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Misogi-no-Gyo
05-11-2002, 11:37 PM
greetings to all!

I posted this in another thread, but thought perhaps it may have some merit for discussion on its own.

*******************************************

The following information was taught to me directly by Seiseki Abe Sensei, 10th dan, at his Osaka dojo. O-Sensei would spend about 1/3 of every month at Abe Sensei's home and teach aikido in the Osaka dojo that Abe Sensei built for him (next to his home). For those who aren't familiar with him, Abe Sensei was also O-Sensei's calligraphy teacher, and thus had a unique Master-Student, Student-Master relationship.

Torifune no gyo is one of the eight "gyo" (literally - austere training methods) or practices of Misogi-no-Gyo (austere training methods/practices of Misogi), as taught by O-Sensei. Many people use misogi as a spiritual practice. Although there is this aspect, it is only part of the picture. The actual reason is not a mystical practice by any means. There is a real basis for this practice, one rooted in a physical science and training directly related to our aikido training. Simply it is used to develop "Kokyu" or breath power. Kokyu is made up of two Kanji, "Ko" - meaning to breath out, and Kyu" - to breath in. There is also an advanced "bugei" aspect having to do with "hiding" ones breath from one's opponent. However, this is an advanced level of this training accomplished after years of companion breathing exercises.

They eight Misogi are:

1. Misogi-no-gyo (purification and breath training with cold water)

2. Torifune-no-gyo (rowing exercise to "actively" train the breath during movement)

3. furitama-no-gyo (shaking hands in front of hara to passively train the breath while in standing meditation)

4. Norito-no-gyo (chanting of long prayers to further train the breath)

5. Otakebi-no-gyo (Lifting the hands over the head, and body up on the toes, bringing hands back down to below the tanden while shouting "eee-aaaay" and forcing all the breath from the body, again, breath training.

6. Okorobi-no-gyo (two different practices using tegatana "two-fingered sword" cutting, shouting "eee-aaaay" and forcing all the breath from the body, for breath training.

7. Chinkon Kishin-no-gyo (seated meditation, with specific hand postures, hand gestures, and specific meditative visualizations)

8. Shokuji-no-gyo (specific dietary measures designed to distinguish the body's physical power and change the blood from acidic (typical) to alkaline [to promote proper breathing, and correct mind/attitude/heart - kokoro-e])

With specific regards to Torifune, there are three different components or movements. Each are to be followed by furitama, thus creating a pattern of "active/passive" breath training.

In the first movement, While moving the hips forward, the emphasis is on moving the hands forward very quickly (fingers active with "ki" and pointed down to the ground, wrists are bent - note the rotation of the forearm from the ready position to the forward position) while exhaling (kiai) with the compound vowel sound "Eeee-Aaaay". As the hips move back, the wrists follow (soft movement) with the vowel sound "ho". This 2-part sequence of forwards and backwards should be repeated upwards of twenty times. This is the male aspect, or giving "ki" exercise or "Irimi/Kokyu-ho" (triangle/square) based techniques.
You should notice that you are breathing hard as you change to furitama-no-gyo exercise.

The second Torifune exercise reverses the emphasis, starting with a forward hip movement, a soft hand movement and kiai with "ho" followed by the return of the hips, quick hand movement, while exhaling (kiai) with the compound vowel sound "Eeee-Aaaay". Then furitama-no-gyo. This is female, or accepting ki exercise or "tenkan/Kokyu-ho" or (circle/square) based techniques.

The third exercise changes the hand movements from ones that are hip level to ones that are chest level. Starting with palms up (at your sides and chest level) begin with the forward hip movement, moving the hands forward very quickly, turning the palms down to the ground, and exhaling (kiai) using the pronouncing "saaaaaah" this is followed by returning the hands to their original position, again moving the hands backward very quickly, this time exhaling (kiai) using the pronouncing "Eeee-Aaaay." Again, the emphasis is on both, moving the hands forward very quickly and back just as quickly. However, it is important to note that you should try this exercise in one breath, pushing all of your breath out as you move forward and back until you can not kiai any longer. This is the male/female or female/male aspect, for giving/receiving or receiving/giving "ki" exercise or "Irimi/Kokyu-ho" (triangle/square) or "tenkan/Kokyu-ho" (circle/square) based techniques. This is followed again by furitama-no-gyo.

Generally, furitama-no-gyo is practiced to warm the body up before Misogi-no-gyo. Then after misogi, the above routine is followed. This is a daily practice, and should be done four times a day (early morning, late morning, early afternoon, and late afternoon - not at night).

If anyone is interested in more information, please feel free to contact me directly.

Shaun Ravens - NY Aikido Center
Member, Aikido Doshinokai

Bruce Baker
05-13-2002, 05:52 AM
So if I read you correctly, there is a correlation to movement, sounds, and breath control?

Different sounds are more effective if used with the correct movements.

Different movements are more effective if used with correct sounds.

Being able to properly breath within the training of sounds, movement, and purifications enhances health?

So how come so many of these guys die before they are seventy, and drunken wino's live longer?

Just kidding ...

It really shouldn't matter if one person lives longer than another, but it become the quality of that life that is the difference.

It is an interesting aspect of breath and sounds having effect for Misogi practices, when they should be the actual catalyst for more effective technique in Aikido also?

Thanks for bringing this practice to light. I had the feeling when we did these practices in Aikido class it was in this direction, but no one had put an explanation together to explain why we do these things the way we do before I read this insightful peace.

Misogi-no-Gyo
05-13-2002, 09:27 AM
OK - In answer to your questions....

So if I read you correctly, there is a correlation to movement, sounds, and breath control?

Yes, most definitely. Of course, when you are relating this back to actual techniques things are a bit different. In the way that I explained the practices, it is strictly to improve your own breath control, activating kokyu within the body. to be able to ground this and join it into your techniques would be the next level.

It is an interesting aspect of breath and sounds having effect for Misogi practices, when they should be the actual catalyst for more effective technique in Aikido also?

I am not sure if I understand your question here. I think you are asking if correct breathing and sounds have an effect on techniques. My thoughts are "Yes, and no." Yes, in terms of breathing, and no in terms of the sounds - although, the sounds (in terms of the misogi practice) will have an effect on your breathing also. So, it could be said that indirectly it does have an effect.



Thanks for bringing this practice to light. I had the feeling when we did these practices in Aikido class it was in this direction, but no one had put an explanation together to explain why we do these things the way we do before I read this insightful peace.

My personal experience has been that many people talk about misogi in terms of "spirituality" or "metaphysical" or "Shinto." Most of the time, however, it is because they don't have a practical understanding of what O-Sensei wanted students to achieve with this very practice.

This would not be wrong, and these things were certainly a heavy influence of the origination of these in terms of the Founder incorporating them into daily aikido practice. However, this (to me) signifies more that he was looking for a way to accomplish the breath training, and found an impetus for it in "Kojiki." I don't think that he expected each and every one of us to have that level of understanding about its origins. However, it is important to understand the cultural context of the time - in that if he showed something that had its origins in ancient text, the populous would be that much more easily convinced of its importance. I think O-Sensei was out to have us incorporate Misogi into our training to practically enhance our own techniques, and thereby his aikido through the reputation of his senior students.

Shaun Ravens - NY Aikido Center
Aikido Doshinokai

kironin
09-16-2003, 10:56 AM
Why can't I find this thread in the General forum listing. Why is it only visible by using the search engine ?

maybe this will make it visible ?

Craig

akiy
09-16-2003, 11:10 AM
Why can't I find this thread in the General forum listing. Why is it only visible by using the search engine ?
If you look at the bottom of the forums thread listing, you'll see a drop-down menu specifying the number of days worth of threads you want to see. Since this thread was close to four months old, unless you had your settings to something that would show a thread this old, the system will not display it...

Hope that helps,

-- Jun

Ron Tisdale
09-16-2003, 03:36 PM
Awesome post Shawn.

RT

drDalek
09-22-2003, 09:35 AM
How about some more info or links about this:
8. Shokuji-no-gyo (specific dietary measures designed to distinguish the body's physical power and change the blood from acidic (typical) to alkaline [to promote proper breathing, and correct mind/attitude/heart - kokoro-e])

ian
09-22-2003, 12:42 PM
Thankyou Shuan, very interesting (without being wishy-washy!) I wonder if Jun would consider accepting one of Shuans submisions within the 'training' or 'spiritual' section outside the discussion board?

Also, my girlfriend has recently got into alot of alternative therapy stuff and has this weird book on folk medicine (western). It constantly goes on about making the blood more alkaline for health. If anyone is interested here are a few tips:

-eat apples, grapes etc (rather than oranges and citrus fruit which is acidic)

-eat natural honey

-absolutely the best thing is cider vinegar (you can buy it at health food stores)

P.S. only take around 2 tea-spoons of cider vinegar a day (I tried half a cup full and it made me gag).

P.P.S I didn't really notice any difference, but I didn't have the patience to try it for more than 1 week.

Ian

ian
09-22-2003, 12:56 PM
try these Wynand, based on a quick search:

http://www.cfsdoc.org/biological_terrain.htm

http://www.doctoryourself.com/honey.html

(I avoided sites which were blantently advertising).

Ian

Misogi-no-Gyo
09-22-2003, 02:36 PM
Thank you Shaun, very interesting (without being wishy-washy!) I wonder if Jun would consider accepting one of Shuans submisions within the 'training' or 'spiritual' section outside the discussion board?

Ian
I am happy to see that the post generated some interest. My point, as in many of my posts is to try to clearly make a case that O-Sensei made quite a bit of sense to those who were willing to take the time outside of their mat training to look into and study what he was talking about. So many so-called teachers talk about O-Sensei as a "mystical" martial artist, and this is a true disservice to the real person and the real martial art of O-Sensei.

While I am flattered that someone would even suggest that I write an article to be considered for the main website, I feel that if one is interested in these subjects, they should seek out Abe Sensei, and Matsuoka Sensei, if there is ever an opportunity to do so. I am certainly willing and able to try to help make sense of it all, but although my grasp is a bit more than my ability, and it does allow me insight into these things, I feel more comfortable walking along side of those who may be interested, rather than leading them, for the time being.

Mike Sigman
02-08-2005, 07:54 PM
[In Re Misogi: Snipping to highlight] There is a real basis for this practice, one rooted in a physical science and training directly related to our aikido training. Simply it is used to develop "Kokyu" or breath power. Kokyu is made up of two Kanji, "Ko" - meaning to breath out, and Kyu" - to breath in.

Hi Shaun:

Although Kokyu is more or less translated as "breath power", it's more than that. It's part breath (an important part) and part a skill of forming paths to the ground (or paths from the weight in downward cases, but that's another story). Many of the demonstrations O-Sensei did, like the jo trick, like taking a steady push to his head while seated, like taking a push from a student's head into his stomach, etc., etc., are actually demonstrations of Kokyu as well. The literal meaning is not always what the idiomatic meaning is, in many languages.

The "rowing exercise" is probably a great basic exercise to focus on, but let me add a thought or two, if I may. Again there is the breathing part, but it is essentially a qigong that affects the body as a whole (think of it as pressurizing and de-pressurizing the skin of a football with the intent of strengthening the skin). The more readily accessible part of the "rowing", despite any comments about speed, is in how the oar is moved. A good practice toward correct rowing would be to take a 10-pound brick and put it on a table in front of you at about stomach height. As you push the brick forward with your hands, actually let the movement of the dantien forward be the power actually pushing the brick (maybe think of your dantien being where your hands are). As you pull the brick, think of an imaginary string from the brick to your obi and pull the brick with your obi. That's how to correctly work with a brick and also with the single oar in the back of the fishing boats the Japanese used.

In other words, I liked your post, but I felt like the focus was too much on the breath, which is not all Kokyu is about. But I really appreciate your laying out those eight steps. Good information.

Mike Sigman

Misogi-no-Gyo
02-09-2005, 12:21 AM
Hi Shaun:

Although Kokyu is more or less translated as "breath power", it's more than that. It's part breath (an important part) and part a skill of forming paths to the ground (or paths from the weight in downward cases, but that's another story). Many of the demonstrations O-Sensei did, like the jo trick, like taking a steady push to his head while seated, like taking a push from a student's head into his stomach, etc., etc., are actually demonstrations of Kokyu as well. The literal meaning is not always what the idiomatic meaning is, in many languages.

The "rowing exercise" is probably a great basic exercise to focus on, but let me add a thought or two, if I may. Again there is the breathing part, but it is essentially a qigong that affects the body as a whole (think of it as pressurizing and de-pressurizing the skin of a football with the intent of strengthening the skin). The more readily accessible part of the "rowing", despite any comments about speed, is in how the oar is moved. A good practice toward correct rowing would be to take a 10-pound brick and put it on a table in front of you at about stomach height. As you push the brick forward with your hands, actually let the movement of the dantien forward be the power actually pushing the brick (maybe think of your dantien being where your hands are). As you pull the brick, think of an imaginary string from the brick to your obi and pull the brick with your obi. That's how to correctly work with a brick and also with the single oar in the back of the fishing boats the Japanese used.

In other words, I liked your post, but I felt like the focus was too much on the breath, which is not all Kokyu is about. But I really appreciate your laying out those eight steps. Good information.

Mike Sigman

Mr. Sigman,

Thank you for chiming in and bringing life back to the thread. In any case, while I don't necessarily disagree with you, I might have to not agree with it how you chose to make your points. One could say that it is a point of semantics, so please allow me to clarify my previous statement. If you note, the thread is entitled "Breath, Aikido & Misogi" indicating that there is a relationship intermingled between these three elements. Kokyu is breath power. Kokyu-ho is breathing method, kokyu-dosa is breath-exercise and kokyu-nage is breath throw. Of course, there is always flexibility when dealing with anything - including these definitions. Let's not forget any number of interpretations, too - both correct and incorrect ones. However we have to start somewhere. Temporarily fixing these definitions as I have above allows us to have a concrete discussion using actual reference points rather than imaginary ones. Just to point out, these are not my definitions…

So in this case, breath power can surely indicate the "Skin of the Football" as you put it. That is where I would agree with your statement. So to where you speak of the connection to the ground, for that too can be said to be kokyu. There are several levels of understanding of this. One can connect to the ground at one level, and at another level one can transfer the ground up through their opponent and/or their opponent through the ground. The shoulder can have kokyu, the elbow, the wrist, etc. and one can mistakenly develop this kokyu, becoming very powerful, that is until they meet someone who understands how to instantaneously (katsuhayahi) release these particular examples of kokyu.

Moving on; I chose not to delve into the actual relationship between Misogi, the breath and Aikido for several reasons. First and foremost, because many people were interested in the practice as it was passed directly from O-Sensei, and not necessarily the meaning behind the actual physical practice methods. Many people had not had an opportunity to find this information in English in any concise record, and all in one place. After reading this post on Aikido Journal, Stanley Pranin went and re-interviewed Abe Sensei and a fairly good translation was then presented to the public. Sadly this was only in Japanese. The article only scratched the surface, as the obvious questions that one would ask as follow-ups were not asked, or at least not included in the published article. My point is that if it is a choice between a presentation based upon my training with Abe Sensei, or something that comes directly from Abe Sensei, I would always recommend that later.

Second, it really takes a considerable effort and time to train in this manner. Most only take a cursory glance at it, and even that occurring over their lifetime training in the art. Therefore a more complete explanation would have been like piling a bag full of thousand dollar bills on a homeless man. Chances are he would end up dead by the end of the evening, having over-consumed in one manner or another.

Thirdly, if people had a sincere interest they could have contacted me, as many people did - from all over the world, actually, for more information.

There is so much more to be said. I recently returned from Japan, where Abe Sensei encouraged the four of us who have been going to seek this training from him over the last dozen years to go even deeper into this training. Much was revealed, and we each have a new respect for what O-Sensei was actually doing when he did Aikido. Of course there is much training to be done.

Lastly, one minor point. Using Chinese terms (dantien & Qigong) to relate to the training might be a bit confusing. As you know the relationship between in (yin) & yo (yang) in the Chinese and Japanese explanations are 180 degrees out of sink. Neither is wrong, just that you can not go back and forth between them in the course of discussing the flow of ki within the body -- and from within the body for that matter. That does not take the different types of "jing" into account, nor how jing is not the same as its Japanese counterpart in this context.

With regards to the Jo "trick" as you put it, I patently disagree with your analysis of the mechanics of demonstration. However, I can agree to disagree for the time being, but more on that later. I will give you kudos on your understanding of kokyu, and not let the language or the semantics get in the way of acknowledging you for that. I think that you might agree -- in the end it is all kokyu, and it isn't O-Sensei's Aikido without it -- that being the (unspoken) point of my initial post. Glad you caught it.

Mike Sigman
02-09-2005, 09:03 AM
Thank you for chiming in and bringing life back to the thread. In any case, while I don't necessarily disagree with you, I might have to not agree with it how you chose to make your points. One could say that it is a point of semantics, so please allow me to clarify my previous statement. If you note, the thread is entitled "Breath, Aikido & Misogi" indicating that there is a relationship intermingled between these three elements. Kokyu is breath power. Kokyu-ho is breathing method, kokyu-dosa is breath-exercise and kokyu-nage is breath throw. Of course, there is always flexibility when dealing with anything - including these definitions. Let's not forget any number of interpretations, too - both correct and incorrect ones. However we have to start somewhere

Hi Shaun:

Well, it's a good discussion that you started and I hated to see it sort of die away; and you're right, we have to start somewhere. A really good way for most people to get their foot in the door about "kokyu" is in the common practice of kokyu-ho-dosa. The essense of kokyu-ho-dosa in seiza is that the opponents push (as an example) is allowed to go to the ground beneath your knees and shins; your push or throw is allowed to originate from this same ground and should be manipulated with your waist, not your shoulders. In other words, the essence of kokyu practice, in this exercise and all others, is in learning how to use this body skill, in addition to adding the strength from breathing practice

Temporarily fixing these definitions as I have above allows us to have a concrete discussion using actual reference points rather than imaginary ones. Just to point out, these are not my definitions…

I understand that, Shaun, but allow me to at least put forward the possibility that things get lost in the translations, as I suggested before. Over the years, I've found that translations depend on one's knowledge of a language and also their real and full knowledge about the subject which they're translating. If someone doesn't understand about the paths of power through the body, then their translation will suffer accordingly. So I'm just asking that the possibility be left open that something may have been lost in the translation is just as important as "I heard it from..." ;)

Essentially, we're not in too much disagreement, since you mentioned people being able to release power from any part of their body, etc.... that's kokyu, or "jin" in Chinese. My point was simply to add a few thoughts to liven up the discussion, nothing more.

Lastly, one minor point. Using Chinese terms (dantien & Qigong) to relate to the training might be a bit confusing. As you know the relationship between in (yin) & yo (yang) in the Chinese and Japanese explanations are 180 degrees out of sink. Neither is wrong, just that you can not go back and forth between them in the course of discussing the flow of ki within the body -- and from within the body for that matter. That does not take the different types of "jing" into account, nor how jing is not the same as its Japanese counterpart in this context.

Well these are interesting statements, Shaun. The Japanese borrowed the whole complex "qi"-paradigm from the Chinese and while there have been modifications over time, for various reasons, it's pretty difficult to actually get 180-degrees out of synch. ;) Could you expand a little bit or even start another thread in this group about how you see the "flow of Ki", the Chinese view, and so on? Thanks.

With regards to the Jo "trick" as you put it, I patently disagree with your analysis of the mechanics of demonstration. However, I can agree to disagree for the time being, but more on that later. I will give you kudos on your understanding of kokyu, and not let the language or the semantics get in the way of acknowledging you for that. I think that you might agree -- in the end it is all kokyu, and it isn't O-Sensei's Aikido without it -- that being the (unspoken) point of my initial post. Glad you caught it.

Absolutely. I agree with you and I've said the same thing for many years. In fact, I can remember 20 and more years ago taking a lot of flack from Aikidoka for trying to express that general thought. The lack of knowledge about how these things work and the focus on technique or New Age mysticism, etc., within the Aikido community (in the 8 years I studied) is why I moved on and studied Chinese martial arts for the last 20 years. My contentions are (1.) that O-Sensei didn't do all of his Ki demonstrations as an interesting aside, he did them to make a point and (2.) that even the best technique done without the presence of Ki and Kokyu is not really Aikido because it is just external technique. However, that is my opinion, not something said in order to start a flame war. :)

I think I discussed the jo-trick in another discussion. Why not throw your thoughts about in there, rather than us trying to juggle too much in one thread?

All the Best

Mike Sigman

Martin Ruedas
02-09-2005, 09:45 AM
-absolutely the best thing is cider vinegar (you can buy it at health food stores)

P.S. only take around 2 tea-spoons of cider vinegar a day (I tried half a cup full and it made me gag).

P.P.S I didn't really notice any difference, but I didn't have the patience to try it for more than 1 week.

Ian
Hi Mr. Dodkins, Why don't you try this site, www.Bragg.com, about cider vinegar, particularly apple cider vinegar.

Keith R Lee
02-09-2005, 10:16 AM
I think that you might agree -- in the end it is all kokyu, and it isn't O-Sensei's Aikido without it -- that being the (unspoken) point of my initial post.

Man, no offense intended, but if I have to do all this stuff to have "O Sensei's" aikido I'd just assume not have it.

I've never spent any amount of time on breathing other than basic stuff like "breath out when you throw" and how to breathe while taking uke. I'd just assume be training rather than doing all this.

My Aikido seems none the worse for it.

Casey Martinson
02-09-2005, 11:19 AM
hey keith, i think what you mean to say is, "i'd just as soon be training", not "i'd just assume be training." one of those common mistakes that a lot of people make because it's nearly undetectable when speaking. but in writing, there is a clear difference and the correct version is the only one that makes sense. and i don't mean to put you down at all; i made the same mistake for many years. i also used to say, "play it by year" before i realized what i meant to say was, "play it by ear." and since i've already hijacked the thread for totally unrelated musings on language, let me say one other thing for the benefit of anybody who might not know: the high octane coffee beverage is "espresso" not "eXpresso,"--i still hear that one all the time--and it actually has less caffeine than coffee because it's brewed so much quicker. anyway, excuse the digression. great thread.

Ron Tisdale
02-09-2005, 01:37 PM
Hi Mike :) You may have found what you were always looking for all those years in Shaun and Abe Sensei... have fun!

Hi Keith...I know we in the yosh don't go in much for ki and all that...but having spoken with Mike and Shaun over the years, I do believe that their approach holds quite a bit. For one, a much more grounded approach to the whole 'ki' debate. They have both influenced how I think about that stuff...even without hands on practice with them. Though I have to admit they would probably consider me personally such a lightweight if they felt my technique in person! Can't do the stuff they talk about...but I do think the language they use gives us a chance to open that door.

Ron (Shioda Kancho was ALL about kokyu rokyu...) :)

James Young
02-09-2005, 01:44 PM
Hi Mr. Dodkins, Why don't you try this site, www.Bragg.com, about cider vinegar, particularly apple cider vinegar.

I'm glad that someone mentioned the health benefits connected with apple cider vinegar, i.e to make your blood less acidic. I remember once on a business trip that the president of one of our vendors in Japan was into healthful living and all that and on one occassion he gave us a glass of Pairogen C. It was quite an unusual drink to say the least and when I read the ingredients it was primarily apple cider vinegar along with some other natural ingredients. I was told it was good for my health, but I didn't know exactly what it was supposed to do for my health. From the above posts now I do understand. As a sidenote unfortunately I didn't experience any of the intended benefits at that time because I only drank it for a couple of times while I was visting that company and never became a regular, long-term user. It may be interesting to try it again and use it on a regular and long-term basis to see if it does provide any benefit.

Casey Martinson
02-09-2005, 03:21 PM
As for balancing blood pH, I might add that protein, especially animal protien (meat, dairy) has a very acidifying effect. I haven't read any of the "Balance your pH" diet books that are currently popular, but one consequence of overly acidic blood is a loss of bone density. Calcium is a natural antidote to high acidity, so in order to restore the appropriate pH balance, your body will draw calcium from the bones. This is not to say that such proteins are--from a nutritional perspective--bad, but they should be treated as very potent foods to be consumed in moderation. In general, Americans are not moderate in their consumption of meat or dairy. For more on this subject and healthy eating in general, I highly recommend Paul Pitchford's "Healing With Whole Foods". It is unbiased, comprehensive and extensively researched. Pitchford has a unique background in both nutritional science and traditional chinese medicine which allows readers to learn about food from eastern and western perspectives.

Keith R Lee
02-09-2005, 06:14 PM
Yeah, I hear you Ron.

And I'm not trying to be down on these guys or stifle discussion or anything. Just sharing my opinion. I've been around the country and North of the border plenty and trained at a lot of different dojos & different styles. I've trained with folks whose main emphasis and focus was on ki and breathing etc.

It's not bad per se, but it's not what I consider to be good Aikido or good training. It would be one thing if all the ki exercises/breathing/whatever was done in addition to good hard training; good basics, balance, posture, etc. Now I've only been to maybe 3-4 'ki type' schools but they all have left a bad taste in my mouth, as well as every 'ki' sort of Aikido clip I've seen on the web. I'm not discounting it at all but I, personally, have never seen people with what I know to be solid fundamental basics in dojos such as I've described or in the vidoes I've seen on the Web.

I'm not saying they aren't out there, I just haven't seen it. I wouldn't mind being proven wrong either.

Cheers,

Mike Sigman
02-09-2005, 06:25 PM
Yeah, I hear you Ron.

And I'm not trying to be down on these guys or stifle discussion or anything. Just sharing my opinion. I've been around the country and North of the border plenty and trained at a lot of different dojos & different styles. I've trained with folks whose main emphasis and focus was on ki and breathing etc.

It's not bad per se, but it's not what I consider to be good Aikido or good training. It would be one thing if all the ki exercises/breathing/whatever was done in addition to good hard training; good basics, balance, posture, etc. Now I've only been to maybe 3-4 'ki type' schools but they all have left a bad taste in my mouth, as well as every 'ki' sort of Aikido clip I've seen on the web. I'm not discounting it at all but I, personally, have never seen people with what I know to be solid fundamental basics in dojos such as I've described or in the vidoes I've seen on the Web.

I'm not saying they aren't out there, I just haven't seen it. I wouldn't mind being proven wrong either.

Cheers,

Ummmmm.... I've been to a few Ki schools as a visitor, but I didn't see what I was looking for... and I don't think any of us were discussing Ki schools. We're discussing how the real stuff is done, regardless of school. As I noted earlier, I left Aikido because I couldn't find the information I wanted among the New Age practitioners and the "technique" practitioners who already knew everything and weren't interested in even discussing. it. ;)

It doesn't take but a few videos for you to realized that both O-Sensei and Tohei both spent a lot of time demonstrating their Ki abilities (well, it was mostly kokyu, but that falls under the heading of Ki). I'm not sure why someone doing Aikido wouldn't be interested in the subject, frankly. But each to his own.

Mike

Mike Sigman
02-09-2005, 06:43 PM
Hi Mike :) You may have found what you were always looking for all those years in Shaun and Abe Sensei... have fun!

[snip]

Ron (Shioda Kancho was ALL about kokyu rokyu...) :)

Hi Ron:

Well, without having ever seen Abe Sensei, I've heard a lot of good about him, so the post caught my interest. I like the 8 points, even though my general feeling is that it's not pure Ki training and has a certain amount of religious baggage to it. So I'll stay in a conversation and contribute information as long as I'm getting info back. ;)

What, BTW, is kokyu Rokyu... what technique? That just means "Kokyu Six" to me.

Regards,

Mike

James Young
02-09-2005, 06:53 PM
Kokyu ryoku (not rokyu) translates to kokyu power.

Keith R Lee
02-09-2005, 09:33 PM
Now see, I can follow the line of thinking that produces "shuchu ryoku," Shioda Kancho was definitely all about that. I can feel "shuchu ryoku" when I do a technique correctly. My timing is perfect, I have off balanced the uke, my body is in correct alignment, I apply the technique correctly, my movements have been precise and efficent, zanshin,etc. Not that it really happens that often... :rolleyes: (gotta watch that back heel!)

That's a concept that I can feel, understand, and practice. This other stuff, I don't know...alot of it seems to be wrapped up in Shinto mysticism that really has nothing to do with training for me.

Sure, O Sensei was into it but big deal. Ghandi was Hindu, does that mean I have to become Hindu to learn from him or follow his example? Or do exactly everything he did? I don't think so.

I can practice hard/train hard in Aikido, develop excellent technique, and integrate the philosophical concepts of Aikido into my life quite easily without it (ki training/misogi/etc). Some (read, me) would argue that people can actually benefit from not doing it and instead spend that extra free time on actually training.

You don't learn to ride a bike from thinking about it, reading about it, talking about it, or doing supplemental exercises to increase your bike ridiing skills. You learn to ride a bike by doing it.

Seems to me Aikido is the same way. Just a hell of alot harder.

Mike Sigman
02-09-2005, 10:27 PM
Sure, O Sensei was into it but big deal. Ghandi was Hindu, does that mean I have to become Hindu to learn from him or follow his example? Or do exactly everything he did? I don't think so.

I can practice hard/train hard in Aikido, develop excellent technique, and integrate the philosophical concepts of Aikido into my life quite easily without it (ki training/misogi/etc). Some (read, me) would argue that people can actually benefit from not doing it and instead spend that extra free time on actually training.

You don't learn to ride a bike from thinking about it, reading about it, talking about it, or doing supplemental exercises to increase your bike ridiing skills. You learn to ride a bike by doing it.

Seems to me Aikido is the same way. Just a hell of alot harder.

Well, O-Sensei was not only riding the bike, he was doing it in an entirely different way that was hard to see. He did all the demo's about being hard to push, the jo-trick, etc., etc., (and they're recorded for you to see, in fact) to emphasize that he did things in an unusual way. If you don't ride the bike like O-Sensei did it, you're not doing the same art he was... you're doing something else. ;) I don't particularly care if someone doesn't see that or chooses not to care, I was just pointing it out in a friendly way.

Believe it or not, the unusual skills that O-Sensei showed in his demonstrations are the heart and soul of Aikido. Maybe you would enjoy taking a look at some of the old films that are recorded and see if you can duplicate his feats. If you can, you understand the heart of Aikido and you'll understand why Shaun and I suggest it is so important. It's so important that when Koichi Tohei broke off from Hombu Dojo that he used the Ki strength as the banner of the new school he was starting.... if it wasn't so important, he wouldn't have done that.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

NagaBaba
02-09-2005, 10:45 PM
I suspect, one can't do (and is often not interested at all) Misogi practice before mastering aikido techniques at very high technical level.
Body and mind must be "mature" enough, if you start too early, you simply pretend, you are not real. As K.Chiba sensei said one day, all we do during normal practice it isn't aikido at all, we are doing "conditionning".
Is it preparation for higher level of practice?
Kanai sensei said that misogi is heart of aikido practice. But he didn't explain, he didn't like to talk too much about such things. I wish, I could ask him about it.

Misogi-no-Gyo
02-09-2005, 11:21 PM
Hi Shaun:

Well, it's a good discussion that you started and I hated to see it sort of die away; and you're right, we have to start somewhere. A really good way for most people to get their foot in the door about "kokyu" is in the common practice of kokyu-ho-dosa.

Apparently this thread has really lit up. For this I am grateful to you in starting it back up. Of course, we all have different names for things. However, for the record, and again just so that we are all working from the same page. Kokyu-ho is the breathing method applied when practicing Kokyu-dosa (popular breath exercise usually done with a partner, in seiza)

The essence of kokyu-ho-dosa in seiza is that the opponents push (as an example) is allowed to go to the ground beneath your knees and shins; your push or throw is allowed to originate from this same ground and should be manipulated with your waist, not your shoulders. In other words, the essence of kokyu practice, in this exercise and all others, is in learning how to use this body skill, in addition to adding the strength from breathing practice

Sure that is one way. There are an infinite number of ways this can be applied once the principle of kokyu and ki-musubi are present.

I understand that, Shaun, but allow me to at least put forward the possibility that things get lost in the translations, as I suggested before. Over the years, I've found that translations depend on one's knowledge of a language and also their real and full knowledge about the subject which they're translating.

No doubt about that. I am in full agreement. Of course, I am not translating, per say, but rather reiterating the presentation without the interpretation. When the interpretation is removed, it doesn't matter if we say that 2+2=4 or 3+3=4, as long as if you accept the latter, then certainly 3+3+3 must = 6. It is simply a baseline for the way in which I am presenting the material. I may be attached to the definitions, and you may be dead set against them. However, just so that can move through the material with a clear understanding of what we are discussing, then the purpose for defining these things as separate elements remains intact.

If someone doesn't understand about the paths of power through the body, then their translation will suffer accordingly. So I'm just asking that the possibility be left open that something may have been lost in the translation is just as important as "I heard it from..." ;)

I couldn't agree more. However for those in the know, when I say, "I heard this from Abe Seiseki Sensei." That I have two goals in mind. The first is that they understand who Abe Sensei is. Like Saito Sensei, one who is thought to have preserved the transmission of techniques of O-Sensei's aikido, Abe Sensei is thought to have preserved the transmission of O-Sensei's Kokyu. My second goal is to initiate those that are seeking O-Sensei's kokyu into the training practices so that if they have any opportunity to meet Abe Sensei, that they will be that much further ahead than if they were encountering the material for the first time.

Essentially, we're not in too much disagreement, since you mentioned people being able to release power from any part of their body, etc.... that's kokyu, or "jin" in Chinese. My point was simply to add a few thoughts to liven up the discussion, nothing more.

...and thank you for doing a great job of it.

Well these are interesting statements, Shaun. The Japanese borrowed the whole complex "qi"-paradigm from the Chinese and while there have been modifications over time, for various reasons, it's pretty difficult to actually get 180-degrees out of synch. ;) Could you expand a little bit or even start another thread in this group about how you see the "flow of Ki", the Chinese view, and so on? Thanks.

Separate from identifying with any Nationalistic or Ideological group, I am speaking in actual terms of direction. It could be said that North is 180 degrees in relation to South. Now we all understand that there is no North or South, only points relative to one another. The fact is that according to the Chinese ki flow (its direction from one organ to another within the body) is from North to West, or say counter clockwise, and in the Japanese tradition is moves from North to East, or clockwise. Therefore, the two paths from merely a semantic point of study and understanding are 180 degrees from each other. If you are discussing how to treat certain conditions within the body, and you are considering your treatment from a Chinese tradition, it is best to maintain that approach throughout the treatment, and not interject the Japanese approach to healing through their yin/yang equivalent. My point was simply not to interject the Chinese approach to Ki, and Kokyu as it is not exactly described in the same fashion, and can possibly confuse anyone reading through such thick material as found in this thread.

My contentions are (1.) that O-Sensei didn't do all of his Ki demonstrations as an interesting aside, he did them to make a point and (2.) that even the best technique done without the presence of Ki and Kokyu is not really Aikido because it is just external technique. However, that is my opinion, not something said in order to start a flame war. :)

A minor point of contention. Ki and Kokyu are not the same thing. O-Sensei did not teach "ki" although he encompassed the idea of it in his holistic approach upon which he founded his art. You can't have aikido with out ki. However, O-Sensei's waza was a reflection of his continual study of instant manifestation of Kokyu via a free flowing technical paradigm which he noted as Take Musu Aiki. There are two parts to Take Musu Aiki, the Take Musu, and the Aiki. One needs to understand both of these two elements, and how they relate to each other as separates, and combine with each other to form the goal for each of us as seekers of O-Sensei Aikido art form.

In any case, all good stuff that I certainly enjoy talking about. However, you have to feel it in order for any of it to make sense at all. Perhaps our paths will cross at which point we can solidify our ideas with a balance of practice, training and sharing our individual ideas on the subject.

Misogi-no-Gyo
02-09-2005, 11:45 PM
Man, no offense intended, but if I have to do all this stuff to have "O Sensei's" aikido I'd just assume not have it.

I've never spent any amount of time on breathing other than basic stuff like "breath out when you throw" and how to breathe while taking uke. I'd just assume be training rather than doing all this.

My Aikido seems none the worse for it.

Mr. Lee,

Of course, no one can force you to do anything. No should anyone, except your wife, and or mother... However, it is always a choice how one determines to move forward. There is no need to practice any form of breathing, nor misogi, nor bow, nor wear a do-gi, nor say onegaishimasu or domoariagtogozaimashita. None of these things determine whether or not you are practicing aikido. However, having just said that, I would like to put one caveat in front of it for you to consider. If I say that balancing a Frisbee on its side on my nose while singing the star spangled banner in polish is aikido, and you come to my dojo, you too will be doing just that if you are interested in having the agreement of everyone, or even anyone present that what you are doing may be called aikido. Fortunately in this case, what I say doesn't go, as I am not the person responsible for creating the model. We have but only to look back and see what O-Sensei was doing to determine what were the defining elements included within his art form.

O-Sensei practiced misogi, and clearly said, "Aikido is Misogi." that is a bit different than if he had said, Aikido is a form of misogi." O-Sensei did not eat meat. This was not due to religious observance of any kind but actually had to do with his study under a particular person who indicated that consumption of meat products (see the comment on animal proteins in this thread) disturbs the breath, and therefore will prevent one from achieving chinkon and perceiving the true meaning of Masakatsu-Agatsu-Katsuhayahi.

So again, you may choose to do whatever you want. You can call it aikido in your dojo, and no one will argue with you. You can come to my dojo and demonstrate what it is that you call aikido, and then I will get up and balance a Frisbee sideways on my nose and sing the star spangled banner in polish and then tell you that is what I call aikido. However, in each and every one of those instances, regardless of the fact that we call it aikido, which we are perfectly within our right to do, we will not be practicing, demonstrating, following in the path of or sharing the art form that O-Sensei's called Aikido no matter how many students, dojos, national or international aikido organizations come out and say that we are.

It is always up to the individual to make the correct choice. This often times happens after making many incorrect choices hoping that no one will notice.

Misogi-no-Gyo
02-09-2005, 11:49 PM
I'm glad that someone mentioned the health benefits connected with apple cider vinegar, i.e to make your blood less acidic. I remember once on a business trip that the president of one of our vendors in Japan was into healthful living and all that and on one occassion he gave us a glass of Pairogen C. It was quite an unusual drink to say the least and when I read the ingredients it was primarily apple cider vinegar along with some other natural ingredients. I was told it was good for my health, but I didn't know exactly what it was supposed to do for my health. From the above posts now I do understand. As a sidenote unfortunately I didn't experience any of the intended benefits at that time because I only drank it for a couple of times while I was visting that company and never became a regular, long-term user. It may be interesting to try it again and use it on a regular and long-term basis to see if it does provide any benefit.

Wow, I am not sure how this got into the thread, but boy am I glad that it did. Personally I believe that it is important enough to have its own thread, but it does make this one a much more enticing read.

Misogi-no-Gyo
02-10-2005, 12:13 AM
As for balancing blood pH, I might add that protein, especially animal protien (meat, dairy) has a very acidifying effect. I haven't read any of the "Balance your pH" diet books that are currently popular, but one consequence of overly acidic blood is a loss of bone density. Calcium is a natural antidote to high acidity, so in order to restore the appropriate pH balance, your body will draw calcium from the bones.[/b]

Wow, Wow, WOW! really good stuff, here. I would absolutely recommend "Acid and Alkaline" written by Herman Aihara as a must read for anyone doing any type of personal research into this material at any level. With regards to what Casey pointed out about animal proteins is that they effect the breath in a manner that creates a higher level of acidity in the body, thereby compounding the negative effects into one vicious cycle that collapses in on itself. The reason, from the macrobiotic approach is that calcium (yang) is attracted by the acidic condition (extreme yin).

When one is acidic, one also craves sugar. When the calcium is drawn out from the bones, and at the onset of osteoporosis, additional sources of calcium are usually prescribed (meaning forced into the body in the form of either pills or injections) The problem is that sugar and calcium, yin and yang respectively also attract one another. The body is made up of yin and yang elements. Cartilage is considered very yang, notably the knees and the knuckles. All types of sugars are considered extreme yin foods according to the macrobiotic approach. As such, they are attracted to the extreme yang elements within the body. Therefore they attack the cartilage of the knees and finger joints, elbow joints, hip joints, etc. weakening them to the point of extreme discomfort and or failure. This is why older individuals are often found to have osteoporosis and degenerative arthritis in the joints of the major extremities. Of course it should not go without saying that, again according to the macrobiotic approach an acidic body condition is the major cause of cancer today. A diet that is "low-carb" (anyone heard of that) and therefore too rich in proteins is thus determined to be out of balance and not an optimal approach for long term health and or happiness. You sure will look good in the mirror, though only while you are still able to stand on both of your legs long enough to admire yourself in it.

This is not to say that such proteins are -- from a nutritional perspective--bad, but they should be treated as very potent foods to be consumed in moderation. In general, Americans are not moderate in their consumption of meat or dairy.

Exactly!

Misogi-no-Gyo
02-10-2005, 12:29 AM
Yeah, I hear you Ron.

And I'm not trying to be down on these guys or stifle discussion or anything. Just sharing my opinion. I've been around the country and North of the border plenty and trained at a lot of different dojos & different styles. I've trained with folks whose main emphasis and focus was on ki and breathing etc.

Mr. Lee,

Just to be absolutely clear to all those reading along. Kokyu is not Ki. I've been around too. However, I don't recall ever walking into a dojo that advertised itself as a Kokyu dojo. Kokyu is simply the a manner with which one trains to understand how to release the body's muscular power, particularly in the shoulders, biceps, triceps forearms and legs so that Ki can flow and Aiki can be present.

You can practice Ki and breathing exercises until you are blue in the face (sorry, I just couldn't resist) but until you understand how to manifest and apply Kokyu power you are not doing aikido, merely a shabby (read *weak*) version of jujitsu, or as we like to say, "flimsy wrist twisting." While I am sure you may know a thing or two about better forms of the latter, and by the way there is nothing wrong with wrist twisting as there are some very fine arts out there that have perfected all sorts of ways to do this in a perfectly respectable manner, perhaps this thread might encourage you to take another look at what you might have missed.

Misogi-no-Gyo
02-10-2005, 12:59 AM
Believe it or not, the unusual skills that O-Sensei showed in his demonstrations are the heart and soul of Aikido. Maybe you would enjoy taking a look at some of the old films that are recorded and see if you can duplicate his feats. If you can, you understand the heart of Aikido and you'll understand why Shaun and I suggest it is so important. It's so important that when Koichi Tohei broke off from Hombu Dojo that he used the Ki strength as the banner of the new school he was starting.... if it wasn't so important, he wouldn't have done that.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Mr. Sigman,

O-Sensei did not teach Ki. He did provide instruction in Misogi-no-Gyo i.e. his particular practice of misogi. Yes, most ignored it and focused merely on the "techniques" or learning to mutter some of the mystical sounding religiously-veiled budo-babble about which they thought they could feign a reasonable understanding. Fortunately not everyone discarded this training. I have had the wonderful privilege to have Abe Sensei, one of those individuals share it with me over the years.

I am not trying to be political, but rather provide some basis upon which individuals who practice any of the aforementioned arts can understand the relationship of these arts to one another. Having tried to make that clear at the outset, it is important to note that Tohei Sensei's art is not based upon the teachings of O-Sensei - period. It is based upon the physical techniques of lower level daito-ryu, as was the technical basis for the founding of Aikido. However, O-Sensei's art is not Daito-Ryu, and would not have been even if he had chosen to call it such. As this is the case with O-Sensei's art, it can certainly be said that Tohei Sensei's art is not Aikido. This is regardless of the fact that at the time he separated himself from the Aikikai that he did choose to call it Aikido. Rather, Tohei Sensei's art while using the techniques that he gleaned from his years at the Aikikai was developed around the teachings of Dr. Tempu Nakamura. That is why when you walk into a typical Aikido Dojo you do not see a picture of Takeda Sokaku Sensei. That is also why when you walk into the typical Ki-Society dojo, or the like, you see a picture of Tohei Sensei, and generally not O-Sensei, Ueshiba Morihei.

Misogi-no-Gyo
02-10-2005, 01:11 AM
I suspect, one can't do (and is often not interested at all) Misogi practice before mastering aikido techniques at very high technical level.
Body and mind must be "mature" enough, if you start too early, you simply pretend, you are not real. As K.Chiba sensei said one day, all we do during normal practice it isn't aikido at all, we are doing "conditionning".
Is it preparation for higher level of practice?
Kanai sensei said that misogi is heart of aikido practice. But he didn't explain, he didn't like to talk too much about such things. I wish, I could ask him about it.


Szczepan,

Not to disagree, but...

As it is said, "it is not wise to put the cart before the horse..." It could also be said, "...while you *could* move the cart without a horse, it would certainly take a lot longer and require much, much more effort, indeed." What I am saying is that while one *could* theoretically master the techniques without an understanding of Kokyu, it would certainly be a long, arduous haul up to that mountain top - with or without a cart or a horse...

My personal opinion is that without kokyu while you may master something; it may not be what you need in the least to do aikido. Once you have mastered kokyu, you do not rely on techniques. However the reverse can not be said to be true.

Mike Sigman
02-10-2005, 08:55 AM
Apparently this thread has really lit up. For this I am grateful to you in starting it back up. Of course, we all have different names for things. However, for the record, and again just so that we are all working from the same page. Kokyu-ho is the breathing method applied when practicing Kokyu-dosa (popular breath exercise usually done with a partner, in seiza)
Hi Shaun:

I'll try to cut my replies down so we can keep the thread manageable. :)

Well, I disagree with you on this, but I doubt we'll resolve it on the internet so I'll say something briefly and drop it. "Ki" is a catch-all term that includes under its umbrella explanations for many things we in the West consider separate phenomena. Originally, all "unknown forces" like genetically transmitted strengths, blood sugar, momentum, forces, etc., etc., were explained by the term "Ki" or "Qi". Within the body systems, an unusual relationship between the subconscious and the musculo-fascial system was learned via India (the Chinese system is largely borrowed from India, originally). The odd body system coordination will yield great strength, great resistance to blows, heightened impenetrability to the skin, and a heightened immune system, among a few other things. The whole group of phenomena are "Ki", in this subset use of the word. The power we're talking about in Kokyu-ho-dosa is generically called "Ki", but the specific power is Kokyu. So the terms "ki" and "kokyu" can be and often are used to describe the same phenomenon.
Abe Sensei is thought to have preserved the transmission of O-Sensei's Kokyu. My second goal is to initiate those that are seeking O-Sensei's kokyu into the training practices so that if they have any opportunity to meet Abe Sensei, that they will be that much further ahead than if they were encountering the material for the first time.
Great idea, Shaun. Can you give a rough description of some of Abe Sensei's favorite training methods? I've already heard about his swinging of a very heavy sword or club. Could you describe more? Are there any videos of him training (as opposed to demonstrating techniques)? I have collected training methods of various people for many years.
Separate from identifying with any Nationalistic or Ideological group, I am speaking in actual terms of direction. It could be said that North is 180 degrees in relation to South. Now we all understand that there is no North or South, only points relative to one another. The fact is that according to the Chinese ki flow (its direction from one organ to another within the body) is from North to West, or say counter clockwise, and in the Japanese tradition is moves from North to East, or clockwise. Therefore, the two paths from merely a semantic point of study and understanding are 180 degrees from each other. If you are discussing how to treat certain conditions within the body, and you are considering your treatment from a Chinese tradition, it is best to maintain that approach throughout the treatment, and not interject the Japanese approach to healing through their yin/yang equivalent. My point was simply not to interject the Chinese approach to Ki, and Kokyu as it is not exactly described in the same fashion, and can possibly confuse anyone reading through such thick material as found in this thread.
Well, there are some variations within the system, but basically everything starts from the hara and the organs, power, meridians, etc., are all intertwined in the same way. However, flows from the organs and other things are not needed to discuss the specific system that Misogi, qigongs, kokyu, etc., are involved in. I don't want to get mired in a terminology debate. ;)
A minor point of contention. Ki and Kokyu are not the same thing. O-Sensei did not teach "ki" although he encompassed the idea of it in his holistic approach upon which he founded his art. You can't have aikido with out ki. However, O-Sensei's waza was a reflection of his continual study of instant manifestation of Kokyu via a free flowing technical paradigm which he noted as Take Musu Aiki. There are two parts to Take Musu Aiki, the Take Musu, and the Aiki. One needs to understand both of these two elements, and how they relate to each other as separates, and combine with each other to form the goal for each of us as seekers of O-Sensei Aikido art form.
In a broader sense, the Ki, Kokyu, etc., etc., of Aikido are simply aspects of oriental martial arts that are common to the vast majority of asian martial arts. At best, we're only talking about O-Sensei's particular variations in using and developing them. There are many different ways, from hard to soft, in developing the "Ki" and using its aspects, because the basic principles are the same.
In any case, all good stuff that I certainly enjoy talking about. However, you have to feel it in order for any of it to make sense at all. Perhaps our paths will cross at which point we can solidify our ideas with a balance of practice, training and sharing our individual ideas on the subject.
Sounds good to me; I'll look forward to it. The variants of Ki are more extensive even than I've seen in any Japanese art and can be quite interesting. However, let me note that the basic benefits for most people are still an increase in strength and overall health (because of the immune-system function).

All the Best.

Mike

Mike Sigman
02-10-2005, 09:11 AM
O-Sensei did not teach Ki. He did provide instruction in Misogi-no-Gyo i.e. his particular practice of misogi. [snip]

it is important to note that Tohei Sensei's art is not based upon the teachings of O-Sensei - period. It is based upon the physical techniques of lower level daito-ryu, as was the technical basis for the founding of Aikido. However, O-Sensei's art is not Daito-Ryu, and would not have been even if he had chosen to call it such. As this is the case with O-Sensei's art, it can certainly be said that Tohei Sensei's art is not Aikido. This is regardless of the fact that at the time he separated himself from the Aikikai that he did choose to call it Aikido. Rather, Tohei Sensei's art while using the techniques that he gleaned from his years at the Aikikai was developed around the teachings of Dr. Tempu Nakamura. That is why when you walk into a typical Aikido Dojo you do not see a picture of Takeda Sokaku Sensei. That is also why when you walk into the typical Ki-Society dojo, or the like, you see a picture of Tohei Sensei, and generally not O-Sensei, Ueshiba Morihei.Well, without getting too involved in Tohei, let me note that he left because he was not made the Doshu, more than anything else. He was the one most qualified, probably, but all of that is just politics and I don't want to go that way.

Tohei's emphasis on the Ki aspects was simply because he recognized Ki studies as the heart of Aikido. Insofar as who really does the Aikido of Morihei Ueshiba, there is so much variance among the uchi-deshi's that it's a fruitless discussion. My perspective is simply that the value of the Ki and Kokyu aspects of Aikido are amazingly missed by most people who say they practice Aikido..... I think you and I agree on that one. But the rest of my perspective, from having done a number of different martial arts over a great many years, is that Ki, Kokyu, yada, yada, yada, are somewhat secret techniques of improving the body that are found in most Asian martial arts, to some degree. Those specific things have been my focus of interest for a great many years and I'm interested in all that you'll share about Abe Sensei's training methods. I'll try to reciprocate by supplying what commentary I can, for the benefit of everyone's information. And in case you're concerned about speaking too freely on the internet, let me assure you that unless someone actually is shown personally how to do a lot of these things, they simply won't get them. Even if they're shown once, they won't be able to get it... it takes a while and some guidance. If it bothers you still, I'll be glad to go to private emailing. How's that? ;)

Mike

rob_liberti
02-10-2005, 09:15 AM
What a great thread! Thanks specifically to Mike for bringing this back up - because I missed it the first time around, and thanks also to Shaun who I now really want to visit.

I have only a few observations:
1) We call rowing exercise: funekogitaiso (or something like that).
a) We rotate our hands around our thurmbs on the way out, and then rotate back around our pinkys on the way back and down.
b) When I train with Gleason sensei under the Yamaguchi lineage, we start out with "A-I-E-T" (pronounced ah-ee-ate!) and row back with "SA", then we switch stance and row to "A-I-E-T" and "HO". When I train with Suganuma sensei, he makes the same sounds, but they start with "A-I-E-T" and "HO" and then move on to "A-I-E-T" and "SA". I just follow the "when in Rome" motto, but I'd love an explanation if there is one.

2) One helpful thing told to me about the 'shaking the hands in front of your center' exercise was to put the left hand on top and think about pushing your energy down into your legs. That's been rather helpful to me.

3) Gleason sensei is doing Yamaguchi sensei's aikido which is _not necessarily_ Osensei's exact flavor. Shaun, you are doing Abe sensei's aikido which is _not necessarily_ Osensei's exact flavor. I do Gleason sensei's and Suganuma sensei's aikido to the best of my ability and that's not exactly Osensei's aikido either. I certainly agree that putting direct kokyu practice will get you closer to Osensei's aikido than hoping it happens by just doing physical training and not thinking about it at all - but that might only get you to what Osensei wanted his sandans and yondans to be.

Two points about Calcium:
1) It is an indisputable scientific fact that the calcium in cow milk is NOT bio-available to humans. If you are reading this in Texas, please don't take me to court I'm not as rich as Oprah. :)
2) The dietary suppliments that offer a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium are generally no longer appropriate with the times due to the minerally depleted soils (in the States). If someone can find a supliment with a 1:1 ratio you are probably much better off.

Rob

Ron Tisdale
02-10-2005, 09:53 AM
"flimsy wrist twisting."

Hmmm, I think that might be taking it just a bit too far...as a yudansha in the yoshinkan, I'm sure Keith isn't practicing "flimsy wrist twisting."

That is why when you walk into a typical Aikido Dojo you do not see a picture of Takeda Sokaku Sensei.

I don't know if yoshinkan dojo can be called typical, but you do indeed see a picture of Takeda Sensei in some...I've seen it myself as a matter of fact.

Sometimes I find it very difficult to celebrate my own preference for keiko without denigrating the keiko of others. It can be a very fine line...
Ron
Ron

Mike Sigman
02-10-2005, 11:43 AM
[snipsky]
a) We rotate our hands around our thurmbs on the way out, and then rotate back around our pinkys on the way back and down.
b) When I train with Gleason sensei under the Yamaguchi lineage, we start out with "A-I-E-T" (pronounced ah-ee-ate!) and row back with "SA", then we switch stance and row to "A-I-E-T" and "HO". When I train with Suganuma sensei, he makes the same sounds, but they start with "A-I-E-T" and "HO" and then move on to "A-I-E-T" and "SA". I just follow the "when in Rome" motto, but I'd love an explanation if there is one.

2) One helpful thing told to me about the 'shaking the hands in front of your center' exercise was to put the left hand on top and think about pushing your energy down into your legs. That's been rather helpful to me. [snipperooney]
Hi Rob:
The exact sounds aren't as important as how the body is being contracted or stretched with a sound. In all these things, don't pay so much attention to the exact ritual as to figuring out "what is really going on here?". ;) And in a lot of cases, you'll never figure it out because it's not obvious or you'll never figure it out because the person demonstrating it only learned it as a ritual and didn't understand what the original intent was, either. Being realistic and common sensical is always the best approach, imho.

FWIW

Mike

rob_liberti
02-10-2005, 12:39 PM
Hey there,

That's pretty much my feeling about many people's basic waza. The 'waza for the masses' - especially when you can only do it if you are already bigger and stronger than your partner is unacceptable. Yamaguchi sensei used to say something like 'don't practice the impossible, the possible is hard enough'.

When I am rowing, I work on sending my mind out with the forward motion, and then bringing it all back into myself with the back and down motion. I admit that _sometimes_ I inhale for like three full rows, and then exhale for several rows. It all depends on my feeling at the time. I would love to go visit Shaun and row with him for a while to experience his way.

However, I'm not too interested in doing cold water falls meditation unless the temperature outside is VERY hot. I think I'd like to know I wasn't going to catch pnemonia first before I try that one!

Rob

Mike Sigman
02-10-2005, 12:48 PM
When I am rowing, I work on sending my mind out with the forward motion,Would it be fair to say that you are mindless at that time? :)

rob_liberti
02-10-2005, 12:51 PM
:) That's fair to say almost anytime!

But, what I meant was more that I'm thinking a bit less about my individual mind, and more accepting that my mind is part of a Universal mind at that time.

There are a lot of helpful (to me!) trickslike that. Another one is to imagine your fingers a MUCH longer. When you are cutting with a sword, you can imagine that it's a giant paint brush and you are painting the ceiling and wall in front of you, etc.

(I don't say that this is the only way, just that it helps me.)
Rob

Casey Martinson
02-10-2005, 01:19 PM
Rob, I have to commend your bravery for dissing cow's milk as a calcium source. I wanted to say it, but people can be more touchy about their diet than they are about their aikido. For my money, the best calcium sources are green veggies--mmm....kale... I also drink a lot of fortified orange juice, but whole food sources are probably the best. And if you have a moderate protein intake, you probably don't need megaboosts of calcium anyway.

Mike Sigman
02-10-2005, 01:37 PM
[snip]But, what I meant was more that I'm thinking a bit less about my individual mind, and more accepting that my mind is part of a Universal mind at that time.

There are a lot of helpful (to me!) trickslike that. Another one is to imagine your fingers a MUCH longer. When you are cutting with a sword, you can imagine that it's a giant paint brush and you are painting the ceiling and wall in front of you, etc.

(I don't say that this is the only way, just that it helps me.)
RobHi Rob:
So how do you KNOW that your mind is "part of a Universal mind at that time"???? Right now I am closing my eyes and imagining that I am on the moon Titan. I imagine how it feels. I squinch one eye open and darn... I'm not really there, no matter what I was imagining. :D

How about if while you're doing the rowing exercise (and do it very slowly until you get the hang of it) you imagine that you're actually pushing and pulling the long oar that is sculling a boat through the water. Push with the middle coming forward (let your middle and your hands be the same thing) and pull with the middle doing the pulling. The hands are just transmitters of the middle's power. As you get more and more practiced, the motion of the hands will start looking more and more natural and less stilted. Gradually, the power of the middle will be in your hands and you can use fune kogi undo as a nice warmup to "get the Ki flowing" in your hands. Would that work? ;)

FWIW

Mike

rob_liberti
02-10-2005, 02:34 PM
Well,

I don't KNOW anything really, neither can I define what success is, or any of the other stuff like that. Same way you don't KNOW that this isn't all a dream and you are going to wake up and be in 1st grade, or that we weren't all created _just now_ with all of our memories in tact... So acting within the bounds of that kind of humilty, you just get an opinion that seems to be helpful and run with it until you suspect that it is no longer helpful... So as far as rowing goes, what I've been practicing has been somewhat helpful for a while.

I do like your imagery. I think I took that one step further. I actually like to make rowing a partner practice (every once and a while), where an 'uke' grabs your wrists and resists your movement a bit. If you move your middle first and then your arms it works pretty well. I can usually row a fairly strong person who is working hard to resist me. It would be fun to put someone behind me to push against my back as I rowed backward into that space - but I just thought of trying that this moment.

If someone can explain breath exercises and the reasoning behind them in a very physical way, or a mental/spiritual way I'm always willing to listen and try to learn.

Rob

Mike Sigman
02-10-2005, 03:30 PM
If someone can explain breath exercises and the reasoning behind them in a very physical way, or a mental/spiritual way I'm always willing to listen and try to learn.

Ultimately, the breathing exercises are a way of conditioning an odd musculo-fascial relationship that also has a component of control of normally involuntary muscles... that's where the focus on "meditation" comes in. Some types of qigong forego a lot of the subconscious relationship and focus more on the conditioning aspect. There are subtle ways to approach this conditioning and there are fairly direct "hard style" ways to do it. The problem is that the more direct your approach, the greater your risks of hypertension side-effects. Because of the hypertension possibilities, most of the recommended ways are slow and "meditative" and done over a fairly long period of time.

Incidentally, since the subconscious is a participant in the training, "involuntary movement" will often accompany some of the training. Another effect is an increase in "magnetic feelings", like between the hands, etc. This is the basis for the "emitted qi", reiki, and related phenomena that are heard about. Interestingly, there is starting to be some studies done on this part of the phenomenon in the West. I found a book called "Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis" by James L. Oschman that, while I don't think is very rigorous, is at least interesting to read.

That being said, the basic conditioning will build your "Ki", but the Ki by itself is not very strong; it's the Ki in combination with the normal musculature that is so strong. The "Kokyu" power is actually, in my opinion, sort of a separate skill, but it is also improved by the conditioning and is sort of an intertwined component. But these are things you really have to be shown to understand. I wrote some lengthy descriptions of how to get started and what to practice on a mailing list and found out that it was just time wasted.... you can't write successfully about this training anymore than you can successfully describe in writing how to ride a bicycle. ;) How's that?

Mike

Misogi-no-Gyo
02-11-2005, 01:19 AM
Hmmm, I think that might be taking it just a bit too far...as a yudansha in the yoshinkan, I'm sure Keith isn't practicing "flimsy wrist twisting."


Hi Ron,

To be clear, please note that I wrote to Mr. Lee was, "...While I am sure that you know a thing or two about better forms of the latter..." specifically noting my acknowledgement of his Yoshinkan background.

I don't know if yoshinkan dojo can be called typical, but you do indeed see a picture of Takeda Sensei in some...I've seen it myself as a matter of fact.

...just a minor clarification. What I meant was that you don't see a picture of Takeda Sokaku in many *Aikikai* aikido dojos, and more specifically, that when you go into Ki Society dojos, one usually finds a picture of Tohei Sensei versus O-Sensei. This merely points to who the school looks back on as the Founder of their system. In Ki Dojos, it is not O-Sensei in most cases. Of course, I am just stating generalities based upon my own observation along with anecdotal evidence, and not providing any measure of statistical data.

Sometimes I find it very difficult to celebrate my own preference for keiko without denigrating the keiko of others. It can be a very fine line...

Sure is. I tend to describe things in terms of goals and methods set out to achieve them. Since the goals of many dojos fall along the lines of the organizations from which they arose, and the line (style) of aikido upon which they base themselves, the methods and thereby the techniques set up to achieve these varying goals are going to be different. Should the observable methods produce the stated goals, I conclude that the art, style, line or what have you is legitimate and successful. I may not agree with those goals for myself, or seek them within my training, but I will respect them nonetheless for the uniqueness, ingenuity and ability to survive in a world that thrives on constant change.

Misogi-no-Gyo
02-11-2005, 01:26 AM
He I would love to go visit Shaun and row with him for a while to experience his way.

However, I'm not too interested in doing cold water falls meditation unless the temperature outside is VERY hot. I think I'd like to know I wasn't going to catch pnemonia first before I try that one!

Rob

Rob,

Please take the *liberty* of contacting me privately at any time should you want to get together and train, whether that be formally, privately or casually. As for the Cold Water Misogi, I don't require that of any of the students, and only make it available via private request or at Kagami Biraki Hastu Geiko. Actually, it is not the water that gets to you, but rather the cold ground and the cold air before the water hits you.

PeterR
02-11-2005, 01:28 AM
Sure is. I tend to describe things in terms of goals and methods set out to achieve them. Since the goals of many dojos fall along the lines of the organizations from which they arose, and the line (style) of aikido upon which they base themselves, the methods and thereby the techniques set up to achieve these varying goals are going to be different. Should the observable methods produce the stated goals, I conclude that the art, style, line or what have you is legitimate and successful. I may not agree with those goals for myself, or seek them within my training, but I will respect them nonetheless for the uniqueness, ingenuity and ability to survive in a world that thrives on constant change.
That's all well and good Shaun but the tone of many of your posts don't reflect this. Ron makes a valid point.

Misogi-no-Gyo
02-11-2005, 02:02 AM
That's all well and good Shaun but the tone of many of your posts don't reflect this. Ron makes a valid point.


Peter-San,

Yes, Ron's point is valid. No one is debating him on that, either. If someone takes offense because I say “…if there is no Kokyu, then it is not O-Sensei's Aikido…” then I guess you are correct in what you say. However, that is not a question of tone, but rather of content. I am not apt to try to clean it up with PC speak in an attempt to eliminate any possible chance of offending someone. All that will be achieved will be that I will obfuscate or mask what it is that I am trying to clearly state. More often than not, a simple, “What did you mean when you said…?” will illicit a clarification that hopefully will eliminate a misinterpretation of my thoughts or feelings.

There is always the old adage to keep in mind, that being, "In an attempt to please everyone, no one was pleased." and this I would prefer to avoid at all costs.

In any case if there is something you would like to say to me, either publicly or privately than please do so. Unfortunately your post unintentionally or otherwise alluded to your dissatisfaction with something I have said, but alas nothing direct was communicated. I am a simple person, so please communicate by simply stating your case. I will always try to respond in a direct, passionate, but even handed manner, although I reserve the right to fail miserably.

Mike Sigman
02-11-2005, 07:09 AM
If someone takes offense because I say "…if there is no Kokyu, then it is not O-Sensei's Aikido…" then I guess you are correct in what you say. However, that is not a question of tone, but rather of content. I am not apt to try to clean it up with PC speak in an attempt to eliminate any possible chance of offending someone.

Just to attempt to ameliorate this tangent, let me chip in my 2 cents. Shaun is obviously aggressive and sure of himself, others are more self-effacing or deprecating, and so on, but as long as information is being transferred in a reasonably good manner, there is little need to mention "tone" or personal characteristics. I tend to discuss these things bluntly, much as I would discuss woodworking and joinery with fellow woodworkers, so often I appear not to adhere to someone else's ideas of expected rituals and "spirituality". Who cares about things like "tone", etc., as long as someone is sharing and discussing useful information? We should be able to ignore our perceptions of personalities we get from someone's posts and focus on the exchange of ideas. It's usually pleasantly surprising at how nice people are when we meet them in person after reading their posts, isn't it? :)

As a companion to that thought, let me tell a brief anecdote: I studied Judo and Okinawan karate for many years before I took up Aikido. When I finally decided I wanted more information about some of these aspects of Ki that I couldn't find out, I started taking Taiji (Tai Chi is the old spelling) from a native Chinese man who taught in a parking lot on weekends. There was a shock to my system to not be wearing a gi and observing ritualized protocols in a group setting, after so many years of wearing gi's and being in a "Japanese" setting. So "gi", "protocols" and "group settings" (particularly the group that we are used to dealing with in terms of Aikido) sometimes color our expectations of how someone else should act or speak. Maybe it would be helpful if sometimes we took off our keiko-gi in our minds and got outside of our ritualized perceptions? If something seems perhaps slightly offensive, ignoring it and assuming it may just be plain-speak instead of insult might be helpful. ;)


FWIW

Mike

Mike Sigman
02-11-2005, 10:16 AM
Just to be absolutely clear to all those reading along. Kokyu is not Ki. I've been around too. However, I don't recall ever walking into a dojo that advertised itself as a Kokyu dojo. Kokyu is simply the a manner with which one trains to understand how to release the body's muscular power, particularly in the shoulders, biceps, triceps forearms and legs so that Ki can flow and Aiki can be present.

You can practice Ki and breathing exercises until you are blue in the face (sorry, I just couldn't resist) but until you understand how to manifest and apply Kokyu power you are not doing aikido [snipsky]

Shaun, I've thought about your comments above and decided that in the interests of focusing on definitions I could probably add a little bit more. The problem is that your comments about "muscular power" in relation to Kokyu sort of thows a wrench into the discussion on ultimately what Kokyu really is.

Let me go back a little bit and note that there are various ways to look at the ki/qi in the body. Some people look at it as a mysterious force (which is the reason it sometimes gets mixed into religious beliefs, like in Aikido) and some people look at it quite practically in other ways. In the practical arena, there is a strong adherence to the belief (particularly in China) that ki/qi is quite literally related to air (which is the definition of ki/qi, literally, in many usages, both in Japanese and Chinese). Of course air, vapor, breathing, air-pressure, etc., are difficult to distinguish semantically in Chinese and Japanese.

It's almost reflexive to consider Ki as "air" and disregard that definition while looking for something with a deeper meaning. However, the Ki of "air" and breath are what Misogi is really about.

If someone wants me to exapand into more detail about Ki and air, let me know, but for the moment let me just say the following, so that I can perhaps reconcile how Shaun's "Breath" and my physical discussion of "jin" are both aspects of Ki.

If you look at the body as a basketball filled with air, the grosser, more physical aspect of Ki (there's a more etheric part of Ki, but that's another topic) is that Ki represents the pressure inside the ball. It's "air pressure" or "breath pressure", but it's essentially pressure. Qigongs and other breathing exercises have a main function of increasing the strength of the basketball skin by manipulating pressures within the body and moving them about. (Keep in mind that there is a more mysterious component and that I'm drastically simplifying this explanation).

If the basketball is resting on the ground and someone presses against it with their hand, there can be said to be a "path" through the air or "breath" to the ground.... OR someone could say that the power resisting the hand is from the air or "breath".. "Jin" and "Kokyu" *can* be said to be aspects of paths through the air in the basketball. In the body, a person's "pressure" or "Ki" is said to decrease as one gets older. I.e., the walls of the basketball get weaker and the pressure inside the ball lessens. The body becomes weaker and more susceptible to disease because the "pressure", the "Ki", is declining. Qigongs and breathing exercises primarily strengthen the "pressure" and the walls and connective structure of the body.

But anyway, my point is that "kokyu" can be said to be a power that develops from the pressure or "breath" within the body. It's a path to the ground in most cases and it is not muscular, but a function of strengthened walls and "pressure" of sorts. I.e., Shaun's insistence on Kokyu referring to breath and not jin is well-taken, but an argument can be made that it's the same thing. ;)

Is that helpful or vaguely clear?

Mike

Ron Tisdale
02-11-2005, 01:51 PM
Definately helpfull...I'm just listening at this point, but I hope the discussion continues...
Thanks,
Ron

Mike Sigman
02-11-2005, 03:56 PM
Incidentally, in line with the discussion about this relationship between Ki and Kokyu, there's an interesting comment by Abe Sensei at:
http://www.page.sannet.ne.jp/shun-q/INTERVIEW-E.html

Look to the number 4 section. In it, Abe's remarks make it clear that the calligraphy brush is powered by the Kokyu, which is exactly how the jin control is discussed in Chinese calligraphy. Further down in the commentary is the remark about how the Ki can be noticed in calligraphy.... it is because of this control that the Ki can be felt in the characters, or so the theory goes. This is a quite common comment about good calligraphy, BTW. The same power that is used to direct and throw opponents and is used in kokyu-ho-dosa is the same power used to wield the calligraphy brush.

FWIW

Mike

Misogi-no-Gyo
02-11-2005, 04:36 PM
Kokyu powers the brush and the Ki may be observed in the Shodo. This illustrates my point exactly, that Kokyu and Ki are not interchangeable, but are interrelated in a way. Ki training and Kokyu training, are therefore not the same, but are also interrelated. O-Sensei, through misogi, developed Kokyu-Ryoku. Via Misogi-No-Gyo he left clear and precise instructions on how we all can have the opportunity to do the same. Thank you for posting the passage.

Mike Sigman
02-11-2005, 05:09 PM
Kokyu powers the brush and the Ki may be observed in the Shodo. This illustrates my point exactly, that Kokyu and Ki are not interchangeable, but are interrelated in a way.
B-b-b-b-b-but I thought I was the one who posted that! :cool:
Ki training and Kokyu training, are therefore not the same, but are also interrelated. O-Sensei, through misogi, developed Kokyu-Ryoku. Via Misogi-No-Gyo he left clear and precise instructions on how we all can have the opportunity to do the same. Thank you for posting the passage.Actually, the breathing practices will not produce Kokyu power although they will lay the bedwork for it. It is the various Kokyu exercises that produce Kokyu Ryoku in relation to certain movements. If you practice moving a calligraphy brush with kokyu, that's how you acquire skill and facility in doing calligraphy with that power. If you practice standing or moving in certain ways, that's how you develop the kokyu power for those particular movements. Unless you practice moving the power from the ground with your waist though, all is a waste. :blush:

FWIW

Mike

Misogi-no-Gyo
02-11-2005, 10:39 PM
B-b-b-b-b-but I thought I was the one who posted that!

You most certainly were. However, if you look, you will find many places where you try to use the terms interchangeably.

Actually, the breathing practices will not produce Kokyu power although they will lay the bedwork for it. It is the various Kokyu exercises that produce Kokyu Ryoku in relation to certain movements. If you practice moving a calligraphy brush with kokyu, that's how you acquire skill and facility in doing calligraphy with that power. If you practice standing or moving in certain ways, that's how you develop the kokyu power for those particular movements. Unless you practice moving the power from the ground with your waist though, all is a waste.

FWIW

Mike


Agreed. That is why, and I keep trying to point back to the first post within the thread, that there are different Gyo that make up Misogi-no-Gyo. Different exercises focus on diffferent areas within the body. Once one understands how to develop Kokyu, one then needs to understand how to apply it. This is where Ki & Kokyu overlap. Understanding the Ki lines and the Kokyu circles and how they interact is the point of the training at the basic-intermediate level.

Mike Sigman
02-12-2005, 10:36 AM
You most certainly were. However, if you look, you will find many places where you try to use the terms interchangeably.You're misunderstanding, Shaun. Kokyu is considered an aspect of Ki, so the terms are often and confusingly used interchangeably. That's what I said. I also said they were separate things, but that they are intertwined, if you'll look.

If someone pushes on Tohei's forearm, for example, it is often called a demonstration of Tohei's "Ki", but actually he is demonstrating Kokyu. Kokyu and Ki are not the same things, in reality. If Tohei stands with his forearm ready to take my push to ground, but I am not yet pushing against the arm, his Ki is in his forearm. When I physically push against the arm and can't move him, I am feeling his Kokyu power. Kokyu is the substantive manifestation of Ki.Agreed. That is why, and I keep trying to point back to the first post within the thread, that there are different Gyo that make up Misogi-no-Gyo. Different exercises focus on diffferent areas within the body. Once one understands how to develop Kokyu, one then needs to understand how to apply it. This is where Ki & Kokyu overlap. Understanding the Ki lines and the Kokyu circles and how they interact is the point of the training at the basic-intermediate level.I'm not sure we're talking about the same thing here, Shaun. Besides, the Misogi-no-Gyo are obviously not complete and are only very elementary. Why do you think Abe Sensei swings a 40-pound instrument as part of his practice? It's because of the rudimentary nature of the Gyo and the need for supplemental exercises. That's why I said I was interested to hear if you knew of any of his other exercises and why I've been waiting for you to reply. ;)

My interest in this conversation is fairly simple and I'll explain it, briefly. My impression (after years of study) of the Ki knowledge of the Japanese was that the Japanese knowledge was not very high and I've been focused on studying and researching the Chinese developments of Qi-related phenomena. Recently, I got into a discussion about the jo-trick and as part of that discussion I took a look at the old film footage of O-Sensei's ki demonstrations. Surprisingly, he was better than I would have thought... I thought Tohei was the one with the most Ki knowledge, but I can see O-Sensei was pretty good, and I'm impressed once more. When I took Aikido, I didn't know enough to be able to judge what O-Sensei knew, but now I can understand what he showed and roughly what he knew in comparison to the Chinese arts.

The question is "what did O-Sensei know and where did he get it?". The page I cited yesterday with the Abe Sensei interview indicates that Abe's Misogi knowledge didn't come from O-Sensei, so there is another puzzle here, maybe, but certainly a question about what O-Sensei really practiced.

In case you're unaware of it, there was a famous person named Chen Yuan Yun aka Gin Chin Pin aka Gempin. Chen came over from China in the early 1600's and ultimately wound up staying in Japan. According to the Kojiki or "Collection of Ancestors Conversations: Volume 2", Chen was the one who first revealed something secret about the "ju" arts to the Japanese. In honor of this, a temple was built to him near Tokyo (still standing, I think). Many jiu-jitsu people dispute Chen's (he is called Gempin by the Japanese) role in jujitsu, but I have reservations about the Japanese version of their history (even the Japanese sword, it turns out, was imported from China and Korea). The point is that Chen's name comes to my mind when I wonder what O-Sensei really knew and where he learned it from. Almost beyond doubt, Ueshiba learned the Ki things from Takeda Sokaku, and Takeda most likely learned as some extension of the knowledge that Chen gave Japan. Bear in mind that the Chinese are notorious for their allegiance to China and will rarely show outsiders any treasured knowledge (the Japanese will do the same thing, BTW), no matter how friendly they act. :(

So in my recent curiosity (and respect) for what O-Sensei could do, I am simply following a few leads to see what I can find out. Hence my interest in any information about training procedures used by Abe Sensei. I'm not trying to gain any new "secret" knowledge or get into any pissing contests or pecking-order battles... my intentions are quite friendly and I have a warm place in my heart for Aikido and Aikidoka. However, I'm happy with what I now know and it's pretty certainly more complex than what the Japanese were able to get... BUT, the Japanese got more than I thought -- that's intriguing and piques my curiosity. Does that clarify my position a bit? I'm simply looking to see if anyone has any information and I'm willing to swap some of the things I know in return. :)

FWIW

Mike

Don_Modesto
02-12-2005, 05:18 PM
....there was a famous person named Chen Yuan Yun aka Gin Chin Pin aka Gempin. Chen came over from China in the early 1600's and ultimately wound up staying in Japan. According to the Kojiki or "Collection of Ancestors Conversations: Volume 2", Chen was the one who first revealed something secret about the "ju" arts to the Japanese.

Respectfully, you've cited the wrong source. The Kojiki was promulgated in 812 (sic--there's no "1" missing from in front of that).

"Kojiki" is usually translated as "Record of Ancient Matters", though my Jpn is not such as to be able to say that "Collection of Ancestors Conversations" is wrong.

Mike Sigman
02-12-2005, 06:12 PM
Respectfully, you've cited the wrong source. The Kojiki was promulgated in 812 (sic--there's no "1" missing from in front of that).

"Kojiki" is usually translated as "Record of Ancient Matters", though my Jpn is not such as to be able to say that "Collection of Ancestors Conversations" is wrong.Thanks, Don. I actually meant to put a clause at the end of that sentence that said, "...I forget which". I just did my homework, instead of going from some scrawled notes that had "kojiki" and the other reference in a column, and found out that my original source says "Collection of Ancestors Conversations: Volume 2". I believe I originally scrawled that because I wasn't sure what book the "Collection of Ancestors Conversations: Volume 2" was, and I wondered if they meant the Kojiki. It's still possible that my original source (Liang Shou Yu in his book on Kwai Jiao) was referring to the Kojiki, but I'd have to ask him. The Chinese are well aware that Chen transmitted a lot of information to the Japanese and it's in a lot of their history books. Obviously, something more important than just throws, etc., was givien.

And you needn't preface anything with "respectfully" to me. I put my pants on one leg at a time and I'm simply a practitioner that has a focused emphasis on how Ki, Kokyu, etc., work.... and I make mistakes. ;)

Regards,

Mike

Mike Sigman
02-12-2005, 06:34 PM
Incidentally, I would appreciate it if any students with close lineages to the original uchi-deshi (either you're a student of one of the uchi-deshi or you're the student of a Japanese student of an uchideshi) would post any unusual training techniques their teacher does. For example, if one spends a lot of time doing practice sword swings with a suburito, I'd be interested in hearing about it. The normal Aiki-Taiso and Taisabaki I'm not really interested in.

I think posting these sorts of things helps everyone get a better idea of the "Big Picture" and would be a benefit for us all.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

tedehara
02-13-2005, 08:00 AM
...Rather, Tohei Sensei's art while using the techniques that he gleaned from his years at the Aikikai was developed around the teachings of Dr. Tempu Nakamura...In his book The Way to Union with Ki, Koichi Tohei lists three teachers

Tetsuju Ogura
Morihei Ueshiba
Tenpu Nakamura

Tetsuju Ogura was a student of Tesshu Yamaoka, a master swordsman who lived at the end of the Tokugawa era.
pg. 115 - I determined myself to join, and went to visit the Ichikukai Dojo which was located in Nakano at that time. Ogura Sensei was away that day, but in his place was a man being trained as his successor, Tesso Hino Sensei, who listened sympathetically to my determined appeal and allowed me to join. He told me that Misogi training was far too severe and difficult for one who had just recovered from pleurisy, so he told me to begin with Zazen training...I joined these monthly sessions right away, training through the night, and in time I found my strength returning. Half a year later I was given permission to join in the Misogi training.Even though Tempukai theory forms the framework for Ki-Aikido, the misogi training that the Ki Society does probably comes from Ogura Sensei's training.

Mike Sigman
02-13-2005, 08:45 AM
Nice webpage for the Chicago Ki Society, Ted. I enjoyed looking through it. Clinically speaking, some of the Chinese stuff on qi and related matters is a little bit off; if you're interested, I'd be happy to make a couple of comments in private mail. Once again, for the umpteenth time, I looked through all the Kohei stuff (as I always used to do) to see if he ever got around to explaining how to DO the ki things, but once again I felt a little let down with his explanations. Sometime I'd like to write a quick explanation of the 4 points that is actually useable by most people instead of the cryptic references he makes. :)

I haven't read any of his books in years, Ted, but do you think that he has come out with any one book in the last 20 years that is fairly explicative about Ki and how to develop/practice it? If so, could you give me the title, etc.? Thanks.

All the Best.

Mike

Mike Sigman
02-13-2005, 11:16 AM
In his book The Way to Union with Ki, Koichi Tohei lists three teachers

Tetsuju Ogura
Morihei Ueshiba
Tenpu Nakamura

Tetsuju Ogura was a student of Tesshu Yamaoka, a master swordsman who lived at the end of the Tokugawa era.
Even though Tempukai theory forms the framework for Ki-Aikido, the misogi training that the Ki Society does probably comes from Ogura Sensei's training.If Tohei Sensei's understanding of Ki, etc., came from those 3 and if Abe Sensei's Misogi-no-Gyo came from Bonji Kawatsura, who, if anyone, actually wound up with the knowledge of the Ki practices of O-Sensei??? Does anyone have some ideas?

Mike

James Young
02-13-2005, 06:52 PM
If Tohei Sensei's understanding of Ki, etc., came from those 3 and if Abe Sensei's Misogi-no-Gyo came from Bonji Kawatsura, who, if anyone, actually wound up with the knowledge of the Ki practices of O-Sensei??? Does anyone have some ideas?Mike

I don't know if I can answer your question of who actually wound up with the knowledge of O-sensei's ki practices. (My guess would be that these and other close deshi of his all have a part of it, just like they all seem to all have a part of his technique style.)

However, another name I'll throw in the mix if you're interested is Hiroshi Tada (9th dan). When I studied under him in Japan he use to discuss the subject in depth on certain occassions and at the beginning of every practice we use to go through a series of exercises (which included some of the gyo's that Shaun listed as well as others that may have been of his invention) which were categorally called Ki no Renma. There are too many to list out and explain but I think most of these are listed on his website (unfortunately not in english) http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~yp7h-td/

One comment I'll make though is that Tada sensei, like Tohei sensei, was strongly influenced by Tempu Nakamura as well. However, the Ki no Renma exercises seem to be quite a bit different than the Tohei sensei developed Ki exercises I've seen in Ki Society dojos. Specifically the emphasis of the Ki no Renma exercises, despite the name, seemed to be on more pragmatic application, i.e. developing physical kokyu power for techniques rather than to develop an intangible ki power.

Mike Sigman
02-13-2005, 07:49 PM
I don't know if I can answer your question of who actually wound up with the knowledge of O-sensei's ki practices. (My guess would be that these and other close deshi of his all have a part of it, just like they all seem to all have a part of his technique style.)

However, another name I'll throw in the mix if you're interested is Hiroshi Tada (9th dan). When I studied under him in Japan he use to discuss the subject in depth on certain occassions and at the beginning of every practice we use to go through a series of exercises (which included some of the gyo's that Shaun listed as well as others that may have been of his invention) which were categorally called Ki no Renma. There are too many to list out and explain but I think most of these are listed on his website (unfortunately not in english) http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~yp7h-td/

One comment I'll make though is that Tada sensei, like Tohei sensei, was strongly influenced by Tempu Nakamura as well. However, the Ki no Renma exercises seem to be quite a bit different than the Tohei sensei developed Ki exercises I've seen in Ki Society dojos. Specifically the emphasis of the Ki no Renma exercises, despite the name, seemed to be on more pragmatic application, i.e. developing physical kokyu power for techniques rather than to develop an intangible ki power.Thanks, James. It's interesting, all these stories. Unfortunately, I can't read Italian or Japanese worth a hoot. Can you give a few ideas about what you mean by pragmatic application, physical kokyu, etc.?

I haven't read the biographies of Ueshiba by Stevens and others, so I haven't kept up with the latest information in a number of years, but I'm aware that O-Sensei used custom-made and heavy implements as part of his daily training. Watching his reverse-side jo-trick, I realize that he probably did standing exercises, as well. I had only really paid attention to the forward-side-push jo trick, which I think I saw in one of the earlier books (I'm looking for a copy of that picture if anyone knows where it is, BTW) and the method by which it's done is fairly obvious and intimates standing, but doesn't necessarily prove it.

The impression I'm getting, given that both Tohei and Abe sensei's had to acquire information away from Ueshiba, is that O-Sensei was extremely conservative and traditional in being very sparing of sharing "special" information. Notice in this interview with Imaizumi (about halfway down the page) how he discusses Tohei Sensei surreptitiously giving Ki instruction, etc., outside of Hombu Dojo just before he parted. If O-Sensei had been reasonably open, there would have been no need for these actions:
http://www.formlessmountain.com/durangoaikido/imaizumi_interview.html

It's an interesting aspect of the whole Aikido story, these anecdotes, but it doesn't really tell much about exactly what O-Sensei did for his Ki and Kokyu training. I suspect that there was breathing, standing, and heavy-implement training, basically, but if there was something special other than this, there seems to be no particular record we can spot offhand.

FWIW

Mike

James Young
02-14-2005, 01:44 AM
Thank you for your comments Mike. I guess by pragmatic in purpose I meant the goals of the exercises I did with Tada-sensei were explained in physiological benefits or terms and by such the links to our training became more obvious. I only make this comparison to some of the exercises I did in a Ki Society influenced dojo where those links to the training were not as apparent because the goals were explained in more intangible terms, i.e. trying to connect with the ki of the people in the room and of the universe, etc. That is not to say those exercises don't have worth or are not valuable, they just weren't as beneficial to me as a young beginner at that time because of that approach and my analytical mindset.

Anyway, most of the pragmatic applications of Tada-sensei's exercises are basically what Shaun and others have explained, such as developing breath power and control. Other such benefits of the Ki no renma exercises were things like kokyu to strengthen and activate the nervous system; kokyu to give vibration to life and breath; kokyu to activate the working of the lungs; kokyu to help blood circulation, eliminate excessive nervousness, improve concentration power, etc. These are a few examples I've taken from the website I referenced above. Unfortunately it would be too time consuming to translate everything on the website, but I just wanted to mention another instructor who has his own unique approach to these practices.

Mike Sigman
02-14-2005, 05:49 AM
Anyway, most of the pragmatic applications of Tada-sensei's exercises are basically what Shaun and others have explained, such as developing breath power and control. Other such benefits of the Ki no renma exercises were things like kokyu to strengthen and activate the nervous system; kokyu to give vibration to life and breath; kokyu to activate the working of the lungs; kokyu to help blood circulation, eliminate excessive nervousness, improve concentration power, etc. These are a few examples I've taken from the website I referenced above. Unfortunately it would be too time consuming to translate everything on the website, but I just wanted to mention another instructor who has his own unique approach to these practices.Thanks again, James. I'm not sure exactly what you're saying since it looks like the definition of "kokyu" is varying again. Ki-no renma means "Ki cultivation". Generally, this will refer to a breathing exercise and it's a cognate for "Qigong". In correct Ki or Qi exercises, it's not just how you breathe, it's also how you manipulate certain pressures and forces within the body, even though this can't really be seen by the outside observer. For instance, it's pretty standard among many orientals to teach just the outer appearance of an exercise to get you started and the more they come to know and trust you, the more they'll begin to show you the complexities behind the outward appearances of many "exercises". I.e., there is a pragmatism in all these Ki and Kokyu practices that belies the mystery so many westerners assume is going on.

If you "cultivate" (renma) "kokyu", that can mean several things to me. It's sort of like trying to decide between the realistic description for an internal strength (used in a kokyu throw or kokyu-ho-dosa or shodo) as opposed to using the word to mean vaguely "energy" or "breath". It appears that you're using kokyu in an "energy" sense. Can you clarify what you're talking about using one of the exercises as an example, please? I.e., did you do anything besides variations of breathing in these exercises?

Regards,

Mike

rob_liberti
02-14-2005, 11:24 AM
I don't mean to be too simplistic but doesn't doing the basic waza of aikido with the intention of developing kokyu power from that experience pretty much solve the problem? I know you can try to do techniques that just result in ripping someone's arms off if they don't comply, but if you always set it up to be at a termendous physical dis-advantage with some sempai who are like-minded in that cause, should that be the best set of exercises for delveloping kokyu power? I spend most of my training time doing just that. If there are no sempai around, I ask physically strong folks to attack and try to let them use 2 hands and/or do the technique from hamni handachi or something. You can collaborate with people to work on these things a lot more effectively than trying to do them by swinging large hunks of wood around - or whatever.

Rob

Mike Sigman
02-14-2005, 11:46 AM
I don't mean to be too simplistic but doesn't doing the basic waza of aikido with the intention of developing kokyu power from that experience pretty much solve the problem? I know you can try to do techniques that just result in ripping someone's arms off if they don't comply, but if you always set it up to be at a termendous physical dis-advantage with some sempai who are like-minded in that cause, should that be the best set of exercises for delveloping kokyu power? Well, sure, you can develop Kokyu in a number of ways, if you know what you're doing and you do it correctly. However, you have to be very careful and not use any muscle or stiffness and you really have to know how to let your center move you and be in your hands, arms, shoulders, etc., at all times in order to train this. It takes a while to train it. Using any muscle just leads you back to normal movement, not toward real kokyu movement. I would discourage anyone from testing themselves against a lot of muscle until they had trained long enough to build up honest kokyu strength and had conditioned that strength to a reasonable degree.

And you can't get around the need for correct breathing exercises and also, some standing exercises, in my opinion. My hunch is that O-Sensei may have used some standing exercises, although it's possible to do some of this with movement instead of standing. Standing allows you to practice the "six directions", which is what they really mean when they say "extend ki". In other words, I'm with Tohei on this one... the best results come through relaxation, at first.

FWIW

Mike

rob_liberti
02-14-2005, 02:08 PM
I like the response! Well said! I agree. In fact, I was just at a seminar this weekend and 2 out of 2 rokyu dans agree that you pretty much always need to move your body first before you move your arms. Many situations are no problem, but in others, desire seems to get in the way of following that advice. I'm just not ALWAYS disciplined enough to stop myself from cheating - so having good strong ukes to provide a reminder to what I'm supposed to be doing is pretty helpful. What is so interesting to me, is that both teachers are able to violate the rules they teach (like keep your hands in front of your center line) when they need to do so - and they are able to maintain that strange power. I can do this kind of thing if I get to set up the circumstances myself and no one is running in at me to try to raise the stakes. I have a lot of tricks to "plan b" these kind of situations (like move off line and set up the position to be much more favorable for me), but to "plan a" them (meaning move just enough and to use kokyu power primarily) takes a lot of collaboration.

So are their any principles you think would be helpful to keep in mind while working towards developing kokyu power in movement? (This question is intended to be open to anyone willing to contribute.)

Rob

Mike Sigman
02-14-2005, 03:33 PM
So are their any principles you think would be helpful to keep in mind while working towards developing kokyu power in movement? (This question is intended to be open to anyone willing to contribute.)There are so many movements that you can't cover them all with a few simple phrases.

Moving the torso from the middle is not too hard. Stand ai-hanmi with a partner and have them put the palm of one hand against your stomach (elbow straight so that the force is rigid and not springy). You can put one of your hands behind his elbow so that you have a little more feedback. Have the partner maintain maybe 5-10 pounds to your stomach and you just let your back leg hold the push. To keep yourself honest and not "brace", try to move your weight over the back foot, as an experiment. Once you can do that easily, empathize with what your partner feels (he should be feeling the ground through your stomach). Try to keep his feeling of the ground unbroken while you begin slowly walking forward; he should be backing up, giving you some resistance, but not too much that it becomes a useless competition. That's how you walk "maintaining your center".

Moving the arms and hands with Kokyu and the middle would be fruitless for me to discuss in writing on the internet. It has to be shown, although it's not that hard. It takes a lot of practice though.

So when you do a technique, you should always be moving so that your middle powers you in the direction you want to move. All increments of all arm, shoulder, leg, head-turns, etc., are powered by kokyu as well, but I'd have to show it. Knowing that, though, maybe some people can figure it out. It involves the hara though, because movement begins at the ground, is controlled by the middle, and is expressed in the hands, arms, whatever. Since the hara is between the ground and the hand, moving the hand with the power from the ground will always involve some unavoidable movement of the hara.

Hope that helps.

Mike

James Young
02-15-2005, 01:31 AM
Thanks again, James. I'm not sure exactly what you're saying since it looks like the definition of "kokyu" is varying again...

If you "cultivate" (renma) "kokyu", that can mean several things to me. It's sort of like trying to decide between the realistic description for an internal strength (used in a kokyu throw or kokyu-ho-dosa or shodo) as opposed to using the word to mean vaguely "energy" or "breath". It appears that you're using kokyu in an "energy" sense. Can you clarify what you're talking about using one of the exercises as an example, please? I.e., did you do anything besides variations of breathing in these exercises?

You are probably right that I may have been unintentionally mixing up definitions. Sorry for the confusion, but as you said cultivating kokyu can mean several things, and in fact many of the Ki no renma exercises probably have more than one purpose, i.e cultivating both kokyu breathing and energy at the same time, so it can be confusing for even myself. For example (again off the website I referenced) some of the various kokyu variations listed are: Gassho no (putting your palms together in praying fashion) kokyu; Kihon no (fundamental) kokyu; Ki o neru (polishing your ki) kokyu; six-sound kokyu; and tanden no (lower abdomen) kokyu. Perhaps kokyu is being used as a misnomer here based on your accepted definition and I wouldn't necessarily dispute that (since it's not my list) but as you can probably ascertain from this list some of these kokyu practices are more for "internal strength" and others for "energy" as you put it.

I know you would like me to give you some good, specific exercise examples of these, but I have to apologize since it's been almost ten years since I've done those Ki no renma exercises and I've forgotten a lot of them and I can't really recall them to give good examples. Heck, as a beginner doing them back then I didn't even know the purpose behind most of them when I did them, I just did them and later caught bits and pieces of their purpose from my sempai. I guess as one example at the beginning of each practice we would stand in place and raise our arms slowly above our head and back down slowly near our sides and repeat several times at a constant slow tempo (think tai chi pace) and then afterwards we would bring our hands together in front of us in praying form, closing our eyes, and remaining in silence for a few moments. I guess that was part of the gassho no kokyu practice. Of course proper breathing was integral to even that, but that didn't seem to be the primary purpose of that kokyu exercise, so I think that may be one example of a kokyu practice that didn't focus on breathing specifically. I have to apologize since I can't really provide better examples and make better connections to the subject at hand. Perhaps someone who was a long-term student of Tada-sensei with better knowledge would be able to better speak on the subject, because I think there is a lot within that practice there that relates to this subject of kokyu.

Mike Sigman
02-15-2005, 08:44 AM
,,,but as you said cultivating kokyu can mean several things, and in fact many of the Ki no renma exercises probably have more than one purpose, i.e cultivating both kokyu breathing and energy at the same time, so it can be confusing for even myself.That's very true and I'm sure it's the source of the problem.For example (again off the website I referenced) some of the various kokyu variations listed are: Gassho no (putting your palms together in praying fashion) kokyu; Kihon no (fundamental) kokyu; Ki o neru (polishing your ki) kokyu; six-sound kokyu; and tanden no (lower abdomen) kokyu. Perhaps kokyu is being used as a misnomer here based on your accepted definition and I wouldn't necessarily dispute that (since it's not my list) but as you can probably ascertain from this list some of these kokyu practices are more for "internal strength" and others for "energy" as you put it.I think we agree. Can you remember what the Kihon no kokyu involves, BTW? That might be a good starting point. Some of the others you list, particularly the six-sounds, sound as if they come directly from well-known Chinese qigongs... which they undoubtedly did. Again, I'm getting a little surprised at how many of the Chinese traditional practices for Ki are in Aikido. Of course, it's possible that Tada Sensei's knowledge also reflects some later knowledge that was acquired after his Aikido knowledge. That seems to be indeterminate at the moment, but if you ever have the opportunity to ask about this, I'd love to hear the answer....I guess as one example at the beginning of each practice we would stand in place and raise our arms slowly above our head and back down slowly near our sides and repeat several times at a constant slow tempo (think tai chi pace) and then afterwards we would bring our hands together in front of us in praying form, closing our eyes, and remaining in silence for a few moments. I guess that was part of the gassho no kokyu practice. Of course proper breathing was integral to even that, but that didn't seem to be the primary purpose of that kokyu exercise, so I think that may be one example of a kokyu practice that didn't focus on breathing specifically. I have to apologize since I can't really provide better examples and make better connections to the subject at hand.Really, you've given me some great historical information that I appreciate quite a lot...you certainly have nothing to apologize for. Besides, I think all of us following the martial arts are grateful to get any information that helps us forward. Good information is very hard to get and I've spent too many years trying to glean everything that I can. Most people don't know much but external information. Some few know minor bits and pieces, often holding that out as being far more than it is (I encounter this in the Chinese martial arts almost daily). The people who really know things often won't say much because their heirs will need the information in order to continue teaching... if everyone knows everything then it robs the heirs of their livelihood. It can be frustrating. ;) Thanks for your input. If you can think of other items, I think we'd all appreciate it.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Chuck Clark
02-15-2005, 09:45 AM
The people who really know things often won't say much because their heirs will need the information in order to continue teaching... if everyone knows everything then it robs the heirs of their livelihood. It can be frustrating. ;)

Communicating about martial arts and ways on the www is difficult. This relatively new technology and form of communication exacerbates the ages old problem of "what do you communicate and how clearly to whom" in this study and the passing on of these principles, "secrets", etc.

Most people on the discussion boards are used to trying to get any and ALL information possible as soon as possible. It seems they think there is a "given right" for them to know and that it is the obligation of those "that know" to give it all away as soon as someone asks.

Teachers want to teach and those of us wanting to know, of course, want it as quickly as we can get it. Of course there is an optimum way of transmission in these practices. Traditonal ways will give way to new traditions. Teachers also have a right to pass on what they know to whomever can receive and internalize the knowledge. They also have a right to make a living doing their art.

The evolution of how the internet and discussion boards fit into the optimum teaching and learning modes will continue. It's a good tool and we need to find the wisdom to use it well.

I, as a student and teacher, certainly am interested in the process.

Ron Tisdale
02-15-2005, 10:11 AM
And I think we have a good example here...no one is giving away information that is harmful, no one is thinking these are the ultimate secrets, everyone acknowledges that a lot of this type of information must be passed on in person. Its not a matter of keeping secrets...its the inadequacy of this particular medium to give hands on instruction as to particular movements and ways to power those movements. Without the hands on, you really aren't going to get very far (in my experience). But at least we seem to be getting a common language to discuss these things.

And I have to say, the discussion has been extremely mature for the medium...Mike, how many times has this type of thing degenerated completely on rec-MA? Good job, folks! Keep it up...I wonder if people like Ellis Amdur have something to contribute here...I know he has a lot of experience in both chinese and japanese arts...maybe he can help bridge some of the gaps?


Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
02-15-2005, 10:15 AM
Most people on the discussion boards are used to trying to get any and ALL information possible as soon as possible. It seems they think there is a "given right" for them to know and that it is the obligation of those "that know" to give it all away as soon as someone asks.

Teachers want to teach and those of us wanting to know, of course, want it as quickly as we can get it. Of course there is an optimum way of transmission in these practices. Traditonal ways will give way to new traditions. Teachers also have a right to pass on what they know to whomever can receive and internalize the knowledge. They also have a right to make a living doing their art.Hi Chuck:

The internet, with its wide access and its assistance to communication, can help in a few ways. I read for information and I wish that I'd had something like the internet years ago.... it could have saved a lot of time. In Aikido, look at some of the pointers about Ki, for instance. If you learn that Ki is a phenomenon common to most Asian arts, in one form or another, that Japan assuredly got its ideas of Ki from China (along with countless other things that were borrowed), that there are physical practices that develop Ki (not just making your mind empty and hoping for the best), etc., etc., ... just learning those things can save you a lot of time (years). Those basic pointers and other elementary steps I think everyone should have access to. As people who care for the martial arts and their progress, we should actively encourage and promote basic information so that our arts grow in numbers and skill level, IMO.

When it comes to someone thinking they can learn beyond this basic level of information on the internet, it's simply a wasted hope. You have to put in the time and you have to get hands-on information. In terms of "traditional ways" of conveying information, I think they're too slow, in many aspects, and are encumbered by the same need for many teachers to earn a living as a return for giving their time teaching.

I believe the real question is "who is a good teacher?" in relation to the important question of "who will teach me the best information that I can use in the most reasonable amount of time?". In so many arts (this is not quite as true in Aikido as in other arts, IMO) there are many teachers who really don't know much of the real core of the art they're teaching. If we provide good and useable basic information through a forum like AikiWeb, the discerning students will be able to better judge who is best able to teach them the information and skills that are their goals. Of course, like in all martial arts, Aikido has a certain amount of what I call the "Wannabelieves" and basic information about real skills is not as important... so there will always be a pool of students for everyone, it seems, and almost no one will ever be bereft of income. ;)

So, in short, I agree with you, but my secondary comments are that putting a certain amount of base information on forums like this one serve a great good to the community by helpfully raising the base level of available information... although beyond the basic academic knowledge, the actual skills can only really be learned by hands-on in a dojo with the assistance of a knowledgeable teacher.

It is, as you say, an interesting process.

All the Best.

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
02-15-2005, 10:28 AM
And I think we have a good example here...no one is giving away information that is harmful, no one is thinking these are the ultimate secrets, everyone acknowledges that a lot of this type of information must be passed on in person. Its not a matter of keeping secrets...its the inadequacy of this particular medium to give hands on instruction as to particular movements and ways to power those movements. Without the hands on, you really aren't going to get very far (in my experience). But at least we seem to be getting a common language to discuss these things.Hi Ron:

Well, you just slipped in what I was saying to Chuck before I could post my message. ;)And I have to say, the discussion has been extremely mature for the medium...Mike, how many times has this type of thing degenerated completely on rec-MA? Good job, folks! Keep it up...I wonder if people like Ellis Amdur have something to contribute here...I know he has a lot of experience in both chinese and japanese arts...maybe he can help bridge some of the gaps?It's very easy for these conversations to deteriorate if people don't stick to the issues and if they allow personal aspects to become a part of the conversation. For instance, I may not like what someone says, or their attitude, and someone may not like what I say (in many cases, I find a blunt discussion of how to do things offends the "spiritual" people or the ego of some teacher who is rank-conscious, etc.), but as long as we both agree to discuss the factual and substantive issues, we can go forward.

If someone is wrong or is perceived to be wrong, the best thing is to factually rebutt what they say, not get into personal comments. That's what happens on RMA... let's try to keep it fairly calm here. As an aside, I have to admit that I personally will sometimes provoke someone in the hopes of eliciting some further bit of information, on the one hand, and sometimes I let my objections to ego-centricity override common decorum and I do start a few frays. Mea culpa. But hey.... we're martial artists, after all! ;)

The most information is gained, though, with the discussion of issues and with being open in commentary and questioning. We're all in this together.

FWIW

Mike

tedehara
02-15-2005, 10:29 AM
... I think I took that one step further. I actually like to make rowing a partner practice (every once and a while), where an 'uke' grabs your wrists and resists your movement a bit. If you move your middle first and then your arms it works pretty well. I can usually row a fairly strong person who is working hard to resist me. It would be fun to put someone behind me to push against my back as I rowed backward into that space - but I just thought of trying that this moment.

If someone can explain breath exercises and the reasoning behind them in a very physical way, or a mental/spiritual way I'm always willing to listen and try to learn.

Rob
When you are tested in the Ki Society for rowing, your partner holds your wrists and prevents you from moving backwards. Move your hips first by bending your back leg, then your hands. The feeling is that you're pulling from your elbows as you move back, like you're a marionette (puppet) with strings attached. Don't focus your mind on your wrists or you'll start fighting as you row backwards.

When you move forwards, your wrists are at your hips and your partner tries to prevent you from moving forward by holding. Bend your forward knee to start moving. Your hips will move first then move your arms once your partner starts moving. Your fingers are pointed down and the feeling is as if you're pushing from the back of your hands. Again, don't focus on the wrists.

When you row forwards, don't go too far. If you look down over your front knee, you should be able to see your toes. You shouldn't go any further than that. When you row forwards, your partner can test your stability by slightly pushing from behind at the small of the back. If you've over-extended yourself while rowing forwards, you'll be moved off balance.

When you are moving both forwards and backwards, your mind should be extending forwards. A good opponent can take advantage of the fact that your focus is off him. Train for forward extension.

For me, breathing exercises are just another way to learn to relax. It's a simple, physical way to calm down the body. Relax Completely is one of the four basic principles for Shin Shin Toitsu (mind and body coordination) and it is advice many aikido instructors give their students. You have to train to learn how to relax. This is one way to learn.

Mike Sigman
02-15-2005, 11:01 AM
When you are tested in the Ki Society for rowing, your partner holds your wrists and prevents you from moving backwards. (snip rest of good post by Ted)Let me throw in a couple of comments, but let me preface them by saying that this sort of discussion becomes enjoyable when everyone chimes in with commentary and/or question. The sharing of information (which I wish I'd had when I started Aikido) gives everyone the most food for thought, while not committing anyone to being a believer of everything that is posted. [End sermon]

In pushing on someone like in Ki Society's "ki test" of someone pushing on the forearm, the best thing to do is to relax and let the push go down the back leg. If you relax, the mind will recruit the proper body mechanisms to set up that path to the ground. It's the same path that you would use if you were generating a push, ikkyo, etc., to your partner. If someone were to pull on that same forearm, you could think of it as a path that suddenly shifts to the front leg and which goes up to the back near the shoulder of the arm being pulled. The pulled arm is like a "rope" that connects the pull to the back. So in the case of the push, the "Ki" goes to the forearm, but in the case of the pull, the "Ki" is said to go to the back and the arm simply acts as a sort of "rope". In practical terms, though, it's easiest to do as Ted says and picture a push as being the middle pushing and a pull as being sort of a string from the middle to the hands (i.e., the middle actually powers the push and pull). [I'm working my way toward a point; hang in there]

If instead of using the forearm as an example of something taking a push, let me imaginarily use my palm in front of my shoulder as an example. I can straighten my arm all the way out, palm facing forward, and someone can push the palm and not move me. Next I can disengage and put my palm halfway out... someone can push it and not move me. Lastly, I can put my hand fairly close to my shoulder; someone can push it and they can't move me. The point is that I can will the path to the ground from any position my palm is in, with a bit of practice. If that is true (and it is), then at first in your rowing practice, you should restrict yourself to movements which are almost robotic in the involvement of the movement of the hips, etc., but you can look forward to the days when your movements will involve more of the mind's control of the paths (kokyu) and your movements will begin to look just like a normal person's movements, but will be imbued with great power.

I was thinking of this fact the other day when I watched an old film of O-Sense, Tohei, and others leading a couple of visiting Americans in the rowing exercise. If someone doesn't understand that an experienced practitioner's "normal looking" movements are actually skipping years of more robotic practice, they will miss what is going on and will wind up with empty exercises, devoid of the real kokyu.

FWIW

Mike

James Young
02-15-2005, 11:53 AM
Just as a side note here, the rowing exercise (fune kogi undo) that is practiced in Ki Society influenced dojos is a lot different than the (ama no) tori fune exercise or gyo that was originally described by Shaun. The confusion sometimes comes because tori fune is sometimes called fune kogi as well and they do look similar, but based on my experiece of doing both I realize they seem to be significantly different in both in execution and purpose.

The "Ki society style" is practiced (at least how I practiced it) in the way Ted basically described and we also did the same exercise of having a partner hold our wrists from time to time. The arms didn't get extended out too far at any time and the concentration on the exercise seemed to be on making the movements and power come from your center so that you could row even if a person was holding on to your wrists. Also notable was we did not make any of the set vowel sounds that are integral to tori fune no gyo. In contrast in tori fune we practice, although we of course do move from our center as well, we do seem to extend our arms out further, making the strong vowel sounds from your gut are always done, and the focus is more on the kokyu or breathing aspect rather than the power being generated from your center. I make this opinion of course just based on my experience of practice in one Ki Society influenced dojo and my more recent practices; others may have a different experience.

Mike Sigman
02-15-2005, 12:17 PM
Just as a side note here, the rowing exercise (fune kogi undo) that is practiced in Ki Society influenced dojos is a lot different than the (ama no) tori fune exercise or gyo that was originally described by Shaun. The confusion sometimes comes because tori fune is sometimes called fune kogi as well and they do look similar, but based on my experiece of doing both I realize they seem to be significantly different in both in execution and purpose.Hi James:

There is a logic to these things that is fairly rigid. It's like if A=B and B=C then A must equal C. Once you come into a reasonable understanding of Ki and Kokyu, you begin to understand that they are not really separable, particularly in this physical usage of martial arts. In other words, unless you have an instructor that has missed something in his training, the "rowing exercises" will by default all contain the basic elements of breathing and kokyu usage. Someone doing Daito-Ryu (I've never studied it) will by default only be doing Daito-Ryu correctly if he is using Ki and Kokyu... I know this because I know that O-Sensei used Ki and Kokyu at all times in Aikido and therefore Takeda Sokaku, his teacher, did at all times and therefore all movements of correct Daito-Ryu practice, no matter the variations, must use Ki and Kokyu at all times. If you train this form of movement so that it is instinctive (pre-heaven) as you're supposed to do, then you don't just turn it on and off... you use it full time. Do the points of my argument make sense? :)

Regards,

Mike

James Young
02-15-2005, 12:24 PM
Mike your argument makes sense and I agree with it in principle. I was just making the point that the focus and execution of the two approaches is different based on my experience, and even if in reality they both do share the commonalities it's just that in the Ki Society style of fune kogi that emphasis on kokyu and breathing was not made to us.

And since you made about a point about teachers that missed something, I've had teachers in the past that did techniques very well and were probably using kokyu doing them, but they never brought the point of kokyu up to us or taught it so I wonder sometimes if they really understood the principle even if they were utilizing it unconsciously.

Mike Sigman
02-15-2005, 12:53 PM
Mike your argument makes sense and I agree with it in principle. I was just making the point that the focus and execution of the two approaches is different based on my experience, and even if in reality they both do share the commonalities it's just that in the Ki Society style of fune kogi that emphasis on kokyu and breathing was not made to us.

And since you made about a point about teachers that missed something, I've had teachers in the past that did techniques very well and were probably using kokyu doing them, but they never brought the point of kokyu up to us or taught it so I wonder sometimes if they really understood the principle even if they were utilizing it unconsciously.Well, it's common in Aikido, as it is in many martial arts, to find that the core information about Ki is missing.

For instance, in the karate I took years ago, I look back and I realize that my instructor (on Okinawa) actually showed me a remarkable demonstration of kokyu one night when we were alone in the dojo. And the way he did Sanchin kata involved a somewhat harsh but still related version of Ki training (ultimately it is still a version related to what is done in Aikido, Taiji, etc.). Yet, most karate instructors I see today just do an external and muscular version of karate. This doesn't take away from any of these people as good human beings who are dedicated to the martial arts. All it means is that good information is hard to come by. You learn to evaluate people, after a while, and you learn from those that know and yet be friendly to those that don't. Many people are missing some information (ALL of us are missing some, no matter what we think we know), but a lot of people don't want to even think about the possibility that they have done an art for years and might be missing a basic element. So sometimes it's best to resist the urge to say anything and just move on. :)

FWIW

Mike

rob_liberti
02-15-2005, 01:06 PM
My opinion was that we do the art for years to develop the skills and experience to start approaching really studing the basic elements. - Rob

James Young
02-15-2005, 01:37 PM
My opinion was that we do the art for years to develop the skills and experience to start approaching really studing the basic elements.

I think there is something to this point. It's definitely a challenge to teach the subtle concepts of kokyu to a beginner who doesn't know how to shomenuchi ikkyo yet or whatever. That was one of the problems I realized in the Ki Society dojo I practiced in; they were trying to teach these somewhat esoteric ki concepts to a room full of beginners who probably should have been learning how to do basic techniques and footwork first. My opinion is that a person needs to have a decent level of understanding of the basics and the mechanics of techniques before they can start to integrate these kokyu concepts and refine their technique. I consider this level of integrating kokyu as a more advanced level of aikido than just doing techniques and I still feel like a beginner at times today as I try to do more and more of it.

Chuck Clark
02-15-2005, 02:48 PM
Hi Ron,

I agree. I have been trying various ways of communicating this sort of thing on the web for a long time. I've just about given up on technical stuff being discussed in anything other than a very basic way. Hands on feeling from someone that has it and getting some understanding of how to practice it so that learning happens over the course of time is the only way. Anything else is pretty much a waste of time. Inspiration, feeling the real thing, good training methods, good feedback, and experimentation along with "realistic testing" to keep ourselves honest and personal feedback from the ones that have it is the way to learn this inner stuff.

Thanks,

Mike Sigman
02-15-2005, 03:39 PM
My opinion was that we do the art for years to develop the skills and experience to start approaching really studying the basic elements. - Rob
... It's definitely a challenge to teach the subtle concepts of kokyu to a beginner who doesn't know how to shomenuchi ikkyo yet or whatever. That was one of the problems I realized in the Ki Society dojo I practiced in; they were trying to teach these somewhat esoteric ki concepts to a room full of beginners who probably should have been learning how to do basic techniques and footwork first. My opinion is that a person needs to have a decent level of understanding of the basics and the mechanics of techniques before they can start to integrate these kokyu concepts and refine their technique.Just to throw in my 2 cents on this one, I think in a lot of ways it's a hard call what to do. If I had to put my chips on a bet, I'd say that teaching kokyu correctly would be the best start. In a normal sport where the way your body coordinates isn't so radically different, I agree that "you pick up the finer points of the basics" as you put more time in.

In the case of using kokyu and ki, though, it's perhaps a different case. Because the use of movement from the center and with the body connected (literally) and with the subconscious involved in the basis of movement, it might be hard to ever get to the finer points (this is a rhetorical argument, BTW, and not meant to express anything more than an opinion). Consider a kata or a set of throws like shihonage's different directions and approaches. Suppose you've done them without really understanding the full implications of the radically different body movement in full kokyu for 20 years. One day you suddenly get the inkling that you've not really understood what "move from the center" meant and you want to begin to change over. ALL of your practiced movements of everything you know has become ingrained with "normal movement". You could be up against a wall. In Taiji (Tai Chi) there is an old saying that goes "Taiji is easy to learn... but difficult to correct". It's because of this radical difference in body movements.

Just a thought. :cool:

Mike

rob_liberti
02-15-2005, 04:10 PM
Mike, this is the first time I've disagreed with you in a long time... I've been trying to copy my teacher for years. I'm certain that I don't move as well as he does still but I have developed my ability to fundimentally change how I approach my movement over and over again while trying to get closer and closer to how he moves. I think that is the skill set that is necessary for making a significant break-through. It's not very ego-satisfying but I'm okay with that. I'd say I have more experience tearring down habits than the average Joe. Now I have some degree of sensitivity towards what's going on in my body and in the uke's body so I can make some corrections while I practice. The problem is always finding ukes who attack in the optimal way to help develop what I'm interested in developing. I basically keep attacking my students to give them transmition of my current feeling as I develop. It's a slow and dfficult process and I'm always looking for anything to help it along.

Rob

Mike Sigman
02-15-2005, 05:20 PM
Mike, this is the first time I've disagreed with you in a long time... Maybe you need to start doing it more! ;)

I've already said more or less to not take anybody's word for anything, and that includes me. One thing I've come to accept from the truly expert Chinese (and there's dang few of those, too) is the idea of "you either figure it out or you don't". I.e., we all are responsible for doing our own thinking because these things are too complex for someone to show you all the details. So I encourage you to disagree with me, Rob. I certainly don't know everything...but we can't hash these things out unless we speak freely, as we've been doing.

Mike

rob_liberti
02-16-2005, 09:02 AM
This was a good point for me to come to, because I've been slowly but surely developing my own cirriculum for teaching basic waza in hopes of building fundimental skills and concepts in a linear way. What I'm realizing now, is that in my attempt to help my students avoid SO many of the pitfalls I fell into along my way I might be robbing them of the experience I had of constantly having to tear everything down and start over again. It is difficult for me to determine how much of that tearing down experience is optimally helpful - since I have not really gotten to where I want to get yet (and I don't know what the individual student's learning factors might be). Any opinions?

Mike, when you teach your Chinese style, do you build people straight up, or do you help them get something started, convince them to tear it down and rebuild?

Rob

Mike Sigman
02-16-2005, 09:29 AM
Mike, when you teach your Chinese style, do you build people straight up, or do you help them get something started, convince them to tear it down and rebuild?RobHi Rob:

Well, I don't have any students, per se. My interest is mainly in the practices, development, and usages of the Ki and internal strength skills and my martial interest is secondary (not that I don't do some; I just consider it secondary). I admit to doing workshops occasionally, but those are only attempts to spread "how to's" and I don't feel it puts me in the category of having bona fide students in the way you're speaking about. That being said, my personal approach is that certain basics of movement are the most important "first thing" because, as I said before, it's difficult to change things once you've started doing them wrongly.

Incidentally, in the way I view things, Ki and Kokyu are sort of separate basics of body conditioning; techniques and strategies of a martial art (like blending, never resisting, etc.) are different from the Ki and Kokyu. That's how you can have variations of Ki and Kokyu in so many very different martial arts.

Insofar as people tearing down and starting over, I've found over the years that only a very few people do that or do it adequately. What happens in most cases is that people will take some bits and try to add them to what they're doing, so ultimately they never make much of a change. In the cases of Aikdoka that I've worked with, this also seems to be also the case, in most instances. Few of these people learn how to move from the middle except partially and in focused situations.... they don't do if full time or through full movements.

Many Aikidoka have an exaggerated straightness of the back (something you don't see the Japanese do, but it's somehow become an affectation in the West) and there's an over-usage of the back-leg-brace I mentioned previously. Either or both of those factors pretty much guarantee that basic use of kokyu from the center is going to be severely hampered... but since those 2 factors are seen as primary ways to move in Aikido, most people will not relinquish them. BTW, the too-straight back... what's wrong with it... is that it entails keeping the lower back fairly rigid. If the lower lumbar region is rigid then the hara cannot move freely and therefore the hara cannot control kokyu, as it must.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts on it. And please don't take me negatively... I think these are important thoughts for someone to have if they're thinking how to acquire kokyu and ki skills and I just thought I'd share them for those that are interested.

Regards,

Mike

James Lavin
02-17-2005, 05:07 AM
Thankyou Shuan, very interesting (without being wishy-washy!) I wonder if Jun would consider accepting one of Shuans submisions within the 'training' or 'spiritual' section outside the discussion board?

Also, my girlfriend has recently got into alot of alternative therapy stuff and has this weird book on folk medicine (western). It constantly goes on about making the blood more alkaline for health. If anyone is interested here are a few tips:

-eat apples, grapes etc (rather than oranges and citrus fruit which is acidic)

-eat natural honey

-absolutely the best thing is cider vinegar (you can buy it at health food stores)

P.S. only take around 2 tea-spoons of cider vinegar a day (I tried half a cup full and it made me gag).

P.P.S I didn't really notice any difference, but I didn't have the patience to try it for more than 1 week.

Ian


this would take 90 to 180 days to start a change

all good things in life take time



jim
:ki: