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phitruong
08-09-2013, 09:30 AM
That sounds more like good biomechanics to me. The ability to arrange the body so that incoming force is borne by aligned skeletal structure rather than resisted by muscular contraction. Is ki just good physics?

it is. it's what the internal folks called ground path exercise. someone pushed your right shoulder. you focus on create a path between your right shoulder and your left foot, through your body, so that you only feel the pressure at the contact points: righ shoulder where the other person palm touched you and the bottom of your left foot. your body would microscopically readjust itself, if you relax enough (tohei's relax completely which is strange because if you do, you would be a wet noodle. and us guys don't like wet noodle, because it's unmanly.). now see if you can shift (using your intent/mind) the pressure to your righ foot, then back and forth between the left and right foot, then split between the two feet. also, while you are doing this, your body shouldn't move; thus, internal, right? then the next part is to see if you can reflect the push back to the pusher, again, without you physically moving your body, sort of turn your body to a mirror. sort of tilt the mirror so the light (the push) reflecting in the direction you want. this is what some internal folks called jin (mind directed force). if you have attend Ikeda sensei seminar, you heard him mentioned the term "kata" which he described as creating the shape of what you want before the contact made. it's another take on what i described above but a bit more advance. actually, Ikeda sensei created shapes within shapes, i.e. on contact he would reflect your power in multiple vectors at the same time so your body couldn't figure out how to deal with it. normally, your body/mind can deal with one or two force vectors at the same time, but more than 3, your body/mind couldn't handle it. methink, this is called fure aiki which i pronounced as furry aiki or harry aiki which happened to Moe. :D

also, the internal folks could put themselves into a ridiculous drunken monkey kungfu (don't know why some sick bastard would get a monkey drunk in order to learn kungfu) position that looked like they ready to fall over any time, but if you push on them, then can still do what i just described above, i.e. doesn't have to be body physically aligned to the applied force. they could do it, not optimal, but they could. and yes, i have seen it done, live, as in i was the pusher.

Alex Megann
08-09-2013, 01:20 PM
"Ki", or "Aiki"?

Aiki: good physics...

Ki: no idea...

Alex

Gerardo Torres
08-09-2013, 02:05 PM
"Ki", or "Aiki"?

Aiki: good physics...

Ki: no idea...

Alex
The way I see it, ki is a process that links mind and body to express power. So the expression of ki is definitely physical, but the mind is involved (which is intangible). I would say that a person with "strong ki" is one who is good at linking or co-ordinating mind and body to express power. So if I were to define ki as the effect perceived by an observer/uke, I would say: ki = power (definitely a physical process, as I believe ki balls and no-touch throws etc are all BS). Anyway, it's easy to get swayed by the long history of mystery and mysticism associated with the concept of ki in martial arts; I personally prefer to see ki as simply a concept that when constrained withing the right models it can be useful for learning and teaching certain skills.

Aiki is the union of two ki of opposing directions. Very difficult to do. Saying any of this stuff is "just physics" is almost an oversimplification as saying "eh you're just using atoms, is that all there is to it really? I already use atoms" ;) .

hughrbeyer
08-10-2013, 08:00 PM
Yeah, what Gerardo said. Ki's certainly physical--if you accept the mind as physical, and the mind's affect on the body as physical--and the affects of aiki are surely also physical in the same way.

But if you think of it as physical, you're likely to think of levers and muscular motion, which will never get you to aiki. "Aligned," for example, will make you think of lining up your structure to resist a push--which is totally ineffective from the martial point of view. So instead, there are all these impractical visualizations which can't really happen but which *will* get you to aiki.

The black rose does not exist. Believe, therefore, in the black rose.

graham christian
08-10-2013, 08:17 PM
Ki........Spiritual

Ai.......Spiritual

Ueshiba's aiki.........Spiritual.

Aiki being taught lately.....mental/physical.

Peace.G.

Mary Eastland
08-11-2013, 04:22 PM
Maybe the sum of the whole is just greater than it's parts.

graham christian
08-11-2013, 05:16 PM
Maybe the sum of the whole is just greater than it's parts.

The sum of the whole is indeed always greater. Yet a part of a bicycle is not part of the whole of a Ferari.

Peace.G.

JP3
08-11-2013, 09:22 PM
I'll say this. I've never personally come across a teacher who used, talked about, or whom I thought used Ki.

I have, however, laid hands on people who, when something they do is really, really good, and very, very light but feels tremendously overwhelming to receive as uke -- start laughing and say, well, I finally did that pretty good, there, huh.

They are joking of course, it wasn't "finally," these people have been at "it" for 30, 40 and a couple for 50-odd years. Of COURSE their stuff seems magical to me, practitioner getting ready to cross the 2 decade mark...

hughrbeyer
08-12-2013, 08:27 PM
Musing on this, I realized that I actually have heard most about ki in my training from the first group I studied with. They were a Tomiki Aikido group under Merritt Stevens. Stevens Sensei (I don't know that he ever laid claim to the title of Shihan, tho he had the rank for it) taught aikido to LEO's across Ohio and the Midwest and was seriously badass; there was no tanking, fancy throws, or ribbons in his aikido.

Yet he and his students talked about using ki to make aikido waza work properly. I don't know that he had a deep theory of ki--if he did, I never heard him talk of it--but we would hear things like, "use your ki to nail his foot to the floor," or "send his ki right back at him," or "point your finger to direct your ki."

I think in the discussions here, we have some folks who are, perhaps, excessively spiritual and mystic in their use of ki--and we have others who, perhaps in reaction, are excessively material and unwilling to give any ground to the word or the concept.

But since I was introduced to the concept in a very grounded, practical way I've never worried about it or been embarrassed by it. It has always been just part of the landscape.

graham christian
08-12-2013, 09:24 PM
Musing on this, I realized that I actually have heard most about ki in my training from the first group I studied with. They were a Tomiki Aikido group under Merritt Stevens. Stevens Sensei (I don't know that he ever laid claim to the title of Shihan, tho he had the rank for it) taught aikido to LEO's across Ohio and the Midwest and was seriously badass; there was no tanking, fancy throws, or ribbons in his aikido.

Yet he and his students talked about using ki to make aikido waza work properly. I don't know that he had a deep theory of ki--if he did, I never heard him talk of it--but we would hear things like, "use your ki to nail his foot to the floor," or "send his ki right back at him," or "point your finger to direct your ki."

I think in the discussions here, we have some folks who are, perhaps, excessively spiritual and mystic in their use of ki--and we have others who, perhaps in reaction, are excessively material and unwilling to give any ground to the word or the concept.

But since I was introduced to the concept in a very grounded, practical way I've never worried about it or been embarrassed by it. It has always been just part of the landscape.

Interesting that you see it so. I find the mere mention of Ki or spiritual somewhere along the way will result in talk of ribbons or such. It always amuses me.

When it's real then it is very practical. I was taught in an environment much like you describe above and indeed teach such too. Anyone who has ever trained with me has no illusions about it's realness and practicality. In fact I would say in my way of teaching Ki is more 'solid' than physical muscle or body or biomechanics thereof.

I don't teach stepping on others toes though, either literally or metaphorically.:)

Peace.G.

OwlMatt
08-12-2013, 11:29 PM
What I have heard aikidoists call ki I would define as using visualization to achieve good physics.

RonRagusa
08-13-2013, 08:51 AM
What I have heard aikidoists call ki I would define as using visualization to achieve good physics.

Using visualization as a component of training is an excellent way to enhance muscle memory which will help with internalizing the mechanics of technique execution. Ki is something else altogether. Taking the time to visualize a technique before executing it takes one out of the moment, weakening mind/body coordination which will result in one being in less than his/her most dependable and powerful state (no Ki).

The synergy of mind/body coordination (Ki extension) allows the practitioner to perform at higher levels of proficiency than would otherwise be possible in its absence. This is easily demonstrated via Ki testing by having students perform the tests both with and without a high degree of mind/body coordination. Likewise the ability to coordinate mind and body can be strengthened by using the Ki test as an exercise whereby the student is subject to gradually increased loads that require higher degrees of mind/body coordination to successfully deal with.

To answer the question posed in the OP, I'd have to say that no, Ki isn't just good physics (meaning that manifesting Ki is more than correct mechanical execution of technique).

Ron

phitruong
08-13-2013, 09:46 AM
Taking the time to visualize a technique before executing it takes one out of the moment, weakening mind/body coordination which will result in one being in less than his/her most dependable and powerful state (no Ki).


i would disagree with this. as the uke for Ikeda sensei a number of times, he had no problem of dropping me on my ass whether i wanted to not. i mentioned above about his concept of "kata". essentially, visualize the technique, be it ikkyo or kotegaeshi or shihonage or whatever, before contact made. i have followed this approach and it worked quite well. and when i said visualization, i don't mean..oh my left hand needs to do this, my right foot need to do this, and ....ooo wait my head need to turn this way..... the example that Ikeda sensei mentioned was like a cookie cutter. you use the cookie cutter to stamp the shapes of the cookie. to form the cookie cutter ahead of time (visualize) and not wait until you make cookie, then try to start getting out a sheet of metal and forming the cookie cutter. and the forming of the cookie cutter, kata, happens in fraction of a second. of course, like verything we do, this required training, lots of training. however, the visualization happens before the technique execute, actually, before contact was made.


The synergy of mind/body coordination (Ki extension) allows the practitioner to perform at higher levels of proficiency than would otherwise be possible in its absence. This is easily demonstrated via Ki testing by having students perform the tests both with and without a high degree of mind/body coordination. Likewise the ability to coordinate mind and body can be strengthened by using the Ki test as an exercise whereby the student is subject to gradually increased loads that require higher degrees of mind/body coordination to successfully deal with.
Ron

based on your statements, would that mean ki = mind/body coordination? the mind will it, and the body execute it? want to throw something in here. the new fighter jet designed with very high degree of instability which required a fast computer to make constant minute adjustments. the new jet fighter cannot be flown manually by any pilot. since its brain (computer) and its body (jet fighter plane) are highly in sync, wouldn't that mean the new jet fighter plane has high degree of ki?

RonRagusa
08-13-2013, 10:58 AM
i would disagree with this. as the uke for Ikeda sensei a number of times, he had no problem of dropping me on my ass whether i wanted to not. i mentioned above about his concept of "kata". essentially, visualize the technique, be it ikkyo or kotegaeshi or shihonage or whatever, before contact made. i have followed this approach and it worked quite well. and when i said visualization, i don't mean..oh my left hand needs to do this, my right foot need to do this, and ....ooo wait my head need to turn this way..... the example that Ikeda sensei mentioned was like a cookie cutter. you use the cookie cutter to stamp the shapes of the cookie. to form the cookie cutter ahead of time (visualize) and not wait until you make cookie, then try to start getting out a sheet of metal and forming the cookie cutter. and the forming of the cookie cutter, kata, happens in fraction of a second. of course, like verything we do, this required training, lots of training. however, the visualization happens before the technique execute, actually, before contact was made.

That might work for demonstrating an idea, but in the heat of the moment (such as during randori) when you have no idea what uke is going to do, having to visualize a technique (cookie cutter or no) will cost you valuable time. Not only that, predetermining what you are going to do in a given situation leaves you in the lurch if uke does something you aren't expecting. It just seems like a lot of extra work that costs you time. My own preference is to be in the moment trusting that my years of practice will enable me to appropriately respond no matter how uke behaves.

based on your statements, would that mean ki = mind/body coordination?

Ki is evidently manifest when mind and body are highly coordinated, yes.

the mind will it, and the body execute it?

Yes and no.

Yes, the mind must use the body to realize intent. However, with a high degree of coordination the 'mind will it, body execute it' loop operates on an unconscious level because the interval separating 'think and do' is too small to notice.

No, a highly coordinated mind and body act as a unified whole, not separate parts.

want to throw something in here. the new fighter jet designed with very high degree of instability which required a fast computer to make constant minute adjustments. the new jet fighter cannot be flown manually by any pilot. since its brain (computer) and its body (jet fighter plane) are highly in sync, wouldn't that mean the new jet fighter plane has high degree of ki?

Torturing the metaphor some, but looked at as a metaphor then yes.

Ron

KEM
08-13-2013, 10:59 AM
I don't think that Ki violates any basics of physics. Exquisite timing, precision and subtle gestures which capitalize on instinctual reactions merge to create an effect which appears magical and often feels that way. Tohei Sensei was a master of precision and drawing out the body into three dimensional orientations which left it very briefly 'weightless' or nearly so. Regarding techniques such as kiatsu it can feel 'magical' I don't know how much research has been done to explore the physiological underpinnings. Much like acupuncture it is hard to study but it often works.The ability to move effectively with elegance and grace is a gift some have but most need years of experience to develop.

phitruong
08-13-2013, 01:00 PM
That might work for demonstrating an idea, but in the heat of the moment (such as during randori) when you have no idea what uke is going to do, having to visualize a technique (cookie cutter or no) will cost you valuable time. Not only that, predetermining what you are going to do in a given situation leaves you in the lurch if uke does something you aren't expecting. It just seems like a lot of extra work that costs you time.

Ron

doesn't cost me time as all. actually, it saves me time, since i am always there before my ukes. i don't have problem doing in randori either, and our randori approach is that all ukes will try to swamp you. they aren't going to play fair and doing one-on-one with you. i don't have problem planing ahead, be in the moment, and analyzed past actions.

RonRagusa
08-13-2013, 03:11 PM
doesn't cost me time as all. actually, it saves me time, since i am always there before my ukes. i don't have problem doing in randori either, and our randori approach is that all ukes will try to swamp you. they aren't going to play fair and doing one-on-one with you. i don't have problem planing ahead, be in the moment, and analyzed past actions.

Sounds a lot like you have a highly coordinated mind/body. Your think/do loop is obviously very tight and you don't have to consciously will your body to move as a separate act. Congratulations, you manifest Ki. :)

Different maps, different roads, different terminology... same destination.

Ron

bkedelen
08-13-2013, 03:32 PM
Have to agree with Phi on this one. Sensei's technique of "pregaming" puts you ahead of the game.

phitruong
08-13-2013, 03:37 PM
Sounds a lot like you have a highly coordinated mind/body. Your think/do loop is obviously very tight and you don't have to consciously will your body to move as a separate act. Congratulations, you manifest Ki. :)
Ron

what i manifested is a high degree of bullshitting which related to mu-waza which is a distant cousin to ahkidyounotjutsu. you do not want me to manifest ki. with my consumption of beans, cabagge, and fermented stuffs like kimchi (blame Janet on this), you do not ever want me to manifest ki, at least, not within the same county with you. :D

Janet Rosen
08-13-2013, 04:54 PM
Yep, always my fault. I behold the enemy before me ... I am already standing behind him wielding my ferments.
And on topic....I think Phi is absolutely right. My own feeling is that what I was taught in Ki Soc. lineage dojo as using or extending ki is totally congruent with what many friends in the ASU consider intent and coordination of internal structure. In practice on the mat, I find the word "intent" much better understood by newbies and so easier to manifest :-)

hughrbeyer
08-13-2013, 10:02 PM
Using visualization as a component of training is an excellent way to enhance muscle memory which will help with internalizing the mechanics of technique execution. Ki is something else altogether. Taking the time to visualize a technique before executing it takes one out of the moment, weakening mind/body coordination which will result in one being in less than his/her most dependable and powerful state (no Ki).

This is why I'm uncomfortable with describing ki as "just" good structure, proper alignment, or even "skillful means." When you try to break it down to physics, you're prone to take an analytic approach--you divide it up into a collection of parts, and then try to link the parts back together by thinking.

This is the opposite of what working with ki should do--ki as a metaphor should link all the parts automatically, through feeling, rather than working at such linkage by thinking. So, yeah, in the moment you should not have to think through what you're doing.

I don't think Ikeda's approach is much different. He's just emphasizing working with the parts--just as ki tests work different aspects--so that when working in the moment you don't have to think through what you're doing.

RonRagusa
08-13-2013, 10:15 PM
This is why I'm uncomfortable with describing ki as "just" good structure, proper alignment, or even "skillful means." When you try to break it down to physics, you're prone to take an analytic approach--you divide it up into a collection of parts, and then try to link the parts back together by thinking.

This is the opposite of what working with ki should do--ki as a metaphor should link all the parts automatically, through feeling, rather than working at such linkage by thinking. So, yeah, in the moment you should not have to think through what you're doing.

I don't think Ikeda's approach is much different. He's just emphasizing working with the parts--just as ki tests work different aspects--so that when working in the moment you don't have to think through what you're doing.

Nice analysis Hugh; especially "...ki as a metaphor should link all the parts automatically, through feeling, rather than working at such linkage by thinking." and "He's just emphasizing working with the parts--just as ki tests work different aspects--so that when working in the moment you don't have to think through what you're doing."

Ron

Erick Mead
08-15-2013, 11:14 AM
Nice analysis Hugh; especially "...ki as a metaphor should link all the parts automatically, through feeling, rather than working at such linkage by thinking." and "He's just emphasizing working with the parts--just as ki tests work different aspects--so that when working in the moment you don't have to think through what you're doing." Ron
But that is not enough. Because "feeling" still works from conscious voluntary action/reaction. Aiki works at a reflexive level -- way ahead of ALL conscious voluntary action -- whether directed by conscious perception or rational thought -- and thus, when done properly has that "spooky" quality that is difficult to define. Ikeda demonstrates this marvelously.

You can only ever directly perceive the RESULT, but not the reflexive action itself, because it actually precedes in time -- not only your perception of it occurring, -- but also your perception of your reflexive response to it. "What just happened" arrives before your perception of what caused that response. This -- of course -- is exactly the thing of inestimable martial value we are seeking because anyone able to access effective action that proceeds in advance of perception stands, in a sense, outside any reactive dynamic depending on conscious perception. "Timing" in the sense of sente has no role -- as O Sensei himself noted:

O Sensei: ... We adhere to the principle of absolute nonresistance, that is to say, we do not oppose the attacker. Thus, there is no opponent in Aikido. The victory in Aikido is masakatsu and agatsu; since you win over everything in accordance with the mission of heaven, you possess absolute strength.

B: Does that mean go no sen? (This term refers to a late response to an attack.)

O Sensei: Absolutely not. It is not a question of either sensen no sen or sen no sen. If I were to try to verbalize it I would say that you control your opponent without trying to control him. That is, the state of continuous victory. There isn't any question of winning over or losing to an opponent. In this sense, there is no opponent in Aikido. Even if you have an opponent, he becomes a part of you, a partner you control only..

That does create a training paradox -- for how does one voluntarily go about training to condition reflexive behavior that is, by definition, antecedent to voluntary motor skills. It is, as the play said: ... "a puzzlement."

It is one of the chief reasons why I think that discussions on these topics so often breaks down -- because we are discussing something fundamental that always occurs in a bit of a "black box" -- and it is precisely that irreducible quality that makes it valuable and uniquely effective.

The dynamic being used is not actually itself a trained skill -- in the sense of motor or muscle "memory" (cerebellar-mediated procedural or patterned motor actuation) -- and approached in that way, by training muscle memory to "efficiently" perform technique/waza is fundamental error at least as it regards aiki (and the IP devotees are correct here, IMO). That does not mean that these patterns are without training value however.

But there is absolutely training involved in conditioning the body to respond correctly to action initiated automatically and reflexively -- and then to pattern its trained motor actions that follow FROM the reflexive template in certain very patterned structural ways that maximize the exploitation of that system and the structural response of the human body to it.

THOSE patterns extend across all waza --- which are in a continuum. The correct continuum of action in one's own body and not requiring conscious control to actuate is represented and trained in the aiki taiso. The specifically denominated waza or techniques are simply slices of that continuum presented in a certain and essentially arbitrary circumstantial configuration when working with another body that is ALSO not under your conscious control. Actuating his body in this mode is exactly the same as actuating my own.

Training must engender a degree of trust in that kind of innate action -- correctly followed -- and following without fear or a reactive mind wherever such things lead on their own . Teaching well in this mode -- IME -- means demonstrating and encouraging that trust by showing THROUGH those more simply grasped approximations in each named waza ( each being but a miniscule segment of the total pattern) -- how they actually seamlessly blend into and over one another as anything or even everything changes They form a totalizing pattern of reflexively driven, but essentially cooperative action in response to anything that happens.

Thought and feeling are equally applicable to observing and correcting these patterns. Physics or mechanics approaches are useful if they lead to better identification of the total pattern. If such close analysis does not does not lend itself to that ultimate synthesis -- then that method is probably wrong for a given person. An opposite error is true of over-relying on feeling. ,Just as mechanical approaches can have a bias top become ineffectually procedural -- "feeling" approaches can have an illusory sense of synthesis, from a "feels right" sensibility that comes from a mere self-deceiving "ease" in action as a result of the necessarily cooperative training.

But in my experience it is invaluable to identify and provide correction in arbitrarily small deviations from the true pattern, and which are therefore more immediately digestible by the student when they can be broken down analytically, and then immediately built back into the continuum of action being trained.

Both the correct form -- and the feeling of the form -- are developed in voluntary repetitive practice, even though the use of those patterns in actual application come before any thought OR conscious feeling or perception can intervene -- much less control what ultimately occurs.

Our only real "control" lies in the realization and trust that we have successfully accessed a part of the total pattern -- and the pattern controls everything that occurs.

jonreading
08-15-2013, 11:25 AM
Your think/do loop is obviously very tight and you don't have to consciously will your body to move as a separate act.
I have used the example before, but there is a study out there that talks about the gap between the average body reflex to hit a baseball and the time it takes for the ball to travel from the pitcher to the plate. Personally, I belive that something must exist which allows this gap to be bridged, as evidenced by Major League baseball.

"Just" makes me nervous. The foundation of aiki may be "just" good physics, but I am not sure about aiki. My first instructor used to differentiate between musubi and aiki. Musubi was a solid foundation and a connection with your partner. Aiki was more.

Saotome Sensei used to describe driving a car in analogy to aiki. In the beginning, we need to concentrate on on feet and the petals, both our hands steering the wheel, constantly checking our mirrors. Then, gearing into first on a incline... Holy s&#%. What about taking a hand off the wheel to use the turn signal... Which way does the d%#$^ thing go. Over time, we become more comfortable with the process and our body and mind start to work together and next thing you know... flipping radio stations while putting on make-up and texting the honey-do list. Not that I ever do that while driving...because that would be dangerous... and illegal...and I don't wear make-up.

CorkyQ
08-20-2013, 01:24 AM
But that is not enough. Because "feeling" still works from conscious voluntary action/reaction. Aiki works at a reflexive level -- way ahead of ALL conscious voluntary action -- whether directed by conscious perception or rational thought -- and thus, when done properly has that "spooky" quality that is difficult to define. Ikeda demonstrates this marvelously.

You can only ever directly perceive the RESULT, but not the reflexive action itself, because it actually precedes in time -- not only your perception of it occurring, -- but also your perception of your reflexive response to it. "What just happened" arrives before your perception of what caused that response. This -- of course -- is exactly the thing of inestimable martial value we are seeking because anyone able to access effective action that proceeds in advance of perception stands, in a sense, outside any reactive dynamic depending on conscious perception. "Timing" in the sense of sente has no role -- as O Sensei himself noted:

That does create a training paradox -- for how does one voluntarily go about training to condition reflexive behavior that is, by definition, antecedent to voluntary motor skills. It is, as the play said: ... "a puzzlement."

It is one of the chief reasons why I think that discussions on these topics so often breaks down -- because we are discussing something fundamental that always occurs in a bit of a "black box" -- and it is precisely that irreducible quality that makes it valuable and uniquely effective.

The dynamic being used is not actually itself a trained skill -- in the sense of motor or muscle "memory" (cerebellar-mediated procedural or patterned motor actuation) -- and approached in that way, by training muscle memory to "efficiently" perform technique/waza is fundamental error at least as it regards aiki (and the IP devotees are correct here, IMO). That does not mean that these patterns are without training value however.

But there is absolutely training involved in conditioning the body to respond correctly to action initiated automatically and reflexively -- and then to pattern its trained motor actions that follow FROM the reflexive template in certain very patterned structural ways that maximize the exploitation of that system and the structural response of the human body to it.

THOSE patterns extend across all waza --- which are in a continuum. The correct continuum of action in one's own body and not requiring conscious control to actuate is represented and trained in the aiki taiso. The specifically denominated waza or techniques are simply slices of that continuum presented in a certain and essentially arbitrary circumstantial configuration when working with another body that is ALSO not under your conscious control. Actuating his body in this mode is exactly the same as actuating my own.

Training must engender a degree of trust in that kind of innate action -- correctly followed -- and following without fear or a reactive mind wherever such things lead on their own . Teaching well in this mode -- IME -- means demonstrating and encouraging that trust by showing THROUGH those more simply grasped approximations in each named waza ( each being but a miniscule segment of the total pattern) -- how they actually seamlessly blend into and over one another as anything or even everything changes They form a totalizing pattern of reflexively driven, but essentially cooperative action in response to anything that happens.

Thought and feeling are equally applicable to observing and correcting these patterns. Physics or mechanics approaches are useful if they lead to better identification of the total pattern. If such close analysis does not does not lend itself to that ultimate synthesis -- then that method is probably wrong for a given person. An opposite error is true of over-relying on feeling. ,Just as mechanical approaches can have a bias top become ineffectually procedural -- "feeling" approaches can have an illusory sense of synthesis, from a "feels right" sensibility that comes from a mere self-deceiving "ease" in action as a result of the necessarily cooperative training.

But in my experience it is invaluable to identify and provide correction in arbitrarily small deviations from the true pattern, and which are therefore more immediately digestible by the student when they can be broken down analytically, and then immediately built back into the continuum of action being trained.

Both the correct form -- and the feeling of the form -- are developed in voluntary repetitive practice, even though the use of those patterns in actual application come before any thought OR conscious feeling or perception can intervene -- much less control what ultimately occurs.

Our only real "control" lies in the realization and trust that we have successfully accessed a part of the total pattern -- and the pattern controls everything that occurs.

In the book Aikido, 1958, K. Ueshiba, under the guidance of Morihei Ueshiba, in the section called "Basic Knowledge" are two points (out of nine) dedicated to ki flow. Even though the concepts were presented as "basic knowledge" and fundamental to the practice of Aikido, it is acknowledged by the author that they are not easy concepts to grasp or explain.

In the book, "stream of spirit" is described as a connective bond between aikido partners born of "mental activity." Its final descriptor in that section refers to it as a "state of all-is-one."

I use the word intention and if you apply it to the anecdotes used in the book to describe "stream of spirit" perhaps you will understand where I am coming from.

The second reference in "Basic Knowledge" is Extension of Power. For me this backs up my use of the word intention with the description in the first paragraph: "...the MOTION of Aikido is not merely based on physical powers, but on spiritual powers." It then goes on explaining how to produce a flow of this "power" from the centrum out through the extremities. It makes an absolute distinction (in English) between "spirit power" and "force power." It even goes on to describe a child who is incapable of lifting more than 50 pounds being able to "bewilder" someone capable of lifting 500 pounds. From this description I find it easy to infer two things; Ueshiba recognized and utilized ki as something other than muscular strength; that anyone is capable of this use of ki, not just shihan.

About ten years ago I realized that twenty years of technique-emulation based training had not worked for me, and I gave up trying to learn from technique except from how variations in ukemi would affect outcome. In "Enlightenment Through Aikido" by Kanshu Sunadomari, an early student of the Founder who started founded his own dojo in 1951 in Kumomoto, the author described being challenged by the local martial artists who then had never heard of "aikido." He describes the revelation to him through these experiences that technique would only take him so far; his remedy was to study the words of the Founder to understand the meaning from a spiritual perspective.

Using this book as inspiration, I gave up technique emulation as a learning/teaching model and focused on the nature of the energy exchange between uke and nage, but from a spiritual perspective. What I have observed and demonstrated to others is that, as the book Aikido describes, the spiritual flow between partners is essential. Many like myself have come to call this a center-to-center connection.

Extension of power, says the book, "accordingly…causes an extension of physical powers." For me this has come to be understood as a continuum of intention, ki flow, and action, in that order and always arising from the intention.

To approach aikido from a non-technique emulation practice, authentic attack energy is necessary because aikido is only applicable to attack (differentiated from aiki principles which may apply throughout one's life in many ways). In the study of attack from a spiritual perspective, my conclusions about intention have been reaffirmed, because without an intention to connect to the central core of the target in a meaningful, impactful way, no aikido will manifest, unless the "aikidoist" uses brute force to employ an aikido shaped throw (counter attacks using technique).

Once one's partner understands and can produce and maintain energy through authentic attack intention to nage's central core, one can start to see how hardwiring in the lower brain produces an instant defense response. This is great for fighting, but no so good for aikido. I can demonstrate the principles of uke/nage interchange in a hard style application of aikido, but the problem is two fold. The hard martial use of aikido principles will trigger defense mechanisms in a attacker who is not 100% committed, and in the case of the attacker following through on his attack despite the aikido counter attack, the attacker leaves the event with the feeling of being bested, thereby promoting retaliation, and perhaps an escalation of the conflict, which I feel is not the purpose of aikido.

When working with a partner who is not just "giving ukemi" but is dedicated to directing a flow of penetrative energy to one's center, it is then much easier to see where one's own lower brain has reflexively put one into fighting mode rather than a "state of all-is-one."

This is perhaps as challenging as any aikido practice can be because rather than uke giving nage "practice dummy" energy so that a prescribed aiki path can be trained, uke puts nage under pressure, thereby usually eliciting the default limbic response immediately. At this point in the conversation I like to point out that this is not an intention to stop the aikido. That would be a defense rather than an attack. I can demonstrate the difference.

This is the point where the "paradox" of aikido is revealed to be less of a paradox than a call for a paradigm shift.

The conflict is between lower brain responses, hardwired through millions of years of central nervous system evolution for a creature to survive at any expense, and our neocortex reasoning and abstract thoughts that allow us to respond from a place of higher consciousness in lieu of reflex.

Mr. Mead, I believe this is what you are getting at, but I also have found that it can be realized through rational thought.

The lower brain will fight tooth and nail against the idea that love will produce a flow of energy that will be an effective defense against physical assault. Intermediate level students in my classes will stay "stuck" as long as their intentions are defense oriented. Sometimes the defense intention will be very subtle, but as long as it is there, there will be some indication of its presence.

But as soon as they can transcend the lower brain response and enter a "state of all-is-one," which we practice by generating beneficent intention, the aikido spontaneously manifests, sometimes like things you might think of as aikido techniques, but usually in more immediate, more direct paths. In zen this is mushin, but as we are interacting with a partner, the no-mind has a "flavor" of compassion or loving kindness. The way we train to generate beneficent intention often includes mental imagery of things that induce love.

It is totally a trainable thing, and I don't think Ikeda Sensei goes around showing stuff he doesn't think anyone can do but him. We practice what he shows in our dojo, and that is all we practice. It is no mystery to us - it is definitely awe-inspiring when nage finds that state and embodies it - on both sides of the aikido - but it is not a mystery. We do it all the time - even beginners. The training becomes about shifting intention from the automatic to the conscious.

Here is a clip of one of my training partners, Rene, beginning with him working with an 11 year old after regular class about three years ago: http://youtu.be/kkOa3FRfu5k

As you can see we don't teach him how to move, we instruct from intention. Rene is not being brutal but he is being relentless with his attack intention like he would with anyone in the dojo. The kind of ukemi you see in the rest of this clip may look like normal ukemi during some parts, but in my experience, if I were to attack average aikido practitioners the way Rene and I are attacking, most would either panic and/or try to force Rene or me into a throw using a technique. I would bet that 2% will actually find aiki under this kind of pressure. It wouldn't be because either Rene or I were being defensive against the aikido, or just bad ukes - just the opposite. The energy we are giving should have us on the mat very quickly, just as you see it happening with each other, but most people have not trained to work with authentic attack intention.

The key instruction which provided the aha moment for this young student was when he took the advice to "share." Had he misunderstood the word and taken it to mean he had to give a portion of what's his to someone else, he wouldn't have been able find aiki. But he actually embodied the idea of sharing and the ki extended out of him to Rene. Because Rene kept his attack up we see him go to the ground. "Sharing" from a pure intention is beneficial to the "extendee."

Next some jiuwaza practice, at 1:30 Rene responds to my shomen attack with a technique which brings him to the ground because employing one of his old hard style techniques made him into the primary attacker. My attack took on aikido characteristics, but this just goes to show that the attack intention never let up.

Around 3:00 Rene then gets stuck because his limbic system triggers defense from my attack. You can see him start and stop because he can feel that he is automatically trying to apply force and refuses to do so as to use force just to do the throw would be meaningless in this kind of practice. Instead, he extends ki through his other hand to complete the circuit. There is no physical force there, but there is a flow of ki. This can't be faked by either one of us because we have an agreement in our dojo not to let each other get away with anything.

Practicing this way reveals the literal truth in masakatsu agatsu and makes it our operating principle, because without transcending the lower brain response, the fighting mind, to a state of higher consciousness we will see no aikido.

If you (or any other readers) live in or are visiting the Los Angeles area and would like to experience what I am talking about (or just call me on my b.s.), please feel free to contact me.

Chris Li
08-20-2013, 02:51 AM
In the book Aikido, 1958, K. Ueshiba, under the guidance of Morihei Ueshiba, in the section called "Basic Knowledge" are two points (out of nine) dedicated to ki flow. Even though the concepts were presented as "basic knowledge" and fundamental to the practice of Aikido, it is acknowledged by the author that they are not easy concepts to grasp or explain.

I'd be fairly cautious about assuming how much guidance there actually was from Morihei.

Kisshomaru talks quite a bit about writing this book in "Aikido Ichiro".

He does state that he asked for his father's guidance, but he also states that he wrote the entire text himself, that it was edited extensively by a third party, and that he changed many particulars of his father's explanations in order to make things more understandable to the general populace.

He never once mentions actually receiving any guidance from his father.

According to Kisshomaru his father's response when he talked to him about writing the book was "well, do what you like", and his father's response upon seeing the finished work was "hey, great, it's got my picture in it".


It even goes on to describe a child who is incapable of lifting more than 50 pounds being able to "bewilder" someone capable of lifting 500 pounds. From this description I find it easy to infer two things; Ueshiba recognized and utilized ki as something other than muscular strength; that anyone is capable of this use of ki, not just shihan.

This is one of Koichi Tohei's classic examples, and of course his influence at the time the book was written and published can't be underestimated.

In the later "Aikido no Kokoro" ("Spirit of Aikido"), Kisshomaru speaks about Ki in some detail, describes it in classical Chinese terms, and cites the Chinese origin of the entire concept. He doesn't relate it to being muscular, or to the lack of muscle. He goes on to relate it to modern science.

Best,

Chris

jonreading
08-20-2013, 12:01 PM
To approach aikido from a non-technique emulation practice, authentic attack energy is necessary because aikido is only applicable to attack (differentiated from aiki principles which may apply throughout one's life in many ways). In the study of attack from a spiritual perspective, my conclusions about intention have been reaffirmed, because without an intention to connect to the central core of the target in a meaningful, impactful way, no aikido will manifest, unless the "aikidoist" uses brute force to employ an aikido shaped throw (counter attacks using technique).

Once one's partner understands and can produce and maintain energy through authentic attack intention to nage's central core, one can start to see how hardwiring in the lower brain produces an instant defense response. This is great for fighting, but no so good for aikido. I can demonstrate the principles of uke/nage interchange in a hard style application of aikido, but the problem is two fold. The hard martial use of aikido principles will trigger defense mechanisms in a attacker who is not 100% committed, and in the case of the attacker following through on his attack despite the aikido counter attack, the attacker leaves the event with the feeling of being bested, thereby promoting retaliation, and perhaps an escalation of the conflict, which I feel is not the purpose of aikido.

When working with a partner who is not just "giving ukemi" but is dedicated to directing a flow of penetrative energy to one's center, it is then much easier to see where one's own lower brain has reflexively put one into fighting mode rather than a "state of all-is-one."

This is perhaps as challenging as any aikido practice can be because rather than uke giving nage "practice dummy" energy so that a prescribed aiki path can be trained, uke puts nage under pressure, thereby usually eliciting the default limbic response immediately. At this point in the conversation I like to point out that this is not an intention to stop the aikido. That would be a defense rather than an attack. I can demonstrate the difference.

This is the point where the "paradox" of aikido is revealed to be less of a paradox than a call for a paradigm shift.

The conflict is between lower brain responses, hardwired through millions of years of central nervous system evolution for a creature to survive at any expense, and our neocortex reasoning and abstract thoughts that allow us to respond from a place of higher consciousness in lieu of reflex.

Mr. Mead, I believe this is what you are getting at, but I also have found that it can be realized through rational thought.

The lower brain will fight tooth and nail against the idea that love will produce a flow of energy that will be an effective defense against physical assault. Intermediate level students in my classes will stay "stuck" as long as their intentions are defense oriented. Sometimes the defense intention will be very subtle, but as long as it is there, there will be some indication of its presence.

But as soon as they can transcend the lower brain response and enter a "state of all-is-one," which we practice by generating beneficent intention, the aikido spontaneously manifests, sometimes like things you might think of as aikido techniques, but usually in more immediate, more direct paths. In zen this is mushin, but as we are interacting with a partner, the no-mind has a "flavor" of compassion or loving kindness. The way we train to generate beneficent intention often includes mental imagery of things that induce love.

It is totally a trainable thing, and I don't think Ikeda Sensei goes around showing stuff he doesn't think anyone can do but him. We practice what he shows in our dojo, and that is all we practice. It is no mystery to us - it is definitely awe-inspiring when nage finds that state and embodies it - on both sides of the aikido - but it is not a mystery. We do it all the time - even beginners. The training becomes about shifting intention from the automatic to the conscious.

Here is a clip of one of my training partners, Rene, beginning with him working with an 11 year old after regular class about three years ago: http://youtu.be/kkOa3FRfu5k

As you can see we don't teach him how to move, we instruct from intention. Rene is not being brutal but he is being relentless with his attack intention like he would with anyone in the dojo. The kind of ukemi you see in the rest of this clip may look like normal ukemi during some parts, but in my experience, if I were to attack average aikido practitioners the way Rene and I are attacking, most would either panic and/or try to force Rene or me into a throw using a technique. I would bet that 2% will actually find aiki under this kind of pressure. It wouldn't be because either Rene or I were being defensive against the aikido, or just bad ukes - just the opposite. The energy we are giving should have us on the mat very quickly, just as you see it happening with each other, but most people have not trained to work with authentic attack intention.

The key instruction which provided the aha moment for this young student was when he took the advice to "share." Had he misunderstood the word and taken it to mean he had to give a portion of what's his to someone else, he wouldn't have been able find aiki. But he actually embodied the idea of sharing and the ki extended out of him to Rene. Because Rene kept his attack up we see him go to the ground. "Sharing" from a pure intention is beneficial to the "extendee."

Next some jiuwaza practice, at 1:30 Rene responds to my shomen attack with a technique which brings him to the ground because employing one of his old hard style techniques made him into the primary attacker. My attack took on aikido characteristics, but this just goes to show that the attack intention never let up.

Around 3:00 Rene then gets stuck because his limbic system triggers defense from my attack. You can see him start and stop because he can feel that he is automatically trying to apply force and refuses to do so as to use force just to do the throw would be meaningless in this kind of practice. Instead, he extends ki through his other hand to complete the circuit. There is no physical force there, but there is a flow of ki. This can't be faked by either one of us because we have an agreement in our dojo not to let each other get away with anything.

Practicing this way reveals the literal truth in masakatsu agatsu and makes it our operating principle, because without transcending the lower brain response, the fighting mind, to a state of higher consciousness we will see no aikido.

If you (or any other readers) live in or are visiting the Los Angeles area and would like to experience what I am talking about (or just call me on my b.s.), please feel free to contact me.

At the risk of losing focus on the thread, I think there are 2 points in here I am working to resolve myself:
1. There is a notion that 100% commitment from uke is required to "do" aikido. The presumption here (at least I hope the presumption here) is that in parity, uke is applying 100% of the technique upon herself, leaving a negligable workload for nage. By reasoning, one could assume that *0% commitment would require *0% response, etc. and so on until you reach the point of obstenance where uke commits 0% to her attack. I do not know of any system of combat that advocates a 100% commitment to attack with abandon. Rather, most systems advocate a balance of commitment and reservation. Even when I work out with a partner who can apply irresistable pressure to my center, I always feel like they have more but are holding back.
2. There is a notion that the primal brain and nervous systems are somehow inferior to "higher" brain functions. The presumption here is that my superego (i.e. "me") has greater control over my body and its functions and therefore it is desireable to elevate my intellect. But then we rely upon basic exercises that are designed to condition the body's basic reactions... It falls back to the concept of hitting a baseball... There is not sufficient time to consciously decide to hit a fastball and commit to that action. Rather, I think we are specifically conditioning our basic systems to function more intelligently without our conscious involvement. It's about being, not doing. Isn't that where aiki takes hold of us? When we stop doing and start being?

These are both issues for me because they do not reconcile when you work out with someone who has aiki. When I touch some of these guys, it does not matter if I push, pull, stand there, cry, whatever. I will not affect them. The only percentage that applies is how much of my ass gets kicked. When the same guys attack... They do not even have to move and I get my ass kicked. They are doing it on both sides of the ball, and my involvement is inconsequential to them. Similarly, consciously participating in my ass-kicking does not solve the problem. The ol' lizard brain is good for some things, many of which I think we exclude because some of that talent is God-given and damn it if its not fair that we weren't given more of it. For being about our super-ego, I am not sure if its our ego that gets in the way.

I am still pissed off that God saw fit to deny me the 6 ft., 200 lb. frame that would've let me pitch in Major League Baseball. Instead, I take solice in criticizing the poor pitch counts of those players that were given the body that was supposed to go to me.

Lee Salzman
08-21-2013, 02:55 AM
At the risk of losing focus on the thread, I think there are 2 points in here I am working to resolve myself:
1. There is a notion that 100% commitment from uke is required to "do" aikido. The presumption here (at least I hope the presumption here) is that in parity, uke is applying 100% of the technique upon herself, leaving a negligable workload for nage. By reasoning, one could assume that *0% commitment would require *0% response, etc. and so on until you reach the point of obstenance where uke commits 0% to her attack. I do not know of any system of combat that advocates a 100% commitment to attack with abandon. Rather, most systems advocate a balance of commitment and reservation. Even when I work out with a partner who can apply irresistable pressure to my center, I always feel like they have more but are holding back.
2. There is a notion that the primal brain and nervous systems are somehow inferior to "higher" brain functions. The presumption here is that my superego (i.e. "me") has greater control over my body and its functions and therefore it is desireable to elevate my intellect. But then we rely upon basic exercises that are designed to condition the body's basic reactions... It falls back to the concept of hitting a baseball... There is not sufficient time to consciously decide to hit a fastball and commit to that action. Rather, I think we are specifically conditioning our basic systems to function more intelligently without our conscious involvement. It's about being, not doing. Isn't that where aiki takes hold of us? When we stop doing and start being?

These are both issues for me because they do not reconcile when you work out with someone who has aiki. When I touch some of these guys, it does not matter if I push, pull, stand there, cry, whatever. I will not affect them. The only percentage that applies is how much of my ass gets kicked. When the same guys attack... They do not even have to move and I get my ass kicked. They are doing it on both sides of the ball, and my involvement is inconsequential to them. Similarly, consciously participating in my ass-kicking does not solve the problem. The ol' lizard brain is good for some things, many of which I think we exclude because some of that talent is God-given and damn it if its not fair that we weren't given more of it. For being about our super-ego, I am not sure if its our ego that gets in the way.

I am still pissed off that God saw fit to deny me the 6 ft., 200 lb. frame that would've let me pitch in Major League Baseball. Instead, I take solice in criticizing the poor pitch counts of those players that were given the body that was supposed to go to me.

Regarding #1, yep, no commitment or cooperation from uke is required. Uke can stand there like a martial inept doing nothing, and aiki still works. As you noted, that is because aiki is never done to uke, aiki is done to nage, by nage, and uke is affected by it. That is why it is "internal" - it is stuff nage is doing inside, to himself, with an expression outside, that uke can't resist. And ironically, this aiki skill is learning to rather not commit any of our intention to uke, we keep it in ourselves, and give it to the universe as a whole, but never to uke. Uke never gets our commitment.

Do not stare into the eyes of your opponent: he may mesmerize you. Do not fix your gaze on his sword: he may intimidate you. Do not focus on your opponent at all: he may absorb your energy. The essence of training is to bring your opponent completely into your sphere. Then you can stand where you like.

Committed attacks, especially 100%, are martially unsound; you are just giving control of yourself to someone else a priori, the complete opposite of what you, as an offensive strategist, are trying to do. And just on a practical martial level, non-committed and deceptive attacks are what a skilled attacker in any venue will give you, so this is what we need to be good against, not human cannonballs that use a dead-reckoning strategy of throwing themselves "relentlessly forward" at a target like a zombie.

Regarding #2, yep, higher brain trains the lower brain through conscious conditioning/focused practice, and also the usage of intent to provoke responses from the more un/sub-conscious aspects of the body. All the same, it is not merely getting rid of some higher brain overlay or lower brain interference either, you have to put stuff in, then get rid of the non-useful responses like struggling against or giving commitment back to something that opposes you. But only getting rid of the habitual response to struggle against resistance is not the skill of aiki, it is merely something that detracts from the ability to practice the skill of aiki.

CorkyQ
08-28-2013, 11:25 AM
At the risk of losing focus on the thread, I think there are 2 points in here I am working to resolve myself:
1. There is a notion that 100% commitment from uke is required to "do" aikido. The presumption here (at least I hope the presumption here) is that in parity, uke is applying 100% of the technique upon herself, leaving a negligable workload for nage. By reasoning, one could assume that *0% commitment would require *0% response, etc. and so on until you reach the point of obstenance where uke commits 0% to her attack. I do not know of any system of combat that advocates a 100% commitment to attack with abandon. Rather, most systems advocate a balance of commitment and reservation. Even when I work out with a partner who can apply irresistable pressure to my center, I always feel like they have more but are holding back.
2. There is a notion that the primal brain and nervous systems are somehow inferior to "higher" brain functions. The presumption here is that my superego (i.e. "me") has greater control over my body and its functions and therefore it is desireable to elevate my intellect. But then we rely upon basic exercises that are designed to condition the body's basic reactions... It falls back to the concept of hitting a baseball... There is not sufficient time to consciously decide to hit a fastball and commit to that action. Rather, I think we are specifically conditioning our basic systems to function more intelligently without our conscious involvement. It's about being, not doing. Isn't that where aiki takes hold of us? When we stop doing and start being?

These are both issues for me because they do not reconcile when you work out with someone who has aiki. When I touch some of these guys, it does not matter if I push, pull, stand there, cry, whatever. I will not affect them. The only percentage that applies is how much of my ass gets kicked. When the same guys attack... They do not even have to move and I get my ass kicked. They are doing it on both sides of the ball, and my involvement is inconsequential to them. Similarly, consciously participating in my ass-kicking does not solve the problem. The ol' lizard brain is good for some things, many of which I think we exclude because some of that talent is God-given and damn it if its not fair that we weren't given more of it. For being about our super-ego, I am not sure if its our ego that gets in the way.

I am still pissed off that God saw fit to deny me the 6 ft., 200 lb. frame that would've let me pitch in Major League Baseball. Instead, I take solice in criticizing the poor pitch counts of those players that were given the body that was supposed to go to me.

Thanks for the consideration of my post, Mr Reading. I'd like to address the points you brought up with clarification.

1. Anyone who knows and has practiced the movements of aikido can use them to throw someone who is not attacking as long as the target of the technique does not resist or if the resistance is insufficient to withstand the physical forces applied through body mechanics, but this is not the kind of action I would consider aikido from my point of view. I would call it "ass-kicking" (as you did).

The only kind of aikido of which I speak is the kind reflected in Osensei's statements, "A martial art in which there are conflict, winning and losing is not true budo," "The Aiki of which conventional martial artists spoke and the Aiki of which I speak are fundamentally different in both essence and substance," and "Aikido is not the art of fighting using brute strength or deadly weapons, or the use of physical power or deadly weapons to destroy one's enemies, but a way of harmonizing the world and unifying the human race as one family."

The reason I bring up this distinction is that it separates aikido from all other martial arts, as far as I know.

Most martial arts are predominantly defensive in nature. That is, the main purpose of them is for the martial artist to defend his life. Even in attack, the primary purpose of the application of most martial arts is to protect oneself (or one's interests), if by destroying or controlling the opponent. Even a suicide attack, such as in the case of Kamikaze pilots, are defensive in the sense of protecting the perceived "larger self" of the family or nation of the attacker as an extension of self.

When seen on a continuum of defense and attack, the lower brain default is always to defend. Attack in and of itself serves no purpose if it ends the life of the attacker (unless suicide is the purpose, and that would make it simply pathological).

That a default to defense in conflict is hardwired is evidenced though natural selection. The often used example of our protohuman ancestors reacting to a rustle in the bushes is a clear one - if the rustle was caused by a predator but did not elicit a reflexive defensive response, the protohuman would be eaten and not able to reproduce and pass on whatever reflexive response did occur if any. But the ancestor who demonstrated a defensive response to a rustle in the bushes might live to reproduce whether the rustle was made by a predator or a non-predator, hence the hardwired defense response, necessary or not, gets passed on genetically.

As you pointed out, in typical martial arts, fighters train not to over extend, to remain balanced, and to deliver destructive impact from the central core, but there is a range of effectiveness based on the physical limitations of the body. For the fighter to maintain his balance and still deliver a strike with meaningful impact, either the opponent has to move within the fighter's range of effectiveness or the fighter has to move himself so that the opponent is inside his range.

For the fighter to do this he must transcend his limbic system's defense mechanisms and move within his opponent's range of effectiveness. If the fighter has no fear of the opponent, he can easily commit fully to the attack. This is true in any case, even the swatting of insects. An allergic person who would swat a fly with his bare hand might act more cautiously if the insect is a large bumble bee. Even then, if the allergic person swatted the bumble bee, he or she would have to commit to a degree that the impact be strong enough to damage the bee enough to insure a wounded bee couldn't counter-attack in self defense.

In aikido we learn to stay outside the range of effectiveness of our partner through ma'ai, accomplished by distance or position (e.g. tenkan), therefore the attacker must be at least 51% committed to the attack to reach us. Because unlike other martial arts aikido is not about scoring hits or attacking, we never move within the range of our partner's effectiveness. Even irimi requires turning off the line of the attack to insure we are out of range by position.

There seems to be much anecdotal evidence that Osensei demanded a committed attack from his ukes. Why?

Because of the predominance of firearms in today's conflicts, from rifles to rockets, hand to hand combat has become more and more archaic, but looking at physical conflict before the 20th Century, to attack without full commitment could mean certain death. Imagine wielding a katana on a battlefield and you will realize that every time you strike you had better strike to kill. If you aren't in the midst of an attack your action better be fully in defense. Any portion less than 100% with any action would mean an opening for your opponent to take advantage. The reason samurai encounters often ended with double kills is because there was 100% commitment to attack and 0% commitment to defense from both warriors. If one of two equally skilled warriors was 50% committed to attack and 50% committed to defense, but the other is 100% committed to the attack, who would you think is most likely to achieve his goal? However, all attackers may not have a samurai spirit or be foolish enough to attack fully with no reserve of defensiveness. We can see this clearly in one-on-one encounters or sport fighting.

Is sport fighting and one-on-one contests, there is opportunity for the fighter to give less than 100% commitment in his attack because his main intention is to be on his feet at the end of the round. In contrast to a battlefield situation, neither combatant has to worry about being attacked from the rear by someone else or shot with a projectile so there is plenty of time for feinting, jabbing, doing little bits of accumulating damage to take down the target. But it doesn't matter how many crippling blows a fighter can deliver, if the fighter is the one on the ground at the end he is defeated. An examination of any sport fight will show more time spent defending and less time attacking, particularly fully committed attacking, as 100% commitment to attack means 0% commitment to defense. Unless the contestants are so unevenly matched as to be silly (Mike Tyson versus Woody Allen) either contestant can only launch a fully committed attack if they drop their defense.

Aikido is the only martial art in which every attacker demonstrates a "failing" attack to the point that he goes to the ground. In other martial arts partners may lower their defenses on purpose so that a fighter can practice, but those partners still do not get knocked down every time they do so. Aikido practitioners go to the mat (are "defeated") for their partners virtually every time.

So how can this paradox be resolved? The Founder of our art tells us on one hand that our art is not about defeating an opponent, and yet every time we practice aikido some one is thrown to the ground. Or are they?

If you follow through with your ukemi all the way through an attack you will go to the ground. If you hold back even a little and your partner insists on you still going all the way through the throw, you both will feel the resistance. Is this harmony? Who is the attacker if one insists the other goes to the ground?

When the aiki experts you encounter "kick your ass," my guess is that you are still doing your part as uke, because if you were really trying to attack them as in a real fight, the moment you felt them take the advantage, your limbic system would trigger your default defense mechanism, whether it is resistance or withdrawal. If you stopped being a typical aikido uke, providing service to your nage, you would react to the attempt to throw very differently than going into a roll.

About ten years ago when I first transformed my practice of aikido to eliminate anything that would cause harm to my attacker, I stopped trapping the fingers of my partners' grabbing hand during execution of nikyo. A seminar I attended subsequently included a teacher demonstrating nikyo in the traditional manner in which I had learned it. Each time I performed the technique with my partner, with the only exception of not trapping the fingers of my partner's grabbing hand, my partner would withdraw his hand as soon as his system registered the force that was going to break his wrist if he didn't drop like a stone. He'd then point out that he could then remove his hand and not go to the ground. He didn't realize that for me the purpose of aikido is so that the attack will stop, as he stopped his attack. Then and now, I continue to not be interested in any form of aikido that defeats an attacker through pain compliance, or that insists a non-attacking partner go to the floor. Try not trapping the fingers or grabbing your partner next time you apply nikyo, sankyo or kotegaeshi the way you normally would. if you are applying a painful technique the limbic system trigger will produce a reaction of resistance or withdrawal - unless the uke is 100% committed.

If you teach aikido, you know how hard it is to get a beginner to give you the kind of energy necessary to demonstrate without lugging them around and forcing them into the ukemi path, do you not? I think you are 100% correct in your premise that someone giving 0% attack requires 0% response, because aikido is a response to attack and if there is no attack, aikido is irrelevant. Remember I am not talking about the use of aikido movements to attack someone who is not attacking.

Sometimes people refer to uncooperative partners as "ukes from hell." Wendy Palmer Sensei said to me once that a bad uke can make a master look bad and a good uke can make a beginner look like a master. The "bad uke" gets his reputation, not from fully attacking with an effective attack that is hard to deal with, but by being defensive when an aikido technique is being applied. If you want to quickly lose all your training partners in the dojo you belong to, start defending yourself any time your partner starts to throw you. You will begin to understand what I mean about commitment to the attack.

What I have found is that when uke is 100% committed to the attack, hard style aikido works fine in producing a throw. But when the attack is less than fully committed, say 75% committed to the attack and 25% committed to defense, any physical action by nage (including the machinations of throwing) that will trigger a limbic system response in uke will either cause uke to resist or withdraw and there will be no aiki. The less committed an attack the more likely the chance the attacker's default defense mechanism will be triggered. Allow me to reiterate that I am not talking about the ability of someone to forcefully throw someone using the movements common to aikido.

As an example, think about someone determined to kill someone else with a gun. For the moment of truth, that is for the space of time in which the intention to kill produces the pulling of the trigger however short the time, there can be only negligible regard to the consequences of the action or the trigger will not be pulled. If the consciousness of how this murder could also destroy the life of the murderer is present in the murderer, the would-be murderer must transcend the default defense mindset in order to pull the trigger, even if that transcendence is only long enough for the murderer to act.

Bearing in mind that an attacker who is not fully committed has a portion of his intention in defense, and that at least a portion of this intention is hardwired in the lower brain, if there is anything that triggers that limbic system defense mechanism, the attack will revert to defense. To test this, have a partner grab you and ask them to not let you do anything with your arm. Try to touch your partner's nose with muscular strength. If your partner is doing what you asked it will be a struggle.

Hard style aikido uses a constricted flow of ki (stream of spirit) to make the center-to-center connection referred to in Aikido, and it is extremely effective when dealing with a fully committed attack. But off the battlefield there may be less commitment. In our dojo, because we do not practice in a technique emulation way, we learn to give authentic attack energy with reduced intensity. However, even with less intensity the commitment to the attack can be 100%. At 100% anyone who can demonstrate the movements of aikido sufficiently can find an aiki resolution. But as students advance in my dojo we begin to vary the level of commitment all the way down to 51%. At fifty-one percent, there is no way anyone, not even the most accomplished aikidoka is going to throw uke, because uke can respond defensively to anything out of harmony with his attack. At 51%, the connection MUST be of a different nature and it is at this level we start to see the most subtle truths about aikido and the stream of spirit connection.

2. There is nothing "inferior" about lower brain functions. We rely on our autonomous nervous system to keep us breathing, keep our heart beating, our blood flowing, our hormones working. But these are all automatic. There is no choice in our brain to breathe or not to breathe, for our hearts to beat or not beat except temporarily on the conscious level and even in that case the autonomic brain will win every time if we consciously attempt to overcome it.

The neocortex allows us to make choices, and some of those may counteract or encourage our limbic system directives, such as the ability to hold our breath as long as we can or to hyperventilate. Ultimately though, the lower brain will always win in cases of body and cell survival. (non sequitur: cetaceans, with their lack of corpus callosum, have two independently operating brain halves and have conscious control over their breathing even to the point of death) When the lower brain is triggered to produce a defense response, it is also difficult to transcend, but it can be done. We can maintain a cool head when the s*** hits the fan if we apply our higher brain functions to the cause even with a flood of adrenaline to the whole body.

In our practice at my dojo we have found that the only way to achieve aiki and a subsequent aiki resolution (what other aikido practitioners might describe as a throw) with out triggering uke's defense responses when the attack is at a 51% level of commitment is to embody beneficent intention (love, compassion, appreciation, acceptance, forgiveness, etc.), thereby eliciting a broad "flood" of ki that joins the constricted, destructive flow of ki of the attack. This is not easy, but it is definitely attainable and is a literal manifestation of masakatsu agatsu.

The feeling of grabbing someone with the full intention of locking them up (and we do this with all students after they have learned the basic movements of aikido, even beginners) when they embody some form of intention that you will benefit from your interaction is indescribable except for the feeling of your attack intention melting instantly as you head toward the mat. Once the student experiences this spontaneous manifestation of aiki, they will never forget it. The practice then becomes about making a more rapid transition from limbic response to transcendent response until the transcendent response can be generated before physical contact with uke. In concert with that, the practice becomes about doing this more consistently. In this way, we bypass the habitual responses (trained techniques) that the lower brain can integrate into its automatic fight or flight repertoire and instead train a response of higher consciousness that will permit aikido to manifest spontaneously in whatever path the union of ki of the particpants creates.

CorkyQ
08-28-2013, 12:11 PM
I'd be fairly cautious about assuming how much guidance there actually was from Morihei.

Kisshomaru talks quite a bit about writing this book in "Aikido Ichiro".

He does state that he asked for his father's guidance, but he also states that he wrote the entire text himself, that it was edited extensively by a third party, and that he changed many particulars of his father's explanations in order to make things more understandable to the general populace.

He never once mentions actually receiving any guidance from his father.

According to Kisshomaru his father's response when he talked to him about writing the book was "well, do what you like", and his father's response upon seeing the finished work was "hey, great, it's got my picture in it".

This is one of Koichi Tohei's classic examples, and of course his influence at the time the book was written and published can't be underestimated.

In the later "Aikido no Kokoro" ("Spirit of Aikido"), Kisshomaru speaks about Ki in some detail, describes it in classical Chinese terms, and cites the Chinese origin of the entire concept. He doesn't relate it to being muscular, or to the lack of muscle. He goes on to relate it to modern science.

Best,

Chris

Dear Chris, I merely copied what it says on the author page of the book.

But if you mean to imply that Kisshomaru, his translators and editors presented something not in keeping with the Founder's intention or teaching, and that Morihei Ueshiba was such an ego-maniac that all he cared about was having his picture in the book (I read a similar story in Remembering Osensei about an aikido newsletter which had no picture of him in the first edition, which he dismissed, but then approved of the second edition which did display his picture) to the extent that he let his life's work be misrepresented, then we will have to find another honorific for him besides "Osensei" - something that means "Great Fool." I would assume only great trust or massive stupidity would inspire the Founder to give free rein to his son to literally "write the book" on Aikido.

I could be wrong of course, but it seems to me that wlth all the reverence with which Osensei's son writes of his father, his father's work and intentions for Aikido, that he would not have attempted to conspire with editors and translators to add two main points out of nine (or three, if you count "breath power" as another description of ki) to the "Basic Knowledge" section of book Aikido that were not in keeping with his father's budo.

I do appreciate K. Ueshiba's efforts is giving us something easier to grasp than the esoteric sounding words of his father regarding ki, and I enjoy his exploration of the nature ki in The Spirit of Aikido in which he relates ki to modern science, but a word of caution: Mentioning ki as a physical force of nature in these forums may incite the torch and pitchfork mob! ;)

Chris Li
08-28-2013, 01:12 PM
Dear Chris, I merely copied what it says on the author page of the book.

But if you mean to imply that Kisshomaru, his translators and editors presented something not in keeping with the Founder's intention or teaching, and that Morihei Ueshiba was such an ego-maniac that all he cared about was having his picture in the book (I read a similar story in Remembering Osensei about an aikido newsletter which had no picture of him in the first edition, which he dismissed, but then approved of the second edition which did display his picture) to the extent that he let his life's work be misrepresented, then we will have to find another honorific for him besides "Osensei" - something that means "Great Fool." I would assume only great trust or massive stupidity would inspire the Founder to give free rein to his son to literally "write the book" on Aikido.

I could be wrong of course, but it seems to me that wlth all the reverence with which Osensei's son writes of his father, his father's work and intentions for Aikido, that he would not have attempted to conspire with editors and translators to add two main points out of nine (or three, if you count "breath power" as another description of ki) to the "Basic Knowledge" section of book Aikido that were not in keeping with his father's budo.

I do appreciate K. Ueshiba's efforts is giving us something easier to grasp than the esoteric sounding words of his father regarding ki, and I enjoy his exploration of the nature ki in The Spirit of Aikido in which he relates ki to modern science, but a word of caution: Mentioning ki as a physical force of nature in these forums may incite the torch and pitchfork mob! ;)

I'm not disparaging Kisshomaru's efforts - but Morihei was not really all that involved in things during the time that the book was written, most of the time he wasn't even around, and yes, it was pretty much laissez-faire in terms of how Kisshomaru was running things.

Best,

Chris

CorkyQ
08-28-2013, 02:12 PM
I'm not disparaging Kisshomaru's efforts - but Morihei was not really all that involved in things during the time that the book was written, most of the time he wasn't even around, and yes, it was pretty much laissez-faire in terms of how Kisshomaru was running things.

Best,

Chris

I understand, but again, are you implying that Kisshomaru (or his translators or editors) were altering, or adding to in a contrary way, or selectively discarding from a true representation of his father's work as he understood them in any signifcant way in the texts he wrote or had ghost written?

Best,

Corky

Chris Li
08-28-2013, 02:17 PM
I understand, but again, are you implying that Kisshomaru (or his translators or editors) were altering, or adding to in a contrary way, or selectively discarding from a true representation of his father's work as he understood them in any signifcant way in the texts he wrote or had ghost written?

Best,

Corky

Well, yes, that's been pretty clearly established, even on the technical side. Whether one agrees with those changes or not is up to the individual.

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
08-28-2013, 02:42 PM
Thanks for the response. The parts I am specifically interested in are the descriptions of "Stream of Spirit" and "Extension of Power" in the section of Aikido called "Basic Knowledge." Are they significantly adding to, or dismissing from, or altering his father's teaching or philosophy?

If so, is the implication that Osensei cared so little about this book and its contents that he would allow something he felt was in opposition to his teaching to be published?

Best,

Corky

It's not just descriptions, but how they're interpreted, and the context - especially the context in the original language, which is often (usually) different from the translations. That's really too much to get into here, in any case (I've touched on some of this in my blog (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/), I'd just say to be cautious about how literally you take a translation of Kisshomaru as an absolute statement on Morihei's beliefs.

Best,

Chris

Bill Danosky
09-03-2013, 06:30 PM
We all have differing degrees of awareness within our bodies. Conscious awareness is a remarkable thing, to say the least. Yoga notably enhances one's sensitivity to their own body, and over time, Aikido seems to enhance the practitioner's sensitivity to uke's body. By extension, even into the environment, hypothetically speaking. We haven't invented a meter that detects the energy of awareness, but of course, if we can know anything, we know it exists. You probably can't do a Jedi mind trick with it, but good connection with uke sure helps with kokyunage.

mjhacker
10-01-2013, 11:21 AM
The sum of the whole is indeed always greater. Yet a part of a bicycle is not part of the whole of a Ferari.

But a Batcycle IS part of a whole Batmobile.