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Darren B. MacFarlane
03-12-2009, 12:33 PM
I have only been training for just over a year and one of the most difficult things I have found in practicing Aikido is the concept of relaxing; that is, what it really means on the mat and how to incorporate this concept into my training. There are even times when I feel like I am relaxed and my Sensei or Uke will let me know immediately that I am not. I am looking for thoughts, comments, suggestions that may help me in my understanding and application of this elusive concept! Thank you!

Darren

Larry Cuvin
03-12-2009, 12:59 PM
Try This Darren:when your sensei or uke approach you or attack, meet them as if you are meeting a good friend, somebody you are glad to meet. Hopefully, it should take some edge off of your "fighting mind". I consider myself a newbie but this simple concept helps me a lot not to think of throwing and more of the blending. Hope this help you to relax.

Pauliina Lievonen
03-12-2009, 02:30 PM
It might also help if you realize that relaxing isn't something you can actively do - if you're actively doing something you're not relaxed. So maybe you need to find another way of thinking about and a different word to call what you want to achieve; doing less/letting go/not reacting/ whatever works for you.

kvaak
Pauliina

Leif Summerfield
03-12-2009, 02:42 PM
Relaxing...what a wonderful paradox!
I was training at hombu dojo with Endo sensei. He kept saying "see, I'm relaxed" just as he'd throw his huge uke.
I decided then an there that western denotation of "relax" is different than Eastern denotation.
First, relaxing I think has almost nothing to do with muscle relaxation. It's more a state of pliability to your posture. Endo sensei could move in any position he wanted to when "relaxed", but he had enough muscular force to be able to lift, move and throw his uke (me at the time).

So if it's not a description of muscle activity, then (like the last 2 posts) is almost all mental and metaphysical posture.
Ask yourself, are you OK getting attacked. If your gut response is
"no", then your subconscious reaction is to flinch, flee or fight.
You have to unlearn your current natural response to one that's ok with the strike being launched at you.

Just remember, the attack is your friend. You can't do good Aikido without it!

Good luck!

Bob Blackburn
03-12-2009, 02:42 PM
I try and take a deep breath and relax my shoulders before a technique if I realize I am getting tense.

Darren B. MacFarlane
03-12-2009, 02:57 PM
Thank you Larry, Pauliina, Leif, and Bob for the wonderful comments, suggestions, and insight. Very, very meaningful...I am smiling as I type this because I am reflecting back on my practice through the lens of your posts and it is illuminating.

Darren

Mark Freeman
03-12-2009, 06:41 PM
Relax Darren, plenty of time, after one year you will not be as relaxed as you will be after five years and nowhere near as relaxed as you will be after ten etc. :)

I my early days my teacher used to feel my attempt at a technique and say - relax as much as you can - which I would do, then he would say - and now relax some more - which I didn't think was possible, but found I could, then with a smile he would say - and now relax some more! How frustrating these teachers can be!

Also remember relaxation is not 'floppy', relaxation is a state of a complete lack of tension but a complete fullness of life/ki ;)

regards

Mark

Janet Rosen
03-12-2009, 07:06 PM
To the above posts I'd add:
1. using only the muscles necessary to perform a given action effectively, usually the most central ones available (like learning to use your lats to raise your arms - something I learned in Pilates and realized is part of "relax and extend" in aikido plus good sword raising technique).
2. giving your partner as little feedback as possible about your intent while continuing to maintain a connection.

heathererandolph
03-13-2009, 10:09 AM
I think relaxing is muscle relaxation, but not total relaxation. To understand the concept, have someone lay down on the floor. Have them totally relax their muscles. Try to lift their head. It should feel very heavy if their neck muscles are totally relaxed. Now you try it. Try lifting their body. Their body should be very heavy, very difficult to move. Applied to Aikido, that is why relaxation is important. It makes you heavier and difficult to move also. We use "unbendable arm." that concept helps me to understand how the arm can be tied in with the muscles in the body, which are actually much larger muscle groups to move people. For men with large muscles, relaxing those muscles is a major challenge.

Aikibu
03-13-2009, 04:12 PM
In my experiance Relaxtion is breathing posture and intent...

A good Aikido class starts with physically demanding activity that gets everybody tuckered out almost to point of exhaustion...For most it takes about 30 minutes

That is where the mustard meets the hotdog. Once everyone is tired real training can start. When you are tired you can really feel your breathing and your posture It forces you to really focus on your connection and technique...You start to build up your Martial Awareness.

Ever notice how Sensei and the Senior Yudansha always seem to be relaxed and never get tired...LOL

Start with hard practice and learning how to relax will come naturally. :)

William Hazen

lbb
03-13-2009, 07:07 PM
Want to relax? Train until you're really really tired, until your muscles fatigue. Then keep training. Then remember that feeling.

Kevin Leavitt
03-13-2009, 10:22 PM
It might also help if you realize that relaxing isn't something you can actively do - if you're actively doing something you're not relaxed. So maybe you need to find another way of thinking about and a different word to call what you want to achieve; doing less/letting go/not reacting/ whatever works for you.

kvaak
Pauliina

Hi Pauliina!

I just wanted to tell you, (and the OP) that the little time I spent with you last year in Germany was worth much more than you could imagine! Since then I have taken time to learn more about Alexander Technique and how it works etc.

Applying the concepts are helping me with my aikido/jiu jitsu/judo training immensely as I try and change old ways of moving/posture/habits.

Especially in my BJJ training. It has been scary as I have had to slow way down and make sure I am doing things correctly. It is very scary because it does not feel right and when we do randori, I get beat alot as any little change you make messes up your timing and responses when you hesitate and go back and re-correct.

Although, I am finally starting to see results so it is encouraging. It did/does require me to approach my training in a different way than I used to. As you know, and as I found at in learning about AT methodology, it is very hard and kinda terrifying sometimes to "let go" and relax.

Many days I simply know I am wrong and yet still can't do it right! Relaxing is a big part of it. I have though learned that I cannot will myself to relax or move so I have to simply think about "not doing" as you state above and kinda start over! (that is usually when I get choked out or something LOL). However, it does take time and eventually I am learning the right way and things are finally changing some!

Just wanted to let you know and say thanks!

Also wanted to let the OP know that there is alot behind what she is saying, IMO. that and it takes, time, patience, good coaching/feedback...and it requires you to "let go" and it will be frustrating and a little scary cause you will convince yourself that it is not right to change or not feel how to do it right.

A different way of approaching learning than most of us are used to!

Joe McParland
03-14-2009, 03:15 PM
A first step is understanding what it is to be totally relaxed. Attend a basic yoga class; at the end, they'll probably end with a "corpse pose" - just lying on your back with eyes closed. If it's a good beginner's course, the instructor will guide the class through relaxing all of the muscles - drawing your conscious attention to each area from toes to head. You will inevitably be surprised how you thought you were relaxed, but were not.

Meditators often do the same kinds of exercises to relax the body while before and during meditation.

Once you really understand it, transferring that state into motion is generally no small ordeal. For a while, it will require that same level of conscious attention - and that is hard to do if you're also concentrating on other matters such as technical details (e.g., foot work, timing, etc.). It also helps to check yourself every so often, say between techniques or after a randori: how and where did you mentally or physically tense up? Where did you muscle through? Etc.

For me personally, starting actually to practice relaxation --- instead of knowing, "Ok, I need to relax" --- was a conscious effort that I made well after shodan. I try to encourage others to start earlier :)

Kevin Leavitt
03-14-2009, 08:35 PM
Good comments Joe. It is probably the reason why we move so slow and deliberate in aikido, to encourage the right proprioceptions, postures, and responses....relaxation, or "active relaxation. As you state, it is no small feet and it requires alot more than simply "relaxing". and simply "just moving your hips" :)

George S. Ledyard
03-14-2009, 09:45 PM
Relaxing...what a wonderful paradox!
I was training at hombu dojo with Endo sensei. He kept saying "see, I'm relaxed" just as he'd throw his huge uke.
I decided then an there that western denotation of "relax" is different than Eastern denotation.


I would say that this is true. Muscle tension is just one of the myriad forms tension takes in both our minds and bodies.


First, relaxing I think has almost nothing to do with muscle relaxation.

Actually, it does have to do with muscle relaxation. Your muscles should be "soft" throughout technique. Kuroda Sensei showed this over and over at the Aiki Expos. He didn't really teach waza, he taught body mechanics. He'd come over and throw your partner while you felts his arms. The muscles which you'd expect to power the technique did not fire at all... completely relaxed. Endo Sensei is the same way.


It's more a state of pliability to your posture. Endo Sensei could move in any position he wanted to when "relaxed", but he had enough muscular force to be able to lift, move and throw his uke (me at the time).

It wasn't muscle power. It was a combination of the body's structure in proper alignment plus the use of the connective tissue (ligaments, tendons, and fascia) to provide flexible and relaxed power transfer. There has been a lengthy discussion on the Non-Aikido Martial Traditions forum.

Actually, it isn't muscle power

As Mike S, Dan H, and Rob John have been saying, if you want to take this out to the limit, you have to do some sort of conditioning work to develop your internal structure. There is a wide range of skill on the power side of this issue. And definitely different types of power depending on what training you do.

BAP
03-14-2009, 11:16 PM
I As Mike S, Dan H, and Rob John have been saying, if you want to take this out to the limit, you have to do some sort of conditioning work to develop your internal structure. There is a wide range of skill on the power side of this issue. And definitely different types of power depending on what training you do.

I would be interested in hearing further regarding the power side of the internal power issue, and elaboration regarding the type of training suggested to develop the different types of power associated therewith.

George S. Ledyard
03-15-2009, 12:00 AM
I would be interested in hearing further regarding the power side of the internal power issue, and elaboration regarding the type of training suggested to develop the different types of power associated therewith.

Take a look at these clips:
Akuzawa Minoru - Tenchijin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDoLKfxPXy4&feature=PlayList&p=DFCFDCBB85345B6D&index=5)

Systema Conditioning (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weE71fIR4eg)

Some older articles written by Mike Sigman at:
Sigman Articles (http://www.iay.org.uk/internal-strength/peng-index.htm)

These are just some ideas about what I meant. The best thing is to get out and train with someone who can show you.
Akuzawa Sensei will be at our dojo in May once again. Feel free to come and learn some good stuff.
Akuzawa Seminar (http://christianmoses.eventwax.com/seattle-aunkai-seminar-09)

George S. Ledyard
03-15-2009, 12:26 AM
Followup:

Rob John has posted many clips on YouTube:
Rob's Clips (http://www.youtube.com/user/Upyu)

BAP
03-15-2009, 12:34 AM
Thanks for the follow-up information. And for the invitation. I have purchased your DVDs regarding aiki and hopefully as I progress further in my training I can apply that very informative instruction beneficially.

Walter Martindale
03-15-2009, 03:54 AM
To the above posts I'd add:
1. using only the muscles necessary to perform a given action effectively, usually the most central ones available (like learning to use your lats to raise your arms - something I learned in Pilates and realized is part of "relax and extend" in aikido plus good sword raising technique).
2. giving your partner as little feedback as possible about your intent while continuing to maintain a connection.

re: 1. Yes, use only the necessary muscles to perform a given action. No, the latissimus dorsi muscles can't raise your arms (well, not unless you're upside down)- they attach to the scapula and pull it down and to the posterior humerus and pull it down and back, as in doing a chin-up or to pull on a rowing oar... perhaps bracing your shoulder with your lats? The prime movers in raising the arms are the deltoids, whether some pilates instructor has bluffed you into thinking something else or not...If you brace your shoulder girdle and contract the lats I suppose that its action on the scapula might lift the arm a touch, but the other head of the lat. would pull the arm down.

Has your pilates instructor even looked at an anatomy chart, let alone studied anatomy?
Walter
Oh yeah.. Re: number 2... I kinda thought you were supposed to attack with intent? Or are you speaking for Nage?

Pauliina Lievonen
03-15-2009, 05:44 AM
Especially in my BJJ training. It has been scary as I have had to slow way down and make sure I am doing things correctly. It is very scary because it does not feel right and when we do randori, I get beat alot as any little change you make messes up your timing and responses when you hesitate and go back and re-correct.
...snip...
A different way of approaching learning than most of us are used to!
That sounds sooo familiar! :eek: It's funny isn't it, I would assume you have had your share of excitement in your line of work but something like this can still be so scary and push buttons you never knew were there? Glad to hear you find it useful!

I tried to write something about my experience studying aikido and AT in the march columns, I think Jun will be putting them up sometime next week. We'll see if your experience matches mine. :)

kvaak
Pauliina

George S. Ledyard
03-15-2009, 11:04 AM
Thanks for the follow-up information. And for the invitation. I have purchased your DVDs regarding aiki and hopefully as I progress further in my training I can apply that very informative instruction beneficially.

Hi Blair,
Most of what I am doing is very similar to what Endo Sensei does which comes under the heading of what I would call "power neutralization" i.e. taking the other guys power away.

The internal power stuff is another step on top of that. It's the same but with the added structural conditioning that starts to allow really scary amounts of power to be transferred from movements that look both small and relaxed. Unfortunately, I didn't discover some of these training methods until I was already bunged up from almost thirty years of stupid training. I had a chance to work with Akuzawa Sensei when Chris and the guys brought him over last year but found that my knee in particular simply couldn't handle the exercises. Had I started younger, I probably wouldn't have these issues now.

Anyway, I have the advantage of being quite large, which means that even without doing this work, I have a certain amount of power. But for someone of average size I think that this type of work is essential from a martial standpoint. Most Aikido folks pay lip service to the idea of "atemi" but don't actually put enough attention on it to develop the skill that would allow them to put an attacker down with one shot. If you don't have that ability, the martial side of ones practice is not fully capable.... it sort of wishful thinking.

I hope you enjoy the videos. I spent a lot of time trying to dissect exactly what went into my teacher's ( and any really high level) technique, particularly the energetic or psychic side of things. I haven't seen any other instructional materials which attempt to break things down in that manner. Have fun working on them.
- George

George S. Ledyard
03-15-2009, 12:01 PM
re: 1. Yes, use only the necessary muscles to perform a given action. No, the latissimus dorsi muscles can't raise your arms (well, not unless you're upside down)- they attach to the scapula and pull it down and to the posterior humerus and pull it down and back, as in doing a chin-up or to pull on a rowing oar... perhaps bracing your shoulder with your lats? The prime movers in raising the arms are the deltoids, whether some pilates instructor has bluffed you into thinking something else or not...If you brace your shoulder girdle and contract the lats I suppose that its action on the scapula might lift the arm a touch, but the other head of the lat. would pull the arm down.

Has your pilates instructor even looked at an anatomy chart, let alone studied anatomy?
Walter
Oh yeah.. Re: number 2... I kinda thought you were supposed to attack with intent? Or are you speaking for Nage?

I don't have the anatomy so I will describe what should be happening from a "subjective" point of view. If I told someone to point at an object off in the distance, normally, they will raise their arm with a relaxed extension. Yes, the muscles do something, but the overall effort is minuscule. No one associates this movement with power or fear so they simply extend their arm up. Because you told them to point at something, their mind went "out" to that object which meant that the extension was energized by the movement of the mind. Aikido technique should not require any more effort than that.

At a recent seminar I trained with all sorts of people and found that many, if not most, of the folks on the mat couldn't simply raise their arms to present for the katatetori without putting all sorts of tension into them. It made it impossible to accept the energy of my attack on contact. I think that they had internalized this tension through their practice and now tensed even before contact was made in anticipation of meeting. I think this is an example of how people imprint fear through incorrect daily training and the don't even know it. When I asked my partners to extend as if they were merely shaking hands with me it was totally different, very relaxed but integrated. This is because they didn't associate the shaking hands act with attack and defense. As soon as they thought they were preparing to meet an attack, they introduced all sorts of tension into the simple act of raising the arm.

As for point two... "Intention" is mental. Strong intention has nothing to do with physical tension or what we normally call strength. Janet is absolutely right that both people in the Aikido interaction are striving to give the opponent as little information as possible about how they are using their structure. That's why high level Aikido moves away from external power towards internal power. If you get a chance to train with Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei at some point, this is his main focus now. His movement is so small it's practically invisible, except when you are the uke you can totally feel it. You grab him and you fall down and your brain is asking "how did that happen?"

Proper attacks are absolutely no different from proper defense. Somewhere along the line, people got this ridiculous idea that a proper grab was designed to turn you hand purple. They come in and grab you, put all attention on squeezing your wrist, and drop their centers to stop your movement. Who told them that was an attack? If the sound you are making when you attack resembles a difficult time on the commode, you aren't relaxed enough.

A real attack uses exactly the same unbalancing process that is used by the nage. Exactly. When I grab your wrist I reach in and touch your center and then give the connection direction with my body. My hands are very relaxed. I should be able to grab your wrist and have you unbalanced and struck before you can start reacting. That's a real attack. If you can feel what I am doing, you can stop it or counter it. I want you stumbling off balance and unable to counter my strike before you even register something's wrong.

This is one of the things I really like about Endo Sensei. He insists that the uke and nage do precisely the same thing with their bodies regardless of which role they take. The whole point of his demonstrations is how tension takes away your freedom to move as needed whereas by relaxing properly, you have complete freedom to strike, kick, throw, whatever you need to do. You should be able to throw an atemi at any instant in the technique.

The uke role should be the same. What sense does it make for nage to be the one who is trying for relaxation and aiki in the technique while uke acts like an idiot, making his body as tense as possible to stop the nage's technique? That's crazy, yet many people practice that way. I think that many Senseis created this problem by asking their partners during demos to grab really strongly and try to stop them. It was their intention to show that they couldn't be stopped in that manner. But folks came to believe that this was actually the way to attack, rather than take the lesson home that attacking that way doesn't work. This is bad teaching methodology because it delivered the wrong message.

Anyway, it is very important to dissociate the idea of strong intention from any kind of physical tension whatever. 50% of ones Aikido is done in the role of uke. If you do totally different things with your body in the two roles, it just gets confused and you can't do anything. Speed and power are totally connected to a relaxed body. Freedom to move requires a relaxed body. Taking the partner's center without him feeling what's happening requires a relaxed body.

"Intention" is about the mind. It can be thought of as having two aspects, "strength of intention" and "quality of intention". "Strength of intention" is how hard or soft I project my mid towards my partner. This ranges from so small he isn't even sure if I have noticed him to feeling like I am blasting him. "Quality of intention" ranges from the benign, friendly and welcoming to the deadly, frightening, and repulsing. Regardless of what combination of "strength and quality of intention" you decide to use, physical tension and mental tension have no place in the interaction.

- George

George S. Ledyard
03-15-2009, 12:44 PM
Start with hard practice and learning how to relax will come naturally. :)

William Hazen

Hi William,
I think we differ here. If training very hard were to result in proper relaxation naturally, there would be far more relaxed practitioners around. In my own experience, I trained very hard for 26 years and had no clue how to relax properly. It wasn't until the Aiki Expos and training with Kuroda Sensei that I started to get it right. That's way too long. Most of the senior folks I know are way too tense and it isn't through lack of hard training, it's through lack of properly directed training.

I believe that hard training is required to develop a strong spirit, one that doesn't give up. It can, if done properly, allow the practitioner to get past the fear of impact, making it possible to really connect with the partner.

But proper relaxation comes via very simple static technique, at least initially. It should be slow enough to feel safe (not triggering the practitioner's fear response at all) and at a power level that allows the person to repeatedly have success. Popkin Sensei suggests about 60% power to start with. Otherwise people will try to hard and tense up again.

I think that this can be followed up with (or done simultaneously with) slow to medium speed movement practice designed to teach specific movement patterns while imprinting the proper mental and physical relaxation. In other words, this shouldn't be stressful for either person. Chuck Clark Sensei has some of the best methodology of this the that I have encountered.

I think that training must be result oriented. Don't do anything in your training which isn't directed at your goal. The idea that, by allowing someone to train with too much tension until they simply get too tired to be tense anymore sounds ok... but I don't think running out of steam because one is too tense teaches much on the way of the specifics involved in relaxing properly. What I see happen in most cases is that the persons training simply get in better and better shape so that they can continue training too physically longer.

Gakku Homma recently wrote an article in which he advocated the train hard approach. I think he makes my point for me. I am sure you know what in mean.
Homma Article (http://nippon-kan.org/senseis_articles/08/engaged_budoism.html)
(His lengthy bad mouthing of Ushiro Sensei was funny, but off topic here, since he wouldn't last two nano-seconds on the floor with Ushiro were they to meet)

Okamoto Sensei from the Daito Ryu Roppokai once said about Aikido "oh, that's that hard style"... by which I am sure he meant that people were way too tight and physical.

Certainly, our own teachers figured this out for themselves... but based on what I see in the general picture, I am not sure that the way they did it was the best or most efficient way to do it. I haven't seen the same results with most folks even though I don't question that they have trained very hard for years. I admit to being highly influenced by the Systema folks in this regard. I should say that they do, of course, take people right out to total physical exhaustion. But they do it in their conditioning exercises. They don't let people train tense when they are doing what we would call their waza. That way they avoid associating the wrong thing in their bodies with their movement.

I am trying myself to find the proper balance between the different ways of training and trying to find what produces the optimum result.

tarik
03-15-2009, 12:59 PM
Hi George,


A real attack uses exactly the same unbalancing process that is used by the nage. Exactly. When I grab your wrist I reach in and touch your center and then give the connection direction with my body. My hands are very relaxed. I should be able to grab your wrist and have you unbalanced and struck before you can start reacting. That's a real attack. If you can feel what I am doing, you can stop it or counter it. I want you stumbling off balance and unable to counter my strike before you even register something's wrong.

I currently believe that connecting this way (joining our structures into one so that my partner's balance is affected by me relaxing my knee, for example, rather than by my arm pushing on them) is 'atemi' rather than what most people seem to feel constitutes ukemi. For me, 'conditioning' has been less about building strength in different areas and more about learning how to change my intent to accomplish things with more whole body movements and less (to no) usage of local musculature that we frequently unconsciously employ simply to pick up a pen or even to move my mouse while editing this document.

This is one of the things I really like about Endo Sensei. He insists that the uke and nage do precisely the same thing with their bodies regardless of which role they take. The whole point of his demonstrations is how tension takes away your freedom to move as needed whereas by relaxing properly, you have complete freedom [snip]

The uke role should be the same. What sense does it make for nage to be the one who is trying for relaxation and aiki in the technique while uke acts like an idiot, making his body as tense as possible to stop the nage's technique? That's crazy, yet many people practice that way.
[snip]
50% of ones Aikido is done in the role of uke. If you do totally different things with your body in the two roles, it just gets confused and you can't do anything.

Ironically, right now I'm struggling with introducing the same kind of relaxation I am working on using in my atemi into my ukemi. My ukemi is altogether too tense, partly from fear, and partly from being used to deciding (most of the time) when I am going to fall rather than having the decision made for me by my partner.

If training very hard were to result in proper relaxation naturally, there would be far more relaxed practitioners around.

I have been learning how to train slowly for years (exclusively for about two years) and I'm still having a tough time with it, but it's starting to pay off. Ironically, someone I've been training with recently told me that in his attempts to share his training with fellow students in his home dojo, he was told that they find this approach to training "boring". <shrug>

One thing that has paid off for me is that dealing with tense attackers has become "boring" to me. It's too easy. But learning to do and deal with something much more relaxed is a real challenge.

George S. Ledyard
03-15-2009, 01:25 PM
Hi George,

I currently believe that connecting this way (joining our structures into one so that my partner's balance is affected by me relaxing my knee, for example, rather than by my arm pushing on them) is 'atemi' rather than what most people seem to feel constitutes ukemi. For me, 'conditioning' has been less about building strength in different areas and more about learning how to change my intent to accomplish things with more whole body movements and less (to no) usage of local musculature that we frequently unconsciously employ simply to pick up a pen or even to move my mouse while editing this document.

Ironically, right now I'm struggling with introducing the same kind of relaxation I am working on using in my atemi into my ukemi. My ukemi is altogether too tense, partly from fear, and partly from being used to deciding (most of the time) when I am going to fall rather than having the decision made for me by my partner.

I have been learning how to train slowly for years (exclusively for about two years) and I'm still having a tough time with it, but it's starting to pay off. Ironically, someone I've been training with recently told me that in his attempts to share his training with fellow students in his home dojo, he was told that they find this approach to training "boring". <shrug>

One thing that has paid off for me is that dealing with tense attackers has become "boring" to me. It's too easy. But learning to do and deal with something much more relaxed is a real challenge.

I would highly recommend doing some Systema. Kaizen Taki, the fellow who teaches the Systema classes held at my dojo is quite skilled and a fantastic teacher. He's got a seminar on "falling Off the mat" which I think would be of great help in making you more relaxed about your ukemi. I'll introduce you during the AikiWeb workshop if he shows up to watch. Anyway, the next one is in September.
Falling Off the Mat Seminar (http://0301.netclime.net/1_5/213/238/3e3/Falling%20Flyer.pdf)

Walter Martindale
03-15-2009, 01:49 PM
I don't have the anatomy so I will describe what should be happening from a "subjective" point of view. If I told someone to point at an object off in the distance, normally, they will raise their arm with a relaxed extension. Yes, the muscles do something, but the overall effort is minuscule. No one associates this movement with power or fear so they simply extend their arm up. Because you told them to point at something, their mind went "out" to that object which meant that the extension was energized by the movement of the mind. Aikido technique should not require any more effort than that.

(snip a long quote almost all of which I agree with, including what I've left behind...)

"Intention" is about the mind. It can be thought of as having two aspects, "strength of intention" and "quality of intention". "Strength of intention" is how hard or soft I project my mid towards my partner. This ranges from so small he isn't even sure if I have noticed him to feeling like I am blasting him. "Quality of intention" ranges from the benign, friendly and welcoming to the deadly, frightening, and repulsing. Regardless of what combination of "strength and quality of intention" you decide to use, physical tension and mental tension have no place in the interaction.

- George
Hi George,
I don't disagree with you, merely point out that human movement doesn't occur without neural activation of muscle fibres, which contract, pull bones, and cause position changes unless the bone end is fixed (that's called an isometric contraction).
HOW someone does that movement is an indication of how well trained they are - if someone is new or "non athletic" at a movement, their movements are jerky and rough, there are interfering co-contractions of antagonist muscles (i.e., when raising the arms, tension in the lats will make the deltoids work harder. When standing in kamae, leaning forward will cause un-necessary tension in the back muscles, and so on)

Athletes in sports who display "mastery" of their sport "look" relaxed. Aikido practitioners who have "mastery" are capable of only using the muscles that are necessary for their intended movement. It's a truism that it takes about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to attain "mastery" - in anything. Whether that's learning a language, learning a musical instrument, a sport, a martial art, or anything. That's about 10 years, and almost 3 hours a day, every day.

On another aspect - research into human learning has shown that paying attention to the end-point of the movement causes the muscles to do "the right thing" - so - focusing on pointing at something a long way off will have the arm muscles do the right thing, while merely holding your hand up without "intent" will cause your shoulder to tire. Same muscles, different activation. If a person focuses on what he/she is trying to get the sword tip to do, the person will have a better time learning what the hands need to do, but not by focusing on the hands. Same in golf, rowing, racquet sports, or anything, really, where you're using an implement. If the focus is on what is happening at the face of the golf club, the hands will do a better job of making it hit the ball the right way, than if the person focuses on making sure the feet are x cm apart, the knees bent at angle y, the right hand held exactly here, the left hand exactly there, the elbows bent at this angle, the left arm straight, and the 30 or so other variables that can interfere with a proper golf stroke.
And - it's true as you say - just grabbing a hand and standing there is kinda silly, no matter how hard you grip. Why grab someone unless you want to gain control.

I THINK we're saying essentially the same stuff, but from different backgrounds...

Heck - look at the time - gotta go to work.
W

Janet Rosen
03-15-2009, 02:25 PM
On another aspect - research into human learning has shown that paying attention to the end-point of the movement causes the muscles to do "the right thing" - so - focusing on pointing at something a long way off will have the arm muscles do the right thing, while merely holding your hand up without "intent" will cause your shoulder to tire. Same muscles, different activation.
Walter, I found this interesting and would like to know if, in the research you mention, it really is the same muscles or if it is different muscles being used to achieve the same effect. The reason I ask is that after being introduced to Pilates I started using their "go down to go up" principle in order to raise my arms for shomen block or raising a sword. The sense I have, besides having very different intent (it feels like the pointing OUT THERE that George describes) is that I'm activating the lats and other non-shoulder/arm muscles and the arm is simply being allowed to rise almost like a counter-balance, very relaxed in a sense but with extension.
Drat I have to go offline for a couple of days...look forward to your reply...

George S. Ledyard
03-15-2009, 03:22 PM
Walter, I found this interesting and would like to know if, in the research you mention, it really is the same muscles or if it is different muscles being used to achieve the same effect. The reason I ask is that after being introduced to Pilates I started using their "go down to go up" principle in order to raise my arms for shomen block or raising a sword. The sense I have, besides having very different intent (it feels like the pointing OUT THERE that George describes) is that I'm activating the lats and other non-shoulder/arm muscles and the arm is simply being allowed to rise almost like a counter-balance, very relaxed in a sense but with extension.
Drat I have to go offline for a couple of days...look forward to your reply...

We are not necessarily talking about the same things. Use of the connective tissue and fascia for transferring power is not the same thing as merely well integrated muscle movement...

One of my friends told me the following story... He was at a System Seminar with Vladimir Vasiliev. After class one of the students was showing his buddies some kettle bell exercises. This guy was pretty much a beast, lifting God knows what over his head with one arm. He was doing some serious weight and it was difficult even for him and he was a big guy. Vlad walked over, grabbed the thing and effortlessly whipped the thing over head, very much as if he had simply raised his arm. Then he said "you are working too hard", set it down and walked off. I asked my friend how he was able to do that and he said it was a combination of a conditioned structure along with breath. Breathing was totally connected to the whole thing.

Anyway, this is the difference between muscle power and what we have been calling "internal power" in the forums. It is not just integrated muscle movement but muscular relaxation is required. There are some different paradigms operating out there and folks who haven't experienced them pretty much don't get it until they feel it. I am just starting to play with this stuff myself but guys like Mike S and Dan H or my Systema friends, can do some wild stuff.

Walter Martindale
03-15-2009, 05:55 PM
We are not necessarily talking about the same things. Use of the connective tissue and fascia for transferring power is not the same thing as merely well integrated muscle movement...

One of my friends told me the following story... He was at a System Seminar with Vladimir Vasiliev. After class one of the students was showing his buddies some kettle bell exercises. This guy was pretty much a beast, lifting God knows what over his head with one arm. He was doing some serious weight and it was difficult even for him and he was a big guy. Vlad walked over, grabbed the thing and effortlessly whipped the thing over head, very much as if he had simply raised his arm. Then he said "you are working too hard", set it down and walked off. I asked my friend how he was able to do that and he said it was a combination of a conditioned structure along with breath. Breathing was totally connected to the whole thing.

Anyway, this is the difference between muscle power and what we have been calling "internal power" in the forums. It is not just integrated muscle movement but muscular relaxation is required. There are some different paradigms operating out there and folks who haven't experienced them pretty much don't get it until they feel it. I am just starting to play with this stuff myself but guys like Mike S and Dan H or my Systema friends, can do some wild stuff.

Coordinated motion. Trainable.
We've all learned to move in different ways. We're all products of our history and our training. My movement patterns when learning Aikido were strongly influenced by 8 years of judo, including being kohai to a guy who (at 70 kg/154 lb) won the South African open weight class championship more than once.
Some aikido instructors don't like the way I move - apparently I throw too hard, but when I try to back off, I seem to throw harder. Some aikido instructors do like the way I move for the same reasons.
I've heard some Systema people talking about relaxing and absorbing things and I think I felt one guy who was beginning Aikido. I was, at the time, in a very "grip hard, move hard" dojo at the time and I felt like what sensitivity I had was pounded out of me - I think it's coming back after 4 years...

phitruong
03-16-2009, 01:46 PM
I would highly recommend doing some Systema. Kaizen Taki, the fellow who teaches the Systema classes held at my dojo is quite skilled and a fantastic teacher. He's got a seminar on "falling Off the mat" which I think would be of great help in making you more relaxed about your ukemi. I'll introduce you during the AikiWeb workshop if he shows up to watch. Anyway, the next one is in September.
Falling Off the Mat Seminar (http://0301.netclime.net/1_5/213/238/3e3/Falling%20Flyer.pdf)

fight with everything you have and don't let them kick you down the stair backward. terrible way of using the stair! :D

mumble mumble *hopefully next systema practice they don't kick me down the stair backward* mumble mumble

sorokod
03-16-2009, 03:56 PM
... research into human learning has shown that paying attention to the end-point of the movement causes the muscles to do "the right thing" - so - focusing on pointing at something a long way off will have the arm muscles do the right thing, while merely holding your hand up without "intent" will cause your shoulder to tire....

I am interested in this research, can you provide a reference?

gdandscompserv
03-16-2009, 04:12 PM
On another aspect - research into human learning has shown that paying attention to the end-point of the movement causes the muscles to do "the right thing" - so - focusing on pointing at something a long way off will have the arm muscles do the right thing, while merely holding your hand up without "intent" will cause your shoulder to tire. Same muscles, different activation. If a person focuses on what he/she is trying to get the sword tip to do, the person will have a better time learning what the hands need to do, but not by focusing on the hands. Same in golf, rowing, racquet sports, or anything, really, where you're using an implement. If the focus is on what is happening at the face of the golf club, the hands will do a better job of making it hit the ball the right way, than if the person focuses on making sure the feet are x cm apart, the knees bent at angle y, the right hand held exactly here, the left hand exactly there, the elbows bent at this angle, the left arm straight, and the 30 or so other variables that can interfere with a proper golf stroke.
I learned this concept years ago in Drafting 101. Drawing "staight" lines freehand is better done by focusing a little bit ahead of the drawing instrument.:D

Janet Rosen
03-17-2009, 02:06 AM
We are not necessarily talking about the same things. Use of the connective tissue and fascia for transferring power is not the same thing as merely well integrated muscle movement...
I'm confused...I didn't say anything about connective tissue or fascia. I thought that what described *is* well, or better, coordinated muscle movement. But since I can't articulate it well, shall bow out.

Walter Martindale
03-17-2009, 07:19 PM
I am interested in this research, can you provide a reference?
Well...
I'll pull the citations from the reference list that's part of a friend's article - unfortunately the friend's paper is still in press at Int. J. Sport Psych.
Parr and Button - when their 2009 Special Issue comes out.

Davids, K., Button, C., & Bennett, S. J. (2007). Dynamics of Skill Aquisition: A Constraints-Led Approach. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics.
Hodges, N. J., Hayes, S. J., Eaves, D. L., Horn, R. R., & Williams, A. M. (2006). End-point trajectory matching as a method for teaching kicking skills. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 37(2-3), 230-247.
McNevin, N. H., Shea, C. H., & Wulf, G. (2003). Increasing the distance of an external focus of attention enhances learning. Psychological Research, 67, 22-29.
Wulf, G. (2007). Attention and Motor Skill Learning. Champaign, Il: Human Kinetics.
Wulf, G., Hoess, M., & Prinz, W. (1998). Instructions for motor learning: Differential effects of internal versus external focus of attention. Journal of Motor Behavior, 30, 169-179.
Wulf, G., Lauterbach, B., & Toole, T. (1999). The learning advantages of an external focus of attention in golf. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 70(2), 120-126.
Wulf, G., McNevin, N., & Shea, C. H. (2001). The automaticity of complex motor skill learning as a function of attentional focus. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 54(4), 1143-1154.
Wulf, G., McNevin, N. H., Fuchs, T., Ritter, F., & Toole, T. (2000). Attentional focus in complex skill learning. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 71(3), 229-239.

To name a few... - incidentally and to reinforce this - I haven't read these cited articles - merely the paper in which they are cited. I agree with the concept, though whereby people learn better how to move an object if they think of what they're trying to get the object to do instead of how they're interacting with it through their hands.

I'm not disputing that the systema guy that Ledyard sensei described could do the technique of lifting the kettlebell in a smooth, relaxed, and fluid way, put it down, and say "you're working too hard" - But - how many times could he do it and still walk the next day? The big guy flinging the weights around was probably using the thing for training and on a one-off could probably have biffed 2-3x the weight up and around. (wasn't there, don't know - speculating). Any skilled performance comes from thousands of hours of "deliberate practice." Many moons ago when training for rowing, I could "power clean" 85 kg for 5 x 10 - do you think the first one of those 50 lifts looked any easier than the 50th? I know that the first lift was a piece of cake and I probably could have tossed the weight over my head. By #50, though, even though I had good technique (according to the coaches) I could barely hold the bar, let alone crank it up to shoulder height, and occasionally #50 didn't make it all the way up, but ended crashing to the floor with me jumping out of the way...
Ennyhoo.. I can still pull about 50 kg up to shoulder height and look fairly relaxed about it -but I can only do it once. The thousands of repetitions gave me the technique, the lack of repetitions in the intervening 25 years has taken away the endurance and strength.
Walter

Walter Martindale
03-17-2009, 07:29 PM
I'm confused...I didn't say anything about connective tissue or fascia. I thought that what described *is* well, or better, coordinated muscle movement. But since I can't articulate it well, shall bow out.
s'OK. In the context of human movement, nothing moves without some muscle contracting, somewhere. when you lift something, you can lift it with your legs (holding it with your hands) or you can try to lift it with your arms. Tossing a weight overhead usually starts from the floor, with the person pushing on the ground, using the musculature of the hips, legs, lower back, and using the trunk, shoulders and arms to connect the power transmission to the object being biffed around. The farther you divorce your force application from core movements (i.e., the more you try to do things with the little end point muscles) the faster you fatigue and the less fluidity in the overall motion.
Smacking a person with a fist, foot, or some sort of implement is best done by focusing on the desired outcome rather than on which muscle to contract, and when - the brain is very good at figuring out how to make the body do things, and after a few thousand repetitions, will start to display some skill. Same with learning to not get smacked and to do (say) Ikkyo/Ikkajo/"first immobilisation".
Ennyhoo - gotta go - lunch time.
W

George S. Ledyard
03-18-2009, 12:43 AM
Well...
I'll pull the citations from the reference list that's part of a friend's article - unfortunately the friend's paper is still in press at Int. J. Sport Psych.
Parr and Button - when their 2009 Special Issue comes out.

Davids, K., Button, C., & Bennett, S. J. (2007). Dynamics of Skill Aquisition: A Constraints-Led Approach. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics.
Hodges, N. J., Hayes, S. J., Eaves, D. L., Horn, R. R., & Williams, A. M. (2006). End-point trajectory matching as a method for teaching kicking skills. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 37(2-3), 230-247.
McNevin, N. H., Shea, C. H., & Wulf, G. (2003). Increasing the distance of an external focus of attention enhances learning. Psychological Research, 67, 22-29.
Wulf, G. (2007). Attention and Motor Skill Learning. Champaign, Il: Human Kinetics.
Wulf, G., Hoess, M., & Prinz, W. (1998). Instructions for motor learning: Differential effects of internal versus external focus of attention. Journal of Motor Behavior, 30, 169-179.
Wulf, G., Lauterbach, B., & Toole, T. (1999). The learning advantages of an external focus of attention in golf. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 70(2), 120-126.
Wulf, G., McNevin, N., & Shea, C. H. (2001). The automaticity of complex motor skill learning as a function of attentional focus. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 54(4), 1143-1154.
Wulf, G., McNevin, N. H., Fuchs, T., Ritter, F., & Toole, T. (2000). Attentional focus in complex skill learning. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 71(3), 229-239.

To name a few... - incidentally and to reinforce this - I haven't read these cited articles - merely the paper in which they are cited. I agree with the concept, though whereby people learn better how to move an object if they think of what they're trying to get the object to do instead of how they're interacting with it through their hands.

I'm not disputing that the systema guy that Ledyard sensei described could do the technique of lifting the kettlebell in a smooth, relaxed, and fluid way, put it down, and say "you're working too hard" - But - how many times could he do it and still walk the next day? The big guy flinging the weights around was probably using the thing for training and on a one-off could probably have biffed 2-3x the weight up and around. (wasn't there, don't know - speculating). Any skilled performance comes from thousands of hours of "deliberate practice." Many moons ago when training for rowing, I could "power clean" 85 kg for 5 x 10 - do you think the first one of those 50 lifts looked any easier than the 50th? I know that the first lift was a piece of cake and I probably could have tossed the weight over my head. By #50, though, even though I had good technique (according to the coaches) I could barely hold the bar, let alone crank it up to shoulder height, and occasionally #50 didn't make it all the way up, but ended crashing to the floor with me jumping out of the way...
Ennyhoo.. I can still pull about 50 kg up to shoulder height and look fairly relaxed about it -but I can only do it once. The thousands of repetitions gave me the technique, the lack of repetitions in the intervening 25 years has taken away the endurance and strength.
Walter

Vlad did it with two fingers by the way...
- George

Josh Reyer
03-18-2009, 08:15 AM
Vlad did it with two fingers by the way...
- George

Which two fingers? Not that I'm doubting Vlad's ability; rather I'm reminded of the old hypnotist's trick where two men lift a woman in a chair using only their index fingers. The trick is, the index finger by itself can support as much weight as the palm. So Vlad may indeed have full body integration that allows him to effortlessly lift great weights, but the fact that he did it with just his fingers may not be such a great feat...

George S. Ledyard
03-18-2009, 09:22 AM
Which two fingers? Not that I'm doubting Vlad's ability; rather I'm reminded of the old hypnotist's trick where two men lift a woman in a chair using only their index fingers. The trick is, the index finger by itself can support as much weight as the palm. So Vlad may indeed have full body integration that allows him to effortlessly lift great weights, but the fact that he did it with just his fingers may not be such a great feat...

The explanation I had from my friend is that it had to do with using the breath to move the weight. I don't get it myself... My point in mentioning this is that there isn't just one paradigm for how the body works. You can get a professional athlete who uses his body everyday at peak performance levels and then have them try a something like this and they won't be able to do it. Anyway, I am not an expert on this at all but I am sure it goes beyond a nice relaxed and integrated movement.

Walter Martindale
03-18-2009, 03:28 PM
The explanation I had from my friend is that it had to do with using the breath to move the weight. I don't get it myself... My point in mentioning this is that there isn't just one paradigm for how the body works. You can get a professional athlete who uses his body everyday at peak performance levels and then have them try a something like this and they won't be able to do it. Anyway, I am not an expert on this at all but I am sure it goes beyond a nice relaxed and integrated movement.

Oh. It's second hand. Get Vlad to show you this and explain it. I'm sure you'll find that he did nothing magic...

George S. Ledyard
03-19-2009, 02:43 AM
Oh. It's second hand. Get Vlad to show you this and explain it. I'm sure you'll find that he did nothing magic...

One of the things I read in Ushiro Sensei's latest book was a statement to the effect that the belief that one understands something is the death of learning.

I'm sure you are right, Walter, there's nothing special going on here. So don't bother to check it out since you clearly already know what it's about.

Walter Martindale
03-19-2009, 03:58 AM
One of the things I read in Ushiro Sensei's latest book was a statement to the effect that the belief that one understands something is the death of learning.

I'm sure you are right, Walter, there's nothing special going on here. So don't bother to check it out since you clearly already know what it's about.

Oh. Ouch. Sorry - I have the misfortune of having some training in research and skepticism, so when I "hear" stories about amazing feats my bull___ detector starts going off. I still don't really know how to do Ikkyo - and most of the rest of Aikido is very confusing to me - I'm only a shodan and I'm only starting to understand just how confusing Aikido is..

I'm not sure how I can possibly check out something that happened in the US from way down here on the shore of Lake Karapiro. There's an explanation for everything. I don't claim to have the explanation, but this Vlad fellow is still a human being made of the same sorts of molecules bundled in similar ways to you and me.

His nerves transmit signals by depolarising along their length, accelerated by the myelin coating on the nerve. Muscles contract thanks to a depolarisation, some calcium dumping in to the muscle fibress, an interaction between ATP, myosin and actin (and a whole lot of stuff that I don't understand). His bones are made of a bunch of stuff including calcium... Some of the big differences between people is how they've grown up and the experiences they've had. The systema guys move in ways I don't understand - there's nobody around here practices that stuff - I haven't seen any of it since I lived in Edmonton 5 years ago, and my background may be incompatible with learning that - I _think_ I'm starting to get sensitive to what uke and nage are doing, but I also know very well that I'm only barely scratching the surface of understanding what's going on in Aikido - let alone trying to wrap my tiny little mind around systema training, too.

I don't know what Vlad was doing but I'm sure that it can be explained. A point, though is that neither of us witnessed this two-fingered feat of lifting, so neither of us know what happened except by what your friend said. Sorry if I've come across as a know-it-all - I don't know it all, but I very much doubt that what Vlad did was anything that couldn't be learned given the right teaching/coaching.

If I ever get to the Seattle area again (e.g., for Opening Day regatta at UW) let's meet for practice and some Anchor Steam (if you drink SF beers).
Truce?
Walter

George S. Ledyard
03-19-2009, 05:28 PM
Oh. Ouch. Sorry - I have the misfortune of having some training in research and skepticism, so when I "hear" stories about amazing feats my bull___ detector starts going off. I still don't really know how to do Ikkyo - and most of the rest of Aikido is very confusing to me - I'm only a shodan and I'm only starting to understand just how confusing Aikido is..

I'm not sure how I can possibly check out something that happened in the US from way down here on the shore of Lake Karapiro. There's an explanation for everything. I don't claim to have the explanation, but this Vlad fellow is still a human being made of the same sorts of molecules bundled in similar ways to you and me.

His nerves transmit signals by depolarising along their length, accelerated by the myelin coating on the nerve. Muscles contract thanks to a depolarisation, some calcium dumping in to the muscle fibress, an interaction between ATP, myosin and actin (and a whole lot of stuff that I don't understand). His bones are made of a bunch of stuff including calcium... Some of the big differences between people is how they've grown up and the experiences they've had. The systema guys move in ways I don't understand - there's nobody around here practices that stuff - I haven't seen any of it since I lived in Edmonton 5 years ago, and my background may be incompatible with learning that - I _think_ I'm starting to get sensitive to what uke and nage are doing, but I also know very well that I'm only barely scratching the surface of understanding what's going on in Aikido - let alone trying to wrap my tiny little mind around systema training, too.

I don't know what Vlad was doing but I'm sure that it can be explained. A point, though is that neither of us witnessed this two-fingered feat of lifting, so neither of us know what happened except by what your friend said. Sorry if I've come across as a know-it-all - I don't know it all, but I very much doubt that what Vlad did was anything that couldn't be learned given the right teaching/coaching.

If I ever get to the Seattle area again (e.g., for Opening Day regatta at UW) let's meet for practice and some Anchor Steam (if you drink SF beers).
Truce?
Walter

Of course there are explanations. Vlad is a human being made just like the rest of us (originally). But these guys train in a very unique manner and it changes their bodies over time. This is true of the Aunkai stuff, it's true of Mike's Chinese Internal Martial Arts. etc. Mike would be in a position to understand the commonalities between what he does and what the Systema folks do (and the differences). The Aunkai work is fundamentally different than the Systema work even though both condition the body. Akuzawa Sensei doesn't do all that much with breath while the Systema folks do everything with breath. Most martial systems organize the structure of a punch from the ground up. The Systema folks organize the punch from the fist back.

I say this, not because I can explain the difference, because I can't actually do a proper Systema strike, but simply to illustrate that there are radical differences between the ways people approach training. Issues such as breath are far less emphasized in the West than in the East although (this is changing). The Russians really were the one place where the standard Western Scientific paradigm met the Eastern psychic, energy oriented paradigm head on. Unlike the US, serious scientists in Russia pursued what I would call "energetics" and were treated seriously.

Having trained with some folks who routinely operate at a level seems impossible, I am VERY open to the idea that a) I don't have any idea what is happening in some of this stuff and b) most of the folks outside these systems who think they know, don't.

If you get to Seattle, my friend Kaizen Taki is the local Systema teacher and he can explain far better than I can. But the best thing is to feel it... that's when you just shake your head...

This is very important in Aikido. There are a number of ways to use your body to accomplish a move. But most are not what I would say use "aiki". One teacher said, "If you understand what was just done to you, it wasn't aiki." After a quarter century of hard training I am having to change my paradigm completely because I was doing everything wrong. If I had stayed with my old level of understanding, I'd have been stuck as a mediocrity forever. So now I look for the folks whose technique I don't understand; the more incomprehensible the better. Then I travel to train with them or invite them to teach at my school. Then I work on it until I start to get it (or not).

Great mastery is when you do so easily that the folks watching have no idea that anything extraordinary has happened until they try it and find that they can't at all, that something is operating that they don't understand. A hundred generations of martial artists have worked to get to that level. If you can't see or feel what they did, you can't easily counter it. That level of skill is based on shifting to different paradigms of mental and motor skill.

Walter Martindale
03-20-2009, 03:25 AM
(major snippage of what I largely agree with, and I agree with what's below, too)

Great mastery is when you do so easily that the folks watching have no idea that anything extraordinary has happened until they try it and find that they can't at all, that something is operating that they don't understand. A hundred generations of martial artists have worked to get to that level. If you can't see or feel what they did, you can't easily counter it. That level of skill is based on shifting to different paradigms of mental and motor skill.

Yup. the "how did I end up on the floor" or "how is it that I'm getting sooooo much air time - he's just a little guy". It comes from the thousands of hours of training - "deliberate practice" - so that they can do with ease and "relaxation" what we can only watch and wonder. Sawada shihan's shihonage. Anything Kawahara shihan has done to me. At one point in 1978 I was starting to think I "got" judo - until one of the guys on the Japanese national team practiced his seoinage on me. again, and again, and again, and again, and....... and again... I had 40 pounds (about 18 kg) on him and he only came up to my shoulders.
ouch
W