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Nick Pagnucco
08-01-2007, 08:22 PM
Just was curious about how people tenkan. I understand there are many ways to do things, and its whatever feels good... but I'm looking for opinions, people! ;)

To state the obvious, there is a front foot and a back foot, each with heel and a ball of the foot.

When you tenkan, are you using the balls or heel of your front or back foot? Balls of the feet for both? Heels for both? Balls for one, heels for the other?

Tim Griffiths
08-01-2007, 08:37 PM
Balls all the way. :D

In the 'normal' aikido stance, I want to have the feeling of slightly focusing forward, which translates to a little more pressure on the balls of the feet rather than the heels. Off-hand, I can't think of any classic aikido movement or posture where you want to have a lot of weight on your heels - it doesn't lend itself to stepping offline fast - which we want to do a lot.

A lot of Chinese MAs use a 90 degree pivot on the heel of the foot - its a classic move in Tai Chi and Wing Chun. It works very well there, because it allows a very fast turn, and there's little movement around the opponent (one Wing Chun friend I used to play around with would complain that I kept trying to move around him, rather than stand toe-to-toe. Well duh).

Train well,

Tim

Upyu
08-01-2007, 09:05 PM
Balls all the way. :D

In the 'normal' aikido stance, I want to have the feeling of slightly focusing forward, which translates to a little more pressure on the balls of the feet rather than the heels. Off-hand, I can't think of any classic aikido movement or posture where you want to have a lot of weight on your heels - it doesn't lend itself to stepping offline fast - which we want to do a lot.

A lot of Chinese MAs use a 90 degree pivot on the heel of the foot - its a classic move in Tai Chi and Wing Chun. It works very well there, because it allows a very fast turn, and there's little movement around the opponent (one Wing Chun friend I used to play around with would complain that I kept trying to move around him, rather than stand toe-to-toe. Well duh).

Train well,

Tim

I'd disagree with that notion.
You can have the weight fall to the heels and still step very nimbly, actually "more" nimbly than if you have the weight fall to the balls of the feet (this would include rotating moves like tenkan). The main reason is body connection. Heels are directly connected to the pelvic region which transfers to the koshi/tanden, up to the spine and head etc, 6 direction contradictory powers etc etc.

Basically it translates into more efficient motion since you're connected and moving as a whole.

I'd bet the reason that tai chi steps are formulated the way you described is to work on the connection in that manner. It's not so much a "technique".

eyrie
08-01-2007, 10:16 PM
If you transfer weight to the ball of your forward foot, at some point during the pivot, you will have to place weight on your heel in order to stabilize yourself.

Try it...

First step forward on the ball of your foot, then see how your upper stability is temporarily compromised as you pivot on it and bring your rear leg around you. You have to put your heel down.

Now try stepping forward heel first, then in one motion, pivot on the heel by turning your foot inward before bringing your rear foot around you.

Stepping heel first and pivoting on the heel means you don't have to waste that split second where you have to transfer weight to your heel to stabilize yourself during the pivot.

Which do you feel is more stable? My inclination is that one has to be stable through the entire movement.

YMMV....

Tim Griffiths
08-01-2007, 10:49 PM
If you transfer weight to the ball of your forward foot, at some point during the pivot, you will have to place weight on your heel in order to stabilize yourself.

Try it...

First step forward on the ball of your foot, then see how your upper stability is temporarily compromised as you pivot on it and bring your rear leg around you. You have to put your heel down.

Now try stepping forward heel first, then in one motion, pivot on the heel by turning your foot inward before bringing your rear foot around you.


Hmmm...I think its a YMMV moment.
I don't feel the need to put my heel down as you describe. And I feel that if I step forward onto my heel, I don't have the flexibility in the knee I want (clearly the knee must be bend less to step onto the heel than the ball).

I'd disagree with that notion.
You can have the weight fall to the heels and still step very nimbly, actually "more" nimbly than if you have the weight fall to the balls of the feet (this would include rotating moves like tenkan). The main reason is body connection. Heels are directly connected to the pelvic region which transfers to the koshi/tanden, up to the spine and head etc, 6 direction contradictory powers etc etc

I disagree that you can step more nimbly on your heels of your feet rather than the balls. In my defense I say look at the footwork from both boxers and western fencers - they require very nimble movements, are famous for staying on the balls of their feet and only 'plant' the foot when they need to generate a lot of force.
I DO agree that being on your heel gives you a fast pivot (as I said in my first post) - but a tenkan isn't just a pivot, and stepping offline onto the heel feels strange to me, at least right now in my office :).
I'd also say more 'body connection' doesn't make you more nimble - why not then lock your knees straight to improve it?

One thing an early sensei of mine emphasized, is to be quite light on the feet during movement and much more connected to the ground when you need to be. This is to help students to avoid 'stomping' from posture to posture but still have a good connection to the ground when they need to apply leverage.
Certainly this isn't the same in all aikido - maybe that's why we're not agreeing (although the differences are smaller than I'm making them sound here, I think).

(EDIT: Also, Tsugi-Ashi seems to designed to keep weight more onto the balls of your feet...or is that to stop your shoes falling off or tripping over your hakama? :D )
Tim

ChrisHein
08-01-2007, 11:06 PM
Well I'm pretty sure you're both wrong.

First of all you should pivot. Pivoting like ballet dancers do is a horrible idea for two reasons.

First off, it's hard on the knees. unless you're on ice, or ballet marley, twisting the foot into the ground with force is very hard on the ligaments of the knee. One of the main reasons so many AIkidoka have knee problems.

Secondly you can't pivot on grass like you can pivot on mud. You can't pivot on gravel like you can pivot on cement. You don’t pivot in dress shoes like you do in tennis shoes. See where I'm going here, you can't plan your terrain or foot wear in an actual fight. So this means you will have verying results with your pivots depending on what surface you're on. This can be a bad thing when you're in a panicked situation wearing dress shoes on linoleum. Particularly when you train barefoot on a rubberized surface.

So how do I believe you should tenkan? From the hip. You should pick the foot up, and place it down at the angle of the direction you wish to move. Turning the leg from the hip joint (not the knee please). This will give you a sharp turn, with out stress on the knee, that will allow you to have the same action on any reasonable surface, with any footwear.

I would also strongly recommend against training yourself "flat footed". Human beings move better from the ball of their foot then any other way. The reason for this is multi fold. You have a natural shock absorber on the ball of the foot. You can explode forward or backward much faster (ever watch sprinters or boxers). Among other things. You simply move better from the ball then with the heel down. Don't let em' catch you flat footed.

ChrisHein
08-01-2007, 11:46 PM
That should say

"First off you SHOULDN'T pivot"

eyrie
08-02-2007, 12:28 AM
First of all you should pivot. Pivoting like ballet dancers do is a horrible idea for two reasons. Shouldn't? Maybe you're thinking fouetté en tournant or piroutte or en dehors, which I think is different to pivoting within a martial context.

...twisting the foot into the ground with force is very hard on the ligaments of the knee. Er.. say what? I don't think anyone said that or inferred any such thing. How did you arrive at that assumption? I didn't think we were talking about Netball...

...you can't plan your terrain or foot wear in an actual fight. So this means you will have verying results with your pivots depending on what surface you're on. True, but I'm always in my steel caps... and thank God I don't have to wear those infernal dress shoes anymore...

So how do I believe you should tenkan? From the hip. You should pick the foot up, and place it down at the angle of the direction you wish to move. Turning the leg from the hip joint (not the knee please). Obviously.... you can't move your foot without first initiating it from the pelvic girdle. But if you're already moving forward and then have to change direction after you have placed your foot, how would you change the angle and direction in which your toes are pointed? Ball or heel? I think that's what Nick's asking....

Don't let em' catch you flat footed. What are you saying Chris? Too bad if one IS flat-footed? Can't do MA if you're flat footed? :D

Upyu
08-02-2007, 12:50 AM
Hmmm...I think its a YMMV moment.
I don't feel the need to put my heel down as you describe. And I feel that if I step forward onto my heel, I don't have the flexibility in the knee I want (clearly the knee must be bend less to step onto the heel than the ball).

I disagree that you can step more nimbly on your heels of your feet rather than the balls. In my defense I say look at the footwork from both boxers and western fencers - they require very nimble movements, are famous for staying on the balls of their feet and only 'plant' the foot when they need to generate a lot of force.
I DO agree that being on your heel gives you a fast pivot (as I said in my first post) - but a tenkan isn't just a pivot, and stepping offline onto the heel feels strange to me, at least right now in my office :).
I'd also say more 'body connection' doesn't make you more nimble - why not then lock your knees straight to improve it?

One thing an early sensei of mine emphasized, is to be quite light on the feet during movement and much more connected to the ground when you need to be. This is to help students to avoid 'stomping' from posture to posture but still have a good connection to the ground when they need to apply leverage.
Certainly this isn't the same in all aikido - maybe that's why we're not agreeing (although the differences are smaller than I'm making them sound here, I think).

(EDIT: Also, Tsugi-Ashi seems to designed to keep weight more onto the balls of your feet...or is that to stop your shoes falling off or tripping over your hakama? :D )
Tim

The difference between heel and toe is basically this, are you moving from the inside of the pelvic region (or koshi), or are you moving using the legs. There's a big difference ;)

Boxers and fencers aren' t the best examples since they're using an entirely different mode of movement. Within their particluar context moving from the balls of the feet give them more agility than the heels. If they were moving in a "different"/connected mode of movement things would probably be different.

And Chris, if you move from inside the pelvic region, there's no stress placed on the knees even when you move flat footed.

Just a note though, unless you specifically have someone point this principle out to you, or unless you're doing some kind of solo training designed to develop awareness of these aspects chances are good you'll never realize what's being talked about on this forum...sounds harsh, but its the way it is.
Its not something you can just read, go try in your living room and then say "naaah it doesnt work" ;)

Upyu
08-02-2007, 12:53 AM
Obviously.... you can't move your foot without first initiating it from the pelvic girdle.

Yea but I don't think most people initiate it from the pelvic girdle in a connected manner.
If you're already moving forward and then suddenly have to change direction, it shouldn't be a problem since technically you haven't committed your mass if you have 6 opposing forces in place in the body :)


What are you saying Chris? Too bad if one IS flat-footed? Can't do MA if you're flat footed? :D
Ark's flat footed and moves flat footed, but is one of the most agile "$"ers I know. If you're flat footed and your weight is commited, then its a nono, but if you're flat footed, but you haven't commited the weight, then it doesn't make a difference.

ChrisHein
08-02-2007, 02:09 AM
Ignatius Teo
How to answer your questions...

I think people are talking about pivoting, if they are not, then I was mistaken.

Pivoting is the act of grinding your foot into the ground, which hurts your ligaments.

I don't know what "steel caps" are, I'm not English.

I'm not talking about moving from the hip forward, I'm talking about turning from the hip in it’s socket.

"Flat footed" is an American expression which is often expressed in boxing, meaning that if you're not on the balls of your feet you are not moving correctly and will end up in a bad way if you get hit.

Yes Rob, that is what I'm saying, move from the hip not the knee.

Rob, it's so strange to me that all explosive athletics I can think of (Football, Tennis, Boxing, Sprinting, Jumping, Fencing etc.) people move from the ball of the foot. Ark should go get himself some gold metals and a football players salary...

eyrie
08-02-2007, 02:59 AM
If you're already moving forward and then suddenly have to change direction, it shouldn't be a problem since technically you haven't committed your mass if you have 6 opposing forces in place in the body :) Yes, but I think Nick is asking whether the weight should be on the ball or heel.

Ark's flat footed and moves flat footed, but is one of the most agile "$"ers I know. If you're flat footed and your weight is commited, then its a nono, but if you're flat footed, but you haven't commited the weight, then it doesn't make a difference. I read somewhere that being flat footed was actually GOOD for doing MA... but yeah, I agree, it's WHERE weight is committed that's the key...

eyrie
08-02-2007, 03:29 AM
I think people are talking about pivoting, if they are not, then I was mistaken. Pivoting is the act of grinding your foot into the ground, which hurts your ligaments. My English must be different to your English then... :D Pivot, I take to mean as "to turn around the vertical axis on a point - as in the action in basketball of stepping with one foot while keeping the other foot at its point of contact with the floor". It doesn't necessarily mean "grind the foot into the ground", it depends on how much weight you put on the pivoting foot

I don't know what "steel caps" are, I'm not English. Boots with steel plate toe caps inside - in case something heavy drops on your foot and you lose a coupla toes?

I'm not talking about moving from the hip forward, I'm talking about turning from the hip in it’s socket. Neither was I...

Nick Pagnucco
08-02-2007, 09:06 AM
Yes, but I think Nick is asking whether the weight should be on the ball or heel.

I read somewhere that being flat footed was actually GOOD for doing MA... but yeah, I agree, it's WHERE weight is committed that's the key...

Yes, I was. While I know enough to know I don't know much about the connected structure stuff Rob talks about, I know a) a strong connected structure will certainly influence how one moves, b) I don't have it, and c) I'm not gonna be able to pursue it until I move elsewhere. From what I hear and have seen, this puts me in the company of the vast majority of American aikidoka.

I've started doing 50 tenkans a day on each side minimum, very slowly, trying to figure out how to be more stable. Where one places one's weight on the front/back foot, of the heel or balls of the feet seemed like a good place to start in my circumstances. Other practical advice beyond the heel/ball thing would of course be welcomed :)

Of course, informing me there is a big principle I'm missing, while it IS practical, is old news at this point. ;)

Ron Tisdale
08-02-2007, 09:47 AM
Good thread, there will be many different answers.

Standard yoshinkan answer is "balls of feet" as in hiriki no yosei ni (elbow power number 2). As people advance though, I think I see them using much more of the whole foot. Not going up on the toes, but really using the whole foot, with *some* amount of extra focus on the ball.

What Rob John is saying is interesting, and does make sense in the context he is speaking of. Not sure how that integrates in with standard yoshinkan beginning training though.

Best,
Ron

MM
08-02-2007, 10:14 AM
I'm beginning to think that the idea isn't about the physical focus point -- in other words, it isn't about heel versus ball of foot. Instead, it might be about each individual's structure, their level of ability/skill in keeping structure, and slack.

If you have horrible structure (internal and physcal), no matter what physical point you use, you're going to have bad movement. To make matters worse, you might even be causing slight damage to joints if you have bad physical structure.

If you have "slack" (disconnectedness in the body), then even with structure, you're going to have bad movement. But, merge them together and it doesn't seem to matter where you pivot/tenkan/etc from.

IMO,
Mark

Upyu
08-02-2007, 10:16 AM
Rob, it's so strange to me that all explosive athletics I can think of (Football, Tennis, Boxing, Sprinting, Jumping, Fencing etc.) people move from the ball of the foot. Ark should go get himself some gold metals and a football players salary...

Um... problem is Chris, all those examples you mentioned use fundamentally different body mechanics from what's being talked about. You can combine them at points, but the "explosiveness" comes mainly from "exploding" off the ground, or kicking the ground. (Correct me if I'm wrong)
We had a top golden gloves amateur boxer from Australia come by our class (boxing for about 30 years, rugby for 15) and he even admitted that the body mechanics were completely different in both execution and feel ;)

As far as your description of "pivoting" goes, there's no "grinding" that goes on, simply change in direction which can be as much as a 180 to 360 degrees turn.

Upyu
08-02-2007, 10:22 AM
Yes, but I think Nick is asking whether the weight should be on the ball or heel.
.

The real question is...for what purpose though, developmental or use?
If you're trying to train usage without a developmental training program then its kinda moot to train usage, at least from the context of developing a martially viable body.

If you have a solo training regimen I'd recommend you focus on the heels. Raising the big toe and putting intent into it will help activate the inside of the pelvic region as well, when you do this the weight will naturally fall straight down the spine to the heel.
Once you train this and have it hammered into you I think moving the weight back to the ball of the foot is fair game, its a situational context of course.

ChrisHein
08-02-2007, 10:42 AM
[QUOTE=Robert John;185315
We had a top golden gloves amateur boxer from Australia come by our class (boxing for about 30 years, rugby for 15) and he even admitted that the body mechanics were completely different in both execution and feel ;)

[/QUOTE]

Of this I have no doubt.

Basia Halliop
08-02-2007, 11:06 AM
It doesn't necessarily mean "grind the foot into the ground", it depends on how much weight you put on the pivoting foot

Not trying to be silly here, but if your other foot is off ground, which it must be at some point in the pivoting process, then what choice do you have as to how much weight you put on the pivot foot? Your body weight is 100% on that foot, and how can you change your body weight?

The only way I can theoretically think of not to be rubbing/grinding some part of your foot on the ground (whether heel or toe or whatever) would be to take the step with the other foot while leaving your pivot foot facing the wrong way for a moment, then once your other foot is back down, lift your pivot foot and face it in the new direction...

eyrie
08-02-2007, 06:09 PM
Not trying to be silly here, but if your other foot is off ground, which it must be at some point in the pivoting process, then what choice do you have as to how much weight you put on the pivot foot? Your body weight is 100% on that foot, and how can you change your body weight? I think it's more like 90/10. Anyhow... a subtle shift of the pelvic region is sufficient to change the weight distribution ratio?... as well as the angle and direction in which your feet should naturally rotate? BTW, my trailing foot is never completely off the ground - some part of it will almost always be in contact with the ground - terrain permitting obviously.

The only way I can theoretically think of not to be rubbing/grinding some part of your foot on the ground (whether heel or toe or whatever) would be to take the step with the other foot while leaving your pivot foot facing the wrong way for a moment, then once your other foot is back down, lift your pivot foot and face it in the new direction... I'm not sure what you mean by "lifting the pivoting foot and facing in the new direction"... If by "facing the wrong way for a moment", you mean that you end up in a hourglass (Sanchin) stance before you bring your trailing foot back, then yes.

Look, there is no right or wrong answer... however, Mark Murray's post about having correct structure is relevant. Rob's post regarding usage and development is also relevant. Chris's post regarding situational factors and terrain adaptation is also relevant.

I think it would be sensible to discuss this from a technical development perspective rather than one of usage. How you tenkan under stress may vary greatly. But as Rob says, if you have the training "hammered into you", how you move situationally is fair game, and dependent upon the contextual factors raised by Chris.

In any case, stepping/turning movement should be lightfooted - like walking on eggshells. Common sense ought to dictate that any pivoting/twisting movement that puts undue stress on joints and ligaments should generally be avoided. How you adapt your movements such that you can pivot without grinding your foot into the ground is the key. (See Rob's post about activating the inside of the pelvic region and allowing the weight to fall naturally from the spine to the heel).

I think I mentioned this previously in a different thread - the pelvic "basin" provides structural support for the upper body thru the spine and provides a point of articulation for the legs. Since bone exhibits both tensile and compression properties, letting the long bones of the legs (the femur and tibia) and take the weight down, along the approximate line of gravity, to the heel and tarsus seems like the sensible thing to do.

So, the question is, what supporting musculature does one need to train? How would you stand, step, turn and pivot without putting undue stress on the knees?

MM
08-02-2007, 08:22 PM
Not trying to be silly here, but if your other foot is off ground, which it must be at some point in the pivoting process, then what choice do you have as to how much weight you put on the pivot foot? Your body weight is 100% on that foot, and how can you change your body weight?


Well, for starters, your body weight creates a force on your joints which varies in percentages.

To understand that, get on your bathroom scales. Both feet on the scale. Just as in aikido, practice sinking and rising. Does the scale stay exactly at your body weight? No, it doesn't.

Now, get two bathroom scales. Place them shoulder width apart. Now, step onto the scales, left foot on the left scale and right foot on the right scale. Lift your right foot while watching the left scale. It doesn't remain at your body weight either.

Your body weight isn't really what matters here. You always carry 100% of your body weight in one leg, then the other while walking. It's the force that's created which acts upon the joints as your body moves that matters. And you can change that percentage of force, the angle, the structure, the load handling, etc.


The only way I can theoretically think of not to be rubbing/grinding some part of your foot on the ground (whether heel or toe or whatever) would be to take the step with the other foot while leaving your pivot foot facing the wrong way for a moment, then once your other foot is back down, lift your pivot foot and face it in the new direction...

Check out good ole Fred Astaire: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j02k9t4rP50

I'd have to say that he never rubs/grinds any part of his foot into the ground while turning and moving. Nor does he do anything resembling your theoretical example. But, man can he move. :)

Anyway, there's a million ways to move, all depending on what you intend to do and how you want it done. Some better than others, some not.

IMO,
Mark

eyrie
08-02-2007, 09:21 PM
Nice example Mark... the last time I weighed myself on one scale, let alone 2, was 20 years ago... :D

BTW, the force you're talking about has a direct correlation to weight i.e. F=ma where M is weight/body mass in kg, and a = acceleration due to gravity = 9.8m/s2. Well, actually, in direct proportion since gravity is constant.

The skeletal system is an amazing support structure designed to bear tremendous loads - the vertebral column itself is built to withstand compression forces several times your own body weight. The trick is how the forces are distributed and spread across the entire frame.

Also, let's not forget the equal and opposite reaction force of the ground....

George S. Ledyard
08-03-2007, 08:41 AM
I'm not sure why, but I think this discussion is missing what I think is the crucial point...

We rotate or pivot in aikido to a) get us out of the way of an attack or b) to change the relationship with the partner / attacker.

Since, as Rob pointed out, the heels are directly in line with the vertical axis of the shoulder, hip, knee, heel, pivoting on that axis doesn't move you off the line. Pivot on the heels and the strike just hits you on a different part of the body. But the ball of the foot is a good ten inches out from the vertical axis I mentioned. If you rotate on the balls of your foot, you are actually repositioning the body, not just twisting in place.

That said there are rotating movements within the Aikido practice in which one does rotate on the ball of the foot. For example, a large turning movement with the partner moving around you... at that point you don't necessarily want a center of rotation that is moving through space.

Upyu
08-03-2007, 10:13 AM
I was just mucking around with the mechanics in my living room, George made a good point.
If you simply pivot on the heels, then you cant move off the line of attack. But you can keep the connection to the heels/weight falling to the heels while you pivot on the balls of the feet. As far as I can tell, the pivot simply happens as a result of you trying to keep connection. But at the same time my entire foot is engaged in making the turn, not simply one part or another...
m2c

Nick Pagnucco
08-03-2007, 01:39 PM
Argh. I asked the question, and now I'm over my head :crazy:

George Ledyard, as always a great post. Loved Ron's as well. Rob's posts are handy in that they remind me about the fact this stuff is supposed to actually involve staying connected to both one's own body and uke.

That said, I'm just floating as I read the posts.... I guess I'll use my own movement, as a anchor for translation. I realize its mildly bad form to insist 'ownership' of the thread, and I'm not doing that per se, just giving an acocunt of how I move so there is something to target other than various people's ideal movements, as described in their own terminology.

Before I tenkan, the stance is the basic one I see in a lot of aikikai USAF, students of Kanai and Chiba excluded: Front foot faces forward, back foot at (roughly) 45 degree angle. Weight is slightly more on the forward foot. If there was a mark on the ground where my weight distribution was centered, it'd maybe 2 inches behind my front heel, and a little on the inside.

When I tenkan, I almost think of it as two overlapping motions overlapping. My description artificially separates out the two, but it makes for easier description.

First, there is a pivot. My front foot is on the ball of the foot. The front leg rotates inward, and I begin to turn my trunk to face the side. Arms & head (ideally) move with trunk and forward leg with this turn. As I continue to turn, the front foot ceases the turn when it reaches a rough 45 degree angle. At some mid-point, the back foot becomes the front foot, and it rotates with the leg around to face the 'new' forward direction. If anything my back foot turns on its heel as it becomes the new front foot.

If I just pivoted in place, with no other movement, the axis of rotation for this pivot would basically be my spine. I can feel the center line of weight distribution move (ideally in a straight line) toward the original back foot / new front foot, settling once again just under 2 inches behind the new front heel.

The second movement is the new front foot steps back. If I did them sequentially, I would pivot then step back, thereby creating a very mechanical looking tenkan. While the pivot begins a moment before, they mostly overlap.

I use to very consciously push off with the back leg as I tenkan. Now, its more I think about a) rotating around my vertical axis, while b) that axis moves in a more or less straight line from 2 inches behind and to the inside of my front heel in the original position, to 2 inches behind and to the inside of my front heel in the new position. If I do this badly, I end up having a lot of weight on my back foot for a moment, during which I'm "stuck".

As for the point of getting off the line, assuming I make no other movements, my tenkan as it current stands gets me off the line, but not by a whole lot. The fist in regular tsuki attacks barely misses, but it misses.

ok, so... be brutal but constructive: whats wrong with this. How does this differ from how tenkans are supposed to work in your understanding of aikido?

Keith Larman
08-03-2007, 01:51 PM
Whenever I read discussions like this I'm reminded of something Rod Kobayashi was rather famous for doing. When asked about footwork in bokken work he would sometimes leap up into the air and do the movement airborne. Then he'd have everyone practice it that way. His point was that movement was from the center, the hara, the koshi, the one-point, whatever. Footwork can change, but the essence is still moving from the center.

Nick Pagnucco
08-03-2007, 02:18 PM
Keith, I apologize, but you rant into one of my rant buttons. :o

Whenever I read discussions like this I'm reminded of something Rod Kobayashi was rather famous for doing. When asked about footwork in bokken work he would sometimes leap up into the air and do the movement airborne. Then he'd have everyone practice it that way. His point was that movement was from the center, the hara, the koshi, the one-point, whatever. Footwork can change, but the essence is still moving from the center.

While what you described sounds like an impressive demonstration, I hope he gave more detail on that, including what one's legs & feet are doing. I would bet a lot of aikidoka who heard/saw that would put it in that terribly dangerous category of aikido rhetoric: just relax and it'll work out. What you just described would only improve one's aikido if he or she already had a center they could move from. Otherwise, you'd just get a lot of odd hopping. People don't learn like that, unless they are both physically gifted and have the right learning style, not to mention lucky. Those who are missing one of those two components (or both, if you're me) will not get much out of the hopping.

jducusin
08-03-2007, 03:22 PM
If forward tenkan/tenkan while moving forward = pivot on balls of feet
If backward tenkan/tenkan while moving backward* = pivot on heels of feet

*(I am referring here to the 180 degree pivot one performs in some forms of kokyunage where you first must step backwards before pivoting)

Uh, happy...tenkan-ing. :D

Keith Larman
08-03-2007, 03:42 PM
Keith, I apologize, but you rant into one of my rant buttons. :o

While what you described sounds like an impressive demonstration, I hope he gave more detail on that, including what one's legs & feet are doing. I would bet a lot of aikidoka who heard/saw that would put it in that terribly dangerous category of aikido rhetoric: just relax and it'll work out. What you just described would only improve one's aikido if he or she already had a center they could move from. Otherwise, you'd just get a lot of odd hopping. People don't learn like that, unless they are both physically gifted and have the right learning style, not to mention lucky. Those who are missing one of those two components (or both, if you're me) will not get much out of the hopping.

Oh, he made it perfectly clear what he meant. And if you don't have a center to move from to begin with how much difference will fixing your footwork make? I wasn't talking about a beginning aikido class...

It was just an anecdote FWIW. Heck, I've got beginning students today who spend so much bloody time asking highly detailed questions that they hardly have time to actually move and practice. It drives me nuts. And while you may not like the answer that some things just need time to work themselves out often that *is* the answer. Footwork is always important, but after a while you begin to realize that *everything* is important and without being able to move from the center in a balanced controlled fashion the rest simply doesn't matter. Hence sensei jumping up in the air and doing the same damned thing without utilizing any footwork. The point was usually quite clear -- he didn't care a whole lot about the footwork if you weren't doing much of anything else right in the first place. To me it was like how many early iai kata are done from seiza. Drawing and cutting from seiza prevents you from "cheating" with your feet and legs. You must do it from your hara. Once you can do that doing iai kata standing or from tatehiza becomes vastly easier.

Some are so focused on minutae that they miss the bigger picture of moving, blending, and controlling the attacker. Sure, we often work on correcting bad footwork. But at some point it gets into the domain of overthinking things. One thing I have long had burned into my brain by my sensei -- practice more, talk less. Learn to move. Learn to feel. Learn to blend. Learn to keep solid and balanced.

And personally I think Ledyard-sensei already gave a very good answer which considered in its entirety could easily be summed up as "it depends".

DH
08-03-2007, 06:47 PM
I was just mucking around with the mechanics in my living room, George made a good point.
If you simply pivot on the heels, then you cant move off the line of attack. But you can keep the connection to the heels/weight falling to the heels while you pivot on the balls of the feet. As far as I can tell, the pivot simply happens as a result of you trying to keep connection. But at the same time my entire foot is engaged in making the turn, not simply one part or another...
m2c
Hmm....
I just pivoted on my heel to off-line myself and enter-in. I did it both sides by pivoting on my heel and lifting the opposite foot, then stepping back in. Just for fun I did it on carpet, hardwood floor and the lawn in pair of hiking boots. Then for laughs I did an Aikido Tenkan (which I abhor) to an Irimi, then did an O goshi and seoi-nage.
I don't see the dilemma. I let my body dictates what it does from training; sometimes ball sometimes heel. I think the underlying skill should be how the body moves and not heel or ball.

Maybe another idea away from general pivoting, is that you don't need to be moving your whole body to avoid things all the time either. In grappling there are other ways to pivot to enter in exceedingly fast and take their center for a throw. Tenkan is not something I am fond of. The central pivot is more powerful, more immediate and offers a hell of an entering/strike without nary a commitment. Now there is another aspect of heel-to-ball and weight transfering and what that can do as well. But that isn't pivoting eiither. Anyway....

Keith Larman
08-03-2007, 06:49 PM
On the whole notion of explaining things or coming up with "definitive" answer to how things should be done.

This is something told to me early on in my training in Japanese sword restoration and mounting. Paraphrased, of course, but it was directed to me at the time.

"The question you're asking is both very easy to answer as well as remarkably subtle and involved. I can tell you where to do it but explaining why it goes there rather than somewhere else is a different thing altogether. The reality is that you don't know enough right now to even understand the answer should I give it to you. In other words, while I can answer your question the answer I give will not help you beyond this one sword this one day this one time. The questions you should be asking you don't know enough yet to ask. And once you learn enough to ask those questions the question you have today will seem trivial and obvious to you. So go back to thinning and sorting the hazuya and don't worry about it. It will work itself out."

And no, I didn't like the answer. But today the question I had was trivial and obvious. But explaining it to someone else who hasn't studied nihonto and various methodologies of togi? I wouldn't know where to begin...

Keith Larman
08-03-2007, 06:55 PM
...Maybe another idea away from general pivoting, is that you don't need to be moving your whole body to avoid things all the time either. In grappling there are other ways to pivot to enter in exceedingly fast and take their center for a throw. Tenkan is not something I am fond of. The central pivot is more powerful, more immediate and offers a hell of an entering/strike without nary a commitment.

Hey, Dan.

Interestingly in Seidokan in many ways our "tenkan" is much more compact than other styles I've trained in. In most cases (not all) it really is much more of a central pivot. We don't have the big movements at all. From katatedori, for instance, we don't move in as part of the tenkan. In general the movement is done more as a slight movement off the line then a pivot pretty much at the wrist moving them into our circle. Obviously it requires a strong, grounded nage that is moving as one coherent piece, but that's how we approach it.

Nothing against other methods, just making conversation...

DH
08-03-2007, 07:06 PM
Hey, Dan.

Interestingly in Seidokan in many ways our "tenkan" is much more compact than other styles I've trained in. In most cases (not all) it really is much more of a central pivot. We don't have the big movements at all. From katatedori, for instance, we don't move in as part of the tenkan. In general the movement is done more as a slight movement off the line then a pivot pretty much at the wrist moving them into our circle. Obviously it requires a strong, grounded nage that is moving as one coherent piece, but that's how we approach it.

Nothing against other methods, just making conversation...
Hi Keith
Been a long time eh?
The central pivot I am talking about has nothing to do with moving the feet (though it can). Its within you, at the spine. It sounds simple, it isn't. The "simplicity" of it your sword polishing example- is a great example. It seems so easy... on the surface, but the connections to power it are worked daily. Rob posted something I wrote about it last year on some thread. I just don't know where it is.

Keith Larman
08-03-2007, 07:18 PM
Well, obviously I've not trained with you so I can't know exactly what you're doing, but our tenkan has little to do with the feet as well. Obviously they do move throughout the movement but the movement really starts from the center. As one of my sensei likes to say power comes from the center, everything else just helps you direct it. Your feet move because you're already pivoting... Or with your pivot... Or whatever... ;) You just pivot as a whole...

But I'm not trying to hijack the thread into one of those discussions... Ultimately the point is that whenever a students asks me about my feet I have to look down and see for myself what I'm doing. It is usually about the last thing I'm thinking about...

eyrie
08-03-2007, 07:31 PM
I'm not sure why, but I think this discussion is missing what I think is the crucial point...

We rotate or pivot in aikido to a) get us out of the way of an attack or b) to change the relationship with the partner / attacker. I think there were certain assumptions made in the initial part of the discussion, and the reason I suggested that it should be limited to training/development purposes rather than usage. What you have directly pointed to here are reasons of utility - i.e. WHY it is done in a specific way. My question is, does that in anyway invalidate one method over another in terms of training? i.e. if you move how you train, then training in one way or another influences how you move under pressure.

The initial assumption was that an initial step forward (irimi) is taken. If that wasn't the case, and one was pivoting on the line, then I would agree - a pivot on the ball of the foot results in a horizontal phase shift of at least 2/3 the length of the foot, which is sufficient in most cases to shift the body off the line.

But then, if one has sufficiently mastered their space, and has an understanding of controlling the line, it doesn't matter how you shift off the line and change the angle and relationship to the attacker. And so the rest of the discussion becomes moot - basically, you can step or pivot on your heels/balls, or even shift your weight from one leg to another or simply turn your hips.

MM
08-03-2007, 08:19 PM
Hi Keith
Been a long time eh?
The central pivot I am talking about has nothing to do with moving the feet (though it can). Its within you, at the spine. It sounds simple, it isn't.


Yeah, I'll say. Hmmmph.


The "simplicity" of it your sword polishing example- is a great example. It seems so easy... on the surface, but the connections to power it are worked daily. Rob posted something I wrote about it last year on some thread. I just don't know where it is.

Ha! If you'd have looked at the thing I sent you, it's probably in there. ;)

Mark

DH
08-03-2007, 08:52 PM
Ha! If you'd have looked at the thing I sent you, it's probably in there. ;)
Mark
Cough...
So wadda ya trying to say? Don't sugar coat it! Spell it out.
Send it in a P.M.:D
Runnin and duckin..........

Upyu
08-04-2007, 02:15 AM
I think the underlying skill should be how the body moves and not heel or ball.


Ding ding ding, definitely in agreement :D

Though I think for training purposes its important to understand the relationship of how the power falls/connects from the heel up the legs directly into the kua then to the spine.

You know I nearly ended up confusing myself thinking about this "#$#"t on exactly "how" I do it, since typically I'm only interested in keeping the connections and not worrying about which part I'm specifically pivoting on :crazy:

Gernot Hassenpflug
08-04-2007, 06:28 AM
I was just mucking around with the mechanics in my living room, George made a good point.
If you simply pivot on the heels, then you cant move off the line of attack. But you can keep the connection to the heels/weight falling to the heels while you pivot on the balls of the feet. As far as I can tell, the pivot simply happens as a result of you trying to keep connection. But at the same time my entire foot is engaged in making the turn, not simply one part or another...
m2c
I was playing around too :-) With the notion of the "paper between the heels and floor" that is so common in Asian MA, or at least commented on in Japanese and Chinese arts a lot. If the heel is up but one attempts to keep it notionally a paper-width above the ground, and vice versa, then a pretty nice dynamic between heel and toe ensues while remaining connected to the pelvic region.

Basia Halliop
08-04-2007, 08:52 AM
Getting more and more confusing... now I'm actually starting to wonder if everyone's even talking about the same step.

I may just be confused, but it seems like some people are talking about what I call tenkan (front foot stays more or less where it is while the core rotates one hundred and eighty degrees, and back leg has to lift off the ground and travel some distance to become the back leg again in the new direction -- so there is considerable displacement involved regardless of what part of the foot you use) and some are talking about what I call soto tenkan (which is just a rotation of the body while both feet stay more or less where they are and what used to be the back leg becomes the front leg).

(and BTW when I said your foot would have to be facing in the 'wrong' direction I didn't mean anything in particular by that, just didn't know how else to explain having your foot twisted around like that)

Upyu
08-04-2007, 12:28 PM
Getting more and more confusing... now I'm actually starting to wonder if everyone's even talking about the same step.

I may just be confused, but it seems like some people are talking about what I call tenkan (front foot stays more or less where it is while the core rotates one hundred and eighty degrees, and back leg has to lift off the ground and travel some distance to become the back leg again in the new direction -- so there is considerable displacement involved regardless of what part of the foot you use) and some are talking about what I call soto tenkan (which is just a rotation of the body while both feet stay more or less where they are and what used to be the back leg becomes the front leg).

(and BTW when I said your foot would have to be facing in the 'wrong' direction I didn't mean anything in particular by that, just didn't know how else to explain having your foot twisted around like that)

Its not the step Basia, so much as the overall connection, that people are talking about.
The step itself is technique、which really is secondary, like secondary to all the vodka I imbibed in order to bribe the j-girls that infiltrated my... never mind :D

btw, I was actually serious about the technique pary ;)  ぱrt part

jennifer paige smith
08-04-2007, 12:51 PM
I stumbled upon this (hey, I'm funny...)www.anthropik.com/2007/06/learning-to-walk/.

jennifer paige smith
08-04-2007, 01:07 PM
Whenever I read discussions like this I'm reminded of something Rod Kobayashi was rather famous for doing. When asked about footwork in bokken work he would sometimes leap up into the air and do the movement airborne. Then he'd have everyone practice it that way. His point was that movement was from the center, the hara, the koshi, the one-point, whatever. Footwork can change, but the essence is still moving from the center.

Hi Keith,
What you said made a great positive impact on ths discussion, at least for me. And like I tell my kids, if you've got a question, ask it. Someone else almost always has the same question and is grateful you had the courage to say it out loud. While it wasn't specifically a question you asked that was inspiring, it was your statement.
I heard myself think: Take a load-off( your mind) and turn.

There are lots of people reading and listening out here. And we definitely don't fall under a category that could be summed up with any label that would then categorize your post as rhetoric. (maybe mine, but not yours...smiles). Your posts ring of integrity.

I regret never having taken the opportunity to train with Rod Koboyashi, his perspectives and training were a source of inspiration and intrigue for me. I'm cheered to know that his legacy lives on and that gives me hope that I may still be able to train in his 'DO".

Gambatte,
Jen

Fred Little
08-04-2007, 01:47 PM
There are very good reasons that the military emphasizes close order drill.

Maintaining crisp parade ground formation is the most obvious one of those reasons, but not the most important one.

jennifer paige smith
08-05-2007, 10:49 AM
There are very good reasons that the military emphasizes close order drill.

Maintaining crisp parade ground formation is the most obvious one of those reasons, but not the most important one.

What does this mean?

onegaishimasu

Fred Little
08-06-2007, 09:47 AM
What does this mean?

onegaishimasu

Jennifer,

It's the sort of thing that answers itself in practice.

Best,

FL

Rupert Atkinson
08-07-2007, 07:14 AM
I was always taught to turn on the toes in Aikido, but often saw those telling me to turn on my toes turning on their heels from time to time. Basically, whatever works to get out of the way / generate power.

One thing I liked to do in Judo was to move say, my right foot in for seio-nage, ball of the foot first, as usual, and, on being unable to move the foot in enough (due to uke not letting me), I would then rock back onto my heel, pivot the foot 150-160 or so (while kind of falling/dropping back in to the movement), and then continue the turn to make 180 on the ball of he foot, adding power to create a tai-otoshi and/or makikomi type throw. Don't know if you can figure that out but it makes sense to me :)

Oh, and don't forget to draw uke along for the ride as you draw/fall back while pivoting on the heel. It is wicked when it works. It has the power of a sacrifice throw - without falling over, though sometimes you might.

jennifer paige smith
08-07-2007, 10:51 AM
Jennifer,

It's the sort of thing that answers itself in practice.

Best,

FL
My bad,
To be more explicit, It's a language question.
what is a close order drill?
what is crisp parade ground formation? and how does that relate to the ball and foot discussion?
The language you are speaking is military jargon and my request is that you define your language so that I might be able to relate my practice to your words .

Keith Larman
08-07-2007, 12:08 PM
I regret never having taken the opportunity to train with Rod Koboyashi, his perspectives and training were a source of inspiration and intrigue for me. I'm cheered to know that his legacy lives on and that gives me hope that I may still be able to train in his 'DO".

Gambatte,
Jen

Thanks for the kind words. And yes, it lives on. Last weekend Kobayashi's wife and daughter (who is also an instructor at our headquarts) were over at my house with the two "co-chief" instructors and another senior instructor from our headquarters dojo. My 6-year-old daughter considers Mrs. K her "extra" grandma so she had a blast playing with Mrs. K. Anyway, it was fun as I had rolled and soaked about 50 tameshigiri targets and we all spent a couple hours working on our cutting form. It does adjust things considerably in how you do your bokken work with a reality check from cutting stuff with real swords. Anyway, we had a nice afternoon and evening with lots of reminiscing about Kobayashi sensei.

Fred Little
08-07-2007, 12:56 PM
My bad,
To be more explicit, It's a language question.
what is a close order drill?
what is crisp parade ground formation? and how does that relate to the ball and foot discussion?
The language you are speaking is military jargon and my request is that you define your language so that I might be able to relate my practice to your words .

formation marching.

left face, right face, about face, etcetera.

it gets more complicated when you add the rifle in a military context or the sousaphone in a marching band context, but the basic turning movements involve a variety of turns on toes, turns on heels, turns on toes and heels, half turn on one toe and heel then the second half of the turn on the other toe and heel.

ultimately, it has the same relationship to moving in an upright posture that finger exercises and scales have to playing music.

best,

fl

jennifer paige smith
08-08-2007, 08:53 AM
formation marching.

left face, right face, about face, etcetera.

it gets more complicated when you add the rifle in a military context or the sousaphone in a marching band context, but the basic turning movements involve a variety of turns on toes, turns on heels, turns on toes and heels, half turn on one toe and heel then the second half of the turn on the other toe and heel.

ultimately, it has the same relationship to moving in an upright posture that finger exercises and scales have to playing music.

best,

fl

aahhhhhh sssoooooooo.
:)
thanks