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Marc Abrams
01-21-2011, 09:02 AM
Marc, I took a look at a few of your blogs. Since you don't define many terms with precision, I couldn't mesh a lot with what you're saying. In some aspects of things you and I have radically different perspectives, but simply say "each to his own". Well... there was one blog where you talked about people breathing sometimes while pulling their diaphragms upward that I would take exception to: if air is coming into your lungs the diaphragm *must* be going down. Other wise air would be pushed out of your lungs.

Best.

Mike Sigman



I assume that some people are aware of "Reverse Breathing." The blog that Mike mentions, I use "Reverse Breathing" more as an awareness exercise than for the typical purposes that "Reverse Breathing" is used for. Most people expand their upper chest when breathing in, while relaxing their diaphragm. My use of "Reverse Breathing" is for paradoxical intent. Having students connect their purposeful use of their diaphragm with how most people typically breathe, helps them to transition toward allowing their diaphragms to expand down into their groin area when breathing in.

Reverse breathing is a valuable tool for a number of things. Of course there is also "Ki Breathing." What other breathing methods to people employ and why?

Marc Abrams

Mike Sigman
01-21-2011, 10:44 AM
I assume that some people are aware of "Reverse Breathing." The blog that Mike mentions, I use "Reverse Breathing" more as an awareness exercise than for the typical purposes that "Reverse Breathing" is used for. Most people expand their upper chest when breathing in, while relaxing their diaphragm. My use of "Reverse Breathing" is for paradoxical intent. Having students connect their purposeful use of their diaphragm with how most people typically breathe, helps them to transition toward allowing their diaphragms to expand down into their groin area when breathing in.

Reverse breathing is a valuable tool for a number of things. Of course there is also "Ki Breathing." What other breathing methods to people employ and why?
Marc, let me make an observation with good intention: if I was a relative newby to Aikido or any other art, I would read your discussion and maybe get the idea that there are two different kinds of breathing. However, in addition to a not-really-clear definition of reverse-breath, there's no real clear reason what the usage differences are between normal/natural/post-birth breathing and reverse/pre-birth breathing.

And what is the point of "allowing their diaphragms to expand down into their groin area when breathing in"? Not trying to be picky here, but it's my habit to always read with an idea toward "what is the usable information here?".

My original comment was simply that in any type of breathing, on the inhale the diaphragm must come downward or air couldn't be pulled into the lungs. This is true for both 'reverse breathing' and for 'natural breathing'. "Ki Breathing" must be one of those two types. I dunno... it depends on what "Ki Breathing" is and that hasn't been defined; only labeled.

Tohei and his students have indicated that there are some types of breathing exercises that he hasn't made publicly available. My bet, based on knowing some breathing exercises from a number of Asian systems, is that the full breathing complement involves some instances of reverse breathing also.

Given that reverse-breathing is found pretty much everywhere in Asian martial-arts (i.e., it's no big secret), what do you think it's used for functionally, Marc?

Mike Sigman

Marc Abrams
01-21-2011, 11:00 AM
Marc, let me make an observation with good intention: if I was a relative newby to Aikido or any other art, I would read your discussion and maybe get the idea that there are two different kinds of breathing. However, in addition to a not-really-clear definition of reverse-breath, there's no real clear reason what the usage differences are between normal/natural/post-birth breathing and reverse/pre-birth breathing.

And what is the point of "allowing their diaphragms to expand down into their groin area when breathing in"? Not trying to be picky here, but it's my habit to always read with an idea toward "what is the usable information here?".

My original comment was simply that in any type of breathing, on the inhale the diaphragm must come downward or air couldn't be pulled into the lungs. This is true for both 'reverse breathing' and for 'natural breathing'. "Ki Breathing" must be one of those two types. I dunno... it depends on what "Ki Breathing" is and that hasn't been defined; only labeled.

Tohei and his students have indicated that there are some types of breathing exercises that he hasn't made publicly available. My bet, based on knowing some breathing exercises from a number of Asian systems, is that the full breathing complement involves some instances of reverse breathing also.

Given that reverse-breathing is found pretty much everywhere in Asian martial-arts (i.e., it's no big secret), what do you think it's used for functionally, Marc?

Mike Sigman

Mike:

The blog is an accompaniment to my classes. We discuss our experiences of the use of breathing and how it related to our execution of waza. Believe it or not, I do understand the various reasons and uses for the different types of breathing (there are many more than two different types of breathing methods). I started this thread to stop the previous thread drift. I am interested in hearing about how other people view the use of breathing practices in their practice. Maybe you want to freely share how you use your breathing in your practice. I have to teach a class now. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Regards,

Marc Abrams

guest1234567
01-21-2011, 12:37 PM
Before I began with aikido training I did 8 years yoga and our teacher alwayst told us to breath deep by expanding the abdomen, and also we had to breath out in the double of time we did to breath in. There are a lot of benefits you can read here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaphragmatic_breathing). But most of all it makes you relax yourself and it is easy to verify, when you do a lot of training and your breathing is too fast try it and your breathing will become slow faster.

C. David Henderson
01-21-2011, 01:20 PM
I use conscious breathing techniques, FWIW in:

Yoga -- breathe "into" a joint, muscle or area of the body, use the rhythm of breath to deepen the posture/relax. Some Venassa.

Cardio -- vary breathing rate, depth, rhythm to maximize oxygen flow; vary the "shape" of the breath depending on the kind of sport and how it positions/contorts the body (e.g., cycling as opposed to swimming).

Meditation -- what I'd call "belly breathing," to calm and focus my mind.

Recently, in practice, what I think of as "reverse breathing" during certain techniques (e.g., suwari waza kokyu ho).

Parenting. Just breathe.

Mike Sigman
01-21-2011, 01:35 PM
Maybe you want to freely share how you use your breathing in your practice. Well, I'm trying to get other people to share, Marc. For years I've read posts on AikiWeb where people say they know or already knew. I take them at their words and simply suggest that they share for the good of others in their art.

If you look at the archives, I've posted a lot of how-to's, diagrams, etc., on this forum and others. A number of Aikido people are on QiJin. So I "freely share", but I'm not going to talk endlessly without getting back some input from all the people who already know these things. And sure, there's always the implication that people from the last 5-6 years didn't really know everything and they were simply trying to save face... we all understand that... the way around it is for the people who "know" to start posting something to show it. Might they be asked uncomfortable questions about their assertions? Sure. But that's life in the fast lane. If you don't want to run with the big dogs you gotta stay on the porch and bark a lot. Ever notice the people that bark a lot at me? ;)

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Shadowfax
01-21-2011, 02:41 PM
Have you tried inflating only one lung at a time and alternating sides? It's one I learned several years ago. Apparently it's commonly used as a breathing excercise for singers.

I had wondered exactly what reverse breathing was. I have seen references to it but never an explanation of what it was. Thank you for the post. :)

Keith Larman
01-21-2011, 02:55 PM
Have you tried inflating only one lung at a time and alternating sides? It's one I learned several years ago. Apparently it's commonly used as a breathing excercise for singers.

Do you have a reference for that one? My brain can't quite comprehend how that could possibly be done intentionally.

Shadowfax
01-21-2011, 03:16 PM
LOL yeah I was kinda :hypno: when I first heard about it too.

Concentrate on your right lung and breath only into it and then out. Concentrate on your left lung and breath only into and out of it. Leave the opposing lung quiet. It's an interesting sensation once you get it.:D

Eric in Denver
01-21-2011, 04:43 PM
LOL yeah I was kinda :hypno: when I first heard about it too.

Concentrate on your right lung and breath only into it and then out. Concentrate on your left lung and breath only into and out of it. Leave the opposing lung quiet. It's an interesting sensation once you get it.:D

I hadn't heard of this either. What is the purpose?

Mike Sigman
01-21-2011, 04:48 PM
My question would be "what does any given breathing practice have to do with substantively (not subjectively) improving your Aikido?".

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Shadowfax
01-21-2011, 08:05 PM
I hadn't heard of this either. What is the purpose?

I really don't recall what the purpose was. I use it as an excercise in being able to isolate and control muscle groups that most people just don't think about.

My question would be "what does any given breathing practice have to do with substantively (not subjectively) improving your Aikido?".

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Myself personally. And this applies to more than just aikido. I have asthma. When I start having difficulty breathing I start concentrating on breathing. This is one of the exercises I might do. It helps me get my breathing back under control. I have not used any meds for my asthma since I started concentrating on breathing. (I am not advocating that anyone stop using their meds at all) It also helps me to calm down and relax when I start getting anxious, tense and reactive which sometimes does happen during aikdo practice.

Marc Abrams
01-22-2011, 01:36 PM
I really don't recall what the purpose was. I use it as an excercise in being able to isolate and control muscle groups that most people just don't think about.

Myself personally. And this applies to more than just aikido. I have asthma. When I start having difficulty breathing I start concentrating on breathing. This is one of the exercises I might do. It helps me get my breathing back under control. I have not used any meds for my asthma since I started concentrating on breathing. (I am not advocating that anyone stop using their meds at all) It also helps me to calm down and relax when I start getting anxious, tense and reactive which sometimes does happen during aikdo practice.

Cherie:

Try this exercise. Sit seiza and have someone push down with both hands from behind on your shoulders. Breathe in slowly through your nose, expanding your diaphragm downwards. Imagine your core is becoming denser and your body inflates from the center. When you exhale slowly from your mouth, allow your diaphragm to naturally rise upwards. Imagine your core is becoming lighter and you feel a firmness throughout your surface area. When you breathe in, the person pushing should feel a sense of pneumatic expansion and when you exhale, the person should feel a sense of being led to your center. Let me know how it goes.

Regards,

Marc Abrams

Shadowfax
01-22-2011, 02:40 PM
Cool thanks Marc I'll give it a try at the dojo tomorrow night if it does not slip my mind. :)

Another thing I was thinking about on this subject last night. I have spent a lot of time thinking about breathing and trying to be more aware of it once I realized that how I was breathing affected me in my aikido as well as in riding my horse.

Mark Rashid has mentioned the practice of breathing out just as we ask our horse to do something. Say change gait or speed or lift off over a jump or so forth. I find myself naturally breathing out on the effort, especially in ukemi as I am thrown.

When I hold my breath there are braces in my body. Stiffness that could lead to injury in a technique or block my horse from being able to fully feel and understand my request. It also makes my body more rigid so that following either my horse or my training partner is more difficult for me to do.

It does not even have to be holding my breath. Braces in my body can come from breathing shallowly or breathing from the top of the lung rather then all the way to the bottom. Long slow regular breathing increases endurance in things like Randori and Jyu waza. It seems to lend to a clearer mind as well....

A lot to think about. Anyway these are my observations such as they are. :)

C. David Henderson
01-22-2011, 04:04 PM
That is totally cool. Thank you.

Keith Larman
01-22-2011, 04:09 PM
Try this exercise...

Interesting. Will have to try that next chance I get.

Budd
01-22-2011, 10:52 PM
Cherie:

Try this exercise. Sit seiza and have someone push down with both hands from behind on your shoulders. Breathe in slowly through your nose, expanding your diaphragm downwards. Imagine your core is becoming denser and your body inflates from the center. When you exhale slowly from your mouth, allow your diaphragm to naturally rise upwards. Imagine your core is becoming lighter and you feel a firmness throughout your surface area. When you breathe in, the person pushing should feel a sense of pneumatic expansion and when you exhale, the person should feel a sense of being led to your center. Let me know how it goes.

Regards,

Marc Abrams

This is a great drill to start to get the "mind/intent leading the ki" piece going as well as using the breath to start to connect the whole body together (don't do too much too fast at first as there's some risks there, best is someone can show you). Add being able to connect centers and direct ground/gravity (earth/heaven) into somebody using the same intent/mind leading and you've got some of the very basics/foot in the door stuffs to IS.

oisin bourke
01-22-2011, 11:23 PM
This is a great drill to start to get the "mind/intent leading the ki" piece going as well as using the breath to start to connect the whole body together (don't do too much too fast at first as there's some risks there, best is someone can show you). Add being able to connect centers and direct ground/gravity (earth/heaven) into somebody using the same intent/mind leading and you've got some of the very basics/foot in the door stuffs to IS.

What does this drill do to your spine?

Budd
01-22-2011, 11:37 PM
What does this drill do to your spine?

From the standpoint of the spine - what I care about is that I'm settling such that the upper body is fully supported by the lower body so that it can transmit the power generated by the legs and transferred by the middle. The spine then has a management role from the point at navel-ish height and the point where the band under/across the shoulders meets (though the latter tends more towards conveyor here, too). Initial efforts have the breath "packing" the body with a stretch that turns to pressure (which eventually you will manage via intent after a LOT of conditioning over a LOT of time) that will let you transfer the lower body power throughout your body as one unit moving all of you at once (see other posts on the six-directions, ground/gravity stuffs - all relevant regarding the "what" power and combinations in which its used).

There's more, but that's the entree' point at which the initial conditioning work should pay attention towards and build to. It will be hard to get too far unless you someone knowledgable showing you the steps and keeping you on track, but that's the logic.

oisin bourke
01-23-2011, 01:12 AM
From the standpoint of the spine - what I care about is that I'm settling such that the upper body is fully supported by the lower body so that it can transmit the power generated by the legs and transferred by the middle. The spine then has a management role from the point at navel-ish height and the point where the band under/across the shoulders meets (though the latter tends more towards conveyor here, too). Initial efforts have the breath "packing" the body with a stretch that turns to pressure (which eventually you will manage via intent after a LOT of conditioning over a LOT of time) that will let you transfer the lower body power throughout your body as one unit moving all of you at once (see other posts on the six-directions, ground/gravity stuffs - all relevant regarding the "what" power and combinations in which its used).

There's more, but that's the entree' point at which the initial conditioning work should pay attention towards and build to. It will be hard to get too far unless you someone knowledgable showing you the steps and keeping you on track, but that's the logic.

Thanks Budd, and thanks Marc for the original excercise.

Here are some thoughts I have, take them as you will.

What about, when one exhales, the area from the diaphragm downwards doesn't "rise", rather the pressure sensation created in the lower body by the inhalation/breath is conciously maintained? This pressure allows the spine to "rise/stretch" naturally.

The reason I asked about the spine was because the upper body, as I see it, should also include connection of skull and spine. If the skull is correctly balanced, the breath should do a lot of the stretching naturally.

Does this correspond with what you mean by "packing"?

Budd
01-23-2011, 02:26 AM
Thanks Budd, and thanks Marc for the original excercise.

Here are some thoughts I have, take them as you will.

What about, when one exhales, the area from the diaphragm downwards doesn't "rise", rather the pressure sensation created in the lower body by the inhalation/breath is conciously maintained? This pressure allows the spine to "rise/stretch" naturally.

The reason I asked about the spine was because the upper body, as I see it, should also include connection of skull and spine. If the skull is correctly balanced, the breath should do a lot of the stretching naturally.

Does this correspond with what you mean by "packing"?

I would say so - since the lower body is generating the impulse and the "store" happens up through the torso (as part of the connected unit, that's crucial). Skull/head hanging by a string through the top of the head, alignment good - check - will help propagate everything. How well and purely you can manage the stored pressure will result in the "stuff" that happens when someone touches you.

oisin bourke
01-23-2011, 05:31 AM
Cherie:

When you exhale slowly from your mouth, allow your diaphragm to naturally rise upwards.

Marc Abrams

A question for anyone: Why exhale from the mouth?

Shadowfax
01-23-2011, 07:50 AM
A question for anyone: Why exhale from the mouth?

well....

Just sit quietly and breath. First breath out through your nose then try through your mouth. What I notice is when I breath out through my mouth my shoulders relax down and back and my body feels relaxed I feel my center drop lower and get heavy, but when I breath out through my nose they actually rise up and forward and I feel tension in my body I feel as if I have lost connection to the earth.

At the moment I can't explain further but seems to me that One helps to make me even more grounded and centered while the other lifts me up and makes me unbalanced...

Am I anywhere near close?

Marc Abrams
01-23-2011, 10:26 AM
Budd & Oisin:

Fantastic contributions! One of the reasons that I use this exercise as an entry point is that I can help students create good postural alignment in the seiza position. If you are in the proper position, you will instantly notice that you breathe deeper. Connecting breath to posture is an excellent starting point in creating the body connectivity that Budd mentioned. This exercise also allows a person to begin to develop the connection between breath and the entire body through eliminating body movement (other than what happens when you breathe). Proper instruction in anything is necessary to maximize the learning potential and the corrections in posture and breathing is important (as Budd mentioned). The expansion that Oisin mentioned should occur throughout the entire body and it should feel like a pneumatic (pressure) expansion and contraction. People typically "cheat" and try and create the expansion and contraction through muscle tension and release. That is why good hand-on work with a partner can be critical.

The "packing" stuff is definitely higher level stuff. I demonstrate that to my students by using that during the suwari waza, kokyo dosa, oshi exercise. I will have them grab my wrists. I will create the packing without them being aware of it and use a burst release through exhalation and they are knocked over (if I do it properly) or knocked off balance (if I do not do it as well as I should) without any voluntary muscle movement on my part.

I will write back later about the exhalation through the mouth question later. I work privately with some high school wrestlers and the bunch of meat-heads ;) just arrived!

Regards,

marc abrams

Shadowfax
01-24-2011, 10:33 AM
Didn't get to try that excercise just yet Marc. Knees were way to stiff and sore to sit seiza long enough to give it a try last night. I will not forget though to give it a try when they are a little more limber.

Marc Abrams
01-24-2011, 03:37 PM
Didn't get to try that excercise just yet Marc. Knees were way to stiff and sore to sit seiza long enough to give it a try last night. I will not forget though to give it a try when they are a little more limber.

Cherie:

I can empathize with you, after having had two knees scoped! Try sitting with your legs crossed or in a straight-back chair. The purpose is to connect the breathing with your body, without voluntary muscle contractions (beyond the control of the diaphragm).

Regards,

marc abrams

Shadowfax
01-24-2011, 03:45 PM
Cherie:

I can empathize with you, after having had two knees scoped! Try sitting with your legs crossed or in a straight-back chair. The purpose is to connect the breathing with your body, without voluntary muscle contractions (beyond the control of the diaphragm).

Regards,

marc abrams

Thanks Marc. I had been wondering if the excercise could be done either in a chair or cross legged. Ive had knee issues for years (horse related damage) but the severe meniscus sprain in September pretty near did them in. I have good days and bad ones. Sunday was one of the bad ones. All this intense cold weatehr isn't helping matters.

I have been practicing the breathing at home without the human partner for the moment until I can get with someone to work on it with.

oisin bourke
01-25-2011, 12:41 AM
well....

Just sit quietly and breath. First breath out through your nose then try through your mouth. What I notice is when I breath out through my mouth my shoulders relax down and back and my body feels relaxed I feel my center drop lower and get heavy, but when I breath out through my nose they actually rise up and forward and I feel tension in my body I feel as if I have lost connection to the earth.

At the moment I can't explain further but seems to me that One helps to make me even more grounded and centered while the other lifts me up and makes me unbalanced...

Am I anywhere near close?

I dunno:)

Here's my take on it though. Do with it as you will.

Two things that exhaling via the mouth helps with is:

It helps align the skull and the jawbone with the spine, helping to take tension from the upper body. Try to feel the breath as it passes through your mouth and over your tongue.

By tightening the lips, you can utilise muscles aound the mouth which feel to me to have some connection with muscles in the lower body.

This is all very tricky to get on one's own, and, following Marc's comments, one has to be careful not to tense the wrong muscles.

Byron Foster
02-19-2011, 10:44 AM
Interesting thread here. A few questions about breathing.

Assuming I learn some "correct IP" breathing techniques, will my Aikido automatically and quickly get better, or are these breathing techniques and their technical manifestations something that will take years of practice to get anywhere with?

When we talk about breathing, are talking about breathing, or are we taking about consciously integrating fascia and muscle control along with posture and alignment? Is controlled breathing just the way to achieve improved total body control and the diagram pumping up and down really just secondary?

Are their different types of breathing? Do different Aikido techniques require a different breathing technique? So, do I need to find and practice a certain breathing/control technique for kokyu-dosa that will be different from the one I need for sawari-waza ikkyo or iriminage?

I think we have all seen some high level Aikido practioners perform some amazing stuff, effortlessly throwing someone twice their weight across the room, and yet they do not talk about internal power beyond the vague breath/relax/use-your-center mantra. So, if they never practiced the breathing as it is being discussed here, how did they get so good? Did they unconsciously find their way up the same mountain, learning how to control the proper lines of tension and relaxation with a brute force years of constant practice approach? So if they can get their without I.P., can I?

What is exactly the breathing/I.P. thesis? Is it:

A: To truly learn "aiki", you have to learn I.P. and practice the solo breathing exercises?

B: Much of modern Aikido is just blending and twisting a joint, and there is often no real power behind the technique. This true aiki power has been missing because the I.P/breathing component of aikido has been forgotten or not passed down.

C: After about 20 years of practice, you can get reasonable power and proficiency practicing standard aikido without paying much attention to IP/breathing as it is being discussed here. But if you did study I.P./Breathing, then maybe you can reach the same level of technical prowess in maybe 5-8 years of training.

These threads and discussions have been going on for a while, so maybe all of these questions have already been answered multiple times. I am just playing catch-up.

Thanks,

Keith Larman
02-19-2011, 12:01 PM
Okay, here's my question.

Does the specialized breathing methdology itself "affect" the internal connection *or* does it simply allow for a sort of internal feedback that allows you to sense and therefore maintain the "internal connection"?

Mike Sigman
02-19-2011, 12:17 PM
Okay, here's my question.

Does the specialized breathing methdology itself "affect" the internal connection *or* does it simply allow for a sort of internal feedback that allows you to sense and therefore maintain the "internal connection"?It "affects" the internal connection (i.e., conditions it), although of course it could be argued that there is also an unavoidable bit of feedback also. But you open a can of worms when you get into this discussion. You want to be careful that you're conditioning the right parts and not the muscular-tension parts (which is what far too many people do when they think they have discovered "breath training"). In other words there's a trick to getting hold of and conditioning the right things. Although Tohei and Ueshiba were careful to delineate this problem by insisting on very relaxed breathing practices, my personal opinion is that they would have helped a lot more people if they'd been further explicit than just saying "relax". That's pretty reminiscent of all the people who wound up doing bogus Taiji because their Chinese teachers just kept saying "relax", but didn't tell them any of the other important details.

If you want to draw power from the 'relaxed' breath training, there still has to be some way of generating power and that comes down to using the hara for controls and to having the whole-body connection getting stronger through proper exercises and the concurrent use of "kokyu" throughout the body. Kokyu, hara, ki/breath/suit, all together is not really a difficult idea to conceptually grasp, but to implement it is pretty hard because it means changing the way the body moves and breathes. Well, of course I referring to the traditional system that Ueshiba seemed to subscribe to, not other approaches.

2 cents.

Mike

oisin bourke
02-19-2011, 10:21 PM
It "affects" the internal connection (i.e., conditions it), although of course it could be argued that there is also an unavoidable bit of feedback also. But you open a can of worms when you get into this discussion. You want to be careful that you're conditioning the right parts and not the muscular-tension parts (which is what far too many people do when they think they have discovered "breath training"). In other words there's a trick to getting hold of and conditioning the right things. Although Tohei and Ueshiba were careful to delineate this problem by insisting on very relaxed breathing practices, my personal opinion is that they would have helped a lot more people if they'd been further explicit than just saying "relax". That's pretty reminiscent of all the people who wound up doing bogus Taiji because their Chinese teachers just kept saying "relax", but didn't tell them any of the other important details.

If you want to draw power from the 'relaxed' breath training, there still has to be some way of generating power and that comes down to using the hara for controls and to having the whole-body connection getting stronger through proper exercises and the concurrent use of "kokyu" throughout the body. Kokyu, hara, ki/breath/suit, all together is not really a difficult idea to conceptually grasp, but to implement it is pretty hard because it means changing the way the body moves and breathes. Well, of course I referring to the traditional system that Ueshiba seemed to subscribe to, not other approaches.

2 cents.

Mike

Mike, what's your opinion on using the breath for conditioning while in seiza compared to other postures?

Mike Sigman
02-19-2011, 10:49 PM
Mike, what's your opinion on using the breath for conditioning while in seiza compared to other postures?There's a valid use of seiza and sitting for breathing techniques, but usually when someone is doing seiza or sitting, they're indicating that they're adding a deliberate mind-calming aspect to the breathing aspect. The point is that the CNS gets something from the mind-calming aspect. Seiza and sitting are usually "for health".

You can add mind-calming to a standing breathing technique.... that's generally considered to be a "for health" practice, too. If I had a personal choice, I'd always prefer the standing version because you also work the legs that way.

If you do a more purely "for martial" version, you're using prolonged 'intent' and that's not the same thing as mind-calming (obviously), but there is focus in both of them, intent or mind-calming.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Marc Abrams
02-20-2011, 09:53 AM
Oisin:

I think that we are lucky to come from traditions that place a strong emphasis on seiza and moving from seiza. The "simple" act of proper structural alignment in seiza is a great starting point. Sit in a bad seiza and monitor your breathing. Sit in good seiza a monitor your breathing.... Enormous difference. We can feel the effects that good posture in seiza has in our ability to breath. If you are in good seiza, play with messing up your breathing and having people test your stability in seiza. It is a great drill for becoming aware of how breathing conditions our structure. Adding mental intent to the breathing, along with basic movements is the next additive step that I use. Ushiro Sensei brilliantly demonstrates that when he teaches how to execute a rei with all of these aspects. You can have a person stand on your back with both of your hands in the air, out to your sides in the bowed position. Rising from seiza with a person pushing as hard as they can, directly down on your shoulders is a great exercise to integrate structure, breathing, intent and movement together.

It's a blast going back and always "relearning" these simple "basics" that are so easy to take for granted. I may be able to swing by this Oct/Nov.. Will be near Tokyo in June, but I am not sure if my wife and I will be able to sneak away for a couple of days up your way. Will let you know soon.

Regards,

Marc Abrams

oisin bourke
02-20-2011, 12:17 PM
Oisin:

I think that we are lucky to come from traditions that place a strong emphasis on seiza and moving from seiza. The "simple" act of proper structural alignment in seiza is a great starting point. Sit in a bad seiza and monitor your breathing. Sit in good seiza a monitor your breathing.... Enormous difference. We can feel the effects that good posture in seiza has in our ability to breath. If you are in good seiza, play with messing up your breathing and having people test your stability in seiza. It is a great drill for becoming aware of how breathing conditions our structure. Adding mental intent to the breathing, along with basic movements is the next additive step that I use. Ushiro Sensei brilliantly demonstrates that when he teaches how to execute a rei with all of these aspects. You can have a person stand on your back with both of your hands in the air, out to your sides in the bowed position. Rising from seiza with a person pushing as hard as they can, directly down on your shoulders is a great exercise to integrate structure, breathing, intent and movement together.

It's a blast going back and always "relearning" these simple "basics" that are so easy to take for granted. I may be able to swing by this Oct/Nov.. Will be near Tokyo in June, but I am not sure if my wife and I will be able to sneak away for a couple of days up your way. Will let you know soon.

Regards,

Marc Abrams

I agree with you Mark. When I first tried the breathing/pressurizing exercises mentioned earlier, I did them standing, as doing them in seiza for an extended period of time was brutal. However, seiza REALLY makes you develop the connection of the hips/lower back/inner legs/etc all the way down to the toes. It also helped me to align the head and neck and open the solar plexus/diaphragm which in turn has allowed me to to work on the shoulder/diaphragm are as one unit.

As Mike mentioned, I'm sure standing postures develop the Hara/suit connection more completely, but standing also gives one greater opportunity to cheat(that's what I did:) ), so for the basics, in my experience, seiza is great conditioning.

Let me know if you can make it up North. October's a lovely time of year up here. Great food!

Regards

oisin bourke
02-20-2011, 12:21 PM
If you do a more purely "for martial" version, you're using prolonged 'intent' and that's not the same thing as mind-calming (obviously), but there is focus in both of them, intent or mind-calming.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

I wonder if this "intent" or "mind calming" relates to the fact that most Martial artists also pursued non"martial" practices such as calligraphy/dance/zazen/tea ceremony etc? Are they two aspects of the same thing?

chillzATL
02-21-2011, 09:30 AM
Mike, what's your opinion on using the breath for conditioning while in seiza compared to other postures?

Early on I found that, due to the lower body being somewhat clamped off, I could feel the pressure buildup and manipulate it much easier than when standing. So it's probably a good starting point and it's possible that's why Tohei taught his breathing methods from this position. There are things that aren't going to get worked in seiza so eventually taking that practice to standing is pretty important.