PDA

View Full Version : Starting the internal aiki quest- my experience with Aunkai


Please visit our sponsor:
 

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!


Ishimuzi
12-26-2008, 04:02 AM
Hi all,
My name is Boaz,
I'm an Aikikai shodan.
Recently I had the pleasure to participate in a couple of Aunkai classes, and would like to share some of my thoughts.

( *1st I'd like to apologize 4 the long message :o )

Reasons:
Dissatisfaction After practicing for a few years now I have dissatisfaction with my:
• Posture
• Balance (especially after completing some techniques)
• Generation of power
• Martial movement

Believing Aikido has more to offer then just mechanical leveraging:
• I.E. neutralizing attacks immediately, b4 they are facilitated.
• Blending and uniting "internally" with attackers sensing attacker's intent b4 him.
• Using attackers energy even if he is balanced and attacks differently then in Aikido basic kihon.
• Being "strong" enough to be soft.

Being able to repeat "ki" demonstrations because of the idea behind them, not in order to show off.

Thanks to discussions here, I have been exposed to several individuals who seemed to have similar concepts, knowledge and training methodology of how to obtain the above. All of them agreed to the immortal: "It has to be felt". So I decided to try to feel as many of these guys as possible.

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Japan so I decided my first stop in this quest would be the Aunkai group.
I received a warm welcome from everyone which was important for this intimidated gaijin.

Classes:
I participated only in 2 classes:
Thursday: moving from basic exercises towards the bujutsu applications (yet not applications per-se).
Saturday: basic exercises.

Akuzawa sensei:

About my size (1.75m, 60kg).
Appears normally built and besides his forearms that seemed firm/muscular, didn't seem particularly muscular. Demonstrated convincingly how his method could be integrated in different fighting styles. What I liked most is his demonstration of how good structure and movement facilitate working against a larger opponent whilst carrying/balancing a load, I.E, distributing/dealing with forces while keeping balance.

The Ideas that were conveyed:

• Alignment: The torso as an axis that can be tilted but not bent.
• Extension: keeping the torso "opened" stretching-open the chest, pelvis and limbs, in other words to all directions.
• Connection to the ground: letting inserted forces be channeled to the ground and exerted ones from the ground.
• Relaxation-Minimization: Using minimal movements and minimal amount of muscles and organs per exercise.
• Examination: asking yourself at each moment: "what am I doing now, how can I improve it, with less effort, and less body organs". Teacher and partner feedback clear and guiding.

Conclusion of my experience with the Aunkai method:

*Coherent. A few "Basic" ideas that connect several concepts we know from Aikido.
*Logical, has tests to validate your understanding and advancement. relies on thinking and self exploration, not just mindless repetition.

*Could (should) be integrated in an Aikidoka's practice.
*Can show results in a relatively short span of time (a few years).
*Can enhance your Aikido no mater your purpose.

I'm looking forward to practice again with the group, meanwhile trying to practice on my own.

I apologize in advance for any inaccuracies and hope the Aunkai guys will correct them.

Boaz

SeiserL
12-26-2008, 07:09 AM
Thanks for sharing.
I look forward to the experience myself.
Nicely done. Compliments.

ChrisHein
12-26-2008, 10:59 AM
Nice write up.
Thanks.

C. David Henderson
12-27-2008, 01:30 PM
Conclusion of my experience with the Aunkai method:

*Coherent. A few "Basic" ideas that connect several concepts we know from Aikido.
*Logical, has tests to validate your understanding and advancement. relies on thinking and self exploration, not just mindless repetition.

*Could (should) be integrated in an Aikidoka's practice.
*Can show results in a relatively short span of time (a few years).
*Can enhance your Aikido no mater your purpose.

I'm looking forward to practice again with the group, meanwhile trying to practice on my own.

I apologize in advance for any inaccuracies and hope the Aunkai guys will correct them.

Boaz

Hi Boaz,

Thanks for sharing your experiences. If you have more to say regarding your conclusions, I would be really interested to hear what you have to say.

Regards,

David

Gerald Fabrot
12-27-2008, 09:30 PM
Hi Boaz,

I think you pretty much nailed the big picture. I did my best to translate Akuzawa Sensei's comments and I am glad that you took away something from it.

One of the points you mentioned is the most crucial of Aunkai in my own view : his constant admonition that we reflect on what the principles are, how they fit together, how to constantly and actively train them in all of our exercises. i.e. he shows an awful lot, but it is up to us to figure it out.

I would say that in his method understanding the principles obviously come first, then they must power motion without waste, and only from there the myriads of applications can emerge.

Looking forward to meeting you again, be it in Tokyo or by the Yam Ha-Melah ;)

take care,

gerald

"As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance."
John Archibald Wheeler

Kevin Leavitt
12-28-2008, 01:56 AM
Thanks for the post. I spent a weekend (as well as several others here) back this summer with Ark. Thanks for reminding me of the things he covered! Good stuff, I can't wait to get with him again sometime.

Ishimuzi
12-28-2008, 06:25 AM
Hi again, and happy holidays to all (In Israel some cities celebrate three holidays of the three Monotheistic religions that occur on close dates).

I)Thanks for reading my post and good job not falling asleep!

I hope some of you guys that have similar experiences could give there 2 Euros on the subject.

II)Conclusions (it's a bit premature for that but...) :

From what I've seen, all the Ideas concur with Aikido principles:

1)Posture-
Keeping it erect always (even in mindset) this is IMO equivalent to "extending KI". I get a lots of remarks from my teachers regarding my posture, and once thought I could either just correct it during execution of techniques ("On the fly"), or it would eventually "fix it self". After learning some physiology I finally understood how mistaken I was.
Our posture is one of the things I like most in Aikido, In a way its being open to the world, confidence etc'. martially I see it as advantageous in peripheral vision (as opposed to hunching and tunnel vision) of-course it also has it's disadvantages.

2)Relaxation-
It's a common concept in Aikido, it maybe even one of it's "secrets" , yet it's one of the most difficult to achieve because it relies on:
A) Integrity- being honest with yourself I.E. "am I really relaxed?
am I not muscling my way/ using my technical/experience advantage/Ukes bad structure to execute the technique?"

B) Testing methods- Asking yourself questions, partner giving you feedback, listening to your body. usually when we execute a technique, we're focused on it, and not on the basic details.

C)Posture and stability. if we're not "strong enough" (I.E. can't hold the structure and balance), our Instincts (reflexes) are to become rigid and jerky, hence we can't relax, "close up" from the environment and partner, can't develop sensitivity, can't release our power nor deal with his (be it absorb it or deflecting or evading it).On the other hand, If we maintain stability, and structure, we have enough confidence and "time" to learn to relax.
(I think we could take it to psychological and philosophical realms too, but thats a different topic).

3)Generation/Absorption of power via the ground-
Sounds obvious, but from my experience we tend to overlook this simple fact (just checkout 5,0000000 posts in this forum).
How many if us try to feel the connection to the ground while executing techniques? how many of us have got used to executing techniques fast (especially due to practicing with diving Ukes), yet if they try doing it sloooooooowly they find it to difficult and frustrating blaming Ukes on not being cooperative/the weather etc' ?

4)Use of gravity-
Aikido uses it allot, yet how many explore it and Kuzushi on it's own? (Actually Aunkai guys, I hope you could expand on that...)

5)Work against resistance/free style work-
In my opinion (and as I've seen in Iwama), practice against and with resistance is inherent to Aikido and has martial and (philosophical)
merits.
As long as it is done correctly:
*Specific and defined to the principal that's being practiced.
*Done with both sides good willed, honest and have educational purposes.
*The level of resistance is suitable to the level of both practitioners.
I find it imperative.

6)Using intent-
Using your mind to explore and control your body
(If you wish- "Extending,Using your Ki").
Distributing Forces to different directions via thought("Internally").

I hope to hear some other guy's thoughts and especially those that can compare their Aunkai training with the other methods mentioned in this forum that practice this stuff.

Boaz.

C. David Henderson
12-28-2008, 10:15 AM
Boaz,

Thanks so much for your generous response. Really interesting.

Regards,

David

Ishimuzi
12-29-2008, 01:38 PM
I would like to thank whoever took the time to read my posts.

(Guys, I hope you don't mind me referring here to you by your first name it's just part of the ME informality :D )

Lynn- what brings you to pursue the IA training?
Have you been exposed before in Aikido to any specific body training or IA oriented training?

Kevin- IIRC you practice Aikido, BJJ and with some of the IA guys.
Could you give us your take on the contribution of the IA practice to both? is the emphasis similar or does each one of them have a different/opposing principal? how about during sparring?

David/Chris- could you elaborate on your own training? what's your take on the subject?

I would appreciate other guys opinions too (even those that haven't had the opportunity to train in IA).

Boaz

C. David Henderson
12-29-2008, 02:44 PM
Boaz,

I'm a fellow shodan, Aikikai. I do a number of the basic exercises as part of solo training, in conjunction with my yoga practice, and have limited experience doing push hands with an experienced teacher.

I think it's best, for you in gauging my response, though, to view it as coming from the part of the readership of this site that is hungry for the kind of information you've provided, and whose practical experience with the skills you are learning is very limited and who make no claims to the contrary.

Still, for me, a lot of what you said had additional value because you were able to relate it to your Aikido practice in a clear and concise way.

Regards,

David

Kevin Leavitt
12-29-2008, 04:46 PM
Boaz wrote:

Kevin- IIRC you practice Aikido, BJJ and with some of the IA guys.
Could you give us your take on the contribution of the IA practice to both? is the emphasis similar or does each one of them have a different/opposing principal? how about during sparring?

Well I have found no opposing principles for sure! In fact I am simply amazed at how much is in common.

The big challenge was for me to mentally get out of the way. What I mean is this. When I first went to BJJ I was assessing it from an "aikido" point of view, as that was the context of my world and I dealt with a certain amount of dissonance from that mindset.

Then when I had been doing BJJ for a few years and finally got together this past year with some of the IA guys, I kept processing everything from my BJJ/Aikido paradigm.

The challenge is putting it all back together and finding the IA in my practice. (BJJ, Aikido, and Judo).

It is tough as you really need to just practice whatever it is you are practicing and slowly try and find those places where it fits and where you discover it. It may not always be where you are looking.

A good example I posted a few weeks ago. Working with Ryan Hall, a up and coming BJJ star, he corrected an off balancing problem in BJJ that I was having in the guard. I was not even looking for anything Internal, simply looking to have my guard fixed.

So he looked at it, then showed me the problem, then fixed it. As soon as He showed me what was wrong, I recognized it as being a "grounding" issue exactly as we do in IA training! Ryan intuitively understood this basic IA principle and used it all the time.

5 minutes and it completely shifted my paradigm and fixed my problem! I no longer have any issue with this. My game improved immensely in the guard, and I am learning how to use this now as it messed up my fight rhythm and timing that I am now trying to put back together.

What was key for me to grasp this, was the fact that the little time I spent with the IA guys this past year gave me a feel for what "right felt like". Coupled with the IA exercises like Ark has us do, and the fact that a BJJ guy showed me something I was doing wrong...I was ripe for making that correction immediately!

These things I think, at least in my experiences happen spontaneously when you least expect them. All though I have really tried hard to integrate this in the last year and really only have a small grasp of understanding of it. The payoff seems to be quite profound though when it happens as I experienced in fixing my guard.

I think what we should be cognizant of is this: I am not moving any different than a good BJJ guy, I am simply now doing it more right! Centered, grounded, moving from a strong base with a stronger transference of power and efficiency.

Anyway, this is just off the top of my head quickly as I am thinking about this topic.

Kevin Leavitt
12-29-2008, 05:10 PM
A couple of things that I have been doing since working with Mike and Ark this year are the basic solo exercises they showed us. It is amazing to see the similarities that these guys reached through completely different paths. Working with Toby Threadgill, these were also codified in his Koryu stuff as basics. The conclusion I have reached, is that these are very important. So I try and spend sometime each training session doing this basic, basic exercises.

Stabiity/Swiss ball work. This has had a big impact on my core development as well as working on my development of the "transferrence of a moving center". I am hoping to post some video on my blog soon of some of these basic exercises I do.

Medicine ball work. Along with the swiss ball, I work with the medicine ball as well using it as a weight to figure out how to shift, move, throw (extend) through the ball. this is good proprioceptive training as I try to do it without using upper body or arms to receive and "push" the weight around. It develops the core as well.

More recently I have added "boxing" or bag work into my mix. I am trying to learn to punch the way ark showed me. I seem to be getting power without using so much of my upper body. The posture is definitely different than what I was used to and it is taking time to "unlearn", but I think it to be better from an MMA standpoint. Actually I would probably benefit from some good Muay Thai instruction at this point. The bag work is giving me good feedback I think in developing my power base from down low. It is challenging to rewire as I had to give up a bunch of my percieved power to begin the process. I feel stupid to be honest.

On the note of feeling stupid: Alexander Technique is worth reading about as it has helped me understand how to retrain our bodies and that we won't feel right when we start to change what we have done for many years. I recommend reading about this if you are into IA rewiring. It is definitely related I think. (I plan on exploring this indepth on my own blog in the future).

Thanks to Paulina L here on aikiweb and aikido list serv for introducing AT to me last year! :)

Mike Sigman had some real good techniques that involved large elastic bands or ropes. I try to do these as well, but frankly I have a hard time understanding exactly what I should be doing with them so I hesitate to say much, I'd have to get with Mike again to get some coaching and adjustment. That is the problem with alot of this training is that it is difficult to work on faith for a prolonged period of time without guidance and making sure you are actually doing things properly. Hence why I like the feedback from the balls.

In working in Aikido I try and work on balance, ground path and keeping my posture good while shifting and not firing my shoulders/arms and transferring things around with uke.

In BJJ Same thing really, just a different kind of practice.

Can't tell you how well I am doing from an IA standpoint though as I have only had less than 40 hours of exposure to it from these guys, and would need to get back to them for "adjustment" and feedback on what I am doing right or wrong.

C. David Henderson
12-29-2008, 06:42 PM
A stray thought.

The place where, to date, the idea of balancing recieved and opposing forces, and it's relationship to efficient movement made most physically vivid sense to me was when I was cross-country skiing on Christmas day, just passed.

Cross-country, like swimming, is both an endurance-to-speed sport and a skill sport. It's a skill sport for two reasons -- 1. Your effort to propel yourself forward, and 2. you effort to stay on your feet when descending. Like swimming, lack of efficient movement in either one's stroke or in descending is punished in a very apparent way, in terms of physical effort.

To cut to the chase -- I found the idea of balancing the forces in my core was a useful focal point in dailing in my stride after about a year off the skiis.

Hope that wasn't too far afield. :crazy: But to me it is confirmation of some basic facts.

DH

Kevin Leavitt
12-29-2008, 08:35 PM
DH: I did a 25KM Military Ruck march back in October and I had the exact same experience.

C. David Henderson
12-29-2008, 09:34 PM
:cool:

Ishimuzi
12-30-2008, 12:20 AM
David- could you elaborate on your skying example? I don't ski but it sounds like a higher level of application for these principals (less friction, in motion, ground tilted...) could you also expand regarding the swimming? the guys in other threads were implying that the pool could be a good place to practice.

Kevin- this paragraph:
"What was key for me to grasp this, was the fact that the little time I spent with the IA guys this past year gave me a feel for what "right felt like". Coupled with the IA exercises like Ark has us do, and the fact that a BJJ guy showed me something I was doing wrong...I was ripe for making that correction immediately!"
-was excellent mind reading.... :eek:

Regarding my experience so far, I'm just a newbe.

Let me quote:

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
Sir Winston Churchill, Speech in November 1942

I think my 1st and short visit will just prepare me for the next ones
to be able to really start studying.
But it is amazing how already it helps other principals to "just snap in".

Could you explain the swiss ball practice? the medicine Ball one? maybe even a pic with a few words?
Maybe you could post a pic regarding the remark you had from the BJJ? what you were doing wrong and what he improved?

Regarding the Alexander method, its funny, I already began reading about it, and found about about a friend of a friend that teaches it (on my to-do list).
Could you explain a bit about how this applies to your IA training?

Boaz.

Kevin Leavitt
12-30-2008, 12:31 AM
here is a good example of stability ball training:

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

On AT: well if nothing else, I think it will give you some "language" to describe what is going on. I also think that they have some very good methods at a very basic level for training proprioceptive responses and beginning to move correctly with minimal muscle activation. I would recommend reading it, because I can't really do it justice.

It simply has provided me a framework of understanding. I think different people respond to different teachers, wording, methods and descriptions. AT is simply another way. It seems to work for me so far.

Ark, I think kinda skipped over this whole area and started moving a little more advanced than AT.

Did he do the thing where he picks a big guy and has him climb on his back? He starts talking about frame and letting your bones, structure support the weight naturally using posture and gravity. AT really is all about this as well on a basic level.

Ishimuzi
12-30-2008, 04:05 AM
Thanks Kevin.
Regarding the link and the stability ball:
I like that kind of work, think I'm gonna buy one.
I wonder how you imply the structure principles with it?
Is what the guy does in the clip with the medicine ball, what you meant? I understood it differently.
I thought you meant holding it in the air, supporting it through your structure?

Anyway Akuzawa sensei showed that one (I think the concept is like ganseki otoshi) but more impressive IMO was:
while he was in a wide stance, he held a heavier guy on one thigh, and kept exerting force and connection to another person on the other side.

BTW, could you expand on where the Aunkai method differs from others you've trained with? (in concepts/practice)?

Boaz.

eyrie
12-30-2008, 05:14 AM
1)Posture-
Keeping it erect always (even in mindset) this is IMO equivalent to "extending KI". IYO, how does posture (or having "good" posture) equate with extending ki in ALL directions?

2)Relaxation-
It's a common concept in Aikido, it maybe even one of it's "secrets" , yet it's one of the most difficult to achieve because it relies on:
A) Integrity- being honest with yourself I.E. "am I really relaxed?
am I not muscling my way/ using my technical/experience advantage/Ukes bad structure to execute the technique?"

B) Testing methods- Asking yourself questions, partner giving you feedback, listening to your body. usually when we execute a technique, we're focused on it, and not on the basic details.

C)Posture and stability. if we're not "strong enough" (I.E. can't hold the structure and balance), our Instincts (reflexes) are to become rigid and jerky, hence we can't relax, "close up" from the environment and partner, can't develop sensitivity, can't release our power nor deal with his (be it absorb it or deflecting or evading it).On the other hand, If we maintain stability, and structure, we have enough confidence and "time" to learn to relax.
(I think we could take it to psychological and philosophical realms too, but thats a different topic).
It's all well and good to say "relax, and not use muscle", but the fact remains you have to use *some* muscle - even standing upright, and maintaining postural stability requires various muscular engagement. So, what does it really mean "to relax and not use muscle"? If not muscle, then use what? How?

3)Generation/Absorption of power via the ground Easier said than done. Perhaps you could explicate a little further how one does this?

4)Use of gravity-
Aikido uses it allot, yet how many explore it and Kuzushi on it's own? (Actually Aunkai guys, I hope you could expand on that...) I think there's a bit more to gravity than just kuzushi.... which IMO has more to do with uke's posture and stability than just gravity. Tis a weighty issue indeed!

5)Work against resistance/free style work Progressively perhaps, but not initially in the early learning stages is my feeling.

C. David Henderson
12-30-2008, 08:11 AM
Hi Boaz,

Happy to provide more detail.

When you X-C, you need to keep your torso upright in order to power the polls; you need to load the "leaf spring" between your legs, a la Ark's diagram of the body, and keep a certain amount of tension there during your stride (I'm speaking of classic, diagonal skiing, not skate skiing, which is more about loading and unloading your legs, and lets you get away with bad posture more easily).

The motion, done efficiently, is very fluid, and isn't about trying to muscle your way across the snow. If you, for example, try to rush up hill, your skiis will slip, your polls must catch your weight, and you will have just both lost ground and wasted energy.

On the flats, over-muscling results in shorter gliding at, similarly, a cost of more energy expended.

It also usually involves a break in the structure, usually leaning too far forward or trying to kick back rather than continue to glide forward. (I think of the classic kick in X-C as a flourish built on an effect that flows from an efficient stride -- it's kind of like the refinements that evolve in a swimming stroke in that it makes most sense when added to a basically sound stroke).

When skiing in balance, as I tried to describe, the polling action and the gliding forward all happen from an upright core, and the kinesthetic image I've gotten through reading and doing basic exercises about managing and balancing incoming forces is useful for maintaining the equilibrium of my stroke.

As for swimming, my model for focusing my intent actually was influenced significantly by an Aikido Seminar with a guest instructor who took us through a Feldenkris exercise almost 10 years ago.

Now, when I do the crawl, my goal is to extend my body at a particular angle to the water so that my shoulders are up in the water, and each hand upon entry into the water is planning forward and slightly downward.

I then allow my hand to go forward to the apex of the stroke while my core rotates on its axis from the resistance of the water.

That orients my body so that its also properly aligned to let me draw the hand back efficiently while the other arm is aligned to enter the water and reverse the direction in which my upper core is rotating.

All of this depends on being able to maintain a proper angle between my torso and the surface of the water, which is where the kick comes in.

To counterbalance what is happening with my torso and upper body, the hips are rotating in sync, but in the opposite direction. This puts the feet in a position to kick efficiently.

Water is a wonderfully honest and generous medium to test efficiency. Just moving your arms through the water while standing is a far different experience that in the air. When I first started swimming as an adult (a long, long time ago), I would get winded after a couple of hundred meters.

While I don't claim to be more than a competent swimmer now, I am able to go a long way (PR -- 8 K in open water).

Hope that's useful information.

Regards,

David

Ron Tisdale
12-30-2008, 08:28 AM
Kevin, thanks for that. Much appreciated. Could you post a link to your blog? Hmmm, it's probably in your sig...guess I should scroll back up and look... :D

B,
R

PS yep, it's there alright!

Ishimuzi
12-30-2008, 08:41 AM
Ignatius,
Thanks for the questions (I'll try approaching them in order of appearance) :
Please take my answers with more than a grain of salt, I am just a Newbie, beginner, milk dripping from my lips etc'.
I hope the more experienced guys here will give their corrections and additions.

(Good) Posture= Extending Ki -
I'll try to define (Good) Posture -
The image that works best 4 me is that of a bicycle wheel: it is basically a hoop that's integrity is maintained via wires that are in tension and placed and oriented around in space. when an external load is applied to it, this structure causes the force to be distributed through the wires so the structure is maintained, hence we can load a cart (with this type of wheels) with a heavy load, and drive it on a bumpy road and nothing will happen to the wheels.
I compare my body to a similar structure. now I need to fix the wiring.
Extending Ki (IMO)-
(I have no other official and better definition)
Is the combination of intent with force and power.
So when somebody tells me to extend my Ki through my fingers ("Unbendable arm" etc'), I understand is as:
A)Think of/Intend to extend your fingers, keep your awareness to this intent and what's actually happening.
B) let the body apply this command using the proper posture and and minimal organs such that eventually my fingers are extended.

Regarding relaxation-
I never said anything about not using any muscle, nor did I say it was easy. it takes practice and allot.and specific.
I think the Idea is to develop and mostly use just the stabilizing muscles+ erect skeleton("structure).
Maybe some of it is related to the fascia subject? I don't know enough yet..
When we say don't use strength we usually mean don't use the biceps/pecs etc. and other local muscles.
Relaxation, is first of all a state of mind. you have to be aware of the "tense state", to be able to relax. so lets say we are practicing this, then ask ourselves what muscles/organs are we using in X-technique? can we use less? less muscles? less organs? where do we feel the technique is coming from? could I do this when I'm 70 YO? 80? what happens if I try to stiff-up my shoulder? my elbow? if I let them drop? can I relax my upper body and move my structure and CG so the I connect my center to Uke's without wasting my power on local muscles?

Generation/absorption of power via the ground IMHO -
(this is the time for the IA pro's to step in...)
If we think of it in physic terms- what happens when a human tries to push the ground? the ground has a far larger mass - hence it will stay in place. According to Newton's 3rd law the human will be pushed by an equal an opposite force.
now if for example you watch various Ki tests where some guy is pushing and the other is not moving, the force has to go somewhere..

Gravity and Kuzushi.-
Imagine practicing in space/under water. what would your Aikido look like? what would Kuzushi mean to you then?

Work against resistance/free style work-
Please notice the conditions I wrote in my post.
BTW in Iwama they practice against resistance every technique and every class (from my short experience). that's how O-Sensei taught.
I'd like to debate this point with you, because It's important and I once thought like you.

Anyway, I think it's better for me to learn these stuff (be able to command them at will), b4 I can discuss this well.

Boaz.

SeiserL
12-30-2008, 09:44 AM
Lynn- what brings you to pursue the IA training? Have you been exposed before in Aikido to any specific body training or IA oriented training?
Identify with martial artist, not just Aikido. 40 years now and counting.
Started Tai Chi with Hoopers (Danny Lee's students) 30 years ago. Now also studying Tai Chi/Chi-Gung now.
A lot of seminars with Aiki-jujutsu (Treadgill, Williams).
Train a lot with Ikeda.
Ushiro at the Expos.
Tenshinkai Aikido is pretty small circle so a lot of body mechanics involved.
Always open and evolving.
Its not just IA training, its just staying open to training.

Richard Sanchez
12-30-2008, 12:58 PM
Hi Boaz,

Your mention of Iwama style resistance prompted me to respond. I've been training in that style for a little over 25-years now and have always felt that the resistance training we do has a lot to offer people wishing to develop internal skills.

As an example, this is a quick look at a simple exercise that we start beginners with:

Start in static Tai No Henko, with Uke gripping the wrist, Katatedori, and providing resistance by pulling and pushing in a linear movement. Nage in a very close Hamni stance, (one foot space between front and back leg with both legs slightly bent, equal weighting.) The exercise progresses until the Uke is pushing and pulling as hard as they can with a Morote grip. The next stage is to add a second training partner to the other arm until Nage is able to hold ground and then add a third person who exerts pressure on Nage's hips from the rear.

In a very short space of time beginners are able to hold their position and balance without using strength. (In fact, you can't do this type of training if you use strength.) There are several other variations including having Nage hold a bokken. This style of training is then used to apply resistance in other static positions. Again, starting with one Uke and then advancing to three.

We never use the word "relax" but prefer to say "release" as in "release the pressure". We also do a lot of adjusting of the student's form by touch, similar to AT. This helps them to realize where they are holding pressure in their body.

There are many more exercises such as I have briefly described but from what I've seen of Akuzawa's method he seems to have a more sophisticated approach to establishing correct body use.

I also took AT lessons for three years but found that though it helped me make some links I progressed very slowly. (Probably me!) However, I was able to take the feeling I got from AT and apply it to my Iron Shirt practice, which I've played with for a number of years, and which is now my preference.

I also encourage my students to cross train in arts such as BJJ and they are often able to surprise even experienced BJJ people with their ability to hold their position against strong attacks and resistance. However, having neutralized the attack they generally have no idea what to do next, having limited experience of BJJ technique!

Richard

Mike Sigman
12-30-2008, 04:57 PM
As an example, this is a quick look at a simple exercise that we start beginners with:

Start in static Tai No Henko, with Uke gripping the wrist, Katatedori, and providing resistance by pulling and pushing in a linear movement. Nage in a very close Hamni stance, (one foot space between front and back leg with both legs slightly bent, equal weighting.) The exercise progresses until the Uke is pushing and pulling as hard as they can with a Morote grip. The next stage is to add a second training partner to the other arm until Nage is able to hold ground and then add a third person who exerts pressure on Nage's hips from the rear.

In a very short space of time beginners are able to hold their position and balance without using strength. (In fact, you can't do this type of training if you use strength.) Hi Richard:

Nice post. The above description sounds interesting and I'd like to see this as it's actually done. Is there by any chance a video somewhere (preferably on the net) that shows this particular exercise?

Best.

Mike Sigman

Kevin Leavitt
12-30-2008, 11:53 PM
Thanks Kevin.
Regarding the link and the stability ball:
I like that kind of work, think I'm gonna buy one.
I wonder how you imply the structure principles with it?
Is what the guy does in the clip with the medicine ball, what you meant? I understood it differently.
I thought you meant holding it in the air, supporting it through your structure?

Anyway Akuzawa sensei showed that one (I think the concept is like ganseki otoshi) but more impressive IMO was:
while he was in a wide stance, he held a heavier guy on one thigh, and kept exerting force and connection to another person on the other side.

BTW, could you expand on where the Aunkai method differs from others you've trained with? (in concepts/practice)?

Boaz.

On the Medicine Ball, yes, I meant holding it in the air and supporting it through structure, not what he did in the video, that was just a smaller ball to work on the same thing as the bigger ball.

Aunkai and How it differs?

Well, I don't have a whole lot of experience with Aunkai other than one weekend with Ark and Rob.

However, where I think it differs is that it is ALOT more principle centered on developing structure than anything else.

Probably more what Aikido should be like I think, but we tend to focus on techniques more I think, at least in what we do in my organization....techniques to teach the principles that it. Ark uses a different methodology than what I experience in aikido...that is all.

In BJJ, well we are concerned with BJJ. I think the "internal stuff" comes my "accident" to be honest. Good guys intuitively figure it out, again through practicing technique and non-compliance. The non-compliance is what is key for BJJ as to be successful, you have to learn to move efficiently. The good guys pick it up, but have no idea what they are doing when they do it.

BJJ is more about "good Jiu-Jitsu" though I think.

Or something like that...it is hard to really write about the differences as this IA stuff is so subtle and I don't know enough about it except it feels good when you get it right.

Ishimuzi
12-31-2008, 07:33 AM
Lynn-
Thanks for the elaboration. seems like you've been around this stuff for a while. do you feel like your starting something completely new, or just getting more in depth with something familiar?

David-
Thanks for the explanation. did you try to "play" with these things
(finding the limits of your structure, breathing differently... etc' )?

Richard-
I'd like to second Mr. Sigman's request.
I think I get it the Idea behind your descriptions and it might be similar to stuff we practiced in Iwama (yet more progressive).Will definitely try it.

Kevin-
I'd love to see some footage of the medicine ball practice.
It sounds like it's relevant to many principles in the IA.
Regarding to the BJJ, do you relate to Richard's remarks?

Boaz.

C. David Henderson
12-31-2008, 09:59 AM
David-
Thanks for the explanation. did you try to "play" with these things
(finding the limits of your structure, breathing differently... etc' )?

Boaz.

All the time.
Repetitive activity favors that.

One of things I've found challenging about learning Aikido is the repetition is of a different sort, has different levels, and has been more difficult to understand in the body (i.e., my "dial-in" comment --kihon ikkyo took much more unpacking than even a complex stroke like the butterfly before I remotely started to feel fluid).

Also, while I've heard my friend who teaches CMA remark that the beginning students he's had who had the most supple spines were collegiate swimmers, swimming also adapts the body to being supported by the water. One reason swimmers come in strange shapes, I expect.

That's why, for me, these other activities confirm only some basic facts.

I wouldn't want to go beyond that, and I was happy to hear Kevin remark he'd had a similar kind of experience.

By the way, I appreciate the way you're keeping a few conversations going at once. It's expanded things nicely.

Regards,

DH

Ron Tisdale
12-31-2008, 10:01 AM
Hi Mike,

I have very little exposure to Iwama stylists...but here is a video that may be interesting.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=tai+no+henko+iwama&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wv&oi=property_suggestions&resnum=0&ct=property-revision&cd=1#

Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
12-31-2008, 10:23 AM
I have very little exposure to Iwama stylists...but here is a video that may be interesting.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=tai+no+henko+iwama&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wv&oi=property_suggestions&resnum=0&ct=property-revision&cd=1#
Thanks, Ron. Good video. What I was interested in was seeing how "relaxed" the training was in the perspective of Boaz. Often we use the same terms but the contextual meaning is different and I was trying to get a baseline of what was meant in the original description. I guess my thinking was that the description *sounded* just right, but then the rest of the comments confused me, which made me mentally stop and wonder how much I might be mis-reading into the comments about Aunkai, and so on. In other words I was trying to get my baseline understanding of his comments clarified. Good stuff to read though.

The guy in the video... the Macedonian teacher... uses a lot of "structure", which is effective and gives him added strength, but it's an easy road to take that doesn't lead you very far if you're intent on developing a full complement of "internal" skills. I see a lot of it and I'm not disparaging it in any way (hey... it's effective if you're technique-oriented), but my personal suggestion would be to go a somewhat different path if the objective is to gain fullblown ki/kokyu skills.

Best.

Mike

Ron Tisdale
12-31-2008, 11:20 AM
Hi Mike, I tend to agree with your assesment. If you select some of the other links on that page you will find an example of Saito Sensei performing the same exericise. Quite interesting. I would be interested in any visual assesment you might have of any differences between the two.

I actually MEANT to link to Saito Sensei's video...oops.

Best,
Ron (blame the subnets again... ;))

Richard Sanchez
12-31-2008, 11:41 AM
Boaz and Mike

I don't have any videos I can post as I'm currently traveling around SE Asia on a 12-month sabbatical. The type of exercises I've referred to are what we call "sub-sets" and are just part of our normal training. I imagine you would find similar examples in other Iwama style dojos. I've had a quick search and haven't found anything similar on the net but that's not surprising as people tend to post videos of technique, not preparatory exercises. The link posted by Ron is an example of technique and form and not what I am talking about. I'll contact one of my students and see if he can put something together for you.

In the meantime I'm happy to discuss our approach further, if you're interested. It's something that my teacher, who was an uchi deshi with M. Saito Sensei, has been working on for close to 20-years. Unfortunately he's "old school" and doesn't believe in posting video on the internet, or participating in forum discussions. Sad but true!

Boaz

With regard to sending students off to train in BJJ I want to emphasize that they are not going along to simply ‘test' the BJJ guys but have a genuine interest in cross training. (In fact, I lost a couple of senior students who fell in love with BJJ and never came back!) The usual sequence of events is they are put with white belts, then blues, before gaining the notice of more senior BJJ belts who become intrigued as to how they are able to control their students without any BJJ training. Of course, once they start to roll with purple belts upwards things become a lot more difficult! I've noticed though that as they progress in their BJJ training they often lose some of their internal skills, such as they are, as they become more focused on learning new technique and developing muscle strength.

As Kevin has mentioned, a lot of senior BJJ people have internal skills but they are not identified as such. IMO this is very similar to Iwama training. Both would probably benefit from a more systemized approach to internal skills development as taught by Akuzawa, Mike and Dan Harden and others.

By the way- I'm not an orthodox Iwama player. In some circles I'd probably be regarded as a heretic.

Richard

Ron Tisdale
12-31-2008, 11:53 AM
In some circles I'd probably be regarded as a heretic.

Heh, that's an organization for ya! :D

Best,
Ron

C. David Henderson
12-31-2008, 12:16 PM
In some circles, that would be high praise.

Richard Sanchez
12-31-2008, 12:22 PM
Mike and Ron,

I agree with your assessment of the video example, which is different to how we train. Iwama style can be quite rigid and structured and is often trained that way intentionally. I had the opportunity for hands on with Saito Sensei on a couple of occasions and the feeling with him was quite different- as you might expect.

I am not saying that Iwama style training has any advantage in developing internal skills, its just that it does have particular methods of training that if used with the correct mindset and guidance can bring tangible results. But I guess that could equally apply to any style or method of training.

As to heresy- well its a lot more fun!

Richard

Ron Tisdale
12-31-2008, 12:54 PM
Hi Richard,

Please understand that I am in no way qualified to disparage that method of training, nor was it my intention to do so (which is why I qualified what little opinion I have right up front). The little Iwama training I have participated in was fantastic, and very refreshing in many ways. I do have some questions about some facets of it in terms of internal strength development, but I'm such a novice at that that my small opinions really don't matter.

Best, and have a Happy New Year! I look forward to seeing any videos your students might post.

Ron

Mike Sigman
12-31-2008, 01:01 PM
OK, thanks for the pointer to the Saito video, Ron. That's a good one, too. Even better. I never knew much about Saito back in the day. Sure I had his 5-volume set, etc., but there weren't any films, etc., to watch and I never encountered any Iwama types.

Saito is pretty powerful, ki-wise, however he pays a lot of attention to technical details (which any good martial-artist should do). If "internal" was all it took, there wouldn't be so many sophisticated martial-arts out there... everyone would just study jin/kokyu stuff. The point being that "internal" is nice and it's a definite big advantage to have, but it's not everything. I've mentioned the old saw before: Martial-art without internal strength is not right; internal strength without good martial-art is not right, either.

I think what happens is that many Iwama guys, just like a lot of Yoshinkan, Aikikai, etc.,do also, get too involved with technique and appearances. Most of Shioda's people actually don't appear to be doing the same art that Shioda did and I can see where perhaps the same problem. Heck, I get somewhat startled in many dojos where I see the teacher maintaining a good posture but many of the students read his upright posture wrong so they stiffen their back and do what I call the "Hakama Strut", a totally different and too-stiff way of carrying oneself. It's easy to go off course just by doing something wrong yet very simple.

And my apologies for the post where I said "Boaz" but I meant Richard's comments about "relaxed". Some of the training sounds intriguing; my thought is that Aikido has and always had some good elements of "internal" training in it and that if people are looking for data and inputs on how to train "internal" stuff, one of the first places to look is right in Aikido. However the problem is that many of the correct exercises do no good when they're done wrongly. But if people with a foothold in some basic skills start looking hard enough in Iwama-style, Yoshinkan, Aikikai, etc., they can probably reassemble the picture and do good things in an Aikido way, rather than having to garner exercises, etc., from outside of Aikido.

Of course some people note that Aikido as it's now practiced is pretty ineffective as a martial-art. I agree with that, but I'd note there is still an awful lot about Ueshiba's Aikido that is still simply not known by most people, so maybe it's smarter to leave it open that Aikido may well be more effective than is commonly acknowledged. If someone is having to do MMA, Systema, or whatever in order to "supplement" their Aikido, maybe it's because they really didn't know Aikido rather than Aikido fell short? ;)

Best.

Mike

SeiserL
12-31-2008, 02:32 PM
Lynn- Thanks for the elaboration. seems like you've been around this stuff for a while. do you feel like your starting something completely new, or just getting more in depth with something familiar?
IMHO, I believe there is a lot hidden in plain sight. Its always been there, I just wasn't ready to see it. So while its familiar to me, its always completely new.

Kevin Leavitt
12-31-2008, 08:16 PM
Boaz wrote:

Kevin-
I'd love to see some footage of the medicine ball practice.
It sounds like it's relevant to many principles in the IA.
Regarding to the BJJ, do you relate to Richard's remarks?

Boaz.

LOL, if Mike Sigman won't do video, I am not about to! I'd look like a idiot and I really wouldn't have any clue what I was showing you OR if it was actually "internal" at all! My thing with the ball is about "feel" and "balance". Moving a point out away from your center and then trying to center back under it again using your body vice using your arms etc. Also, probably more a good core building/connection exercise than anything else. Just pick a ball up and start moving with it.

I might post some basic exercises with the medicine ball in the future, but they will be just that...basic exercises. Nothing earth shattering by any stretch.

Richard's remarks about a IA guy being able to stop or slow down a BJJ guy with IA skills? Yeah I can see that. Rob John can probably definitely do that from my limited hands on with him. I think Richard is correct in his assessment that it is fleeting at best and then you move on and they don't know what to do next. Alot of BJJ and Grappling is about moving and position so you have that going as well. IA skills are not the ultimate "bomb" in fighitng as there is alot going on in many respects....but certainly the guys that have an understanding of IA skills, will be well ahead once they learn the "moves" and "timing".

Kevin Leavitt
12-31-2008, 08:26 PM
Richard Sanchez wrote:

With regard to sending students off to train in BJJ I want to emphasize that they are not going along to simply ‘test' the BJJ guys but have a genuine interest in cross training. (In fact, I lost a couple of senior students who fell in love with BJJ and never came back!) The usual sequence of events is they are put with white belts, then blues, before gaining the notice of more senior BJJ belts who become intrigued as to how they are able to control their students without any BJJ training. Of course, once they start to roll with purple belts upwards things become a lot more difficult! I've noticed though that as they progress in their BJJ training they often lose some of their internal skills, such as they are, as they become more focused on learning new technique and developing muscle strength.

As Kevin has mentioned, a lot of senior BJJ people have internal skills but they are not identified as such. IMO this is very similar to Iwama training. Both would probably benefit from a more systemized approach to internal skills development as taught by Akuzawa, Mike and Dan Harden and others.

Thanks for the comments on this. As you know, once you get up into purple, brown, and black belt range of BJJ it becomes alot about experience and timing and simply knowing what to do next. that whole OODA things. You could have all the IA skills in the world, and not be able to necessarily get ahead of the technique.

I agree that MOST if not all of us would benefit from a more systemized approach to training. I know I have begun to adjust the way I train these days and I believe it to be helping!

Mike Sigman
12-31-2008, 11:02 PM
LOL, if Mike Sigman won't do video, I am not about to! Hmmmm.... lemme do a quick Google, 'cause I thought I saw... Yep.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-490520230360622262&ei=80xcSazxNoH0-wHdxazQDg&q=Mike+Sigman

No need to use little ole me as an example or an excuse anymore. Now you can post a vid! ;)

Glückliches neues Jahr!

Mike

Richard Sanchez
01-01-2009, 06:56 AM
Hi Richard,

Please understand that I am in no way qualified to disparage that method of training, nor was it my intention to do so (which is why I qualified what little opinion I have right up front). The little Iwama training I have participated in was fantastic, and very refreshing in many ways. I do have some questions about some facets of it in terms of internal strength development, but I'm such a novice at that that my small opinions really don't matter.

Best, and have a Happy New Year! I look forward to seeing any videos your students might post.

Ron
Hi Ron,

Happy New Year to your and yours too

I didn't take what you said as disparaging so no problem. I'm not saying that Iwama training has any special handle on internal training. In fact, it is rarely mentioned in most dojos I have visited. I think it is more like Mike said, that the foundation for internal training is already in Aikido- if we could see it. And, of course, this applies to all styles

Richard

Richard Sanchez
01-01-2009, 07:58 AM
I think what happens is that many Iwama guys, just like a lot of Yoshinkan, Aikikai, etc.,do also, get too involved with technique and appearances. Most of Shioda's people actually don't appear to be doing the same art that Shioda did and I can see where perhaps the same problem. Heck, I get somewhat startled in many dojos where I see the teacher maintaining a good posture but many of the students read his upright posture wrong so they stiffen their back and do what I call the "Hakama Strut", a totally different and too-stiff way of carrying oneself. It's easy to go off course just by doing something wrong yet very simple.

And my apologies for the post where I said "Boaz" but I meant Richard's comments about "relaxed". Some of the training sounds intriguing; my thought is that Aikido has and always had some good elements of "internal" training in it and that if people are looking for data and inputs on how to train "internal" stuff, one of the first places to look is right in Aikido. However the problem is that many of the correct exercises do no good when they're done wrongly. But if people with a foothold in some basic skills start looking hard enough in Iwama-style, Yoshinkan, Aikikai, etc., they can probably reassemble the picture and do good things in an Aikido way, rather than having to garner exercises, etc., from outside of Aikido.



Mike, I guess the problem is that we are constantly reinventing the wheel, unless we receive informed direction from outside. There are good elements of internal training still within Aikido but sometimes we can't see the wood for the trees. A lot of the current training does, as you say, focus on technique and appearance. And as you well know, once you introduce internal training methods and all that that entails, such as changes in intent, structure and developing power in a different way, you end up with something that doesn't look like the style you started with. Even a simple change such as getting students to place less emphasis on their rear leg for stability, changes the form and the way they move. And, of course, they go through a fairly long period of rewiring which plays havoc with their training. Try explaining that to a grading panel who are looking for orthodox forms and stances!

I am certain that if we had had outside input a decade or so ago we would be a lot further along. I was too indoctrinated and knew too little then to introduce it myself. Nowadays its a different matter as I run an independent dojo, (although I'm still only an IA embryo!). The exercise I gave as an example was a natural progression from the Tai No Henko you saw on the videos so it was there all the time. Whether we are doing it in a way that fits with the current perception of what IA is, I don't know- I'd never heard the term "internal aiki" until I joined Aikiweb!

Kind Regards,
Richard

C. David Henderson
01-01-2009, 08:48 AM
Hmmmm.... lemme do a quick Google, 'cause I thought I saw... Yep.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-490520230360622262&ei=80xcSazxNoH0-wHdxazQDg&q=Mike+Sigman

No need to use little ole me as an example or an excuse anymore. Now you can post a vid! ;)

Glückliches neues Jahr!

Mike

Eh gads, man, you've been pixilated!

Thanks for posting the link and your thoughts.

DH

Mike Sigman
01-02-2009, 03:02 PM
Eh gads, man, you've been pixilated!Well, that was more than 10 years ago. However, I look exactly the same now as I did then. Except that I look older and fatter. ;)

Mike

Kevin Leavitt
01-02-2009, 04:01 PM
Hmmmm.... lemme do a quick Google, 'cause I thought I saw... Yep.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-490520230360622262&ei=80xcSazxNoH0-wHdxazQDg&q=Mike+Sigman

No need to use little ole me as an example or an excuse anymore. Now you can post a vid! ;)

Glückliches neues Jahr!

Mike

touche! you look a little younger! Happy New year to you to!

Ishimuzi
01-24-2009, 01:16 AM
Hi Guys,

Been away for a while now (drafted- for those reading the news..)

Thanx for so much good input!

Could any of you guys out there, practicing or intending to practice IA, point out the IA skills they'd like to acquire, preferably in order of importance, chronological order, and maybe a schedule of how long you assess it should take to reach these skills?
(yes I know it depends etc'..)

Thanks,

Boaz

Mike Sigman
01-24-2009, 10:14 AM
Could any of you guys out there, practicing or intending to practice IA, point out the IA skills they'd like to acquire, preferably in order of importance, chronological order, and maybe a schedule of how long you assess it should take to reach these skills? The problem with getting IA skills (they're more properly, in an Aikido discussion, "Ki" skills) is in getting good instruction. Some people have a little piece here or a little piece there, although most don't have any of those Ki skills and use Aikido techniques with "normal" strength".

Tohei had probably the best idea and approach to putting Ki skills back into Aikido, but he wasn't very clear about it and I'm sure he also had tradition holding him back from showing too much. The main problem with Tohei's attempt was that as he split from Hombu Dojo he was simply ignored and discredited by Hombu-lineage teachers, so Tohei's innovative teachings were dutifully disregarded by the rank and file.

The point is though that Tohei (I'm neither for nor against the man) laid out a reasonable approach to the IA/Ki skills. He approached the "forces" training with his ki tests and he approached body-development through the breathing exercises. However, his approach wasn't very explicative so most Ki-Society people have wound up over time as only have some partial skills (at best), IMO.

So the answer to your question would be that for starters, you need the basic kokyu/jin/whatever forces and you need to develop your body... as Tohei's general teaching method pointed to. There's more to it than that, of course. I feel nowadays that Ueshiba has some of the power-release mechanisms that Tohei did not have, but still these are all extensions of the basic skills.

How long will it take? Depends on how much information you can get, how cleverly you practice, and how hard you practice. A lot of it is like learning to play the guitar: someone can show you how to form the chords, the chord and musical theory, etc., but your progress will mainly be a function of how much you practice to inculcate the skills. Same is true with the Ki skills.

Personally, I think there are far more straightforward ways to learn the theory and basics of the Ki skills than what Tohei first showed, but even though I see some people begin to get pretty good skills in a reasonable amount of time, the present is difficult for, let's say, the average Aikido person to learn these skills because so few of his peers, the "name" teachers, etc., know how to do those skills. I.e., many of the people learning these skills nowadays are the frontrunners to learning these things for the next generation, but they're also having to practice something apart from what the masses of Aikido practitioners are doing. So it's an odd position.

Actually, speaking of odd positions, think about Tohei. He knew how to do the skills. He tried to show his fellow teachers and he tried to teach a number of students in his organization. How successful was he? Not very. Yet, he quite obviously was doing and teaching the same skills that Ueshiba publicly often demonstrated. You'd think that Aikido people would have been falling all over themselves to learn how to do these basic skills that Ueshiba himself was sometimes displaying. But they didn't do that because of the split that happened and therefore anything Tohei was teaching was proscribed to some degree.

So if you attempt to learn these skills, Boaz, you will be going against the direction of the herd just to do what Ueshiba was doing. Weird, huh? That's an added factor to consider in the pursuit of lost Ki skills in a martial art that favors conformity (most of them do) and acquiesence to "aiki-speak". ;)

Best.

Mike

Ishimuzi
01-25-2009, 10:59 AM
Mike thanks for your reply,

I was actually hoping to focus first on the body training and what you called "kokyu/jin/whatever forces " b4 discussing more advanced skills.(btw how do you distinguish between the 2?)
IIRC you and others mentioned that it's possible to teach (and have the practitioners repeat to some level), some of the basic skills in a few hours/short time.
What would you call the basics?
What would be a general chronology of building the body?
For someone thats just starting the IA training after practicing Aikido for a few years (like myself), do you think there is a minimum of time necessary to acquire the basics? (IIRC some spoke of minimum 2-3 years)
Let's take for example the Ki test of "standing" against a push in any direction:
would you see this and similar exercises as a step you must pass before pursuing more advanced skills? or is it just something you should practice with other skills, and when you achieve a good level at it, its just good feedback?

Another question is regarding the breathing:
Could you explain how you see breathing can help train the body?
What sort of breathing? is it imperative for every level? should it be practiced from the beginning of the IA practice? or is it something for advanced levels?

Richard (if you are still reading this thread):
Any chance of posting some pic of the exercises you mentioned?

Thanks

Boaz

Mike Sigman
01-25-2009, 11:39 AM
I was actually hoping to focus first on the body training and what you called "kokyu/jin/whatever forces " b4 discussing more advanced skills.(btw how do you distinguish between the 2?) Hi Boaz:

I'm unclear what you're asking about distinguishing between, if you don't mind clarifying.

Incidentally, because of my past experience in Aikido and my frustrations in trying to find viable information, I like to offer some commentary on Aikido forums (pretending always that there is someone like me out there who is/was looking for scarce information), but most of the in-depth discussions about the how-to's, etc., are on the QiJin forum. It's difficult to find the motivation to write sometimes about the same thing on two different forums. And I'm lazy. ;) Some of your questions are already answered on QiJin in the archives; if you're interested in joining that forum (it's for people with serious, not social, interests), please p.m. me.
IIRC you and others mentioned that it's possible to teach (and have the practitioners repeat to some level), some of the basic skills in a few hours/short time.
What would you call the basics? Basic jin skills as are shown in Tohei's "Ki Tests". Yes, they can be taught fairly quickly, but of course conditioning them takes longer.
What would be a general chronology of building the body?

First learn how to "ground" pushes as purely as possible using the mind-intent. A lot of people use muscle and incorrect sinking to replicate simple Ki tests. They should be done correctly, always, but they are the first and most important test, IMO. But not surprisingly, my opinion is in agreement with things that Tohei figured out long ago. After that there are a number of things in the chronology, depending upon what you ultimately want to do.

For someone thats just starting the IA training after practicing Aikido for a few years (like myself), do you think there is a minimum of time necessary to acquire the basics? (IIRC some spoke of minimum 2-3 years) In my personal opinion, I think someone can get pretty good skills in a year. I'm trying some experiments right now, so I'll let you know in a few months what my opinion is (please remind me if I forget). Let's take for example the Ki test of "standing" against a push in any direction:
would you see this and similar exercises as a step you must pass before pursuing more advanced skills? Yes. I would suggest that a person play with the static tests until they're very good and relaxed (there are also the down-force ones that should be practiced also at the same time). I think it saves a lot of time if a person just concentrates (once he knows how to do it well) on the static tests and maybe a few very general limited-motion movement skills (like fune-kogi-undo).
Another question is regarding the breathing:
Could you explain how you see breathing can help train the body?
What sort of breathing? is it imperative for every level? should it be practiced from the beginning of the IA practice? or is it something for advanced levels?Hmmmmmm. I could explain, but it would be lengthy to cover the bases properly. Let's just say that ultimately the jin/kokyu forces that are used in the static ki tests, for example, can only develop so far before you either start using muscle or you use what you develop with the breathing.

Think of Ueshiba's famous "jo trick" as an example. Ueshiba is using the same forces that are in the static "ki tests" of the Ki Society, but he is using them in an almost impossibly-strained position by extending a jo as he did (he doesn't quite pull it off, either, but close). He has two ways to keep his body structure intact under the lever-arm forces that are exerted on his body: muscle or the development you get from breathing/stretching/etc. To hold as much force as he did with as little muscular exertion, he had to use the breathing development. The sum total of his breathing-development and the forces he used could rightfully be called either "kokyu" strength (because he developed it with breath exercises) or "ki" strength; take your pick because both are technically correct.

I think the static ki-tests should come first, but you can gradually start working on the breath exercises. The problem with the kokyu-skills and the breathing skills is that they are like the two ends of the laces in your shoe as you are installing a new lace: you have to do a little bit with one lace and then a little bit with the other lace, etc., as you successfully lace up the shoe. You can't do just one lace. ;)

FWIW

Mike

Shany
01-25-2009, 12:38 PM
aha, Aunkai reminds of the Drunken Kung-Fu method! Too much energy for such low effect!
boaz, was Aikikai so bad that you had to search for other stuff?

Budd
01-25-2009, 02:22 PM
aha, Aunkai reminds of the Drunken Kung-Fu method! Too much energy for such low effect!
boaz, was Aikikai so bad that you had to search for other stuff?

Out of curiosity, what do you mean by low effect? Have you actually trained with a member of the Aunkai? I'm trying to figure out if you're making a joke or really do think that . . and if it's the latter, what info/exposure you're basing this on.

Shany
01-25-2009, 02:49 PM
Budd Yuhasz,
If I wanted to poke someone in the eye, I would do just that and wouldn't need to turn 360 while opening my hands and bending my knees just to poke him in the eye.

Budd
01-25-2009, 02:51 PM
Shany,

Okay, thanks, your non-answer actually did answer my question.

Mike Sigman
01-25-2009, 02:59 PM
If I wanted to poke someone in the eye, I would do just that and wouldn't need to turn 360 while opening my hands and bending my knees just to poke him in the eye.Well, that's true. Maybe it depends upon whether you want to train to poke him in the eye or throw him kokyunage somewhat better than you can normally do. ;)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_vcWq2GYXs

Budd
01-25-2009, 03:08 PM
Oh my lord is that guy powerful . . wowsa

Ishimuzi
01-25-2009, 03:23 PM
Thanks a lot for the detailed answers Mike!
A lot of food for thought.
(Im gonna read your posts a few times to let them sink)

I was asking how you distinguish between body conditioning and "kokyu/jin/whatever forces " are they separate? or intertwined? dependant?
I will PM you.

Shani, I'm still in Aikikai, I have not retired :) but added the IA training .
I just believe Aikido has much more in to it, than just learning some external technique, I suggest you read the related IA threads, and u'll find out that these skills ARE AIKIDO. They just weren't conveyed well.
And theyre what you should acquire if you really believe in Aikido and want to be the best Aikidoka you can.

Regarding Aunkai, (If you where joking then please excuse me - I didn't get it..) from my little exposure:
waste of movement is the diametrical opposite of them.
These guys are in my opinion far closer to MA aptitude and Aiki as O-sensei demonstrated than the average Aikidoka.
I can't wait to bring Akuzawa sensei over to the dead sea :p (working on it..) ofcourse that goes definitely for Mr. Sigman here : :drool: and some of the others who can contribute to us, and are willing.

Regards,

Boaz.

Mike Sigman
01-25-2009, 03:48 PM
I was asking how you distinguish between body conditioning and "kokyu/jin/whatever forces " are they separate? or intertwined? dependant?
They are inextricably intertwined, Boaz. In other words, still whimsically borrowing Tohei as an explanation, the breathing exercises that Tohei teaches have a physical component (which I don't think he explains clearly, if at all) that is actually a part of the physical phenomena of the "ki tests". I.e., "ki breathing exercises" and "ki tests" are part of an interdependent whole that falls under the umbrella term of "ki". Although the skills have been developed to a nice degree over the eons into some nice complexities, they are still considered to be part of the "natural" abilities of the body that stem from breathing, intrinsic force manipulation, and so forth.

Best.

Mike

Tim Fong
01-26-2009, 01:45 AM
aha, Aunkai reminds of the Drunken Kung-Fu method! Too much energy for such low effect!
boaz, was Aikikai so bad that you had to search for other stuff?

I sure felt an effect when I was on the receiving end of Akuzawa-sensei and his Tokyo students. You don't have to take my word for it though.

HL1978
01-26-2009, 07:51 AM
I sure felt an effect when I was on the receiving end of Akuzawa-sensei and his Tokyo students. You don't have to take my word for it though.

There's always video of seminar participants getting tossed around rather than overly accommodating students.

http://tw.youtube.com/watch?v=mAJVQMCWeOA&feature=PlayList&p=FDAB64DECBF6D8B5&index=3

Kevin Leavitt
01-26-2009, 11:08 AM
I certainly was impressed, and had alot of fun with Ark...but you don't have to take my word for it either.

Ron Tisdale
01-26-2009, 11:14 AM
Frankly, I'm no longer concerned with converting those not interested.

Move along Shany, nothing to see here...

Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
01-26-2009, 01:09 PM
Frankly, I'm no longer concerned with converting those not interested.

Move along Shany, nothing to see here...
Hi Ron:

I haven't had any real dealings with Shany in the past so I'm not talking about him directly, but about your comment in general. I'm personally more interested in providing information to the really-interested-in-the-topic people who can't find information... in other words to provide some of the hand-up that I used to desperately look for. Convert people? Not any more than I have to do in any reasoned debate/discussion.

But let's step back a little further than what's going on now and back even before the infamous "Ki Wars" in the Aikido community. When you get a foot-hold in these skills, the relevance of application to many of the things Ueshiba said in Aikido becomes blatantly obvious; so obvious that you wonder why you have to argue the point. Right? Now think about the one-time chief instructor at Hombu Dojo, Koichi Tohei, and how he tried to initiate studies in these skills more than forty years ago .

Heh. Talk about frustrated. Not to say that he couldn't perhaps have been clearer in explication, but he tried. Remember when I came nosing around on AikiWeb this last time, back in 2005? Remember some of the comments from Aikido "experts" about the "party tricks" that Tohei did? I'm not making any real comment about anything or anybody, but you have to admit that some of the reactions over the years haven't been offputting so much as they've been downright humorous. I smile just about every time that I open the forum and see that ki discussions are in "Non-Aikido Martial Traditions". I think it's the perfect place to put it! ;)

Best.

Mike

Ron Tisdale
01-26-2009, 01:36 PM
Yah, it's good to tickle the funny bone once in a while. ;) I'm just finding less and less time to post online, and less and less inclination to waste the time I do find.

Best,
Ron

Ishimuzi
01-31-2009, 03:10 PM
Hi guys,

A question that popped-up:

What's your opinion regarding flexibility and how it affects the structure? do you limit your flexibility exercises to specific areas?
Is flexibility a trade-off with structure or unity of the body?
Or - is it possible to attain the body unity and achieve flexibility
What comes first?

Regards,

Boaz.

Mike Sigman
01-31-2009, 04:24 PM
A question that popped-up:

What's your opinion regarding flexibility and how it affects the structure? do you limit your flexibility exercises to specific areas?
Is flexibility a trade-off with structure or unity of the body?
Or - is it possible to attain the body unity and achieve flexibility
What comes first?I think flexibility is paramount, in conjunction with the "whole-body connection" that is developed through movement and breathing exercises. You can't "hit with your hara" if the hara can't move. ;)

Best.

Mike

Gernot Hassenpflug
01-31-2009, 05:55 PM
Akuzawa stresses "range of motion" of joints, which is different from the general "flexibility" that people associate with being able to stretch into particular positions: you can't fake lack of flexibility in a particular joint by compensating with a gradual whole-body "bend" via small actions of a lot of other joints. That's one reason the body must stay "upright" or "straight" while the legs do various things in the walking exercises done in the beginning of the class.

Once the main body joints (in the trunk) start to relax enough to transmit motion through them, then the other joints need to be made relaxed enough too (knees, ankles, elbows, wrists), so that eventually a movement of say, the leg, has a whole-body "stretch" associated it through all the joints right the way to the fingertips.

So "range of motion" is kind of all-encompassing eventually, not just referring to one joint at a time.

Ishimuzi
02-01-2009, 03:03 PM
So I understand that you mean that the flexibility doesn't necessarily contradict the structure-unity?
It seems tricky in the beginning to be flexible and yet maintaining the structure and extending Ki.

Anybody here know about the Systema take in this?

Boaz

Budd
02-01-2009, 03:26 PM
Perhaps thinking of flexibility/stretching in terms of opening up pathways inside the body to transmit power - rather than doing the splits or reaching your arm back in a funky angle . . simple example being the kind of stability you have when you sink and open the pelvis, while bringing the solidity of the ground up through you. You need flexibility and leg strength to carry the weight of the upper body and to be able to receive and send power up through it.

BAP
03-22-2009, 11:18 AM
I have a question regarding flexibility and ki training. Are there any good exercises that can be done to promote flexibility to knees especially. I am sure I am not alone that I get a lot of knee popping especially after classes and just in general. Any suggestions?

Thanks.

Blair

thisisnotreal
03-27-2009, 04:11 PM
Blair -
Some ideas and cautions

1. you have 1 set of knees. Don't f**k 'em up doing something stupid. R&D on your own body can be costly. Learn seriously now.

2. Joint integrity is critical. Learn how the knees work/are strapped together from the femur to the tibia.

3. Learn how they mechanically work. It is an unbelievable mechanism. Very delicately balanced.

4. 'Grease the groove'. Find the strong line where they bend. Do slow movements. Feel inside your leg, toes, glutes, hamstrings, etc. what you have to do to maintain joint integrity.

5. When something pops or snaps..I think of this as something good was happening just prior to the snap. you are building your structures to contain/maintain/guide more and more tension. then it failed. Do not repeat the failure over and over.

6. try this exercise: lots to learn: Stand in hanmi. Front knee over foot. Bend front knee straight over foot (/big toe). Go low. Try to press big toe into ground and simultaneously remainder of foot blade towards the big toe (parallel to the plane of the ground). Lots of connections in the foot itself, the fibula/tibia, VMO, glute. The image is pressing/squeezing foot together horizontally as more and more force is conducted thru the foot/knee/leg. Go slow. if this is useless to you, drop it. Be ridiculously careful if your knee is ever over your heel. you can train here; but you are taking great risks. Always remember force conduction path thru leg. Let the vector go straight into the earth. DO NOT HAVE ANY FORCE LEAKAGE through your knee. Let it be a force conduit. You may have to massively strengthen your glutes and quads.. Carry the weight and tension actively there wherever possible.
Experiment.

7. Learn about soft-tissue work. Foam rolling. See Eric Cressey, etc.
Release ITB/TFL tightness. Then roll on it. Find imbalances in muscles. Fix them by strengthening or stretching. Get rid of trigger points (Davies)

All the real learning you do will be your own. Take care.

Good Luck.

Josh

Budd
03-27-2009, 08:51 PM
One thing I'd add is to learn how to distribute the load properly so that it's passing through the back, hip girdle and then to your feet, so that your knees aren't getting anything special . . that's pretty critical.