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Rupert Atkinson
09-28-2013, 07:18 PM
I think Aikido to be The Way of Aiki. Can we have a discussion about aiki without mentioning ki I wonder? I think aiki is a learnable skill. The minute someone starts talking about ki, harmony, and the meaning of the universe, practical learning is lost.

If you don't think that Aikido is the Way of Aiki, they try to explain why not.

Just what is it we are supposed to be learning? Not the techniques, methinks. The techniques are the means to learn aiki. The various schools of Jujutsu (even Judo) have aiki-like katas or movements taught to seniors. I think Ueshiba took those ideas and created Aikido, and the techniques we have are meant to develop aiki, not become techniques unto themselves (as they seem to have become). I also think that if you understand aiki, you can put it into any technique - Judo, Jujutsu, or of course, your standard Aikido 'waza'.

Anyway, few people out there are looking for aiki, or seeking ways to develop it. Most are just concerned with which way to do this or that 'waza', where to put the feet and how to twist uke this way or that, and what they need for the next grading, and so on. I was like that too for my first 20, yes TWENTY, years of training so I kind of understand 'the problem'. Can you understand this problem? Or do you think I am wrong - or that there is no problem?

Kungfu has pushing hands etc., Systema has many interesting exercises, Aunkai too, and so on. Besides waza, what does Aikido have that helps us develop aiki? Or must people search beyond Aikido?

So ... aiki.
What is it?
Have you felt it?
Can you do something you think might be aiki?
Do you have the means to develop it?
Are you searching, or remain just content to be 'told'?
Have you sussed anything interesting?
Have you discerned any interesting principles that you can apply across a range of waza?
Can you move people that resist?
Can you take people's balance with subtle craft?
Or ... are you just training and hoping one day ... It'll just happen?

Cady Goldfield
09-28-2013, 09:23 PM
So ... aiki.
What is it?
Have you felt it?
Can you do something you think might be aiki?
Do you have the means to develop it?
Are you searching, or remain just content to be 'told'?
Have you sussed anything interesting?
Have you discerned any interesting principles that you can apply across a range of waza?
Can you move people that resist?
Can you take people's balance with subtle craft?
Or ... are you just training and hoping one day ... It'll just happen?

Oh... great questions, Rupert!
You're right, "aiki" is very much a learnable skill.
It results from a very specific kind of body training. It has nothing to do with martial technique, but it is the powerful engine that will drive technique of any kind.

There are no "aiki-like" katas. Training practices either are designed to promote a process of specific movement and structural manipulation to produce IP and aiki, or they are not. The process involves learning how to use mental intent to manipulate unconventional muscle groups and connective tissues to create a dynamic tension of opposing forces within the body -- the In/Yo (Yin/Yang) that are in a constant state of change from neutral to varying stages of imbalance and re-balancing that constitute the "harmonizing of ki" ... Ai-Ki. That's what makes the dynamic tension, the potential energy which is the source of power that is directed to the desired use by the intent and will of the mind.

Anyone who is training in this very real method, does not have to guess that they have aiki, what it feels like to "do" it, or how it feels when in contact with someone who is expressing aiki. They are training in a curriculum that was designed for aiki development. The training is quite specific. Aiki will never "just happen."

It would be great to see it reintroduced into modern, mainstream aikido. Some people already are doing that, having sought out and found sources for acquiring the skills. I don't believe that it ever will be taken back into all aikido, lock-stock-and barrel, but I do think that there will be a small-scale revival of aikido that at least in part preserves and reflects the skills that Ueshiba continued to cultivate and refine till the day he died. As long as even a small pocket of those practitioners exist, there will be an aikido that is the Way of Aiki.

Alex Megann
09-29-2013, 03:10 AM
My current understanding (bear in mind that it is changing month by month) is this.

We have always talked about circular, spherical and spiral movements, and it is widely believed that these are somehow the essence of aikido and that they differentiate it from other martial arts. To me, aiki is the generation of these movements inside ourselves so we can transmit them to our attacker, instead of using simple linear force,

No, I am not aware of any training system within mainstream aikido to cultivate this.

But yes, I am practising such exercises myself.

Alex

sakumeikan
09-29-2013, 06:33 AM
My current understanding (bear in mind that it is changing month by month) is this.

We have always talked about circular, spherical and spiral movements, and it is widely believed that these are somehow the essence of aikido and that they differentiate it from other martial arts. To me, aiki is the generation of these movements inside ourselves so we can transmit them to our attacker, instead of using simple linear force,

No, I am not aware of any training system within mainstream aikido to cultivate this.

But yes, I am practising such exercises myself.

Alex

Dear Alex,
If you are not aware of any mainstream aikido group cultivating aiki why do you remain within your own group? It seems to me from your comments you are now a member /admirer of the gent who is no longer posting on this forum . I wouuld have thought that if indeed you are , why not embrace his theories entirely?Are you integrating them into your own practice ?If so does this make you a heretic [only word I can think , no offense meant ] with Mr K et al???Cheers, Joe.

Alex Megann
09-29-2013, 02:15 PM
Dear Alex,
If you are not aware of any mainstream aikido group cultivating aiki why do you remain within your own group? It seems to me from your comments you are now a member /admirer of the gent who is no longer posting on this forum . I wouuld have thought that if indeed you are , why not embrace his theories entirely?Are you integrating them into your own practice ?If so does this make you a heretic [only word I can think , no offense meant ] with Mr K et al???Cheers, Joe.

Good questions, Joe, but they have simple answers (at least for me).

My teacher definitely has this stuff, but does not teach it directly. I went through a phase of intense frustration where I was feeling things from people like Kanetsuka, Ikeda and Yamashima that really impressed me, but I realised that, however much information these people gave you, none of them taught you even how to start to get a body that felt like theirs, nor precisely how to do what they were showing.

You know me well enough by now to know that I am not someone who follows anyone with my eyes closed. You will also appreciate that I have been around the block enough times now that I don't see most things in terms of "either/or". The "gent who is no longer posting on this forum" (anyone reading this particular subforum will not need to be spoonfed his name!) is teaching a set of simple but profound exercise drills that I realised very quickly were what I was looking for, and that I believe build the skills I described in my post above.

If I read you correctly, I think you are being overly provocative. I have no need to change my allegiance at this point as I love aikido. As far as I understand them, TGWINLPOTF's teachings don't contradict anything that my aikido teacher is teaching, and since no "mainstream aikido group" is teaching explicitly how to do this stuff I see no reason to change for the time being,

Alex

sakumeikan
09-30-2013, 02:32 AM
Good questions, Joe, but they have simple answers (at least for me).

My teacher definitely has this stuff, but does not teach it directly. I went through a phase of intense frustration where I was feeling things from people like Kanetsuka, Ikeda and Yamashima that really impressed me, but I realised that, however much information these people gave you, none of them taught you even how to start to get a body that felt like theirs, nor precisely how to do what they were showing.

You know me well enough by now to know that I am not someone who follows anyone with my eyes closed. You will also appreciate that I have been around the block enough times now that I don't see most things in terms of "either/or". The "gent who is no longer posting on this forum" (anyone reading this particular subforum will not need to be spoonfed his name!) is teaching a set of simple but profound exercise drills that I realised very quickly were what I was looking for, and that I believe build the skills I described in my post above.

If I read you correctly, I think you are being overly provocative. I have no need to change my allegiance at this point as I love aikido. As far as I understand them, TGWINLPOTF's teachings don't contradict anything that my aikido teacher is teaching, and since no "mainstream aikido group" is teaching explicitly how to do this stuff I see no reason to change for the time being,

Alex
Dear Alex,
Thanks for your reply. This is where the the system of teaching as I see it breaks down. Namely the instructors who have the aiki skills either cannot or will not pass these methods on to students.This begs the question , if they have the skills why do they not transmit the methods ? Surely if Mr DH is teaching simple[your description] exercises that develop these skills , others can ???? The vast majority of instructors simply teach the forms, the external process.The bit that interests me is the internal part.
Alex, I know you well enough to know you like your aikido. Its just me, the man who often asks awkward questions.Makes for a stimulating discussion. Any way, you gave a good answer.For that I thank you.As ever I send you my regards. Always a pleasure to chat with you here.Take care, Joe.

Rupert Atkinson
09-30-2013, 03:06 AM
Dare I suggest that some Aikido teachers who can do 'interesting stuff' learned it by accident after lots of training and have no clue how to teach it in a systematic way becuase they are not exactly sure of what they can do or why it works? Well, it is either that, or for some reason they just point blank refuse to teach what they know.

Mert Gambito
09-30-2013, 04:08 AM
FWIW, DH has stated multiple times that the methodology he's imparting is not to be hoarded. For the teachers who attend his workshops, he is expressly teaching them with the mutual understanding that they will a) diligently pursue the material and be able to walk the talk, and b) diligently and accurately impart the material to their students, and not use it as a tool with which to selfishly increase one's ability while leaving the student body guessing.

Sooner rather than later, relative to the timeline of the history of aikido, there will be several aikido teachers who will be able to make good on both criteria.

Alex Megann
09-30-2013, 04:34 AM
FWIW, DH has stated multiple times that the methodology he's imparting is not to be hoarded. For the teachers who attend his workshops, he is expressly teaching them with the mutual understanding that they will a) diligently pursue the material and be able to walk the talk, and b) diligently and accurately impart the material to their students, and not use it as a tool with which to selfishly increase one's ability while leaving the student body guessing.

Sooner rather than later, relative to the timeline of the history of aikido, there will be several aikido teachers who will be able to make good on both criteria.

There are already several very senior (6th and 7th Dan) Aikikai teachers in the US who more or less openly acknowledge Dan's influence (no need to refer to him as TGWINLPOTF any more, I guess :)) on their personal development.

Alex

Alex Megann
09-30-2013, 04:41 AM
Dare I suggest that some Aikido teachers who can do 'interesting stuff' learned it by accident after lots of training and have no clue how to teach it in a systematic way becuase they are not exactly sure of what they can do or why it works? Well, it is either that, or for some reason they just point blank refuse to teach what they know.

I think this is very much the way things have turned out. One AikiWeb poster has told to me privately that a couple of the teachers whose aikido I very much admire admitted to him that they didn't really understand how they did what they did.

My teacher has shown us plenty of exercises over the years that he believes will improve our aikido, but I can't help feeling that much of his ability has come from him digesting and redigesting through trial and error what he got from his own teacher many years ago.

Alex

Cady Goldfield
09-30-2013, 09:09 AM
A lot of the aikido teachers who do "interesting stuff" but can't explain it, learned by hands-on transmission... by "feel." Many old traditions in Asia were, and still are, taught this way. Very little descriptive terminology or systemic training, and mainly the teacher letting the student feel and eventually imitate, and inculcate, through touch.

So, it's not surprising that individuals with these skills don't know how to explain or describe what they are doing. I have had this experience as well. It takes integration between Eastern and Western teaching methods to arrive at a system that methodically teaches internal skills. A few have done it and are getting very good results from it.

jonreading
09-30-2013, 09:10 AM
Yes, I believe aiki is real and reproduce-able. I think the origins of aikido contained aiki exercises that have been revised and diminished in their fertility to produce aiki. I think here in the States there are several instructors who possess aiki and a willingness to share it. Most of these people are in various stages of sophistication in the dissemination of what they know and I am excited to see what they will be doing in 5 years.

As the foundation of my beliefs above, I see this largely as an argument of dissemination methodology and a comparison of success as it relates to creating a succession of reproduce-able skills.

For Westerners, I think the Eastern neo-traditional style of dissemination is perceived as unsuccessful. I think this perception is largely based upon the duration of the "learning curve", which is many years under good tutelage and can be decades (if ever). That don't fly around here. From that perspective, Eastern-style (steal the technique) dissemination in the West struggles to produce students simply by attrition. Unless you start aikido at <30, you will likely die before you reach a point of self-proclaimed efficiency.

For me, I respond to study and Western education more than the Eastern style of kata and practice. I respect the tradition of dissemination, but I am looking to shorten the learning curve and retain as much of the budo as possible. But I got a (w/l)ife, kids and a job; aikido sits priority 3 or 4 tops right now and I need something less than 30 years of training. In this effort, I am looking to instructors who I respect and asking for help - I have yet to be told no. From that pro-action, I am trying to shut up and listen. This has turned into a bastardized style of inheritance; as I like to say, a buffet-style of picking out what I think is relevant. The danger here is to keep that inheritance for damaging curriculum, which is a real problem.

I think there are aikido people who several years ago reached out to sister arts to recover some of the fertility of aiki training in aikido. These people are now in the process of re-invigorating their instruction and I have yet to me one who has been resistant to sharing their experience. I think there are people in sister arts who have reached out to aikido to share their experience. The only people that have expressed prejudice and close-mindedness throughout my experience are in aikido.

Shameless plugs here, but Aikido South is going to have George Ledyard in December and Dan Harden in January. Come down and grab these guys. They are open, honest, concise and composed. I think understanding what is going (with these guys) on is a great perspective from which to craft constructive criticism.

Cliff Judge
09-30-2013, 02:13 PM
I think Aiki refers to a state wherein a person moves in accord with the ki of the universe. You do without doing, move without moving, you have no form, and technique spontaneously happens, exactly appropriate to circumstances.

The mind does not conflict with anything, it just touches the universe at the surface, allowing no space in between but not pressing into or clashing. And the body is perfectly in sync with the mind.

Bernd Lehnen
09-30-2013, 02:34 PM
A lot of the aikido teachers who do "interesting stuff" but can't explain it, learned by hands-on transmission... by "feel." Many old traditions in Asia were, and still are, taught this way. Very little descriptive terminology or systemic training, and mainly the teacher letting the student feel and eventually imitate, and inculcate, through touch.

So, it's not surprising that individuals with these skills don't know how to explain or describe what they are doing. I have had this experience as well. It takes integration between Eastern and Western teaching methods to arrive at a system that methodically teaches internal skills. A few have done it and are getting very good results from it.

That's so true.

I would have liked to meet Dan for the first time on a seminar earlier this summer here in Germany. Due to unforeseen snags arising, the event had to be cancelled. Luckily, I was able to meet one of his (not so longtime) students. We played a little bit around and he repeatedly stressed that all he could show me was only a pale shadow of Dan's abilities. But nevertheless, since I have felt this student I'm quite convinced that Dan has excellent methodology and teaching ability.
So my conclusion, there are (and will be) also people, who can teach and explain this stuff in an all out systematic way.

Best,
Bernd

OwlMatt
09-30-2013, 03:09 PM
Aiki is one of those things I try not to think about too much. It is clear that even in one educational generation, Takeda to Ueshiba, there is a great change in how the term is used and what the term is supposed to encompass. It's also pretty clear that Ueshiba expressed and talked about aiki in different ways throughout his career. What this means is that there are a whole lot of different ideas out there about what aiki is, and I think it would be a pretty presumptuous and largely fruitless endeavor for me to try to decide which one is "right".

I'd much rather spend my time trying to figure out what good aikido is; that's nebulous enough without trying to grab hold of a concept so broad and so varied in interpretation as aiki.

Chris Li
09-30-2013, 03:19 PM
Aiki is one of those things I try not to think about too much. It is clear that even in one educational generation, Takeda to Ueshiba, there is a great change in how the term is used and what the term is supposed to encompass. It's also pretty clear that Ueshiba expressed and talked about aiki in different ways throughout his career. What this means is that there are a whole lot of different ideas out there about what aiki is, and I think it would be a pretty presumptuous and largely fruitless endeavor for me to try to decide which one is "right".

I'd much rather spend my time trying to figure out what good aikido is; that's nebulous enough without trying to grab hold of a concept so broad and so varied in interpretation as aiki.

Most of the change in how the term is used came from Kisshomaru, rather than Morihei. If you look at what Morihei actually said it's not incompatible or even inconsistent with what comes from Takeda via the Daito-ryu lineages, and it doesn't really change from 1933 to the late 1960's, although it's clear that he gives various methods of explanation.

I'm curious as to how one can figure out what good "Aikido" is without the "Aiki", wouldn't that just leave "do"? :D

Best,

Chris

Cady Goldfield
09-30-2013, 03:57 PM
I'm curious as to how one can figure out what good "Aikido" is without the "Aiki", wouldn't that just leave "do"? :D


D'oh!

:D

Rupert Atkinson
09-30-2013, 04:58 PM
Aiki is one of those things I try not to think about too much. ... What this means is that there are a whole lot of different ideas out there about what aiki is, and I think it would be a pretty presumptuous and largely fruitless endeavor for me to try to decide which one is "right".

I'd much rather spend my time trying to figure out what good aikido is; that's nebulous enough without trying to grab hold of a concept so broad and so varied in interpretation as aiki.

I would say, you need to think about it. Or rather, find those who have thought about it and go seek them out, because then you might begin to find what you seek. If you do Aikido, it is your main task to seek aiki, in my opinion.

bkedelen
09-30-2013, 05:17 PM
Although this is a very nice echo chamber you guys have going, I'm not sure that the false dichotomy of the original post is something that will catalyze a real discussion on the topic. It is somewhat dishonest to inquire, "have you had the same experiences as me OR are you just training and hoping one day it will happen"?

Do you really want to have a discussion about the different groups out there developing usable skills through Aikido, Daito Ryu, and other esoteric jujutsu, or do you just want to circlejerk for a while longer about how you have already got an exclusive lock on the bona fide goods and everyone else is just grinding their gears?

Cady Goldfield
09-30-2013, 07:24 PM
Maybe there really is a specific definition of aiki, as Takeda taught to Ueshiba, but because of all of the schizms that have rendered aikido and Daito-ryu into myriad split-offs with varying degrees of that aiki, or none of it, other interpretations have arisen to fill the vacuum where it is lacking.

Rupert Atkinson
09-30-2013, 07:55 PM
Maybe there really is a specific definition of aiki, as Takeda taught to Ueshiba, but because of all of the schizms that have rendered aikido and Daito-ryu into myriad split-offs with varying degrees of that aiki, or none of it, other interpretations have arisen to fill the vacuum where it is lacking.

I like that thinking. Need to be positive, and logical.

mathewjgano
09-30-2013, 08:15 PM
If you do Aikido, it is your main task to seek aiki, in my opinion.
I disagree...at least, I think that is more true for the "serious" Aikido student. I don't think people have to be looking for aiki above all other things to do Aikido...or at least, that should vary perhaps dojo to dojo.

Is the main task of Chado to make the best possible cup of tea very quickly? Or is it more of an experiential process of being mindful? I think Aikido is, in general, more about the process than the acquisition of aiki.

Chris Li
09-30-2013, 08:21 PM
I disagree...at least, I think that is more true for the "serious" Aikido student. I don't think people have to be looking for aiki above all other things to do Aikido.

Sure, there are people who train for health, or social companionship, or whatever - and that's fine, if it fulfills your goals.

OTOH, if you're interested in investigating Aikido itself (as in "figuring out good Aikido") then I would think that it's hard to get around the necessity to investigate Aiki.

Best,

Chris

mathewjgano
09-30-2013, 09:29 PM
...I would think that it's hard to get around the necessity to investigate Aiki.

Certainly. My only point is I don't think it has to be the "main task," for "doing Aikido." I hope I didn't come across as suggesting anyone shouldn't investigate aiki. I'd recommend it to the most apathetic hobbyist, let alone anyone wanting to approach some level of mastery.

Gary David
09-30-2013, 10:00 PM
Certainly. My only point is I don't think it has to be the "main task," for "doing Aikido." I hope I didn't come across as suggesting anyone shouldn't investigate aiki. I'd recommend it to the most apathetic hobbyist, let alone anyone wanting to approach some level of mastery.

Matt Using an analogy I have held for a long time....Aikido is like a building with lots of floors with lots of rooms...taking the elevator that arises out of curiosity and a need to know, one can get off at any one of many floors.....though I think that some floors are not available without a working knowledge of the floor below them.

I think there is plenty to be learned on first few floors of the Aikido building, with some traces, some touches of Aiki part of the mix. To me real Aiki is in the floors above where access is limited by willingness of the individual to spent the time searching for the doors, willingness to spent a long time training, be willing to step back out of dead ends, figuring out who to trust, and some luck.

Having said all of this......do I know anything.....not likely, but I know it is out there while recognizing I may never get it.

Gary

OwlMatt
10-01-2013, 12:23 AM
Most of the change in how the term is used came from Kisshomaru, rather than Morihei. If you look at what Morihei actually said it's not incompatible or even inconsistent with what comes from Takeda via the Daito-ryu lineages, and it doesn't really change from 1933 to the late 1960's, although it's clear that he gives various methods of explanation.
Everything I see in a brief investigation of Daito is that aiki in the Daito context is a physical and martial principle. I think it's pretty clear that Ueshiba wanted to stretch aiki beyond those boundaries.
I'm curious as to how one can figure out what good "Aikido" is without the "Aiki", wouldn't that just leave "do"? :D

Best,

Chris
To hear Ueshiba tell it, the word aikido is just an arbitrary name that someone from the Ministry of Education came up with for Ueshiba's martial art. Ueshiba did not create the word as a guide for us to follow; he accepted the word because his art needed a name. We need to define the word according to our practice of the art, not try to make our practice of the art fit the word. I think it's putting the cart before the horse to look into the word aikido and break it down into its etymological parts, and then try to make our art fit those parts, as you seem to be suggesting.
Sure, there are people who train for health, or social companionship, or whatever - and that's fine, if it fulfills your goals.

OTOH, if you're interested in investigating Aikido itself (as in "figuring out good Aikido") then I would think that it's hard to get around the necessity to investigate Aiki.

Best,

Chris
What is this "Aiki" and how do I "investigate" it? Is there more to this investigation than aikido training?

Stephen Nichol
10-01-2013, 12:29 AM
I think Aikido to be The Way of Aiki. Can we have a discussion about aiki without mentioning ki I wonder? I think aiki is a learnable skill. The minute someone starts talking about ki, harmony, and the meaning of the universe, practical learning is lost.

If you don't think that Aikido is the Way of Aiki, they try to explain why not.

I think it is one of the ways of learning 'Aiki' and that it is supposed to be 'the way' as understood by M. Ueshiba as he was developing 'his martial art' as derived from what he learned from Takeda. To be clear, I think Ueshiba thought his 'way' would be a good way for others to learn about 'Aiki', perhaps not 'how to do it' but 'hey, this stuff is really powerful and I will show you, but it is up to you to learn/steal etc..' We know Ueshiba did not coin the name Aikido himself however thought it fit once it became used and so adopted it rather happily.

Just what is it we are supposed to be learning? Not the techniques, methinks. The techniques are the means to learn aiki. The various schools of Jujutsu (even Judo) have aiki-like katas or movements taught to seniors. I think Ueshiba took those ideas and created Aikido, and the techniques we have are meant to develop aiki, not become techniques unto themselves (as they seem to have become). I also think that if you understand aiki, you can put it into any technique - Judo, Jujutsu, or of course, your standard Aikido 'waza'.

I agree. It is not the techniques within themselves.

Anyway, few people out there are looking for aiki, or seeking ways to develop it. Most are just concerned with which way to do this or that 'waza', where to put the feet and how to twist uke this way or that, and what they need for the next grading, and so on. I was like that too for my first 20, yes TWENTY, years of training so I kind of understand 'the problem'. Can you understand this problem? Or do you think I am wrong - or that there is no problem?

I believe that techniques are expressions to demonstrate 'Aiki' when it is being performed correctly.
I would like to believe that as long as one understands the principle above and that they know what they are supposed to be developing within themselves, internally.. then perhaps it is possible to reverse engineer the techniques sort of speak, break them down to their very essence and develop 'Aiki' from that which can the be free of the technique/kata and be expressed any way it is needed, spontaneously and free from form/kata and applied to any style/art as one desires.

So even if you spent 20 years perhaps not quite on the path you now understand to 'exist', you can still draw from your understanding and experience and intelligently begin researching and investigating what you have been doing all this time and find that essence.

Kungfu has pushing hands etc., Systema has many interesting exercises, Aunkai too, and so on. Besides waza, what does Aikido have that helps us develop aiki? Or must people search beyond Aikido?

I would say that it really depends on your Aikido teachers. Some of us are fortunate or just plain lucky to have found a teacher that without knowing about CMA and IS/IP from the internet or any other source, can demonstrate some skill in it and teach how to replicate what they do in great detail. I will concede however that most likely the 'Aiki' abilities like those of Dan and his students not what is being demonstrated/taught or learned even if the teacher has some of it, by the general group of 'Aikidoka' out there. Ignorance is bliss sometimes... however I for one really want to get my hands on Dan or at the very very least, one of his higher level students, and find out how close my teachers 'way' is to that of Dan's so that I can rest easier in my training.


So ... aiki.
What is it?
Have you felt it?
Can you do something you think might be aiki?
Do you have the means to develop it?
Are you searching, or remain just content to be 'told'?
Have you sussed anything interesting?
Have you discerned any interesting principles that you can apply across a range of waza?
Can you move people that resist?
Can you take people's balance with subtle craft?
Or ... are you just training and hoping one day ... It'll just happen?

What is it? - I think my beliefs and feelings are pretty clear. It's the ability to absorb and nullify incoming force(s) and redirect them if desired to accomplish whatever outcome you wish.

Have you felt it? - I cannot be certain. There are times when I think I have and then I have to be honest and say by basis for comparison is pretty limited at this stage. Hence why I want to go meet Dan and train with him to find out if the path I am on is hopefully somewhat parallel and not going in the other direction.

Can you do something you think might be aiki? Well, if only at the most basic level, perhaps.

Do you have the means to develop it? If my teachers abilities are anything like Dan demonstrates when with others, then perhaps as she teaches a very details method of body movement that works in some degree to what I read about on here. Not everything to be sure.. but there is enough of it that I am hopeful.

Are you searching, or remain just content to be 'told'? Actively searching. Really wanted to get to Hawaii in July but things just could not line themselves up in a way that would allow it to be conducive to future/current events that need(ed) to happen. Perhaps in 2014 at some point, even if I have to fly all the way the US and spend as much time as I can afford...

Have you sussed anything interesting? - As I said, I have teachers here that can all demonstrate Aikido that is devoid of 'muscle' in the their movement and 'waza' but I have not seen any of them demonstrate the standing relaxed being pushed on at the chest shoulders as an example of not being moveable/throwable etc.

Have you discerned any interesting principles that you can apply across a range of waza? - Honestly I can not say for certain.

Can you move people that resist?[/U] - Yes. From static but with intent or ability to 'move' me if I do not move myself correctly through to moving attacks that are committed but not off balance/over committed and if I move incorrectly I actually create the resistance in them, they do not have to do it themselves... does that make sense to anyone?

[B]Can you take people's balance with subtle craft? - Sometimes yes. I understand to a limited degree what I need/should be doing with myself to do this but I cannot do it consistently and in all 'waza'. Some techniques it comes easier than others for me.

Or ... are you just training and hoping one day ... It'll just happen? - Both actually. I feel my training is giving me results that make it worth continuing. I still really want that comparison of getting my hands on Dan for an understanding of what many respected instructors on here seem to vouch for him on his abilities. Twice I have attend Gleason Sensei's seminars here in Australia and at the end of the second one I mentioned my intention to him about getting to Hawaii in July and he said I should do it and that Dan was the most powerful martial artist he had ever met.

Yes, this 'stuff', whatever you want to call it is the most important thing to me in my training. My Sensei knows about it because I and others in my dojo talk about 'it' and Dan and the testimonials by others of the demonstrations he has done. My own Sensei is encouraging me to go and learn as much as I can from him so I can 'finally rest' my need to know if the paths are parallel and to bring what I can to everyone else in the dojo who is interested in developing it.

I actually hope to learn what I can from Dan at some point and practice it daily and pass it along to my Sensei so it can become just part of what we teach everyone so they come to understand it as just a regular part of their Aikido class.

Also: Why is Dan no longer posting here? When did that happen and how did I miss it? There was so many little nuggets of gold/aiki to be mined from his posts. Hours of reading and then when training with others moments of 'ah hah!' Anyway.. Why no more Dan posts?

Chris Li
10-01-2013, 01:51 AM
Everything I see in a brief investigation of Daito is that aiki in the Daito context is a physical and martial principle. I think it's pretty clear that Ueshiba wanted to stretch aiki beyond those boundaries.

Certainly, but that doesn't mean that his streched definition was incompatible with the technical definitions of Daito-ryu. For Ueshiba they were not two distinct things, but one seamless whole. In fact, I would argue that it is impossible to sever one from the other without the result becoming something different from Ueshiba's Aiki, and that he said as much himself. But that's a longer discussion that I'll put together at some point, perhaps.


To hear Ueshiba tell it, the word aikido is just an arbitrary name that someone from the Ministry of Education came up with for Ueshiba's martial art. Ueshiba did not create the word as a guide for us to follow; he accepted the word because his art needed a name. We need to define the word according to our practice of the art, not try to make our practice of the art fit the word. I think it's putting the cart before the horse to look into the word aikido and break it down into its etymological parts, and then try to make our art fit those parts, as you seem to be suggesting.

The Ministry of Education story is, unfortunately, not true, even though it was one that came straight out of Ueshiba's own mouth. In any case, a quick read through "Take Musu Aiki" leaves little doubt as to his opinion on the importance of the word "Aiki".

What is this "Aiki" and how do I "investigate" it? Is there more to this investigation than aikido training?

There could be, or not, YMMV. :D I suspect that most people already know my opinions on how to investigate it...

Best,

Chris

mathewjgano
10-01-2013, 01:57 AM
Matt Using an analogy I have held for a long time....Aikido is like a building with lots of floors with lots of rooms...taking the elevator that arises out of curiosity and a need to know, one can get off at any one of many floors.....though I think that some floors are not available without a working knowledge of the floor below them.

I think there is plenty to be learned on first few floors of the Aikido building, with some traces, some touches of Aiki part of the mix. To me real Aiki is in the floors above where access is limited by willingness of the individual to spent the time searching for the doors, willingness to spent a long time training, be willing to step back out of dead ends, figuring out who to trust, and some luck.

Having said all of this......do I know anything.....not likely, but I know it is out there while recognizing I may never get it.

Gary
I like that a lot! Thank you, Gary! ...I imagine, too, the higher floor buttons in that elevator wouldn't be so obvious to the eye.

PaulF
10-01-2013, 03:39 AM
Walk around long enough in the mist you'll get wet

Fall in the river you'll get really wet really quick, but maybe a bit muddy as well and it helps to be able to swim

;)

Bernd Lehnen
10-01-2013, 05:29 AM
Aikido is like a building with lots of floors with lots of rooms...taking the elevator that arises out of curiosity and a need to know, one can get off at any one of many floors.....though I think that some floors are not available without a working knowledge of the floor below them.

I think there is plenty to be learned on first few floors of the Aikido building, with some traces, some touches of Aiki part of the mix. To me real Aiki is in the floors above where access is limited by willingness of the individual to spent the time searching for the doors, willingness to spent a long time training, be willing to step back out of dead ends, figuring out who to trust, and some luck.

Having said all of this......do I know anything.....not likely, but I know it is out there while recognizing I may never get it.

Gary

Hi Gary,
the problem may be that you (like so many of us) prefer the higher floors instead of going down into the basement, looking for the basics. :)

Best,
Bernd

OwlMatt
10-01-2013, 08:28 AM
There could be, or not, YMMV. :D I suspect that most people already know my opinions on how to investigate it...

Best,

Chris
I confess that I do not.

My feeling has always been that if a martial art purports to be built on principles, then those principles should be readily accessible in the actual physical practice of the art.

Back when I did taekwondo, my taekwondo instructor would end every class by having us recite the "tenets of taekwondo": courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. I always thought it was silly -- not that the tenets are silly things, but that it's silly to believe they are more connected to the practice of taekwondo than they are to anything else. Punching and kicking does not make us more courteous and courtesy does not make us any better at punching and kicking. The "tenets of taekwondo" are little more than an arbitrary and artificial attachment to an activity that has little to do with them.

By contrast, one of the things that appeals to me about aikido is how the principles on which it was founded are evident in the actual training. When Ueshiba talks about "the principle of non-resistance", he doesn't just mean something abstract to be meditated on; the principle of non-resistance is right there in our waza. Non-resistance is how aikido physically works.

If aiki is essential to our aikido, then (a) we should be able to explain what it is, and (b) we should be able to find it on the mat without any extracurricular investigating. I think that if we have to look outside aikido to find it, then it was never a part of aikido in the first place.

Cady Goldfield
10-01-2013, 08:46 AM
If aiki is essential to our aikido, then (a) we should be able to explain what it is, and (b) we should be able to find it on the mat without any extracurricular investigating. I think that if we have to look outside aikido to find it, then it was never a part of aikido in the first place.

It would be nice if that were so, but just like any other discipline, not every school and not every teacher is equal. And, aiki has been explained (here on AikiWeb). It's not a mysterious thing, only something that has been either kept a "secret" by some, incompletely learned and/or transmitted by others, or intentionally removed from a system in order to make it more easily taught and disseminated en masse.

If you lived in a country where baseball was introduced, but without the bat (let's say that the guy who brought it back from America decided the bat would be too difficult to manufacture), I suppose you would think that a bat was never part of baseball in the first place. And you probably would invent padded gloves for your hitting hand to protect it from 90 mph baseball impact, to make up for the absence of the bat (which was never a part of baseball...)

Gary David
10-01-2013, 09:26 AM
Hi Gary,
the problem may be that you (like so many of us) prefer the higher floors instead of going down into the basement, looking for the basics. :)

Best,
Bernd

Bernd
You may be right.....though I would say about myself I think I have a fair amount of foundation and have spent a reasonable amount of time with the basics having trained in Aikido since 1974. Much of what I pursue now is how to help my 71 year old body function in a world full of younger bodies where for me basics without Aiki no longer stand up. Everyone has to seek their own path.....mine is upward, not back into the basement.

Gary

phitruong
10-01-2013, 09:53 AM
Matt Using an analogy I have held for a long time....Aikido is like a building with lots of floors with lots of rooms...taking the elevator that arises out of curiosity and a need to know, one can get off at any one of many floors.....though I think that some floors are not available without a working knowledge of the floor below them.
Gary

you know some elevators in the U.S. have no 13th floor. i think that's where all the aiki went. now that i mentioned it, i need to stock up on candies. i am thinking of going as superman this year. wonder if the keg around the gut would still make me look good in tights. :)

Chris Li
10-01-2013, 10:25 AM
I confess that I do not.

My feeling has always been that if a martial art purports to be built on principles, then those principles should be readily accessible in the actual physical practice of the art.

Yes - and they are, but nothing this difficult is easily accessible. People's abilities vary - and more importantly, their ability to transmit their own skills vary. There have been a number of discussions about why this is especially true for Aikido, but I'm not going to go into them now.

By contrast, one of the things that appeals to me about aikido is how the principles on which it was founded are evident in the actual training. When Ueshiba talks about "the principle of non-resistance", he doesn't just mean something abstract to be meditated on; the principle of non-resistance is right there in our waza. Non-resistance is how aikido physically works.

It is, but I have a hunch that my explanation for that would be different than yours.


If aiki is essential to our aikido, then (a) we should be able to explain what it is, and (b) we should be able to find it on the mat without any extracurricular investigating. I think that if we have to look outside aikido to find it, then it was never a part of aikido in the first place.

That assumes that everybody who's teaching Aikido knows what they're doing (they don't - but that's true in any art), that everybody who's teaching Aikido was able to understand fully what Ueshiba was doing (they didn't - by their own admission), and that everybody who learned something of what Ueshiba was doing is able to explain and transmit what they were doing - and I think that there are a large number of people who feel that they weren't.

Morihei Ueshiba encouraged his students to go and experiment with other arts - as he himself did. It boggles my mind to see people today encouraging the exact opposite.

Best,

Chris

Alex Megann
10-01-2013, 10:37 AM
If you lived in a country where baseball was introduced, but without the bat (let's say that the guy who brought it back from America decided the bat would be too difficult to manufacture), I suppose you would think that a bat was never part of baseball in the first place. And you probably would invent padded gloves for your hitting hand to protect it from 90 mph baseball impact, to make up for the absence of the bat (which was never a part of baseball...)

Completely off-topic, but this is starting to sound like the game of Fives, played in some British private schools:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_HhARbcw7g

Alex

OwlMatt
10-01-2013, 11:48 AM
Yes - and they are, but nothing this difficult is easily accessible. People's abilities vary - and more importantly, their ability to transmit their own skills vary. There have been a number of discussions about why this is especially true for Aikido, but I'm not going to go into them now.
Of course, we must allow for the obvious truth that not all aikido is good aikido, and not all aikido transmits what it is intended to transmit.

It is, but I have a hunch that my explanation for that would be different than yours.
Probably, but we seem to agree here, so let's not push it.

That assumes that everybody who's teaching Aikido knows what they're doing (they don't - but that's true in any art), that everybody who's teaching Aikido was able to understand fully what Ueshiba was doing (they didn't - by their own admission), and that everybody who learned something of what Ueshiba was doing is able to explain and transmit what they were doing - and I think that there are a large number of people who feel that they weren't.
I think this is more of what we were talking about above.

Morihei Ueshiba encouraged his students to go and experiment with other arts - as he himself did. It boggles my mind to see people today encouraging the exact opposite.

Best,

Chris
I have no problem with cross-training.

jonreading
10-01-2013, 11:55 AM
Although this is a very nice echo chamber you guys have going, I'm not sure that the false dichotomy of the original post is something that will catalyze a real discussion on the topic. It is somewhat dishonest to inquire, "have you had the same experiences as me OR are you just training and hoping one day it will happen"?

Do you really want to have a discussion about the different groups out there developing usable skills through Aikido, Daito Ryu, and other esoteric jujutsu, or do you just want to circlejerk for a while longer about how you have already got an exclusive lock on the bona fide goods and everyone else is just grinding their gears?

Ummm..The internal people do a lot of weird exercises - I am not sure if that is one of them...

I still have yet to hear a serious instructor working with IP/AIKI exclude anyone from their training. I think there are fair criticisms about internal training, I think the argument of exclusion is not one of them. You can choose not to participate, but that is different from being excluded.

Some of this stuff boils down to preference. In another thread, I had a dialogue with Cliff about the preference of translations. I think aiki is a large topic and some aikido people have a smaller perspective with which they are content to accept as the entirety of their perspective. That does not mean their perspective is wrong, but it implies their preference is not the limit of the topic.

I enjoy math. I am quite content to limit my exposure to math in my daily. I am sure quadranomials are nice - but I have no desire to make them part of my life. My preference is neither a criticism of my enjoyment for math, nor my opinion of quadranomials. It is simply a limit of my experience.

Matthew touched on this... Not everyone training shares the same preferences or expectations of success. I think we can respect those differences as long as we honestly assess the scope of those differences. I have no doubt there are many people practicing aikido who honestly could care less about aiki. I think there are many people who could care less about kata. I think their are many people who could care less about ranking. I think the thread is more about sharing our preference and exploring the scope that preference establishes.

I think you have a VoE expressing his preference in training and soliciting others to express theirs. I think he would be quite open to listening to your training experience and reasoning behind your preferences.

I have been shot in the ass lucky. ASU is a great organization to explore internal training. We have support from our shihan and leading instructors, several of whom are exploring this stuff with great success. We happen to be close to Sensei in Florida, we have some great instructors down here that are willing to share/beat up us. We have great relationships with others who are working on this stuff. All of these factors shaped my preference to explore IP/Aiki. None of that is a criticism against aikido here in Atlanta, predominantly USAF. It is simply an expression of mine/our dojo's preference to give this stuff a shot. I reserve the right to judge after a period of evaluation.

phitruong
10-01-2013, 12:48 PM
I still have yet to hear a serious instructor working with IP/AIKI exclude anyone from their training. I think there are fair criticisms about internal training, I think the argument of exclusion is not one of them. You can choose not to participate, but that is different from being excluded.


hey, i excluded people! of course i am not a serious instructor or serious of any kind so that should be ok, right? i excluded people who has no sense of humor, taking themselves too seriously, jerks, aliens (especially the ones from Uranus), and some guy goes by the name of jon reading. :D


I have been shot in the ass lucky. ASU is a great organization to explore internal training. We have support from our shihan and leading instructors, several of whom are exploring this stuff with great success.

i thought the same thing. i couldn't be in an organization that won't explore. that would just drive me nuts.

Gary David
10-01-2013, 01:18 PM
....... Not everyone training shares the same preferences or expectations of success. I think we can respect those differences as long as we honestly assess the scope of those differences. I have no doubt there are many people practicing aikido who honestly could care less about aiki. I think there are many people who could care less about kata. I think their are many people who could care less about ranking. I think the thread is more about sharing our preference and exploring the scope that preference establishes.


Jon
It is my feeling that Aikido today is structurally (not content) much like the the koryu are/were...... many many many different approaches and product. Even Aikido dojo within the same organization put out different product. It is something we have to accept and learn to live with. We seem to share a common father with few of the children looking or moving alike.....and the grandchildren are totally different.
Gary

Bernd Lehnen
10-01-2013, 01:19 PM
Bernd
You may be right.....though I would say about myself I think I have a fair amount of foundation and have spent a reasonable amount of time with the basics having trained in Aikido since 1974. Much of what I pursue now is how to help my 71 year old body function in a world full of younger bodies where for me basics without Aiki no longer stand up. Everyone has to seek their own path.....mine is upward, not back into the basement.

Gary

Gary, at our age …..:)
It still is up to us.

Once you have got the first tiny seed of aiki, it will grow in you. You will know it right away. Of course, you are free to go wherever you want, any floor of the house, even outside the house.

Best,
Bernd

Gary David
10-01-2013, 01:48 PM
Gary, at our age …..:)
It still is up to us.

Once you have got the first tiny seed of aiki, it will grow in you. You will know it right away. Of course, you are free to go wherever you want, any floor of the house, even outside the house.

Best,
Bernd

Bernd
I have had some touches over the years....played with John Clodig for over 35 years, with Walter Muryasz for as long, touched most of the old dogs (including Tohei Sensei in the 70's), have had Dan Harden in my home 6 times, Howard Popkin once, spent a couple of sessions with Mike Sigman back some time ago, played with a couple of good Chinese folks, with some Karate and Escrima folks as well as talked with a lot of others......so don't don't worry about me, though I thank you for your concern and thoughtfulness.....
Gary

jonreading
10-01-2013, 03:07 PM
hey, i excluded people! of course i am not a serious instructor or serious of any kind so that should be ok, right? i excluded people who has no sense of humor, taking themselves too seriously, jerks, aliens (especially the ones from Uranus), and some guy goes by the name of jon reading. :D

i thought the same thing. i couldn't be in an organization that won't explore. that would just drive me nuts.

It took me a minute to catch this post, Phi is on my ignore list. He is also on my degrade list. Not that he needs help...degrading him...self.

HL1978
10-01-2013, 03:16 PM
I think Aiki refers to a state wherein a person moves in accord with the ki of the universe. You do without doing, move without moving, you have no form, and technique spontaneously happens, exactly appropriate to circumstances.

The mind does not conflict with anything, it just touches the universe at the surface, allowing no space in between but not pressing into or clashing. And the body is perfectly in sync with the mind.

Some of this sounds like the concept of mushin. Do you see them being inter related or as someting different?

Bernd Lehnen
10-01-2013, 03:20 PM
Bernd
I have had some touches over the years....played with John Clodig for over 35 years, with Walter Muryasz for as long, touched most of the old dogs (including Tohei Sensei in the 70's), have had Dan Harden in my home 6 times, Howard Popkin once, spent a couple of sessions with Mike Sigman back some time ago, played with a couple of good Chinese folks, with some Karate and Escrima folks as well as talked with a lot of others......so don't don't worry about me, though I thank you for your concern and thoughtfulness.....
Gary

Thank you Gary. The list is quite impressive. But then, how come....

Gary Welborn wrote: 

Having said all of this......do I know anything.....not likely, but I know it is out there while recognizing I may never get it.

Gary


The "you" in my last post was intended to be read as an including one. Better had I written:

Once we have got the first tiny seed of aiki, it will grow in us. We will know it right away. Of course, we are free to go wherever we want, any floor of the house, even outside the house.


Best,
Bernd

Cliff Judge
10-01-2013, 03:24 PM
Some of this sounds like the concept of mushin. Do you see them being inter related or as someting different?

They are definitely related - the mind needs to be calm and clear for aiki to freely express itself through you. I think a different way to say this is that if you stay relaxed and centered you can operate as one with your intuitive faculties, and the proper technique will flow from you.

If you watched somebody in this state it would look a lot like a crazy old man demonstrating techniques from an apparently vast syllabus.

(So I gather, anyway....)

bkedelen
10-01-2013, 03:48 PM
Thanks Bernd for that perfect example of how people are excluded by default on this subject. I often wonder how you aiki guys remember who is supposed to have it and who doesn't. It must get confusing after a while.

Gary David
10-01-2013, 08:02 PM
But then, how come....
Best,
Bernd

Bernd
Never one to talk myself up. Clear to me (to myself) what my capabilities are and also what I don't know. I am also not concerned about what I don't know....the path(s) is there if I choose to go down them. This late in the game time becomes a factor.......just so.
Gary

Bernd Lehnen
10-02-2013, 04:22 AM
Bernd
Never one to talk myself up. Clear to me (to myself) what my capabilities are ..... This late in the game time becomes a factor.......just so.
Gary

Gary,
I didn't expect otherwise from you. I can see your point.
Hope you are well.:)

Best,
Bernd

Rupert Atkinson
10-02-2013, 04:32 AM
Well, it certainly looks like others are interested in the same questions. At the end of the day, while we have few answers from 'authority', it is of course important to start asking the right questions.

Bernd Lehnen
10-02-2013, 04:34 AM
Thanks Bernd for that perfect example of how people are excluded by default on this subject. I often wonder how you aiki guys remember who is supposed to have it and who doesn't. It must get confusing after a while.

Hi Benjamin,
No reason to feel excluded. Either one can show or not. For the rest, everyone is unsure wether what he feels as his aiki could be exactly the same as someone else's . Even Sagawa is said to have remarked this.
So you have a good point here.

Best,
Bernd

Cliff Judge
10-02-2013, 09:02 AM
Thanks Bernd for that perfect example of how people are excluded by default on this subject. I often wonder how you aiki guys remember who is supposed to have it and who doesn't. It must get confusing after a while.

You sneak up on somebody in the grocery store and try to push them over as hard as you can!

Cady Goldfield
10-02-2013, 09:14 AM
The aiki that made Sokaku and Morihei powerful, is a product of very specific physical creation. It is demonstrable and teachable; however, it is not one simple "thing," but a sophisticated combination of physical actions and mental processes. That's why people who practice this body method are so reticent to lay it out on an internet forum. It's a lot of work.

The one open source I can think of for understanding aiki, is the collected works of Sam F.S. Chin, current headmaster of an internal martial art called I Liq Chuan. Although this is a Chinese art, and the term "aiki" is thus not used, it -is- aiki and internal power in pure form, and, IMO, more sophisticated in its applications than in any internal system, Japanese or Chinese, that I have ever seen or experienced.

If anyone here is truly, deeply interested in what aiki is, your best bet is to look up I Liq Chuan and maybe order a copy of Mr. Chin's book and some of his DVDs that cover the foundational work for developing internal power and aiki.

Cliff Judge
10-02-2013, 10:31 AM
The aiki that made Sokaku and Morihei powerful, is a product of very specific physical creation. It is demonstrable and teachable; however, it is not one simple "thing," but a sophisticated combination of physical actions and mental processes. That's why people who practice this body method are so reticent to lay it out on an internet forum. It's a lot of work.

Saying something is "a product of very specific physical creation" in one sentence and then saying it is "a sophisticated combination of physical actions and mental processes" on the other seems contradictory.

Keith Larman
10-02-2013, 10:50 AM
Contradictory? It takes tremendous physical training over a tremendous amount of time to play piano technically well. So a talented person plays there is a fantastic amount of skill and training driven by the mental and emotional content of the pianist.

Cliff Judge
10-02-2013, 11:15 AM
Contradictory? It takes tremendous physical training over a tremendous amount of time to play piano technically well. So a talented person plays there is a fantastic amount of skill and training driven by the mental and emotional content of the pianist.

Is learning to play the piano well the result of a very specific process? I guess I can see that. I might be confused by a lack of clear division between training and application of This Stuff when people talk about it.

Piano is an interesting analogy. If you had two warriors, and one came from a camp where learning how to fight was about as difficult as learning to play piano, and another came from a camp where learning how to fight was about as difficult as learning to play football, and each had about one year of training...which do you think would survive a fight?

Keith Larman
10-02-2013, 11:57 AM
Is learning to play the piano well the result of a very specific process? I guess I can see that. I might be confused by a lack of clear division between training and application of This Stuff when people talk about it.

Piano is an interesting analogy. If you had two warriors, and one came from a camp where learning how to fight was about as difficult as learning to play piano, and another came from a camp where learning how to fight was about as difficult as learning to play football, and each had about one year of training...which do you think would survive a fight?

You must be kidding... I both trained formally in classical piano most of my young life. And I enjoyed football. So? And what the hell are you talking about?

How about the 6'4 250 pound lean, athletic kid with a bad atittude who loves piano... That's who'd win the fight.

Geez... I must be missing something... We are intentional creatures. We do not move solely as "machines" in any non-trivial task. There is an entire system of conscious and subconscious control involved in most every non-trivial task involving movement. The skills in any task involve developing physical attributes, physical skills, but also mental skills even at the tiniest levels.

Seriously, I must be missing your point here.

jonreading
10-02-2013, 12:01 PM
Is learning to play the piano well the result of a very specific process? I guess I can see that. I might be confused by a lack of clear division between training and application of This Stuff when people talk about it.

Piano is an interesting analogy. If you had two warriors, and one came from a camp where learning how to fight was about as difficult as learning to play piano, and another came from a camp where learning how to fight was about as difficult as learning to play football, and each had about one year of training...which do you think would survive a fight?

Since its here I am going to use it as a point of comparison for something I have noticed in my training...

I think a fair goal of mainstream aikido is to disseminate a curriculum that creates a pre-disposition to understand and apply aiki. The actual expression of aiki is complex and not everyone will actually find that path. Some number of students pre-disposed to understand what is happening are exposed to aiki and pick up some quality of aiki and express it in their waza. Not everyone gets it and not everyone cares.

In the analogy above, the problem is surviving a fight in one year. The duration of preparation is one year. The consideration of study is between music (specifically piano) and athletics (specifically football). The question would be, "Which curriculum is going to leave you pre-disposed to understand fighting, given neither curriculum directly instructs fighting? The actual curriculum you should learn is answer is of course hockey.

I am not going to bite on a comparison between the complexity of curriculum. The armchair quarterback in me regularly criticizes the education level of those who play football, but I do not have the presumption in me to subjectively judge the "difficulty" of either. The idea is that each curriculum focuses on a different goal.

This does bring up a regular point of issue for martial artists who compare arts. Curriculum can craft a directed route to a goal. If my goal is to be an effective fighter in one year, that path is different from another's goal to find an low-stress athletic activity; both goals can be satisfied in aikido. This leads my back to my observation that I believe mainstream aikido is trying to balance a curriculum that is consumable to a large number of practitioners, but also pre-disposes the most number of practitioners to experience aiki.

I think this thread is about finding out how we can adjust the balance of training and curriculum to maximize our personal exposure to, and training in, aiki. I think in that adjustment we have a responsibility to respect the entire body of curriculum. As a point of instruction, I think instructors also have a responsibility to respect the abilities of the students and their exposure to aiki. This is the problem with socialized curriculum. Academically, we necessarily exclude individuals who cannot consume the curriculum. English 100 may include engineers and biology majors. But English 375? Nope, just english and communication majors. Will an english major write more better than a engineer? Arguably, yes. Can an engineer write adequately? Arguably, yes. Is an english major better than an engineering major? Maybe at cooking fries... (sorry, some academic humor there).

Cliff Judge
10-02-2013, 12:26 PM
You must be kidding... I both trained formally in classical piano most of my young life. And I enjoyed football. So? And what the hell are you talking about?

How about the 6'4 250 pound lean, athletic kid with a bad atittude who loves piano... That's who'd win the fight.

Geez... I must be missing something... We are intentional creatures. We do not move solely as "machines" in any non-trivial task. There is an entire system of conscious and subconscious control involved in most every non-trivial task involving movement. The skills in any task involve developing physical attributes, physical skills, but also mental skills even at the tiniest levels.

Seriously, I must be missing your point here.

Sorry Keith that's a tangent.

I said:

Saying something is "a product of very specific physical creation" in one sentence and then saying it is "a sophisticated combination of physical actions and mental processes" on the other seems contradictory.

And you said:

Contradictory? It takes tremendous physical training over a tremendous amount of time to play piano technically well. So a talented person plays there is a fantastic amount of skill and training driven by the mental and emotional content of the pianist.

Since you have experience with learning to play the piano, please answer me this:

Is the skill of playing piano well the result of BOTH "a very specific physical creation" and ALSO the result of "a sophisticated combination of physical actions and mental processes?"

My tangental thought was that if it is so hard to learn/do (I sometimes get confused as to whether people are refering to the training methodology or the application of This Stuff) then it is not something warriors would truck with...but that's really neither here nor there and I shoulda let that through ripen a bit before sharing.

Cliff Judge
10-02-2013, 12:48 PM
Since its here I am going to use it as a point of comparison for something I have noticed in my training...

I think a fair goal of mainstream aikido is to disseminate a curriculum that creates a pre-disposition to understand and apply aiki. The actual expression of aiki is complex and not everyone will actually find that path. Some number of students pre-disposed to understand what is happening are exposed to aiki and pick up some quality of aiki and express it in their waza. Not everyone gets it and not everyone cares.

In the analogy above, the problem is surviving a fight in one year. The duration of preparation is one year. The consideration of study is between music (specifically piano) and athletics (specifically football). The question would be, "Which curriculum is going to leave you pre-disposed to understand fighting, given neither curriculum directly instructs fighting? The actual curriculum you should learn is answer is of course hockey.

Oh crap you are right, I chose the wrong sport. :p

Just for the sake of clarification, my very strained metaphor was meant to compare two styles of fighting which have different levels of complexity, or levels of difficulty in being able to master and put into practice the concepts. I'm not sure if something as difficult to learn and master as This Stuff would be popular with professional fighters. But so what - very few of us here are professional warriors, and those who are work on the modern battlefield.

I am not sure about your statement that modern Aikido intends to disseminate the ability to understand and use Aiki. You can say that, and I can say that, but we might be talking about different things.

Keith Larman
10-02-2013, 12:48 PM
Since you have experience with learning to play the piano, please answer me this:

Is the skill of playing piano well the result of BOTH "a very specific physical creation" and ALSO the result of "a sophisticated combination of physical actions and mental processes?"

Unless I'm not understanding the terms correctly, the answer is "yes". You need to practice, train, teach your body to do new things. You need to develop a tremendous amount of skilled control. And the very process of playing involves a huge amount of focus, mental energy, intent, whatever. I was in a recital many years ago playing all three movements of Beethoven's Moonlight for a large auditorium. I remember playing about the first 2 measures of the first movement. My next memory was realizing I was letting the last note linger a bit too long. I sat back from the keyboard and realized I was drenched with sweat and vaguely started to get my orientation back. It is exhausting physically and mentally.

Keith Larman
10-02-2013, 12:55 PM
If your point is choosing a means to becoming a better fighter faster or more efficiently, well, that's fine if that's your goal. If your goal is learning a specific art, Aikido in this instance, the question starts with defining what makes Aikido "Aikido" and then from there talking about methods to gaining master in that particular art. We might then say that Aikido isn't the best choice for training warriors to head out in to battle next week and instead go with krav maga. Or we might decide that the training we'll do will focus on "deadly ninja skills" first and foremost then develop the rest later. Okay, fine, but that's all about how to train, how to get there, what your goals are, etc.

But none of those really address the first part -- namely identifying what it is to do Aikido. And if you don't start from a common understanding (which is clearly evident in this case) then I'm not sure the second conversation matters.

In other words if you believe Aikido is defined as Cady has up above then the means of getting that skill is what it is and the other objections aren't relevant to that definition.

But I'm posting from a less than optimal place while I wait incessantly for stuff to happen here. So I'm leaving the conversation. I honestly don't get it.

Cliff Judge
10-02-2013, 01:13 PM
Unless I'm not understanding the terms correctly, the answer is "yes". You need to practice, train, teach your body to do new things. You need to develop a tremendous amount of skilled control. And the very process of playing involves a huge amount of focus, mental energy, intent, whatever. I was in a recital many years ago playing all three movements of Beethoven's Moonlight for a large auditorium. I remember playing about the first 2 measures of the first movement. My next memory was realizing I was letting the last note linger a bit too long. I sat back from the keyboard and realized I was drenched with sweat and vaguely started to get my orientation back. It is exhausting physically and mentally.

Thanks for the clarification, I get it now. I agree with what you are saying and I think Cady was saying the same type of thing. It just sounded like she was saying that the training process is very specific and singular (only one road leading to Rome) and at the same time extremely complex and diverse. Now, even then, it could just be one very complicated road leading to Rome. But I think Cady was talking about the thing itself in the first phrase - the This Stuff - and in the second, she was describing the training process for developing it.

It is interesting that you comment that first you figure out what Aikido is supposed to teach and then you remove the obstacles to learning that...the difficulty in figuring out what Aikido is supposed to teach is probably why we are all here in this strange little subforum in the first place. Maybe the reason why Takeda and Ueshiba got no shortage of people in the door was because Japanese folks in the late Meiji through early Showa days were starving for This Stuff. They had an notion of what the masters of yore could do and they wanted that. These days, people take up Taiji largely because they heard it was a way to keep yourself healthy as you age, and they take up Aikido because they heard it has a unique philosophy about how to resolve conflict.

Rupert Atkinson
10-02-2013, 02:10 PM
Contradictory? It takes tremendous physical training over a tremendous amount of time to play piano technically well. So a talented person plays there is a fantastic amount of skill and training driven by the mental and emotional content of the pianist.

I like the piano analogy too. I am a teacher and over the years have noticed a few things. Sometimes, you get two kids who can both play beautiful piano - all learned by heart of course. But one will be able to create whereas the other will just not be able to do anything but copy. So, who is better? Kinda obvious I guess. And back to Aikido - I think most people are just at the level of trying to copy.

jonreading
10-02-2013, 02:15 PM
Oh crap you are right, I chose the wrong sport. :p

Just for the sake of clarification, my very strained metaphor was meant to compare two styles of fighting which have different levels of complexity, or levels of difficulty in being able to master and put into practice the concepts. I'm not sure if something as difficult to learn and master as This Stuff would be popular with professional fighters. But so what - very few of us here are professional warriors, and those who are work on the modern battlefield.

I am not sure about your statement that modern Aikido intends to disseminate the ability to understand and use Aiki. You can say that, and I can say that, but we might be talking about different things.

I think you have a point about the extreme complexity of IS training. As a specific example, I think the training style is not suited for everyone. My point later in my post was about the goal of generalized education. Aikido is a generalized education for the exact point you list - most of us are not professionals in aikido. The curriculum of mainstream aikido is consistent with the level of investment most of us practice - hobby. This is not a criticism - the teaching should match the expectation. I think we get out of whack when we believe 2 classes a week of falling down = aiki master in 15 years.

My point about modern aikido is directed at the concept of generalized education. The curriculum should be directed at educating the largest number of practitioners to a level where they can see/touch/do aiki in their career. I think there is criticism modern aikido can no longer satisfy that goal. If this is the case, aikido will need to change its curriculum to target a smaller, more capable, demographic of practitioners or introduce elements that are better at producing aiki. Or both. I think regardless of what you think is aiki, we need to assess whether aikido curriculum is accomplishing its goal of education.

Aiki is a specific training. Tomiki has kata different from USAF from Yoshinkan. I find myself defending aiki as a point of illustrating that we are generally accepting of different training methods, even ridiculous ones (FYI, Phi regularly trains with ribbons). Yet we seem to have little tolerance for aiki training. Moreover, I am not sure aiki training should be part of modern aikido. The Aikikai made a decision to remove weapons from its curriculum. Why? Because the Aikikai felt they could continue communicating the weapons principles via empty-hand and the specialized curriculum of weapons was unattractive to a large market of practitioners (whether that is happening is another debate). I enjoy weapons and I feel they are important to training. However, I also understand the decision.

Finally, I think aiki runs into a problem because is real. I think it is a pill to swallow to recognize what you have been doing ain't IS. Buy Gleason's DVD and in a week you can feel this stuff. Spend a weekend with Dan and he will have you feel this stuff. Its a snake oil that works and we are caught calling it snake oil, but at the same time you're better. We are left saying,"well, it's not what I am doing and [I believe] I am doing aiki, therefore it cannot be aiki." We forget to face the other possibility, that what we are doing isn't aiki. But we can add "yet" and figure out how.

Seriously, I had that conversation in my head about 5 years ago. My answer? "F^%k this." Since then I have been working to figure out how to get this stuff into my aikido.

Cliff Judge
10-02-2013, 04:17 PM
My point about modern aikido is directed at the concept of generalized education. The curriculum should be directed at educating the largest number of practitioners to a level where they can see/touch/do aiki in their career. I think there is criticism modern aikido can no longer satisfy that goal. If this is the case, aikido will need to change its curriculum to target a smaller, more capable, demographic of practitioners or introduce elements that are better at producing aiki. Or both. I think regardless of what you think is aiki, we need to assess whether aikido curriculum is accomplishing its goal of education.

Here's what I think is a problem with a general re-engineering of Aikido to have more This Stuff in it. How are you going to get people to sign the registration forms and put their checks in the box every month? We can't even define what we are talking about here; it is complicated and difficult to train it, it is just as hard to describe what it is. People are still talking around the actual training methodologies on this forum. If you want to change Aikido to have This Stuff there needs to be writing about it, pictures, videos, all of that.

Aikido doesn't need all that hassle - people hear about how it has a great philosophy, it has a meditative aspect to it, it is about resolving conflict constructively, and that's what attracts people. People come and watch class and they see people performing these circular movements, being centered, leading and connecting, and they go, that's great!

Rupert Atkinson
10-02-2013, 04:51 PM
We can't even define what we are talking about here; it is complicated and difficult to train it, it is just as hard to describe what it is. People are still talking around the actual training methodologies on this forum. If you want to change Aikido to have This Stuff there needs to be writing about it, pictures, videos, all of that.


You know, I teach English (and Japanese) and English teachers still can often not agree on what is or is not a good or a bad essay. Their opinions differ vastly, but, they continue to teach and test all the same. It's normal. Maybe for Aikido, it could be the new normal.

Keith Larman
10-02-2013, 05:01 PM
Since I've been off and on bored out of my mind hanging out at a hospital for a relative...

I think Cliff here has a point and it is something I've been trying to convince folk of for years. Yeah, I'm in the IS camp. I've been quite honored to have time on the mat with quite a few really talented folk over the years. I do see a consistent story underlying all this stuff and I do think that this is pretty much what Takeda and O-sensei were doing. But that said I recognize that Tohei had his take on things. As did Kisshomaru. And each deshi themselves had different views in to what was going on. And as a result all of them are doing some aspect of Ueshiba's Aikido. All of them. Even where they differ. And I am at a loss to understand why that's hard for people to grok.

A tree is often used to represent a lineage. And yes, the lineage goes off in all sorts of different branches forming new branches themselves. And that's fine. But so many want to ask "Which one is the real deal?". And frankly I don't think the question has an answer. Or the answer isn't going to be satisfying. Because they all are. And they all aren't. Ueshiba Morihei is gone. Takeda is gone. What we have is what we have now.

Now some will continue to argue that "aiki" is this or that or something else. I am cool with that because it is all those things depending what branch you happen to be swinging from. And I'm *perfectly* happy to acknowledge that the one I'm on, the ideas I have, my understanding of Aiki is itself a branch somewhere on that same tree. I'd like to think from my own experiences and my own time spent that it is relatively close to the trunk, but I'm also not so concerned about it if it's not. It just is what it is.

The beauty of Aikido in today's world is that it is widely available, popular and accessible. And I think there's some really great stuff out there being done in styles that have a totally different take on what aiki is from my own. I may disagree that it is the same thing, but hey, opinions vary. And just because I don't want to do what that guy over there is doing because I think it lacks the essential aiki core that I see as important doesn't mean I think what they're doing is worthless. Just not on the right track for me. For instance I know one guy who is remarkable in his timing, flow, relaxation and everything else who can do really amazing stuff. But at the same time he doesn't have that core of Aiki that I want. But I respect his ability and have zero problem saying he's doing aikido, because frankly he is. Is it the same as what Ueshiba and Takeda were doing? Well, not IMHO but hell, who cares what I think. And the style he does is popular, well designed, beloved by its practitioners, and I think does a world of good for their students. And I don't need to be the one to argue about their "legitimacy". It's not my concern. And not my place.

So I don't worry much about these things. I do, however, spend a lot of time training myself. I do spend a lot of time trying to figure out ways to improve my teaching to help transmit what I think is going on to those handful who I train with. Which is exactly what everyone else should be doing with whatever the heck it is they think Aikido is for them. And more branches will form, more bifurcations happen. If this stuff is worthy and worthwhile it will grow stronger. And the branch will itself grow. If not, it will go away.

Okay, that's enough random blather from me today as I sit on a plastic chair huffing cleaning fumes in the waiting room... Carry on... :)

Cady Goldfield
10-02-2013, 05:03 PM
Saying something is "a product of very specific physical creation" in one sentence and then saying it is "a sophisticated combination of physical actions and mental processes" on the other seems contradictory.

Hi Cliff,
I don't think so at all. IMO, a good physicist can give a brief synopsis of what string theory is, but to get to the point where he can do so, he had to understand some complex concepts to great depth. It's kinda like that. Not that aiki is as complicated as string theory. It ain't. :) There is a basic set of processes one must gain some proficiency in, but then there are myriad variations and nuances in how to use it, and to mix it up...and that's where the sophistication is.

Sometimes, the simpler something seems, the more sophisticated it turns out to be because someone (or someones) refined it over time and presented it in a teachable way that the rest of us can comprehend and do.

Chris Li
10-02-2013, 05:25 PM
Here's what I think is a problem with a general re-engineering of Aikido to have more This Stuff in it. How are you going to get people to sign the registration forms and put their checks in the box every month? We can't even define what we are talking about here; it is complicated and difficult to train it, it is just as hard to describe what it is. People are still talking around the actual training methodologies on this forum. If you want to change Aikido to have This Stuff there needs to be writing about it, pictures, videos, all of that.

Dan's posted some very succinct and informative definitions right here on Aikiweb. Anyone who comes and trains with us welcome to as much detail as they can handle, but a conversation on an internet forum isn't really the right medium for it. For that matter, there's not much in the way of detailed description of training methodologies even for conventional Aikido on the forums - and nobody seems to feel the lack.

If the money is an issue for you then that's fine, but around here we don't worry about checks every month - commercial viability just isn't an issue for us. Neither is "trying to change Aikido", I'm just worried enough about my own training and the folks who train with us - there is no secret movement afoot to change what anybody and everybody else is doing.


Aikido doesn't need all that hassle - people hear about how it has a great philosophy, it has a meditative aspect to it, it is about resolving conflict constructively, and that's what attracts people. People come and watch class and they see people performing these circular movements, being centered, leading and connecting, and they go, that's great!

And that's fine. But there's a place for deeper training as well.

Just because people like Tiger Woods exist doesn't mean that people can't go off and just hang out with their buddies and whack a couple of balls once a month.

Best,

Chris

bkedelen
10-02-2013, 06:33 PM
In case anyone was inclined to believe the above spin, the actual reason is that folks at seminars are asked not to discuss the material online in an attempt to keep it exclusive and monetizable. Most of the threads on this subject are marketing dressed up as discussion. Personally, I very much look forward to a frank discussion of training modalities instead.

Chris Li
10-02-2013, 06:56 PM
In case anyone was inclined to believe the above spin, the actual reason is that folks at seminars are asked not to discuss the material online in an attempt to keep it exclusive and monetizable. Most of the threads on this subject are marketing dressed up as discussion. Personally, I very much look forward to a frank discussion of training modalities instead.

If that's true than I'm looking forward to seeing some money, because I haven't seen a dime yet.

Dan, FWIW, rarely makes much of a profit coming out here anyway, but hanging out with us may make up for it. :D

Also FWIW, Dan's never discouraged me from talking about what he's doing in any medium I choose to use - in fact he has specifically stated that he didn't want people to hold information to themselves.

Like Sam says - "the secrets protect themselves", it's just too damn hard for most folks.

Best,

Chris

bkedelen
10-02-2013, 07:08 PM
To be clear, I never said there was a problem with people making money (or not ) from their hard work, nor with them and their friends using a popular forum to market that work. I don't even claim that the information should be free, since it never has been before (although nobody else is nearly as allergic to youtube as you folks).

I just want to be a part of a respectful and mutually beneficial online discussion of internal training modalities, and am hoping one comes into existence at some point.

Cady Goldfield
10-02-2013, 07:10 PM
What Chris said. Sums it up.
Benjamin, we have had discussions here on aiki, right in this forum. Somehow, and perhaps not surprisingly, they did not get far because in words it just comes across as so esoteric. We could try it again, though.

Rupert Atkinson
10-02-2013, 07:58 PM
What Chris said. Sums it up.
Benjamin, we have had discussions here on aiki, right in this forum. Somehow, and perhaps not surprisingly, they did not get far because in words it just comes across as so esoteric. We could try it again, though.

I understand this exactly. it is hard to explain in words. I can do some stuff, for example, but I am not sure if the stuff I am doing is what you or anyone else is doing. The only way to know is to meet and exchange ideas in person. I think people have been slowly waking up - for a few years now - but the thing is, most of the discussions I see end up off at some tangent into the mysterious ki world of fluff. Not that they may be wrong, but rather that it just makes no sense to the rational mind. For me, aiki is a physical skill that can be learned and taught (if one knows what one has learned). But to even get that far, I think people need to recognize it as aiki (rather than ki) so that exchange - even in person - can progress. If someone tells me to transmit my ki from my tanden into my partner to control him I will just smile politely and not come back. If someone shows me how he transmits the power from his foot to his hand in an efficient powerful manner I will be all ears - to see if it is the same or different to what I do, and to see if there is anything I can add to make what I do better. And so on. Thus, I think it is important to think of Aikido as being The Way of Aiki, rather than some fluffy alternative. I can't even begin to engage people in conversation about it, let alone practise anything, unless they can at least get that far into my mind.

Cliff Judge
10-02-2013, 11:31 PM
One problem you all seem to have is that you can't seem to separate the training methods from the application. We've established that aiki is numinous; it is not really a thing without a couple of different forces coming together, right? So what do you actually do when you wake up in the morning at the crack of dawn or when you begin your last three-hour solo training session at one in the morning?

Alex Megann
10-03-2013, 05:48 AM
One problem you all seem to have is that you can't seem to separate the training methods from the application. We've established that aiki is numinous; it is not really a thing without a couple of different forces coming together, right? So what do you actually do when you wake up in the morning at the crack of dawn or when you begin your last three-hour solo training session at one in the morning?

I think the point that a lot of people are making on this thread is that aiki is NOT numinous: it doesn't come to you like divine grace. It's a physical skill that you have to train hard to get good at.

Actually I do a lot of my solo training lying in bed (I mean that seriously, by the way). There are a set of solo drills that are designed to be performed standing up, but they work just as well lying down.

Alex

Cady Goldfield
10-03-2013, 07:20 AM
One problem you all seem to have is that you can't seem to separate the training methods from the application. We've established that aiki is numinous; it is not really a thing without a couple of different forces coming together, right? So what do you actually do when you wake up in the morning at the crack of dawn or when you begin your last three-hour solo training session at one in the morning?

Cliff,
I don't think that aiki is numinous, but that it is one concept that is made up of a number of component parts, like the famous elephant in the story of the five blind men and the pachyderm. There are different principles involved in its expression, and one can learn some basic aiki skills and express only a couple of those principles. Not the complete picture, yet still aiki.

As far as what I actually do for solo training... I always start with exercises that condition body alignment -- stacking of the joints so that there is minimal use of muscle tension to hold my body up, and certain muscles and muscle groups typically used to hold us up and to effect arm and shoulder movement (among other things), are thus relaxed and have potential energy to be utilized for other things. The potential for internal power begins with joint alignment. That's step one.

chillzATL
10-03-2013, 07:21 AM
One problem you all seem to have is that you can't seem to separate the training methods from the application. We've established that aiki is numinous; it is not really a thing without a couple of different forces coming together, right? So what do you actually do when you wake up in the morning at the crack of dawn or when you begin your last three-hour solo training session at one in the morning?

When was that ever established?

morph4me
10-03-2013, 07:23 AM
In case anyone was inclined to believe the above spin, the actual reason is that folks at seminars are asked not to discuss the material online in an attempt to keep it exclusive and monetizable. Most of the threads on this subject are marketing dressed up as discussion. Personally, I very much look forward to a frank discussion of training modalities instead.

Right, it's a conspiracy:rolleyes:

chillzATL
10-03-2013, 07:27 AM
Right, it's a conspiracy:rolleyes:

let's not mention the pages upon pages of threads on this site alone doing exactly what he seems to be waiting for...

jonreading
10-03-2013, 09:04 AM
In case anyone was inclined to believe the above spin, the actual reason is that folks at seminars are asked not to discuss the material online in an attempt to keep it exclusive and monetizable. Most of the threads on this subject are marketing dressed up as discussion. Personally, I very much look forward to a frank discussion of training modalities instead.

If you have attended one of these seminars you know this is false; if you have heard this second-hand, the information is incorrect hearsay; if you have no direct experience, then you have no basis on which to make this claim. Speaking from personal experience, I was asked not to discuss the material because:
1. I am not competent to explain it.
2. A significant component of the curriculum is physical feedback that cannot be adequately expressed verbally or technically.

Of course, we do have copyright and patent protections for a reason. I wonder who would feel comfortable if someone was running around incorrectly explaining a methodology [you] designed. Since that poor reflection would ultimately be upon you. I express frustration here because either this kind of stuff is calculated to mislead readers, or it is prejudicial against those who train in it. Why not make the same claim when [your] organization's shihan teach a seminar. Clearly, the seminar is monetized and the instruction is proprietary to the instructor.

One problem you all seem to have is that you can't seem to separate the training methods from the application. We've established that aiki is numinous; it is not really a thing without a couple of different forces coming together, right? So what do you actually do when you wake up in the morning at the crack of dawn or when you begin your last three-hour solo training session at one in the morning?

Kuriowa Sensei used to talk about training that preceded kata, kihon waza. The best I can tell so far is IP is something that should always exist before waza (as a matter of being, to be more precise). In theory, if you are practicing aikido, you would be training IP with every technique or exercise. The problem is kata is often difficult enough - the idea of solo exercises is to provide a different environment in which to focus on a portion of the entire relationship between partners. In this sense, the training is similar to the simplification we have seen elsewhere; the removal of a second attack, the specification of kata, the speed at which we train. All of this solutions are designed to allow us to focus our efforts in learning.

And yes, it sucks to commit to training 4-5 hours daily. This is why IP is not for everyone. Standing naked in the bathroom waiting for the shower to heat up is now training time. Mirrors are not my friend. Or the spousal/familial training. There is nothing quite like the "you're an idiot" look from the wife when you ask her to push on your chest with slow, building pressure. Or the anxiety of asking a 4-year old to push daddy knowing that maybe you get a push, maybe you get a tiny fist in your crotch. Usually, a tiny fist in your crotch.

phitruong
10-03-2013, 09:16 AM
So ... aiki.
What is it?

aiki, in chinese, is hua jin. found this article sufficiently describe it http://latcmwellnesscenter.com/184.html . by the way, there can be only one jin. :)


Have you felt it?


yes. from a few in aikido and a few outside of aikido.


Can you do something you think might be aiki?


yes. don't have to think. i know i do.


Do you have the means to develop it?


yes. based on the teaching from a bunch of internal folks that taught me.


Are you searching, or remain just content to be 'told'?


always searching and questioning. never be happy with what you got; otherwise, you won't learn and get complacent and developing some sort of aiki-god complex. btw, i am an aikigod, especially, when i do pair ribbon dance with Jon in tights. :D


Have you sussed anything interesting?


yes. too many to discuss here.


Have you discerned any interesting principles that you can apply across a range of waza?


yes. many principles that i can apply to all of my martial arts practice.


Can you move people that resist?


yes. and depends on their skill level. can't move folks who are better than i am.


Can you take people's balance with subtle craft?


yes. and depends on their skill level. can't do it to folks who are better than i am.


Or ... are you just training and hoping one day ... It'll just happen?

it happens. you just have to work for it and do it in a methodical manner. and testing it out on unsuspecting aikido folks.

Cliff Judge
10-03-2013, 09:45 AM
I really don't understand why you folks spend so much energy having non-factual conversations about your things.


I started my morning with exercises that condition my cardiovascular capacity. Moving blood through my veins at a higher than resting rate and moving more air into and out of my lungs, and breaking a little bit of sweat. I then moved onto exercises that strengthen the muscles around the core of my body. Tensing and releasing muscle groups. I finished off with exercises that lengthen major muscle groups in my arms and legs. Increased cardio capacity improves my heart's ability to function at rest, and warm, lengthened muscles are less prone to injury as I move about my day!


There now I can claim that I have provided all the details of my morning workout. If anyone were to say that I did not provide any type of actual description of what I did I will simply tell them that there have been many many threads on the subject you should use the search button. As well, there are plenty of teachers out there doing This Stuff and you have plenty of opportunities to go find out about it yourself.

At any rate, describing what i actually did is impossible because you have to do it to know what it is.

sakumeikan
10-03-2013, 10:29 AM
In case anyone was inclined to believe the above spin, the actual reason is that folks at seminars are asked not to discuss the material online in an attempt to keep it exclusive and monetizable. Most of the threads on this subject are marketing dressed up as discussion. Personally, I very much look forward to a frank discussion of training modalities instead.

Dear Ben,
On the one hand we have people on this forum who state that D.H wants his student to inform others[unless I am reading things incorrectly ].At the same time as far as I am aware nobody has given specifics or any actual examples of what is being shown.You get some guys saying they are integrating DHs stuff in their own practice.Wonderful, why do these guys not give us an idea of what D.H is all about.Maybe if we got a clue to whats being shown[a video snip for example]D.H. might find his workload would increase?Could the I/S guys be in a clique???Is it like a Masonic Order? Do you need to sign a document in blood? Do you swear on the Talmud,/Bible or any other holy book, not to reveal the secrets, on pain of death /or sitting through a repeat showing of the Man from Atlantis?? Cheers,Joe.

sakumeikan
10-03-2013, 10:34 AM
I think the point that a lot of people are making on this thread is that aiki is NOT numinous: it doesn't come to you like divine grace. It's a physical skill that you have to train hard to get good at.

Actually I do a lot of my solo training lying in bed (I mean that seriously, by the way). There are a set of solo drills that are designed to be performed standing up, but they work just as well lying down.

Alex

Dear Alex,
Dear God , Alex, the mind boggles at the thought {your horizontal exercises?]What no partner practice???Cheers, Joe.

Bernd Lehnen
10-03-2013, 10:43 AM
Oh c'mon Joe,
Cady has explicitly given Sam Chin and his DVD's as an open source. Anyone can look him up on youtube. Sam says that there, actually, is nothing to learn. But he certainly is worth a look.
So, why do you insist on Dan? What drives you to do this?

I think the point that a lot of people are making on this thread is that aiki is NOT numinous: it doesn't come to you like divine grace. It's a physical skill that you have to train hard to get good at.

Actually I do a lot of my solo training lying in bed (I mean that seriously, by the way). There are a set of solo drills that are designed to be performed standing up, but they work just as well lying down.

Alex

Only that I would like to say, that training hard isn't all to get good at it. Investigating intelligence and creativity, having fun, patience, consistency etc., are also good ingredients. And if we had a knack for it, if we were cut out for it, that would be best.

Of course, training hard can be fun. But so many have and haven't got very far.

Best,
Bernd

sakumeikan
10-03-2013, 10:45 AM
I really don't understand why you folks spend so much energy having non-factual conversations about your things.

There now I can claim that I have provided all the details of my morning workout. If anyone were to say that I did not provide any type of actual description of what I did I will simply tell them that there have been many many threads on the subject you should use the search button. As well, there are plenty of teachers out there doing This Stuff and you have plenty of opportunities to go find out about it yourself.

At any rate, describing what i actually did is impossible because you have to do it to know what it is.

Dear Cliff,
So as I read it you do a bit of cardio/stretching/Misogi /Qi Kung /Prana breathing ? and something akin to isometrics?Nothing particularly esoteric in these methods. Join any gym and you can get instruction on any of the above.So as I see it if this is Internal Strength training its nothing new.
I did Charles Atlas stuff years ago, [isometrics] , went running, I do breathing exercises regularly , hate stretching.I would not say I am doing I.S.Cheers, Joe.

Alex Megann
10-03-2013, 10:55 AM
Dear Alex,
Dear God , Alex, the mind boggles at the thought {your horizontal exercises?]What no partner practice???Cheers, Joe.

Calm down now, Joe...

Alex

Cliff Judge
10-03-2013, 11:03 AM
Dear Cliff,
So as I read it you do a bit of cardio/stretching/Misogi /Qi Kung /Prana breathing ? and something akin to isometrics?Nothing particularly esoteric in these methods. Join any gym and you can get instruction on any of the above.So as I see it if this is Internal Strength training its nothing new.
I did Charles Atlas stuff years ago, [isometrics] , went running, I do breathing exercises regularly , hate stretching.I would not say I am doing I.S.Cheers, Joe.

The analogy is not good because cardio training, core strengthening, and stretching are trivial matters. I can give a very vague description of what I did and what I was trying to get out of it and you can think of a number of things that I could have done.

But in point of fact, I ran two miles, balanced on my butt with my legs raised and hugged my knees then extended my legs 100 times without letting my feet touch the floor, then I sat up, spread my legs as wide as is comfortable, and gently bent towards my left foot, focusing on keeping my back straight and lengthened. I held that pose for abotu two minutes then switched to my right leg.

Now imagine I were to make claims that my particular pattern of exercise was the only real way to attain cardio vascular health, core strength, and limber leg muscles, and that you could NOT, in fact, attain this instruction at most gyms. But I and the people who trained with me would never actually supply a paragraph like the one above this one, just thread after thread about how awesome the cardio, core strength, and flexibility benefits are.

Cady Goldfield
10-03-2013, 11:05 AM
Both men and their methods are worth a close look. I pointed out I Liq Chuan in particular because it's the best of the approaches for gaining a basic understanding of IP/aiki I've seen, to date, that is openly available and accessible outside of a seminar or one-on-one training, via videos, DVDs and written material. Maybe there are better systems for developing aiki and internal power, but if they are not accessible to you, then what good are they? Trees falling in a lonesome forest.

Oh c'mon Joe,
Cady has explicitly given Sam Chin and his DVD's as an open source. Anyone can look him up on youtube. Sam says that there, actually, is nothing to learn. But he certainly is worth a look.
So, why do you insist on Dan? What drives you to do this?

Only that I would like to say, that training hard isn't all to get good at it. Investigating intelligence and creativity, having fun, patience, consistency etc., are also good ingredients. And if we had a knack for it, if we were cut out for it, that would be best.

Of course, training hard can be fun. But so many have and haven't got very far.

Best,
Bernd

Mert Gambito
10-03-2013, 11:09 AM
Mike Sigman posted this a long while ago: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=130279&postcount=5. Seems no one at the time or since bothered to take this two(-of-six)-directional exercise out for a spin, try it out and report back.

How do you know if you're doing it correctly? Anyone irresponsible enough to try to offer remote adjustments without hands-on through his/her keyboard -- that's on you. If that just adds to some readers' frustration, then it is what it is: this is just too poor a medium to properly impart the necessary feedback. Ditto even if a given would-be tire-kicker out there got a hold of Mike's, Akuzawa's or ILC videos. For those frustrated folks out there, what are your experiences in trying the exercises depicted on those videos without hands-on feedback from a sempai in those respective methodologies?

Shugyo, especially of this flavor, is still best done in person. Then the discussions that were frustrating become meaningful.

Cady Goldfield
10-03-2013, 11:19 AM
Shugyo, especially of this flavor, is still best done in person. Then the discussions that were frustrating become meaningful.

Of course.

Chris Li
10-03-2013, 11:30 AM
The analogy is not good because cardio training, core strengthening, and stretching are trivial matters. I can give a very vague description of what I did and what I was trying to get out of it and you can think of a number of things that I could have done.

But in point of fact, I ran two miles, balanced on my butt with my legs raised and hugged my knees then extended my legs 100 times without letting my feet touch the floor, then I sat up, spread my legs as wide as is comfortable, and gently bent towards my left foot, focusing on keeping my back straight and lengthened. I held that pose for abotu two minutes then switched to my right leg.

Now imagine I were to make claims that my particular pattern of exercise was the only real way to attain cardio vascular health, core strength, and limber leg muscles, and that you could NOT, in fact, attain this instruction at most gyms. But I and the people who trained with me would never actually supply a paragraph like the one above this one, just thread after thread about how awesome the cardio, core strength, and flexibility benefits are.

And any good running coach will tell you that "running two miles" tells one very little about what you actually did or did not do during that run - and that's a relatively simple conventional exercise. Just as "I did shiho-nage" tells me very little about what you're actually doing or not doing without a common frame of reference.

Nobody that I know has ever claimed that what we're doing is the only way to do anything - Dan has said that specifically on Aikiweb many times, and people in this very thread have given real world examples of other people doing the same or similar things.

Best,

Chris

bkedelen
10-03-2013, 11:40 AM
Speaking from personal experience, I was asked not to discuss the material

Its false but also happened to you personally. I rest my case.

bkedelen
10-03-2013, 12:54 PM
If that just adds to some readers' frustration, then it is what it is: this is just too poor a medium to properly impart the necessary feedback. Ditto even if a given would-be tire-kicker out there got a hold of Mike's, Akuzawa's or ILC videos.

Videos of Sigman, Ark, Ushiro and others didn't hurt me any, and any frustration they caused me is just part of the process. After years of training internal skills, the better videos offer really important access to what you missed when you were not ready to see. I would LOVE to see videos from the Harden camp, but for whatever reason they are too cool for school.

Alex Megann
10-03-2013, 12:54 PM
In case anyone was inclined to believe the above spin, the actual reason is that folks at seminars are asked not to discuss the material online in an attempt to keep it exclusive and monetizable. Most of the threads on this subject are marketing dressed up as discussion. Personally, I very much look forward to a frank discussion of training modalities instead.

This is so plain wrong it's hard to think how to respond. Dan never said ANYTHING like this at the seminar I attended in April. He certainly encouraged us to practise it with our students. I have never thought of this stuff as any kind of commercial "business" - mainly because in the modern world it is so hard to make much money out of it at all. This argument has gone round and round already on this site several times and has got pretty stale.

I am sure that there have been several quite comprehensive and open discussions on AikiWeb of the training exercises that both Dan and Mike Sigman teach. I spent a few minutes searching the forums earlier today, but gave up after a while - perhaps others have more patience (or a more organised bookmarking system).

Alex

Rob Watson
10-03-2013, 01:10 PM
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21951

Post 93 in particular ....

hughrbeyer
10-03-2013, 01:28 PM
In case anyone was inclined to believe the above spin, the actual reason is that folks at seminars are asked not to discuss the material online in an attempt to keep it exclusive and monetizable. Most of the threads on this subject are marketing dressed up as discussion. Personally, I very much look forward to a frank discussion of training modalities instead.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. This is completely out of line. You are not entitled to just make up slander about people through this forum.

"Exclusive and monetizable?" What a crock. DH's whole goal right now is to train people who will be able to teach the methods themselves. I've trained with a double handful of them myself. If you haven't, that's on you.

You've got no idea what kind of person the man is, what he's about, or what he's trying to accomplish. I'd suggest some humility.

evileyes

bkedelen
10-03-2013, 01:43 PM
I should not have claimed to know the motive behind the prohibition. I just wanted to point out that the prohibition exists since people are wondering why the material is not presented or discussed. I made no statement about what kind of person Harden is, and I don't have a problem with him (although I find you sycophants irritating).

Andy Kazama
10-03-2013, 01:43 PM
As you have probably noticed, there is a lot of scrutiny placed on the ins and outs of IP training. I think it is perfectly reasonable to expect someone who has been to A SINGLE Saturday/Sunday seminar, and given the very basics of the material to avoid attempting to explain SPECIFICS of a particular methodology in a permanent medium like the internets. There was no blood oath, and I didn't have to re-name my child, "DH". Aikido South Dojo has been specifically working on this since Feb, so no, I'm not going to broadcast my continuously evolving understanding on the subject, which would only serve to confuse people. We have had students come in, and we ALWAYS show them what we know in person, with the understanding that things will need to be updated. There are no hidden secrets/agendas/money-making schemes, but it seems a bit pretentious to explain exactly how something works after a single seminar. I think this is very different than publicly giving support for the subject matter or discussing it on a very broad level. I absolutely hate getting into this debate, but seriously, this seems like it is getting a little out of hand -- particularly since Dan isn't even here to defend himself!

Mert Gambito
10-03-2013, 01:44 PM
Videos of Sigman, Ark, Ushiro and others didn't hurt me any, and any frustration they caused me is just part of the process. After years of training internal skills, the better videos offer really important access to what you missed when you were not ready to see. I would LOVE to see videos from the Harden camp, but for whatever reason they are too cool for school.

Dan has an express no-dice policy regarding videos.

As for other forms of dissemination, his training model is simply based on hands-on. Similar to Chris, I've never been asked, nor can I think of anyone in Hawaii who's been asked, not to openly discuss the training model or specific exercises therein. That also applies to what's been imparted here by Mike Sigman and Sam Chin.

Speaking for myself, I just don't see the point in trying to discuss online the details of methods that are so nuanced and subtle that they take years to get right with first-hand assistance and dialogue in person. Ditto for waza, shiatsu, and the other aspects of my practice.

If you've gleaned and obtained training material and knowledge through your own pursuits, then that's excellent, and is what anyone genuinely seeking to attain ability must do. If you're interested in Dan's material as a possible component, then the path is the same as for anyone else who's been interested enough to look into it.

hughrbeyer
10-03-2013, 01:58 PM
I should not have claimed to know the motive behind the prohibition.

Thank you.

I just wanted to point out that the prohibition exists since people are wondering why the material is not presented or discussed. I made no statement about what kind of person Harden is, and I don't have a problem with him (although I find you sycophants irritating).

I am just as much a sycophant for any of my friends. I feel a new sig line coming on.

I repeat, lots of people at this point are out there teaching their interpretation of IS and acknowledging their debt to Dan. (I'm phrasing that intentionally--everyone filters what they learn through their own experience, and no one is trying to be a carbon copy, sycophant or no.)

Rupert Atkinson
10-03-2013, 02:01 PM
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21951
Post 93 in particular ....

That is good info. Couldn't understand all of it as it is not all part of my frame of reference. But I liked it. Shall read it again later.

jonreading
10-03-2013, 02:05 PM
Its false but also happened to you personally. I rest my case.

I am not sure why you quoted me out of context, or why you chose to truncate my statement. Adding back in the colon and points, the entire comment:
Speaking from personal experience, I was asked not to discuss the material because:
1. I am not competent to explain it.
2. A significant component of the curriculum is physical feedback that cannot be adequately expressed verbally or technically.

Taken within context, what I was saying is that your derogatory comment about the purpose behind a general abstinence from explaining aiki as it is shared by another instructor was false, either intentionally or through ignorance. Changing what I wrote is simply a continuation of that derogation. I understand that my personal experience contradicts your claim. I understand you have a belief system based upon your claim, and that belief is challenged by my personal experience.

Since I was quoted, I am going to assume the remainder of that post was read about generalizing this behavior and the prejudice that seems to be focused against IP. I would have the same comments if I attended a seminar with any instructor who shared information above my pay grade. I am not sure why the target is IP. Why not torifune? That's a stupid solo exercise that is breathing and intent and movement. Why not ki exercises? Misogi? Tenkan undo? Somewhere in all of this is a is a couch question that is going to expose what is the real issue with IP training. Then we all hug it out and use a box of Kleenex.

In the meantime, critique what I say but please do not change it. These forums are here forever and I am not fond of the thought in 10 years I will eat crow over something that was misquoted. I'm sure I will say plenty of stupid things between now and then for which I will be sufficiently embarrassed.

Lee Salzman
10-03-2013, 02:09 PM
Dear Ben,
On the one hand we have people on this forum who state that D.H wants his student to inform others[unless I am reading things incorrectly ].At the same time as far as I am aware nobody has given specifics or any actual examples of what is being shown.You get some guys saying they are integrating DHs stuff in their own practice.Wonderful, why do these guys not give us an idea of what D.H is all about.Maybe if we got a clue to whats being shown[a video snip for example]D.H. might find his workload would increase?Could the I/S guys be in a clique???Is it like a Masonic Order? Do you need to sign a document in blood? Do you swear on the Talmud,/Bible or any other holy book, not to reveal the secrets, on pain of death /or sitting through a repeat showing of the Man from Atlantis?? Cheers,Joe.

From my experience, trying to show the material to others, in-person, people have largely been unimpressed. Now, why is that? Because the material is such that even if you knew exactly what to do on a conceptual level, that conceptual knowledge imparts almost zero actual ability on how to do it. It takes many years of specific body conditioning to start manifesting skill at even a rudimentary level. It's depressing, it's hard, it's disconcerting, and people who are simply not excited about the material a priori won't get why a person like me would be excited about something that I am both so bad at and have spent so much effort on just to be this bad at it.

Even when you've seen, say, some exercises to work on, it is very easy to underestimate the importance of them and why, in retrospect, they will help to produce the final outcome that is desired. There's really only so much you can say or show about them, but after you work them for some years they expose a bewildering and never-ending stream of problems to solve.

So, okay, let's take the base level of body harmony. You want a body where, everywhere on the surface, on contact with someone or something, it needs to neither push back or yield away from it. You are a mountain, still and impervious, and any force coming into you merely echoes back out - mountain echo. You're not resisting anything. You're not evading anything. You're not even moving - externally you are completely still. Your mind is being profoundly neutral, expressing itself in all directions so that none is left out at no place on your body. Everywere to anywhere else on your body, you are supported. In the limit, when you are good at just this, it makes you difficult to be pushed, pulled, yanked, thrown, tripped, etc. And how do you get there? Years and years of solo intent work, and partnered work practicing that against which you are trying to remain profoundly neutral towards in the first place - force, from your partner, uke, opponent, or whatever you choose to call whom you practice with.

... And that's not even aiki at all. It's just basic internal power. Conceptually, it's boring, but it's probably the most important thing you can ever be good at amongst the collection of skills. And when you finally get some paltry level of ability with that? Oh wait, there's more, that was just the beginning!

Now that you have a profoundly neutral body that can support anything on contact, you have to get that whole in-yo thing, yin and yang, opposing powers, expressing everywhere on your profoundly neutral body, so that any force you exert in your body, everywhere, is always balanced within itself, never escaping you, and especially never going into or away from anything.

Imagine this seesaw with two kids playing on it. (http://static5.depositphotos.com/1007989/413/i/950/depositphotos_4132874-Seesaw.jpg)
Now imagine you were to push down on the very center of the seesaw, that is supported by the fulcrum underneath, while the kids were merrily going up and down. What would you feel there? It would hopefully feel immovable, and all the while the kids are knocking you all over place with little to no effort - though I can't account for how shoddy modern playground construction might be or how sadistic or not the kids might be.

Conceptually, again, it's oh-so-mundane and boring after staring at it forever, it's just a fulcrum and lever, so every spot on your body, without even needing to move, is like the middle of an active lever supported by a neutral fulcrum. But just getting the body to do it, standing still, without having to move, motion in stillness, is immensely difficult. Then wait, you have to be able to do it while moving, and then fighting, all while maintaining that same balanced and neutral stillness in motion. And what does a body that is expressing yin and yang everywhere on its surface look like in the end? Very spirally, so thus you practice.

And, oh, wait, once you're good at that, there's still even more stuff to work on beyond that, and, well, just look at those two above things. Doing those two things alone is nigh impossible, and only because it just takes boat-loads of intensive solitary work, not a waza to boost one's ego in sight, that will leave you doubting it most days, with oh-so-many things to screw up, that even with regular supervision by someone who knows what they are doing, and even having a firm conceptual grounding in what is to be trained, it's still not going to add up to much of anything for a loooong time... So fun, right?

So what's really to say in the end? If you really want to learn it at all, you just need to go out and see a professional, and they're very hard to find by means of understanding the difficulty of the recipe. Reading some descriptions online really is never going to cut it.

Cady Goldfield
10-03-2013, 02:57 PM
IME, if you get good instruction and feedback, it should -not- take many years to develop basic or rudimentary skills. I've seen people start to be able to "do stuff" within 6 months, under the right teacher.

Yes, you have to practice, and practice mindfully. And, there are infinite layers of skill that we'll spend the rest of our lives striving for as we refine and build on what we have. But that is not the same thing as being given the tools at the outset to start building your foundation. If it took years and years to get a foundation in, we'd all be living in grass huts. ;)

Gerardo Torres
10-03-2013, 06:04 PM
IME, if you get good instruction and feedback, it should -not- take many years to develop basic or rudimentary skills. I've seen people start to be able to "do stuff" within 6 months, under the right teacher.

Yes, you have to practice, and practice mindfully. And, there are infinite layers of skill that we'll spend the rest of our lives striving for as we refine and build on what we have. But that is not the same thing as being given the tools at the outset to start building your foundation. If it took years and years to get a foundation in, we'd all be living in grass huts. ;)
In my experience it could take a few years to even get some basic skills -- unless you're a training animal unlike us half-assing it :D. If it's "stupid jin tricks", sure, a few months or even weeks could create enough mind-body connection. But it mostly depends on what a particular teacher considers base skills. For example, if the aim is IP, hara/dantian development has to take place, and manipulating that stuff takes years and years. If the model involves spiraling, that's going to take a long time to manifest in waza and even more time in high-pressure stuff like sparring and fighting. Some teacher might think connection/dantian/spiraling is all fundamental, so the dividends are going to take some time.

Even after getting some rudimentary skills, it will not be very convincing to an observer as Lee's excellent post has said above. I will add though, that one thing that the observer cannot fully measure, is how the IP player feels inside, like the level of ease, balance, and freedom of movement they feel when performing a certain task. In early development I personally might not be a compelling case when trying to have an observer feel the difference of IP vs no-IP (my own personal fault and nothing to do with the material or teacher). But the way I feel pre-IP and post-IP training is certainly a paradigm shift for me. For example performing a demanding aikido or weapons routine, and comparing what it felt like before and after IP training, and realizing that IP allows me to perform the same routine with only a fraction of the energy, better balance, and better external effect (again, not too noticeable from the outset at first, but a vast difference on how I feel). This aspect of progress is even harder if not impossible to convey in written form.

Stephen Nichol
10-03-2013, 06:19 PM
From my experience, trying to show the material to others, in-person, people have largely been unimpressed. Now, why is that? Because the material is such that even if you knew exactly what to do on a conceptual level, that conceptual knowledge imparts almost zero actual ability on how to do it. It takes many years of specific body conditioning to start manifesting skill at even a rudimentary level. It's depressing, it's hard, it's disconcerting, and people who are simply not excited about the material a priori won't get why a person like me would be excited about something that I am both so bad at and have spent so much effort on just to be this bad at it.

Even when you've seen, say, some exercises to work on, it is very easy to underestimate the importance of them and why, in retrospect, they will help to produce the final outcome that is desired. There's really only so much you can say or show about them, but after you work them for some years they expose a bewildering and never-ending stream of problems to solve.

So, okay, let's take the base level of body harmony. You want a body where, everywhere on the surface, on contact with someone or something, it needs to neither push back or yield away from it. You are a mountain, still and impervious, and any force coming into you merely echoes back out - mountain echo. You're not resisting anything. You're not evading anything. You're not even moving - externally you are completely still. Your mind is being profoundly neutral, expressing itself in all directions so that none is left out at no place on your body. Everywere to anywhere else on your body, you are supported. In the limit, when you are good at just this, it makes you difficult to be pushed, pulled, yanked, thrown, tripped, etc. And how do you get there? Years and years of solo intent work, and partnered work practicing that against which you are trying to remain profoundly neutral towards in the first place - force, from your partner, uke, opponent, or whatever you choose to call whom you practice with.

... And that's not even aiki at all. It's just basic internal power. Conceptually, it's boring, but it's probably the most important thing you can ever be good at amongst the collection of skills. And when you finally get some paltry level of ability with that? Oh wait, there's more, that was just the beginning!

Now that you have a profoundly neutral body that can support anything on contact, you have to get that whole in-yo thing, yin and yang, opposing powers, expressing everywhere on your profoundly neutral body, so that any force you exert in your body, everywhere, is always balanced within itself, never escaping you, and especially never going into or away from anything.

Imagine this seesaw with two kids playing on it. (http://static5.depositphotos.com/1007989/413/i/950/depositphotos_4132874-Seesaw.jpg)
Now imagine you were to push down on the very center of the seesaw, that is supported by the fulcrum underneath, while the kids were merrily going up and down. What would you feel there? It would hopefully feel immovable, and all the while the kids are knocking you all over place with little to no effort - though I can't account for how shoddy modern playground construction might be or how sadistic or not the kids might be.

Conceptually, again, it's oh-so-mundane and boring after staring at it forever, it's just a fulcrum and lever, so every spot on your body, without even needing to move, is like the middle of an active lever supported by a neutral fulcrum. But just getting the body to do it, standing still, without having to move, motion in stillness, is immensely difficult. Then wait, you have to be able to do it while moving, and then fighting, all while maintaining that same balanced and neutral stillness in motion. And what does a body that is expressing yin and yang everywhere on its surface look like in the end? Very spirally, so thus you practice.

And, oh, wait, once you're good at that, there's still even more stuff to work on beyond that, and, well, just look at those two above things. Doing those two things alone is nigh impossible, and only because it just takes boat-loads of intensive solitary work, not a waza to boost one's ego in sight, that will leave you doubting it most days, with oh-so-many things to screw up, that even with regular supervision by someone who knows what they are doing, and even having a firm conceptual grounding in what is to be trained, it's still not going to add up to much of anything for a loooong time... So fun, right?

So what's really to say in the end? If you really want to learn it at all, you just need to go out and see a professional, and they're very hard to find by means of understanding the difficulty of the recipe. Reading some descriptions online really is never going to cut it.

Thanks for this Lee. Between your post above and reading this post from Dan in another thread (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=319572&postcount=93) really helps me understand what it is I will feel when I am looking for it.

If I understand correctly, someone who has the most most basic part of In Yo/Yin Yang internalized will be unmovable when pushed upon from any angle on their body while standing naturally, feet shoulder width apart, no deep stances etc.. and even be able to lift one leg at a time while the push is being applied. Generally the push is applied to their upper body.

So until such time as I can go a meet Dan, I can try to find a Taiji (or someone proclaiming internal ability) teacher and ask them to let me try and push them over. If I cannot push them.. it may be worth sticking around to learn the basics.

Would that be a fair assessment?

Cady Goldfield
10-03-2013, 07:42 PM
In my experience it could take a few years to even get some basic skills -- unless you're a training animal unlike us half-assing it :D. If it's "stupid jin tricks", sure, a few months or even weeks could create enough mind-body connection. But it mostly depends on what a particular teacher considers base skills. For example, if the aim is IP, hara/dantian development has to take place, and manipulating that stuff takes years and years. If the model involves spiraling, that's going to take a long time to manifest in waza and even more time in high-pressure stuff like sparring and fighting. Some teacher might think connection/dantian/spiraling is all fundamental, so the dividends are going to take some time.

Even after getting some rudimentary skills, it will not be very convincing to an observer as Lee's excellent post has said above. I will add though, that one thing that the observer cannot fully measure, is how the IP player feels inside, like the level of ease, balance, and freedom of movement they feel when performing a certain task. In early development I personally might not be a compelling case when trying to have an observer feel the difference of IP vs no-IP (my own personal fault and nothing to do with the material or teacher). But the way I feel pre-IP and post-IP training is certainly a paradigm shift for me. For example performing a demanding aikido or weapons routine, and comparing what it felt like before and after IP training, and realizing that IP allows me to perform the same routine with only a fraction of the energy, better balance, and better external effect (again, not too noticeable from the outset at first, but a vast difference on how I feel). This aspect of progress is even harder if not impossible to convey in written form.

Gerardo,
Earlier, I mentioned that working on structure is Step One in developing IP, and is a precursor to making an aiki body. The first step of that process is learning how to align the joints so that you are not using dedicated muscle to hold your structure together, and so that force can easily be transferred in a clean "path" from point-of-contact to the ground, and back. Then, you learn to feel and manipulate cross-body connections from foot to opposite shoulder, and to manipulate tanden (dantien), meimon (mingmen) and kwa (not sure what the Japanese term is for that - the femoral joint and inguinal fold area) to receive/absorb and feed/project force both from within and that which is provided by a partner. These are not "stoopid jin tricks," but a methodological approach of systematic training in increments to condition and build an IP/aiki body.

Any authentic internal system has some kind of "dynamic stationary" standing exercise to work the foundational structure and connections, whether it's called zhan zhuang, tenchijin or 13 Points, or whatever. YMMV with these, as not all such exercises are created equal depending on the individual teacher, school and lineage; however, the general intention is to work the structure and connections. And as I stated, I have seen people start to develop structure within months, and be able to absorb a push and to neutralize a pull too. On an elementary level, certainly, with low-level stress from the training partner, but even so, it is the "stuff" of rudimentary skills and basic understanding, and will be built upon continually and forever. It should not take years if the person trains a little every day.

IMO and IME, that feeling of ease, balance and freedom of movement comes along after you've learned how to control your structure so that you are acutely aware of its position at any given time, and of any possibility of imbalance... and can adjust accordingly, without tensing up.

Rupert Atkinson
10-03-2013, 07:52 PM
So, there seem to be lots of descriptions of how to do stuff but it is all in the context of Taichi or other non-Japanese arts. What I am into or after is to explain it in terms of Aikido and stuff more closer to what we normally do. I too have trained elsewhere but when I do Aikido I don't want to do something else, if you know what I mean. They way I see things is not exactly Aikido in nature either, but, I think we need to try to explain stuff in a way that everyone who does Aikido can understand, otherwise, might was well go read a Taichi forum. Personally, I can see a lot in say, the exercises found in Tomiki/Shodokan Aikido and their katas; I can see very interesting stuff in Yoshinkan methods, and I think we have a lot of stuff hidden away in kokyuu-ho and tenkan-ho etc. Shin-shin Toitsu Aikido has its tricks too. And Kyushin Aikido (Kenshiro Abe, UK) also has some fascinating concepts, as no doubt do many more groups/styles. People need to dissect such and to see what is hidden in there in plain sight. And kokyuu-nage contains endless material. Not to mention cutting with the sword and moving with the jo etc. I think the aiki we are after is discoverable in our own Aikido context, though it does help to look elsewhere to help get a bearing on it. But once you have a bearing, it is full steam ahead.

Cady Goldfield
10-03-2013, 08:07 PM
Rupert,
Well, if you consider that internal stuff undoubtedly came to Japan from China, any exercises within Japanese systems have a Chinese root. Unfortunately, the Japanese practitioners who had high-level skills (Sokaku Takeda, Yukiyoshi Sagawa in particular) were very secretive about their practices, or they were seen as too esoteric by their students (Morihei Ueshiba). Students who have come up in the contemporary generations of Daito-ryu do not seem to be privy to many of the old training exercises.

There are only certain ways that these skills can be built, though, so I suspect that the wheel keeps getting reinvented for drills and exercises. Tenchijin is a "made-in-Japan" approach, I think coined as a structure drill name by Akuzawa if I'm not mistaken. ;)

Rupert Atkinson
10-03-2013, 09:41 PM
Rupert,
There are only certain ways that these skills can be built, though, so I suspect that the wheel keeps getting reinvented for drills and exercises. Tenchijin is a "made-in-Japan" approach, I think coined as a structure drill name by Akuzawa if I'm not mistaken. ;)

Yes, spot on. And I am just another one busily trying to reinvent/define it for himself.

hughrbeyer
10-03-2013, 09:42 PM
... I think the aiki we are after is discoverable in our own Aikido context, though it does help to look elsewhere to help get a bearing on it. But once you have a bearing, it is full steam ahead.

Absolutely. O-Sensei, after all, had the aiki skills and then created Aikido--in my view, largely as a simpler and more direct vehicle for expressing them than the more complex Daito-ryu techniques. So you don't have to go far to find the application of IS skills--they're hidden in the standard Aikido techniques.

In some ways, I think, what makes the IS applications hard to find in Aikido is that standard Aikido waza is so damn seductive. It's fun to work with timing, leading, motion, angles, and all the rest of it--and with a compliant uke, you don't need more than that to make your Aikido work. You have to work at it--and not accept bullsh*t either from yourself or your uke. Sometimes you have to ask uke not to be so compliant.

Lee Salzman
10-04-2013, 02:20 AM
Thanks for this Lee. Between your post above and reading this post from Dan in another thread (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=319572&postcount=93) really helps me understand what it is I will feel when I am looking for it.

If I understand correctly, someone who has the most most basic part of In Yo/Yin Yang internalized will be unmovable when pushed upon from any angle on their body while standing naturally, feet shoulder width apart, no deep stances etc.. and even be able to lift one leg at a time while the push is being applied. Generally the push is applied to their upper body.

So until such time as I can go a meet Dan, I can try to find a Taiji (or someone proclaiming internal ability) teacher and ask them to let me try and push them over. If I cannot push them.. it may be worth sticking around to learn the basics.

Would that be a fair assessment?

If they have to take a step, turn away, push back into you in any way, toss you out, or otherwise do some "waza" to deal with your push, then there's not much there for you as regards IP. If, while you are pushing on them, they can make you move, or otherwise feel like no matter what you do you can't feel where the force of your pushing on them is even going, while barely or not moving themselves, and without you feeling how you were moved (in reality some of your own force coming back into you, from many directions at once no less that you can't predict and which you shouldn't be able to feel as your own)... and being tossed explosively does not count (don't be impressed by "fajin")... then maybe they've got some as regards yin and yang for you too.

akiy
10-04-2013, 02:21 AM
Hi folks,

I'm a bit behind in getting caught up in this thread as I'm currently experiencing limited Internet access. Just wanted to say that I appreciate the shift in tone in this thread from talking about specific people and their intentions to discussing the topic at hand -- thank you all for that.

Let the discussions continue! :)

Best,

-- Jun

Alex Megann
10-04-2013, 04:10 AM
Gerardo,
Earlier, I mentioned that working on structure is Step One in developing IP, and is a precursor to making an aiki body. The first step of that process is learning how to align the joints so that you are not using dedicated muscle to hold your structure together, and so that force can easily be transferred in a clean "path" from point-of-contact to the ground, and back. Then, you learn to feel and manipulate cross-body connections from foot to opposite shoulder, and to manipulate tanden (dantien), meimon (mingmen) and kwa (not sure what the Japanese term is for that - the femoral joint and inguinal fold area) to receive/absorb and feed/project force both from within and that which is provided by a partner. These are not "stoopid jin tricks," but a methodological approach of systematic training in increments to condition and build an IP/aiki body.

Any authentic internal system has some kind of "dynamic stationary" standing exercise to work the foundational structure and connections, whether it's called zhan zhuang, tenchijin or 13 Points, or whatever. YMMV with these, as not all such exercises are created equal depending on the individual teacher, school and lineage; however, the general intention is to work the structure and connections. And as I stated, I have seen people start to develop structure within months, and be able to absorb a push and to neutralize a pull too. On an elementary level, certainly, with low-level stress from the training partner, but even so, it is the "stuff" of rudimentary skills and basic understanding, and will be built upon continually and forever. It should not take years if the person trains a little every day.

IMO and IME, that feeling of ease, balance and freedom of movement comes along after you've learned how to control your structure so that you are acutely aware of its position at any given time, and of any possibility of imbalance... and can adjust accordingly, without tensing up.

Thanks for that nice summary, Cady. I briefly thought of outlining the exercises I am practising, but quite quickly decided that there are many others on AikiWeb who are much more experienced with this stuff and better able to describe these in context of their applications.

Alex

Lee Salzman
10-04-2013, 04:37 AM
Gerardo,
Earlier, I mentioned that working on structure is Step One in developing IP, and is a precursor to making an aiki body. The first step of that process is learning how to align the joints so that you are not using dedicated muscle to hold your structure together, and so that force can easily be transferred in a clean "path" from point-of-contact to the ground, and back. Then, you learn to feel and manipulate cross-body connections from foot to opposite shoulder, and to manipulate tanden (dantien), meimon (mingmen) and kwa (not sure what the Japanese term is for that - the femoral joint and inguinal fold area) to receive/absorb and feed/project force both from within and that which is provided by a partner. These are not "stoopid jin tricks," but a methodological approach of systematic training in increments to condition and build an IP/aiki body.

Any authentic internal system has some kind of "dynamic stationary" standing exercise to work the foundational structure and connections, whether it's called zhan zhuang, tenchijin or 13 Points, or whatever. YMMV with these, as not all such exercises are created equal depending on the individual teacher, school and lineage; however, the general intention is to work the structure and connections. And as I stated, I have seen people start to develop structure within months, and be able to absorb a push and to neutralize a pull too. On an elementary level, certainly, with low-level stress from the training partner, but even so, it is the "stuff" of rudimentary skills and basic understanding, and will be built upon continually and forever. It should not take years if the person trains a little every day.

IMO and IME, that feeling of ease, balance and freedom of movement comes along after you've learned how to control your structure so that you are acutely aware of its position at any given time, and of any possibility of imbalance... and can adjust accordingly, without tensing up.

I think there is a danger in equating IP with alignment and structure. It is neither in the sense one normally thinks about them, and it is especially not alignment, nor trying to structure the bones of the skeleton. You're not trying to, as we might usually think, "get behind" or "take" force - so please let no one take away the idea that internal power is this, because it is not, and that has already caused much debate on this forum among people who may not appreciate this particular viewpoint.

I made this mistake early on and only started making real progress once I dropped this misconception for good. I had to even give up certain activities like weight lifting (by my own choice) that only served to reinforce this pattern on a subconscious level and prevented me from being able to manifest the ideas despite much effort.

There is a certain form of "structure" that arises from a body that is supported in all directions, but definitely don't think of taking stuff to the ground or making paths or anything like that. There is no one direction or path. You are going from your dantien/hara/tanden/whatever-you-prefer-to-call-it out to everywhere (that includes everywhere in yourself, not just everywhere outside of yourself - "aiki in me before aiki in thee") and it is this that puts you on the floating bridge of heaven, not trying to align joints or make a structure with the bones. Again, forget about ground paths or lines or connecting to someone's center or anything that takes you out of neutral and gives your directionality a bias. If someone comes into contact with your surface, there's no need for you to connect with them, because you were already connected with everything. The ground is not special in this sense - it's just something contacting you, and it is no more privileged than anything else, the end.

Like the surface of inflated balloon, there is a tautness and lack of slack that comes from everywhere on the surface, so everywhere you touch the balloon you feel the integrity of that pressure. But if you were to put a hole in the balloon anywhere, anywhere at all, this nice tautness is gone, the balloon is now a deflated piece of rubber. One little gap in your all-sided support, and your profoundly neutral body is for crap, it is no longer profoundly neutral.

That is in one sense why this is so hard to do, and why it is so hard at first to really understand what the fuss is about - because most likely one has nothing, nothing at all, and doesn't realize it, so one can't feel any absence of the ability. Only when you start to get a little bit of it somewhere, does the daunting task of building that impenetrable surface start to dawn on you... That is, again, the grand irony of it. Someone may think he has something initially, only because, really, he just has nothing and is blissfully unaware.

There are certain conceptions of structure that are certainly powerful and are yet different from this, and they're scattered all over Asian martial arts, but they are not the kind of neutral body that you need as the basis of aiki, so don't make the mistake of conflating them and presenting this idea, like has been presented elsewhere, that they're all the same or somehow equally interchangeable.

Just clarifying...

Bernd Lehnen
10-04-2013, 05:13 AM
IME, if you get good instruction and feedback, it should -not- take many years to develop basic or rudimentary skills. I've seen people start to be able to "do stuff" within 6 months, under the right teacher.

Yes, you have to practice, and practice mindfully. And, there are infinite layers of skill that we'll spend the rest of our lives striving for as we refine and build on what we have. But that is not the same thing as being given the tools at the outset to start building your foundation. If it took years and years to get a foundation in, we'd all be living in grass huts. ;)

As far as I have experienced it, I'm with Cady.

Independent of what I myself can or can't do, the young fellow I have felt earlier this year was able to use this stuff on whatever came up. Push hands, Aikido waza, Aiki-Age, Bokken, Jo, what have you. He could have fought with it effortless.
What I want to say here is that IME this stuff is quite independent of where you come from. Indian, Chinese, Japanese, French boxing, Liverpool nutter, what have you…

Look at some videos of Bill Gleason and if you have the eyes, you will see that he's doing very well with it in "mainstream Aikido", although I would hasten to add that he certainly isn't mainstream at all.:)

Best,
Bernd

Bernd Lehnen
10-04-2013, 05:46 AM
Like the surface of inflated balloon, there is a tautness and lack of slack that comes from everywhere on the surface, so everywhere you touch the balloon you feel the integrity of that pressure. But if you were to put a hole in the balloon anywhere, anywhere at all, this nice tautness is gone, the balloon is now a deflated piece of rubber. One little gap in your all-sided support, and your profoundly neutral body is for crap, it is no longer profoundly neutral.

Just clarifying...

Of course, it doesn't make us invincible.
A little pin might do.;)

Pun intended.

Best,
Bernd

chillzATL
10-04-2013, 07:09 AM
Dan has an express no-dice policy regarding videos.

As for other forms of dissemination, his training model is simply based on hands-on. Similar to Chris, I've never been asked, nor can I think of anyone in Hawaii who's been asked, not to openly discuss the training model or specific exercises therein. That also applies to what's been imparted here by Mike Sigman and Sam Chin.



FWIW, there are threads in this forum where people have explained some of Dan's exercises in good detail and this was while he was still a participating member here. It doesn't matter what you provide, some people will always hold out their hand and demand more.

phitruong
10-04-2013, 07:28 AM
So, there seem to be lots of descriptions of how to do stuff but it is all in the context of Taichi or other non-Japanese arts. What I am into or after is to explain it in terms of Aikido and stuff more closer to what we normally do. I too have trained elsewhere but when I do Aikido I don't want to do something else, if you know what I mean.

much of the internal stuffs aren't about taichi or hsingi or joe-bob arts. it's about training the foundational body skills. the analogy is that the internal skills equate to water and the arts are containers. water will fit into whatever containers you put it in. If you got a chance to see Hiroshi Ikeda sensei, then you will see how it's done in aikido container. Ikeda mentioned that the internal stuffs are the aikido techniques whereas the waza like shihonage, ikkyo, and so on are aikido movements. you need the techniques to make the movement work. btw, if you got a chance to play with Ikeda sensei, you might want to ask him to slow it down to half speed or slower, in order to feel what going on. otherwise, you will hit the floor and don't know how you get there when he goes full speed.

phitruong
10-04-2013, 08:02 AM
the way of aiki is like sitting on a bed of nails, watching paint dry, while eating habanero and discussing U.S. politics.

Cady Goldfield
10-04-2013, 08:51 AM
I think there is a danger in equating IP with alignment and structure.

Lee, where was it said that IP is alignment and structure? Someone asked how you start. I pointed out that IP and an aiki body -start- with alignment in structure (which, btw is -not- the same thing as "frame" and there's a tendency to conflate structure with frame); i.e., it is one component. Learning to align the joints and create a path for force to travel, is Square One in beginning training but there is more to it than meets the eye. This structure is not just standing with the joints aligned, but a number of subtle tensions at different points of the body that provide the base conditions for power generation; however, they are not in themselves generators -- only the potential for it. They prepare and set up the body for what comes next:

All of the things you're talking about arise from adding other principles of body manipulation to create the six-directional force you're referring to. That's the up-down, back-forward, side-side dynamic tension that is the next layer of work added to the alignment practice. You're working to create what the Chinese systems call "peng" force. Hooold yer horses. We ain't there yet. :)

We keep getting stalled out because it's a complex subject, and too easy to layer on everything in a heap. If we parse it out step by step, it might be easier for people to follow the path (get a basic understanding of the concept) than if there's a jumble of signs and flashing traffic lights.

jonreading
10-04-2013, 09:00 AM
I think there is a danger in equating IP with alignment and structure. It is neither in the sense one normally thinks about them, and it is especially not alignment, nor trying to structure the bones of the skeleton. You're not trying to, as we might usually think, "get behind" or "take" force - so please let no one take away the idea that internal power is this, because it is not, and that has already caused much debate on this forum among people who may not appreciate this particular viewpoint.

I made this mistake early on and only started making real progress once I dropped this misconception for good. I had to even give up certain activities like weight lifting (by my own choice) that only served to reinforce this pattern on a subconscious level and prevented me from being able to manifest the ideas despite much effort.

There is a certain form of "structure" that arises from a body that is supported in all directions, but definitely don't think of taking stuff to the ground or making paths or anything like that. There is no one direction or path. You are going from your dantien/hara/tanden/whatever-you-prefer-to-call-it out to everywhere (that includes everywhere in yourself, not just everywhere outside of yourself - "aiki in me before aiki in thee") and it is this that puts you on the floating bridge of heaven, not trying to align joints or make a structure with the bones. Again, forget about ground paths or lines or connecting to someone's center or anything that takes you out of neutral and gives your directionality a bias. If someone comes into contact with your surface, there's no need for you to connect with them, because you were already connected with everything. The ground is not special in this sense - it's just something contacting you, and it is no more privileged than anything else, the end.

Like the surface of inflated balloon, there is a tautness and lack of slack that comes from everywhere on the surface, so everywhere you touch the balloon you feel the integrity of that pressure. But if you were to put a hole in the balloon anywhere, anywhere at all, this nice tautness is gone, the balloon is now a deflated piece of rubber. One little gap in your all-sided support, and your profoundly neutral body is for crap, it is no longer profoundly neutral.

That is in one sense why this is so hard to do, and why it is so hard at first to really understand what the fuss is about - because most likely one has nothing, nothing at all, and doesn't realize it, so one can't feel any absence of the ability. Only when you start to get a little bit of it somewhere, does the daunting task of building that impenetrable surface start to dawn on you... That is, again, the grand irony of it. Someone may think he has something initially, only because, really, he just has nothing and is blissfully unaware.

There are certain conceptions of structure that are certainly powerful and are yet different from this, and they're scattered all over Asian martial arts, but they are not the kind of neutral body that you need as the basis of aiki, so don't make the mistake of conflating them and presenting this idea, like has been presented elsewhere, that they're all the same or somehow equally interchangeable.

Just clarifying...

Yes. We have started thinking more about suspension. This imagery seems to help us understand "alignment" but from the standpoint not of compression, but extension (suspension).

Cady Goldfield
10-04-2013, 09:29 AM
Yes. We have started thinking more about suspension. This imagery seems to help us understand "alignment" but from the standpoint not of compression, but extension (suspension).

Suspension and extension that works the length of the spine, from the top of the skull on down.

Mert Gambito
10-04-2013, 12:51 PM
FWIW, there are threads in this forum where people have explained some of Dan's exercises in good detail and this was while he was still a participating member here. It doesn't matter what you provide, some people will always hold out their hand and demand more.

Yes. People have done a good job in the past, and in this thread, describing key aspects of the methodology. But there's still not much value without hands-on. As one of those older threads admonishes:

This particular work needs to be taught in detail, questions answered as a students intuition kicks in, and language to [b]e definitive, both in metaphor and in anatomical detail. . . . We are no longer doing the koryu family style one to one model in small settings in the village where you absorbed it.

So, it took daily immersion over the course of a good part of a lifetime historically to keep the knowledge alive and transferred from one generation to another in Asia. And even with the more progressive teaching models available today, too much gets lost due to mis-interpretation without hands-on to properly tune descriptions of metaphor and anatomical detail to the student, at any given point in time in his/her development. This thread, and its predecessors, provide more than an admirable intellectual entry point. The rest requires bowing in, showing up in person. Y'know: the same way any version of aikido is best transmitted.

Oh, and "here" in my previous post meant "Hawaii", not AikiWeb -- though Mike, as discussed earlier, has been forthcoming on this forum regarding exercises people can try.

Keith Larman
10-04-2013, 01:45 PM
Hey, guys, your're not supposed to be sharing this stuff. You know, people gotta make their money... :D

Seriously, I openly work in what I can when I teach and train. I try to explain on-line but find it remarkably difficult, especially when I've got someone on the other end saying "that's what I already do". Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, I have no way of knowing. And then the conversation usually degrades in to stupid arguments. So I save it the mat mostly and just have general conversations on-line. Those who wish to do different stuff, cool, fine with me. Those who say they're doing the same stuff, okay, great, best wishes.

I'm usually reminded of the admonition that the truth doesn't require anyone's acceptance to be the truth. Mine or anyone else's.

hughrbeyer
10-04-2013, 01:46 PM
I think there is a danger in equating IP with alignment and structure....[lots more good stuff]

Good post here. It also offers some insight into what O-Sensei was trying to show when he did goofy things like having someone push on his head, hip, or knee. As Lee said--every point is supported. It doesn't matter where you touch, you get the same result. It really is right there in front of us.

Chris Li
10-04-2013, 02:03 PM
Seriously, I openly work in what I can when I teach and train. I try to explain on-line but find it remarkably difficult, especially when I've got someone on the other end saying "that's what I already do". Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, I have no way of knowing. And then the conversation usually degrades in to stupid arguments. So I save it the mat mostly and just have general conversations on-line. Those who wish to do different stuff, cool, fine with me. Those who say they're doing the same stuff, okay, great, best wishes.

Worth repeating - that mirrors my experiences, and it's a good summary of why I don't usually talk about anything technical, conventional or not, in this medium (although I'm certainly free to do so, if I choose!).

Best,

Chris

Rupert Atkinson
10-04-2013, 03:00 PM
Worth repeating - that mirrors my experiences, and it's a good summary of why I don't usually talk about anything technical, conventional or not, in this medium (although I'm certainly free to do so, if I choose!).
Chris

Yes, online forums are limited in what they can achieve. Just try teaching shoho-nage on this forum, and that's just one of our basic waza. Of course, with aiki it is so much the harder. But I think we can get ideas, directions, things to try.

Rupert Atkinson
10-04-2013, 03:03 PM
So, I wonder, can we get some agreement that Aikido is The Way of Aiki and not something else? For me it is, and everything I now try to do is done with that in mind.

I am not saying I know what I am doing exactly, but it has given me new direction that has led me to good places and has given me enough to explore for a good few more years.

Bernd Lehnen
10-04-2013, 04:04 PM
So, I wonder, can we get some agreement that Aikido is The Way of Aiki and not something else? For me it is, and everything I now try to do is done with that in mind.

I am not saying I know what I am doing exactly, but it has given me new direction that has led me to good places and has given me enough to explore for a good few more years.

It certainly is - for me - "The Way of Aiki "

Once I thought :ai: :ki: :do: could be interpreted as "the way to look for aiki", now I prefer to think of it as "the way to express aiki".

Best,
Bernd

Cady Goldfield
10-04-2013, 05:50 PM
Lee Salzman wrote:
I think there is a danger in equating IP with alignment and structure....[lots more good stuff]


Good post here. It also offers some insight into what O-Sensei was trying to show when he did goofy things like having someone push on his head, hip, or knee. As Lee said--every point is supported. It doesn't matter where you touch, you get the same result. It really is right there in front of us.

Again I will clarify that nowhere was it stated that structure is IP/aiki. I'm not sure where Lee got the idea of that.

Aligning the joints is the FIRST STEP toward manipulating structure, and thus is the FIRST STEP toward developing IP skills and an aiki body. Nothing more, nothing less.
There was plenty of "good stuff" in Lee's post, but it is way beyond the processing point for what someone without prior internal training is ready to read about. What I offered was for beginners and individuals with no or little exposure to this kind of training, as a baseline starting point. Others here are discussing internal training amongst themselves, at the levels they're at. Let's try to keep the two separate so that there aren't heaping layers of confusion for those just learning about this stuff.

Mert Gambito
10-04-2013, 06:37 PM
Again I will clarify that nowhere was it stated that structure is IP/aiki. I'm not sure where Lee got the idea of that.

Aligning the joints is the FIRST STEP toward manipulating structure, and thus is the FIRST STEP toward developing IP skills and an aiki body. Nothing more, nothing less.
There was plenty of "good stuff" in Lee's post, but it is way beyond the processing point for what someone without prior internal training is ready to read about. What I offered was for beginners and individuals with no or little exposure to this kind of training, as a baseline starting point. Others here are discussing internal training amongst themselves, at the levels they're at. Let's try to keep the two separate so that there aren't heaping layers of confusion for those just learning about this stuff.

Cady,

Perhaps Lee's just trying to caution against folks defaulting to conventional notions of alignment, whether those notions are old hat (e.g. balancing books on their heads) or more recently en vogue (e.g. looking up rolfers on Craigslist), and therefore missing the mark from the get-go.

Also, as context for readers, proper alignment as Cady's described it is especially emphasized in I Liq Chuan (Sam Chin spent several minutes helping me stand in a manner that notably reduced pain when moving intent through the lower-body meridians).

I have no doubt that the need for clarification on this topic would be moot if the conversation was happening hands-on in person.

Cady Goldfield
10-04-2013, 07:57 PM
Mert,
Yes, I'm sure that was Lee's intent, but my eyes didn't see it the first couple of read-throughs. ;)

Without hands-on, there is no way to use familiar terms in such a way that they convey entirely different and alien concepts. I

IME, all good internal training will work alignment as part of the basic training drills, though it may not be specifically mentioned or pointed out. Some systems parse out every element and factor for the student to become aware of and consciously employ through individual drills; others incorporate several different concepts into one exercise from the get-go, alignment automatically being one of them as a component part of working the 6-directions energies.

Interesting to note, though, that as important as alignment is to a clear path for power, you can compensate for a compromised alignment by bringing into play other internal body connections that exploit dynamic tension.

Cady Goldfield
10-04-2013, 08:11 PM
It certainly is - for me - "The Way of Aiki "

Once I thought :ai: :ki: :do: could be interpreted as "the way to look for aiki", now I prefer to think of it as "the way to express aiki".

Best,
Bernd

There are many other ways to express aiki, so if you look at it that way, then Aikido would be only "a way to express aiki."

I'd say that it's more "the way to transcendence, through the practice and refinement of aiki." Aiki as The Way (to Enlightenment). So, "The Way of Aiki." :)

Budd
10-04-2013, 08:26 PM
Yeah, definitely don't get too hung up on structure or suspension or push tests other than some specific table stakes you need to build some bank in before you can do other things. Of course, how you do them may also define or limit the other things you can then do later, blah blah blah.

I'll say it again - there's basically how you train yourself to manage the effect of gravity pulling you down and the ground pushing you up in yourself and anyone that touches you, there's how you condition your body to be connected from the insides and convey not only the ground/gravity powers but move as a single unit with softness and solidity as needed, then there's how you strengthen the combination and expression and of all of those things into single points or movements - which gets sometimes into the seemingly esoteric stuffs but is actually fairly practical, but requires that sufficient time is spent doing the basic antecedents (which virtually none of us do).

Easy, now go train with people either doing it or ignore it or make up your own silliness.

Rupert Atkinson
10-04-2013, 08:28 PM
There are many other ways to express aiki, so if you look at it that way, then Aikido would be only "a way to express aiki."


Or, if it is The Way of Aiki, then any method of expressing aiki would be Aikido. I would be OK with that.

Now for me - if I define The Way of Aiki, it would be 'to control your opponent's energy'. Of course, you need to get your own house in order (structure, coordination, timing, and the means to deliver power etc.), then learn to disrupt your opponent's house etc. Also, calling your opponent uke doesn't help, as uke means receive and I don't want him to receive - I want him to begin to resist - because I want to learn to deal with that... In fact, to turn the nail completely on its head, I would say that in this 'environment, I, as tori, the shite, the doer, become uke. And thus it is that the uke skills we have learned can become very useful. Now, tori uses his 'ukemi' skill to receive the opponent's movement/attack with craft and he 'adjusts' it with sleight of hand to his advantage.

...(sorry if I used - his, which could also = her :straightf )

hughrbeyer
10-04-2013, 09:43 PM
Gerardo,
Earlier, I mentioned that working on structure is Step One in developing IP, and is a precursor to making an aiki body. The first step of that process is learning how to align the joints so that you are not using dedicated muscle to hold your structure together, and so that force can easily be transferred in a clean "path" from point-of-contact to the ground, and back.

Again I will clarify that nowhere was it stated that structure is IP/aiki. I'm not sure where Lee got the idea of that.

Aligning the joints is the FIRST STEP toward manipulating structure, and thus is the FIRST STEP toward developing IP skills and an aiki body. Nothing more, nothing less.
There was plenty of "good stuff" in Lee's post, but it is way beyond the processing point for what someone without prior internal training is ready to read about. What I offered was for beginners and individuals with no or little exposure to this kind of training, as a baseline starting point. Others here are discussing internal training amongst themselves, at the levels they're at. Let's try to keep the two separate so that there aren't heaping layers of confusion for those just learning about this stuff.

I was trying to be all subtle and indirect and sh*t in my prior post, but screw that. Yeah, when you said "first step" of IP, seems Lee and I interpreted that to mean it's one of the IP skills. You've clarified you didn't mean that, which is fine, but since at least two of us read it the same way a clarification was in order.

As for others, I don't know what background they have (hint: it's not all the same) so I don't know what's confusing and what's not. Good structure is all very well and good to work on but you don't need anything special to work on it--yoga, taiji, or Alexander Technique will all do just fine. As far as I'm concerned, what Lee's talking about is the alpha and the omega of IP/aiki--that is, until you've started on it you haven't started your journey, and you'll be working on it as long as you're pursuing aiki at all. So talking about structure and alignment is misleading in its own way--almost anybody can read it and say, "Oh yeah, I work on that too--what's the big deal?" Whereas pulling silk/six directions/roppo kamae is the heart of the matter.

(Well, almost. Really, in my current understanding, in-yo ho is the heart of the matter. But you can't get there without six-directions.)

Cady Goldfield
10-04-2013, 10:58 PM
Some internal systems have alignment-structure building skills inherent in the foundational 6-directional training drills, so students learn it automatically while they are working the 6 directional energies. But usually they are walked through the process of spine extension ("suspended from the ceiling by a hook in your skull...") and joint alignment first, even if the word "alignment" is never used. Tenchijin is one of those versions. Other systems have parsed out every single aspect and factor and feel, and created a specific exercise for each of them, so that students can become aware of each discrete state and feeling. Then they are combined to create the spherical (all-directions) "force field" and begin to learn how to manipulate it as a whole. I Liq Chuan's developmental drills are an example of that approach.

Lee Salzman
10-05-2013, 03:04 AM
I was trying to be all subtle and indirect and sh*t in my prior post, but screw that. Yeah, when you said "first step" of IP, seems Lee and I interpreted that to mean it's one of the IP skills. You've clarified you didn't mean that, which is fine, but since at least two of us read it the same way a clarification was in order.

As for others, I don't know what background they have (hint: it's not all the same) so I don't know what's confusing and what's not. Good structure is all very well and good to work on but you don't need anything special to work on it--yoga, taiji, or Alexander Technique will all do just fine. As far as I'm concerned, what Lee's talking about is the alpha and the omega of IP/aiki--that is, until you've started on it you haven't started your journey, and you'll be working on it as long as you're pursuing aiki at all. So talking about structure and alignment is misleading in its own way--almost anybody can read it and say, "Oh yeah, I work on that too--what's the big deal?" Whereas pulling silk/six directions/roppo kamae is the heart of the matter.

(Well, almost. Really, in my current understanding, in-yo ho is the heart of the matter. But you can't get there without six-directions.)

And how much time did we spend learning any structure with Dan in the beginning? Almost zero. Unless you were a complete and utter mess, he basically never said much about it. What did he start us on immediately? Pulling silk/six directions. What will we probably be working on forever? That.

I had a previous background in training the idea of structure from yiquan. It did zip for me, nada, with regards to this material. I had to dump it on the cutting room floor. It was a sacred cow for me, but I had to slaughter it. So that is part of why I don't like the implication that structure is a starting point or somehow prepatory material for this. IME, it's not.

Bernd Lehnen
10-05-2013, 04:19 AM
There are many other ways to express aiki, so if you look at it that way, then Aikido would be only "a way to express aiki."

I'd say that it's more "the way to transcendence, through the practice and refinement of aiki." Aiki as The Way (to Enlightenment). So, "The Way of Aiki." :)

Cady, you hit the mark.

Dan Harden wrote in the above mentioned post about Ueshiba's aikido:

"That said, it was never the peacnick model of avoiding power and running away from force. His constant admonitions were of possessing power as a killing force and then having to forge ones soul to manage it's use and that practice and hone that control. An old saying goes "If I raise my hand. I withdraw my temper. If i raise my temper, I withdraw my hand."
There is a conundrum to Aikido and really many high level arts, that can feed us for the rest of our lives."

That's in a way "transcending" and a place where certainly many more of us would want to go, if it only were an easier path to follow.:)

Best,
Bernd

Cady Goldfield
10-05-2013, 09:36 AM
And how much time did we spend learning any structure with Dan in the beginning? Almost zero. Unless you were a complete and utter mess, he basically never said much about it. What did he start us on immediately? Pulling silk/six directions. What will we probably be working on forever? That.

I had a previous background in training the idea of structure from yiquan. It did zip for me, nada, with regards to this material. I had to dump it on the cutting room floor. It was a sacred cow for me, but I had to slaughter it. So that is part of why I don't like the implication that structure is a starting point or somehow prepatory material for this. IME, it's not.

Hi Lee,
Go back and look at what I said previously - that some approaches work alignment into other process training, and may not mention it at all... but it is inherently in the excercises being done. When you work the 6 directions, you are drawing in and extending out -- complementary dynamic tensions of In and Yo -- and that is creating your alignment.

I have been training in IP/aiki for 15 years now, and the first 7-8 years there was no descriptive terminology at all, except for a few intuitive ones. It was all "by feel, by touch." The old-school way of transmission. But the work we did had certain inherent qualities that inculcated "the feel." The next 2 years, we benefited from the introduction of more descriptive vocabulary and a growing body of individual exercises, which parsed out the 6 directions, and pointed to the roles of the spine, kwas, tanden and meimon. That's when talk about "structure" also was introduced. In most recent years, I have been working on breaking down and understanding every aspect of what is creating the power and connection that I am able to manifest, and I have found the parse-out approach to be very helpful in that pursuit. It is also helping me to fill in some gaps in skill and to further refine those that I attained in my earlier years of training.

Anyway, I don't want to dwell on one aspect of a larger picture. Just want to clarify that whether you are aware of it or not, you are incorporating all of the necessary aspects into your training, or you would not be able to progress in your development of IP, and aiki.

Hey, it's all good. It's really refreshing to see deeper discussions of internal training on the 'net, where 10 years ago, the majority was still contesting the insistence of a few lonely voices that this stuff is real!

Gary David
10-05-2013, 11:29 AM
And how much time did we spend learning any structure with Dan in the beginning? Almost zero. Unless you were a complete and utter mess, he basically never said much about it. What did he start us on immediately? Pulling silk/six directions. What will we probably be working on forever? That.


I agree with Lee that pulling silk/six directions has been the primary beginning emphasis with Dan's approach. Other things drop in as you go.

I am also inline with Keith and Chris

Gary

Cady Goldfield
10-05-2013, 11:32 AM
Working the 6 directions pulls (and pushes) you into alignment. It's inherent in the exercise, as I said before. You just aren't thinking about it, because you're working those 6 directions. ;) You can put yourself out of alignment intentionally if you want, and can use the cross-body tensions to maintain your structure to some extent, but again, the exercise is not just "one thing."

hughrbeyer
10-05-2013, 03:53 PM
Actually, my experience is similar to Cady's here... Much of my solo practice right now is focused on pole standing, and I can feel that as soon as I start pulling 6 directions it pulls my body into alignment. But presumably that's because I have a clue what alignment is supposed to feel like. It's interesting that Cady's group has a more detailed way of learning alignment. It would be interesting to hear what all is in there.

Mert Gambito
10-05-2013, 04:24 PM
Some punch-list items for baseline standing practice to open the body common across multiple methodologies:

Suspended crown of head as a component of opening the body upward (intent drawing upward beyond the physical confines of the body) -- complemented by . . .
Letting the hara/dantien settle (intent drawing downward beyond the physical confines of the body), establishes fundamental up-and-down / yin-and-yang opening of the body -- further complemented by . . .
Opening the body using intent in opposite directions along the two remaining axes (i.e. six directions) -- and in the process being sure to . . .
Keep juncture points throughout the body (e.g. underside of chin, armpits, arch between the legs, spaces between fingers) open and radiused, vs. closed and pinched -- while maintaining . . .
Shoulders relaxed and integral to the torso -- which helps ensure . . .
Hands connected to the ground/feet via and filled from the center (intent drawing into and beyond the hands).

Again, the internet is a poor medium for transmitting the details of this topic, and the English language in particular is poorly suited to conveying the nuances within those details. With those limitations in mind, if someone simply says the above is "how to stand in six directions", while someone else observes "based on the punch list, arcane notions of alignment and structure are integral to standing in six directions", then down comes the "APPROVED" hanko in either case.

But, like Hugh said, you have to know what it's supposed to feel like, and that takes us back to hands-on to initially, and ongoing, refine that understanding.

Cady Goldfield
10-05-2013, 06:06 PM
Hugh,
Check out post #88229 in this old thread from elsewhere on the 'net. The writer addresses a number of questions and statements made by other posters regarding alignment, structure, and unifying the body, and he nails what I'm trying to articulate. Really, it is not so very different an approach from what you are learning now, if I'm not mistaken.

http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=88227&page=3

Lee Salzman
10-05-2013, 11:19 PM
Working the 6 directions pulls (and pushes) you into alignment. It's inherent in the exercise, as I said before. You just aren't thinking about it, because you're working those 6 directions. ;) You can put yourself out of alignment intentionally if you want, and can use the cross-body tensions to maintain your structure to some extent, but again, the exercise is not just "one thing."

Cady, I would be lying if I said working moving intent does not also work structure as an integral part of it. But at the same time, the focus must be on moving intent, otherwise all one is doing is external "IMA". It's moving intent that creates all the weird effects on contact, that allows us to fall apart structurally but still effect people. The structure is not a requirement, so it does not seem a good idea to become terribly attached to it, especially because in the limit, it just gives you a sort of hard power that, while strong, is still going to become undone by soft power. Structure stagnates, intent moves.

Mary Eastland
10-06-2013, 07:40 AM
I like the word letting instead of working.

Cady Goldfield
10-06-2013, 04:59 PM
Cady, I would be lying if I said working moving intent does not also work structure as an integral part of it. But at the same time, the focus must be on moving intent, otherwise all one is doing is external "IMA". It's moving intent that creates all the weird effects on contact, that allows us to fall apart structurally but still effect people. The structure is not a requirement, so it does not seem a good idea to become terribly attached to it, especially because in the limit, it just gives you a sort of hard power that, while strong, is still going to become undone by soft power. Structure stagnates, intent moves.

Well, it's not good to be terribly attached to any of the components of IP; yet, we have to be aware of them and acknowledge them, and let them become part of us, before we can build on them and move to the next level. My original post and intention was to parse out the steps and stages of building IP, and for me, it began with building the structure. That was 15 years ago. Today I still work on structure, but I am using it for all sorts of things, particularly to generate enormous power while maintaining a stable, relaxed body.

Maybe your definition of structure is different from mine.
Intent is the driver of everything, of course; it is what initiates structure and holds it/you together, so you can "move on" to use it for the next phase.

My suggestion is that we have this discussion again in five years. These are exciting times.