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Guillaume Erard
02-28-2008, 04:07 AM
Hi everyone,

I just translated into English an interview I did last month with Christian Tissier Shihan for Aikidoka Magazine (http://www.aikidoka.fr). I thought an interview of Sensei available in you language was a rare enough thing to be worth mentioning here. You can find it published here (http://dublinaikido.com/wp/2008/02/25/interview-with-christian-tissier-shihan-7th-dan-aikikai/) in English. I hope you will find it of interest and sorry in advance for any spelling/grammar mistake I did while translating! ;)

All the best

G

CitoMaramba
02-28-2008, 05:28 AM
Fantastic interview! Merci beaucoup!

Mrose
02-28-2008, 05:35 AM
very interesting article. Thank you for sharing it.

Upyu
02-28-2008, 07:10 AM
Read the interview, and thought it was interesting from the standpoint that I think that its these kind of statements that serve to cloud a lot of the issues surrounding Ki/Kokyu within Aikido. (From a third person perspective, from someone outside)

Especially from a high ranker (7th dan). :-p


Interviewer: About natural principles, we often hear about Ki, the energy flow. You don’t speak much about it though…

Tissier: No I don’t. The reason is that it is a very confusing notion. I have seen quite a bit in Aikido, I have met quite a few Senseis and I must say that the ones who speak of it the most are often the ones who have the poorest technique. Of course, this is not true for everybody but Ki is not tangible. Ki is within us. There is Ki everywhere, either we know how to use it or we don’t. The fundamental issue with Ki is its flow. In terms of Aikido vocabulary, we have Ki and Kokyu, which is the vehicle for Ki. The translation of Kokyu is “breathing” but to be more accurate, in reality, Kokyu is the exchange between the two.
The bottom line is that if you practice with your stiff shoulders up to your ears, the Ki won’t flow, any acupuncture practitioner will tell you. As a consequence, until the technique is perfect, there will be no Ki, no natural flow. To me, people who really have Ki don’t feel it because everything happens naturally within them.
We could of course develop exercises such as the ones proposed by Qigong in order to specifically work on breathing. We could also specifically work on flexibility or other things but to what end? I consider Aikido as a whole system that as been well thought. It is therefore useless to concentrate on only one aspect of the art, in particular if it is to the expense of practice time. If we have to specifically work on flexibility, we can go to a specialist, same for breathing but we should not mix everything up.
To get back to the Ki I prefer not to say too much about it as I think the discourses about this topic are often very misleading.

dbotari
02-28-2008, 09:08 AM
Rob,

What are you taking issue with in the section of the interview quoted? Is it Tissier Shihan's contention that there is no need to train Ki/Kokyu skills separately? Or do you have an issue with his basic explanation?

Just curious.

Dan

charyuop
02-28-2008, 12:55 PM
Great! Hope you won't mind, I will place that link in an Italian Aikido forum as well. Tissier is very much hestimed in Italy and sure they will love to read this interview.

Ron Tisdale
02-28-2008, 01:59 PM
Well, he is correct in that the discourses about it are often misleading.

Best,
Ron ('nough said)

Upyu
02-28-2008, 03:13 PM
Rob,

What are you taking issue with in the section of the interview quoted? Is it Tissier Shihan's contention that there is no need to train Ki/Kokyu skills separately? Or do you have an issue with his basic explanation?

Just curious.

Dan

Both actually.
Let's to put it this way. If I didn't know who he was, and had no idea of his rank, standing etc, and I heard someone make those comments about ki/kokyu, I'd automatically assume he didn't know what he was talking about, or, in the worst case be able to do these things, as harsh as that may sound.
Since I've never touched hands with the guy, I won't really comment on that aspect.
Anyways, my main point was that those kind of comments don't really serve to de-mysticize the subject.

Mike Sigman
02-28-2008, 03:51 PM
That's going to be an interview that will come back to haunt, Tissier, I'm afraid. A lot of people are beginning to box in what the meaning of "ki" is and understand, for instance, the what's and how's of the "ki tests" by Tohei, some of the demo's by Ueshiba and others, and it all begins to hang in (despite the disparate demonstrations) as a pretty cohesive family of skills. And it becomes more and more obvious as knowledge and practice increase. Can someone do waza very efficiently without understanding what the ki stuff is talking about? Sure, that's obvious, too. But no writing by Ueshiba K., Tohei, etc., toss it off as some intangible and metaphysical phenomenon as Tissier just did. So now everyone knows the earliest possible date that Tissier could *begin* to study the ki in Aikido. Fascinating. ;)

Best.

Mike Sigman

Irv Lachow
02-28-2008, 06:26 PM
Thanks very much. I've seen Tissier Shihan twice at the Aikido Bridge Seminar hosted by Jeff Todeman Sensei in San Diego and his Aikido is amazing up close: it's extremely powerful and flowing. The man is a very good martial artist. He's also extremely nice and humble off the mat.
Cheers,
Irv

Jack M.
02-29-2008, 07:27 AM
I think it's important to note that after the section of the interview quoted at the beginning of this thread, Tissier Sensei talks about how technique "unlocks the body," and allows ki to occur naturally.

Perhaps something is lost in the translation, but to me, Sensei is taking a naturalistic approach to ki, and not making a big deal out of it.

Guillaume Erard
02-29-2008, 07:49 AM
I think it's important to note that after the section of the interview quoted at the beginning of this thread, Tissier Sensei talks about how technique "unlocks the body," and allows ki to occur naturally.

Perhaps something is lost in the translation, but to me, Sensei is taking a naturalistic approach to ki, and not making a big deal out of it.

I think you got it right here Jack, or at least, that is exactly the way it sounded to me when Mr Tissier answered my question. Again, sorry for the possible inaccuracies of my translation guys. :o

Mike Sigman
02-29-2008, 08:24 AM
Here's the quote:
Ki is not tangible. Ki is within us. There is Ki everywhere, either we know how to use it or we don't. The fundamental issue with Ki is its flow. In terms of Aikido vocabulary, we have Ki and Kokyu, which is the vehicle for Ki. The translation of Kokyu is "breathing" but to be more accurate, in reality, Kokyu is the exchange between the two.
The bottom line is that if you practice with your stiff shoulders up to your ears, the Ki won't flow, any acupuncture practitioner will tell you. As a consequence, until the technique is perfect, there will be no Ki, no natural flow. To me, people who really have Ki don't feel it because everything happens naturally within them.
We could of course develop exercises such as the ones proposed by Qigong in order to specifically work on breathing. We could also specifically work on flexibility or other things but to what end?

I dunno. I read it several times, charitably, and looking for something I might be missing. Often when I read translations of comments about ki from Kisshormaru Ueshiba, Seiseki Abe, Minoru Inaba, Tohei, etc., the problem is usually the translator, but reading beneath the translation and seeing the way the sentence elements are put together, I don't have much problem seeing someone who really knows and understands ki. Hmmmmm ... maybe we should make a compilation of the important ki thinks that are already available.

But in regard to this Tissier one, I would bet the house mortgage that he simply doesn't really understand the concept. Can someone do strong, powerful, flowing, practiced "Aikido" techniques and not have ki/kokyu skills? Of course. And that is a big problem... the ki/kokyu skills are not something that you spot easily if you don't know about them. Even Tohei was known to make remarks about some of the higher dans because they had nice-looking techniques, but no ki.

And I go back to a comment I've made before. If someone has pretty good ki skills, then they should be able to do all of Tohei's ki-tests quite easily, because those are simple static tests. Moving with ki would be where the rubber meets the road, IMO. ;)

YMMV

Mike Sigman

Shizentota
02-29-2008, 08:59 AM
"There are of course some education systems that are totally different from mine. Some are very strict and precise but sometimes so stuck within their own codes that they can’t free themselves from it. That is a shame…"

I like this, :) .

Thanks for the posting, great interview:D

Mike Sigman
02-29-2008, 09:25 AM
"There are of course some education systems that are totally different from mine. Some are very strict and precise but sometimes so stuck within their own codes that they can't free themselves from it. That is a shame…"

I like this, :) .I think the saying represents a lot of "Aikido" that is out there. ;)

Best.

Mike Sigman

Shizentota
02-29-2008, 09:45 AM
That´s true Mike,
I liked when I free my self from some codes and something inside me says Aha!!! after that I try to follow the codes that my sensei is giving to me, and then I try to open this codes to experience more "Aha" in my practice.

Best
Manu

dps
02-29-2008, 10:18 AM
Christian Tissier

".... I think the discourses about this topic are often very misleading."

....I think that its these kind of statements that serve to cloud a lot of the issues surrounding Ki/Kokyu within Aikido.

Huh?

David

dps
02-29-2008, 10:57 AM
Well, he is correct in that the discourses about it are often misleading.

Best,
Ron ('nough said)

Don't go clouding the issue now.

David

Upyu
02-29-2008, 11:15 AM
I think it's important to note that after the section of the interview quoted at the beginning of this thread, Tissier Sensei talks about how technique "unlocks the body," and allows ki to occur naturally.

Perhaps something is lost in the translation, but to me, Sensei is taking a naturalistic approach to ki, and not making a big deal out of it.

Ok, let's put it this way. It doesn't simply occur "naturally." Not unless you're shown specifically what to develop, how to develop it etc.
If you could do these skills there's no way you would make a statement like that ;)

I remember a friend quoting Abe-sensei in Kyoto who would hint at how to develop it but when pressed on the details would say
"Oh yes there are ways to train it, but they are indeed secret. And its not something I'll tell anyone how to do" yatta yatta yatta
Which is more forthcoming than most Japanese of his age. Most times they won't even tell you that you're missing something :D

dps
02-29-2008, 11:40 AM
From the thread, New interview with Christian Tissier Shihan (in English!)

Erm...the gist of that interview was that Tissier doesn't know or have Ki/Kokyu skills, which is even more troubling if you ask me.

Does anyone else think that is the gist of the interview?

David

Guillaume Erard
02-29-2008, 12:16 PM
One thing that I appreciated while talking to Mr Tissier was his modesty and openness towards other styles and ways. It does not seem to be the case for all of us here...

Ron Tisdale
02-29-2008, 12:22 PM
I appreciate his styles and ways. I just think that his answer begs the question. And some that are said to be very good at "aiki" have specifically said that those who talk about "allowing the ki to flow" don't really understand "aiki".

Look, maybe he knows more than he's saying. I'm sure (from watching his vids) that he could tie me in more knots in more ways than I can count. But we are talking about a very specific thing, which is often not talked about, or talked about in esoteric, hard to understand terms, or dismissed, or talked about in generalities that don't help you to develop it.

All I am saying is that his statement falls directly into one of those categories.

Best,
Ron (no disrespect intended, and I wish you could hear that without disrespecting me...)

Mike Sigman
02-29-2008, 12:31 PM
One thing that I appreciated while talking to Mr Tissier was his modesty and openness towards other styles and ways. It does not seem to be the case for all of us here... I'm modest (heck, I even close my eyes when I change my underwear) and I'm open. But if any disagreement I have with another view causes my personal character to be questioned.....

Regards,

Mike Sigman

jss
02-29-2008, 12:34 PM
Does anyone else think that is the gist of the interview?David
Yes and no. For those interested in ki/kokyu it is the gist, for others not. And Ron made a good comment of giving someone the benefit of the doubt.

Anyhow, Tissier's answer is a clear sign for all people interested in developing ki/kokyu that there is no reason to go study his aikido (to develop these skills). Even if (huge if) Tissier has developed these skills through his naturalistic approach, a quicker and safer route would be finding a teacher of whatever style that does teach ki/kokyu skills explicitly and then reverse engineer aikido.

Joep

dps
02-29-2008, 12:35 PM
He is very explicit on how to develope ki.

Christian Tissier,

"We could of course develop exercises such as the ones proposed by Qigong in order to specifically work on breathing. We could also specifically work on flexibility or other things but to what end? I consider Aikido as a whole system that as been well thought. It is therefore useless to concentrate on only one aspect of the art, in particular if it is to the expense of practice time."

David

jss
02-29-2008, 01:07 PM
He is very explicit on how to develope ki.
That's not explicit! That's saying "Train the complete system and the parts will develop naturally at the correct pace." No system is that great that it guarantees this.
And he's not far from saying that musicians shouldn't practice scales, athletes shouldn't do power training, etc.

The most explicit he gets is:
That is right because the technique will unlock the body! Once you have unlocked your body and removed all fears, the gesture will be fluid and this will allow more kokyu. If you add an intention to this kokyu, the Ki will naturally occur.
The issues I have with his approach:
1. The technique will unlock the body: so you need good technique before you can get kokyu. So technique is a means to acquire kokyu! I'd say it's the other way around.
2. Removing fear is not that important to develop these skills. If he was talking about applying them in an actual fight, different story.
3. The gesture will be fluid. Performing a technique with fluid movements indicates skill ... at moving fluently when opposed by a well conditioned aikido uke. I'm not interested.
4. Adding intention to kokyu so that the ki will naturally occur: classic sources talk about adding intention to ki to manifest kokyu. Yet again, other way around.

And Ron, those are 4 reasons why I (imho, ymmv, etc.) am not that inclined to give Tissier the benefit of the doubt. Begging the question by making incorrect statements rather indicates ignorance than unwillingness to share his insights in an interview.

Timothy WK
02-29-2008, 02:24 PM
I think it's possible to read him graciously. I've met a few high-ish level practitioners that seem to manifest certain aspects of these skills (in a very unrefined sort of way), but they acquired their ability through some type of personal intuition, rather than explicit instruction. As such, they couldn't seem to articulate the how/what/why's of their actions, other than through the type of vague, stereotypical, and often quasi-spiritual language that Tissier used.

Now, without feeling him, given his statements I would be skeptical of his internal abilities. His general dismissive attitude seems to communicate an ignorance of the skills Rob and Mike are talking about. But his statements aren't necessary "wrong"---if you're willing to give him the benefit of the doubt... alot of benefit...

1. The technique will unlock the body: so you need good technique before you can get kokyu. So technique is a means to acquire kokyu! I'd say it's the other way around.
2. Removing fear is not that important to develop these skills. If he was talking about applying them in an actual fight, different story.
3. The gesture will be fluid. Performing a technique with fluid movements indicates skill ... at moving fluently when opposed by a well conditioned aikido uke. I'm not interested.
4. Adding intention to kokyu so that the ki will naturally occur: classic sources talk about adding intention to ki to manifest kokyu. Yet again, other way around.
1. Good structure (posture, body alignment, balance, etc) does facilitate (but not guarantee) body connection and other internal skills. The problem with starting with technique is there are tons of variables (timing, force, distance, etc) that can steal one's attention away from the internal stuff. Also note that this is a classic Japanese approach---work on a technique/movement until it becomes ingrained and imparts a sense of internal awareness, and then use that internal awareness to develop further internal skill.

2. I think "fear of failing" can, at least subconsciously, drive people to "force" techniques/movements with muscle, rather than "let them happen" internally. So it depends on how one interprets "fear".

3. If "unlocking the body" means improving one's structure, good structure does promote (but not guarantee) relaxation, and thus "fluidity".

4. "Intention", "kokyu", and "ki" are inherently vague terms, particularly for people who aren't familiar with "classic sources". I doubt he would define them the way you (or the internal crowd) have. Please note that's not saying he's right and you're wrong, or that "ki"/"kokyu" is simply a matter of personal interpretation. I'm just saying that you're judging his statements based on your own assumptions, not necessarily on his intended message.

Jack M.
02-29-2008, 02:41 PM
If Ki does not occur naturally, that is, if it is not already present in nature, then how can it be developed? From my understanding it is everywhere, it's just that something must be done to cultivate and utilize it.

Since I'm such a newbie, maybe I am misunderstanding. Perhaps a separate thread entitled What is Ki? would be helpful (at least to me!).

Thanks!

Ron Tisdale
02-29-2008, 02:43 PM
I am with both Joep and Tim...

Basically, I was TRYING to be polite in what I said. After feeling somewhat attacked by a certain post, I was a LITTLE less polite, but still trying.

At this point everyone knows what they need to know, whether polite or not, so...

Audios...
B,
R(I think I spelled that wrong, but my spanish is worse than my japanese) :D

jss
02-29-2008, 03:28 PM
Now, without feeling him, given his statements I would be skeptical of his internal abilities. His general dismissive attitude seems to communicate an ignorance of the skills Rob and Mike are talking about. But his statements aren't necessary "wrong"---if you're willing to give him the benefit of the doubt... alot of benefit...
They may not necessarily be "wrong", but taken as a whole they are not consistent with my understanding of ki and kokyu.
If we read Tissier's reply for what it is, his method goes as follows:
1. Unlock body through technique.
2. Remove fears.
Result: Fluid gestures, thus more kokyu.
3. Add intention to kokyu.
Result: ki will occur naturally.

Question 1: what skill, if any, is developed?
Question 2: why would one want to let ki occur naturally?

Ron Tisdale
02-29-2008, 03:33 PM
heart leads mind
mind leads qi
qi leads li

How does that fit into his statement?

Best,
Ron

Irv Lachow
02-29-2008, 04:26 PM
From the thread, New interview with Christian Tissier Shihan (in English!)

Does anyone else think that is the gist of the interview?

David

No. :D

Upyu
02-29-2008, 08:56 PM
He is very explicit on how to develope ki.

Christian Tissier,

"We could of course develop exercises such as the ones proposed by Qigong in order to specifically work on breathing. We could also specifically work on flexibility or other things but to what end? I consider Aikido as a whole system that as been well thought. It is therefore useless to concentrate on only one aspect of the art, in particular if it is to the expense of practice time."

David

How is that explicit?
Not to mention the fact that he simply screws up talking about Qiqong, since Qigong isn't working on "breathing", rather the "breathing" in Qiqong works on something else in the body (assuming you've been shown how to do it)
But that's fine, he's not a CMA guy,

If he had a specific understanding of Ki/Kokyu, I think he'd be able to describe either, what it is concretely, or how the "warm-up" exercises such as funekogi undou, furitama etc relate physically to their development.

Upyu
02-29-2008, 09:02 PM
If Ki does not occur naturally, that is, if it is not already present in nature, then how can it be developed? From my understanding it is everywhere, it's just that something must be done to cultivate and utilize it.

Since I'm such a newbie, maybe I am misunderstanding. Perhaps a separate thread entitled What is Ki? would be helpful (at least to me!).

Thanks!

Mike S has already laid out some of the basic definitions in past posts. (If you can wade through the BS, the thread "Baseline Skillset" is a good place to start)

Suffice to say that Ki/Kokyu are both physical skills, separate but intertwined.
That being said you have to feel this stuff to understand it.
There's a guy in VA, close to you that could probably show you up close and personal with no BS ;)

If you're still interested and want a more detailed explanation just PM me ;)

Upyu
02-29-2008, 09:15 PM
One thing that I appreciated while talking to Mr Tissier was his modesty and openness towards other styles and ways. It does not seem to be the case for all of us here...

Guillaume:
No one is taking issue with Mr. Tissier's generosity, or his wonderful human nature.
That being said, being a "modest and open" and a wonderful human being does not mean you have these skills.

To be blunt, I don't think its his fault, and that if he actually doesn't have these skills (and watching his vids, there's not much there to show otherwise) I think its a shame that he studied xxx many years without gaining those skills, simply because xxx organization decided to promote him without teaching him that particular core skillset.

If some of us are blunt, its because we call it like we see it, and some of us have seen this kind of thing repeated again and again.

Shany
03-01-2008, 06:01 AM
hehe christian said there are 2 groups in france that don't get along with each other, and he is soon coming to israel ;)
i guess he means, his branch doesn't get along with the branch i'm studying at (tamura branch) and that the styles we different.

funny to read it, it seems hes got some 'anger' inside.
its just aikido!!!

Timothy WK
03-01-2008, 11:33 AM
They may not necessarily be "wrong", but taken as a whole they are not consistent with my understanding of ki and kokyu...
Uh, I guess I can be more explicit:

I think it's possible to read Tissier as one of those practitioners with a rudimentary and unrefined level of internal skill, who are (for all practical purposes) unable to articulate how they acquired their abilities, what exactly they're doing in a practical sense, and why they're doing it. As such, one should read his statements as incomplete and inadequate for training purposes.

An issue I have is that the practitioners I met that fit the above description had no frame of reference for discussing or even describing what they were doing, other than through the vague platitudes you hear all the time ("relax", "extend", "move from the center", etc.). Their words (again, for all practical purposes), were meaningless, but I could feel something when we worked together.

But I'm rambling. My point is that not everyone has the vocabulary to discuss what they're doing. There certainly *are* people in the mainstream Aikido world that posses certain aspects of these skills. I don't want to fault or deny them because they were never taught how to articulate the how/what/why's.

But with that said, again, I'm highly skeptical that Tissier is one of those people. He's VERY smooth, and I bet he has decently strong technique. But he doesn't have that "unified" or "simple" looking movement I consider a tell-tale of internal skill. And the people I've met with a rudimentary level of internal skill usually acknowledge that there's something to what they're doing, unlike Tissier.

Compare this video of Tissier (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtqoQu083kU) with this video of Takeda Yoshinbu (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW3YE-oJJao). It's fairly obvious how Tissier is throwing his weight around to power his throws. But Takeda hardly moves, it barely looks like he's doing anything at all.

CitoMaramba
03-01-2008, 02:40 PM
hehe christian said there are 2 groups in france that don't get along with each other, and he is soon coming to israel ;)
i guess he means, his branch doesn't get along with the branch i'm studying at (tamura branch) and that the styles we different.

funny to read it, it seems hes got some 'anger' inside.
its just aikido!!!

Perhaps we can re-read this part of the interview:
I would like things to be very clear, I have always had the greatest respect for Tamura Sensei and I think he knows it. He is a great master who fully deserves the recognition he has. In the future, would like more connections between the groups. Even if the techniques and the conception of the grading are different, we must remember that we are all doing Aikido and that we share the same principles. We must learn to get along.
Personally, I sometimes feel closer to some people from the FFAB [the other French federation of Aikido] than from my own.

Stefan Stenudd
03-03-2008, 10:31 AM
I admire Christian Tissier immensely, and I have always found him a sophisticated and quite philosophical aikido teacher, also one with impressive kokyu, and a strong flow of what I perceive as ki.

I also found his short comments on ki and kokyu development in the interview easy to agree with.

Without claiming that it is the view of Christian Tissier, I would say that I sometimes find aikidoists using ki as sort of a shortcut, where they seem to think that focus on ki makes other aspects of aikido training unnecessary.

In my experience, there is a whole needed. Posture, technique, breathing, even muscular work - when they are all considered, ki will indeed flow naturally.
I also regard the aikido techniques as clever stimulation of ki and kokyu, just by the way they are designed. And I have experienced it often on the tatami:
Many students who train in a way they regard as strictly physical, and never even mention ki, have it in abundance. And there are many aikidoists who focus almost solely on ki, and talk about it even more than I do - still, there is not much ki flowing through them.

Aikido develops your center, kokyu, and ki - even if you don't think about it, even if you don't believe in it. That is one of the many beauties of this art.