PDA

View Full Version : What is Aiki? Introduction to a method of analyzing Aiki. (Part 3)


Please visit our sponsor:
 

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!


Chris Li
07-28-2013, 06:25 PM
New blog post!

"What is Aiki? Introduction to a method of analyzing Aiki. (Part 3) (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/analyzing-aiki-part-3/)"

Enjoy!

Chris

Michael Varin
07-28-2013, 10:11 PM
If one is objective, one must consider the possibility that Takahashi had no understanding of aiki whatsoever... After reading the trilogy that is certainly the impression that I am left with.

Chris Li
07-29-2013, 01:07 AM
If one is objective, one must consider the possibility that Takahashi had no understanding of aiki whatsoever... After reading the trilogy that is certainly the impression that I am left with.

At best he's extremely vague (perhaps purposely), but I thought that there were a few interesting things in there.

Best,

Chris

Rupert Atkinson
07-29-2013, 03:17 AM
Can't really see much in there but I like the fact he sees it as the - “Way of Aiki” (合気の道)" aiki no michi - as that is the way I see it and is what I pursue.

Cady Goldfield
07-29-2013, 09:14 AM
I don't think his vagueness is intentional, as some of the things he states are absolutely misleading. Unless, of course, he is being misleading intentionally...

Bernd Lehnen
07-29-2013, 09:44 AM
I don't think his vagueness is intentional, as some of the things he states are absolutely misleading. Unless, of course, he is being misleading intentionally...

Yes, and well, thats what they suspected of Shirata of aikido, too.

Given that Takahashi trained with Kimura in all of the gen it's hard to believe, that he shouldn't have a clue, but there you have it.

oisin bourke
07-29-2013, 11:04 AM
I don't think his vagueness is intentional, as some of the things he states are absolutely misleading.

What would they be?

Cady Goldfield
07-29-2013, 01:53 PM
I don't think his vagueness is intentional, as some of the things he states are absolutely misleading.

What would they be?

For one thing, and most glaring - the focus on the hands, without any mention of the rest of the body's role in aiki. The hands do have a role, but they are not the root of aiki. You can select other body extremities -- hip, shoulder, even the head -- as a point of contact; the hands are not the source. He makes a verrrry vague allusion that aiki actually comes from elsewhere, but he's like a prestidigitator distracting the audience from what he is really doing, by drawing their attention elsewhere.

oisin bourke
07-29-2013, 08:33 PM
For one thing, and most glaring - the focus on the hands, without any mention of the rest of the body's role in aiki. The hands do have a role, but they are not the root of aiki. You can select other body extremities -- hip, shoulder, even the head -- as a point of contact; the hands are not the source. He makes a verrrry vague allusion that aiki actually comes from elsewhere, but he's like a prestidigitator distracting the audience from what he is really doing, by drawing their attention elsewhere.

well, he wrote this:

"For example, even in seated techniques, one cannot apply Aiki only through the movement of the hands. The hands are supported by the trunk and the lower body. There are also such teachings as “keep your body straight”, “don’t move your hips” and “put power into your lower abdomen”.

So he's not focussing on the hands. In fact, if you read carefully, he doesn't even talk about the hands being important, he talks about the wrists. Yes he's vague, but at least he does allude to specific points, unlike, for example, Kimura. .

BTW, I've never even seen Takahashi, so I have no opinions on his abilities/knowledge of "Aiki" one way or the other, but, I'm a little surprised that people have been so dismissive.

Cady Goldfield
07-29-2013, 09:12 PM
well, he wrote this:

"For example, even in seated techniques, one cannot apply Aiki only through the movement of the hands. The hands are supported by the trunk and the lower body. There are also such teachings as "keep your body straight", "don't move your hips" and "put power into your lower abdomen".

That's the very vague allusion I was referring to. Those teachings tell us, precisely, nothing about what aiki is, where it comes from, how it is created, maintained, and expressed. Whether it's because he did not have the words with which to describe these, or whether he was intentionally misleading, we'll never know. Going by the general lack of descriptive terminology in DR teaching, though, I more and more suspect that none of these people had the words, and that whatever skills they had were learned and passed on through physical, intuitive transmission.

So he's not focussing on the hands. In fact, if you read carefully, he doesn't even talk about the hands being important, he talks about the wrists. Yes he's vague, but at least he does allude to specific points, unlike, for example, Kimura. .

BTW, I've never even seen Takahashi, so I have no opinions on his abilities/knowledge of "Aiki" one way or the other, but, I'm a little surprised that people have been so dismissive.

Yeah, Kimura's even better at being obscure. :) I do feel that Takahashi spent too much time and attention on the hands, to the point that it seems to be a genuine distraction to avoid talking about more relevant things such as the tandan, meimon, femoral region, legs, and feet, etc.

As for being dismissive, there's a growing body of individuals who are training in aiki and learning very specific body methods. There is a vocabulary and a physical, technical curriculum that is quite focused. For those of us who have been practicing aiki for 15 years or longer, and have some skills and understanding, it's frustrating to read descriptions of aiki that only tangentially touch on it and lead the would-be student in the wrong direction, away from any glimmer of understanding.

That said, I will say, as I always do, that it's great to have English-language access to these essays, if only for historic perspective and confirmation of our suspicions about the secrecy and restriction in transmission that has enshrouded both the heritage and legacy of Daito-ryu.

oisin bourke
07-30-2013, 02:05 AM
That's the very vague allusion I was referring to. Those teachings tell us, precisely, nothing about what aiki is, where it comes from, how it is created, maintained, and expressed. Whether it's because he did not have the words with which to describe these, or whether he was intentionally misleading, we'll never know. Going by the general lack of descriptive terminology in DR teaching, though, I more and more suspect that none of these people had the words, and that whatever skills they had were learned and passed on through physical, intuitive transmission.
I don't think I've read anything that has specifically stated what aiki is, where it comes from, how it is created, maintained, and expressed. If you have come across a text that does please give me link!

I agree with the lack of descriptive terminology, but to be honest, I can't see how "Aiki" can be passed on OTHER than through physical, intuitive transmission. It's a physical art. At best, you can glean hints and key points from other sources, especially if you have a base of reference established from training.

Anyway, you stated that The author is misleading people, but I still can't see how. What exactly did he write that is completely off the mark? As far as I can see, at worst he is being vague.

Yeah, Kimura's even better at being obscure. :) I do feel that Takahashi spent too much time and attention on the hands, to the point that it seems to be a genuine distraction to avoid talking about more relevant things such as the tandan, meimon, femoral region, legs, and feet, etc.

He mentioned the legs feet and tai sabaki a lot towards the end of the article. He also stated that this is only scratching the surface. The other terms you mentioned, they're fairly vague :)

Do you see my point? can't see exactly what Takahashi would have to have written in a fairly short article to have escaped the charge of vagueness. FWIW, that's the first time I have ever come across a specific piece referring to training the wrists at a "deeper" level. I think that would be of interest to people who spend so much time in training grabbing wrists (like people reading this forum).

As for being dismissive, there's a growing body of individuals who are training in aiki and learning very specific body methods. There is a vocabulary and a physical, technical curriculum that is quite focused. For those of us who have been practicing aiki for 15 years or longer, and have some skills and understanding, it's frustrating to read descriptions of aiki that only tangentially touch on it and lead the would-be student in the wrong direction, away from any glimmer of understanding
.

Well, you're free to adopt that attitude, of course. I've seen that on this thread. Personally, I think that "XXX doesn't know what he's talking about" often leads to missing important points.

oisin bourke
07-30-2013, 04:07 AM
. Personally, I think that "XXX doesn't know what he's talking about" often leads to missing important points.

Apologies, I should have written: "Based on my training, XXX doesn't know what he is talking about" often leads to missing important points."

This is an attitude that most have us have to be aware of, not least me!

Bernd Lehnen
07-30-2013, 06:40 AM
Apologies, I should have written: "Based on my training, XXX doesn't know what he is talking about" often leads to missing important points."

This is an attitude that most have us have to be aware of, not least me!

Oisin,

to my mind "Aiki" is a very personal skill and so how you describe it may vary to your point of view, which will develop according to your ability.

The point is, that you have to start somewhere. You have to surpass the threshold of not being able to do anything without resorting to usual power and physical technique to a state of being able to do something for the first time.

You have to precondition your body for that a bit. The best thing I have seen so far on the internet to lead you there in a fairly rational way is what Sam Chin is doing in his videos. His is a very modern approach. You may not agree.

Kimura is not intentionally vague, to my mind, because he has tried to give a clear as possible to him definition of "Aiki" as he saw it in 2005 via the french edition of his "My 20 years with..", but the translators, clearly, indicate that his view has already changed ever since.

You might ask Stan Pranin about how Kimura felt to him, because he is supposed to have felt him on more than one occasion in the past.

We may disagree about Kimura, but, as far as I can follow her, Cady as usually knows exactly what she is talking about.:)

Best,

Bernd

Cady Goldfield
07-30-2013, 07:53 AM
Apologies, I should have written: "Based on my training, XXX doesn't know what he is talking about" often leads to missing important points."

This is an attitude that most have us have to be aware of, not least me!

Why is it somehow wrong and suspect for a contemporary person who isn't a Big Name to have a valid opinion based on actual experience and skills? I don't mean to sound like I have an "attitude," but aiki really is a definable thing and there is a methodology that people do train in. I can demonstrate what I know and I can describe and teach it. But what Takahashi has written can in no way be said to be instructive or useful in any way, when it comes to understanding what aiki is.

To accept that or not, is everyone's privilege. But it is what it is.

oisin bourke
07-30-2013, 08:31 AM
Why is it somehow wrong and suspect for a contemporary person who isn't a Big Name to have a valid opinion based on actual experience and skills? I don't mean to sound like I have an "attitude," but aiki really is a definable thing and there is a methodology that people do train in. I can demonstrate what I know and I can describe and teach it. But what Takahashi has written can in no way be said to be instructive or useful in any way, when it comes to understanding what aiki is.

To accept that or not, is everyone's privilege. But it is what it is.

Well, you missed his point about the hands. But if you feel that's in no way instructive or useful, fair enough.

Budd
07-30-2013, 09:54 AM
I dunno, it could be just as likely the speaker is trying to get at the point of saying "disregard the hands, connect the insides and put power here (the middle)". Translations and intentions get tricky, so I don't see the value in speculating too much whether he was intentionally obscuring things versus not having the vocabulary to articulate what's going on. I think there's more value in offering some input into what's missing (as opposed to proclaiming one's bonafides).

To use my own example, I'd say an important starting point is learning to connect one's body - HOW you do it may depend on your style and or desirable end result (wielding weapons, holding postures, etc.) but the general theme is that the body is connected together (bones, skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments) in such a way that when one part moves, all parts move (that movement may be big and visible or hidden). Certain postures, breathing, movements and light pressure practices can aid in learning to connect one's body (which is why many styles have practices that are common, with understandable twists [hehe pun], across systems - while also having their own proprietary methods).

Putting power in the middle - if your body is connected in the way I start to describe, you can then draw upon more of the body's whole power to achieve things that seem either really strong, unusually strong, explosively strong, etc (depending on ability, conditioning, skill, etc.) and you can access that strength from seemingly strange positions, partly because you generate and source that strength (legs, middle, back) in a way that might seem counterintuitive e.g. move the middle down the leg to move the hand (it's CONNECTED you see??), but wait, you said HAND!! Darn, I meant . . yeah, language can sometimes get difficult, even when we're both speaking English.

But then I think that's where some of the disconnects still reside in describing this stuff, internal strength, aiki, training practices of them versus applications of them.

Cady Goldfield
07-30-2013, 12:32 PM
Good point, Budd. I do tend to think it is a language issue more than anything else. I keep looking for a very direct, to-the-point description, and much of what Sagawa's students write really are pretty abstract and roundabout in a way that you have to already be indoctrinated in the body method (as you are) to see the apparent allusions and connections.

Budd
07-30-2013, 01:03 PM
Yeah, I wonder if the combination of cultural and proprietary norms would allow for such a thing (direct, to-the-point descriptions) - even at the bottom of the linked article, he mentions that he's only describing a small portion of the secrets. I sway back and forth between folks leaving nuggets like that to encourage people to get out there and learn more for themselves, or it was a kind of code that people liked to drop to say "Look here, we're doing the real stuff, too" as they understood it.

iron horse
07-30-2013, 01:48 PM
to my mind "Aiki" is a very personal skill and so how you describe it may vary to your point of view


I disagree. To me, aiki is a specific skill. It does not vary. Does the law of gravity vary according to your understanding? I say the law is what it is despite what you think it to be.

oisin bourke
07-30-2013, 02:20 PM
To use my own example, I'd say an important starting point is learning to connect one's body - HOW you do it may depend on your style and or desirable end result (wielding weapons, holding postures, etc.) but the general theme is that the body is connected together (bones, skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments) in such a way that when one part moves, all parts move (that movement may be big and visible or hidden). Certain postures, breathing, movements and light pressure practices can aid in learning to connect one's body (which is why many styles have practices that are common, with understandable twists [hehe pun], across systems - while also having their own proprietary methods).

Putting power in the middle - if your body is connected in the way I start to describe, you can then draw upon more of the body's whole power to achieve things that seem either really strong, unusually strong, explosively strong, etc (depending on ability, conditioning, skill, etc.) and you can access that strength from seemingly strange positions, partly because you generate and source that strength (legs, middle, back) in a way that might seem counterintuitive e.g. move the middle down the leg to move the hand (it's CONNECTED you see??), but wait, you said HAND!! Darn, I meant . . yeah, language can sometimes get difficult, even when we're both speaking English.

.

Thanks for that.

IMO

Takahashi seems to emphasise the retraining of one's body/reflexes/nervous system so that you don't give the grasping opponent anything to work with. So you have this paradox, of keeping your intent throughout the body while not issuing any aggression (ie tension that the other can work with). He calls this "the containment of power" and explains that one should start exploring this paradox through "the internal senses contained within the wrist". So you need to "send intent" to the hands while at the same time neutralising the grab. To me, this seems to be an exercise for training the nervous system.

Budd
07-31-2013, 07:47 AM
Thanks for that.

IMO

Takahashi seems to emphasise the retraining of one's body/reflexes/nervous system so that you don't give the grasping opponent anything to work with. So you have this paradox, of keeping your intent throughout the body while not issuing any aggression (ie tension that the other can work with). He calls this "the containment of power" and explains that one should start exploring this paradox through "the internal senses contained within the wrist". So you need to "send intent" to the hands while at the same time neutralising the grab. To me, this seems to be an exercise for training the nervous system.

So that can align sorta with the classics notion of balancing the powers of Heaven/Man/Earth (in/yo/ho, balancing the qi/ki, etc.) - initially with regard to managing the ground pushing you up and gravity pulling you down into a neutral state where an opponent cannot feel your intention yet you can make their power/intent part of the overall chain you manage (again, I'm keeping it simplified and generalizing, but then in fairness, the article was only mentioning a little bit, too).

The nervous system training is an interesting vocabulary for what's going on - training the nervous system how? To relax completely, keep weight underside and focus on one point a la Tohei (though neither one completely gets at the heart with generalities, if you can bridge what Takahashi is hinting at in the articles with Tohei's more famous three maxims, the noose starts to tighten further around a better definition of how jin works, as opposed to what it is IMO)? As I mentioned before, I see a progression that often gets left out of 1) How to train the skill 2) How to condition the skill 3) How to apply the skill (assuming there are set desirable parameters for the skill). There may very well be some sophisticated and organized methods for this that are preserved explicitly, but mostly I see some vague hints by historical and modern parties proclaiming that they or their teachers have/had the keys to the kingdom and the rest of us can guess at what they meant vs. what they knew.

So that being said, I don't disagree with the nervous system description (as a piece of the puzzle) - but how would you say it's being trained and towards what desirable outcome (to specifically enable the abilities of neutralizing external force while being able to send intent as tangible activity)?

Gerardo Torres
07-31-2013, 01:15 PM
I personally would not to draw any conclusions from isolated models of aiki as presented in these articles and in many posts here in Aikiweb (they can be useful if you have the required background) -- physics diagrams, "lever" actions, any focus on a particular body part (toes, wrists, etc.) -- because unless you've been educated in the whole-body model they're meaningless as learning tools (and can mislead others into "oh I already do that" type responses). Take for example the Sagawa-related diagram showing the forces balancing on a "support". Looks easy, but without a background discussion of dantian/hara and connection, any mention of "support" is meaningless. The way I see it any illustration of say an arm interacting with a force should be accompanied with a whole-body model explanation of how aiki is enabled and can be expressed via the arm: what the other arm is doing, what the legs, dantian, spine, etc., are doing. Yeah, it's a lot of academic work and perhaps unfeasible to go into that level of detail, but that's why it has to be learned in person (IHTBF :D).

Budd
07-31-2013, 03:13 PM
Oh I dunno, I think it would be fun to go into that level of detail - partially why I started with the connecting the body bits and then using whole power to move them together. Please feel free to elaborate on the legs, spine and dantian :)

And for the record I do agree that it has to both be felt and learned in person. That doesn't mean you can't casually talk shop and speculate what nuggets or bread crumbs might be left on the trail for others to follow ;)

Bernd Lehnen
08-02-2013, 05:12 AM
... I keep looking for a very direct, to-the-point description, and much of what Sagawa's students write really are pretty abstract and roundabout in a way that you have to already be indoctrinated in the body method (as you are) to see the apparent allusions and connections.

Hello Cady,

So do I.
In fact, worse still, I like double blind tests.:cool:

@all:
Here's the attempt of a straightforward explanation and sober analysis written by a woman who had apparently dedicated a good part of her entire life to the study of Tai Chi as a martial art. None of the usual unintelligible sometimes rather uninformed stuff, which is not logically deductible and has never been concretely verified. What do you think of it, in comparison to Takahashis approach?

http://www.martialtaichi.co.uk/articles/practical_guide_to_qi.php

Best,

Bernd

Budd
08-02-2013, 08:30 AM
Bernd, thanks for linking the article. I think it goes a way towards touching on the classic notions of the qi of man and earth (using gravity/ground in the Jin sense for applications). The two biggest gaps I saw were around the descriptions how to connect the body together in such a way that when one part moves, all parts move -- and of breath and how it works within a connected body also using jin strength.

So again, it's impossible to know for sure if this represents the sum total of the writer's knowledge or if they're only choosing to reveal certain things. The other thing (and this is true of any of us writing here), is that even if we can speak or articulate, it should not be taken as an indicator of how well we DO it (totally owning up to that on my end at least).

But overall I think this is more in the right direction of a how's it work from a beginning Jin perspective, even if the descriptions might be confusing if you're not already familiar with some of the cosmological references as they pertain to applied movement in the body.

phitruong
08-02-2013, 07:38 PM
In fact, worse still, I like double blind tests.:cool:


Is this like get a blind person to poke another blind person in the eyes? kinda sick but could be fun sort of thing. :D


Here's the attempt of a straightforward explanation and sober analysis written by a woman who had apparently dedicated a good part of her entire life to the study of Tai Chi as a martial art. None of the usual unintelligible sometimes rather uninformed stuff, which is not logically deductible and has never been concretely verified. What do you think of it, in comparison to Takahashis approach?

http://www.martialtaichi.co.uk/articles/practical_guide_to_qi.php



read to the third paragraph where she talked about standing post and then stop reading. she was so far off the mark that's not even funny. figure the rest of the stuffs were worthless. her description of standing post (zhan zhuang) to build leg strength and stability missed lots of stuffs. it's about bring the ground to various part of your body through intent. it's about balancing forces in your body through intent. it's about change your body microscopically to deal with external forces through intent. it's about dantien movement through intent. it's about moving lots of stuffs without moving. it's about using breath to condition for full body connectivity. if it's just about leg strengh, i might as well start to do stair master exercises. ya, i stop reading after the intro.

Bernd Lehnen
08-03-2013, 08:04 AM
read to the third paragraph where she talked about standing post and then stop reading. she was so far off the mark that's not even funny. figure the rest of the stuffs were worthless. her description of standing post (zhan zhuang) to build leg strength and stability missed lots of stuffs.

You might be right but I may be wrong.

Obviously you dismissed everything before reading further:

"When discussing the "three internal harmonies", "qi" is often thought to refer to breath and this is a fairly useful definition as it is something that you can actively control. In context though it is often thought to have a wider or less specific meaning. One interpretation is that it refers to your body and mind working together in a holistic way. Your martial spirit (xin) drives your intention (yi), in order to direct you to take the correct course of action. Informed by this, you can harmonise your breathing and any other relevant factors not included elsewhere with your movements so that all of your body's energy, breath and body chemistry work together (along with any external natural forces) to power your muscles (li).

The synergy of your three internal harmonies with your three external harmonies (hands harmonising with feet, elbows with knees and hips with shoulders) could be said to power all of your techniques, and most accurately, the "jin" of a technique can be thought to refer to the specific type of trained force or martial quality you are using.

Other phrases in common use claim that "internal arts Masters" use something called "internal energy" or "subtle energies." Such language refers to the aspects of body mechanics that are hard to see. But actual physical movements are certainly occurring - typically within the torso and often in the form of subtle spinal undulations.
A method of movement called "dantian rotation" is a metaphor for the rolling appearance of movements that result from these spinal undulations when they are used in conjunction with the opening and closing of the hip folds. This rolling movement can occur on all three different planes. The imagery is based on an idea that the body is comprised of eighteen "energetic spheres," of which the abdominal area between the hips and waist (corresponding to the lower back and psoas muscles) is generally considered to be the most significant."

it's about bring the ground to various part of your body through intent. it's about balancing forces in your body through intent. it's about change your body microscopically to deal with external forces through intent. it's about dantien movement through intent. it's about moving lots of stuffs without moving. it's about using breath to condition for full body connectivity. if it's just about leg strengh, i might as well start to do stair master exercises.

Are you talking about voice-controlled or even mind-controlled car-driving?:D :D

Why didn't you dismiss Takahashis approach?

Budd
08-03-2013, 08:04 AM
One thing that seems common is a bit of understanding that the ground and gravity forces need to be managed in a way that optimizes power/balance, etc. People may use different language to describe it but those two facets seem to underlie what's going on when you drill in.

Where it starts to break down is either the methodology or lack of one to best train the body conditioning along with developing the skill of managing these forces. Most don't talk about how the body needs to connected or the breathing/sounds aspects because it seems a lot of times those pieces may get handed down as a preservation artifact without clear understanding of the body technology it enables OR it's guarded closely as proprietary intellectual property due to its critical contribution to the seeming black box of where everything fits together.

Dan Rubin
08-03-2013, 10:03 AM
from the "A little story about Ki" thread:

Keith Larman wrote:
Quote:
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

---Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll

RonRagusa
08-03-2013, 10:11 AM
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

---Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll

Crane, date, page, engaged, foil, leaves, net, point, right, rose, type, hip, run, hop, just to name a few. Multiple meanings for words is pretty common, in English anyway. So I guess the answer to Alice's question is yes. The meanings of many words will evolve with time and usage.

Bernd Lehnen
08-03-2013, 11:33 AM
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

---Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll

Crane, date, page, engaged, foil, leaves, net, point, right, rose, type, hip, run, hop, just to name a few. Multiple meanings for words is pretty common, in English anyway. So I guess the answer to Alice's question is yes. The meanings of many words will evolve with time and usage.

That's why an agreement about boundary conditions and context as well as (here a healthy dose of Ludwig Wittgenstein) what kind of "Sprachspiel" we are in is so important for any fruitful discussion.

Budd
08-03-2013, 03:03 PM
I guess we're still talking around a thing rather than being ready to talk about the thing. Oh well.

Keith Larman
08-03-2013, 03:42 PM
from the "A little story about Ki" thread:

Keith Larman wrote:
Quote:
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

---Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll

Well, since you left my name in this, I posted is as the quote is often used to illustrate the problem of people altering definitions of words to suit their needs, often done so with a touch of intellectual dishonesty. Alluding to subtle differences in usage or alternate meaning of words is one thing, making *#&^$ up simply because it fits your already constructed worldview is quite another.

Lewis Carroll was quite fond of logical puzzles as well as logical fallacy and word games.

Nothing else for me to add here...

graham christian
08-03-2013, 04:03 PM
Well, since you left my name in this, I posted is as the quote is often used to illustrate the problem of people altering definitions of words to suit their needs, often done so with a touch of intellectual dishonesty. Alluding to subtle differences in usage or alternate meaning of words is one thing, making *#&^$ up simply because it fits your already constructed worldview is quite another.

Lewis Carroll was quite fond of logical puzzles as well as logical fallacy and word games.

Nothing else for me to add here...

Ah, at last I see where certain views are coming from. "Making up to fit a world view" and "intellectual dishonesty". Mmmmmmm. Nice.

Peace.G.

Budd
08-04-2013, 09:18 AM
Graham, are you saying other people make up things to reinforce their world view or responding to accusations that you are guilty of that?

Regarding the topic. I'm not as quick to dismiss either article referenced as I think both try to explain the Jin as an expression of ki/qi via optimizing the ground/gravity strengths. The second article tries to at least reference the body connections/technology (though I think it's too surface to tell if there's any real understanding). I think the Dantien reference is incomplete because of its dependence on the body connection side of things that it leads me to believe that the full picture is either not understood or intentionally withheld - could be either one.

But I think it takes an important step forward past the former article in that it indicates there's more going on than Jin and applications of Jin.

graham christian
08-04-2013, 10:34 AM
Graham, are you saying other people make up things to reinforce their world view or responding to accusations that you are guilty of that?

Regarding the topic. I'm not as quick to dismiss either article referenced as I think both try to explain the Jin as an expression of ki/qi via optimizing the ground/gravity strengths. The second article tries to at least reference the body connections/technology (though I think it's too surface to tell if there's any real understanding). I think the Dantien reference is incomplete because of its dependence on the body connection side of things that it leads me to believe that the full picture is either not understood or intentionally withheld - could be either one.

But I think it takes an important step forward past the former article in that it indicates there's more going on than Jin and applications of Jin.

Budd, responding to the latter.

The 'aiki' I know has no relevance to this thread so I have no comment.

Peace.G.

Budd
08-04-2013, 10:52 AM
Okay then.

Anyone else want to actually discuss the topic?

Keith Larman
08-04-2013, 12:28 PM
Okay then.

Anyone else want to actually discuss the topic?

Not much really to say other than I very much liked both articles referenced. I think we're still working somewhat "in the dark" as we struggle for a vocabulary that satisfies both the subjective impression of what *some* are doing along with our more analytically oriented "scientific" western mindset. But I do think both articles point strongly in the same general direction and are helpful to those who have spent the time to work and develop the skills even though the outline we have is grainy at best.

I posted on Chris' referenced page about the usage of the word "tenouchi" and I didn't feel it necessary to expand here. But the basic point is that *if* we decide to read the word in terms of a more active descriptor of a feeling/movement derived from traditional sword arts (the slight "wringing" action of gripping a katana) rather than just as a physical location on the body (hands/palm/etc.) I think one can read the subsequent article and see there might be a lot more there than the author is being given credit for. Much like the feeling imparted by doing asagao (well, done "in a certain way" rather than just the outward manifestation only) tenouchi could be used in this instance to refer to an active, long, full body connection methodology including a spiraling/wringing movement to ensure that there is no slack throughout the connection.

But it's all speculation.

And my quote that was reposted here was to a totally unrelated thread.

Budd
08-04-2013, 02:18 PM
Hi Keith,

In some ways, I agree that there is still a struggle to articulate what is going on - as somewhat evidenced by where the overlap points are of the two articles - as well as the seeming gaps. Additionally though, I probably fall into a minority camp in that it seems that some of the body technologies for building the baseline skills are getting to better known with regards to how some of them work. I think if anything, what can be staggering, daunting or unclear - is how much work is to be done to recondition the body and sprint up the mountain to even glimpse the paths forged by the better known standard bearers that have come before..

For starters, what I see discussed a lot as "aiki", even in the "internal strength" sense, is to varying levels referring to a kind of application relying on a sort of advantageous position or configuration (can be via external shape or by in a more sophisticated fashion lining up your "insides" to achieve the effect, or some combo). Take your example of asagao and hand wringing - I've encountered more than one person with DR influences grasping at that one (okay, bad pun) and my point is typically that resulting correct movement of a good asagao is a connected body winding the balanced ground/gravity forces into and through a grab or held weapon. Even if you include the first author's admonition of relaxing and putting power into the tops of the wrists - you're still talking about an application of two of the main three general skill areas of internal strength (ground/gravity management + connected body). I know many arts have their own approach regarding breath and sounds, but at least what's generally shown seems to be the "harmless" or "performance approved" version that it's difficult to gauge regarding what's an artifact versus viable training enabler, except when someone tips their hand in a demo.

With regard to your mention of the sword - I know that to many the sword somewhat represents the standard and link to Japanese budo. It's not surprising to me that a lot of applications get related to the sword with regard to "wringing" (again, it makes for how a lot of "aiki" arts get structured from a wrist grab) and the subsequent optimal body positions that follow can be thought of as a study of Jin and body connection that riffs on the myriad applications available. Aiki as it's own thing seems to be how you connect with someone in such a way that if they move against you they defeat themselves. Using internal strength at its most sophisticated expression would be that optimization of ground/gravity, connection and breath/sound strength to enable the desired effect with the least amount of tactical or operational "doing" of things.

But if you'd indulge me a bit more speculation and if you look at some sources for combat methods (both applications and body skills) - if I were in a position to do the research and legwork, I'd probably spend more time looking at the spear for hints at more complete observations (as either physically expressed or embedded at some level in the training paradigm) of internal strength based on the physical requirements of that weapon.

phitruong
08-05-2013, 08:37 AM
Obviously you dismissed everything before reading further:


it's the basic. if you don't get the basic, then it's no point with the rest.


Are you talking about voice-controlled or even mind-controlled car-driving?:D :D


you meant you didn't hear that whispering in your head? the whisper kept telling me to get more coffee and donuts. :D


Why didn't you dismiss Takahashis approach?

i am dismissing him. not much there to see.

Keith Larman
08-06-2013, 11:33 AM
But if you'd indulge me a bit more speculation and if you look at some sources for combat methods (both applications and body skills) - if I were in a position to do the research and legwork, I'd probably spend more time looking at the spear for hints at more complete observations (as either physically expressed or embedded at some level in the training paradigm) of internal strength based on the physical requirements of that weapon.

Budd, I wouldn't necessarily disagree with your point there, but with respect to the article referenced, I was trying to suggest that there may be a lot more being said "behind the scenes" by the use of the term "tenouchi" as used within sword arts. In other words it was likely one of those assumed "you know what I'm talking about" deals in the writing. So depending on how you read the term there might be a lot more there than he is being given credit for.

So often much of the good stuff is contained in assumed common knowledge which becomes a problem when someone goes outside the original intended audience or too much time passes and information is lost/changed. Or worse yet if someone who is reading it with ignorance of the alternative meanings and/or self-serving understandings combined with not knowing the source language. So there's not much more for me to discuss on that count as I don't know the language well enough to do what Chris is doing.

I will say that spear work does seem to fit in quite well with much of what I've learned in person from a number of folk so I'd grant that idea. But that itself be confirmation bias of a particular interpretation as well -- it's all above my current paygrade. :) But yeah, you start to see connections with stick shaking, spear, ... A very large subset of the same stuff finds it way into sword arts as well, but what I understand of it does seem more "magnified" if you will in the spear/long stick work.

Budd
08-06-2013, 02:55 PM
Budd, I wouldn't necessarily disagree with your point there, but with respect to the article referenced, I was trying to suggest that there may be a lot more being said "behind the scenes" by the use of the term "tenouchi" as used within sword arts. In other words it was likely one of those assumed "you know what I'm talking about" deals in the writing. So depending on how you read the term there might be a lot more there than he is being given credit for.

Keith, I wouldn't disagree either that "tenouchi" might be a code word for being in the know (much like referencing the classics like Ueshiba would do with Heaven/Earth/Man). That being said on the flip side there's plenty of folks that parrot the buzzwords without the goods, so to your point it all becomes a matter of speculation.

So often much of the good stuff is contained in assumed common knowledge which becomes a problem when someone goes outside the original intended audience or too much time passes and information is lost/changed. Or worse yet if someone who is reading it with ignorance of the alternative meanings and/or self-serving understandings combined with not knowing the source language. So there's not much more for me to discuss on that count as I don't know the language well enough to do what Chris is doing.

I will say that spear work does seem to fit in quite well with much of what I've learned in person from a number of folk so I'd grant that idea. But that itself be confirmation bias of a particular interpretation as well -- it's all above my current paygrade. :) But yeah, you start to see connections with stick shaking, spear, ... A very large subset of the same stuff finds it way into sword arts as well, but what I understand of it does seem more "magnified" if you will in the spear/long stick work.

Well, if we're talking about what is "aiki" and how it works, my position is that so far aiki has been described as mostly a kind of application that requires a level of internal strength development. My read is that there's been a lot more functional discussion of how to do aiki as techniques, applications and body positions than there have been how to functionally build the internal strength to make those things work appropriately (along with the ideal application and body position).

So if we dive a bit deeper into Internal Strength as a topic (based on the two articles referenced, the original and the other one more from the Chinese perspective), I'd say that what is described has more to do with how to manage gravity and ground (the ki/qi of Earth if you will) but seems to be lacking in the breath/sounds area (I'm going to remain intentionally vague on that one, as there's both more dangers in that side of practice and greater proprietary ownership over the results, etc.) that somewhat describe the ki/qi of heaven. Most martial arts have some degree of study in these areas, but the question that seems to arise to those interested in the topic of internal strength is to what degree and sophistication these things were passed on (either as arts were developed or influenced from China or as systems were passed down through subsequent generations).

My speculation is that the gross requirements of the spear would indicate a better possibility that the functional aspects of internal strength remain intact as part of the transmission (note: this doesn't mean it's a better fighting system or that internal strength beats everything). But if you've got some meat to what tenouchi describes and how the same stuff finds its way its way into sword, please do share. I would love to hear more about the how's and what's.

Keith Larman
08-06-2013, 05:59 PM
Budd, we're not in any disagreement whatsoever. I was more replying to those who were basically saying there was nothing there while I personally find the use of the word tenouchi rather important. It might also go back to another one of those "assumed" things in that I polish swords and this also relates to how the togishi holds the sword while polishing. You assume a position that looks rather cramped (and is actually). But the idea is to lock the body in this posture. The hands hold the blade directly but you also have a *feeling* of tenouchi to "lock" the blade in place in your hands. You move the blade over the stone but while it *looks* like you're doing it with your arms, really your arms are just part of a vastly larger whole -- all of you. So it starts from the center and moves out as you move the blade. This is to ensure the control and incredibly precise angle throughout the stroke. Any rotation, extra movement or bobble will translate in to rounded lines or incorrect surfaces. If anything is going to be tired after a lot of polishing it shouldn't be the arms or shoulders but the core muscles. Tightness in the shoulders and arms usually means you're muscling it and usually means a less crisp geometry.

In terms of tenouchi with the sword in cutting, it really is the same basic idea. To use more terminology that would be familiar with the internal strength crowd there is a wringing feel in the hands (spiralling). But that wringing isn't really just the hands but extends throughout the arms in to the shoulders, etc. Hence the quotes Chris posted about Asagao for example. And all sorts of various postures you see in various arts. So yes, the external appearance can be attained minus the underlying "structure" to create it.

Properly done this feeling of tenouchi allows the swordsman to connect up from the very core of their body to the sword. I was told early on to stand there in either seigan or jodan no kamae and just hold it until I could feel a full connection between my body and my sword. Not the hands. Not the wrists. Not the arms. But from the "one-point" out and everything in between and down. And with proper form subsequent repeated cuts should not tire the arms or shoulders but the core again, as I was told in polishing.

Tenouchi is a really simple concept in a sense. But doing it "right" is rather loaded with a lot of stuff, at least in some groups I've experienced and trained with.

Not much experience with the spear apart from my own jo work within our Aikido group but also informal "playing" with some guys in a formal jodo style. So I really can't speak to that.

Keith Larman
08-06-2013, 06:04 PM
I should add that in polishing I started feeling incredibly cramped and tight. And very sore after polishing only a short time. Exhausted too. Over time I learned to relax in to the polishing realizing that over time when doing it correctly things connected up and locked in place as if I was holding it very carefully and tightly but I was in fact increasingly relaxed. That was one of those epiphanies for me a number of years ago. There was no slack but I was totally relaxed if things were going well. And at first I had to be in that tight kamae to get that feeling. Over time I found I could get the same feeling as if I'd gained a sort of conscious ability to "link up" when I wasn't as tightly in the kamae. Now when I pick up a sword I can stand over a stone and get that feeling of connection and control of the blade in my hands to polish. Not always a good way to do it, but something developed over the years of spending 10-12 hours a day doing it that made it vastly easier to control. And it is a weird sort of a thing that I can turn on and off in my head with no apparent change to someone looking on. But I feel the difference. hard to explain...

Budd
08-08-2013, 10:17 AM
Hi Keith,

Sorry it took me a while to respond (family and work take priority and stuff) but I did want to thank you for the info and the analysis. I get what you're talking about and I think it's something pretty deeply embedded into the practice of jujutsu/aiki systems - that notion of connecting things with the right feeling is table stakes to make any of the techniques work. The trick is always in the transmission, I suspect, whatever level the teacher shows will either be grasped or stolen by the student (or lost in subsequent generations) and so on and so on. I definitely think it helped inform your work with swords and vice versa.

Where I'm trying to get at, though, is in the corporate knowledge of "how internal strength works" is that connecting and moving the insides is but a piece. If I use Tohei's model for discussion purposes, the notion of "relax completely" as you know isn't fall down, but let frame, bones, ligaments and muscles work together appropriately without unnecessary tension. "Keeping one point" is akin to mind direction of ground/gravity forces to the point in space they're needed. "Weight underside" is another term for the physical expression of ground/gravity strengths.

So to your point, tenouchi seems to somewhat assume some of those other things are taken care of and more towards a means of application (or better aiding the application, I should say). Which sort of circles back to one of the vulnerabilities in the approach is if the goods aren't both developed to a high level and shown explicitly in a form that enables the transmission AND I think one of the reasons for the multiple modern interpretations of ki/qi (just look at the "To ki or not to ki" thread over in General).

Your example on polishing is a good one. I'm going to make up something, say that originally, the reason for the awkward, cramped position was because the only materials available at the time required it. Say, that additionally, the kind of force required to actually move the materials together to effectively polish, was a different kind of strength than just shoving by rote over and over. I can totally get how a kind of internal strength was developed doing this. Same thing with farming instruments creating a kind of bodyskill. Or the notion of the laborers carrying heavy baskets on their heads, or Bhutanese porters carrying unusually heavy loads up a mountain. Not superpowers, but body technologies built as skills and conditioned as strengths.

But these are the very basic, entry level types of bodyskills in the corpus of IS. Actually, I don't like the way that reads, because it sounds dismissive. What I mean is more like, you have a spring, a swivel and a flail. Each on their own can be very useful, but when combined can generate seemingly unbelievable power. Yet, each piece requires conditioning and tempering, then must be correctly assembled and fit together.

That's kind of how I look at internal strength. There's a reason the qi/ki of heaven, the qi/ki of earth and the qi/ki of man are described individually in the classics yet they all fall under the rubric of an individual's ki. Just like Jin is the expression of ki, there are many sub versions of jin while only being one jin (cue highlander). Which can be expressed as the ability to feel your ability to manipulate ground/gravity, the strength and/or subtlety (strength AND skill) at which I can manipulate my gravity/ground to combine with your gravity/ground, or seemingly remove your connection to gravity/ground -- all could have different definitions of a jin application while being in the categorization of Jin skills and strength.

But there's more!! The jin skills and strength, combined with the strength of the body connections you conditioned and skill you've trained in applying them (how well you can "relax" into the softer power of the bones, muscles, ligaments working together) become part of qi/ki skills/strength which then would have ramifications in how they're trained and expressed within a martial art. What's frustrating reading the descriptions such as these articles referenced is that in the case of Takahashi's, he's only hinting at some things or saying something else about as helpful as "use ki" here (to be fair, most of the verbiage in a lot of "teachings" is about as sparse) but marrying it inevitably in such a way to a specific application or limited movement (ie. wrist grab, put power at the tops of wrists BUT use your skillful and highly conditioned ki in a way that your entire relaxed, but strongly connected body moves as a whole).

Gets daunting and I somewhat blame as the (maybe intentional) reason it's not being taught as openly (either it isn't well known, still, nor well understood - or everyone's "already doing that" and it just isn't that big a deal and you automatically "get it" when you do techniques). So, from my casual observation it seems like the Jin/Connections skills are most obviously referenced and required to make any of this stuff work - while still being not very explicitly shown or taught. I find it interesting that the Breath/Harmonic stuff gets doesn't get as much play other than in the ritual or body coordination sense, though there are some that do drop the nuggets that get there's more going on there, too.

And I think as these things get more well known we'll be able to keep having some more informed discussions based on what's observed, hinted at, etc. At this point, it's just a fun facet of my hobby - even if it's made it much more difficult to participate in somebody else's idea of a martial art ;)

Chris Li
08-13-2014, 10:04 PM
Now translated in Romanian (http://www.aikido-jurnal.ro/index.php?pagina=art_152), courtesy of Aikido Jurnal. The original English version is available on the Aikido Sangenkai blog (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/analyzing-aiki-part-3/).

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
04-07-2017, 09:34 AM
Now available in Russian (http://www.budo-forums.ru/blog/71/entry-3613-chto-takoe-ajki-vvedenie-v-metod-analiza-ajki-chas/), courtesy of Ivan Labushevskiy. The original English version is available on the Aikido Sangenkai blog (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/analyzing-aiki-part-3/).

Best,

Chris