as one poster pointed out that there are similarities between the two. (Though I am curious about deepening the 'ki' aspect, as learning how to remain relaxed in my movements is something interesting to me as Im approaching the whole aikido from more of a spiritual aspect.)

Peace

Dalen

dalen7
06-19-2007, 05:11 AM
I believe that was my point.

I also believe that only the lowest level of the unbendable arm exercise is the one that most people know of outside of ki-aikido circles, based on my own personal cross training experience.

Mike

Lowest level...?
Mike it appears you are involved in ki aikido?
Is there any online resources available that go into depth explaining the concepts behind it. (I have been to wiki - kind of weak, and I have read whats on the board here which kind of 'launched' my interest in it.)

I have noticed that there is a divide in 'ki' aikido.
It appears official dojos are only in germany and the U.K. - and the rest are splinter groups (such as the one in Budapest Hungary) from the guy who first introduced 'ki' aikdio to europe. (based on what I have read)

peace

Dalen

Ecosamurai
06-19-2007, 05:52 AM
Lowest level...?

Yes, you'd need to go to a dojo to find out more. There's little point in discussing it on the internet really.

Mike it appears you are involved in ki aikido?

Yup.

Is there any online resources available that go into depth explaining the concepts behind it. (I have been to wiki - kind of weak, and I have read whats on the board here which kind of 'launched' my interest in it.)

Not really, you'd need to find a dojo.

I have noticed that there is a divide in 'ki' aikido.
It appears official dojos are only in germany and the U.K. - and the rest are splinter groups (such as the one in Budapest Hungary) from the guy who first introduced 'ki' aikdio to europe. (based on what I have read)

peace

Dalen

That's not true, Ki aikido begins with the Ki Society which is headquartered in Japan.

http://www.ki-society.com/english/

Over the years there have been various splits and offshoots, some of these have rejoined the aikikai some have become independent.

Many of the European dojo left to form the Ki Society Internationale, dojo list from the UK website is here:

http://www.ki-society.org.uk/links/links.shtml

There are other styles too such as aikido yuishinkai which is where I come from. www.aikidoyuishinkai.com

Cheers

Mike

tedehara
06-19-2007, 09:14 AM
:blush: ...I ran across a site from this forum that had a link to ki exercises.
Its the same exercises we do for warmup...so Im sure as one poster pointed out that there are similarities between the two. (Though I am curious about deepening the 'ki' aspect, as learning how to remain relaxed in my movements is something interesting to me as Im approaching the whole aikido from more of a spiritual aspect.)

Peace

Dalen

The Unofficial.Ki-Society Site (http://unofficial.ki-society.org/)

Hawaii Ki Aikido (http://hawaiikiaikido.org/)

Some web sites you might find interesting.

Although as Mike suggested, you would be better off going to a Ki Society dojo when you have the chance.

James Davis
06-19-2007, 10:31 AM
Statues and trees don't need to flex their muscles.;)

Ecosamurai
06-19-2007, 11:25 AM
Statues and trees don't need to flex their muscles.;)

What exactly is that supposed to mean? Because if I'm reading it right it's telling me that you probably don't know much about unbendable arm or ki aikido...

Mike

dalen7
06-19-2007, 12:47 PM
What exactly is that supposed to mean? Because if I'm reading it right it's telling me that you probably don't know much about unbendable arm or ki aikido...

Mike

The universe is an amazing thing. (The mind of God however you want to look at it)

I have just posted in another thread here at AikiWeb my experience in class today. In short the teacher was unable to be there.

2 of the guys there a blue belt (2nd kyu) and a white belt (found out that he has studied 7 years, just refused to test) study 'ki' aikido.

The one guy had me pick him up twice.
Once I picked him up, the 2nd it was like lead in his shoes.
Best to say its like he shifted his weight to his feet. - or relaxed and redirected the focus of energy to where he wanted it to be.

Anyway, it was fun and interesting especially after having just written about this stuff here. The one guy was trying to show how he could do unbendable arm with one of the aikido techniques as 'uke'.

Fun relaxed time, we were outside - no 'formal' mat training today.

Peace

Dalen

dalen7
06-19-2007, 01:25 PM
The Unofficial.Ki-Society Site (http://unofficial.ki-society.org/)

Hawaii Ki Aikido (http://hawaiikiaikido.org/)

Some web sites you might find interesting.

Although as Mike suggested, you would be better off going to a Ki Society dojo when you have the chance.

Thanks for the links...(taking a look now)

Peace

Dalen

kironin
06-19-2007, 03:03 PM
What exactly is that supposed to mean? Because if I'm reading it right it's telling me that you probably don't know much about unbendable arm or ki aikido...

Mike

nor understand how plant cell walls differ from animal cell walls. ;-)

kironin
06-19-2007, 03:07 PM
"relax" needs to be defined as "release the unnecessary (counterproductive) tension in your body (specifically here - your arm and shoulder)"

NOT as "release all tension in your body" and thus be a like a jellyfish
;)

kironin
06-19-2007, 03:27 PM
I believe that was my point.

I also believe that only the lowest level of the unbendable arm exercise is the one that most people know of outside of ki-aikido circles, based on my own personal cross training experience.

Mike

I think this just reflects the emphasis in training.

But it might also reflect that some of the higher level training was a refinement in Tohei Sensei's thinking in the 30 years since he left the Aikikai, and that is reflected in the groups sprung from his aproach in the mid-80's on that kept an emphasis on ki training in their curriculum (Shin Budo Kai being the one I am most familiar with).

At least before Toyoda Sensei passed away, AAA after reconnecting with the Aikikai in 1990's retained unbendable arm as a part of kyu tests, but it seemed to me to be practiced very little and even then at a very elementary level. Students that followed Toyoda Sensei from Ki Society have a more sophisticated understanding, but in my experience students and more recent teachers did not. I use this as just an example, where there is sort of a loss of transmission because of de-emphasis in training.

I teach it to my Iaido students because it is definitely applicable to the internal aspects of their iai.

Jonshez
06-19-2007, 03:30 PM
I found this 'explaination' of unbendable arm. Thoughts?

http://ofinterest.net/Ua/arm2.html#1

Jon

James Davis
06-19-2007, 04:04 PM
What exactly is that supposed to mean? Because if I'm reading it right it's telling me that you probably don't know much about unbendable arm or ki aikido...

Mike

It means that you shouldn't resist, fight, or panic. It means that you shouldn't be combative, tense, "powerful", or worried about whether it will work or not. Just be.

Can I expect an audio recording of a derisive snort in the mail?:D

I have to use different language to teach different people. When I taught an 11 year old unbendable arm last night, that example seemed to help her.

Janet Rosen
06-19-2007, 07:08 PM
I've seen many explanations of unbendable arm, using different metaphors or ways of expressing it, and seen different folks "get it" from one or another metaphor.
From a musculoskeletal point of view, exhaling while letting shoulders drop and engaging the triceps and extensors outward...
From an energy point of view, letting ki run through the arm and out through...Pinkie? lower part of hand? well that has varied in how I've heard it and I'll defer to folks who teach it that way. Personally, I found this a good way to experience it, as I was used to moving energy around prior to training in aikido....
From a visualization point of view, picturing holding a giant beach ball.....
etc....

dalen7
06-19-2007, 11:42 PM
I've seen many explanations of unbendable arm, using different metaphors or ways of expressing it, and seen different folks "get it" from one or another metaphor.

And thats whats cool is to have the flexibility to be able to understand the metaphor is not the action. Its easy to get lost in the 'pointer' and not see to where the word is pointing.

Hey it happened with me when I first heard unbendable arm.
When I was playing around with it, I came up with my own ideas as mentioned in earlier post on this thread which resemble some of your latter explanations.

Peace

Dalen

kironin
06-20-2007, 12:47 AM
I found this 'explaination' of unbendable arm. Thoughts?

http://ofinterest.net/Ua/arm2.html#1

Jon

Well known link, been up for many years.

My thoughts is that it is not very interesting, it's an explanation that misses the point and probably a response thought up by someone that was introduced to unbendable arm by a teacher that didn't understand the point.

compare the conclusions/explanation with

Once you master the concept of power flowing outward you can clench your fist or leave your fingers limp, and B will still be unable to bend your arm. This has nothing to do with the shape of your hand. Even with your arm bent ... your arm will be unbendable.

The unbendable arm has been in floating in western martial arts circles for over 40 years now and been picked up by various teachers outside of aikido often incorrectly and for sometimes very bad reasons. (I think there was an article on it in Black Belt magazine back in the sixties.)

Ecosamurai
06-20-2007, 04:34 AM
Can I expect an audio recording of a derisive snort in the mail?:D

I'm sure it can be arranged if it makes you happy.

Tailoring language to a specific person is useful when teaching IME. But discussing on the internet is not teaching, not to mention that you cannot tailor language to the world in general. Is it any wonder I couldn't understand what you were talking about when you dropped in a seemingly random statement? Just looked like presumptuous twaddle to me, thus my response.

You'll note that I put the word 'if' in italics right?

Mike

Ecosamurai
06-20-2007, 04:41 AM
I found this 'explaination' of unbendable arm. Thoughts?

http://ofinterest.net/Ua/arm2.html#1

Jon

It's a debunking that anyone who knows what unbendable arm is about would regard as totally redundant IMO. It assumes we're trying to pass of some mystical nonsense as reality (we are not) and as I said before it only addresses what I think of as the baby level of unbendable arm.

Mike

philippe willaume
06-20-2007, 05:13 AM
Hello
May be it just a way to explain things.
Ki/chi comes from a time where it was all they have to explain thing rationally.
By rationally I mean in accordance with the view of the world they had at the time and tool they had to express it.
As someone said before Ki is used as well to express the result of photosytesis

Equally you can explain any ki- exercise by using contemporary biomechanics and Newtonian physics. At the end language and science are just here to describe and explain phenomenon we see in the real world
So, I would say that this article is a little simplistic explanation of what happen. It passes over body alignment and getting other muscle group to play in order to "stabilise" articulation
And the fact that the force (in the Newtonian sense) that we are developing is tending to 90º degree which makes the vectorial projection of the bending force (ie what we have to actually oppose tending toward zero.

When using biceps, the nature of the movement make the force we generate and the force he generated goes in direct opposition. The angle between the forces tends toward 180.
On the top of that biceps are the muscle that flexes the forarm. Which is what bending the arm is…Ie we are using a muscle group to stop what something that goes in the way of what it is designed to do and it is antagonist to the triceps

Ie we need to generate atforce of an intensity, least equal to the generated to bend the arm.
Using the triceps alone (ie without that forward felling) makes that task easier as the triceps muscle group is usually a stronger muscle group tham the biceps. (and it is easier to "solidify" the shoulder) so production and application of the forces is facilitated
This is usually what people successfully resisting with strength uses (they will have as well a good body alignment and they will get an angle round 45º)

If we can move the angle between the forces towards 90º, the intensity of the force exerted by our opponent will be greatly reduced
Ie if he produces 100 N , we will have to produce only 50 to resist him if we get 45º angle between that get even smaller when you get close to 90º
And that exactly what that "extension" forward does.

Which in returns negates the need of big contractions, and if the body posture is right we can use the skeleton as transmission shaft for other muscle groups without too much depletion. All you then need in the arm is enough force to keep the articulation in position which is negligible compared to the other forces involved.(and the triceps is responsible for that in that exercise

So as Craig said you can have a closed fist or even already bended arm, it does not really matter.

Phil

Ecosamurai
06-20-2007, 08:43 AM
I think this just reflects the emphasis in training.

But it might also reflect that some of the higher level training was a refinement in Tohei Sensei's thinking in the 30 years since he left the Aikikai, and that is reflected in the groups sprung from his aproach in the mid-80's on that kept an emphasis on ki training in their curriculum (Shin Budo Kai being the one I am most familiar with).

SNIP

I teach it to my Iaido students because it is definitely applicable to the internal aspects of their iai.

Not sure but I probably agree with you. We've been independent from Ki Soc since the mid to late 1980s (not sure of the exact date) and we seem to do pretty well so I'm not sure that it'd be a refinement of Tohei's thinking. Probably as you suggest, a case of de-emphasis (which is pretty much what - according to his writings - Tohei Sensei observed upon returning to Hawaii IMHO). Of course the only way to be sure is for us to meet up and train together :D :D :D

I was asked to do an aikido demo at an iaido seminar a few months back. They seemed really interested in the ki training, so I'm not surprised it helps your iaido guys :) I'm just starting out in MJER really so I'll see what's what in good time I imagine.

Best

Mike

James Davis
06-20-2007, 10:48 AM
I'm sure it can be arranged if it makes you happy.

Heh.:D

You'll note that I put the word 'if' in italics right?

Mike


Yup. Notice the smiley after that sentence about the snort?:p

No offense intended or taken. No biggie. Let's move on.:)

Sorry for being unclear. When I'm on my lunch break, sometimes I'm pressed for time. I tend to post really shortly and explain myself when I get off work. This probably won't be the last time either.:o

Beard of Chuck Norris
06-20-2007, 11:09 AM
I'll throw in my 2 cents.. which, in aiki money converts to about the square root of nowt.

"Relax" is a term often confused. As mentioned it does not mean go limp but implies a "supple readiness" without tension.

Unbendable arm is great fun. I like to teach it to my buddies when we go to the boozer. I just do like Mike Haft has said (funny that eh mike?) and get them to tense up first and i bend their arm. Then i get them to reach for something without moving. It's brilliant the look on their faces. I prefer to imagine reaching out rather than projecting something out, just what works for me in terms of extension; same thing.

I'm only starting to grasp this stuff. Far from easy to let go of the way you've been operating your body your whole life!

Peace and love

Upyu
06-21-2007, 12:07 AM
BTDT :)
See the Baseline Skillset Thread

Ecosamurai
06-21-2007, 04:57 AM
BTDT :)
See the Baseline Skillset Thread

Yeah I know, but so far there seems to be less aggro here than in that particular nasty mess of a thread :)

You guys (meaning Akuzawa etc) ever gonna be in the UK for a visit?

Mike

kironin
06-21-2007, 08:48 AM
Not sure but I probably agree with you. We've been independent from Ki Soc since the mid to late 1980s (not sure of the exact date) and we seem to do pretty well so I'm not sure that it'd be a refinement of Tohei's thinking. Probably as you suggest, a case of de-emphasis (which is pretty much what - according to his writings - Tohei Sensei observed upon returning to Hawaii IMHO). Of course the only way to be sure is for us to meet up and train together :D :D :D


I think you may have misunderstood me. Of course, I don't know how you guys train, but I was attempting to draw a distinction between groups that are serious about retaining ki training in their regular practice and those that pay a little lip service but really have kept only the most rudimentary exercises if anything at all. I didn't imagine you in the later category. I only directly know what's going on in North America.


I was asked to do an aikido demo at an iaido seminar a few months back. They seemed really interested in the ki training, so I'm not surprised it helps your iaido guys :) I'm just starting out in MJER really so I'll see what's what in good time I imagine.

Best
Mike

that's a good sign. they definitely should be interested.

After a few years training and you start to have good foundation skill set in your iaido, I bet you will find it quite interesting to see how what your ki training informs you and interacts with you iai training process.

mikebalko
06-21-2007, 04:18 PM
I found this 'explaination' of unbendable arm. Thoughts?

http://ofinterest.net/Ua/arm2.html#1

Jon

Not a good explanation and describes the opposite of aikido, judo, jujutsu. He says that in order to resist having your arm bent you should contract and tense your triceps straightening out your arm which is using your muscles against your partner's muscles. This doesn't work if he is much stronger than you and will get you hurt if he posesses any cunning. You should never contract or tense up. Tohei said that being relaxed is all he ever learned of value from
O sensei, maybe he should have stuck around a bit longer.

In an article by Robert W. Smith entitled "My Aikido Interlude" which appeared on the front page of Aikido Journal recently we see an example of how Tohei himself couldn't make the unbendable arm work by not respecting the basic principles of aikido known as zanshin (hyper awareness against a treacherous attack) and maai(proper distancing)

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=640

If your partner who is tryng to bend your arm wants to not only show you up but hurt you he can wait until you have locked your own arm out at the elbow by "projecting" or "reaching" and then suddenly change direction and slam his arm up instead of down while holding your wrist with the other hand and break your arm at the elbow, ripping your biceps and tearing tendons and ligaments along the way. Reaching at this distance also leaves you wide open to all manner of hip and shoulder throws. It isn't hard to bend a guy's arm after you have knocked him unconscious by dropping him on his head!

This non-sense about extension in order to let your magic ki laser beams which originate in your belly shoot out of your finger tips to make your waza irresistibly powerful or to make your arms unbendable or your body immoveable taught by many aikido "masters" is suicidal at empty handed (both of you) standing grappling and striking distances. This straight armed extension/reaching is effective when you are unarmed and it is used to reach/deflect the arm(s) of someone who is attacking you with a weapon or weapons (without taking a step forward) from far enough away that you can't reach his wrist with a bent arm without you taking a step forward (which leaves you open to be kicked if he is standing still with both feet together over a solid, balanced, versatile base). It can also be used when you are holding a weapon or weapons and your attackers are not, in order to lure them into trying to grab your arms(s) so that you can counterstrike just before they get a grip or so that you can perform throws/joint locks rather than just using your weapon to keep them at bay.

Another option of countering the manner of "unbendable arm" described in your link is the one in the article I provided a link to. Here the judoka made use of a preemptive off balancing known as kuzushi as all good judoka do. First you put downward pressure on the inside of the elbow, when you encounter resistance, you take a step back causing your partner to lose balance forcing him to take a step forward, you then explosively bend forward, even dropping to your knees(seiza) and touch your forehead to the floor like bowing. Not only will this bend the arm it can cause your partner's chin to slam into the back of your head, shoulder or upper back.

The unbendable arm is really a lesson in the proper use of strength through maai and zanshin and not a test of focus, strength or proof of "magic internal energy" even though it is often used to impress the supersticious and gullible. If you want to make the unbendable arm work and not have to make a bunch of lame excuses about why it didn't, something all to common in aikido, first place yourself very close to your partner. Stand facing each other, your chest should be no more than a foot from your partner's. Put your right forearm on his left shoulder, not your wrist, the part of your forearm just below your elbow. Now not only is your partner in a position where he is unable to use all of his strength effectively, by trying to bend your arm he is pushing down into his own chest and into the ground. Your arm is also in a nice strong slightly bent position so he can't change directions and break it. Working at this distance makes it easier to stick to him like glue if he tries to take that step to execute kuzushi. Always maintain the inital distancing and position in relation to the bender. Another advantage is that if the person testing you decides to sucker punch or stike you in any way he is standing to close to put enough power behind it to do any real damage that would take you out if you are aware and it is easier to blend with it and counter it.

For a simple example of the principle behind the unbendable arm grab a pencil by both ends with both hands and snap it in half. Now grab one of the pieces and with the thumbs and fingers of both hands about an inch apart try to snap that piece in half.

"...attain victoy by placing yourself always in a safe and unassailable position."

O sensei Morihei Ueshiba

R.E.A.F AIKIDO, MONTREAL.

Upyu
06-22-2007, 12:48 AM
Yeah I know, but so far there seems to be less aggro here than in that particular nasty mess of a thread :)

You guys (meaning Akuzawa etc) ever gonna be in the UK for a visit?

Mike

Mmmm.. well we are in Europe once a year, so if someone could step up and organize something I'm sure he'd be over in a heart beat :)

As far as the thread goes, you have to admit, the aggro made it more entertaining :D
Besides, never hurts to see a different way of explaining the skills being talked about.

Ecosamurai
06-22-2007, 03:16 AM
Mmmm.. well we are in Europe once a year, so if someone could step up and organize something I'm sure he'd be over in a heart beat :)

Maybe next year :)

As far as the thread goes, you have to admit, the aggro made it more entertaining :D
Besides, never hurts to see a different way of explaining the skills being talked about.

Gave me a headache really... no, it never hurts to see the same stuff explained differently, getting it done without bloodshed is sometimes tricky though.... :)

Mike

Jonshez
06-22-2007, 06:37 AM
After reading this thread (and one of the others linked from the bottom) I thought I would practice unbendable arm with my Mrs. My other half doesn't train and doesn't know anything about ki, so I explained by asking her to imagine reaching for a hanging plant basket above and in front of her.
Result - her unbendable arm was incredible. Absolutley strong yet relaxed and stretching.
Honestly I was amazed. I didn't use aikido terminology, no "extending ki" or "relax". Her natural 'extension' has taught me quite a bit about my own technique.

Jon

miratim
06-22-2007, 11:22 AM
As a variation, unliftable arm is just as important as unbendable.

Ecosamurai
06-22-2007, 11:56 AM
As a variation, unliftable arm is just as important as unbendable.

Unbendable arm should also be unraisable at the higher levels.

Mike

kironin
06-23-2007, 01:34 AM
more to the point, unraisable arm and unbendable arm are aspects of the same thing.

when you are doing that thing that Tohei Sensei likes to call mind and body coordination, then your extended arm is unraisable as well as unbendable. The testing is about guiding you to do that thing.

It's really not a higher level to have unraisable as well as unliftable. That's really part of the basic level.

What most people consider unbendable is the baby step unbendable arm. In that first basic step, doing it correctly also means someone cannot lift you extended arm with pressue applied above the elbow.

The next step is to be able to do unbendable arm with the pressure applied to the hand rather than the forearm and unliftable test with pressure applied near the wrist rather than above the elbow.

The third step is to be able to do unbendable arm with the pressure applied to the fingers rather than the hand and unliftable with pressure applied to the hand rather above the wrist.

Those are the basic levels.

The actual higher levels are done like the third step above but test are performed with various applications of Ki by the tester to break/overcome/upset the mind and body coordination. If your mind is captured your body will follow.

Michael Douglas
06-23-2007, 06:35 AM
...
If your partner who is tryng to bend your arm wants to not only show you up but hurt you he can wait until you have locked your own arm out at the elbow by "projecting" or "reaching" and then suddenly change direction and slam his arm up instead of down while holding your wrist with the other hand and break your arm at the elbow, ripping your biceps and tearing tendons and ligaments along the way. Reaching at this distance also leaves you wide open to all manner of hip and shoulder throws. It isn't hard to bend a guy's arm after you have knocked him unconscious by dropping him on his head!...
Hey lighten up!
You got no sense of humerus.

Ecosamurai
06-23-2007, 09:02 AM
It's really not a higher level to have unraisable as well as unliftable. That's really part of the basic level.

LOL, I was trying to keep it simple, but yeah. What Craig said.

Basically, unbendable arm is commonly misunderstood because the baby step that is taught in 5 min or so is confused by people thinking that this is the whole of the exercise. It is not.

Mike

miratim
06-24-2007, 01:35 AM
The third step is to be able to do unbendable arm with the pressure applied to the fingers rather than the hand and unliftable with pressure applied to the hand rather above the wrist.


Hi Craig- that's some good information! Would it be possible for you to go into more detail on how (positioning, direction) pressure is applied to the fingers to test unbendable?

Ecosamurai
06-24-2007, 06:37 AM
Hi Craig- that's some good information! Would it be possible for you to go into more detail on how (positioning, direction) pressure is applied to the fingers to test unbendable?

I'm not Craig, nor do I play him on TV but I'll try an answer.

Depending on what exactly you are testing for. Grasp the fingertips and apply pressure directly back along the horizontal plane, the fingers should not collapse. Another (more difficult) test is to apply same pressure only this time upwards at an angle of 45 degrees.

There's more but I think that might answer your question. In any case, talking about it isn't the same as feeling it, and you need to be tested by someone who has good mind and body coordination to really appreciate the test and get the most from it.

Mike

miratim
06-24-2007, 12:09 PM
In any case, talking about it isn't the same as feeling it, and you need to be tested by someone who has good mind and body coordination to really appreciate the test and get the most from it.

Got it (as much as one can by not seeing or feeling it). Thanks, gives me some things to experiment with.

graham
06-25-2007, 02:50 AM
As a 1-year old newbie, I have to say that unbendable arm (and the principles that it contains) is one of the most helpful things I've been taught.

It conveys, practically, a number of the principles of Ki Aikido and I use it for everything from forward rolls to simply holding my partner's wrist when standing "First form".

Am I a bad Aikidoka if I admit that it's also a nifty party trick?! ;)

xuzen
06-25-2007, 03:25 AM
let me try to describe the " unbendable arm" my way ;

If you are holding a shinai or jo... ask your partner to hit with their weapon. If you grip too hard, your weapon may slip out of your grip. If you grip it too loosely, a good whack by your partner will also hit your weapon out of your grip.

The unbendable arm feeling is when, your grip is taut but not tight, relaxed but not limp. Your grip is alive, i.e, will constantly adjust to the external force faced.

Not exactly standard unbendable arm test, but close enough feeling to it.

Boon.

kironin
06-25-2007, 11:47 AM
If you are holding a shinai or jo... ask your partner to hit with their weapon. If you grip too hard, your weapon may slip out of your grip. If you grip it too loosely, a good whack by your partner will also hit your weapon out of your grip.

The unbendable arm feeling is when, your grip is taut but not tight, relaxed but not limp. Your grip is alive, i.e, will constantly adjust to the external force faced.


good. which is precisely why a good swordsman has somehow picked the feeling meant to be trained by practicing the unbendable arm exercise and why I teach it to my Iaido students. Especially useful to infuse life into their solo kata and kumi dachi practice.

gripping the weapon in such a way with unbendable arm allows you to control the weapon securely while at the same time be very responsive as well making the weapon truely an extension of yourself. It makes it very hard to succeed at usual kenjutsu techniques of batting your sword away while giving you a better feel for how to succeed at moving or deflecting your opponent's sword out of the way and entering. They have to up their skill level and understanding of such things as unbendable arm or they will find it impossible to defend against you.

philippe willaume
06-26-2007, 03:35 AM
Hello
Well I would say that is a bit excessive here. I am the first on to say that a good akidoka will be a good fencer and that our system (provided that it has a weapons syllabus) has all you need to be a good fencer.
At the end of the day, we could say that aikido is fencing principles and “tway of moving” applied to open hand.

However there is a few bits that we “miss” to make us impossible to defend against as far as a trained swordsman is concerned.
By miss I mean they are there in the awasai and the kumitachis with sword and body variation.
So we have all we need but, it is really one step removed of fencing application

I really needed to study German medieval fencing to see the link with a sword fight and how what we do in aikido makes senses fencing wise and how to use it safely

phil

Ecosamurai
06-26-2007, 06:39 AM
Hello
Well I would say that is a bit excessive here. I am the first on to say that a good akidoka will be a good fencer and that our system (provided that it has a weapons syllabus) has all you need to be a good fencer.
At the end of the day, we could say that aikido is fencing principles and "tway of moving" applied to open hand.

However there is a few bits that we "miss" to make us impossible to defend against as far as a trained swordsman is concerned.
By miss I mean they are there in the awasai and the kumitachis with sword and body variation.
So we have all we need but, it is really one step removed of fencing application

I really needed to study German medieval fencing to see the link with a sword fight and how what we do in aikido makes senses fencing wise and how to use it safely

phil

Don't know much about fencing (European fencing), but if you're talking about aikido being all you need to know about Japanese fencing (kendo) you're plain wrong. The aikido I/we practice has an extensive weapons syllabus with lots of swordwork, my teachers primary teacher was an iaidoka and kendoka as well as aikidoka.

I also study kendo and iaido and I can promise you that most aikidoka who have never studied an external sword art would get eaten alive by even a moderately skilled kendoka. Even with our heavily sword influenced background my aikiken wasn't enough to do anything other than stand my ground against mudansha when I first started kendo.

Also if you think that aikido is just sword principles applied to empty handed techniques it suggests you've probably never studied the Japanese sword in any great depth (at least to me it does). While aikido movements are certainly related to sword movements and other weapons movements they are not the same. Even if aikido movements all derived from sword movements, you cannot reverse engineer aikido movements to produce sword movements (as most aikiken seems to be) that are of any real use.

Unbendable arm is a useful thing to understand when using a sword as it helps you to extend ki through the sword and make it more a natural extension of your own body than an alien thing in your hand. At least in my experience it has been that way. Other aspects of tohei mind and body coordination help too with things like effecient cutting movements (by using weight underside) and also iaigoshi and moving your feet from iaigoshi etc etc as all movements in iaigoshi need to be executed from your one point or hara for them to be worthwhile.

Other interesting things I've noticed are that only the biggest guys at kendo can move me in tsubazeriai (where you stand toe to toe pushing the tsuba of the shinai against each other), and even they tend not to be able to move me too far.

Regards

Mike

Beard of Chuck Norris
06-26-2007, 08:04 AM
Other interesting things I've noticed are that only the biggest guys at kendo can move me in tsubazeriai (where you stand toe to toe pushing the tsuba of the shinai against each other), and even they tend not to be able to move me too far.

Regards

Mike

I'll put that to the test on Wednesday!

BWAHAHAHAHA! evileyes

Ecosamurai
06-26-2007, 08:18 AM
I'll put that to the test on Wednesday!

BWAHAHAHAHA! evileyes

Be my guest :) hehehe... I'd say we're about even, not bad considering you outweigh me by about 80lbs :D evileyes

Mike

Ecosamurai
06-26-2007, 08:25 AM
Hello
Well I would say that is a bit excessive here. I am the first on to say that a good akidoka will be a good fencer and that our system (provided that it has a weapons syllabus) has all you need to be a good fencer.
At the end of the day, we could say that aikido is fencing principles and "tway of moving" applied to open hand.

However there is a few bits that we "miss" to make us impossible to defend against as far as a trained swordsman is concerned.
By miss I mean they are there in the awasai and the kumitachis with sword and body variation.
So we have all we need but, it is really one step removed of fencing application

I really needed to study German medieval fencing to see the link with a sword fight and how what we do in aikido makes senses fencing wise and how to use it safely

phil

Hang on, think I got the wrong end of the stick, please ignore my previous post. I got a bit confused by your English sorry.

Mike

philippe willaume
06-26-2007, 10:02 AM
Don't know much about fencing (European fencing), but if you're talking about aikido being all you need to know about Japanese fencing (kendo) you're plain wrong. The aikido I/we practice has an extensive weapons syllabus with lots of swordwork, my teachers primary teacher was an iaidoka and kendoka as well as aikidoka.
I also study kendo and iaido and I can promise you that most aikidoka who have never studied an external sword art would get eaten alive by even a moderately skilled kendoka. Even with our heavily sword influenced background my aikiken wasn't enough to do anything other than stand my ground against mudansha when I first started kendo.
Mike
hello mike
Well, no I was saying exactly the opposite as I understood that it was exactly what kironin was saying. Basically I think we are on the same length wave, I e There is enough in aikido to make a you a good swordsman but you are missing elementary bit.

I can not talk to much about kendo other than may nephew got is first Dan in japan and that from what I can see it is related in the same way to kenjustsu as olimpic fencing is related to proper fencing. That is if you are so inclined to believe that rapier or small sword fencing is proper fencing (which I am not, both being civilian weapons).


Also if you think that aikido is just sword principles applied to empty handed techniques it suggests you've probably never studied the Japanese sword in any great depth (at least to me it does). While aikido movements are certainly related to sword movements and other weapons movements they are not the same. Even if aikido movements all derived from sword movements, you cannot reverse engineer aikido movements to produce sword movements (as most aikiken seems to be) that are of any real use.
Mike
I would say that it is probably a matter of the style of aikido you particle and the style of swordsmanship.

I had to do a bit of medieval fencing for a movie (reclaiming the blade) and since there was some projections involved with wrestling at the sword.
I asked my Glorious leader if he would not mind taking ukemi for me and being the baddy. (And that was the occasion for me to snot him back in re-payment for all the time I have been his tatami dusting implement.)

He never handled a long sword of his life but it was dead easy for me to explain what he has to do just by saying it as in the x saburi or that bit of the awasai.
I would say that for him to get Ringeck's longsword would be equivalent to teach someone who can ride how to joust. (basically half a day on couching the lance)

I mean at the technical level, the weapons are very similar, the jo is really what you do when you half-sword.
What I had in mind with the link between swordsmanship was more of a tactical nature, though as you pointed out the some sword/Jo moves can be found in what we do with open hands

phil

Beard of Chuck Norris
06-26-2007, 10:33 AM
I can not talk to much about kendo other than may nephew got is first Dan in japan and that from what I can see it is related in the same way to kenjustsu as olimpic fencing is related to proper fencing.

No no no.

Ecosamurai
06-26-2007, 10:34 AM
hello mike
Well, no I was saying exactly the opposite as I understood that it was exactly what kironin was saying. Basically I think we are on the same length wave

Yeah, noticed that a bit too late, sorry about that :)

With regard to kendo versus swordsmanship and Olympic fencing versus fencing, yeah, I agree, there are a bunch of distinctions. Though not quite what you had in mind I don't think.

What I think Craig was saying about unbendable arm and swords was that a great many of the waza used for deflecting your opponents blade are more difficult to achieve against someone who is holding the blade in a coordinated manner with unbendable arm and mind and good body coordination. I know this is true from personal experience. In the beginning levels of kendo, kihon keiko ho exercises are practiced, the third of which is harai men (sweeping the opponents sword to one side and striking their head). I've found that if I hold my sword in a calm and coordinated way (i.e. with unbendable arm etc) the harai doesn't really work very well and no opening for the men strike is created.

Mike

kironin
06-26-2007, 11:59 AM
Hello
However there is a few bits that we "miss" to make us impossible to defend against as far as a trained swordsman is concerned.
By miss I mean they are there in the awasai and the kumitachis with sword and body variation.
So we have all we need but, it is really one step removed of fencing application


You have missed that I wasn't talking about aikido at that point. Frankly, I wince most of the time I see aikidoist handling a bokken. I was talking as someone who has studied traditional Japaneses swordmanship separate from aikido.

I agree. Aiki-ken is wholly different animal. That was not the context in which I was thinking. Aiki-ken is really exercises in aikido body movement and most of the paired practice if it was to be taken out of that context would need to be completely tossed out. There is an interesting idea here or there but most of it would just get you killed in a real sword engagement.

same for the jo, for that matter.

philippe willaume
06-26-2007, 12:07 PM
Hello
I think we are on the same length wave about kendo and Olympic fencing. Not that both are related just that they are a sporty version of fencing. I.e. the aim is to sore point and strategy and tactic have been developed for that as well as technique optimised to that effect.

I have to say that I did not really understood Craig point and it probably has to do with that difference between kendo and fencing.

If I use the exemple you give with the harai-men
Staying where you are is good for kendo but it is detrimental for fencing.
With the rules of kendo, when grappling is not allowed and the target very specified; he is looking to use the sweep to clean the centre line to gain entrance and strike (the head in our case )
So making the harai fail is good as he does not have other options

Provided that the harai has not been done like a donkey, in fencing he can cover up our sword, using is tsuba,/cross guard to avoid us sliding down the blade and cut his hands and then try to cut in the throat, side of the head or shoulder or simply enter to wrestle.

So we really have interest to take advantage of the fact that harai remove his point from our centreline to act there (by changing through and thrusting to his chest) or if we are taken buy surprise stick to his blade with the long edge (the edge for a one edged blade) as he comes back so that we protect ourselves and hit (cut or thrust him the shoulder/face/upper chest. We can do that omote and ura. (Though ura is better for wrestling.)
I would not be surprised if some kenjutsu school (especially if the like to maintain sword contact), use that harai to present the point and switching to the back edge on his sword as soon as both sword strikes (This exactly what we are told to do I ringeck longsword)

What ever option we use, it is based on the un-bendable arm and aliveness of the hands. But I failed to see that it was indeed usefull for kendo in the way Craig mentioned. (oops)

phil

philippe willaume
06-26-2007, 12:17 PM
You have missed that I wasn't talking about aikido at that point. Frankly, I wince most of the time I see aikidoist handling a bokken. I was talking as someone who has studied traditional Japaneses swordmanship separate from aikido.


Hello Craig, yes I totally misunderstood you.

I agree. Aiki-ken is wholly different animal. That was not the context in which I was thinking. Aiki-ken is really exercises in aikido body movement and most of the paired practice if it was to be taken out of that context would need to be completely tossed out. There is an interesting idea here or there but most of it would just get you killed in a real sword engagement.

same for the jo, for that matter.

That is an interesting discussion point, thoughI do not really agree. I think all is good in aikiken, no it is not a weapon system as such it is out of context however technically it does make sense.

But may be it is derailing the tread and may be we should start a new one

gregg block
06-26-2007, 06:12 PM
Unbendable arm is an example of extention. It's in many Aikido techniques. Thats what it is. Maybe other Aikido styles call it something else I dont know.

roadster
06-27-2007, 03:22 AM
And here I thought I was unknowingly tapping into the "force".

http://img222.imageshack.us/img222/68/vadertainohenkoew2.jpg

Beard of Chuck Norris
06-27-2007, 03:29 AM
lol erik. :D and I love "the drama" video too.

Larry Cuvin
06-27-2007, 09:25 AM
[QUOTE=Erik Jacobson;181900]And here I thought I was unknowingly tapping into the "force".

Indeed you are my padawan learner!:D

philippe willaume
06-28-2007, 02:56 AM
[QUOTE=Erik Jacobson;181900]And here I thought I was unknowingly tapping into the "force".

Indeed you are my padawan learner!:D

well you can learn it but not from a jedi

Larry Cuvin
06-28-2007, 09:10 AM
Jedi...aikidoka...just semantics. :D

Tambreet
06-28-2007, 10:27 AM
At least before Toyoda Sensei passed away, AAA after reconnecting with the Aikikai in 1990's retained unbendable arm as a part of kyu tests, but it seemed to me to be practiced very little and even then at a very elementary level. Students that followed Toyoda Sensei from Ki Society have a more sophisticated understanding, but in my experience students and more recent teachers did not. I use this as just an example, where there is sort of a loss of transmission because of de-emphasis in training.


I train AAA-style and it's still a pretty important part of our training. It is still part of the first belt test, and it's often the first thing taught in our intro classes. While we don't practice it on its own that much outside of beginners' classes, it's an integral part of every technique we do.

CitoMaramba
06-28-2007, 11:27 AM
I was wondering if the practice of "unbendable arm" did originate from Koichi Tohei or if it was performed earlier by either O-Sensei or even Sokaku Takeda. Then I found this article on Aikido Journal:
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=232

At one point, the article describes a demonstration by Sokaku Takeda:

"Then Sokaku called on a huge man named Shoji who was a fifth dan in Judo and said, “You can twist or lower my arm any way you want.” He offered his extended arm to the man. Everyone present was astonished.
A highly skilled judo expert with a large frame, Shoji tried to twist and raise Sokaku’s outstretched arm in various ways, but he could not move it at all. Finally, Shoji stood on the insteps of Sokaku while holding and hanging on his arm. Though he applied great force, he could not lower Sokaku’s arm at all. Shoji was helpless against Sokaku’s muscular arm. Sokaku was a small man, but his arms, which had been trained through the sword since childhood, were hard as the root of a tree. Everyone was surprised at the strength of his arms."

Was this a demonstration of unbendable arm?

Ecosamurai
06-28-2007, 03:34 PM
Was this a demonstration of unbendable arm?

Yes. The main difference is the teaching methodology used by Tohei IMO, which comes from the Tempukai.

Mike

DH
06-28-2007, 08:22 PM
I was wondering if the practice of "unbendable arm" did originate from Koichi Tohei or if it was performed earlier by either O-Sensei or even Sokaku Takeda. Then I found this article on Aikido Journal:
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=232

At one point, the article describes a demonstration by Sokaku Takeda:

"Then Sokaku called on a huge man named Shoji who was a fifth dan in Judo and said, “You can twist or lower my arm any way you want.” He offered his extended arm to the man. Everyone present was astonished.
A highly skilled judo expert with a large frame, Shoji tried to twist and raise Sokaku’s outstretched arm in various ways, but he could not move it at all. Finally, Shoji stood on the insteps of Sokaku while holding and hanging on his arm. Though he applied great force, he could not lower Sokaku’s arm at all. Shoji was helpless against Sokaku’s muscular arm. Sokaku was a small man, but his arms, which had been trained through the sword since childhood, were hard as the root of a tree. Everyone was surprised at the strength of his arms."

Was this a demonstration of unbendable arm?

Quotes from several of those who trained with him declared him as thin and even specifically mentioned that his arms were soft and not well developed. How does that gel with the description of his arms being hard?
Very well if you know what made them feel that way.

Ueshiba's students talked about his arms being slack like an old man's and when he hit the mat to begin training -they "popped" and become like steel.
How does that make sense? It all makes sense if you let go of the muscle-chaining flex ideal.
I think its more important to think of the unbendable mind/ body driving the arm.

Ecosamurai
06-29-2007, 02:03 AM
It all makes sense if you let go of the muscle-chaining flex ideal.
I think its more important to think of the unbendable mind/ body driving the arm.

Which is of course what the entire unbendable arm exercise is about in the first place. :)

Mike

DH
06-29-2007, 07:36 AM
Which is of course what the entire unbendable arm exercise is about in the first place. :)

Mike
The problem is there are several ways it can be done. Even a simple wresttlers "stretch through" will make it work. So it sends out a mixed message that Johnies wife can "do it" after 1 minutes instruction. With such a mindset anyone and everyone "understands" it, yet how many can really accomplish anything with it outside of a demonstration in any real sense

kironin
07-04-2007, 02:40 PM
The problem is there are several ways it can be done. Even a simple wresttlers "stretch through" will make it work. So it sends out a mixed message that Johnies wife can "do it" after 1 minutes instruction. With such a mindset anyone and everyone "understands" it, yet how many can really accomplish anything with it outside of a demonstration in any real sense

very good point.

but in a perverse way I like that, the idea that a secret is right out in the open that is only accessible to those curious enough and discerning enough to dig deeper. In way, most sort themselves out and never know it. I said it was a perverse way of thinking about it. I have taught long enough to realize that only a few people are really interested in delving deeper and challenging any preconceptions they may have formed in training.