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Kevin Leavitt
11-18-2009, 10:07 AM
Thought it best to start a new thread rather than side track the Internal Training thread away from talking about the skills. That is an important conversation to have.

I highly encourage and value doing internal training, it has been by far the best thing I have done for my self improvement in many years, so much that I plan on spending more time doing more of it.

However, I think that we need to be careful not to become intoxicated and be clear of our endstates, goals...otherwise we may not acheive them.

a little vignette:

I was at one of these "IT" seminars. I won't say which one or who was involved as it does not matter and the comments were confidential anyway...but I think this is worth considering.

This guy came up to me and asked me about my background and training as he was very interested in how I approached training and what I did.

We talked for a while about it and I asked him what art he did.

"Oh, I haven't studied any martial arts yet". I don't want to develop any bad habits and I need to get a good base in all this internal training before I start studying an art. If I start studying it, then it will just slow me down and take me longer and I will have to unlearn all the bad habits."

I asked him how long he'd been training in IT stuff he said, I think, like 7 years or something like that.

My reply:

"So, why do you want to study martial arts?"

He answered. hmmm, well...I suppose I want to be somewhat proficient and effective."

I said, "how so?" "what is it that you'd like to be able to do, fight? grapple, defend yourself...or what...or do you have another goal".

He didn't really know what to say...but agreed that this is kinda what he thought he'd want to be able to do.

I then asked him what he thought of my abilities, sans IT, since I have none.

He said he thought I was probably able to do most of those things that he agreed might be his goal.

I then asked, then why the hell are you wasting your time waiting around?

We of course, couldn't finish the conversation very well, because of the amount of separation and dissonance that was occuring in the situation...but I think he got the point.

My point is this:

I think alot of people really don't know why they are doing what they are doing and have no real objective in mind.

We get intoxicated with stuff, drink the kool aid and what not and forget what it was and why it was we started doing what we were doing.

This is not meant to discredit IT/IS at all...I beleive it is good training and is FUNDAMENTAL to mastery. However, I also think that it is a means to an end and not the end itself...and that should be kept in mind.

as in all things in life, moderation, balance, and accountability are key!

thisisnotreal
11-18-2009, 10:44 AM
Internal training (IT) leading to internal power (IP) can give you mastery over how you use your own body. In life, how you move, and how you grow. How to remove slack from your body. How to feel and re-find proper function, internal balance, structural alignment, etc, if it is lost via injury, for instance. In fighting you need internal skill (IS) as well. read: Methods for use. Almost technique...but technique with the IP. =Inside you= technique...like the 'invisible jujitsu' mentioned.
As for as IP, I can see value in developing Internal Power for the health reasons alone. The best way to use and be *in* your body. I think that is a worthy end-state. To be healthy, to increase awareness and to 'use your body properly'. Agree with any or all of that?

p.s. Have I gotten the some or all of the distinctions between IT/IP/IS wrong? ...not to mention I think that Aiki is yet something different again. It is a specific manifestation of Internal Skill(set) (IS).

That is only my understanding at this point. I appreciate correction, as always.

Budd
11-18-2009, 11:04 AM
Something I would add as a question . . how are you training to do this??

A big thing that exponents seem to agree on is that it has to be felt AND that it's best to pick a methodology to get a baseline in (rather than seminar hopping and doing a little bit of "this and that") before branching out too much.

In addition, while there's only one jin, there seems to be many avenues towards developing it (and that is going to be, I expect, a future topic as more of this dust settles) . . so which methodology/approach (based on who you're getting your information from) is also going to factor in what you're doing . . ideally this will also be in synch with your goals.

My goals for Internal Training are to rewire my body to use as little local muscle as possible, strengthening the connective tissue inside me so that I can express my middle through and out to many point on my body, while coordinating the combined powers of gravity/heaven and ground/earth. I've been following Mike Sigman's approach as best I'm able in order to do this . .

That's enough for now.

dps
11-18-2009, 02:32 PM
a little vignette:

I was at one of these "IT" seminars. I won't say which one or who was involved as it does not matter and the comments were confidential anyway...but I think this is worth considering.

This guy came up to me and asked me about my background and training as he was very interested in how I approached training and what I did.

We talked for a while about it and I asked him what art he did.

"Oh, I haven't studied any martial arts yet". I don't want to develop any bad habits and I need to get a good base in all this internal training before I start studying an art. If I start studying it, then it will just slow me down and take me longer and I will have to unlearn all the bad habits."

I asked him how long he'd been training in IT stuff he said, I think, like 7 years or something like that.

My reply:

"So, why do you want to study martial arts?"

He answered. hmmm, well...I suppose I want to be somewhat proficient and effective."

I said, "how so?" "what is it that you'd like to be able to do, fight? grapple, defend yourself...or what...or do you have another goal".

He didn't really know what to say...but agreed that this is kinda what he thought he'd want to be able to do.

I then asked him what he thought of my abilities, sans IT, since I have none.

He said he thought I was probably able to do most of those things that he agreed might be his goal.

I then asked, then why the hell are you wasting your time waiting around?

We of course, couldn't finish the conversation very well, because of the amount of separation and dissonance that was occuring in the situation...but I think he got the point.

My point is this:

I think alot of people really don't know why they are doing what they are doing and have no real objective in mind.

We get intoxicated with stuff, drink the kool aid and what not and forget what it was and why it was we started doing what we were doing.


That is both sad and funny.

Kevin Leavitt
11-18-2009, 02:54 PM
Budd wrote:

A big thing that exponents seem to agree on is that it has to be felt AND that it's best to pick a methodology to get a baseline in (rather than seminar hopping and doing a little bit of "this and that") before branching out too much.


I agree, and I have struggled with this.

covered it sort of in the other thread in response to your post so try and keep this short.

It was hard doing nothing and my personal failure rate has been high. For whatever reason, without constant re-inforcement and feedback I could not stick with it.

So, I decided to take an approach that was sustainable to me...better to do something rather than nothing.

So, Yoga has become my baseline IT practice for now, coupled with meeting with as many guys that can provide me feedback training as I begin to gain the ability to train in IT.

Hopefully Yoga, if nothing else will provide me the framework and structure to be prepared to recieve training, the main reason is my sanity and it is accessible.

Slower, I am sure it will be slower...but at the rate I was training Budd...it is gonna be faster than nothing.

gdandscompserv
11-18-2009, 08:29 PM
I want to learn internal stuffs so I can pull off the incredibly complex waza of aikido with ease against a fully resistant opponent.:cool:

Michael Varin
11-19-2009, 02:48 AM
I've gotta hand it to you, Kevin. This is one of the best threads to come around in a while.

I am very interested in learning more about internal strength and a more direct way of training it, but your story was very illustrative and raises some excellent questions.

Kevin Leavitt
11-19-2009, 06:42 AM
Thanks Michael. The hard part for me has beenl understanding the context and where it fits into my training.

It is sort of like maybe weight loss I think. We wall intuitively know what to do right? bottom line is to create a calorie deficit in your system.

However, as you know there is much more to weight loss than this because of all the other physiological and psychological processes that surround it.

And the big thing about weight loss is that it is slow, doesn't happen the moment you decide to lose weight right?

So we have all kinds of diets, secret ways, new and improved ways of doing things etc. But the fundamental facts remain the same ...calorie deficit.

I think with IT, we have to take the same approach...figure out what works for us individually.

Think about all the diets out there on the market? Which one is best? Atkins, south beach....dexatrim, Jared's Subway Plan?

Same statistics apply to IT training as they do to dieting I believe.

Each method will have it's successes or failure, a select few will lose weight, the rest will not...or even gain weight!

So the best one is the one that works for you, and is sustainable over the long term.

For me, sustainable in dieting has been making material and long lasting habit and lifestyle changes. Taking a long term approach...that has been slower in losing weight, but I feel confident that it is sustainable as I make changes along the way that work with my lifestyle...so hopefully no blow back from failure.

For me, IT training has been the same. Slow, progressive, and integrative in what I am doing....with ALOT of mentorship and support along the way.

So, I think some will take a very "monk" like practice towards IT skills. A select few of these guys will mastery a huge amount of these skills and become very skilled at replicating them, teaching them and finding more insights. I submit that they sort of become our "Monks" per se in the structure of what we do. We need these guys.

However, very, very few out of the many that identify with what we do as a whole. The rest of us become lay people, we will have varying degrees of skill etc.

I submit also that our current paradigm is warped, because we see ourselves alot of times as failures if we don't achieve that same degree of mastery, which I think is most unfortunate.

I think it is part of the struggle with budo though as we see mastery as primary to overall success. However, mastery at what? Mastery of IT/IS/IP? Mastery as recognized by Aikikai with rank? Mastery of self? What are we trying to master?

We also have to be careful not to use this as an excuse to accept mediocrity in our practice.

It is easy to scoff at a IT guy that is devoted and ascetic in his practice (Monk) and say...well he is extreme and not representative of the whole, and accept a mediocre practice for ourselves.

I listened to Robert Thurman (Uma's dad) talk about the value of a monastic society a few years ago, and it makes sense to me. I think if we looked at our own budo community in much the same light, we'd find a great deal of insight into what we are really trying to do. It also, allow us the room we need to learn to accept ourselves and our place in our art and maybe we can begin to be happy with the whole of what it is that we are doing!

Budd
11-19-2009, 09:12 AM
There is something to what you say, Kevin . . but I also submit that part of it is the disconnect between practicing an older tradition (which requires that you somewhat submit yourself to it and exercise your brain and body along the way -- which I think can have a danger of being warped in modern practices in some cases as submitting to a person or organization so that they can direct your thoughts for you) which has some pretty uncompromising aspects, versus other modern traditions that are better geared towards dabbling (some cynics might call it over-pandering to the adhd crowd, but I'm not as extreme).

And I think dabbling gets too strong a bad rap because I think if it's a conscious choice to integrate "some" things into one's lifestyle . . that should be okay and allowable and not necessarily looked down upon. Where I think the problems can arise is (much like older discussions of "aikido not working") that with limited involvement and exploration, one's ability to make valid commentary on the substance of an activity is also . . limited (pokes Mark Murray vis a vis BJJ - yeah you, buddy ;) ). So, you make choices and in a perfect world, your behaviors are in synch and consistent with those behaviors. Consequences and outcomes are gonna follow, either way. That's pretty much a non-negotiable given. How you live with 'em be up to you.

Kevin Leavitt
11-19-2009, 12:25 PM
Great post Budd. Agreed.

It could well possibly be that I have a different perspective (goal) in mind with my aikido practice than many?

For me, Aikido is a methodology, or tool for learning..it is a PART of my training strategy, not the summation of it?

My overall frame work is MODERN Army Combatives, and sub organization I study with is called CONTEMPORARY Combatives.

As such, I/we are concerned about modern day relevancy through out the spectrum of conflict in the modern world/battlefield.

Based on that, I/We establish criteria and measures of evaluation to determine what Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) we need in a various situations across the spectrum of trainnig.

At one point, Koryu systems, did the same thing. What they did was not simply because "some one else did it years ago". it was a MODERN system that had relevancy (contemporary) for that environment.

Over the years through trial and error, the "system" became a collections of TTPs, archived into various practices, habits, rituals to be learned and passed on or transmitted to the next generation etc.

Not meaning to give a history lesson...that many here are much better at doing than I (Read Ellis' book for much better insights!)

Anyway, Skipping ahead of the "history lesson". much of this practice has lost relevancy and in our modern society, few of us have a need to practice this stuff and many of the lessons have been lost over time, and other parts morphed into the "Do's" or "Ways" that we see today. Heavily removed from their orignal practices, yet a beneficial practice for understanding the human factor and personal growth for sure!

For me, this "WAY" or "DO" part is important.

However, a big part of the reason I personally study is to better understand, develop, and refine martial practices that are relevant to the modern battlefield. In a sense Modern Army Combatives Program (MACP) is a new system that may one day be looked upon as a koryu? maybe?

I have found many good reasons to continue classical studies, IT/IS/IP things as well as Gendai arts. There are lots of great "bodies of knowledge" that are retained in these practices that we can learn from and interpret.

To me, when I get with Toby Threadgill, it is like dusting off an old library book that hasn't been opened for many years and rediscovering knowledge that is important to us...and yet we keep trying to re-invent the wheel over and over.

Guys like Toby allow us to look at something snapshot in time, that we can compare to the modern/contemporary environment and then assess for applicability and insights etc.

Same with the IT/IP/IS stuff...same with Aikido and BJJ.

So, I suppose my approach to Martial Arts, may be slightly different than how others view it maybe?

I don't look at is so much as dabbling per se, but assessing for applicabilty, translation, and integration into the modern battlefield or the "Ryu" of what we do today.

Hope this makes sense Budd.

great conversation!

Keith Larman
11-19-2009, 12:29 PM
Kevin -- we really must be long lost brothers. Got you completely. And Budd -- you're not going to get any argument from me. I'm with you too.

FWIW I really identified with something Toby said at the last seminar I was at. If he were 25 all over again and not the head of a lineage (with all the responsibilities that carries) he'd be out there studying what he could from as many people as possible. Nothing like being a budo bum nowadays --- there's so much more information out there and it is a lot easier to slog through the BS and find the real good stuff.

Me, I love my style, my sensei, my friends, and my students. I see many things of value in the IS/IP precisely because we had long stressed the stuff albeit not in such a direct or explicit fashion. We already test and prod the students constantly. What I find is that much of what I've learned at seminars provide me with additional things to add to hopefully speed up/improve everyone's ability to catch on, myself included.

But... I am very careful about mixing things too much. We have a tradition already. And it is one thing to learn from a lot of sources but quite another to become one of those "jack of all trades, master of none" people. There is already a lifetime of study in most of these arts. The key is finding those things that are relevant, that can fit in, and introducing them in a way that doesn't warp or skew what you already have that is good. Again, we can talk all day long about what this stuff is, whether it is basic or advanced, but there is little doubt that some aspect of this stuff was integral and should be integral.

I have met and trained with guys with crisp, clean waza that had nothing but the external appearance of what I think of as Aikido. Sure, for some of them there is a lifetime of training that may need to be "unlearned". In those cases you can't just retrofit this stuff. Others have tried very hard to develop these skills but with wildly varying success (or failure). In many of those cases the problem wasn't that they didn't have it at all, but that it was incomplete, poorly understood maybe, and poorly communicated. For some of those "getting it" with a more explicit explanation and mental model may in fact be all they need to bring it back in. I.e., it doesn't have to be retrofitted -- the "slot" was always there. You just had some missing parts that never let it fit right. Now the task becomes building that physical body and those skills and allowing them to manifest themselves in the larger scheme of your training.

To show the other side of the coin one guy I was paired up with at a recent workshop didn't have a martial arts background. Like Kevin's guy he was experienced and working on his internal skills directly to get it "right" first. He was pretty good at moving me once we got things set up for him to do his thing. His solo stuff was great -- I watched him at times as I got confused with winding things or whatever. But when paired doing things he did a *lot* of things that themselves are "bad habits" in context of martial arts. Locked out elbows (keeping his path pure means mongo (me) can break arm real easy) was one. A lot of others. Sure, he IS skills were pretty nifty but the next question was how is this guy going to learn martial arts? How many habits will he have to break? Things not relevant to his "pure" things?

So again I go back to Ellis Amdur's concept of the "container". It is a fine brandy we're tasting, but for some of us it needs a container. That container is context. In context of just learning IS there is no need whatsoever to worry about martial applications. You can silk reel, boat row, shake sticks, and do that amazing dantien rolling thing for hours a day. Very cool. Heck, I've found the exercises have done great things for my back as my injuries had long kept me with too much curvature -- my back feels a lot better as I've learned to hold that better and that has feed back into my aikido making me all the more stable, rooted and powerful. Love it. But again so much of this depends on context. Some may need to drop everything. Some may be able to take this stuff and run with it. Some may already have it. But it seems to me while there are many ways to screw this up there will only be a few ways to do it right. And those few ways will vary with each person and their larger context.

I've blathered enough. Gotta get some work done...