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Benjamin Mehner
02-23-2011, 12:37 AM
Before I took Aikido I took Karate at a commercial competitive dojo. Then I took baguazhang, or however you spell it, under a skilled master with not so skilled assistants. Then one day a friend handed me "The Art of Peace" and showed me some youtube videos.

After a few months I found the right dojo and my friend gave me his dogi. After a few lessons I realized that ki was real.

After a while I began to understand how to use ki a little bit.

Recently I have become aware of my center, and I haven't even been to my dojo in a while. I've only used one point meditations and practiced with my friend on the cold hard ground outside.

First I though ki was fake then I misunderstood what my center is, I hope I gain even more insight.

Looking back I think I could have learned a thing or two about ki and my center from the baguazhong, but it didn't click until I took Aikido. Have any of you had an experience like mine?

Hellis
02-23-2011, 03:29 AM
.

Have any of you had an experience like mine?

No !

Benjamin
With respect, I would suggest you forget about `ki` for the time being and study some good Aikido basics.

Henry Ellis
http://aikido-books.blogspot.com/

dps
02-23-2011, 06:21 AM
No, the first martial art that I learned was Aikido.

Ki is learned through practicing the basics which i learned from the beginning of my practice.


dps

Larry Cuvin
02-23-2011, 08:47 AM
Hi Benjamin. My answer is no. Aikido is the first martial art (and the only one) I have formal training on but since I train in Ki Aikido, the first thing we experienced and learn (as in the first class demo) is how to use your center, relax and extend ki (even for just a short period of time). We have ki training first hour followed by another hour of aikido. Been at it for six years so I'm still a noob.

ChrisHein
02-23-2011, 09:57 AM
Remember when you decided ki was fake? Now you have a different perspective. That was because you opened your mind. Make sure you KEEP the OPEN Mind part.

Don't become 100% set on any idea, if something seems right, go with it, but ask why while you're doing it. Always ask why. The open mind is the most valuable thing you could possibly gain, don't let go of that, no matter what you think is important down the road.

Benjamin Mehner
02-23-2011, 10:38 AM
No !

Benjamin
With respect, I would suggest you forget about `ki` for the time being and study some good Aikido basics.

Henry Ellis
http://aikido-books.blogspot.com/

Thank you for your advice, I know a bit about you and have respect for your opinion. I only wish I could follow your advice and get some good practice. School and work are getting in the way of going to my dojo, and I don't want to practice at any of the other ones around here.

I think I've spent too much time thinking and reading about Aikido and not enough time doing it.

PhillyKiAikido
02-23-2011, 10:53 AM
I do. Ki/Qi/Chi is not something hard to feel, it's something very common and natural in life. OSensei said he was born with Ki. It shouldn't take much time for a martial art students to feel Ki or somthing different with his body, given the training is right. Baguazhang is an internal martial art, I think it helped you get the feeling. I agree that one should be open-minded, that means respecting the reality, not trying to deny, forget or ignore.

One thing I want to add is you should be under the guidance of some experienced masters, or you may have big troubles if you practice the wrong way. IMHO, Ki Society's Ki training goes on the safe side, so the effect is not that obvious to everybody, but it'll be obvious after a few years.

My two cents.

phitruong
02-23-2011, 11:09 AM
for an art that has ki in the middle of the name, one would have thought the old guy knew something, right? otherwise, we would only have aido. love is good and all, but sometimes you need a good irimi smack down. :)

Diana Frese
02-23-2011, 11:20 AM
I was very fortunate to be at NY Aikikai many many years ago when I was in my twenties, and we were exposed to both approaches in the following way, after the initial intro the last three months I was at Cornell.

There, the judo in the women's phys ed building was very systematic, there was a numbered series of techniques for each, knee, hip, shoulder, etc. but some of us also went downtown to the teacher's cousin's class. Aikido was also taught but the only thing I remember was flying through the air, he was French, and he taught us by using the fact that we were also studying judo and could take ukemi. I remember it was often hard to know where and how he wanted us to roll or fall .... And I remember the phrase, "Look for the shape of the movement...." But after three months came graduation....

At NY Aikikai we were exposed to the concept of ki by Tohei Koichi Sensei himself who visited for about four months and taught many of the classes. His book Aikido in Daily Life was just published then, I think it's now called Ki in Daily Life unless there has been a further revision of the title.

At the time, Yamada Sensei already had many excellent assistant teachers, including Lou Kleinsmith who had come from judo and was also an assistant teacher at Chen Man-Ching's Tai Chi studio "downtown" as his students called it.

Perhaps the main things we learned were to not be stiff, the "relax completely" one of the four basic points, and to think of your center -- Keep one point ------ from the Ki instruction. Also to extend ki, to not struggle with the partner.

These points were very valuable, though I confess I was a person who tenses up under pressure and have to remind myself not to.

As many of you know, Yamada Sensei is famous for powerful kokyu ryoku movement (so when he mentioned the phrase either speaking to us or in a printed interview or article we knew exactly what he meant) I think one of the subtitles of one of his books is The Arts of Power and Movement. (We simply have to get our books out of the family storage locker!)

Ukemi, I confess, was never easy for me. Once when the fall out of one of the techniques made me feel a bit balky, Sensei commented, back in the days when he had an accent, "Don't scared, even you stiffened up I gotta throw you anyway." He wasn't being mean, I had been practicing for at least a couple of years and judo before that, so I should have known better. After all nobody dragged me to class almost every day..... we were all just fascinated by aikido, and in my case, i never would have believed when I was a klutzy teenager that in my twenties I would learn the closest thing to flying....

I guess all I'm trying to say, is practice a lot. I was fortunate to find a dojo with a lot of great people and a great head instructor, and visiting instructors.....

"The basics," David mentioned. Yamada Sensei mentioned that before the testing at Summer Camp 1973, then in the late seventies or early eighties at a demonstration with other shihan at a rented space with room for the general public to watch, he chose Basic Technique for his portion of the exhibition.

Starting in 1975 I got an opportunity to teach at the local Y here, they were looking for classes to fill the new building. When we were a Y course I called it Introduction to Aikido. Then we became an Aikikai and paid a nominal rent. Several years later, my husband tells me now, when he tried Aikido as something his karate teacher at college had mentioned, I always emphasized the basics.

From his background, he had been practicing Shotokan for years with strong emphasis on basic techniques. Fortunately I always had good people to work with, so I said they were helping me with my homework. And the ki exercises I remembered were very helpful too.

Sorry this got so long, but I wanted to express some gratitude for many people who helped along the way.

Diana Frese
02-23-2011, 11:26 AM
Thanks, Ting and Phi, I was still writing while you were posting.
I like your posts!

Don Nordin
02-23-2011, 12:39 PM
Benjamin,

I have only been practicing Aikido for about 18 months, so I do not have anywhere near the experience of many others on this board. All I can offer to is that there is no majic in any of this it is all about practice. There a few chapters in the book "Moving Towards Stillness" that may interst you. The short version is put down the baggage, leave it at the door of the Dojo, and train. The rest will come with time.

Hellis
02-23-2011, 12:53 PM
Benjamin

"" I think I've spent too much time thinking and reading about Aikido and not enough time doing it. """""
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

That simple statement tells me that you are a sensible young man.
You have the time to find the right dojo ` for you `...
Good luck
Henry Ellis
http://aikido-books.blogspot.com/

Benjamin Mehner
02-23-2011, 03:28 PM
Benjamin

"" I think I've spent too much time thinking and reading about Aikido and not enough time doing it. """""
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

That simple statement tells me that you are a sensible young man.
You have the time to find the right dojo ` for you `...
Good luck
Henry Ellis
http://aikido-books.blogspot.com/

Thank you. I forgot to add that your first response to me reminded me of what my sensei said when I asked about satori. He looked at me kind of funny and told me not to even bother thinking about it yet.

I think I have found the right dojo, its a pretty traditional place affiliated with the Hombu dojo. I have a lot of respect for my sensei and my dojomates.. Its just that I'm going to culinary school right now and It has taken me away from my dojo. It's been kind of depressing, not being able to be training with my friends, but cooking is the only thing I've ever enjoyed doing for a living. Right now school must come first so I can advance my skills in the culinary arts.

Gorgeous George
02-23-2011, 04:41 PM
I think I've spent too much time thinking and reading about Aikido and not enough time doing it.

Ditto.

...but the more I practice, the more I think.
How's that for a koan?

Mossy Stone
02-24-2011, 04:34 PM
I had quite the opposite experience, having encountered the use of Ki before being introduced to the term. When I took an Aikido class in college, as I sat listening, I had several moments where I said to myself "Oh, so THAT is how..."

In a lot of ways, my short time studying Aikido brought together a lot of my previous learnings in various disciplines, and I found myself translating Ki and other concepts to such things as boxing, kickboxing, and even taking it beyond that, using Aikido concepts and applying them to verbal interractions. It is amazing how much further you get with people when you 'blend' their intent with yours, rather than confronting them with it.

Aikido-Sensei
02-27-2011, 01:33 PM
i think that sometimes people don't understand or forgot the yin-yang symbol.

There is a good in bad and bad in good, i believe that aikido makes the "bad" fight to a "good" one - in other words - AI KI DO.

Mary Eastland
02-12-2019, 09:59 AM
Is electricity fake? One can see the results it produces yet one can't see the current.

Ki is the simply the result of a unified mind and body. I can feel when it is present in another and truly believe in it. So no, Ki is not fake.

Derek
02-13-2019, 10:13 AM
There is no replacement for practice (except more practice). Don't get caught up in the cerebral aspects at this stage. There are lots of things to consider, but really just practice and let it "gel" I tell my students to practice and do a techniques a few hundred (thousand) times and then they may begin to understand what questions to ask of me (and themselves)

Bernd Lehnen
02-28-2019, 04:19 AM
Please scroll and have fun...


China, Chi, and Chicanery: Examining Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chi Theory
2 Feature
3 Peter Huston
4 Skeptical Inquirer Volume 19.5, September / October 1995

https://www.csicop.org/si/show/china_chi_and_chicanery_examining_traditional_chinese_medicine_and_chi_theo#foot er
1

The Roots of Qi - CSI - Committee for Skeptical Inquiry

https://www.csicop.org/sb/show/roots_of_qi

Claims of Chi: Besting a Tai Chi Master
Investigative Files
Joe Nickell
Skeptical Inquirer Volume 41.1, January/February 2017

https://www.csicop.org/si/show/claims_of_chi_besting_a_tai_chi_master#footer

Best,
Bernd

gezznz
06-20-2019, 02:35 PM
Yes! For those who are sensitive enough, you can feel ki on day one.

It depends very much on whether the teacher understands ki or not.

There is nothing mystical about it, ki has been used as a concept for thousands of years, in virtually all cultures.

The teaching of ki changes students' aikido from merely mechanical movements to graceful flow. Obviously this takes time. I have found that, while a beginning student can feel ki on day one, it takes several months or years to understand it and to practise it. It is a felt understanding, not one that can be learned intellectually over a weekend.

Thank you for sharing, I can see it has triggered a variety a responses!

Best regards,
Gerald

---
www.mindbodyaikido.com (https://mindbodyaikido.com)

Bernd Lehnen
06-21-2019, 06:20 AM
Yes! For those who are sensitive enough, you can feel ki on day one.

It depends very much on whether the teacher understands ki or not.

There is nothing mystical about it, ki has been used as a concept for thousands of years, in virtually all cultures.

The teaching of ki changes students' aikido from merely mechanical movements to graceful flow. Obviously this takes time. I have found that, while a beginning student can feel ki on day one, it takes several months or years to understand it and to practise it. It is a felt understanding, not one that can be learned intellectually over a weekend.

Thank you for sharing, I can see it has triggered a variety a responses!

Best regards,
Gerald

---
www.mindbodyaikido.com (https://mindbodyaikido.com)

Hi,
So, what is it then, this Ki ?

You say, it's a concept, which means an abstract or generalized idea.
And you say, it's a felt understanding.

In written Japanese we find two logographs:
氣 is the traditional Chinese character and also the old Japanese kyujitai kanji
気 is the Japanese shinjitai (new character form) kanji, simplified from 氣 (米 → 㐅) in the 1946 Toyo kanji list.

In fact, it's a polyseme. It can take on a lot of meanings, which may be related.
A meme to which other memes have to be added to make it more precise.

In Western athletic training, the classical view of Qi/KI hardly matters. In physiologically oriented experiments, in which Asian martial artists stated, to concentrate their Qi/Ki in certain parts of the body, e.g. in their arms or legs, thermal imagers showed that there was an increased muscle tension right there, which was prepared for particular performance. From a purely physiological point of view, Qi /Ki could therefore also be described as a simple muscle tension, which is deliberately controlled by nerve impulses and, above all, concentrated.

Best,
Bernd

gezznz
06-23-2019, 07:56 PM
Hi,
So, what is it then, this Ki ?

You say, it's a concept, which means an abstract or generalized idea.
And you say, it's a felt understanding.



Yes, Bernd, it is both!

Ki, and its equivalents, qi, prana, etc, have been mentioned in literature spanning thousands of years; so, as a concept it has been discussed extensively. It has also been the basis of health systems that are still in use.

This is not to say it has not been questioned and challenged - the Vitalism vs Atomism/Mechanism debate has raged in ancient Greece and India for centuries. However, both the Vitalism and the Atomism theories are just that - models that have some coherence and some evidence to "prove" their existence.

As W. Edwards Deming, adviser to Japan after the war, said, "All models are not true; but some are more useful than others."

Koichi Tohei taught that ki is a highly useful model for understanding aikido and performing it excellently. Not only that, he believed it is also a useful basis for self-mastery and personal transformation. Tohei was the first person to articulate Ueshiba's teaching in terms of ki, and to develop a system to learn and practise ki.

In his 1961 book Aikido: The Co-ordination of Mind and Body for Self-Defense ("Supervised by Morihei Uyeshiba"), Tohei said that ki was one of the most frequently used words in Ueshiba's dojo at the time, in expressions like ki wo neru (to train your ki), ki wo totonoeru (to prepare your ki), and ki wo dasu (to pour forth ki).

It therefore comes as a surprise that, on Ueshiba's death, his son Kisshomaru and other instructors went into denial about ki, and effectively told 10th dan head instructor Tohei to pack and go. I rather suspect that, as Japan was then going through immense technological development through the adoption of Western mechanistic philosophy and methods, they dropped the "esoteric" side of aikido in order to appear progressive.

I have heard mechanistic teachers say, "Don't worry about ki, you may or may not get it - one day." Why wait? Why not develop ki now?

The best way - actually the only way - to understand ki is through felt experience. In my experience, when aikido is performed with awareness of ki, it is qualitatively different. The movements become smoother, and almost effortless. One has access to a different mode of power. For example, a petite student came up to me once to ask how to deal with a beginner, a tall largely-built man, who was holding her wrist very tightly. I asked him to hold me, and sure enough, it was tight and he was immovable. I decided to relax and use ki, and he flipped over and landed on all fours. Only experiences like these enable a person to validate the effectiveness of using ki in aikido. This is what Tohei calls mind-body coordination. Ki is the interface between mind and body, and is the vehicle to integrate them such that the result is greater than the sum of the parts.

On the side of the uke, when I was thrown by my teacher, I never felt any strength or resistance. Therefore there was nothing to resist. I just felt my attack being absorbed, dissipated or diverted, I moved comfortably and willingly, and only realised the power of the throw when I landed on the mat.

Developing sensitivity through the awareness of ki is crucial for instant response to an attack. We are taught to extend ki when facing an attacker - in fact at all times in one's daily life. Then one can detect the opponent's ki - their intention to attack - even before they have physically started the attacking movement. If one has a mechanistic approach to aikido, "If one reacts only after he sees his opponent's hand or feet move, he will be too late." (Maruyama, Aikido with Ki, 1984)

Thus, Ueshiba said,
"Seeing me before him,
The enemy attacks.
But by that time
I am already standing
Safely behind him."

My contention is that aikido was meant by its founder to be a means of personal transformation and individuation. This means that a holistic approach is needed: one that integrates body, mind and subtle energy - ki. It involves opening oneself up to a way of thinking, feeling and practising that is sometimes vague, sometimes seemingly beyond reach, yet sometimes very clear and tangible. Ki is not easy to grasp, it takes time, and it needs a sense of letting go rather than intellectual analysis. To have a mechanistic, reductionist approach to aikido reduces it to physical techniques and nothing else. That is why many people misunderstand aikido in relation to "self-defence," and why there is so much confusion about the purpose and modern-day relevance of aikido.

Best,
Gerald

https://www.mindbodyaikido.com

gezznz
06-29-2019, 05:01 PM
Hi Bernd,

I did write a lengthy reply to your question and comments, but the moderator has not approved it. In it I tried to expand on ki as a concept and as a felt experience.

Sorry.

RonRagusa
06-30-2019, 09:56 AM
Hi Bernd,

I did write a lengthy reply to your question and comments, but the moderator has not approved it. In it I tried to expand on ki as a concept and as a felt experience.

Sorry.

Jun disapproved of your post? Could you PM it to me, I'm interested in your view on the nature of Ki.

Ron

dps
07-02-2019, 05:19 PM
From Aikiweb

http://www.aikiweb.com/language/ki_phrases.html
................................................................................ .............................................
So, what does "ki" mean in "aikido," anyway? There's been a lot of discussion and even some heated arguments over this Japanese term.

In essence, the character ki means:

spirit, mind, soul, heart
intention
bent, interest
mood, feeling
temper, disposition, nature
care, attention
air, atmosphere
flavor
odor
energy, essence, air, indications
symptoms
taste
touch, dash, shade, trace
spark, flash
suspicion

However, I think that there is some good in taking a look at how we, the Japanese people, use the term in everyday life. I think that a lot of people attribute a whole lot of esoteric meaning behind words that aren't all that esoteric; this is the reason why I chose very common Japanese words to illustrate how we use this term in our everyday life. After all, isn't that what we hope to do in the first place in aikido -- use "ai" and "ki" in our everyday lives?

Here are some contexts in which the word "ki" and some of its derivations are used in everyday Japanese.

Japanese Phrase Kanji Literal Translation Definition
Gen ki "source/foundation of ki." one's health
Byou ki "ill ki." to be sick
Ten ki "heavenly ki." the weather
Ki ga tatsu "the ki stands upright." to get angry
Ki wo tsukeru "to put on (or to have) ki" to be careful; to be attentive
Ki ga kiku "the ki is used a lot" to be empathetic
Ki ga susumanai "the ki does not go forward." to not want to do something
Ki ga sumu "the ki is finished or used up." to feel fulfilled
Ki ga tsuku "to have "ki" put onto you." to notice
Ki ga tsuyoi "the ki is strong." to be headstrong
Ki ga yowai "the ki is weak." to be like a coward
Ki ga tooku naru "the ki goes far away." to become lightheaded
Ki ga nai "to have no ki" to have no interest in something
Ki ga nukeru "the ki becomes missing." to lose hope
Ki ga mijikai "the ki is short." to be short tempered
Ki ni sawaru "something touches the ki." to find something irritating
Ki ni naru "to become ki" to have something nagging or on one's mind
Ki wo kubaru "to pass out ki (to people)" to attend to other people's wishes

http://www.aikiweb.com/language/ki_phrases.htmldps

dps

Bernd Lehnen
11-20-2019, 11:49 AM
Yes, Bernd, it is both!

Ki, and its equivalents, qi, prana, etc, have been mentioned in literature spanning thousands of years; so, as a concept it has been discussed extensively. It has also been the basis of health systems that are still in use....

This is not to say it has not been questioned and challenged - the Vitalism vs Atomism/Mechanism debate has raged in ancient Greece and India for centuries. However, both the Vitalism and the Atomism theories are just that - models that have some coherence and some evidence to "prove" their existence.

As W. Edwards Deming, adviser to Japan after the war, said, "All models are not true; but some are more useful than others."
.........
Koichi Tohei taught that ki is a highly useful model for understanding aikido and performing it excellently. Not only that, he believed it is also a useful basis for self-mastery and personal transformation. Tohei was the first person to articulate Ueshiba's teaching in terms of ki, and to develop a system to learn and practise ki.
.........
My contention is that aikido was meant by its founder to be a means of personal transformation and individuation. This means that a holistic approach is needed: one that integrates body, mind and subtle energy - ki. It involves opening oneself up to a way of thinking, feeling and practising that is sometimes vague, sometimes seemingly beyond reach, yet sometimes very clear and tangible. Ki is not easy to grasp, it takes time, and it needs a sense of letting go rather than intellectual analysis. To have a mechanistic, reductionist approach to aikido reduces it to physical techniques and nothing else. That is why many people misunderstand aikido in relation to "self-defence," and why there is so much confusion about the purpose and modern-day relevance of aikido.

Best,
Gerald

https://www.mindbodyaikido.com

Hello Gerald,

In fact, you gave a lot of effort with your answer, and what you're saying sounds pretty plausible.

But actually, like Tohei, you're talking about a belief system, or perhaps a philosophical approach.
Tohei's approach, as far as I'm aware, was heavily influenced by yoga. But I know other people who can do comparable things, even more effectively, and they explain exactly what they are doing without resorting to Ki. Nevertheless, quite not a few would immediately say, oh, now I see for the very first time, what aikido is about.

Our perception is simply not always and under all circumstances reliable.
So, it may well be that you feel bewildered and do not understand why you find yourself on the ground again, but someone else could easily explain it to you, if he wanted, without having to resort to ki or any kind of esotericism.

The founder and Tohei may have said a lot of things and in the best of intentions.
In any case, the Japanese native speakers generally use Ki in down to earth terms i.e. combinations of memes, that have clearly nothing esoteric about them, just as we, on the other hand, do not need "Esoterics" in our Aikido, to make it incomprehensible. At least to quite a many of those with less experience.

In the end, a human being can only do what a human being can and there is nothing supernatural about it, however exceptional it may seem.

Best,
Bernd

gezznz
11-21-2019, 02:51 PM
In the end, a human being can only do what a human being can and there is nothing supernatural about it, however exceptional it may seem.

Best,
Bernd

Hi Bernd,

Thank you for your reply. It is indeed a perplexing argument.

First of all, I completely agree with you that supposedly "supernatural powers" are actually resources we all have. The reason we do not often express them is that somehow our "ordinary" state of mind interferes with access to our natural resources. This is something that Tohei asserted - he said that mind-body coordination was a way to tap into a natural form of being and acting.

I also agree with you that Ki is a component of a belief system, which as you say is a an aspect of philosophy. I mentioned that it is a model of understanding the world. The reductionist scientific western approach is also a model, one that works to explain many things, but not all things. For example, it has no way of explaining the mind, except as a series of chemical reactions, which is a circular argument.

Tohei was apparently influenced by Nakamura Tempu, who was a man who went to the US to study medicine, then went to India to study yoga, before coming back to Japan to become a spiritual leader.

From my many decades' interest in personal development, holistic health, yoga, and aikido, I have come to understand that the only reason we do not achieve our human potential is because of interference from our own minds. However, to try to deal with the mind using the mind is like trying to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

That is why I believe that coordinating mind with body, as in aikido or yoga with "mindfulness," and consciously using the concepts of Ki, we can eventually bypass the ego mind to an ego-less state (i.e. a state with less ego). Like my teachers before me, I can only present this way of practising aikido to people, and it is up to people whether they want to explore it or not.

We can have many belief systems and models to try to explain our existence, but in the end it is only experience that is 'truth." I am always grateful to the founder and teachers of aikido, for giving me the opportunity to have the exhilarating experiences of working and moving with others in ever more subtle ways as I get older in years. In this way, aikido is a never-ending journey of discovery.

jonreading
11-22-2019, 07:37 AM
Because I don't post anymore... but this conversation sparked my interest.

Putting on my grumpy hat, I have the following observations in my training:
1. Ki is not a belief system. I think Westerners consume ki as if it is mystical; "following ki", "putting ki in my life," and so on. Unless you are practicing a religion of which ki is a component, I think this is confusing at best and wrong at worst. The generalization of ki does not help, nor the cultural context.
2. Aiki is a tool for transformation. Transforming what? Transforming how our body moves and unifying it to the mind to coordinate movement. Changing how you think is not equivalent to improving your mind's interaction with your body. When you conflate those ideas, things get muddy.

From my many decades' interest in personal development, holistic health, yoga, and aikido, I have come to understand that the only reason we do not achieve our human potential is because of interference from our own minds. However, to try to deal with the mind using the mind is like trying to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.


Our mind is not what is in our way. Poor lifestyles and the [perceived] higher opportunity costs of everything modern society offers are in our way. I have used this example before, but it fits here... If you work out at a gym 1-2 times each week, live a sedentary lifestyle and eat poorly, would you honestly expect to make a healthier body? No. But, you believe that you should be healthier. How is this different? It isn't. Blaming your mind isn't fair and its an excuse for poor performance.

Cultivating Ki is freakin' hard. It competes with your lifestyle, it requires and insane amount of time to accomplish, and it fundamentally changes how your body works. To imply that you can cultivate ki over a long weekend or something is a disservice to the training. Aiki do should be moving meditation - a constant exchange of rewiring the brain to move the body and gaining command of new muscle and tissue you didn't even know existed the day before and then coordinating those muscles with larger movement. Rinse and repeat.

None of this is mystical or insurmountable. But, most of us make decisions to do something else that we believe is more important than cultivating ki. In accounting, your budget always shows your intentions - where you spend the most money is what you think is most important. In your life, I think there is a strong argument that how you spend your time tells me a lot about how invested you are in this training. This isn't right or wrong and each life is different, so I want to be clear that there is no judgment in this observation.

If you have been training for more than a few years in aikido and still cannot personally understand, define, and defend what aiki is in your training, I think you should be critical of yourself to ask "why am I doing something that I cannot explain?" Honestly, the answer may just be that you don't know what you are doing, which is fine. In Western culture, there is no parallel to the insanity of training something in which you do not know what you are doing or why. Except maybe golf - the sh!t drives me nuts, still.

I posted this only because I think we need to be OK saying, "I don't know what I am doing."

"I had a great class tonight, it felt like everything was effortless..." "You know what you did?" "Nope. But, I sure hope it happens again."

Also, get off my lawn.

Grumpy post over.

gezznz
11-23-2019, 04:57 PM
Woah Jon! Sorry if I may have triggered your grumpiness at the end of your week!

Why do we live a sedentary lifestyle? Why do we eat poorly? We do we make bad choices? Isn't it because of the mind, and lack of clarity?

Yes, I totally agree with you, cultivating Ki is hard, not because it is inherently hard, but because we need to let go of so much baggage that is in the way.

If we don't have a belief system that includes Ki, we see and experience the world as a physical place. If our belief system is vitalistic, and includes some form of life energy, we experience the world differently. That is the whole point of Don Juan's teaching in the Carlos Casteneda books.

Jon, I believe our understanding is very similar, perhaps it is just choice of words that get in the way.

Anyway, have a happy weekend mate. Kia ora from New Zealand.

jonreading
11-24-2019, 07:54 AM
Hah!

I think there are some people who blame their poor decisions on their mind. I do not accept those decisions are related to a "Clarity of the mind." Mostly, I say this because poor decisions are often identified after the consequence takes its toll. I think most of us would argue that our decision-making skills are good, proven wrong only in the fullness of time. In any case, I do not think rational decision-making in the brain is a component of ki training. At least, not a component that is required for basic training.

In my earlier post, I indicated that I do not like laying a religion over discussions about ki. I have heard too many people use this complexity to obfuscate practical discussions of energy work. Second, I have heard many people (on this forum and elsewhere) who imbue "Ki" with a morality as a pseudo-religion. I don't think you can correlate morality and body energy to make any supported argument that energy training makes you a better person or improves your cognitive decision-making skills.

Ironically, Aikido people have a bad history of looking down on "lower" arts that focus on body training, not realizing that aiki training is... training to better understand the body. Which is the second observation I was making - that we will talk about aiki in our training, but the whole "change your body" stuff is too hard, so we talk about how much more "aiki" our minds are.

I could workout for 60 minutes tonight, but Game of Thrones is on and I have to watch that. I reject the premise the mind was simply "unclear" that 60 minutes watching GoT is less healthy than 60 minutes of exercise.

I think many of us simply don't know what we are doing, and we try so hard to prove otherwise that we literally make up things to sound like we know what we are doing.

dps
11-28-2019, 05:38 AM
Woah Jon! Sorry if I may have triggered your grumpiness at the end of your week!

Why do we live a sedentary lifestyle? Why do we eat poorly? We do we make bad choices? Isn't it because of the mind, and lack of clarity?

Yes, I totally agree with you, cultivating Ki is hard, not because it is inherently hard, but because we need to let go of so much baggage that is in the way.

If we don't have a belief system that includes Ki, we see and experience the world as a physical place. If our belief system is vitalistic, and includes some form of life energy, we experience the world differently. That is the whole point of Don Juan's teaching in the Carlos Casteneda books.

Jon, I believe our understanding is very similar, perhaps it is just choice of words that get in the way.

Anyway, have a happy weekend mate. Kia ora from New Zealand.

Questionable whether Castenada's book are real.

"But doubts soon surfaced. Experts pointed out that Don Juan's "teachings" bore little resemblance to actual Yaqui Indian religious beliefs. Hallucinogenic mushrooms didn't grow in the Sonoran Desert, where Don Juan supposedly lived. Anyone who'd gone walking for hours in the desert at the hottest time of the day, as Castaneda claimed he and Don Juan had done, would surely have died of sunstroke"

and

"Journalists discovered that Castaneda was a habitual teller of tall tales who, among other things, falsified his family background and his place and date of birth."

https://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2398/did-carlos-castaneda-hallucinate-that-stuff-in-the-don-juan-books-or-make-it-up/

dps

gezznz
11-29-2019, 03:48 PM
Questionable whether Castenada's book are real.

dps

His books are real enough. At least I can say I own a few physical copies from the 1970s.

Interesting, I was a teenager in the 1970s, and excitedly told a "rational adult" about the Castaneda books I had been reading. He patronisingly told me, "Why don't you just stick with the real world, Gerald."

My journey into drugs, going into virgin jungles, and meeting "primitive" (actually sophisticated) people made me realise the "real world" is what we perceive it to be as a result of our beliefs, our upbringing, our culture - i.e. the collection of our resultant thoughts. If you believe in magic, your life is full of magic; if you don't, your life has no magic.

There is an army of naysayers, who have wasted their valuable time trying to research and discredit Castaneda.

The problem with materialists and rationalists is their overwhelming arrogance, which prevents them from allowing possibility, and from recognising the power of symbolism. Their rationality prevents them from thinking more deeply, and experiencing life more richly.

For example, people who say thinking, creativity and genius are "only" chemical reactions in the brain, themselves are not thinking deeply enough.

Whether Castaneda's books are "real" is beside the point. Is the Bible "real"? Is the Tao Te Ching "real"? Is the Mahabharata "real"?

Castaneda's books inspired me as a 16-year old, and gave me reference points to experience the world in different ways from many other people. This did not prevent me from building another world of constriction and limitation, which I am now realising I have done. As a youth, I did not have the experience and wisdom to fully utilise Don Juan's tools and fully free myself from my psychological and emotional "personal history."

Even as a student of aikido of one of Europe's most charismatic and brilliant teachers in the 80's and early 90's, I did not realise the gift of what I was receiving from him. I thought I was learning aikido techniques, and how to defend myself. How naive I was. Now, 30 years later, I am realising what it is about - for me anyway. And it is something I want to share, so others don't have to take 30 years.

Like Castaneda's books, you either "get" Ki or you don't. You don't have to know what you are doing, you don't have to prove it physically, you don't even need to try and explain with phony biomechanics theories, you just have to be open to the possibility that it exists.

I cannot change cynics and angry people. My hope is that, those who are new to aikido, and those who have an open mind, can resonate with what I have shared, and that it might inspire them to keep exploring Ki.

Have an awesome weekend.

dps
11-29-2019, 07:34 PM
He died of liver cancer.. Seems like a painful and unlikely way for a nagual to die.

dps

jonreading
11-30-2019, 11:46 AM
Like Castaneda's books, you either "get" Ki or you don't. You don't have to know what you are doing, you don't have to prove it physically, you don't even need to try and explain with phony biomechanics theories, you just have to be open to the possibility that it exists.

I think this is part of my problem. In making a parallel comparison, you are equating a subjective discussion of a literature author with what should be an objective discussion of cultivating, training, and expressing ki. By choosing to subjectively discuss ki, you give yourself an opportunity to pivot away from differences in physical performance. For those of you who choose to believe in ki without requiring anyone to actually show us what its about... why are you willing to believe in it?

gezznz
11-30-2019, 09:45 PM
I think this is part of my problem. In making a parallel comparison, you are equating a subjective discussion of a literature author with what should be an objective discussion of cultivating, training, and expressing ki. By choosing to subjectively discuss ki, you give yourself an opportunity to pivot away from differences in physical performance. For those of you who choose to believe in ki without requiring anyone to actually show us what its about... why are you willing to believe in it?

That is a very good question. There is belief that comes from "objective" evidence, i.e. the evidence agreed on by a large number of people. If a person is colour blind, they may believe the evidence of scientists that leaves are green.

Another source of beliefs is experience. Experience is purely subjective and individual, and it is often sufficient evidence to form a belief, unless one tries to rationalise the experience away by saying "That's not possible!" That has happened to me a lot, especially with regards to ki.

The original poster had an experience which challenged his beliefs. This caused a number of people to pile on him telling him to "forget about ki" and just focus on learning the basic moves. I may have reacted to this, and I apologise. I just feel it is a shame when a person is discouraged in the name of "objectivity." Don't get me wrong, I believe that being rational and scientific has its place, but I believe it only gives answers to part of the picture.

If you want an objective suggestion, what I suggest is you explore that experience and find a teacher who themselves have explored ki. I had the good fortune to have such a teacher. He was not a woo-woo flake, he was the first British dan grade of Kenshiro Abbe, a direct student of Morihei Ueshiba. Abbe had been sent to the UK in 1955 to spread Budo to Europe. My teacher learned under him - judo, karate, kendo and aikido - and attained dan grade in all of them, then became chief aikido instructor for the UK.

My teacher had felt his teacher's ki. His teacher had felt Ueshiba's ki (that's how he became his student). I had felt my teacher's ki. We all had had experiences (albeit different) of ki. The way I teach is very similar to my teacher's. We teach students about principles of mind-body coordination and ki, we give them exercises to experience the principles, then we show them how to apply their acquired experience and feeling to aikido, and daily life.

So we have an up-front approach. Tell them about the concept of ki first. Give them some small experiences. Guide them to gain more confidence. The understanding of ki is a felt one, and takes time to integrate. As a teacher, I found that understanding and capability to utilise ki is progressive. That is the purpose of the grades.

Other teachers have a different approach. Learn the physical moves first, then one day - perhaps - you will be lucky enough to "get" ki. From my perspective, that approach can result in aggressive or wooden styles, excessive focus on physical technique, a lot of shoving people around. Why struggle for so long?

One of the several reasons I made reference to Castaneda is that, in the books anyway, his teacher told him he was a lousy student because he tried to rationalise everything. So he had to take him through crazy experiences to "stop his world," ie suspend his rationalised world.

I think understanding ki is similar. We need to suspend our somewhat arrogant Western rationality and supposed need for objectivity (I have been guilty, I assure you), in order to allow a different kind of reality to surface in our awareness.

You can start by feeling the energy in your body. Try to extend the space around you, especially when you walk in the street. Extend to your aikido partner, and try to feel them even before they touch you. Lead them just before they touch you and see how that changes the flow. Relax more in the moves, especially when doing ukemi. Stop resisting and pushing, and relax and visualise the energy.

I have been away from aikido for 25 years, and have just come back. If there are no more teachers who can show people how to cultivate, train, and express ki, that is a tragedy. Definitely a lot has changed, and there appears to be a lot of polarisation and discontent within aikido.

I hope I have answered your question. Maybe the way I say things is not clear, and I am sorry for that. I haven't meant to insult anyone in particular, I just get frustrated because I can't find the words to make it clear to those who are struggling to understand ki. Perhaps, as someone has implied, it's because I don't completely understand ki myself. I did admit it is a lifetime journey.

Bernd Lehnen
02-06-2020, 11:35 AM
I think this is part of my problem. In making a parallel comparison, you are equating a subjective discussion of a literature author with what should be an objective discussion of cultivating, training, and expressing ki. By choosing to subjectively discuss ki, you give yourself an opportunity to pivot away from differences in physical performance. For those of you who choose to believe in ki without requiring anyone to actually show us what its about... why are you willing to believe in it?

Take this for example. Would this be a good tool for starting an objectively discussion of cultivating, training and expressing Ki?

https://youtu.be/8mtDxlhZUCU

Without the protagonist explaining beforehand and hammering home the meaning and value of this internal practice into our brains, someone might come to think that this is simply a rather extensive, normal morning exercise, albeit in a wonderfully exotic environment

Best,
Bernd

dps
02-06-2020, 05:00 PM
Castaneda's books inspired me as a 16-year old, and gave me reference points to experience the world in different ways from many other people. This did not prevent me from building another world of constriction and limitation, which I am now realising I have done. As a youth, I did not have the experience and wisdom to fully utilise Don Juan's tools and fully free myself from my psychological and emotional "personal history."


I hope you are enough of a rational adult not to jump off any cliffs.

dps

dps
02-06-2020, 05:18 PM
Take this for example. Would this be a good tool for starting an objectively discussion of cultivating, training and expressing Ki?

https://youtu.be/8mtDxlhZUCU

Without the protagonist explaining beforehand and hammering home the meaning and value of this internal practice into our brains, someone might come to think that this is simply a rather extensive, normal morning exercise, albeit in a wonderfully exotic environment

Best,
Bernd

Maybe these would be good tools for starting an objectively discussion of cultivating, training and expressing Ki.

dps

PuppyDoggie
02-06-2020, 06:55 PM
Going backwards to the original post:


Looking back I think I could have learned a thing or two about ki and my center from the baguazhong, but it didn't click until I took Aikido. Have any of you had an experience like mine?

as Ting Piao has said, the Baguazhang training you had very likely helped you get the feeling so early.

I read about ki before but didn't know what exactly it is or was, other than it was some kind of general energy (in the context of "Chinese medicine").

In my case, I *may have* felt the ki on day one but wasn't completely sure. The feeling just flowed soooo nicely and I haven't been consistently feeling it since then but it's getting better over the years! It flowed when we practiced ikkyo ura on my first day. So if you call that nice flow with no resistance as flowing ki (there was nothing to push back against!), then sure I felt it too. At the time, usually I was way off centred. One time I made a tall guy thump hard on the mat as we spiraled down together, and sensei later quietly chuckled a bit (both are now my best friends :D ). Good times and continued practicing/training with them since then.

However, I had no official or formal martial arts training prior to aikido.

dps
02-07-2020, 09:19 AM
Maybe these would be good tools for starting an objectively discussion of cultivating, training and expressing Ki.

dps

https://youtu.be/3B2PMwdD2cc

dps

jonreading
02-10-2020, 02:25 PM
I have been debating how to keep this conversation going. I think the video of Tohei sensei is OK, but lacks any real technical advice about what he is doing. I know a few of Tohei's older people who talk about how Tohei instructed, but I think there were limits to the transmission of his instruction.

First, I think someone, somewhere (i.e. "you") have to come to terms with a few base elements:
1. You are the sole person responsible for cultivating your [own] energy. If you choose to receive instruction from someone, hold her accountable for providing helpful guidance.
2. Make a definition of ki and stick to it. If you don't know what is ki, there is no way you can possibly train it.

From my perspective, "ki" is experiential. That is, someone with a knowledge of the body feeling can share that body feeling and transmit the awareness of ki. I think Takeda referred to aiki as a technique and something that he "gave" to students with whom he wanted to share that knowledge. Everyone remembers First Aid 101 - in the beginning, you grope around for the point on your wrist that the instructor says is were you feel pulse. But, you didn't know how a pulse would feel... so you squeezed too hard and couldn't feel a pulse, so you moved to the next part of the wrist and missed it. Later, the instructor came by and put your fingers on his wrist, lightly, and helped you to feel his pulse because he knew what his pulse felt like and where to find it.

I posted in another thread a small critique of some videos that were used to illustrate energy work; which I felt did not illustrate energy work, only physical balance. In that post, I felt the OP asked a very particular question, to which he received a very non-specific answer. I think ki has plenty of baggage without further confusing very specific questions with tangental information. The information is not worthless (it has value within its own context), but not germane to the specific question.

To this end, emulating motions captured on videos is a very difficult endeavor. The farther you move from someone you can put your fingers on her pulse to show you what she means, the more difficult that task becomes. In my other thread post, I chose my videos not because of the movement of the primary person, but rather the outcomes of those movements on another person that illustrate success. When we have difficulty replicating the results, it's a good guess that we are maybe mucking up the movements. When either the movement or the outcome is choreographed... fake comes to mind...

Peter Goldsbury
02-10-2020, 08:09 PM
All of my teachers were Japanese and never talked about ki, except to explain the name of the art. My first teacher taught what I later discovered were the core waza. His English was too poor to explain in detail what he was doing, so I found out the hard way, by 'throwing' and being thrown. This was a very practical way of learning what the Japanese call atemi.

Early on, I came across Tohei's book 'Aikido: The Coordination of Mind and Body.' The book was illustrated with explanations and pictures of techniques. I think Castaneda had started to publish his books at the same time and, of course, I read them in great detail. This was in the late sixties and I think I took the explanations as an interpreting supplement to the actual training.

The 'teacher as guru' model used in aikido was quite different from the other model currently used in university philosophy departments, which followed the dialectical method begun by the ancient Greeks. Dialectic was interesting enough to write a PhD on the subject, especially as the focus of my interest was his belief became knowledge -- and this was also quite relevant to aikido training.

Then I met K Chiba, who combined an insistence on self honesty, with a volcanic way of training and teaching aikido. The danger here was that he was cast by his students as a major guru, but was not really equipped to play such a role. But he never tried to explain what ki was, especially to me.

In fact, none of my Japanese teachers ever tried to explain what ki was: they assumed that I, like anyone else, would learn enough about ki through training. This does not necessarily mean that it is fake: to state this would assume an intellectual position that was unwarranted.

Ki in Japanese is one of those common words that is mainly used as part of phrases used very often in daily life. A very well-established dictionary uses three terms: spirit, mind and heart, each with the equivalent Japanese term. Then follow detailed definitions of the term used in everyday phrases, covering 12 columns. (The dictionary is the 5th edition of Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary, published in 2003.) So, when I am given a lift home from the dojo, I always say "ki-wo-tsukete" to the dojo member who is driving the car. One equivalent might be, "Take care; look after yourself."

This phrase is interesting because it uses the term 'self', which has some similarities to the term 'ki.' Some members might be aware of a book written by a Japanese expatriate living in Hawai'i. The title is "The Japanese Self in Cultural Logic" and the author is Takie Sugiyama Lebra. Lebra is a Japanese living in the US; I am an Englishman living in Hiroshima, so our situations are exactly reversed.

On p.39 there is diagram that purports to give an illustration of "The Fourfold Zonal Division of Social Self" which is the main topic of the chapter. The diagram attempts to explain the concepts of Uchi / Soto and Omote / Ura, which are common terms used in books that explain Japanese culture to foreigners (I used the diagram in a graduate class, in order to show what a badly constructed diagram looks like: diagrams are especially important in presenting statistical data in a PhD thesis.)

Concepts like 'self' and 'culture' are very similar to 'ki'; they are often used in common discourse and the meaning of the phrases in which they occur is sufficiently clear to obviate the need for further analysis of a philosophical sort, which in my opinion Lebra fails to do.

Jon, is this OK as a means to keep the conversation going?

Bernd Lehnen
02-11-2020, 08:31 AM
All of my teachers were Japanese and never talked about ki, except to explain the name of the art.

It must have been quite an "exegesis".


Early on, I came across Tohei's book 'Aikido: The Coordination of Mind and Body.'

Which reminds me of Tohei's book: „Aikido in daily life". It was also largely about „coordination of mind and body". Now, that you are to coordinate „mind" and „body" means that they are to be seen as two separate entities you should unite or reunite. So the book must have been written for or in a western mindset, because in a „culture" where the concept of „Ki" is prevalent this strict distinction probably a priori shouldn't exist.

Best,
Bernd

gezznz
02-11-2020, 01:44 PM
2. Make a definition of ki and stick to it. If you don't know what is ki, there is no way you can possibly train it.


As others have suggested, defining ki is intellectually elusive. Not being able to make a satisfactory definition is not necessarily a sign of not knowing what is ki. Many have struggled to define love, yet can claim to knowing it in a personal sense.

In my opinion, ki cannot easily be learned from books or from videos. It is probably true that one eventually "gets there," as in many lessons of life, but on the other hand, being coached in ki accelerates and eases the learning journey - as in many lessons of life.

The reason I say ki cannot be learned or even perceived from videos, is that one can only observe the form but not the inner experience of the participants. This is why the moves or throws can appear staged or fake. However, once one understands ki in a felt way, one can then perceive the subtleties of moves on video, just like a good coach can understand an athlete's mindset from the way they move.

My concern is that learning aikido without some exploration of the mental and ki aspects may lead to excessive emphasis on technique, while ignoring principles. Ki and mind-body coordination are not mystical or metaphysical woo-woo, they are merely acknowledgement of natural principles of relaxed yet powerful movement. Anyone can do it, even children. Last night I practised with children half my height. I showed them some simple ways to change how they moved, and they got it instantly, and were considerably more effective as a result.

A felt understanding of principles liberates a practitioner from formal technique, allowing them to move spontaneously according to the attacker. On the other hand, I have observed highly experienced practitioners getting deeper and deeper into intricacies of physical techniques, yet remaining unable to flow and move in a relaxed way.

Another learning aspect is direct transmission. Quite often, when a practitioner just couldn't do a move, my teacher would go up to them and touch them on the shoulder. They then could do the move perfectly! I had felt this from him - a sudden burst of confidence and I somehow knew how to do the move. Touch is an important aspect of teaching, and is also understood in esoteric yoga.

Mind-body coordination is not necessarily a novel concept meant for Westerners. Tohei seems to have drawn his pedagogic methods from Nakamura Tempu (1876-1968), who developed a system called Shin-Shin Toitsu-Do (Way of mind-body coordination). I believe that, while Tohei thought these methods were instrumental in laying a proper foundation for understanding Morihei Ueshiba's aikido, the incumbent Kisshomaru saw them as too far-fetched and ultimately unnecessary for learning aikido. All I know is that my teacher was trained in the bad old days of budo, yet also trained with Tohei, adopted his methods and further developed them for the Western mind, and I am a product of that.

jonreading
02-11-2020, 02:17 PM
First, happy new year Peter, I hope you are well and feeling better.

Second, I think there needs to be some tackling of "ki" as a cultural stumbling block if every there is going to be traction in the conversation. But, at some point someone's sacred cow goes on the block and then...

I also recall very little actual dialog about ki in the dojo. Some years back in a thread I teased that aikido people us "ki" like the 80's cartoon, The Smurfs, used the word "smurf." Ki could be a verb, or an adjective, or a noun. You could use ki in talking to someone, or put ki into your golf swing. As a cultural concept, ki is almost so big in its inclusion of usage that has become nonsensical. As a cultural comment, I think sometimes native Japanese speakers have dismissed the word in a similar fashion, while our western hyper-Japanese dojo culture still clings to it.

Personally, I think it is hard for someone to claim to know what ki is because there is so much room ti interpret what it means. Couple that with a general assault on any definition that does not align with *your* personal understanding of ki.

For example, if I have been training aikido for 10 years and never "felt" ki, but I understand my training to be "aikido," it's not without reason to assume that "ki" has no physical properties to associate with it. In contrast, if I have been training for 10 years and consistently able to replicate a feeling I identify as ki, but I understand my training to be "aikido," its also reasonable to assume that ki has physical properties to associate with it.

Without a great arbitrator to settle the difference, we are left with oppositional theories and no resolution. Except kinda. The founder's comments, early deshi, and other arts provide some guidance if you can manage the history lesson... While I strongly disagree with the "steal the technique" methodology for learning, I think there is some proof that correlates a body feeling to ki (an actual energy in your body) - the simple mechanic of repetition to affect change.
Do thing A long enough and eventually you'll feel something different than you did before.
So if we feel something different post-training, that means that our novice body movement pre-training [presumably] did not have ki (or at least enough to "feel"). Actually, I think this methodology firmly says ki is real AND that you will feel different when you train it.

The problem is that now you have to explain training when you don't feel anything different...

It may, in some respects, be more productive to translate "aiki" and move on to solving that equation without going back to the well and re-defining ki each time we run into a cultural obstacle. For example, if "aiki" = "joining of energies", what energies do we join and how do we join them?

Bernd mentioned the unification of mind and body and I think that is important. Also, the unification of mind and heart (i.e. body). But, how does that relate to the cultivation of energy?

gezznz
02-11-2020, 07:54 PM
Mind-body coordination is not necessarily a novel concept meant for Westerners. Tohei seems to have drawn his pedagogic methods from Nakamura Tempu (1876-1968), who developed a system called Shin-Shin Toitsu-Do (Way of mind-body coordination). I believe that, while Tohei thought these methods were instrumental in laying a proper foundation for understanding Morihei Ueshiba's aikido, the incumbent Kisshomaru saw them as too far-fetched and ultimately unnecessary for learning aikido.

Of course, if Kisshomaru had accepted Tohei's pedagogy after the founder's passing, we might not now be having this discussion. By effectively throwing Tohei out of the Aikikai, did the doshu prevent aikido from being diluted with woo-woo mysticism? Or did he throw the baby out with the bathwater?

To add to Jon's last post, ki as a "subtle energy" may or may not have physical properties associated with it. Purely from a biological point of view, I recall that some recent Korean studies have claimed to have found physical artifacts in the tissues that could relate to the Chinese Qi meridian lines.

In addition, research in the last few decades have identified connective tissue, in particular fascia, that could be implicated in super-fast sense perception and super-powerful yet energy-efficient movement. It should be remembered that the nervous system is actually a very slow transmitter of perception, let alone motor signals. Ever since dissection was allowed by the Church, fascia was discarded in order to study the "really interesting" parts - muscles, bones, nerves etc. This has given rise to a certain way of perceiving the roles of the parts, which may not be in accord with ancient Chinese, Indian, Japanese, etc, systems of biological knowledge. The rediscovery and exploration of fascia has flipped the paradigm.

As opposed to the reductionist isolated nerves and muscles theories, the fascia have been found to be a completely continuous sensory and motor system that connects every cell with every other cell. This could possibly mean that effective movement is whole body movement, not isolated muscle movement. This could account for a hummingbird's wing motion in flight, which according to biologists who have calculated work done vs heat output, should theoretically cause the bird to spontaneously combust - but it doesn't.

Coming back to ki and Tohei's pedagogy, he insisted that relaxation enables the flow of ki. The founder's movements appear to be completely relaxed, and his response to attacks is instantaneous. Perhaps if we relax in a certain way, not only do we access a more efficient and powerful means of movement, ie fascial movement, but we also access instant response.

I have certainly found that when I touch or hold a person in a certain relaxed way, I feel a sense of connection, and I am able to substantially move that person through mere micro-movements on my part. There is no need for "pain compliance" and other such forms of aggression, as the person moves without sensing the source of the movement.

As explained in a previous post, mental activity is important in learning to move with ki. Tohei always talked about "keeping one point" and "extending ki," which are mental exercises to begin with. Keeping one point is completely logical for mind-body coordination. If your physical centre of balance is around your navel, and you mentally place your awareness there, by definition this is mind-body coordination.

I believe we have a lot to learn about the correlation between ki and the physical body. The problem may not be in the definition of ki, but may be in our reductionist understanding of the body as seemingly isolated parts. When I studied anatomy, I was shocked to realise that our understanding of the fundamentals of movement and perception is purely theoretical. Perhaps future research, e.g. in the fascia, will bring a more integrative understanding that better aligns with and explains the ancient concepts of ki.

Peter Goldsbury
02-11-2020, 08:11 PM
Thank you for your good wishes.

I used to have a copy of "Aikido in Daily Life", but it disappeared at some point, and probably resides in some secondhand bookstore in. Tokyo. However, the other book covers the same ground, and before and after explanations of 28 chosen waza described in detail, provides explanations of how the mind and the body are related and how to 'coordinate' them. In this respect the cultivation of the 'one point' seika no itten, for example, plays a central role in Tohei's thinking.

The discussion of ki comes on pp. 82-84. Tohei prefers to use the Japanese term because, as he puts it:

"Ki is a very convenient word because it has both a deep meaning associated with nature and a light meaning which is used in daily life. It is very difficult to define ki and even more difficult to translate it into English. Therefore, the word ki will be used in the explanation of AIKIDO.

"In oriental thought, it is said that in the beginning there was chaos. The dust of chaos settled gradually to form the sun, the earth, the moon and the stars. On the earth. the elements combined to become minerals, animal and vegetable life. We call the chaotic condition before the universe took shape Ki. We say, therefore, that all things came from Ki."

Tohei therefore, amends the texts of the Kojiki to include ki and give it a central role. The next paragraph might have been uttered by Obi-wan Kenobi, the hero's mentor in Harry Potter, when he describes The Force:

"Ki itself has neither beginning nor end, nor increase nor decrease. Though its shape was changed, ki itself was never changed. We can see many things around us, all made from Ki, and when they lose their shape, their elements return to Ki. Depending on what you believe, you call it God, or Buddha, or Akua or some other name.
AIKIDO is the way of at-one-ment with cosmic power of Ki.
That is the deep meaning of KI." (Op.cit, p. 82.)

Tohei goes on the explain the light meaning of Ki, and I will not go into such detail. For Tohei, ki is a life force, a kind of physico-mental-spiritual liquid, which one can feel. Indeed, one has to feel it, in order to use or 'extend' it. He then attempts to strengthen his point with a carefully selected group of Japanese phrases. One especially, ki wo dasu, is explained:
"If you believe that your ki is gushing forth, your Ki is really gushing out." (Ibid.)
I have checked all the bilingual and monolingual Japanese dictionaries that I possess and this phrase does not appear. I conclude that the phrase is not in common usage (but I will check this tonight in the dojo).

The relationship between the body, the mind, and the soul has challenged western thinkers ever since Heraclitus and Parmenides, both in defining these concepts and explaining their connection. One way of seeking the end of this tunnel is through the study of meanings and metaphor. I have not, however, studied much about this in Japanese.

dps
02-12-2020, 05:34 AM
In addition, research in the last few decades have identified connective tissue, in particular fascia, that could be implicated in super-fast sense perception and super-powerful yet energy-efficient movement. It should be remembered that the nervous system is actually a very slow transmitter of perception, let alone motor signals. Ever since dissection was allowed by the Church, fascia was discarded in order to study the "really interesting" parts - muscles, bones, nerves etc. This has given rise to a certain way of perceiving the roles of the parts, which may not be in accord with ancient Chinese, Indian, Japanese, etc, systems of biological knowledge. The rediscovery and exploration of fascia has flipped the paradigm.

As opposed to the reductionist isolated nerves and muscles theories, the fascia have been found to be a completely continuous sensory and motor system that connects every cell with every other cell. This could possibly mean that effective movement is whole body movement, not isolated muscle movement. This could account for a hummingbird's wing motion in flight, which according to biologists who have calculated work done vs heat output, should theoretically cause the bird to spontaneously combust - but it doesn't.

Aiki Taiso is for developing Ki. Doing Aiki Taiso coordinates the nervous system (network of electrical signals) with the Facia ( network of mechanical signals) using the Mind (cognitive features of the brain). As the coordination progresses the cognitive features are used less and less (relaxation).

"Coordination of Mind and Body" or "Using the Mind to Coordinate the Body"

dps
.

jonreading
02-12-2020, 08:48 AM
I think this is another important juncture in conversation.

I think aiki taiso was originally intended to cultivate mind-body coordination and ki. Almost never hearing this instruction in training, and having practiced neo-aiki taiso training since the 60's, I think there is a very few number of aikido people who actually can explain every exercise and its relational instruction to ki. And just so we don't get distracted, I am sure there are some number of people who will claim to understand. Which puts some pressure on us to figure things out, scream it from the mountain tops and get it back in training. But, we are first having to prove ki is real...

Using muscles in isolation is not coordinating body movement. We used to talk about "changing out the engine that moves us." Using muscles in isolation makes for less power in movement and less coordination within the body.
For example, walking using the typical "leaned-forward-balance-shift" is a very efficient way to walk, but linebackers don't chase down and tackle running backs using this movement mechanic. Why? Because they is not much power or coordination behind it. Similarly, sprinting athletes run using movement methodology different from marathon runners.

I am not sure why it is difficult to see that aiki training should make us be different. I hold some frustration that this specific training is so obtuse. For an art named after the thing we are supposed to be doing... I appreciate people who are willing to put out there what they believe is ki and how they train to cultivate it. Even if we turn out to be wrong, we can leave waypoints to look back and figure out where we went wrong.

Bernd Lehnen
02-12-2020, 01:53 PM
Hello there, all of you, precious partners in looking for the real thing,

So, what is the real thing? Some would claim, what Ueshiba OSensei did. Others, what Takeda did and then again others what some Chinese internal Masters did and so on. And it would have to be „Inner Training", enhancing and probing our "Ki"..
Well, so far so good, perhaps…
If you train like a giant, you might end up like a giant, they say.
For the good or the bad…

I remember vividly, how I could replicate with relativ ease nearly all the exercises and tests that Tohei had put forward in his book „aikido in daily life". Coming from Yoga and what we in Germany call medical „autogenes Training", there for me was really nothing new, apart from the terminology Tohei chose. His "Ki" didn't seem to be so fare away neither from "prana" nor the old greek concept of „Pneuma".
Also, you may know the old adage „mens sana in corpore sano", may be an equivalent of the idea of „aikido".

But all this " ki wo dasu" didn't turn me into someone who would throw around with ease all the people I came to meet. I may even have been able to impress some people with these „Stunts", but that was it. A budo-giant? Not me.
So, time for a recap…
Tohei was really strong with obviously as much power in one arm as some others in two. He was well trained and fast, in general quite relaxed and had stamina. But even he with all his "ki wo dasu"wouldn't have been able to compete with the big champs in wrestling or judo…
In fact, I never met someone in Aikido, who could have. The claim of any superiority of aikido in this respect simply didn't hold truth.
And then, weapons are still an equalizer to body-strength and power, if you know what when and how to use.

That didn't hinder my further research into the waza , the solo exercises and the „coordination of mind and body". I had a lot of fun. Aikido is fun. Cross training also seemed a good choice. But we are human and, alas, there are limits, to each one his own.
I've met with people, who can do extraordinary things, but legends are legends. What I have seen so fare can be explained by surprisingly simple mechanics and good knowledge of how the human body works. Modern training science covers a lot of all this.

For the time being, I'm working on reforming my body into what some may call an aiki-body, whatever this means. This includes working the fascias, conscious working. May be you'd call that a kind of " ki wo dasu". In any case, this seems to be good for my health and, cause I'm getting older, I'm content with that.

Best,
Bernd

Peter Goldsbury
02-12-2020, 07:18 PM
[QUOTE=Peter A Goldsbury;354623]

Tohei goes on the explain the light meaning of Ki, and I will not go into such detail. For Tohei, ki is a life force, a kind of physico-mental-spiritual liquid, which one can feel. Indeed, one has to feel it, in order to use or 'extend' it. He then attempts to strengthen his point with a carefully selected group of Japanese phrases. One especially, ki wo dasu, is explained:
"If you believe that your ki is gushing forth, your Ki is really gushing out." (Ibid.)
I have checked all the bilingual and monolingual Japanese dictionaries that I possess and this phrase does not appear. I conclude that the phrase is not in common usage (but I will check this tonight in the dojo).

Well, I did check with my Japanese students about Ki wo dasu and they were unanimous that the phrase was not common Japanese.

Avery Jenkins
02-16-2020, 09:02 AM
If you're going to try to make a scientific argument, these blog posts are hardly credible. Let's take a look at some peer-reviewed research, shall we?

Acupuncture: theory, efficacy, and practice. Annals of Internal Medicine.
(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11874310)

Ancient Chinese medicine and mechanistic evidence of acupuncture physiology. Pflügers Archiv: European Journal of Physiology.
(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21870056)

Both of the cited articles (and the peer-reviewed research which they cite) point to the existence of qi. The latter article, in particular, provides one possible framework for understanding qi from a Western medical point of view. But that understanding is hardly necessary to employ qi. After all, we used aspirin for nearly 100 years before we figured out that it was an NSAID.

Quantitative evidence of the existence of qi, and its effects, exists.

Please scroll and have fun...

China, Chi, and Chicanery: Examining Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chi Theory
2 Feature
3 Peter Huston
4 Skeptical Inquirer Volume 19.5, September / October 1995

https://www.csicop.org/si/show/china_chi_and_chicanery_examining_traditional_chinese_medicine_and_chi_theo#foot er
1

The Roots of Qi - CSI - Committee for Skeptical Inquiry

https://www.csicop.org/sb/show/roots_of_qi

Claims of Chi: Besting a Tai Chi Master
Investigative Files
Joe Nickell
Skeptical Inquirer Volume 41.1, January/February 2017

https://www.csicop.org/si/show/claims_of_chi_besting_a_tai_chi_master#footer

Best,
Bernd

gezznz
02-16-2020, 12:57 PM
Aiki Taiso is for developing Ki. Doing Aiki Taiso coordinates the nervous system (network of electrical signals) with the Facia ( network of mechanical signals) using the Mind (cognitive features of the brain). As the coordination progresses the cognitive features are used less and less (relaxation).
.

Indeed, aiki taiso is used as a means to practise mind-body coordination while moving (it is all too easy to do it while standing or sitting). During classes, various tests are used to ensure coordination and relaxation throughout the movements.

Thus, they are not mere physical movements, and there is little point in mimicking them off videos or books. One must also incorporate the mental element, which may consist of a visualisation of extending ki or allowing weight to settle. Ultimately, they become a feeling which one taps into.

Very importantly, aiki taiso should be seen as components of aikido movements. By learning to perform the various aiki taiso exercises - with the right feeling - aikido movements can become more relaxed, minimising effort and improving effectiveness.

For example Ude Mawashi Undo (Arm Swinging exercise) is a practice of dropping the arms using only gravity (ie not pushing down or not holding up). When applied in aikido movements like ikkyo, kokyunage or iriminage, these techniques can be quite powerful. Observe Koichi Tohei using the principle extensively in his throws.

gezznz
02-16-2020, 01:54 PM
I hope you are enough of a rational adult not to jump off any cliffs.

dps

I have not jumped off any cliffs lately. The point I was making is that Castaneda's books have been inspirational without having to be strictly factual. This is where one needs to acknowledge symbolic learning as a potent transformative agent used for thousands of years.

You can find out more by reading Jung and others, but briefly, symbolic learning is a form of communication using myth, symbols and stories. It is said that dreams are a similar form of communication from the unconscious to the conscious mind. My understanding is that they contain heuristic knowledge that is extra-rationally triggered in the prepared mind.

Many teachers like Morihei Ueshiba used symbolic language to convey their understanding. I am not sure why it was disregarded in Ueshiba's case, but maybe his students felt it was not in accord with the progressive ideas of a Japan that was rapidly entering a technological - and rational - age.

One of Don Juan's lessons was "Stopping the World," getting Castaneda to interrupt his continuous stream of consciousness. This stream usually consists of habitual thoughts, beliefs and self-talk that make up what we assume to be the rational mind, and forms our idea of the world. In Castaneda's case, his academic arrogance was preventing him from understanding Don Juan's deeper teachings.

Ueshiba was said to have had at least two "Stopping the World" moments in which he experienced his very "real" connection with the cosmos, in which he said he was filled with a sense of awe and love. These no doubt transformed his ideas of aikido and what he taught.

Another of Don Juan's lessons is "Erase Personal History." I had a lot of difficulty accepting this one as a teenager, but now, coming to the other end of life, I so much realise how my fixed sense of personal history has shaped my mood, my beliefs, and my achievements throughout my life. I get the sense that if I had succeeded in erasing my personal history and its baggage of limiting beliefs, I might have accomplished more in my life...

I notice a lot of people insisting on rational explanations in this forum and other aikido forums. This causes them a lot of difficulty understanding and accepting ki. However, the Tao Te Ching says, "The Tao that can be spoken of is not the Tao, the Tao that cannot be spoken of is the Tao." I believe this paradoxical statement also applies to ki.

In order to gain understanding of ki and its application, I believe we need to allow "super-fuzzy logic" to exist, to allow an integration of symbolic knowing, felt embodied knowledge, and a rational acquisition and processing of information, to work together. It is not as easy as "ok tell me the facts": it involves a commitment to be open to lifelong learning and realisation. As one has these realisations through the course of one's life, we are transformed, our World is changed. That is the basis of mastery and wisdom.

Robert Cowham
02-19-2020, 03:24 PM
I have a soft spot for Tohei sensei because "Ki in Everyday Life" (or "Il Ki nella vita quotidiana" as I was in Turin, Italy at the time) got me into Aikido. The Ialian version had a list of dojos at the back, I called up my local one and went along. Some 33 years later I am still researching many things, including some of the key "light bulb" moments I experienced in my first few months.

I switched to Aikikai when I moved to Holland and then back to London. It took me 20 years or more to start to get to grips with Tohei's 4 principles in terms of a better understanding.

My main teaching line has been via Inaba sensei at the Meiji Jingu Shiseikan - he studied with Yamaguchi sensei and also Kashima Shinryu with Kunii sensei. Relaxation has always been a key, together with tanden focus and various basic exercises includin shiko (Sumo stepping) and Ritsu Zen (Standing like a tree or Zhan Zhuang).

I was working with one of my students this morning - smaller/lighter than me - and at various points she was being effortlessly effective. This coincided with relaxation and (a big focus recently) softness/melting in the hips, combined with extension of spine. To quote Tohei: keep one point/relax completely/keep weight underside/extend ki!

I don't particularly worry about what to call it, but it is very clear to me and to my students when things come together.

Reminders of the desired body state include (while doing a techinique), having perhaps one helper pressing gently with a jo/bo on tanden, and possibly even at the same time another helper is either touching the crown of your head, or even lightly lifting your head to encourage you to drop hips and extend spine. The difference in effectiveness of techinique with/without helper(s) is usually very clear to all.

Bernd Lehnen
02-20-2020, 12:48 PM
I have a soft spot for Tohei sensei ...

I was working with one of my students this morning - smaller/lighter than me - and at various points she was being effortlessly effective. This coincided with relaxation and (a big focus recently) softness/melting in the hips, combined with extension of spine. To quote Tohei: keep one point/relax completely/keep weight underside/extend ki!

I don't particularly worry about what to call it, but it is very clear to me and to my students when things come together.

Reminders of the desired body state include (while doing a techinique), having perhaps one helper pressing gently with a jo/bo on tanden, and possibly even at the same time another helper is either touching the crown of your head, or even lightly lifting your head to encourage you to drop hips and extend spine. The difference in effectiveness of techinique with/without helper(s) is usually very clear to all.

Hi Robert,
Good observation.
Anyone who knows what to look for in the circulated movies, might detect, that stretching the spine like letting it hang down from their head like a snake should play an important part for some key figures in aikido. Look at OSensei, Shioda and Shirata, then Tohei and Tada. Count in even the younger Steven Seagal. This tends to become even more visible with watching some true weapons experts.

But tell me - anyone - where there ki come into play. To say, we can feel it, doesn't say much.
How many feel and believe they are Napoleon, ...and they aren't.
So, where's evidence?

Best,
Bernd

jonreading
02-20-2020, 06:28 PM
Maybe a sacred cow here needs to die...

Not everyone in aikido knows how to train aiki. In fact, after 20 years or so in, most people I have met don't know how to train aiki. I have met a few people who are working on it and shared what the learned. I have met a very few people who have the ability to train aiki and teach it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this - except I have met many people who claim to know what they are doing. At some point, you are responsible for your own training and we (as instructors) need to stop moving goal posts. "Sensei, I have been training aikido for 2 years, how long until I get aiki?" "Five years." --Five years later-- "Sensei, I have been training for seven years now but I don't get it yet. How much longer?" "Lifetime technique." We need to be much more honest with what is going on.

Second, I have very strong criticism for many of the aikido people who were unable to transmit the training. This teaching was lost in aikido - political reasons, personal reasons, whichever. Going back now to say, "well, sensei was doing [this stuff] all the time, he just didn't realize it." I accept this is possibly true. But, mostly I think this means that instructors were not being candid in the extent of their knowledge because the whole time he didn't realize what he was doing, he was telling you it was aikido...

I have a problem with relaxation and aiki. It's the wrong word. Moving the right muscles is completely different than not moving the wrong muscles; it is a good illustration of instruction that is designed to be misleading.
When you "relax" your hips you can see two things that always happen... First, your belly protrudes forward; second, your butt protrudes backwards. You also become more unstable because the muscles in your hips tie into your back and help stabilize you. But, we actually use the pelvis a lot in our movement - it's like a crazy universal joint that connects the lower body to the upper body and translates power from the ground. Your hips have to move freely to allow the legs to push power up into the torso from different angles while you move. Your hips also have to allow free movement of the psoas and other connector muscles that go through the pelvis. So we are doing tons of things with our hips, none of which I would describe as "relaxing". And if we are moving muscles that we shouldn't... we should not relax them (that would imply that we moved them to begin with, which is wrong). Instead, we should train them not to move in the first place.

Maybe we should just "drop hips"...? Except... How does gravity pull the backside of your hips down and not the frontside, also? It doesn't. Ohh. Wait, "tilt your pelvis" works much better, right? Except... Tilting your pelvis tilts everything above the pelvis (i.e. your spine)... We are still moving the wrong muscles... We need to be much more critical of our instruction.

Alex Megann
02-21-2020, 02:44 AM
I have a problem with relaxation and aiki. It's the wrong word. Moving the right muscles is completely different than not moving the wrong muscles; it is a good illustration of instruction that is designed to be misleading.

I think Jon's comments are spot-on.

An illustration of this is one of my Aikido heroes, Seigo Yamaguchi. When I first started watching him on film, back in the 1970s, I could only see the softness - the way his ukes would fall with no apparent cause just looked like magic. When I actually got to get some hands-on with him in the 80s, I found him enormously impressive - something special seemed to be going on, far more subtle and complex than just relaxation. Since then, watching and feeling my own aikido teacher, Minoru Kanetsuka (who had some quite superb aiki skills, but was almost completely unable to transmit them) and attending workshops with an aiki (but not aikido) teacher, I have started to understand Yamaguchi's aikido a bit more - tiny but precise hip movements and displacements of his centre, the use of in-yo rather than linear movements, and so on. But it is rare to find someone in the aikido world who understands these things, and even fewer are able to teach and demonstrate them.

Alex

Bernd Lehnen
02-21-2020, 05:26 AM
I think Jon's comments are spot-on.

An illustration of this is one of my Aikido heroes, Seigo Yamaguchi. When I first started watching him on film, back in the 1970s, I could only see the softness - the way his ukes would fall with no apparent cause just looked like magic. When I actually got to get some hands-on with him in the 80s, I found him enormously impressive - something special seemed to be going on, far more subtle and complex than just relaxation. Since then, watching and feeling my own aikido teacher, Minoru Kanetsuka (who had some quite superb aiki skills, but was almost completely unable to transmit them) and attending workshops with an aiki (but not aikido) teacher, I have started to understand Yamaguchi's aikido a bit more - tiny but precise hip movements and displacements of his centre, the use of in-yo rather than linear movements, and so on. But it is rare to find someone in the aikido world who understands these things, and even fewer are able to teach and demonstrate them.

Alex

Well Alex,

Your teacher Kanetsuka truly had something. When once I had the short but intense opportunity to feel him, he felt like a powerful soft rock. Though, if he wasn't , according to you, too well disposed to transmit everything , he certainly provided a wonderful roll model for you to steal from. Lucky you.

Seems, this thread is going in a more fruitful direction, at last.

Relaxation per se, i.e. as a kind of noodling, surely isn't producing what I'm looking for. Noodling doesn't help in receiving or diverting incoming force - unless you were such an overwhelming mass of noodles to drown everything, but at risk of internal injury.
We should never forget, that in budo it's (all) about power. So I think, in budo we should be powerful and should reach for the most possible effective power management. Tradition has it, that it's about a balance of in-yo.
The promise is, that by reforming our body, we will reach such state of internal harmony that it will manifest itself through the skill of„Aiki".
By the way, I prefer internal management of opposing forces over the concept of in-yo. And I prefer the Sagawa coined „Transparent Power" over „Aiki".

We'll see if we ever get there.

Best,
Bernd

Alex Megann
02-21-2020, 08:43 AM
By the way, I prefer internal management of opposing forces over the concept of in-yo. And I prefer the Sagawa coined „Transparent Power" over „Aiki".

Funnily enough, the "non-aikido" teacher I mentioned (Jon will know who I mean) defines aiki as "unifying opposing forces", and described what he taught as "aiki in-yo ho". And he is at least partially in the Sagawa lineage.

I like "transparent power" as a description of how it feels, but it doesn't help me, at least, to understand how to do it.

Alex

Bernd Lehnen
02-21-2020, 10:53 AM
.

(Jon will know who I mean)

So do I.
He is very inspirational.
And he may have set us on the right path.
As for anything else, it's up to us.

Best,
Bernd

gezznz
02-22-2020, 02:07 PM
Relaxation per se, i.e. as a kind of noodling, surely isn't producing what I'm looking for. Noodling doesn't help in receiving or diverting incoming force - unless you were such an overwhelming mass of noodles to drown everything, but at risk of internal injury.


What you call "noodling" is what my teacher called "dead relaxation," and he used to say, "you can practise that when you're dead."

Dead relaxation is a floppy relaxation with no extension of ki. By "extension of ki" I mean a feeling of extending outside the physical body, of largeness that encompasses the attacker.

"Live relaxation," which is the real meaning of Tohei's principle Relax Completely, is a form of relaxation where there is a resting tone of the muscles. Following from my fascia hypothesis, this allows the body's fascial web to trigger the muscles in a coordinated and powerful way, while minimising energy expenditure.

The comparison between "Tension," "Dead Relaxation," and "Live Relaxation" is regularly explored and tested in ki development or mind-body coordination classes, and by extension, in aikido practice.

In aikido, incoming force is never fully received. The whole point is to divert it effectively and with minimum effort. For aikido practitioners trained in a mechanistic way, this is done at the point of contact (or later for those less experienced). For those trained with awareness of ki, this is ideally done before physical contact. If you closely observe Morihei Ueshiba, Koichi Tohei, and other highly experienced teachers, the uke appears to divert before completing the attack. This is the whole reason why it appears fake to the uninitiated.

How does a practitioner divert the attack before contact? I don't know of any mechanistic theory to explain this. Tohei suggested the principle of ki as a working explanation. I am sure he was aware that it didn't sit well with the western mind. But as a pedagogic method, it is highly elegant and effective.

Let us not be caught up with semantic arguments around "relaxation." Experiential practice, trying to relax more while at the same time trying to extend outwards more, will bring better results and understanding.

Peter Goldsbury
02-22-2020, 06:12 PM
I think Jon's comments are spot-on.

An illustration of this is one of my Aikido heroes, Seigo Yamaguchi. When I first started watching him on film, back in the 1970s, I could only see the softness - the way his ukes would fall with no apparent cause just looked like magic. When I actually got to get some hands-on with him in the 80s, I found him enormously impressive - something special seemed to be going on, far more subtle and complex than just relaxation. Since then, watching and feeling my own aikido teacher, Minoru Kanetsuka (who had some quite superb aiki skills, but was almost completely unable to transmit them) and attending workshops with an aiki (but not aikido) teacher, I have started to understand Yamaguchi's aikido a bit more - tiny but precise hip movements and displacements of his centre, the use of in-yo rather than linear movements, and so on. But it is rare to find someone in the aikido world who understands these things, and even fewer are able to teach and demonstrate them.

Alex

Alex,

I think Masatake Sekiya had a good idea. After all, it was Sekiya who was called to the UK to smooth the transition in the BAF between Chiba and Kanatsuka.

PAG

Alex Megann
02-23-2020, 02:13 AM
Alex,

I think Masatake Sekiya had a good idea. After all, it was Sekiya who was called to the UK to smooth the transition in the BAF between Chiba and Kanatsuka.

PAG

Hi Peter,

Yes, I'm sorry that on the limited occasions I was able to see Sekiya Sensei back in the late 1970s I wasn't nearly experienced enough take much in. He was invited as guest instructor at a BAF Summer School a few years later, but again I think there were transmission issues, not to mention some uncomfortable interpersonal politics going on in the background.

I hadn't heard that that was the reason he was invited to the UK, though I am aware of his family connections with Chiba Sensei. I do know that his aikido was a revelation for Kanetsuka Sensei, and he provided the latter's link to Yamaguchi Sensei and the Kashima Shinryu sword work.

Alex

Peter Goldsbury
02-23-2020, 10:09 PM
Hi Peter,

Yes, I'm sorry that on the limited occasions I was able to see Sekiya Sensei back in the late 1970s I wasn't nearly experienced enough take much in. He was invited as guest instructor at a BAF Summer School a few years later, but again I think there were transmission issues, not to mention some uncomfortable interpersonal politics going on in the background.

I hadn't heard that that was the reason he was invited to the UK, though I am aware of his family connections with Chiba Sensei. I do know that his aikido was a revelation for Kanetsuka Sensei, and he provided the latter's link to Yamaguchi Sensei and the Kashima Shinryu sword work.

Alex

Hello Alex,

Yes. I had a ringside seat during the transmission issues, since Sekiya Sensei and his wife came to stay in the UK at the Kanestsuka residence, and I basically took a year off from my PhD at UCL, so that I could be otomo and drive them around in the Kanestuka minibus. We alternated between Chiba territory (at the Earls Court dojo) and Kanetsuka territory (at Ryushinkan). There was also a dojo at the Kanestuka residence on Hillfield Road where I spent many hours practicing Kashima sword work. The "uncomfortable interpersonal politics" stood me in good stead later, when I resolutely refused to take sides in aikido disputes relating to dojo membership. My dojo is now completely independent of any organization, except for Hombu recognition, but the Hombu would like me to play an active part in the Hiroshima prefectural federation that they are setting up.

Best wishes,

PAG

jonreading
02-25-2020, 12:00 PM
There are a couple of things that I wanted to touch on over a few of these previous threads...

1. Its all about power. energy = power. At some point, you gotta talk about making power in order to use it. I know there are some different thoughts on whether you "make" power, or simply cultivate power that is already inside you. I am mostly in the "make" power camp, but that's probably a different thread. I think in this regard, budo (or aikibudo) is very much an essay on managing power. Somewhere along the line, I think aikido people fell into Easy = Efficient. Power became a dirty word and it still is a dirty word in aikido.
One of the better examples I have heard in this regard is walking our aikido elephant... Walking through the forest, our elephant steps on a snake and kills it:
1. Did the elephant use more power than it needed when it killed the snake? No. Why? Because the elephant was walking with sufficient power to move its body.
2. Did the elephant notice the snake was squashed? No. Why? because the snakes body was not powerful enough counter-force to affect the elephant.

2. Of course you accept 100% of incoming force. This is physics. There is no magic power out there that allows you to avoid receiving energy that enters your body - the best you can do is hope to cut the force in time and move away... but now the force isn't going into you anymore. Evasion is not managing power - its avoiding power. For example, if I shoot a laser traveling the speed of light, the laser will hit its target in its entirety unless the object is moving faster than light - its the Hollywood laserblast conversation in science.
Again, I think somewhere along the line, we decided tenkan was a circle around an attack and we lost the understanding that the whole purpose of the exercise was to practice receiving and managing power (with a turn).
The affects of internal power movement (i.e. better power management, stability on which to manage power, and sensory affects that diminish the power that is put into you) are very notably related to power exchange within you, or between you and a partner. When dealing with outside forces, the problem is learning how to manage the force before it becomes a problem...

If we go back to a definition of ki as an energy component, I think it is hard to avoid a conversation about aiki as a method of managing energy. On top of that, I think it is required to first understand energy within you before we start screwing around with energy outside of your body. For example, if unbendable arm is a parlor trick of energy, why not unbendable leg? Unbendable body? Because most people that know unbendable arm are limited in the knowledge of why it works... and since we don't have triceps in our legs or back... we stick to what we know.

Bernd Lehnen
02-26-2020, 02:24 AM
Funnily enough, the "non-aikido" teacher I mentioned (Jon will know who I mean) defines aiki as "unifying opposing forces", and described what he taught as "aiki in-yo ho". And he is at least partially in the Sagawa lineage.
I like "transparent power" as a description of how it feels, but it doesn't help me, at least, to understand how to do it.

Alex

That's where the „buzz-words" come in handy, that's what they are made for:

There is a double helix in your body, you have to create by acknowledging it's existence, two snakes , one rising and one descending, you have to feed , take care of and keep in good balance ( in-yo). These then may give rise to other pairs of snakes , opposing powers in your body.
Getting back down to earth while understanding this is the point, where IMHO the real work begins. Nothing we've learned before will be of help and a complete reset is on. To do this with intelligence and take the first steps into the right direction you have to rely on your „n.a." teacher, because he can walk the talk.

And here's the crux: can we forget, at least for a start, everything we've learned and done up to now? Are we willing to give up pride and prejudice?
Being creative and thinking out off the box isn't what most people usually want.
And hard work won't help either.
Honesty and consistency may…

There are a couple of things that I wanted to touch on over a few of these previous threads...

1. Its all about power. energy = power.

2. … This is physics. There is no magic power out there that allows you to avoid receiving energy that enters your body …….
When dealing with outside forces, the problem is learning how to manage the force before it becomes a problem...

If we go back to a definition of ki as an energy component, I think it is hard to avoid a conversation about aiki as a method of managing energy. On top of that, I think it is required to first understand energy within you before we start screwing around with energy outside of your body.

…most people that know unbendable arm are limited in the knowledge of why it works...
... we stick to what we know.

Spot on, Jon,
and we shouldn't let „them" impinge on us. ;)

Best,
Bernd

gezznz
03-09-2020, 03:40 PM
Here is a post I have written on the practical relationship between relaxation, power, and ki. It brings some of the threads of this discussion together, so I hope it helps:

https://mindbodyaikido.com/relaxation-in-aikido/

jonreading
03-10-2020, 01:33 PM
Here is a post I have written on the practical relationship between relaxation, power, and ki. It brings some of the threads of this discussion together, so I hope it helps:

https://mindbodyaikido.com/relaxation-in-aikido/

Gerald, I appreciate the read. I have a couple of observations:
1. You are describing "relax" in a context that is very inconsistent with Western English definitions. I think you spend a lot of time trying to make your ideas fit into "relax". The redefinition of "relax" in aikido has largely been an unsuccessful rebranding. Especially, if you are trying to describe fascia chains you are specifically referring to learning how to fire the right muscles in coordination and refrain from firing the wrong muscles that will constrain the chain. As a matter of practice, you still must learn to fire the right muscles or not fire the wrong muscles; in either case you are never "relaxing" a muscle because it is either the correct muscle to fire, or the wrong muscle [which you must relax] and you shouldn't fire it.
2. There is nothing weak or stiff about tension. Tension physics have strength and flexibility. You are describing body mechanics that are more similar to a collection of muscles that have fired and subconsciously don't relax, like the stiffness of learning to ride a bike or drive a car. The "softening" of our body movements as we learn through experience how to use our bodies is not ki - it is jujutsu, though. This is the training of experience, right?
3. Aiki is the management of opposing forces... which inside of you creates a friction... the birthplace of aiki. You have to have tension in dueling opposing forces, this is a definition given to use by the founder himself. To not have tension in your body is the antithesis of what O Sensei said on many occasions.
4. You seem to migrate from a physical relaxation to a philosophical relaxation. While I take issue with "relaxing" the mind, I think I would rather hear more about what physically makes you express ki.

There is no energy generation system with which I am familiar that from zero energy, you make 1 energy. Most physics tells us that energy transfer usually loses energy. So at some point, we still come back to the problem that if ki=energy, how can doing nothing create energy? It can't.

What if your arm in unbendable arm was filled with a flexibility and consistency of a leaf spring... and when that spring were loaded with potential energy from a partner pushing on it your arm was somehow able to convert and store that potential energy, which could later be expressed in the form of kinetic energy... Is the leaf spring relaxed? Did it get stiff?

What about a basketball? What if you drop a basketball onto the ground and it bounces back up because the consistency and flexibility of the material allowed for a clean transmission of energy from gravity, stored in the rubber-like material, and expressed back as kinetic energy that bounced the ball... But what if we drop a tennis ball on top of the basketball...

We have Yin and Yang. O Sensei said that we need to understand both to have aiki. So what is the balance of expansion? If you are always expanding.... there is no balance. "Extending" ki... No wait, is that "expanding" ki? Are they different? How can your spine be stretched unless muscles are pulling it? But pulling muscles is not relaxing... And if your vertebrae are small bones held together by tissue, then pulling them apart against the tissue would put your spine in a state of... suspended tension. But wait, tension is weak, right?

I appreciate you taking the time to post something for us to read. I am being picky, but I am trying to point out the inconsistencies that I have seen in aikido for almost 20 years.

dps
03-17-2020, 08:00 AM
Before I took Aikido I took Karate at a commercial competitive dojo. Then I took baguazhang, or however you spell it, under a skilled master with not so skilled assistants. Then one day a friend handed me "The Art of Peace" and showed me some youtube videos.

After a few months I found the right dojo and my friend gave me his dogi. After a few lessons I realized that ki was real.

After a while I began to understand how to use ki a little bit.

Recently I have become aware of my center, and I haven't even been to my dojo in a while. I've only used one point meditations and practiced with my friend on the cold hard ground outside.

First I though ki was fake then I misunderstood what my center is, I hope I gain even more insight.

Looking back I think I could have learned a thing or two about ki and my center from the baguazhong, but it didn't click until I took Aikido. Have any of you had an experience like mine?

It is not fake it is undefinable.

David