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David Orange
01-06-2011, 10:56 PM
I have had what I think is a major breakthrough on the subject of ki and I have Mike Sigman, probably more than anyone, to thank for it. Also very influential have been Dan Harden, Rob John and Minoru Akuzawa.

This is a pretty subtle conception, so please read carefully and make sure you understand what I'm really saying before commenting. I'd like people who get what I'm saying to comment on this.

The change in thinking is that ki is literally a part of us, almost like an organ, like the bones, muscles and fascia and like the mind. All these elements are very different, one from the other, and must be used very differently. For example, we use our eyes in fighting, but we don't literally punch anything with our eyes. The use is different. Likewise, with people trying to determine how to make fascia contract, like muscle, it's a confusion of use. The muscle contracts, the fascia does something different.

And the mind is used in fighting, but obviously not in the same way as the muscles. But the mind affects the muscles and the fascia, and the fascia affects the muscles and the bones...

So now I think that ki is one of these kinds of parts of human beings. Just, like the fascial layer, it's a part that's easily overlooked or mistaken for something else when we account our assets.

Please pause especially here before responding.

It's always been said that ki was part of us, but more like a separate thing that moves through us. The distinction I make here is that it is a part of us like the mind or the hair.

It follows that if the ki is a part of our mind/body make-up, instead of a gas that passes through us—then we should be able to perceive it directly rather than through allusion.

So I have concluded that there is another actual layer of ourselves that is not an external energy and not really even an "energy" at all, as in "force," but part of us as in "an organ of the body" except that it is not physical. Maybe we could say that the ki is the interface of mind with body. Or ki is the computer screen that lets the mind interact with the body: the interface of mind to body. And it's also the root interface between the body and the world, through interacting with the ki of the world.

So it's sort of physical, but it's sort of mind.

But this fills some holes in some other lines of inquiry. Such as, "how do we use the fascia?" or "how do we influence the fascia?" We use the fascia to carry the ki through the body. We influence the fascia by flowing the ki through the fascial tissue. That's how the ki leads the body. The mind leads the ki and the ki flows through the fascia to where the mind leads. And the muscles contract in a smooth chain just enough, each, to accomplish the heart's desire. But the ki stays inside the body. It doesn't go anywhere. It's like a bubble or an aura that surrounds the human body, centered in the body but never going away from it.

The body has bones, blood vessels, nerves, fascia, muscles and skin. The Chinese say that the teeth are the extremity of the bones. The nails and hair are the extremity of the fascia.

Also, the mind is a part of the body when the body is alive. It comes out of the body like the fingernail emerges from the skin of the fingers, a discreet part of the thing, but different. And the ki grows between the mind and the body like hair grows from the head, different, but a very close part and maybe difficult to distinguish, one from the other.

To clarify that, I mean that I believe that the ki of an individual exists as soon as the sperm and egg are united. It's inherent in the human and it exists before the mind can form or begin to operate. It grows with the body, but it can only be cultivated and led by the mind. So it's a natural element of the mind/bod conglomeration. It precedes the mind, but its growth occurs between mind and body.

I'm told that science doesn't really accept the concept of a "mind" but only the concept of the brain. So by even discussing the mind, which we all know exists, we're already being unscientific. However, I do accept the concept of the mind and now I accept ki as something necessary for the body and mind to adhere to one another—not that the mind can't operate the body without using ki, because most people do just that. But if we consciously use ki in directing the body, it seems to improve the movements. I don't think now of "accumulating" ki in my body but of cultivating and developing the ki that is there as a part of me. I develop it through using it and through use of the ki of the world that I take in with my breath and food and drink.

To go a little further, I think the next thing is to work on perceiving this element of the body, which requires deep attention to ourself to see if we can notice ki in operation as we do things. But it also requires attention to others to see how ki operates in them. It means watching them and observing how they do things and seeing if you can tell which things come from the operation of ki.

So what are we looking for?

I can tell you some things that it likes: it like the sense of flowing motion, steady, smooth and uninterrupted, but sometimes fast and sometimes slow. But always smooth. And fast or slow, always still within itself. It likes deep breathing and a relaxed body. It likes being connected within itself and to everything around it.

How can we influence it?

Tai chi and silk reeling are recommended. Deep breathing, keeping the hands smooth, stretching the spine up, eating and drinking good things in moderation. But most important to having good ki is to have a good mental state. A rushed, distracted, nervous, tired mind will also influence the ki in a negative way. A positive, rested, observant mind is very good for the ki.

What can we do with it?

The most important thing we can do with our ki, I now recognize, is to connect ourselves with others and the universe. But as humans, we really have the bulk of our lives in close interactions with other people, so getting a connection with them is vital (besides being the natural thing). The fact is, we are very social and all desire connection with others, like so many pikachu, but society quickly grinds most of that out of us and where it is still necessary, society tends to choke it down to the lowest possible level. So people are hungry for connection and ki can let us connect with others in a subtle but fulfilling way that can only be good.

How can we fight with it?

Visit Mike, Dan, Rob or Ark and follow their instructions.

Thanks.

David

JW
01-07-2011, 12:07 AM
Hi David. I love thinking about this stuff and I can see that you do too. I wish I had more time for internet stuff-- there is such a rich combination of things that I agree with and disagree with in here. I'm sure there are lots of conversations to be had from this one post. For my part I'll start with just a couple things.
I can see that I think kind of on the same lines as you do, although I definitely think about some things differently, like the definition of ki. But I certainly agree it is a part of us. Body vs mind is tricky, but I'd say there is a tiny line between intent and ki, and they are tied at the hip across that line. The line separates what is body and what is mind.. so although intent and ki in this model are almost 2 sides of one coin, I feel that the ki is decidedly body and the intent is mind. If I understand these things correctly.

One other thing: I thought about the physical ki of the body for a long time. In other words trying to define or understand physiologically. But, what about defining or understanding functionally? In other words, not what is the makeup of ki, but what are the defining functional characteristics? From that point of view (which is NOT in conflict with the majority of what you said about the physiological ki), ki does pass through us. In other words we can "conduct" the ki of heaven and the ki of the earth through our bodies.
And-- regarding ki staying inside us rather than being outside, again I totally agree from the physiological point of view. But functionally, you could say the ki does extend outside-- it's like making the eye see implied line (if that makes any sense).

I don't think now of "accumulating" ki in my body but of cultivating and developing the ki that is there as a part of me.
Budo is farming, right? ;)

Mike Sigman
01-07-2011, 04:27 AM
I have had what I think is a major breakthrough on the subject of ki and I have Mike Sigman, probably more than anyone, to thank for it. Also very influential have been Dan Harden, Rob John and Minoru Akuzawa.

This is a pretty subtle conception, so please read carefully and make sure you understand what I'm really saying before commenting. I'd like people who get what I'm saying to comment on this.

The change in thinking is that ki is literally a part of us, almost like an organ, like the bones, muscles and fascia and like the mind. All these elements are very different, one from the other, and must be used very differently. For example, we use our eyes in fighting, but we don't literally punch anything with our eyes. The use is different. Likewise, with people trying to determine how to make fascia contract, like muscle, it's a confusion of use. The muscle contracts, the fascia does something different.

And the mind is used in fighting, but obviously not in the same way as the muscles. But the mind affects the muscles and the fascia, and the fascia affects the muscles and the bones...

So now I think that ki is one of these kinds of parts of human beings. Just, like the fascial layer, it's a part that's easily overlooked or mistaken for something else when we account our assets.

Please pause especially here before responding.

It's always been said that ki was part of us, but more like a separate thing that moves through us. The distinction I make here is that it is a part of us like the mind or the hair.

It follows that if the ki is a part of our mind/body make-up, instead of a gas that passes through us—then we should be able to perceive it directly rather than through allusion.

So I have concluded that there is another actual layer of ourselves that is not an external energy and not really even an "energy" at all, as in "force," but part of us as in "an organ of the body" except that it is not physical. Maybe we could say that the ki is the interface of mind with body. Or ki is the computer screen that lets the mind interact with the body: the interface of mind to body. And it's also the root interface between the body and the world, through interacting with the ki of the world.

So it's sort of physical, but it's sort of mind.

But this fills some holes in some other lines of inquiry. Such as, "how do we use the fascia?" or "how do we influence the fascia?" We use the fascia to carry the ki through the body. We influence the fascia by flowing the ki through the fascial tissue. That's how the ki leads the body. The mind leads the ki and the ki flows through the fascia to where the mind leads. And the muscles contract in a smooth chain just enough, each, to accomplish the heart's desire. But the ki stays inside the body. It doesn't go anywhere. It's like a bubble or an aura that surrounds the human body, centered in the body but never going away from it.

The body has bones, blood vessels, nerves, fascia, muscles and skin. The Chinese say that the teeth are the extremity of the bones. The nails and hair are the extremity of the fascia.

Also, the mind is a part of the body when the body is alive. It comes out of the body like the fingernail emerges from the skin of the fingers, a discreet part of the thing, but different. And the ki grows between the mind and the body like hair grows from the head, different, but a very close part and maybe difficult to distinguish, one from the other.

To clarify that, I mean that I believe that the ki of an individual exists as soon as the sperm and egg are united. It's inherent in the human and it exists before the mind can form or begin to operate. It grows with the body, but it can only be cultivated and led by the mind. So it's a natural element of the mind/bod conglomeration. It precedes the mind, but its growth occurs between mind and body.

I'm told that science doesn't really accept the concept of a "mind" but only the concept of the brain. So by even discussing the mind, which we all know exists, we're already being unscientific. However, I do accept the concept of the mind and now I accept ki as something necessary for the body and mind to adhere to one another—not that the mind can't operate the body without using ki, because most people do just that. But if we consciously use ki in directing the body, it seems to improve the movements. I don't think now of "accumulating" ki in my body but of cultivating and developing the ki that is there as a part of me. I develop it through using it and through use of the ki of the world that I take in with my breath and food and drink.

To go a little further, I think the next thing is to work on perceiving this element of the body, which requires deep attention to ourself to see if we can notice ki in operation as we do things. But it also requires attention to others to see how ki operates in them. It means watching them and observing how they do things and seeing if you can tell which things come from the operation of ki.

So what are we looking for?

I can tell you some things that it likes: it like the sense of flowing motion, steady, smooth and uninterrupted, but sometimes fast and sometimes slow. But always smooth. And fast or slow, always still within itself. It likes deep breathing and a relaxed body. It likes being connected within itself and to everything around it.

How can we influence it?

Tai chi and silk reeling are recommended. Deep breathing, keeping the hands smooth, stretching the spine up, eating and drinking good things in moderation. But most important to having good ki is to have a good mental state. A rushed, distracted, nervous, tired mind will also influence the ki in a negative way. A positive, rested, observant mind is very good for the ki.

What can we do with it?

The most important thing we can do with our ki, I now recognize, is to connect ourselves with others and the universe. But as humans, we really have the bulk of our lives in close interactions with other people, so getting a connection with them is vital (besides being the natural thing). The fact is, we are very social and all desire connection with others, like so many pikachu, but society quickly grinds most of that out of us and where it is still necessary, society tends to choke it down to the lowest possible level. So people are hungry for connection and ki can let us connect with others in a subtle but fulfilling way that can only be good.

How can we fight with it? How does it work? Show me. Epiphanies are not results. ;)

Visit Mike, Dan, Rob or Ark and follow their instructions.
Don't do it. Learn to think. Gather data. Work on it yourself because it really is a "Tao" (Do). If you can't figure a lot of it out yourself, no one can show you enough. On the other hand, if you aren't selective about information and don't get enough information, you can only figure out bits and pieces. It's a journey, not a group of seminars.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

David Orange
01-07-2011, 07:34 AM
How does it work? Show me. Epiphanies are not results. ;)

Well, seeing it now as a semi-physical part of myself, I intend to spend a lot of time trying to observe it in action in myself and in others and then start trying subtle interactions with other people.

In other words, I don't know how it works, but now that I know where it lives, I think I'm going to learn a lot more about it.

These things I've written above are very close to the old kinds of ideas I was busy with 35 years ago, but the fundamental difference is looking at it as a permanent part of self, like the fingernails are part of the fingers, but they're neither bone nor skin....

It just feels like a real start to understanding, but I'm looking at myself this time, instead of an imaginary gas or "power" that I have to "get" from outside. ((I know we take in some from outside, but the primary part of it for humans, I now believe, is a permanent part of each person)).

Don't do it. Learn to think. Gather data. Work on it yourself because it really is a "Tao" (Do).

I appreciate that, but, frankly, I never would have left the technique paradigm without the ideas I've understood in conversations (and arguments) here, and without the direct contact with people who can use these elements in such powerful synergy. I'll work on it alone and with others, but I still need to meet some important folks such as yourself and Forrest Chang.

If you can't figure a lot of it out yourself, no one can show you enough.

Agreed, but I wouldn't have pulled up the corner of this conundrum without a lot of clues from others with experience.

On the other hand, if you aren't selective about information and don't get enough information, you can only figure out bits and pieces. It's a journey, not a group of seminars.

Thanks.

David

Erick Mead
01-07-2011, 09:10 AM
How does it work? Show me. Epiphanies are not results. ;) Don't do it. Learn to think. Gather data. Work on it yourself because it really is a "Tao" (Do). If you can't figure a lot of it out yourself, no one can show you enough. On the other hand, if you aren't selective about information and don't get enough information, you can only figure out bits and pieces. It's a journey, not a group of seminars.

FWIW

Mike SigmanI'll second that. Any Western rescript of the idea of Ki, be it physical, geometric, poetic or otherwise must account not only for its recognition in modern martial arts usage but in the tradition from which it springs, and in areas far outside the martial context. Tradition holds that Ki is active in the sea, the wind, the earth, and all manner of things, and including empty space.

A conception which can meaningfully capture more of those aspects of the traditional recognition of the Ki concept is more likely to be applicable and usefully understood, and more likely a basis from which to extend those observations into areas the tradition does not address or never conceived of in those terms. The latter is the true task of our age, IMO.

FWIW.

Mike Sigman
01-07-2011, 09:56 AM
A conception which can meaningfully capture more of those aspects of the traditional recognition of the Ki concept is more likely to be applicable and usefully understood, and more likely a basis from which to extend those observations into areas the tradition does not address or never conceived of in those terms. The latter is the true task of our age, IMO.
As I've said a number of times, I'm interested in watching what Aikido as a whole does with the current slight entre' into things ki. I don't have a dog in this hunt (except with some of the more serious players), so I tend to be an observer.

One of the things that I notice most is that few people in "Aikido" are really interested in these things, even though there are plenty of indications that this was a critical part of Aikido. Of the people that are interested, everyone I've seen (outside of the QiJin forum mainly, but even some of them are guilty, too) so far has a limited grasp of the whole, but the idea seems to generally be that if a few jin/kokyu tricks can be grasped they have learned "aiki" or "Internal Strength". No. Internal strength is more than basic jin skills.

"Epiphanies" are good, but there is an implication of unraveling a secret, like a card trick for instance. It's actually a lot more complicated than that. I mentioned a couple of times that most people seem to be hanging around basic jin skills and calling it "internal strength". Even grabbing buzzwords like "reverse breathing", "dantien", "suit", and so on isn't going to get someone into the part that they're completely missing without backing up and getting an understanding of the whole.

In my opinion, the idea of little kingdoms and fiefdoms, now with access to "this stuff", is going to kill any forward progress in actual Aikido. "Epiphanies" alone isn't going to do it... there's no simple trick to it. However, of the positive things someone can do, talking openly among the members of the Aikido community will move the art as a whole forward nicely. So I'm basically suggesting that people, even the current groups that think they're part of the cognoscenti, openly discuss more of the how-to's and share their information among the wider community. At least the basics. If someone's knowledge is so slight that talking about basics would give away most of the 'edge' they have over others... then trust me, a more open discussion will actually be beneficial to you, too.

Keep on with those epiphanies, David, and keep sharing them. It's a viable start.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

David Orange
01-07-2011, 10:35 AM
Keep on with those epiphanies, David, and keep sharing them. It's a viable start.


I guess the real epiphany here is that my perception has changed from looking at ki as a separate thing to looking at it like "my" ki--like "my hand" or "my foot".

It was a breakthrough when I recognized the fascia as a more or less complete layer of human being.

Now I see that ki is a layer of me like mind is, and fascia and bones. I know that there is ki in the universe but now I know that I have my own and that I can do things with it. It's suddenly not theoretical, but here in me.

As for using it, I want to start with the basics of just feeling how it lives and how it works.

But right away, it fills in a gap in the layers between the body and the mind.

The first thing I'm concentrating on is how it feels and makes me feel and how it connects me with other people and affects the way they feel around me. And it affects the way I feel about them.

Without this awareness, we are separate individuals (egoes--in the sense of separate creatures, not in the sense of big-heads). With this awareness, we can directly experience the connection with others. So our ki is alive and it has sensory functions as well as communication functions in addition to the life functions it supports. So I'm starting to sense with that sense "organ" now.

And this explains a tremendous amount about Japanese culture and haragei. I knew this intellectually, but now I can really feel it. Among Japanese, they sense each other's presence and connections and intentions and inclinations rather than talking about them. Persuasion is less a matter of winning an intellectual argument than of making the other person feel so connected to you that they will support whatever you say.

All in all, it's a very refreshing feeling.

Thanks.

David

gregstec
01-07-2011, 11:08 AM
I guess the real epiphany here is that my perception has changed from looking at ki as a separate thing to looking at it like "my" ki--like "my hand" or "my foot".

It was a breakthrough when I recognized the fascia as a more or less complete layer of human being.

Now I see that ki is a layer of me like mind is, and fascia and bones. I know that there is ki in the universe but now I know that I have my own and that I can do things with it. It's suddenly not theoretical, but here in me.

As for using it, I want to start with the basics of just feeling how it lives and how it works.

But right away, it fills in a gap in the layers between the body and the mind.

The first thing I'm concentrating on is how it feels and makes me feel and how it connects me with other people and affects the way they feel around me. And it affects the way I feel about them.

Without this awareness, we are separate individuals (egoes--in the sense of separate creatures, not in the sense of big-heads). With this awareness, we can directly experience the connection with others. So our ki is alive and it has sensory functions as well as communication functions in addition to the life functions it supports. So I'm starting to sense with that sense "organ" now.

And this explains a tremendous amount about Japanese culture and haragei. I knew this intellectually, but now I can really feel it. Among Japanese, they sense each other's presence and connections and intentions and inclinations rather than talking about them. Persuasion is less a matter of winning an intellectual argument than of making the other person feel so connected to you that they will support whatever you say.

All in all, it's a very refreshing feeling.

Thanks.

David

Hi David,

IMO, some very good perspectives on how to view it and learn to know it better - I will try to incorporate aspects of your approach in my continuous pursuit of this stuff.

Greg

MM
01-07-2011, 12:36 PM
I look to what I've experienced for a lot of things. When I look to the people who are interested in these things, I find that they realize they're beginners. They realize there's a whole lot to this stuff. They feel like kids in a candy store because of the huge potential this stuff has to make their martial art worth something more to them.

They are a wide diversity of people from all aikido organizations ... well, let's just name those organizations, shall we. Ki Society, Shodokan, Yoshinkan, ASU, USAF, Aikikai, Birankai, and offshoots of the above. These people that I've stood in rooms with and trained with, all (except for the very rare one or two individuals) were upstanding, hard working, intelligent, witty, and great people there to learn this stuff. None so far have heralded that they know it all. In fact, the opposite. They've realized how deep this stuff is and are all that more giddy at learning, training, discovering it.

That's just the aikido side of it. Let's add the rest of the people from karate, judo, FMAs, BJJ, TKD, CMAs and Daito ryu. They're just like the aikido people I've described above.

Every one of them is working on these skills. Not only that, but they are doing it across organizations! Talk about working together. They are white belts to shihans. These people, by working together, bring hope not only to their own art, but to all the martial arts involved. I don't know of anything in the history of the martial arts that has brought people together like it has now. Aiki, internal strength, internal skills, internal power, whatever you want to call it, has been shown to be a decidedly specific training paradigm to instill solid martial skills in a person's body such that it begins to fulfill what the martial arts were there for in the first place. To. Be. Strong. And if you take that as a negative, you should research what that really means.

This group talks more about this stuff than ever before. The talk takes place in emails, forums, phone conversations and in person. Talks range from basic concepts to more advanced stuff that perhaps one can't yet do, but is looking forward to. From history to current trends and everything in between.

Just to show the dedication of these people, I know about one person who had traveled to another state for a different kind of training. This person had been up for over 12 hours, then drove for 4 hours to get together with some people to talk and train this internal stuff for a couple of hours. Then drove 4 hours back before getting just a few hours sleep to get up the next day.

Or another person who flew long hours from another country.

Or several people who have picked up and moved to where they can train.

So, I look at the hundreds of people from across the United States and a few countries and I see them reaching out to one another to help each other become better. They train together, tend to buy each other meals, share expenses, cut some slack when people are having financial difficulties, pool together to help other people, and support each other. Hundreds. From about every martial art there is. I think what some people have reiterated to me is relevant here: Budo Is All About Relationships.

Right now, I see Aiki building Golden Bridges.

Ueshiba would be proud.

David Orange
01-07-2011, 01:13 PM
IMO, some very good perspectives on how to view it and learn to know it better - I will try to incorporate aspects of your approach in my continuous pursuit of this stuff.


Thanks, Greg. I'm exhillarated and refresehed. I'm not even seriously worried about how to apply this in martial context. It's just so amazing to realize very directly that I have a whole other level of myself that I just lost touch with. As if I had more of a grasp of it earlier--no. I just read a lot of what Tohei and Ueshiba said and I believed it and tried to understand and use it.

But it was as an individual trying to get something that was not part of himself.

Now it's the recognition that it's a part of me like my heart is part of me. Now I'm feeling with this newly-recognized sense organ that does so much more than just sense things....

With my wife, for instance, I suddenly realized that trying to connect with her through discussing the various public and private issues and responsibilites we shared was not doing it. When I just shifted my attention to feeling her ki with my ki, there was an immediate change and without my having said or done anything unusual, it seemed that she felt a lot more comfortable and relaxed. Because I was feeling the union of ourselves instead of being a "self" trying to discuss some issue with another "self". And my son was suddenly much calmer and better behaved last night, as well. I think they both felt this level of connection that removed any doubts or underlying anxieties they might have.

Now, as Mike said, seeing the whole picture is difficult. Realizing that you have fascia is one thing, but realizing that the fascia carries the ki and that the ki (your own ki) is already circulating through the body via the fascia causes a lot of the things already said about fascia to become clear. The fascia affects the ki and the ki affects the fascia. They're meant to work together with the mind and the bones/muscles/nerves/organs to make a complete person.

Also, some more recognitions about the fascia or "the suit".

1. Don't crease the suit!

if you use Mike's balloon analogy, you can bend the suit, but when you crease it, it seriously weakens the value and also constricts the flow of the ki. So you want to keep the suit soft, open and not creased.

2. I think the suit responds very differently to ki than to anything else.

So if you try to electrify fascial tissue to make it contract, you're missing the point. You can chemicalize it, electrify it or do whatever you want to study it, but it won't give the same kind of results at fascia energized by the ki.

And a bunch of other stuff.

I started aikido in 2/74 but didn't stick with it. When I came back some months later, I saw a guy who was there the first night I attended. I asked him, "Have you found your ki yet?"

For years after that, that question seemed stupid.

But now my feeling is that, almost 40 years later, I have found my ki.

Now, as to martial arts, I think we all understand now that the "universal" ki and the way we would use ki in martial arts are not quite the same thing. The martial arts require refinement and development of the ki. So this first step I've taken is not a declaration that now I can fajing King Kong. Using this for martial arts is still going to take a lot of development.

But I'm still psyched!

Best to all.

David

David Orange
01-07-2011, 01:17 PM
...Budo Is All About Relationships.

Right now, I see Aiki building Golden Bridges.

Ueshiba would be proud.

I think he would roll his eyes and shake his head at me, but I think he would be smiling.

Really, from one day to the next, I feel much less like a separate individual having problems with other people and more like a drop of water in a great ocean, just moving along with all the rest of us.

It's a better feeling but it still puts the work back on me.

Best to you.

David

gregstec
01-07-2011, 01:19 PM
I look to what I've experienced for a lot of things. When I look to the people who are interested in these things, I find that they realize they're beginners. They realize there's a whole lot to this stuff. They feel like kids in a candy store because of the huge potential this stuff has to make their martial art worth something more to them.

They are a wide diversity of people from all aikido organizations ... well, let's just name those organizations, shall we. Ki Society, Shodokan, Yoshinkan, ASU, USAF, Aikikai, Birankai, and offshoots of the above. These people that I've stood in rooms with and trained with, all (except for the very rare one or two individuals) were upstanding, hard working, intelligent, witty, and great people there to learn this stuff. None so far have heralded that they know it all. In fact, the opposite. They've realized how deep this stuff is and are all that more giddy at learning, training, discovering it.

That's just the aikido side of it. Let's add the rest of the people from karate, judo, FMAs, BJJ, TKD, CMAs and Daito ryu. They're just like the aikido people I've described above.

Every one of them is working on these skills. Not only that, but they are doing it across organizations! Talk about working together. They are white belts to shihans. These people, by working together, bring hope not only to their own art, but to all the martial arts involved. I don't know of anything in the history of the martial arts that has brought people together like it has now. Aiki, internal strength, internal skills, internal power, whatever you want to call it, has been shown to be a decidedly specific training paradigm to instill solid martial skills in a person's body such that it begins to fulfill what the martial arts were there for in the first place. To. Be. Strong. And if you take that as a negative, you should research what that really means.

This group talks more about this stuff than ever before. The talk takes place in emails, forums, phone conversations and in person. Talks range from basic concepts to more advanced stuff that perhaps one can't yet do, but is looking forward to. From history to current trends and everything in between.

Just to show the dedication of these people, I know about one person who had traveled to another state for a different kind of training. This person had been up for over 12 hours, then drove for 4 hours to get together with some people to talk and train this internal stuff for a couple of hours. Then drove 4 hours back before getting just a few hours sleep to get up the next day.

Or another person who flew long hours from another country.

Or several people who have picked up and moved to where they can train.

So, I look at the hundreds of people from across the United States and a few countries and I see them reaching out to one another to help each other become better. They train together, tend to buy each other meals, share expenses, cut some slack when people are having financial difficulties, pool together to help other people, and support each other. Hundreds. From about every martial art there is. I think what some people have reiterated to me is relevant here: Budo Is All About Relationships.

Right now, I see Aiki building Golden Bridges.

Ueshiba would be proud.

Nice post Mark - and a good summary of what I have being seeing as well - of course, some of that experience has been with you :)

Greg

Mike Sigman
01-07-2011, 01:19 PM
Aiki, internal strength, internal skills, internal power, whatever you want to call it, has been shown to be a decidedly specific training paradigm to instill solid martial skills in a person's body such that it begins to fulfill what the martial arts were there for in the first place. To. Be. Strong. And if you take that as a negative, you should research what that really means. Well, I'd disagree that "Aiki", as it has been characterized on this forum is the same thing as "internal strength". I'd be willing to say that it can be *part* of internal strength, but I haven't seen anyone really encapsulate internal strength in a term like "Aiki", although I understand the implication. It's demonstrably not really accurate, though. Not that I'm concerned about it; I just wanted to note it for the record, as I've done a few times before.

Right now, I see Aiki building Golden Bridges.

Ueshiba would be proud. Well, it's a positive expression. However, pretty much the same comment could have been found (more or less) a number of times in the past about just plain "Aikido". Building bridges. Discussions about the high-level of Aikido, and so forth. But then, think back to the explosions and personal rancor that burst out when this latest topic of ki/kokyu, etc., developed on the forum. I'd suggest that if Ikeda Sensei hadn't been involved with ki-development things, that the whole topic would have been quashed largely by Aikido "seniors" who at the time insisted there was nothing about Aikido that they didn't already know.

Fast forward to the reported scenario of people saying something to the effect of "I didn't know that I didn't know". One of the troubling parts to that particular scenario, in my personal opinion, is that I know from experience that it's very difficult for most people with habituated movement patterns in a martial-art to make the radical changeover to "move from the hara". What's pretty easy to do is to get a few here-and-there aspects of muscle-jin and sigh in self-satisfaction. Not that I knock it, if that's what people want to do, but I think that they should know what they don't know before they run into another "I didn't know that I didn't know situation" (and there is a big one looming).

So sure, just as some 'seniors' in Aikido knew all there was to know before some of the jin/kokyu stuff (and some guesses about other things) came along, it's easy for someone to set themselves up in exactly the same assumptive manner that there's really not much more to learn. But think again about the body mechanics and how doing something like Aikido (or judo or whatever) wrong for a number of years can actually make progress more difficult later on when someone finds out that they "didn't know that they didn't know". My point to David was that open discussions and epiphanies being thrashed out in public could probably save the same embarrassing situation of "I didn't know that I didn't know" from happening again. Although I would hope that the search is actually for knowledge and not just the "I'm an expert" stuff that caught a lot of experts this last time around.

So kudos to David. I'm going to be interested to watch how this develops in the Aikido community.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
01-07-2011, 01:23 PM
Whoops, I should have added that one of the best ways for everyone to progress forward is to also do what Mark Murray did: post videos of what you're doing and solicit analysis and critiques.

Mark, if you're up to it sometime, why don't you re-publish some of the videos you had up before (or some new ones) and let's try a deeper analysis.

2 cents.

Mike

Lee Salzman
01-07-2011, 01:50 PM
Well, I'd disagree that "Aiki", as it has been characterized on this forum is the same thing as "internal strength". I'd be willing to say that it can be *part* of internal strength, but I haven't seen anyone really encapsulate internal strength in a term like "Aiki", although I understand the implication. It's demonstrably not really accurate, though. Not that I'm concerned about it; I just wanted to note it for the record, as I've done a few times before.

The danger might really be that anyone's characterization of "internal strength" is actually different from anyone else's, and that in our rush to be good social animals and conform to a consistent definition, we squash our understandings to fit with someone else's conception rather than embracing ambiguity and diversity in understanding and application. I would see reducing things down to a single terminology as an overall negative in terms of making us frightened of sharing, rather than free to share things that might not fit into a hivemind mentality. It may make us believe we already know things we don't by virtue of using the same term to describe very different nuances and so decrease the drive to learn new things.

If someone wants to call their thing "aiki", and someone wants to call their thing "internal strength", all the better, because 5 minutes in-person together will easily clear up the value of each amongst the proponents of each that 5 months, maybe 5 years, of discussion would never do, and usually ends up in sharing some beers rather than invocations of Godwin's law.

Fast forward to the reported scenario of people saying something to the effect of "I didn't know that I didn't know". One of the troubling parts to that particular scenario, in my personal opinion, is that I know from experience that it's very difficult for most people with habituated movement patterns in a martial-art to make the radical changeover to "move from the hara". What's pretty easy to do is to get a few here-and-there aspects of muscle-jin and sigh in self-satisfaction. Not that I knock it, if that's what people want to do, but I think that they should know what they don't know before they run into another "I didn't know that I didn't know situation" (and there is a big one looming).

But should it be difficult? Shouldn't it feel so ridiculously and obviously better to apply our body in a certain way that we simply want to give up our old habitual patterns, because once having tasted another way, the old patterns just feel silly? The nuance in my question there is of actually feeling the better way subjectively, rather than just trying to mechanically mimic some pattern of movements or exercises, thus pushing the difficulty of the issue onto getting that feeling... Or is it not that way?

I know I've reached a point where a lot of things have been thrust in front of me, and once having felt them, there was simply no going back, ever. They changed how I open doors, how I lift every day objects, how I walk or stand even, not even getting into what their martial applications were... And these ideas probably were not very deep on the rabbit hole scale you are implying.

Mike Sigman
01-07-2011, 02:05 PM
The danger might really be that anyone's characterization of "internal strength" is actually different from anyone else's, and that in our rush to be good social animals and conform to a consistent definition, we squash our understandings to fit with someone else's conception rather than embracing ambiguity and diversity in understanding and application. I would see reducing things down to a single terminology as an overall negative in terms of making us frightened of sharing, rather than free to share things that might not fit into a hivemind mentality. It may make us believe we already know things we don't by virtue of using the same term to describe very different nuances and so decrease the drive to learn new things. Well, and I've said this before, there's already a very consistent terminology about these skills. What's happened in the West is that there's still some idea that someone can make up their own particular take on these skills and legitimately apply the terminology to that take. I disagree with the approach in the same way that I disagree that someone can "do their own thang" and legitimately call it "Aikido" or "Taijiquan" or "Yiquan", or whatever, because the implication then becomes that the terms have no fixed meaning and worst of all, there is no incorrect way to do things. Of course there's an incorrect way to do things. Look how much time Ueshiba spent parroting the classical literature, in part as an indicator that he understood the correct way to do things (notice his use of the 4 Poles or Eight Gates, as an example).

But should it be difficult? Shouldn't it feel so ridiculously and obviously better to apply our body in a certain way that we simply want to give up our old habitual patterns, because once having tasted another way, the old patterns just feel silly? The nuance in my question there is of actually feeling the better way subjectively, rather than just trying to mechanically mimic some pattern of movements or exercises, thus pushing the difficulty of the issue onto getting that feeling... Or is it not that way? I don't know for sure about "feeling" as a criterion for the simple reason that most people are neophytes and can't really differentiate between, for example, a large dollop of power done one way to them and a large dollop of power done a very different way to them. Right? But that being said, yes there should be demonstrable and 'feelable" results, *plus* there should be a statable logic that makes sense in terms of physics/physiology. If it was just opinions, it would be a waste of time. Discussion, as David and Mark and a few others are doing is a good thing. I'd encourage it, personally.
I know I've reached a point where a lot of things have been thrust in front of me, and once having felt them, there was simply no going back, ever. They changed how I open doors, how I lift every day objects, how I walk or stand even, not even getting into what their martial applications were... And these ideas probably were not very deep on the rabbit hole scale you are implying.It sounds like you are talking about basic jin things. Good. Keep practicing. Do you see the logic of the fact that it takes a long time to acquire even that skill to the point where it is automatic and that if you jumped too quickly into applications, competition, etc., you really wouldn't have had sufficient time to imbue those skills so you'd be in effect practicing two different forms of movement? Ueshiba was doing the traditional thing by forbidding too-early competition, as you should easily see.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Lee Salzman
01-07-2011, 02:24 PM
Well, and I've said this before, there's already a very consistent terminology about these skills. What's happened in the West is that there's still some idea that someone can make up their own particular take on these skills and legitimately apply the terminology to that take. I disagree with the approach in the same way that I disagree that someone can "do their own thang" and legitimately call it "Aikido" or "Taijiquan" or "Yiquan", or whatever, because the implication then becomes that the terms have no fixed meaning and worst of all, there is no incorrect way to do things. Of course there's an incorrect way to do things. Look how much time Ueshiba spent parroting the classical literature, in part as an indicator that he understood the correct way to do things (notice his use of the 4 Poles or Eight Gates, as an example).

The terminology is peanuts, though. Why begrudge someone for explaining an idea as they truly understand it? What seems more important is the ability to get someone else to do it. If someone is not getting something, should we feel bound by standardized methods of passing on information and practicing, placing all the burden on the student to make them work, or is it not better to continually reframe the issue until it does manage to convey the subjective experience of an idea (which may defy any and all terminology), if our goal is in fact to pass on ability?

I don't know for sure about "feeling" as a criterion for the simple reason that most people are neophytes and can't really differentiate between, for example, a large dollop of power done one way to them and a large dollop of power done a very different way to them. Right? But that being said, yes there should be demonstrable and 'feelable" results, *plus* there should be a statable logic that makes sense in terms of physics/physiology. If it was just opinions, it would be a waste of time.

To clarify, I don't mean the student feeling something done to him, I mean the student feeling himself doing the thing, the subjective experience of the action itself.

It sounds like you are talking about basic jin things. Good. Keep practicing. Do you see the logic of the fact that it takes a long time to acquire even that skill to the point where it is automatic and that if you jumped too quickly into applications, competition, etc., you really wouldn't have had sufficient time to imbue those skills so you'd be in effect practicing two different forms of movement? Ueshiba was doing the traditional thing by forbidding too-early competition, as you should easily see.

In my own practice, there is a time and place for discovering abilities, a place for refining them, and a place for verifying/testing them in reality. First I need to feel what it feels like inside me, then I need to work on reproducing that on a reliable basis and strengthening it, then I need to find contexts where that ability breaks down to feed back into the discovery and refinement processes. I think so long as that progression is clear in my head, competition/verification in reality is extremely valuable to me, but not by itself a thing that fulfills all parts of that progression.

But if I just jumped to the end part of that progression without having anything in mind I wanted to verify, it does me no real good, true (as empirically determined by many years of floundering). But at the same time, if I don't test what I am building regularly, I may be building nothing or even worse, something that I don't want or didn't Intend (also as empirically determined by years of floundering :eek:).

Mike Sigman
01-07-2011, 02:35 PM
The terminology is peanuts, though. Why begrudge someone for explaining an idea as they truly understand it? What seems more important is the ability to get someone else to do it. If someone is not getting something, should we feel bound by standardized methods of passing on information and practicing, placing all the burden on the student to make them work, or is it not better to continually reframe the issue until it does manage to convey the subjective experience of an idea (which may defy any and all terminology), if our goal is in fact to pass on ability?
Well, let's use that same logic to argue that almost anyone can (and does) teach their impression of Aikido as "explaining an idea as they truly understand it". They "get people to do Aikido" and wear black culottes... who can tell the difference? And so on. Right now, I'll guarantee you that there are a number of different takes being taught by a number of different people as "aiki". Are they all teaching the students what could convincingly be taught as passable jin/kokyu skills in classical martial-arts? They can't be. So yes, there's a reason to try to mesh terms with the accepted definitions.

Remember the old "Teacher Test" I did that everyone made too much noise about? What happened was that after listening to some self-styled "Xingyi" teacher drone on an on about himself for 4 hours, in desperation I asked him to place his palm on my (right) chest and hit me without pulling his hand back. So he did. And it was very obvious that after all the talk about "internal", his ability to hit was still mostly shoulder derived. Not dantien/hara. That immediately tells us about all the rest of the stuff he does and logically, he doesn't really do justice to a so-called "internal" martial art. Would you suggest that his take on "internal" was a valid one?

Mike

Lee Salzman
01-07-2011, 02:48 PM
Well, let's use that same logic to argue that almost anyone can (and does) teach their impression of Aikido as "explaining an idea as they truly understand it". They "get people to do Aikido" and wear black culottes... who can tell the difference? And so on. Right now, I'll guarantee you that there are a number of different takes being taught by a number of different people as "aiki". Are they all teaching the students what could convincingly be taught as passable jin/kokyu skills in classical martial-arts? They can't be. So yes, there's a reason to try to mesh terms with the accepted definitions.

Remember the old "Teacher Test" I did that everyone made too much noise about? What happened was that after listening to some self-styled "Xingyi" teacher drone on an on about himself for 4 hours, in desperation I asked him to place his palm on my (right) chest and hit me without pulling his hand back. So he did. And it was very obvious that after all the talk about "internal", his ability to hit was still mostly shoulder derived. Not dantien/hara. That immediately tells us about all the rest of the stuff he does and logically, he doesn't really do justice to a so-called "internal" martial art. Would you suggest that his take on "internal" was a valid one?

Mike

We're agreeing here in this scenario, just to be clear about that and get it out of the way. :) Yeah, at some point you can't just telepath all communication between two people, and you do need to be able to share some ideas. But if the concept the words are pointing at has not actually been shared between the conversants, words can only do harm (song quote very intended). So where and when is terminology useful? And yah, as you point out, one test is worth an unlimited supply of words...

If he just showed what he was doing and didn't try to label it as anything, the misunderstanding would have never happened. He moved one way, you would have liked him to move another way to agree with a certain definition. I think I am just saying that "internal" might be too broad and reductive a term that it will inherently always create such misunderstandings. Terminology might be better left for scenarios that are easier to verify. Instead, maybe we are better off training together and sharing that way so we clear up misunderstandings sooner before they are roaring debates and create animosity.

Mike Sigman
01-07-2011, 02:59 PM
Terminology might be better left for scenarios that are easier to verify. Instead, maybe we are better off training together and sharing that way so we clear up misunderstandings sooner before they are roaring debates and create animosity.Well, just the basic entre' (not the whole thing, by any means) into a discussion of "internal strength" is going to be the ability to move the body from the dantien and it should be an ingrained ability. If in a simple push against my chest a person has to use his shoulder, he's not even in the discussion. Some dantien/hara and a lot of muscle on top of it would also be telling. Incomplete ki development would also be instantly obvious. Use of the dantien in an inefficient way would also show up. There's a logic to these kinds of movements that precludes everyone's opinion as being "just as valid as Joe's opinion". Doesn't work like that.

But whatever. I'm happy to watch people do whatever is their fancy, so don't get me wrong. It's just that the logic is pretty immutable and I was arguing against the idea that everyone's opinion is valid. It can't be. Not every scratching of numbers on the blackboard is proper mathematics, either.

YMMV

Mike Sigman

oisin bourke
01-08-2011, 06:49 AM
David,

Thank you very much for this post. I found it very thought provoking.

Have you read "Discovering Aiki" By Tatsuo Kimura, Sagawa's student?

He describes Aiki in terms very similar to yours. For example, on pages 30-31 he writes:

"(After doing sumo exercises for 14 years)... I realised I wasn't training my muscles, but rather something inside my body...something very near the core of the body that was not the physical body was being strengthened by the exercise....these are conscious techniques...not muscular power or Ki. However, since the conscious world is non-material, it usually has no influence over the physical world. Aiki is like a key to combine them."

David Orange
01-08-2011, 09:47 AM
"(After doing sumo exercises for 14 years)... I realised I wasn't training my muscles, but rather something inside my body...something very near the core of the body that was not the physical body was being strengthened by the exercise....these are conscious techniques...not muscular power or Ki. However, since the conscious world is non-material, it usually has no influence over the physical world. Aiki is like a key to combine them."

Oisin,

Thanks for that!

Earlier, I would have said it makes sense, but that would have been in an intellectual way. Now it makes sense in a physical way. But what he says here is a lot more than what I've noticed.

I'm not sure if Discovering Aiki is the book I read. I did read Kimura's recently translated book on Sagawa and aiki but I've loaned it out and haven't seen it in a while. In that book, Sagawa is quoted as saying that aiki is a battle between souls.

And that's another part of this topic. It's sort of like a forensic dissection of martial arts conducted by martial artists. For years we've been taking apart the muscles and the bones and nervous system and it was like a new age when fascia was recognized—even though the Chinese had been telling us about it. And once we had fascia to consider, it was "how do you make the fascia contract?" thinking that the only way to use it was like you use muscles.

And now we've got the body pretty well illuminated, but until now, my thinking has really been that the brain controls the body via the nerves, like a robot with electrical circuits running through the extremities to operate servos and make it walk and move its arms, etc.

And that brings us finally to the interface between mind and body. And seeing that as ki....that has always been there, when I thought it was something I had to somehow make or get....

It's like someone telling you "Your car must have an alternator to work," so you search everywhere for years to find an "alternator" and travel and spend tons of money in the search for an "alternator" until one day...

But we also have the tradition of "soul" and "spirit," and it's not uncommon for ki to be understood as "spirit". Which may be the best, really, for the functions I understand ki to fulfill. However, last night, discussing this with a biologist and a doctor from India, we were comparing it to the concept of pran, which the Indians understand as "soul". And the biologist believed that there is too much physical aspect for ki to be "spirit". The thing is, in the Western tradition, the soul lives forever as a discrete individual, whereas a person's ki seems to have the identity it has as long as it is between the mind and body it powers. I do think that ki is the life in the body, or the "power" of life in the body. And it's the life, or power of life, in the world.

Anyway, I'm finding it very instructive to examine how ki interacts among people and observe it in action in people's daily work and activity.

As a martial arts application, I've been thinking about agete, where the opponent grips your wrists and you raise your hands straight up, like Sagawa, or Okamoto. Rob John did it to me with completely soft arms and no effort or feeling of strength, but I couldn't feel him do it and I couldn't resist or let go.

Now, my thinking, without having experimented, is that you're already mingling your ki with the opponent's before he grabs your wrists. And with your ki fully blended with his, you direct your mind straight up: your ki goes straight up and his ki follows. And in that moment, you effortlessly raise your hands. In theory.

Or do you direct the ki up the opponent's arms? It seems like that would have a different effect...

And there are just all kinds of other things and other ways to use it.

So as I try just to get feel for ki working in myself, I'm starting with how it relates to the dantien and how that relates to the arms and legs.

But now, though I know this is going to take a lot of training and practice, if someone tells me to do something with my ki, it's going to be as if they say to do something with my hand.

Thanks.

David

David Orange
01-08-2011, 09:50 AM
...I was arguing against the idea that everyone's opinion is valid. It can't be. Not every scratching of numbers on the blackboard is proper mathematics, either.

Well, it wasn't...until the internet made everything equally true!:p

David

Budd
01-08-2011, 08:07 PM
David, I encourage you to keep thinking this through, working on it and figuring out how it makes sense to you and keep trying to explain it to us! I have my own views around it - basically I kinda subscribe to the "all this is set in stone" stuff . . but then where it gets personal is that we each have a way of making that general phenomena of truths applicable for us in unique ways.

One of the things that has struck me with working with people trying to show you how to get a foot in the door with IS stuffs is that almost universally, they are doing things that "trick" your body into moving in a new way. I think the critical aspect is twofold from here:

1) You hold yourself absolutely accountable to latch on to the "logic" of what this new way of moving demands and then start to retrain everything to move this way (it does no good if you just keep doing what you were already doing and add a little IS to it). This is the part that requires analyzing what you're doing as compared to external criteria.

2) You latch completely onto the "feelings" you had when moving in this new way. Own it. Chase it like a m*****f***er. Obsess over it. You have to make it a part of you (a way, a Do, a Tao) so that it gradually is part of everything you do (not just opening doors - raising coffee, holding your child, etc.) Always assume you're doing it wrong, that's how you keep improving. The ones that stagnate forever are the ones that think they "get it".

Then its incumbent on you to keep getting hands on with people that know more than you - find them, hound them. Be annoying, but respectful, enthusiastic, but restrained, show them that you are a seeker like them and you might get some glimpses of new stuff to work on.

Anyways, thanks for sharing and keeping the conversation going. I think this is a step in the direction these discussions need to go - vis a vis - "how to's" and "how's it work" . .

David Orange
01-09-2011, 05:08 PM
I wanted to thank everyone who has contributed so far. I have some more points I want to sketch out, but this post is intended as a sort of landmark of where my understanding is at the moment. I think only a few people will be able to judge that, but I think if I am right, those who know will appreciate it.

So....here is the thing.

This morning, I was thinking about defense and I had the feeling of receiving an attack in such a way that I just enter and crush the other guy down by bending him backward and just crushing him down to my feet. I felt this as a ki/body movement, with powerful downward crushing ki, though not using much physical effort.

So then I thought, "That must be what they're talking about in daito ryu, bringing the attacker down right at your feet."

And I thought about that for a little while and I suddenly felt, "Oh, yeah. That's the same as pi quan (splitting fist) in xing yi."

So that's where I am now, with the impression that the daito ryu drop-at-your-feet method is the same ki usage as the xing yi splitting fist, pi quan.

So who can tell me if that is true?

Thanks.

David

Lorel Latorilla
01-09-2011, 08:02 PM
Hi David,

This is an interesting thread. I think a lot of your sentiments can be described in Ushiro Kenji's book "Karate and KI" (although often in terms that seem too mystical and inapplicable--could be a poor translation), and only mentions the exercises in Karate as a vehicle to explore this ki.

I think most of us had problems whether to approach this biomechanically or almost mystically by describing this stuff in terms of 'ki' or 'intent' or whatever (which is what Ushiro Kenji does a lot). I think the important think to realize is that controlling 'ki' or feeling the sensation of 'ki' in the other person is achieved through biomechanical correction--that is, the way we use our body must be first set before we can actually feel the 'sensation' of 'crushing' down our opponent to our feet. There is an actual way that that is achieved, and I think we're in an interesting period where this stuff is close to being codified and industrialised through the methods of Western science. While, the concept of 'ki' (just as consciousness can not be, and 'ki' being a 'thing' of consciousness) cannot be measured by scientists, the 'ki-body' used to achieve that sensation of 'controlling ki' can be. That is, there must be a way of moving, a way of contracting certain muscles that allows the consciousness-the mind to perceive the 'ki' that in our bodies and in the bodies of other person, and these things can be described anatomically, measured, etc.

Lee Salzman
01-10-2011, 02:51 AM
I wanted to thank everyone who has contributed so far. I have some more points I want to sketch out, but this post is intended as a sort of landmark of where my understanding is at the moment. I think only a few people will be able to judge that, but I think if I am right, those who know will appreciate it.

So....here is the thing.

This morning, I was thinking about defense and I had the feeling of receiving an attack in such a way that I just enter and crush the other guy down by bending him backward and just crushing him down to my feet. I felt this as a ki/body movement, with powerful downward crushing ki, though not using much physical effort.

So then I thought, "That must be what they're talking about in daito ryu, bringing the attacker down right at your feet."

And I thought about that for a little while and I suddenly felt, "Oh, yeah. That's the same as pi quan (splitting fist) in xing yi."

So that's where I am now, with the impression that the daito ryu drop-at-your-feet method is the same ki usage as the xing yi splitting fist, pi quan.

So who can tell me if that is true?

Thanks.

David

What if you did pi quan with a different ki usage, so that it wasn't the same ki usage as downwards crushing in DR? Would that make it not pi quan if you defined pi quan as being that ki usage? What if the ki usage in pi quan was not the same, would that make it somehow wrong to use that same ki usage in pi quan then? And if pi quan is splitting, is down really just down, or is there also an up (to split), or can the splitting really happen along any line (or non-line), and do the two directions have to be direct opposites, or even just one or two directions? :p

David Orange
01-10-2011, 11:01 AM
What if you did pi quan with a different ki usage, so that it wasn't the same ki usage as downwards crushing in DR? Would that make it not pi quan if you defined pi quan as being that ki usage? What if the ki usage in pi quan was not the same, would that make it somehow wrong to use that same ki usage in pi quan then? And if pi quan is splitting, is down really just down, or is there also an up (to split), or can the splitting really happen along any line (or non-line), and do the two directions have to be direct opposites, or even just one or two directions? :p

Now that's what I'm looking for, Lee. Sort of. But you do clarify more about the nature of the ki in the various usages.

About pi quan for those who don't know:

In xing yi, I learned only the five fundamental fists. My preference is probably for shuei (?), an upward punch, more or less, but I was told that pi, the splitting fist, is the foundational fist of that system.

The appearance of pi quan:

It's basically a downward hammer fist, but it goes through a circle, the hand coming down by the waist and circling up past the opposite shoulder to drop down about sternum high directly in front of you, like all these five fists.

The problem of pi quan:

It seems weak and the feeling is that it's the most arm-dependent move of the five punches. It's hard to do it with any sense of power and it begs for muscle strength.

The "solution" for pi quan:

I suddenly felt it as a movement of ki, or I directed my ki through the inner equivalent of the outer pi quan. The circle became more important than the snap down at the end. With the circle, combined with stepping and the intermingling of your own ki with the attacker's, this could put his lower body forward while bending his upper body back over, as if you were stringing a bow, bending it back into the opposite curve. And where you have the bow well back, through use of the circle, here comes the downward solid drop of ki straight down at your feet, and it can be done with a slam.

And just before I felt pi quan in that way, I had just been thinking, actually, of a no-form application of ki/body response to an attack, and it was basically the same as described above, but with a different use of the hands. I thought, you could bend him back and slam him down by making the circle with the ki, blending his movement and leading him into this backward-bent place, then dropping the ki.

And then I thought, "Hey, maybe that's what they mean in daito ryu, dropping him at your feet."

And then I thought, "Hey, that's what pi quan is about!"

The truth about pi quan:

As Lee well explains, this is a truly multiplicit thing. Pi quan is also found in tai chi and it is also done in different ways from one type of xing yi to another. In some, instead of a fist, it's done with the edge of the open hand forward, like an axe. And as Lee also points out, it doesn't have to be downward, but can also go upward or both back and forward, which is one reason it's called "splitting".

So the first answer to my question is an uqualified "mebbe".

Thanks, Lee!

David

David Orange
01-10-2011, 12:45 PM
This is an interesting thread. I think a lot of your sentiments can be described in Ushiro Kenji's book "Karate and KI" (although often in terms that seem too mystical and inapplicable--could be a poor translation), and only mentions the exercises in Karate as a vehicle to explore this ki.

Gotta get it. Gotta meet him.

I think most of us had problems whether to approach this biomechanically or almost mystically by describing this stuff in terms of 'ki' or 'intent' or whatever (which is what Ushiro Kenji does a lot). I think the important think to realize is that controlling 'ki' or feeling the sensation of 'ki' in the other person is achieved through biomechanical correction--that is, the way we use our body must be first set before we can actually feel the 'sensation' of 'crushing' down our opponent to our feet. There is an actual way that that is achieved...

Well, there's two sides to that. For actual life-and-death fighting, the ki stuff has to be expressed through body and method and those should be only the most serious methods. We don't want to face a bear with nothing more than a plastic spatula. And there's that really informative video of the old ki master who can drop all his students with his ki, then gets punched in the face by the MMA guy. I would expect that ki is best used to help set up a technique or lead him into a position that you couldn't get him into with sheer muscle.

But as for feeling the ki, I'm starting on the other side and paying attention to myself and ordinary people around me, trying to observe which parts of their being are performing what functions. They come into the room and move around and talk about things and do things all in a mixture of physical, mental and emotional energies. Ki is involved in how they move their bodies, how they use their hands and eyes, how they use their voices, tone and pacing of what they say...

And I think by becoming familiar with the ki of people who live regularly and rationally, I can develop a sort of baseline feel for "normal" ki and how to interact with it.

But even to have this observing kind of ki, I have to have a mind/body/ki organization that allows my ki to be so calm and attentive.

The ki is easily affected by both the mind and the body. When we wake up in the morning, we may find that our body is rather stiff and slow. At the same time, we may recognize that this whole thing of "ki" does not seem so vivid as it did in last night's wine-fueled eager discussions. Then the mind has to do some adjustments to the body, unkink it a little, maybe stretch some of this or that and next thing you know, the ki is purring again. It won't purr when it's cramped up in a bent and rigid body. So work the body to make the ki feel comfortable and it will feel at home and will play.

So it's an inter-related combination of mental and physical things that support one another, that we're dealing with. Just the ki is not enough. Just the body is not enough. Mind and body is not enough. Mind and Ki only = idiot. Body and ki only may = prison inmate....

But to have that ki/mind/body organization for best living, we have to coordinate muscle, bone, fascia, mind, ki and breath to work effectively in nature. So for martial arts, we aren't using our whole selves if we aren't using all those elements. Technique may not be necessary, if you have enough power, but excellent technique, including all of judo, also contains important information and physical conditioning for serious situations.

Anyway, the body can weaken the ki through stiffness and cramped posture or vitalize it through movement. Certain kinds of movement can stir it up into turmoil while others can condition it and cultivate it. But the ki in the body flows through all the organs and tissues and vitalizes them. So if we don't move enough, the ki can't vitalize the body. If we move in ways that disturb the ki, we'll get sick. If we move in ways that condition and cultivate the ki, the body gets strong.

The mind can hurt the ki by refusing to interact with it. The rational mind rejects it and the ki is left to behave as it will. The rational mind cannot cure diseases caused by alienation of the ki from the self. Science cannot observe these conditions if they don't accept the existence of ki. They can only diagnose the physical or psychological manifestations of the severe inner alienation of the self. And it seems likely that if the mind can harm the ki in that way, the alienated ki can seriously disturb the mind as a result.

The proper relationship is like friendship between the mind and the ki. Think how frustrating it is to work with a computer program with a bad user interface. So if you're living without a proper relationship between the mind and the ki, it's painful. If the mind realizes that it has this powerful element of its own being, the nature of which is to support the will of the mind, the synergy can be fantastic. At any rate, it gives one the feeling of wholeness within himself, which instantly gives him a strong advantage over most people.

And a big part of the harmonization of the mind and the ki is their dual participation in using the body. Also, healing the body. The mind must use the ki to explore the body and recognize stagnations and weak spots and clear them to balance the whole body, which is the prime method of Chinese medicine. So the mind and ki together explore the fascia, muscles, bones, blood vessels, organs and nerves and condition them through movement and twisting, wringing, exertion of the extremities mediated through...the hara, where the ki can curl up and purr. Its nature is to run through all the nine crooked paths of the body and to curl up in the hara and purr.

An example of healing usage, in the thread on relaxing the shoulders, I wrote about my elbows being always somewhat bent due to having endured many badly applied elbow techniques over the years. I did have the result of opening the elbows fully through attention to muscular relaxation but they have not stayed that way. They are more open and I can put attention to it and open them further with ease. But what I've realized now is that those elbows are full of ki which has been held there for literal decades. And when I put just a little attention to letting that ki flow out of there, I feel a big response through my whole nervous system and my posture adjusts to a better form.

So the conditioning of the body can waken us to ki and the ability to feel it in others, but we will do well to learn at the same time to feel it when it is small and become familiar with how it works among normal people doing normal human things, learn to use our ki connection on that level of care and mutual help. Then we can understand the abnormal ki of an attacker as a distortion of the normal ki of a regular person and we will be better able to recognize it for what it is (though their outward appearance may be ordinary) or
move in proper relation to it.

Make no mistake, though: even recognizing his ki for what it is, a dangerous person is dangerous and more than ki swishing is required to survive an encounter with him. Read The Killer of Little Shepherds to meet Joseph Vacher, the uke all aikidoka should have in mind when they practice. Then they will be doing real budo.

http://www.amazon.com/Killer-Little-Shepherds-Forensic-Science/dp/0307266192

Best to all.

David

Lee Salzman
01-10-2011, 01:32 PM
Now that's what I'm looking for, Lee. Sort of. But you do clarify more about the nature of the ki in the various usages.

About pi quan for those who don't know:

In xing yi, I learned only the five fundamental fists. My preference is probably for shuei (?), an upward punch, more or less, but I was told that pi, the splitting fist, is the foundational fist of that system.

The appearance of pi quan:

It's basically a downward hammer fist, but it goes through a circle, the hand coming down by the waist and circling up past the opposite shoulder to drop down about sternum high directly in front of you, like all these five fists.

The problem of pi quan:

It seems weak and the feeling is that it's the most arm-dependent move of the five punches. It's hard to do it with any sense of power and it begs for muscle strength.

The "solution" for pi quan:

I suddenly felt it as a movement of ki, or I directed my ki through the inner equivalent of the outer pi quan. The circle became more important than the snap down at the end. With the circle, combined with stepping and the intermingling of your own ki with the attacker's, this could put his lower body forward while bending his upper body back over, as if you were stringing a bow, bending it back into the opposite curve. And where you have the bow well back, through use of the circle, here comes the downward solid drop of ki straight down at your feet, and it can be done with a slam.

And just before I felt pi quan in that way, I had just been thinking, actually, of a no-form application of ki/body response to an attack, and it was basically the same as described above, but with a different use of the hands. I thought, you could bend him back and slam him down by making the circle with the ki, blending his movement and leading him into this backward-bent place, then dropping the ki.

And then I thought, "Hey, maybe that's what they mean in daito ryu, dropping him at your feet."

And then I thought, "Hey, that's what pi quan is about!"

The truth about pi quan:

As Lee well explains, this is a truly multiplicit thing. Pi quan is also found in tai chi and it is also done in different ways from one type of xing yi to another. In some, instead of a fist, it's done with the edge of the open hand forward, like an axe. And as Lee also points out, it doesn't have to be downward, but can also go upward or both back and forward, which is one reason it's called "splitting".

So the first answer to my question is an uqualified "mebbe".

Thanks, Lee!

David

Here's another thought about the circle you talk about... I think the significance of it could be perhaps simpler than you you are thinking, leaving even what effect it might have on an assailant out of the equation for the moment. There is you, there is the ground, and there is a direction. You are between the ground and the direction, so how do you join the two? That was actually what I was wondering about here in this thread (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19090).

It's been a long time since I messed with pi quan/xingyiquan, and that was before I got involved with my current stuff. But what I am beginning to notice is that the path of that circle, not even as a dynamic motion, is what allows power to extend smoothly between the ground and just about anywhere that is not purely straight up. Along the way it seems to be hinting at you to collect a lot of important areas of the body that one is not very aware of in daily life. In a dynamic sense, it doesn't have to be a circle anymore, since the activation is primary, the external form is secondary, i.e. going up doesn't require a circle, but should still carry along same pathway. If the connection is there, and then someone connects with you, he ain't talking to you anymore, he's just talking to the ground now regardless of which way you are coming, right?

Erick Mead
01-11-2011, 10:23 AM
About pi quan for those who don't know:

The appearance of pi quan:

It's basically a downward hammer fist, but it goes through a circle, the hand coming down by the waist and circling up past the opposite shoulder to drop down about sternum high ...

as a movement of ki, or I directed my ki through the inner equivalent of the outer pi quan. The circle became more important than the snap down at the end. With the circle, combined with stepping and the intermingling of your own ki with the attacker's, this could put his lower body forward while bending his upper body back over, as if you were stringing a bow, bending it back into the opposite curve. ... a no-form application of ki/body response to an attack, and it was basically the same as described above, but with a different use of the hands. I thought, you could bend him back and slam him down by making the circle with the ki, blending his movement and leading him into this backward-bent place, then dropping the ki.

And then I thought, "Hey, maybe that's what they mean in daito ryu, dropping him at your feet."
.... it doesn't have to be downward, but can also go upward or both back and forward, which is one reason it's called "splitting".

FWIW -- you are describing buckling. Buckling is caused by the internal stress of compressing a column with a slight off-center load. Shear stresses and bending caused by the small lateral displacement of the earth's resistance and the applied load, concentrates shear and creates bending moments in the body. A stably buckled column takes the shape of part of a sine curve, A sine curve is the path of a point on a rolling circle, e.g. -- the shape of pi quan you describe. If the load is dynamic, it is a moving sine wave of shear stress and bending moments (or rotations).

If the circle is done correctly, the two sine waves happen but dynamically at different points in the strike. One begins at the first displacement of the strike and a sine wave of buckling goes through the body, A second one begins at the maximum extension of the circle in the strike. If done in this critical way-- it results in combining the two waves, the first reflecting against the earth and returning, to double effect that causes the top and bottom parts of the body to move in opposite directions - or shear as we would call it, "splitting" in the traditional vernacular you mentioned, and the tenchi principle in terms of aiki.

If done at a critical rate ~10 Hz, (the same as tekubi furi and furitama), you get resonance in the human body which disproportionately disrupts structure relative to the applied load.

FWIW.

Erick Mead
01-11-2011, 10:46 AM
... A sine curve is defined by a point moving around a circle, ... The other I stated would be a cylcoid. Related but different.

David Orange
01-11-2011, 02:38 PM
FWIW -- you are describing buckling.

That should be clear to anyone.

We were comparing some specific body methods.

So calling "buckling" him or "collapsing" him or "shearing" him is just more words. What do you do with your body to cause the effect?

David

Erick Mead
01-11-2011, 04:04 PM
That should be clear to anyone.

We were comparing some specific body methods.

So calling "buckling" him or "collapsing" him or "shearing" him is just more words. What do you do with your body to cause the effect?

David The same thing that happens in his body when he collapses -- note the ascending and descending waves coinciding in your example -- tenchi -

I just generate it by starting my body in a poised shear and releasing it by reversing the stress profile quickly (or in other examples cyclically back and forth). This is the "spirit of bees" -- resonance. Or by slow undulation "demon snake" -- funatori/udefuri. It all depends on the application or the load being used to prompt the action.

He dissipates it by going from a state of linear equilibrium to a state of non-linear shear and hence comes apart unless he can respond in kind to the load thus given.

You said it in your post, and I agree with you:

a movement of ki, or I directed my ki through the inner equivalent of the outer pi quan. The circle became more important than the snap down at the end. With the circle, combined with stepping and the intermingling of your own ki with the attacker's If you are asking what I hold to be ki in this context I would point you here (http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/but-why-7854/physical-theory-of-ki-a-dialogue-3404/), As in the linked portion credit goes to Ron Ragusa and Raul Rodrigo for prompting the thought that I then expounded to tie several lines of my thinking together in one piece. Thanks again, Ron.

That's as to "what." As to "how" ? -- Practice, practice, practice ... It really is trained in the kokyu undo -- IMO -- but only if one stops thinking about "what do I move" and start thinking about "what moves me." Because what passively moves me and requires no nervous system connection to actuate movement driven from the core (hara) alone -- also moves the other guy. Then I can begin to track more voluntary, driven movements in the same manner, but only then, and then I can also begin to work in deploying active stresses in place of overt movements.

It is not only possible to go the other way -- from stresses (think "frame" and some aspects of jin) to movements, but several systems seem to take that approach. Kokyu tanden ho is an example in aikido. I think the other way -- starting with moving and then getting more still, will usually be more obvious for most folks unfamiliar with paying attention to their body and its workings.

David Orange
01-11-2011, 09:34 PM
Had an interesting encounter today: I met someone for the first time and tried some IT on him—a law enforcement officer at least 20 years younger than I, with a background in wrestling and boxing, with older brothers into the same thing, one of them going to UFC. This officer has trained extensively with his UFC brother and in Brazilian jujutsu. He's in pretty good shape--looks strong and like a fighter with visible scars on his face. He's maybe four inches shorter than I, but probably close to my weight--all in muscle.

After we talked awhile, I asked if he'd like to try the push-out exercise (from Aunkai). He eagerly accepted.

I wanted to see if I could tell any difference in my push-out since my recognitions about ki—and with an experienced street fighter with no prep for what I was going to do.

So we stood face to face and I pulled my hands back and let him extend his arms to me. And then I pushed out. It was very interesting. He had no idea how to source any power with all mechanical advantages removed. He leaned on me a lot and I showed him how this would be a great opening for o goshi or tai otoshi. I didn't lean into him at all and though I really went back to my heels, I still didn't lose the advantage. I was always able to push him out. I explained how I was letting all his force go right to my feet instead of letting it catch somewhere higher up my body. I even bent backward and was able to push him out. I did notice some involvement of ki, but it wasn't making any big difference in my push-out. It was making a contribution, though, and I think that little by little that contribution will increase.

I showed him this because he was complaining of injuries including cartilage and tendons. I stressed that the ability to apply this in fighting was another thing, but that it was definitely good for his cartilage, tendons and general health. He suggested starting classes.

So I'd count that as a pretty big success. The ki aspect was really mostly in that he felt like talking to me about martial arts when I hadn't mentioned it and he'd never met me before. But he felt a connection and that's what got it going.

Interesting.

Best to all.

David

David Orange
01-14-2011, 10:00 PM
Well, it's been about nine or ten days since I had this sudden recognition and it feels as if it has changed my whole way of living. I "feel" more, almost as if I have a much larger body. And that larger mass of self buffers out a lot of stuff that previously went straight to my mind and could irritate me. Now I feel like I have a whole different way of absorbing influences from the world around me and I can stay a lot calmer.

Now, a good friend has said, "how do we apply it and condition it? That's the rub."

What I find is that you don't condition the ki the way you do the fascia, which you don't condition the same as you do muscle, which you don't condition the same as you do mind. In other words, like each of these other elements, you have to have a completely different approach to the ki, which you can learn directly from the ki itself if you remember that the exercise of it has to be conducted among the other elements, of muscle, bone, fascia, mind, etc. A really good exercise like silk reeling contains the right kind of exercise for all these elements at once. So you could do something that's "good for the ki" but it wouldn't be good for much else. So it wouldn't even be good for the ki, would it?

But apart from specific fighting condition, I think the best way to condition the ki is to really put the mind into it and pay attention to what ki is and does and what it likes. Recently, I was doing tai chi in snow and ice and a really frigid gust of wind hit me and I said, "Ooh. I don't like that." and I heard my ki say, "I do." And I was a bit taken aback and I thought, "Well, if my ki likes this, let me think again...and I eased off a lot of resistance that I was holding throughout my skin, trying to keep out the cold, I suppose. And when I released that and let the sensation of the frigid wind come on in, it almost made me feel warm, the ki responded so satisfactorily...I felt like I could come to enjoy this kind of practice.

Maybe it's not the ki that needs so much conditioning as it is our own awareness.

Now, I feel like I can't lose this awareness and it's a bit giddying because I feel like I've won the lottery. And I just read something that made me realize that what I've experienced is not trivial:

from an interview with Moshe Feldenkrais talking about ki and the hara with Denis Leri, a longtime aikido teacher and a student of Feldenkrais (slightly edited for clarityy):

""F:...you must know from your practice something, the importance of this, what they call in the language, tanden.

L: Of course, I know. And their description of it, while it may be--

F: My description of it is only in movement, I am not concerned with any of the other things.

L: But does it not come to the same thing?

F: No, it doesn't because, you see, in the one, if you say you've got chi, many people would try to be like you and do like you, and if they fail will say, "Oh, I could never get chi." To get chi, you have to possess moral courage, you have to be connected with the higher spheres of things. Therefore, you find that this is an impediment in the learning. (To a questioner) Have you chi?

L: I could not say that.

F: Oh, therefore, if you can't say it, that's what I'm talking about. You can work 20 years and you don't show it. You're not sure if you have it or you don't. Because if it's a mysterious quantity, then you must deserve it, you must be a part of an elite group, or you must be born in China. How will you get chi if it's a metaphysical thing that nobody knows what it is? Well, it's a quality like psychic healing, if you're a healer, you're a healer. If you don't heal, you are not. Now, chi is the same thing. Either you've got it or you ain't got it. If you've got it, you've got it. If you ain't got it, you ain't got it (Laughter) It's almost like EST.""

End of Segment

But the thing that struck me is that the experienced aikido man after already being a well-known teacher admits that he cannot say that he "has" ki.

Neither could I, eleven days ago, but now it is unshakeable in me because I had it long before I knew what it was. I just didn't realize that it was a permanent part of me that I could observe in action. I have inadvertently developed it somewhat over the years, but I can tell that I'm going to be "developing" it constantly for the rest of my life because it's a beautifully pleasant way to experience things and it takes a lot of mental stress away because that's one of its functions. When I say "developing" it, I mean things like learning to let it take the load it's supposed to take and quit trying to handle them with my mind. I also want to explore its capacity to allow me to interact with groups of people by interacting with their ki through me own ki (say a meeting with several people at work) to reduce my sense of separateness from the group, to make the others feel more included in the group, and to free our mental capacities for a more focused meeting, for instance.

In other words, I sense that the best conditioning of the ki is to use it for the things it's meant to do: perceive and communicate on non-mental levels.

I mentioned earlier that I get some energy from the ki of the world and I got a response from another friend. To be clear, I don't mean any kind of mystical spirit from the world, but things like air, food, drink, friendship, learning and so on, but also things like TV and radio, newspapers, the internet, music, popular culture, the government, wall street, your neighbors, your neighborhood, your work place, your work mates, and then all the old friends you still know from high school or wherever. That's a lot of force coming in and I'm beginning to see how the ki can buffer all that from the mind. Then the ki must purify itself from all that. Apparently, that is one of the functions of the hara: it's the seat of the ki, but it's also the crucible of purification of one's own ki, sort of like a liver or kidney for ki.

So when we know that many major aikido people can't say they "have" ki, I feel very fortunate that I got it even after almost forty years of seeking. But I got it by carefully considering the bones, the muscles, the fascia and how they all work together for internal power. Ki was a missing element, but even after you find it, it's not the only element for IS.

But, dang, I do feel like I've won the lottery.

Best to all.

David

Lorel Latorilla
01-14-2011, 11:10 PM
David,

Very interesting. I've been trying to figure this Ki stuff out when I was exploring 'Ki-ai' and had glimpses of what 'Ki' really meant. Like I'd experiment with my 'Ki' and turning it into a knife shape (I'd do this by inhaling, and put oxygen in my stomach, and ALMOST, on a liminal level, visualize a sword coming out of my my mouth from my hara) and look at people...and wow, it actually worked. People would look away from me, looking somewhat afraid. Your description of 'Ki' woke up my latent interests in ki and has made me realize that there is an unbroken connection between humans, that there is some essence that we are all a part of. It is only language and a sense of being a 'discreet self' (well 'self' comes from language, but I won't get into it now) that gives us the illusion of 'separation'--I won't get into these now. Now, I don't want to sound like a hippy and am all about results.

I work in a rough area in Osaka, and have to teach kids that come from broken homes. I get a lot of verbal abuse from the kids and it makes me want to stay away from the school to say the least. But this Thursday, I was able to connect with the teachers and the students. The lesson plan did not go as smoothly, but amid the chaos of kids not listening to me, not doing the activity, making fun of me, I felt this calm within the chaos. Like I could connect with the kids even in their rebellion. I noticed that the kids who are most fearful, would try to stay away from me--they would do that by hurling abusive words at me, or would ignore me, and not look at me. That is, if the abusive words did not work, they would ignore me. For the other kids that wanted to connect, what were 'abusive' words I perceived as words just to ridicule me in a light way--these kids I would get really physical with and wrestle and give them noogies, etc. It would be a very different feeling if I just focused on my program, focused on my educative ideology, and have it fail, and go away hating the kids. But my experience here has given me some keys on how to 'connect' with people. I'm not an expert at this stuff yet, and still get disturbed when a kid would say nasty things about foreigners, but now I know what I can work on.

Also, I think another exercise to 'condition' ki is to pour cold water on yourself. I learned it from the Russians. They do it for 'health', but now I see how it's good for awareness of 'ki'. When you do it, you will feel your body 'warming' up, like electricity. I think this sensation of physical warmth is the sensation when we are awake to our Ki and to the others of Ki.

Lorel Latorilla
01-14-2011, 11:20 PM
Also, I stand by my statement that there is a biomechanical standard for Ki. If you have poor posture, or don't know how to move your body well, you will never get to experience Ki. Ushiro Kenji talks about this a lot. He would often get people to sit in seiza in proper posture, have them bow, and then get someone stand on their back while they bow and do this without any strain on their back.

Mark Freeman
01-15-2011, 11:17 AM
Had an interesting encounter today: I met someone for the first time and tried some IT on him—a law enforcement officer at least 20 years younger than I, with a background in wrestling and boxing, with older brothers into the same thing, one of them going to UFC. This officer has trained extensively with his UFC brother and in Brazilian jujutsu. He's in pretty good shape--looks strong and like a fighter with visible scars on his face. He's maybe four inches shorter than I, but probably close to my weight--all in muscle.

After we talked awhile, I asked if he'd like to try the push-out exercise (from Aunkai). He eagerly accepted.

I wanted to see if I could tell any difference in my push-out since my recognitions about ki—and with an experienced street fighter with no prep for what I was going to do.

So we stood face to face and I pulled my hands back and let him extend his arms to me. And then I pushed out. It was very interesting. He had no idea how to source any power with all mechanical advantages removed. He leaned on me a lot and I showed him how this would be a great opening for o goshi or tai otoshi. I didn't lean into him at all and though I really went back to my heels, I still didn't lose the advantage. I was always able to push him out. I explained how I was letting all his force go right to my feet instead of letting it catch somewhere higher up my body. I even bent backward and was able to push him out. I did notice some involvement of ki, but it wasn't making any big difference in my push-out. It was making a contribution, though, and I think that little by little that contribution will increase.

I showed him this because he was complaining of injuries including cartilage and tendons. I stressed that the ability to apply this in fighting was another thing, but that it was definitely good for his cartilage, tendons and general health. He suggested starting classes.

So I'd count that as a pretty big success. The ki aspect was really mostly in that he felt like talking to me about martial arts when I hadn't mentioned it and he'd never met me before. But he felt a connection and that's what got it going.

Interesting.

Best to all.

David

Hi David,

this is a really interesting thread you started, thanks.

The experience you describe above and your thoughts on your own personal dicovery of ki are broadly similar to my own. I used to think if ot a something 'separate', but now experience it as nothing of the sort. For me, ki and mind are inexticably linked, and unless the body is utilised correctly, ki/mind cannot be fully brought into play. So work has to be done on achieving correct posture, relaxed shoulders etc, but the real stuff starts with intent which is jenerated in the mind.

Recently I found I could describe some of this to my class in a different way than I had before. And I offer it as an opportunity for you to try out and let me know what you experience from your perspective. Let me say though, I have only done this with my own students and have not tested it out on an outsider like you describe in your post above.

I have uke hold my wrists and push them towards my body, trapping them at the top of leg groin area ( a groundpath is established of course). Then I imagine this - My arms are like two ropes and have no strength of their own. My one point/hara/dantien call it what you will is like a balloon that has pressure inside it. The pressure from the uke on the outside is eqaul to the pressure from the hara on the inside, there is equilibrium and my hands are 'trapped' between the two opposing forces. Then and this is where the interesting stuff starts, I mentally increase the pressure/ki from the inside, so the balloon starts to get bigger and bigger. At all times I feel my hands and arms are like innocent bystanders, as they remain squashed between uke and the internal pressure of the balloon. As a connection has already been made with uke at the start, I never fail to move uke backwards with surprising ease.

Similar to the exercise you describe ( I've seen it on vid). But maybe with the difference of my weird way of thinking.

I love this stuff, it is what keeps me going and looking for more effective ways of doing things.

It is good that there are people honestly searching for things that others don't believe exist or dont want to believe or can't be bothered to put the time in to discover. In reallity though if it works it works. How we describe it will be subjective and hopefully some will manage to objectify what is realy going on.

regards,

Mark

David Orange
01-15-2011, 01:07 PM
Also, I stand by my statement that there is a biomechanical standard for Ki. If you have poor posture, or don't know how to move your body well, you will never get to experience Ki. Ushiro Kenji talks about this a lot. He would often get people to sit in seiza in proper posture, have them bow, and then get someone stand on their back while they bow and do this without any strain on their back.

Lorel,

It's true. Be assured that I only noticed this because I became so fascinated with the muscles, bones, fascia and how the mind works with those. I was starting to get some interesting results with those physical/mental efforts when I recognized the nature of the missing element--ki--as a part among those other parts, all of them parts of myself.

I appreciate your comments especially since I know you've been working very hard and, as you say, your interest is in results.

And the thing about working with the kids and starting to recognize their feelings behind their bad behavior, is exactly the kind of thing I mean. That's the same communication you need with a would-be attacker in order really to connect with him, but you need a more highly developed ki to use it if you have to fight him. And then ki is only an element. You don't "hit" the attacker with your ki anymore than you hit him with your eyeball. The ki helps optimize the organization of the body and also times the movement and shapes it in such a way that it will get through to him. But it's the body that actually hits him, though he may also throw himself as he subconsciously, through the ki, feels your ki coming at him like a cannonball.

It's a fascinating subject.

Thanks.

David

David Orange
01-15-2011, 01:15 PM
...I have uke hold my wrists and push them towards my body, trapping them at the top of leg groin area ( a groundpath is established of course). Then I imagine this - My arms are like two ropes and have no strength of their own. My one point/hara/dantien call it what you will is like a balloon that has pressure inside it. The pressure from the uke on the outside is eqaul to the pressure from the hara on the inside, there is equilibrium and my hands are 'trapped' between the two opposing forces. Then and this is where the interesting stuff starts, I mentally increase the pressure/ki from the inside, so the balloon starts to get bigger and bigger. At all times I feel my hands and arms are like innocent bystanders, as they remain squashed between uke and the internal pressure of the balloon. As a connection has already been made with uke at the start, I never fail to move uke backwards with surprising ease.

Similar to the exercise you describe ( I've seen it on vid). But maybe with the difference of my weird way of thinking.

That sounds like what Ark and Dan teach as "agete" except that they just raise the hands straight up. But when Rob John does it, his arms are just like you describe. I think you're onto the same thing and I'm going to try it as you describe because that agete is a key element that I'm working toward.

It is good that there are people honestly searching for things that others don't believe exist or dont want to believe or can't be bothered to put the time in to discover.

We're really lucky that there are people who are willing to explicitly teach this stuff. My recognition of ki stems directly from literal years of arguing with Mike, Dan and Rob, watching videos of Ark and Mike, meeting Ark and Dan, as well as Rob, doing a lot of the work they recommend and really thinking about what was happening with the body.

So hats off to those guys and thanks to you for the tip on agete.

Best to you.

David

InternalPowerSac
01-16-2011, 08:54 PM
David, I have been considering qi for quite some time and I think that the fascia is the key to first experiencing qi. It is the medium for qi as it is interwoven with every system of the body. I think it is responsible for much of the "stupid jin tricks" many can do. The physical sensation is not a tangible or necessarily measurable thing but rather a connection or sensation of interaction between the various physical senses and systems (myofascial, endocrine, nervous, emotional, digestive) and your environment. If you don't already practice I would recommend trying the exercises described in the link below.

http://globalqiproject.com/

Qi training includes refining many things and bringing many things you thought of as autonomic to conscious forefront. Not just physical sensations but it is also important to resolve the psychodrama that arises as you practice. Many people say to ignore this in martial arts practice. Yes, ignore the emotion for your martial practice as your intent during practice should be martial but your goal should be holistic improvement as a person so address the emotional issues afterward or you can do it through martial practice if you so choose.

You can start applying these principles to the rest of your life too. Increased nociception is a benefit I've gained from simplifying my diet. Better pattern recognition, increased background noise recognition, situational awareness, all of these things can be trained to increase your effectiveness as a fighter and as a person.

Here is a very interesting study.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21071182

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_matter

Dietary change greatly enhances your perception of qi as well. Look into bigu practices or shamanic preparatory diets from other cultures. I recommend the Macrobiotic Diet as a good start and then going into a modified bigu or even full bigu if you have a good instructor.

Basically the idea is that you eliminate toxins in your body so your various systems can function better and you can become more conscious of them and what is good and bad for them. Listening to your qi about the cold runs throughout shamanic and martial practices from the cold water dowsings in Systema to the cave and waterfall meditations of the Taoists. If I recall correctly it has something to do with making you shift your nervous system usage.

http://www.universal-tao.com/article/science.html

Feel free to PM me and I have lots of information in my blog as well.

David Orange
01-22-2011, 01:57 PM
I have uke hold my wrists and push them towards my body, trapping them at the top of leg groin area ( a groundpath is established of course). Then I imagine this - My arms are like two ropes and have no strength of their own. My one point/hara/dantien call it what you will is like a balloon that has pressure inside it. The pressure from the uke on the outside is eqaul to the pressure from the hara on the inside, there is equilibrium and my hands are 'trapped' between the two opposing forces. Then and this is where the interesting stuff starts, I mentally increase the pressure/ki from the inside, so the balloon starts to get bigger and bigger. At all times I feel my hands and arms are like innocent bystanders, as they remain squashed between uke and the internal pressure of the balloon. As a connection has already been made with uke at the start, I never fail to move uke backwards with surprising ease.

Mark,

I finally got to try this exercise and it's eerie how easily it works.

I tried it with a friend who is not my student and who has often surprised me with what he can do. In agete, for instance, he can often raise his hands very effortlessly before I can resist, but when I try it, he feels me moving and can lock down and seal me off.

This time, though, I did as you described and he just floated back. Time after time, he couldn't resist. Very interesting.

Then I did agete the way Dan showed me. I could never get it before: it involves letting his power go down the front of your body, into your feet, down into the ground and back up under the opponent's feet, going up into his body. At the same time, your own power goes up your back, out the top of your head and over the opponent to come down behind him. And then you just raise your hands straight up and he can't resist.

In the past, I have been unable to sustain both of these directions of intent at the same time and I've never been able to make this agete work on this particular training partner.

This time, I used my ki to direct where the force would go. If you tell me, put your mind here and also there, I couldn't do it. I could establish the power down my front and up into him, but when I tried to bring my my own power up my back, I lost the power in front. Because I was trying to put my mind in both places at once.

This time, using ki, it was like saying put one hand here and the other hand over there. The mind doesn't do it: it directs the ki to do it. I can reach into both places at once with my ki and sustain it in both places at once because, again, the ki is a part of me like my hand(s). I can put my hands in two places at once, but my mind is pretty singular. I've only been able to put it in one place at a time. But my ki is just like my hands: I can put it where I want it and keep it there while also doing something else. The mind just directs and observes.

So I was able to set up both types of intent and then I just lifted my hands straight up and my friend was unable to stop me. He could feel it and could tighten down on it, but when he did that, his feet would come off the ground and he would "float" back several inches. And I felt like I wasn't making any effort at all. It was really a blast and very satisfying.

Except for one thing: he could let go (or my hands just broke through his grip). I remember when Rob John did agete with me, his arms were spaghetti but I couldn't feel him moving, I couldn't stop him and I couldn't let go. If he had brought his hands back down, I still wouldn't have been able to let go and he would have given me whiplash.

So I've made some sudden and very interesting progress but I'm clearly still missing something subtle.

So I still have something to find.

Best to you and thanks for the tip.

David

David Orange
01-23-2011, 10:23 AM
David, I have been considering qi for quite some time and I think that the fascia is the key to first experiencing qi. It is the medium for qi as it is interwoven with every system of the body.

Exactly. It was a lot of thinking about the fascia/connective tissue in relation to the bones, muscles and mind that made me aware that one piece was missing. And then I realized what that piece was and that it was inextricably part of me.

Listening to your qi about the cold runs throughout shamanic and martial practices from the cold water dowsings in Systema to the cave and waterfall meditations of the Taoists.

I mentioned to my wife that I was working with tanren and she said, "So you're going to sit under a cold waterfall?"

And the answer is...."NO!"

I was walking several blocks between buildings at work the other day and realized that it was a lot colder than it had been when I left home that morning, and my clothes were a little inadequate. The wind was just cutting through me and I was hunching myself up and trying to shut out the cold when I remembered the experience of doing tai chi in the icy wind and I remembered, "Oh, yeah. The ki likes that coldness." So I shifted to feeling the cold with my ki and unhunched my shoulders and just stopped trying to block out the cold and accepted that I was a part of the environment and let the wind just pass through me. Like I became non-existent and then I became very relaxed and upright and even slowed down my walking and got a little warmer.

But when I decided to turn off the hot water during my shower the other day, and enjoy some pounding cold water....YIKES!

So it's not just the ki, but the body also has to be seriously prepared to do that kind of thing. I should be ready to try it again...in about August!:p

Thanks.

David

Mark Freeman
01-23-2011, 10:44 AM
Mark,

I finally got to try this exercise and it's eerie how easily it works.

I tried it with a friend who is not my student and who has often surprised me with what he can do. In agete, for instance, he can often raise his hands very effortlessly before I can resist, but when I try it, he feels me moving and can lock down and seal me off.

This time, though, I did as you described and he just floated back. Time after time, he couldn't resist. Very interesting.

Good, it's not just me imagining things then!:)

One of the many things that I have discovered in my aikido journey is this: Aikido is hard to master, because it is so easy to do!

The effortlessness that can be achieved, usually isn't, because of the effort being employed in trying.


Then I did agete the way Dan showed me. I could never get it before: it involves letting his power go down the front of your body, into your feet, down into the ground and back up under the opponent's feet, going up into his body. At the same time, your own power goes up your back, out the top of your head and over the opponent to come down behind him. And then you just raise your hands straight up and he can't resist.

In the past, I have been unable to sustain both of these directions of intent at the same time and I've never been able to make this agete work on this particular training partner.

This time, I used my ki to direct where the force would go. If you tell me, put your mind here and also there, I couldn't do it. I could establish the power down my front and up into him, but when I tried to bring my my own power up my back, I lost the power in front. Because I was trying to put my mind in both places at once.

This time, using ki, it was like saying put one hand here and the other hand over there. The mind doesn't do it: it directs the ki to do it. I can reach into both places at once with my ki and sustain it in both places at once because, again, the ki is a part of me like my hand(s). I can put my hands in two places at once, but my mind is pretty singular. I've only been able to put it in one place at a time. But my ki is just like my hands: I can put it where I want it and keep it there while also doing something else. The mind just directs and observes.

So I was able to set up both types of intent and then I just lifted my hands straight up and my friend was unable to stop me. He could feel it and could tighten down on it, but when he did that, his feet would come off the ground and he would "float" back several inches. And I felt like I wasn't making any effort at all. It was really a blast and very satisfying.

I may have to experiment with some more of this at practice this evening. I do a similar hand raising exercise, but with different imagary, similar results though.


Except for one thing: he could let go (or my hands just broke through his grip). I remember when Rob John did agete with me, his arms were spaghetti but I couldn't feel him moving, I couldn't stop him and I couldn't let go. If he had brought his hands back down, I still wouldn't have been able to let go and he would have given me whiplash.

I like the spaghetti description of the arms, rope or spaghetti(cooked of course). It seem the only way to get this feeling in the arms is to disengage the shoulders. Uke always has the option to let go and escape the exercise, unless his mind has been captured in his grip by the person doing the 'proper' practice.

So I've made some sudden and very interesting progress but I'm clearly still missing something subtle.

So I still have something to find.

You and the rest of us David, keep searching.

regards

Mark

David Orange
01-23-2011, 11:03 AM
...I shifted to feeling the cold with my ki and unhunched my shoulders and just stopped trying to block out the cold and accepted that I was a part of the environment...

I got a PM concerning my use of the term "the ki of the world" in my first post on this thread and I wanted to get back to that idea and clarify it a bit.

By "the ki of the world," I don't mean a spirit that I get from the world, and especially not an individual spiritual entity (like the Devil) but more things like just the food I eat and the things I drink. But this also includes things I see and hear. When you take in things from the world, you also get the spirit behind them. TV may be the worst. But there is also....the...ahem....internet...that doesn't always give us the best input. And politics. And financial self-interest. For instance, I saw a clip the other day of a prominent broadcaster talking about "other" Americans who want to take everything from "good" Americans. He said, very emphatically, "You have to shoot them in the head!" He is definitely kichigai, but he's gotten money and a hero status for saying such things and the broadcast airwaves are full of that. One woman--actually, about three different ones--sound like Nazis taunting people just before they murder them. The sickness just oozes from them, but they see themselves as just good, patriotic Americans. And they are adored by people with similar minds.

Those are the extreme examples, but there is a whole spectrum of sickness from accepting anything as "all good" all the way to murdering anyone who stands in your way.

And then there's a lot of good spirit that comes to us from good relationships and honesty and good food and drink and spectacular beauty of the sunrise and sunset, the caring of teachers for our children, and things like that.

All these things are included in "the ki of the world" and we are immersed in them. If we try to work them out or deal with them purely with the mind, as most of us do, it will pull the mind in and it can shred the mind--as in the case of Jared Loughner, or the aforementioned broadcaster who seems either to want to be Jared Loughner or to incite more people like him.

So most people, in an attempt not to have their mind shredded by this maelstrom of insane spirit of the world, choose a side and simply harden their views on every subject so that their mind becomes "unshreddable." Then, they can't hear a word without it's triggering an entire set of mental, intellectual and physical responses. It's no wonder we have such poor communications now.

Anyway, that's what I mean by "the ki of the world"--not an individual spirit or entity (devil) but just the general influences of living among human beings who, by and large, are driven by fear and animal instincts lightly covered by a veneer of intellectual reasoning that, nonetheless, is thick enough to keep them convinced of its reality and substance.

The art of haragei is to "stomach" those things by not resisting them or intellectually trying to reconcile or understand them. You just accept them into your ki and let the ki process them on its non-intellectual level in the hara, where it always returns. So if you're in a meeting with five people and four of them are fighting one another, but you just "stomach" everything that's said, the other four will grow more opposed to one another, but each of them will feel like you are on their side because you don't resist or fight them. All four of the opposing viewpoints will feel that you agree with them, so all four of the others will agree with you because they all trust you and will accept what you say.

But even that takes the body and mind working together with the ki. This is called utsuwa, which is like a serving bowl or vessel. If you have the personal totality and development to "stomach" all the opposing views, you're said to have the "vessel" (utsuwa) to hold the various points. If you don't have that, you're said to have "no vessel" for it (utsuwa ga nai). And an utsuwa ga nai person cannot do haragei.

And it's the same for internal power, I now understand: without the proper development and coordination of mind, ki, bone, muscle, fascia and breath, you don't have the utsuwa required to use internal power. In fact, you can seriously injure yourself (think cerebral aneurysm) by attempting IP methods without the properly developed utsuwa. And I think this is why Mochizuki Sensei focused on the development of the mind and body without mentioning the ki. And I think that Aunkai's focus on developing the "frame" also amounts to developing utsuwa to contain the tremendous power that can be developed with internal methods.

And now I have to stomach some fresh banana nut bread my wife just made. So that's enough of this for a Sunday morning.

Best to all.

David