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mathewjgano
09-04-2014, 03:07 PM
In a dialectic effort to simplify discussion:
My current definition is that aiki can be summed up as the purposeful balancing of (apparently) opposing forces/aspects in and around the self (taking what seemed conflicted and finding how they work together for a common purpose): "In-Yo-Ho." How is this definition lacking?

May I please ask people to also attempt to define aiki as succinctly as possible?

Please no directly commenting on others' views of aiki. The point here is to get a simple sample of different working definitions of aiki, and to offer my own view as fodder for an effort in distilling what the thing itself might be, assuming it can be described as a discrete "thing" at all.
Thank you for your time (I hope :D ).
Take care,
Matt

mathewjgano
09-05-2014, 01:21 PM
Onward with this solo exercise, then :D :

Aiki is the dynamic balance of opposing/polarized things so they can then operate cohesively as a whole.
Making sweet sweet aiki is based on the understanding of how to establish that dynamic, actively engaged neutrality, which allows one to reconcile otherwise conflictory activities and/or states (symbolized by in/yin yo/yang). Based on a variety of factors, this can be applied very deeply into ones own body, creating proportional degrees of flexibility and powerful movement, but can also be applied as a principle for affecting circumstances around us beyond that use of balanced, whole-body power.

Would it be better to say aiki is whole-body(-ies) cohesion or whole-body(-ies) power? Neither? Both?

dps
09-05-2014, 01:48 PM
The ip/is/ihtbf/aiki people on this forum are not able to describe how aiki works without resorting to Japanese or Chinese culture and language because they do not have an understanding of how what they are doing works.

dps

mathewjgano
09-05-2014, 02:15 PM
The ip/is/ihtbf/aiki people on this forum are not able to describe how aiki works without resorting to Japanese or Chinese culture and language because they do not have an understanding of how what they are doing works.

dps

I've seen a lot of good efforts. Better than any I could offer, at any rate. What's your working definition for aiki? Or have you got anything to critique of the offered definition?

mathewjgano
09-05-2014, 02:42 PM
Here's a pretty fine description as far as I can tell:
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.
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=330547#post330547

Dan Richards
09-05-2014, 03:30 PM
I'll play. Here's my stab in plain English.

Aiki is a demonstrable body skill and mental state achieved through the neutralization of opposing forces, and the directing of power via the center/will through intent/mind.

mathewjgano
09-05-2014, 03:49 PM
I'll play. Here's my stab in plain English.

Aiki is a demonstrable body skill and mental state achieved through the neutralization of opposing forces, and the directing of power via the center/will through intent/mind.

Cool! Thanks, Dan! Much appreciated. Just for clarification's sake, are you saying aiki can be one and/or the other (body skill; state of mind)? Or is aiki only both at the same time?

Dan Richards
09-05-2014, 04:02 PM
Hi, Matt. It's both. But since we're whittling this down, and defining aiki as succinctly as possible...let me tweak my definition for, possibly, better clarity.

Aiki is a demonstrable body skill and state of being achieved through the neutralization of opposing forces, and the directing of power by intent/mind via the center/will.

Jeremy Hulley
09-05-2014, 06:16 PM
Aiki-something that cannot be done to a chair- credit Don Angier

Aiki - The creation and management of opposing forces within one's self that makes it impossible for an opponent to respond.

The management of opposing forces is primarily trained through solo practice but partners help, inform, correct and challenge the practice.

Keith Larman
09-05-2014, 06:25 PM
The ip/is/ihtbf/aiki people on this forum are not able to describe how aiki works without resorting to Japanese or Chinese culture and language because they do not have an understanding of how what they are doing works.

dps

Wow.

The fact that you or anyone does not understand a description does not mean the person saying it does not understand how it works. And the utilization of Japanese or Chinese terminology appears to me to be appropriate if a) the terms are explained as best possible and b) there may not be perfectly equivalent translations available in the target language. I use Japanese terms all the time when discussing Japanese swords and sword arts because a) it is precise and b) they are correct. Especially when they don't have exact corollaries in English due to the unique evolution of the craft in that culture. After all, what is shibui *exactly*? And when does ko-suguha become chu suguha *exactly*? Oh, sorry, I meant a hamon. Oh, damn, sorry, I mean, um, temper line. DOH! No, sorry, temper line isn't strictly accurate although commonly used... Um, inter-crystalline structure transition region? No, that's not it... Um... The *pattern* formed by the inter-crystalline transitional region between the pearlitic body and martensitic edge. that's a bit closer but we seem to have lost something... Oh, yeah, with chu that means "middle" and that means kinda / sort mid "height" of the intercrystalline structure transition region as measured from the edge of the martenisitic edge?

Oh, and yeah, I kinda made some of that up on the fly because metallurgists right now are experiencing head exploding syndrome because it's obvious I don't understand the entirety of the metallurgical processes. But that's for another few volumes of writing later...

No, wait, what were we talking about? Oh, yeah, how if you can't explain it to someone who doesn't know much about the culture within which it arose, obviously you don't understand it yourself.

Oh, crap, never mind. Chu suguha. You know... Chu suguha. Don't know what that is? Huh, maybe you need to look at a few swords (well, Japanese swords. Um, well, Japanese -style swords. Um, well, no, properly differentially hardened swords made from the proper steel alloys and here I go again getting all specific and stuff) in person and learn more -- you can't learn *everything* on-line after all... but I digress...

And since Ueshiba Morihei was Japanese... And visited Mongolia... And read old classics from China... It's not exactly rocket science that his discussions were couched in those terms.

And all that said, that is quite a leap to say that because you haven't had it explained to you to your satisfaction in your terms that the people trying to explain therefore don't understand it what they're saying.

Or... In other words... Your understanding is not a prerequisite for truth value nor necessarily a measure of the quality of explication. The fault could lie elsewhere...

dps
09-05-2014, 10:15 PM
Kieth what is your view of aiki and can you give a physical description of how it works.

dps

kewms
09-05-2014, 10:25 PM
Oh, and yeah, I kinda made some of that up on the fly because metallurgists right now are experiencing head exploding syndrome because it's obvious I don't understand the entirety of the metallurgical processes. But that's for another few volumes of writing later...

I can't speak for other metallurgists, but I assure you my head is in no danger of exploding. It's not possible to write an exact molecular-scale simulation of a system as large as a sword blade, so I'm perfectly comfortable with an empirical description using the terminology of the culture that developed the blade. For me, at least, understanding the metallurgy of a traditionally made Japanese sword only enhances my appreciation of its beauty. So go right ahead.

As for aiki, I'm not sure I completely agree with Dan Richards' definition, but it's a good basis for further discussion.

Katherine

Keith Larman
09-06-2014, 12:12 AM
Kieth what is your view of aiki and can you give a physical description of how it works.

dps

I have posted many times over the freaking years what I think. I've lost count of the threads I've added thoughts to, my experiences, my ideas, and my beliefs. You, dude, need to get off your ass and do something other than troll discussion. And if you want to start by insulting the daylights out of very experienced people by saying they don't understand what they're doing because you don't get it, well, the problem is on your freaking end.

I have truly had enough of this crap. I teach. Openly. I train. Openly. I go to seminars. Openly. I get on the mat and work with people. Openly. I have tried repeatedly to explain, expand and contribute. You, on the other hand...

Keith Larman
09-06-2014, 07:33 AM
And to add more, just reread Jeremy Hulley's post above. That. Now I've written similar things many times before. As have others. So many freaking times that it's frankly silly to have to type it again.

You know, after a good night of sleep let me add something else. I have *ZERO* (nada, nill, zilch, null, absolute zero) problem with people who do not agree with this sort of definition as aiki in aikido. I don't think it's complete. I think it's all remarkably complex. Stuff I've written before here and elsewhere. Stuff I've discussed with my peers. Stuff I"ve discussed with various folk outside my org at seminars over beers or on the mat. And if the conclusion someone reaches is that this stuff isn't part of it, well, that's fine. Cool. Cool beans. Great stuff. More power to ya. That's an honest intellectual response that is worthy of consideration.

But when something has been beaten to death, reincarnated, then beaten to death again over and over again like a Nietzschian eternal recurrence it just gets freaking old to have someone say "you don't understand what you're doing because I'm not satisfied with your explanation".

Keith Larman
09-06-2014, 07:38 AM
I can't speak for other metallurgists, but I assure you my head is in no danger of exploding. It's not possible to write an exact molecular-scale simulation of a system as large as a sword blade, so I'm perfectly comfortable with an empirical description using the terminology of the culture that developed the blade. For me, at least, understanding the metallurgy of a traditionally made Japanese sword only enhances my appreciation of its beauty. So go right ahead.

As for aiki, I'm not sure I completely agree with Dan Richards' definition, but it's a good basis for further discussion.

Katherine

In my best Cecil Turtle voice: "Uhhhh, Yup..."

http://looneytunes.wikia.com/wiki/Cecil_Turtle

JW
09-06-2014, 01:05 PM
Hi Matt. I saw your initial post and started writing my answer offline. I had problems getting back online and now I see my text matches your second post even more than your first! Funny how that works. Here goes:

state of aiki = the constant cultivation of what is needed to allow "the natural balance that resolves dynamism" to be experienced as fully as possible by the conscious entities involved in a given interaction
[note that aiki thus can be happening frequently in many situations, but may not take much work until conflict or aggression is brought to the table.. also note that if Koch/Tononi-type gradations of consciousness exist, then human interaction is a very small part of the whole picture]

ps:
I used terms general enough to not be a good definition, so I hope it doesn't end up sounding like vague, fluffy bs. In fact I mean this to be a practical, working definition that can work in martial art practice.

An example of the process I am getting at: a box with an airtight divider in the middle can have a high-pressure and a low-pressure chamber (if you set it up that way with a pump first). You don't have dynamism because the walls of the box are doing mechanical work (by virtue of their rigidity). But open the divider, and the gasses will naturally dynamically interact, and then the interaction will resolve. So you change what entities are experiencing the resolution of the "conflict" of the pressure difference: in the final state the gasses themselves experience it, but in the initial state something else (the box) has to do the work of keeping the peace.

So in practice I would want universal strengths like ground reaction force and gravity to work through my body. I would thus experience their action personally. Attacker's forces are applied to me but meet a resolving complementary force immediately.

Cliff Judge
09-06-2014, 02:22 PM
Aiki is an effect wherein a system of energy controlled by one person's will is combined with that of another person, such that the combined system of energy is under the control of only one person's will.

My term "system of energy" is how I define ki. Basically I see ki as all of the dynamic functions of a person, though in practice I guess I most care about the ones they employ to try to attack me: their balance, attention, intention, muscle control, and proprioception. I am sure there are all kinds of other ki but I'll leave those to acupuncturists.

And there might be other types of Aiki that come into play among people at rest and not attacking each other, but for me, the idea is that two systems of energy are combined, and one of the individuals is in control.

I've seen a number of different ways to achieve Aiki and I am not really great yet, but I am getting better over time.

One of my teachers is able to completely capture a person's intention and proprioception before there is any contact, and take their balance sufficiently to deliver a very quick strike to a vital area, or throw them very far, or crush them. With a cooperative partner he can make some impressively large Aikido throws by gathering up their entire system of energy and flinging it up or crushing it down. Against a resistant attacker I imagine he would simply create an opening and hit them very hard somewhere that would incapacitate them. The thing is, he creates this type of Aiki long before there is any body contact, and I believe he actually brings Aiki about purely with intention, or, if I can slip another Japanese term in here, kiai. It's just a thing he does by looking at you.

Another of my teachers, you grab his wrist and he makes your body drop or shift without really using his body. It is very eerie when this is done slowly. Against a more intense attack, he uses this type of unbalancing as the first part of a much larger movement, and the overall effect is that uke is simply behind the technique, unable to adjust enough to get control back. He basically causes this Aiki with intention. There is something physical going on, but on the occasions where I can make something like this work, it definitely seems like my intention starts the ball rolling.

In another lineage I train in, Aiki is like a little something extra that goes into a technique that makes it impossible for you to bend or straighten a joint, or pops you up on your toes with your balance suddenly placed on top of nage's balance, or changes your posture in some particular way. There are simple methods for generating this Aiki that are part of the core, beginner curriculum, that require attention to form, timing, distance, and intention, and do not work properly if performed with physical power.

My sword teacher has told me - perhaps not an actual teaching of the sword school I train with him in - that the term "Aiki" sounds like an inauspicious turn of affairs when you are sharing as much information with your opponent as you are reading from them, and therefore have no particular advantage over them. I understand that this is generally what the term "aiki" meant in most of the koryu schools, on the occasions when you do run into it, which is not often before Takeda came along.

The differences in what Aiki looks like that I have encountered in my own training (as well as, truth be told, the difference between what the IP people talk about and what I have seen) have led me to think of Aiki as definitely a "phenomenon" or a state of being that occurs, as opposed to a "skill." There is skill in creating AIki but the skill is not the thing itself, and there are multiple skills and ways of building these skills.

And nothing about Aiki has ever led me to think of it as "power." I have also never thought of it as a thing that is created by the application or generation of "power," in fact that's the opposite of what all of my teachers have said. I've always noticed that when a high level practitioner performs technique on me, that I feel absolutely nothing. Nothing is making me move, I just am. Sometimes it feels like the world around me is moving and I am standing still. Furthermore, my primary teacher in fact says things like "gather all the energies" and speaks of affecting the "energy body" around the person instead of trying to move their physical bodies, as a mental image to develop a softer touch that makes people bend and move as you want them to without as much resistance.

So that's why I think of Aiki as an effect where you engage and surround / capture / absorb your opponents ki with your own, leaving you in charge of the combined ki.

dps
09-07-2014, 07:00 PM
....And if you want to start by insulting the daylights out of very experienced people by saying they don't understand what they're doing because you don't get it,.....

It is not that I don't get, its that they can't explain it.

If there is a structure that arises from the body that is supported in all directions and it is not the skeleton ( as indicated by the Lee Salzman quote ), what material of the body is this structure composed of?

dps

Chris Li
09-07-2014, 07:12 PM
It is not that I don't get, its that they can't explain it.

If there is a structure that arises from the body that is supported in all directions and it is not the skeleton ( as indicated by the Lee Salzman quote ), what material of the body is this structure composed of?

dps

This sort of thing (http://www.biotensegrity.com/tensegrity_truss.php) has been discussed on Aikiweb (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=291842&postcount=1) for years - I see that you've participated in some of the discussions:

That is an excellent post Byron that goes a long way to understanding the Aiki as relates to the physical body.
.
dps

Please tell me that you're not just trolling...

Best,

Chris

Jeremy Hulley
09-07-2014, 08:10 PM
The structure happens via intent.

Erick Mead
09-07-2014, 08:37 PM
The ip/is/ihtbf/aiki people on this forum are not able to describe how aiki works without resorting to Japanese or Chinese culture and language because they do not have an understanding of how what they are doing works.

dps
Wow.

The fact that you or anyone does not understand a description does not mean the person saying it does not understand how it works. And the utilization of Japanese or Chinese terminology appears to me to be appropriate if a) the terms are explained as best possible and b) there may not be perfectly equivalent translations available in the target language. I use Japanese terms all the time when discussing Japanese swords and sword arts because a) it is precise and b) they are correct. Especially when they don't have exact corollaries in English due to the unique evolution of the craft in that culture.
Yukio Sagawa -- reputedly quite capable in aiki -- said explicitly that :If you simply go through life by simply thinking you can copy people you'll never get anywhere. The only person that can do this is you. You must create your own understanding for yourself.
Take Aiki for example. There is no way to really teach this. Even if I could point at something that is Aiki I can't put it into words. You simply think you can learn everything from me, so you don't develop the habit to think for yourself. That is what divides people that are smart from whose who are not. Even with mathematics, its not as if you suddenly wake up one day able to do these things, am I right? This is the same with Bujutsu. It is about long periods of work, innovation, that you slowly over time become able to do these things.

I think Matthew's question and David's response are both flowing from the broadly felt need to do what Sagawa could not -- what Ueshiba could not -- put this into plain words and unambiguous concepts. That's a task for us Westerners. Direct and unambiguous expression is not the chief genius of Japanese culture, after all....

Erick Mead
09-07-2014, 08:55 PM
And to add more, just reread Jeremy Hulley's post above. That. Now I've written similar things many times before. As have others. So many freaking times that it's frankly silly to have to type it again. ...

But when something has been beaten to death, reincarnated, then beaten to death again over and over again like a Nietzschian eternal recurrence it just gets freaking old to have someone say "you don't understand what you're doing because I'm not satisfied with your explanation". Eternal recurrence. :D ;)

But the problem is generally because two parties THINK they are each communicating with the other -- but in fact, are not.

Look at Jeremy's response that you approve:
Aiki-something that cannot be done to a chair- credit Don Angier

Aiki - The creation and management of opposing forces within one's self that makes it impossible for an opponent to respond.

The management of opposing forces is primarily trained through solo practice but partners help, inform, correct and challenge the practice. This is an operational statement. Matthew asks "What is a car?" And the response is to the effect of:

"A car is something that cannot float on water.
A car involves the management of brake and accelerator to make the car drive as you want.
Driving a car is primarily trained in solo practice, but a passenger can help."

Operational definitions do not tell what a car IS -- these operations also apply to motorcycles, tractors, combines, roadable cranes, and front end loaders -- none of which is a car. It kind of neglects some important operational details -- like, say, the ignition, steering, gears. And some other stuff.

Hence, the eternally recurrent frustration at the manner of communication ...

Erick Mead
09-07-2014, 09:24 PM
defining aiki as succinctly as possible...let me tweak my definition for, possibly, better clarity. Succinct. -- Let's do that.

As for aiki, I'm not sure I completely agree with Dan Richards' definition, but it's a good basis for further discussion. Let's begin there, then.

Aiki is a demonstrable body skill and state of being achieved through the neutralization of opposing forces, and the directing of power by intent/mind via the center/will.

Matthew approved Lee Salzman's take:
There is a certain form of "structure" that arises from a body that is supported in all directions, ... it has no one direction or path. ... 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.

If there is a structure that arises from the body that is supported in all directions and it is not the skeleton (as indicated by the Lee Salzman quote ), what material of the body is this structure composed of?
Jeremy added: The structure happens via intent.

Chris added a link to discussion involving tensegrity -- an important point -- though not, IMO for the reason he appears to believe.

Summing up these points (all of which I agree with):

1. Aiki is a structural response -- formed by using the body according certain applied forms or mental impressions of structure.

2. Aiki has features that appear similar to tensegrity:
----- a) Aiki has an instantaneous load path response throughout the structure from any change of load anywhere on the structure, and
---- b) In Aiki, tension and compression forces are distinct in where and how the structure is normally and dynamically stressed.

3. In Aiki (unlike tensegrity):
---- a) tension and compression interact continuously (in yo ho), not discontinuously, and invert smoothly into one another without loss of continuity, or any loss of structural potential or potential energy when reversing the sign or direction of apparent action.
---- b) Aiki is a surface dominated phenomenon.

I think that is what we have so far. Miss anything? I'll keep my thoughts to the side until we're as agreed as we can be.

Jeremy Hulley
09-07-2014, 09:25 PM
The unification of the ki of heaven and the ki of earth in me. Allowing me to stand on the floating bridge.

Chris Li
09-07-2014, 09:36 PM
Miss anything?

Quite a lot - my point was not that tensegrity is "the answer" just to point out the cyclic and pointless nature of the trolling going on.

I'll step out here, too.

Best,

Chris

Erick Mead
09-07-2014, 09:43 PM
Quite a lot - my point was not that tensegrity is "the answer" just to point out the cyclic and pointless nature of the trolling going on.

Succinct -- I think the point was -- and summing up their points, not trolling my own... .

Way to be constructive.... :straightf

Chris Li
09-07-2014, 10:32 PM
Succinct -- I think the point was -- and summing up their points, not trolling my own... .

Way to be constructive.... :straightf

Once again, you're missing the point. You characterized my post in a certain way - you were wrong. I clarified, that's it.

Best,

Chris

dps
09-07-2014, 11:50 PM
Logged into AikiWeb and no warning about trolling from Jun so I must not be.

I'm just trying to refine my view of Aiki as the thread says.

Onward with this solo exercise, then :D :

Aiki is the dynamic balance of opposing/polarized things so they can then operate cohesively as a whole.
Making sweet sweet aiki is based on the understanding of how to establish that dynamic, actively engaged neutrality, which allows one to reconcile otherwise conflictory activities and/or states (symbolized by in/yin yo/yang). Based on a variety of factors, this can be applied very deeply into ones own body, creating proportional degrees of flexibility and powerful movement, but can also be applied as a principle for affecting circumstances around us beyond that use of balanced, whole-body power.

Would it be better to say aiki is whole-body(-ies) cohesion or whole-body(-ies) power? Neither? Both?

Accepting this as a general view of Aiki. Lets refine it even more. Lee is quoted as saying it is a structure not support by the bones. Ok if we can't say what it is then lets say what it ain't. Is it not the nervous system? Is it not the muscular system? Is it not the facia. What part of human physiology do you think it is not?

dps

dps
09-08-2014, 12:14 AM
This sort of thing (http://www.biotensegrity.com/tensegrity_truss.php) has been discussed on Aikiweb (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=291842&postcount=1) for years - I see that you've participated in some of the discussions:


Yes I did. That thread was dated 09-06-2011.

There is an earlier thread about the same subject that I started on 04-06-2010 ;

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17927.

and a post on 02-07-2010 ;

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=251790&highlight=biotensegrity#post251790.

What is your point?

dps

Dan Richards
09-08-2014, 08:52 AM
The differences in what Aiki looks like that I have encountered in my own training (as well as, truth be told, the difference between what the IP people talk about and what I have seen) have led me to think of Aiki as definitely a "phenomenon" or a state of being that occurs, as opposed to a "skill." There is skill in creating AIki but the skill is not the thing itself, and there are multiple skills and ways of building these skills.
I agree. And almost added – but didn't, because I was going for a succinct definition –  that Aiki is developed by a wide-ranging suite of skills and practices. But, as a whole, having the overall skill of Aiki can be demonstrated, just as can having the skill of cooking, playing a musical instrument, skateboarding, etc. can be demonstrated – albeit with often wildly varying degrees of skill. Aiki – with reference to physical movement – is a body skill.

And nothing about Aiki has ever led me to think of it as "power." I have also never thought of it as a thing that is created by the application or generation of "power," in fact that's the opposite of what all of my teachers have said. I've always noticed that when a high level practitioner performs technique on me, that I feel absolutely nothing. Nothing is making me move.
I agree. And when, in my definition, I state, "...the directing of power via the center/will through intent/mind." I am not implying that power is created or generated. It is directed by intent/mind.

So that's why I think of Aiki as an effect where you engage and surround / capture / absorb your opponents ki with your own, leaving you in charge of the combined ki.
I don't agree here. In the state of being of Aiki: 1. There is no opponent. 2. Their energy is not absorbed.

Cliff Judge
09-08-2014, 09:32 AM
I agree. And almost added -- but didn't, because I was going for a succinct definition --  that Aiki is developed by a wide-ranging suite of skills and practices. But, as a whole, having the overall skill of Aiki can be demonstrated, just as can having the skill of cooking, playing a musical instrument, skateboarding, etc. can be demonstrated -- albeit with often wildly varying degrees of skill. Aiki -- with reference to physical movement -- is a body skill.

Aiki is not developed, it is caused. The skills which cause it can be developed, naturally. They are not all body skills. Cooking is a skill, food is not a skill. Maybe it is, in fact, like music. Music is the result of skill at playing an instrument, and people will often refer to skill at playing an instrument as "musical skill" however "playing an instrument" well has the effect of "creating music."

Perhaps it is better to say that body skill is one way to make Aiki.


I agree. And when, in my definition, I state, "...the directing of power via the center/will through intent/mind." I am not implying that power is created or generated. It is directed by intent/mind.


There is no power there. Nothing measurable. You can call it "power" if you need a crutch for understanding, I guess, but I don't like to do so because a) none of my teachers have defined it as power and b) the classics seem to warn against the problems that arise when one seeks after power.

You can chalk up any manifestation of Aiki to fooling the receiver's proprioception. Body skill is certainly enormously useful when it comes to doing this, but its not the only way. (And IMO probably the least useful in a combative context).

Erick is really heading in the right direction here. I don't think there is any usefulness in people telling him he has no idea what he is talking about, particularly if they are going to throw a hissy when asked to provide an equally rational explanation. It just sort of looks bad.

On another point..."will" and "intent" are somewhat ambiguous these days. There has been neuroscience research lately that indicates that many times, when we believe we choose to do something - such as picking an object up - the parts of our brains that fire when we choose things, fire somewhat after we have begun the action itself.


I don't agree here. In the state of being of Aiki: 1. There is no opponent. 2. Their energy is not absorbed.

Sure, once Aiki has been caused, there is no opponent, because his energy has been absorbed.

jonreading
09-08-2014, 09:41 AM
To Erick's comments...
I am not sure I would say aiki is a structural response. Rather, internal power is the structural framework. Aiki is more like the manipulation of the response to the framework.

If I tell you to run full-speed into a concrete wall, your body will refuse. It will, using sensory perception, determine that the wall will not yield and the body will be injured by the action. The result of that analysis is an involuntary action that preserves the body. The wall did not perform aiki, yet it affected the body.

Ryne Sandberg used to say that he could anticipate where a batter was going to hit the baseball by the batters swing and the pitch - in some sense, reading the body posture of the batter. Our bodies give off signals that communicate to our partners. Internal power is the structure that gives off the signal that says, "I am a wall, don't hit me." Intent is the communication method that sends that signal.

Internal power is more related to tensegrity than aiki, as an order thing. In other words, I need to have internal power and intent before I can do aiki, so I necessarily have to have all those things in place that make my structure.

Aiki is the body manipulation that results from the partner attempting to analyse the communication. Best I can tell, the interaction is not bi-directional and it is causal. It is also not connective in the "we" sense, but rather the cause/effect sense.

My current working definitions are that intent is the manifestation of dueling opposing spirals within oneself supported by dantien/hara. Aiki is the manifestation of those opposites around a point of contact supported by dantien/hara. The point of contact can be external (i.e. a sword tip) and it does not need to be physical -but it has to be supported.

Lee's point (I think) was to indicate that through union of opposite energy in yourself, every point in your body is connected to your surroundings. A point of contact is simply an accommodation to a larger structure perspective. This is part of the various "think big" advisement comments we have..

kewms
09-08-2014, 09:44 AM
Sure, once Aiki has been caused, there is no opponent, because his energy has been absorbed.

In my understanding, the opponent's energy is not absorbed into my own structure, so much as redirected in a safe (for me) direction: past me, into the ground, etc. I'm a rock in the stream or a tree in the wind, not an immovable wall.

We may be talking about the same phenomena, but I find that telling people they need to "absorb" energy often leads to tension and rigidity.

Katherine

Cliff Judge
09-08-2014, 10:02 AM
In my understanding, the opponent's energy is not absorbed into my own structure, so much as redirected in a safe (for me) direction: past me, into the ground, etc. I'm a rock in the stream or a tree in the wind, not an immovable wall.

We may be talking about the same phenomena, but I find that telling people they need to "absorb" energy often leads to tension and rigidity.

Katherine

I didn't say anything about structure - I said that one system of energy is absorbed by another system of energy. "System of energy" is currently the best I can come up with to describe a complex of physical and non-physical things that include intention and attention, to name two.

I hear you on "absorbed" but this is an intellectual, theoretical discussion we are having. Actual training should keep this kind of discussion and processing to a bare minimum, IMO.

Dan Richards
09-08-2014, 10:53 AM
There is no power there. Nothing measurable. You can call it "power" if you need a crutch for understanding, I guess, but I don't like to do so because a) none of my teachers have defined it as power and b) the classics seem to warn against the problems that arise when one seeks after power.

There is absolutely "power," and it is absolutely measurable and demonstrable, Cliff. And it's important to understand that there is "energy" and there is "power," and they are not the same thing. I don't like the word "energy" when it's used incorrectly. And it's unconstructive to treat the word "power" as some sort of dirty word, or as something undesirable.

Simple example: A river is running through a town. The river is providing energy, but not power. Power, in physics, is defined as "the rate of doing work." Power implies that energy is directed towards a functional end result. So, we've got a river with energy, but we have no power. So, we put in a damn which converts some of the energy into power. We can then direct that power according to intent, which is determined by the will (center). Where do we want that power to go? Oh, how about to our homes, and businesses, and communities, so we can see and be comfortable and productive. So, that we can use that power to create some cool stuff.

And guess what's really cool? The "opposing forces" of the river and the damn (in/yo) and the neutralization of those forces is exactly what creates "power."

I agree, too, with the classics stating one should not seek power. There's no need to "seek" something that is already intrinsic, – but often latent –  within the energies of our universe. The potential for power is in the river, but it exists only as energy – until it is directed towards a purpose. Then it becomes power.

If you are in a room, and there is a cello in the room, there exists the potential energies for you to learn, and then demonstrate your ability to play the cello (power). If you don't want to play cello, it's because your will/center was not engaged, so you and the cello exist only as potentialities of energies.

The "power" I'm talking about, that is directed by intent, is as light as feather, and has the lightest touch. And I agree that with a skilled practitioner of Aiki, you're not going to feel anything coming from them.

Dan Richards
09-08-2014, 11:04 AM
I hear you on "absorbed" but this is an intellectual, theoretical discussion we are having. Actual training should keep this kind of discussion and processing to a bare minimum, IMO.

It's not an intellectual or theoretical discussion. It's straight up applied physics.

The damn does not absorb the energy of the river. The damn redirects the energy. And it's in that redirection of energy that power is produced.

Guess what happens when a damn begins to absorb water (the energy of the river) – due to a weaken structure? The damn bursts!

Cliff Judge
09-08-2014, 11:05 AM
There is absolutely "power," and it is absolutely measurable and demonstrable, Cliff.

Measurable? Show me the measurements.

It's not an intellectual or theoretical discussion. It's straight up applied physics

Neuroscience is where the real story is being told.

kewms
09-08-2014, 11:12 AM
It's not an intellectual or theoretical discussion. It's straight up applied physics.

There is nothing "straight up" about applying physics to non-rigid bodies like humans. The math becomes completely intractable very quickly. Nor, as Cliff pointed out, is it possible to ignore the control system (neuroscience).

Katherine

Dan Richards
09-08-2014, 11:37 AM
Measurable? Show me the measurements.

Sure, there are countless ways. I could start with the "keystone." And note where it says, ...a masonry arch or vault cannot be self-supporting until the keystone is placed, the keystone experiences the least stress of any of the voussoirs, due to its position at the apex.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystone_%28architecture%29

The physical forces being applied to any keystone can be measured to a great degree of accuracy. And the effectiveness of the action of the keystone can clearly be demonstrated by 1. The keystone is in place, the arch stands. 2. The keystone is removed, the arch crumbles.

And, back to our damn: the power created by a damn can be accurately measured.

So, I've already given you two examples of demonstrable and measurable power. I can keep going. Would you like some more?

Neuroscience is where the real story is being told.
Neuroscience can give us some insights, and, of course, perhaps, increase our resolution into processes further than we may have seen. But it's still a means of description, and "the map is not the territory."

There's just as much, if not more, of the "story" being told down by the river at the damn.

And even more of the real story is being told by the actual practice and application of Aiki.

Cliff Judge
09-08-2014, 11:45 AM
There is nothing "straight up" about applying physics to non-rigid bodies like humans. The math becomes completely intractable very quickly. Nor, as Cliff pointed out, is it possible to ignore the control system (neuroscience).

Katherine

It's not even that. Assuming you could measure all the forces at work on two bodies engaged in some kind of aiki thing, how would you measure the amount of "internal power" or "unusual power" being used as opposed to, you know, muscles and stuff.

It boils down to trickery, essentially. Deception. At least, in so far as it would be useful in combat. A lot of the koryu systems address trickery and deception directly. It wasn't until the modern era when people wanted to be awed by the lost secrets of yore that there was a market for a little man to go travel around giving seminars where he performed seemingly magic tricks on people.

Dan Richards
09-08-2014, 12:00 PM
There is nothing "straight up" about applying physics to non-rigid bodies like humans. The math becomes completely intractable very quickly. Nor, as Cliff pointed out, is it possible to ignore the control system (neuroscience).
The physics is not applied to the "non-rigid" bodies, which, I agree, can have nearly an infinite amount of variables, and is far beyond any sciences we currently have.

What I was implying is that "straight up" applied physics can be used to determine and measure the forces and vectors and motion being directed by a physical body.

Cliff Judge
09-08-2014, 12:02 PM
Sure, there are countless ways. I could start with the "keystone." And note where it says, ...a masonry arch or vault cannot be self-supporting until the keystone is placed, the keystone experiences the least stress of any of the voussoirs, due to its position at the apex.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystone_%28architecture%29

The physical forces being applied to any keystone can be measured to a great degree of accuracy. And the effectiveness of the action of the keystone can clearly be demonstrated by 1. The keystone is in place, the arch stands. 2. The keystone is removed, the arch crumbles.

And, back to our damn: the power created by a damn can be accurately measured.

So, I've already given you two examples of demonstrable and measurable power. I can keep going. Would you like some more?

Far out, man! So without Aiki the keystone would totally break?

PeterR
09-08-2014, 12:14 PM
Personally I think Matthew is mad - mad in the sort of poking a bees nest with a short stick while naked mad. Either that or he likes to cause trouble. From my experience with him - I will stay with mad.

I still think Shioda's description in the best both with respect to clarity and simplicity but obviously that's not enough for some. I am perfectly happy with the other nuances introduced by the likes of Takeda's son - all are relatively simple. I don't think you can get very complicated describing aiki just as you can not understand it by observation or fully understand it just receiving the technique. It is something you must do yourself before you can start improving and adjusting.

Too much thinking, description will hinder rather than help.

Dan Richards
09-08-2014, 12:20 PM
It's not even that. Assuming you could measure all the forces at work on two bodies engaged in some kind of aiki thing, how would you measure the amount of "internal power" or "unusual power" being used as opposed to, you know, muscles and stuff.

It boils down to trickery, essentially. Deception. At least, in so far as it would be useful in combat. A lot of the koryu systems address trickery and deception directly. It wasn't until the modern era when people wanted to be awed by the lost secrets of yore that there was a market for a little man to go travel around giving seminars where he performed seemingly magic tricks on people.
Cliff, there's a great article written by Gaku Homma on some of the deception and trickery back in the day.

http://www.nippon-kan.org/senseis_articles/14/aikido-without-shu-and-ha.html

I think when we think about something that might have been termed "unusual power," we have to keep in mind that many who might have been experiencing it from someone were those coming from cultural backgrounds where the idea of big muscles and muscular strength was the norm. And it seems apparent that if they experienced a physical interaction with someone who was completely relaxed and could toss them around, that they would describe that as "unusual power."

Even now, when I demonstrate to people the intrinsic strength and powerful ability of their own naturally-relaxed bodies, they find it "unusual." I can grab a small, skinny women with two hands on her arms, and she won't be able to move. But then I ask her to forget about me and my hands grabbing her, and for her to just go back into her own relaxed, natural energy. Then I ask her to do commonplace moves, like scratch her nose, take off her glasses, even take off my glasses. She's able to do them effortlessly.

If she tries and muscles me, she can't move. If she relaxes and forgets about me, she can move freely.

That is, by many people's standards, unless they've experienced it firsthand, "unusual." And, even for many, it remains unusual until they get used to it.

There's no trick to it. No deception. Just taping into the intrinsic strength and power within our own bodies and psyches.

Dan Richards
09-08-2014, 12:24 PM
Far out, man! So without Aiki the keystone would totally break?
Aiki is the keystone. Without the keystone, there is no arch. Without Aiki there is no Aikido. Pretty simple.

Erick Mead
09-08-2014, 12:49 PM
To Erick's comments...
I am not sure I would say aiki is a structural response. Rather, internal power is the structural framework. Aiki is more like the manipulation of the response to the framework.
... The result ... is an involuntary action that preserves the body. The wall did not perform aiki, yet it affected the body.
This is going somewhere useful, conceptually. Involuntary action and structural protection.

But if it were just the structure everyone would have it -- and I don't believe that is the case. But if there is a structural response, one that is not consciously under direct control -- it will not seem like an "action" when it occurs. It will seem like "the wall," when in fact it wasn't the wall at all -- it is a visual field flinch reflex based on apparent closure rate actuated by the superior colliculus before the conscious visual cortex even gets the signal to process.

What is the structure or response preferentially protecting against? I offer two different ways of answering that question -- one founded on mechanical principle and one founded in empirical experience in aikido.

The first is that all structures are weakest in shear and especially torsional shear. Shear is a combination of tension and compression at right angles. Structures are weakest in shear because they must be equally strong both in tensile and compressive strength -- and most materials are weaker in one or the other. Torsional shear is worse yet because most materials and structures are strong in some axes and weaker in others -- and torsion spirals the tensile and compressive stresses of the shear through all 3 axes at once -- and concentrates at any discontinuity or weak spot where its effects are most notably felt or seen.

Certain spinal reflexes respond to these signals to avoid structural damage before voluntary motor perception or action can occur. The muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs (http://frankdag.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/GTO.jpg)mediate these reflexes, and are sensitive to the amount and rate of load on the muscle or stretch on the tendon associated with a muscle bundle. This is the physiology behind pressure-point tuite and targeted in yonkyo.

Secondly. in Aikido, we see this vulnerability exploited displayed in sankyo and aiki-age (firing the extensor reflex arc), and in nikkyo, kotegaeshi, and aikisage (firing the flexor reflex arc) They are also sensitive to certain oscillation -- because at certain rates these present sensations of uncontrollable shear at joints (positive and negative phases so close they appear to be acting at the same time -- as far as the body can tell).

This occurs at the resonance frequency of the body 5Hz (furitama) and its first harmonic at 10Hz (tekubifuri). Resonance is particularly dangerous because undamped resonance will increase in amplitude until it destroys a structure-- like a glass shattering -- or the Tacoma Narrows bridge tearing itself to pieces in moderate wind. The body responds wiht the flexor or extensor arcs -- or both in succession depending on how the peak phases of the oscillating stretch hits the sensor bundles.

Slightly higher frequencies (starting at ~30Hz) cause the tonic vibration reflex response, though this is of less certain of application here. Sustained vibration at these frequencies causes involuntary contraction of the smooth muscle-like fascia surrounding the skeletal muscle fiber bundles -- like your hands that become clenched from the vibration of the tines when raking leaves.

Our bodies give off signals that communicate to our partners. Internal power is the structure that gives off the signal that says, "I am a wall, don't hit me." Intent is the communication method that sends that signal.If you and I are correct about the the involuntary nature of these structural protections, then "intent" is an inaccurate and misleading word -- though understandable.

If the perception and active control is happening below conscious perception and too fast for direct reaction (and it is, we seem to agree on this much) then the more accurate description is a feed-forward control. A feed-forward control is something readied or actuated BEFORE the action or event to which it is meant to address, but because the control is based on a known pattern of the action or event -- the control effects a change in the event or action when it does occur, even though the control preceded it in time.

Internal power is more related to tensegrity than aiki, as an order thing. In other words, I need to have internal power and intent before I can do aiki, so I necessarily have to have all those things in place that make my structure.

To say that the structures are like tensegrity models is not wrong -- but it is incomplete. The architectural tensegrity structures are polyhedrally organized -- the body plainly isn't. This linked model, though, is a good guide to what is very probably correct as to the spine, (http://tensegrity.wikispaces.com/file/view/Spines_models_05-TVM-3.2%2C_05-SVM-3.1%2C_05-TS-1.1_Spiral_Vertebral_Masts_by_Flemons.JPG/160672961/367x426/Spines_models_05-TVM-3.2%2C_05-SVM-3.1%2C_05-TS-1.1_Spiral_Vertebral_Masts_by_Flemons.JPG) It takes little imagination in those models to see that there are spiral load paths tracing along the "tendons" attached to the spinal processes. The limb muscles not only perform opposed levered joint action but also supinate and pronate the limb causing torsion of the limb. These reciprocal spiral paths through the sensor bundles are vulnerable to torques. The resonant oscillations attack all of them, sequentially.

Aiki is the body manipulation that results from the partner attempting to analyse the communication. ...
My current working definitions are that intent is the manifestation of dueling opposing spirals within oneself supported by dantien/hara. Aiki is the manifestation of those opposites around a point of contact supported by dantien/hara. The point of contact can be external (i.e. a sword tip) and it does not need to be physical -but it has to be supported.
Spirals of what is the issue. And "intent" toward them in what manner.

I say they are spirals of the shear of torsion -- fire in tension, water in compression (to use the traditional mode), exploiting reflex arcs, and a related physiological action based on critical oscillations. Both of these have field effects in any structure in continuity -- hence the importance of the quality of connection.

Where I believe I differ from what you seem to be doing is that I think this IS a two-way street -- both in exploiting the attacker's vulnerabilities and exploiting the defender's reflexive aspects counter-offensively also. I think that there are reflexive actions that have offensive value if used in a feed-forward fashion. There are some other neurological and physiological points that inform these perspectives as far as recommendations for training, and constructive critiques of certain modes of training, but that is enough for this response, since "succinct" already went by the boards...

Erick Mead
09-08-2014, 01:20 PM
The physics is not applied to the "non-rigid" bodies, which, I agree, can have nearly an infinite amount of variables, and is far beyond any sciences we currently have. Not at all... if you apply a rotation or torque to a non-rigid structure you organize it as a field and reduce it to two essential mechanical variables ... one of radius and the other of either stress or angular velocity - which is a function of radius. Even gasses and fluids.

Dan Richards
09-08-2014, 02:38 PM
Erick, I was replying to Katherine's assertion...

There is nothing "straight up" about applying physics to non-rigid bodies like humans. The math becomes completely intractable very quickly.

In this instance, we're talking specifically about human bodies. Are you agreeing with Katherine, or disagreeing with both of us?

Cliff stated in #34, I hear you on "absorbed" but this is an intellectual, theoretical discussion we are having. Actual training should keep this kind of discussion and processing to a bare minimum, IMO.

To which I replied in #36, It's not an intellectual or theoretical discussion. It's straight up applied physics.

What's your take?

mathewjgano
09-08-2014, 02:39 PM
Personally I think Matthew is mad - mad in the sort of poking a bees nest with a short stick while naked mad. Either that or he likes to cause trouble. From my experience with him - I will stay with mad.

I think I have to agree. I'm the kind of guy who will purposefully move into the right lane on the freeway as I approach an on-ramp, under the mistaken notion that I can somehow facilitate the merging better. Too often I find myself just more stuck in traffic. I view these discussions as exercises in engaging a difficult topic. I thought if I framed things in my own terms we might avoid some of the common difficulties of the past, but it can be hard to revisit topics without bringing some of the old baggage along with it I guess.
Whatever the case is for the nature of this thread, I'd like to pass along clarification of Lee's quote that I used.
[The quote] is not me defining aiki, it is me describing an aspect of internal power, but not really defining internal power very well either.

Thank you, Lee. It might not be very well done (I can't tell; beyond my pay grade), but I do find it useful to consider (and posted it more to point out that there are indeed straightforward descriptions that have been made).

Too much thinking, description will hinder rather than help.
Along these lines, I'm finding the simplest descriptions seem the most helpful. In the past I've also noticed that in the more drawn out conversations, I get confused and forget simple points that were made earlier. So again, folks, please do try to keep things as concise as possible. It might not be a sufficient description, but I do think it makes the conversation go more easily.

I'll try to respond more directly to some of the comments people have made (thank you, everyone for taking the time), but for now it's prepping for preschool and other more important things (and I've been trying to work on thinking more about what I want to say before actually doing so).

kewms
09-08-2014, 02:48 PM
What I was implying is that "straight up" applied physics can be used to determine and measure the forces and vectors and motion being directed by a physical body.

Which means you've measured the external effects without getting any particular insight into what's going on in either person's body. Since the internal structure/movement is what we're trying to emulate, that doesn't seem particularly helpful.

Katherine

kewms
09-08-2014, 02:58 PM
Not at all... if you apply a rotation or torque to a non-rigid structure you organize it as a field and reduce it to two essential mechanical variables ... one of radius and the other of either stress or angular velocity - which is a function of radius. Even gasses and fluids.

Consider a spherical aikidoka, completely filled with ki?

I think you need quite a few more variables than that to describe the deformation of a non-rigid body under the influence of a non-uniform applied force. When you start to consider real humans, who have tissues of varying degrees of rigidity (bone, muscle, fascia) which are individually and collectively subjected to non-uniform forces, then the number of variables escalates quite quickly.

Katherine

Erick Mead
09-08-2014, 03:21 PM
Erick, I was replying to Katherine's assertion...

In this instance, we're talking specifically about human bodies. Are you agreeing with Katherine, or disagreeing with both of us? A bit of both, but disagreeing with both in the main, I believe. As an arbitrary collection of particles, the vector state of all particles at any given time is rightly incalculable. But no one does that. They are treated systemically, if there is any property or condition that causes them to act as a system.

Bulk properties are systematic conditions -- things like pressure, temperature and volume of a gas or fluid, are systemic properties, and which vary by simple laws despite the immense dynamic complexity of their constituents. Even that bulk dynamic complexity can be simplified mechanically -- induced rotation can systemically organize the mechanics of even fluids or gasses, causing the vector states to obey field laws defined by the geometry of the system and gradients of relative energy. There is no reason to think that the human body is different in this regard, and much reason and experience leading one to conclude that it is.

The human body responds critically to certain types of coordinated stresses in typical and repeatable ways, and so it may be treated systematically on those points. I have been teasing out the factors that go into -- what I hope will be -- the simple laws of those relationships that describe its operation under those systemic conditions. Not supercomputers -- but more straightforwardly applicable relationships or parameters -- like gases vary in volume or pressure in proportion to temperature -- and temperature varies inversely to volume. And the exceptions -- of which there will surely be some important ones.

Human bodies do certain things involuntarily with certain kinds of twist, rotation and/or oscillations,and the opposite with the inverse forms. With that will come insight, I hope -- for many people -- into several training methods that seem to exploit those things and make them more available and effective in consistency and learning.

Erick Mead
09-08-2014, 03:32 PM
Consider a spherical aikidoka, completely filled with ki? You forgot vacuum -- A spherical aikidoka in a vacuum.

I think you need quite a few more variables than that to describe the deformation of a non-rigid body under the influence of a non-uniform applied force. When you start to consider real humans, who have tissues of varying degrees of rigidity (bone, muscle, fascia) which are individually and collectively subjected to non-uniform forces, then the number of variables escalates quite quickly. First of all, stop looking for variables and start looking for the constants that make systemic conditions. An applied force can be non-uniform and still be systemic.

Secondly, even the variables are not random -- not if you organize the body as a field. A field is a state where the variables become correlated to each other in definable ways -- then there are general laws of relationship across the field that can be applied based on the field properties, and not isolated constituent behavior. Then the discontinuities in the system are fighting the gradient of geometry and energy in the whole mechanical field. That is certainly the way the IP/IS crowd speaks of what they perceive ... And say what you like about the concept of Ki in Eastern thought -- but it is almost universally spoken of in terms of field-like properties. Since I don't dismiss either of these lines of thought, I find that informative and suggestive.

phitruong
09-09-2014, 08:52 AM
thought i would throw in my view of aiki, since i believed everyone else idea of aiki is wrong, except for mine. :)

aiki is one of the many applications of internal power where one manages, through nullification or augmentation, energies/forces applied and/or in physical contact to oneself.

application - there are many from internal power, analogy to combustion engine and its applications.
manage - using the whole body structure - bones, muscle, body fluid, air (lung), fascia, and so on. manage also implied control mechanism which through training of will power/intent.
nullification - dissipate energies/forces. analogy to ground lightning.
augmentation - adding one own energies/forces to the applied energies/forces and channel the direction of the combine energies/forces to wherever one intended (see manage)

is that high level enough so it won't get bog down to what you mean by "the" and "of" and "to"?

sakumeikan
09-09-2014, 10:54 AM
You forgot vacuum -- A spherical aikidoka in a vacuum.

First of all, stop looking for variables and start looking for the constants that make systemic conditions. An applied force can be non-uniform and still be systemic.

Secondly, even the variables are not random -- not if you organize the body as a field. A field is a state where the variables become correlated to each other in definable ways -- then there are general laws of relationship across the field that can be applied based on the field properties, and not isolated constituent behavior. Then the discontinuities in the system are fighting the gradient of geometry and energy in the whole mechanical field. That is certainly the way the IP/IS crowd speaks of what they perceive ... And say what you like about the concept of Ki in Eastern thought -- but it is almost universally spoken of in terms of field-like properties. Since I don't dismiss either of these lines of thought, I find that informative and suggestive.
Dear Erick,
Gee whiz, I always thought a field was something cows , horses /sheep ran around or just spent time chewing the grass.You learn something new every day!!Cheers, Joe

jonreading
09-09-2014, 11:12 AM
This is going somewhere useful, conceptually. Involuntary action and structural protection.

But if it were just the structure everyone would have it -- and I don't believe that is the case. But if there is a structural response, one that is not consciously under direct control -- it will not seem like an "action" when it occurs. It will seem like "the wall," when in fact it wasn't the wall at all -- it is a visual field flinch reflex based on apparent closure rate actuated by the superior colliculus before the conscious visual cortex even gets the signal to process.

What is the structure or response preferentially protecting against? I offer two different ways of answering that question -- one founded on mechanical principle and one founded in empirical experience in aikido.

The first is that all structures are weakest in shear and especially torsional shear. Shear is a combination of tension and compression at right angles. Structures are weakest in shear because they must be equally strong both in tensile and compressive strength -- and most materials are weaker in one or the other. Torsional shear is worse yet because most materials and structures are strong in some axes and weaker in others -- and torsion spirals the tensile and compressive stresses of the shear through all 3 axes at once -- and concentrates at any discontinuity or weak spot where its effects are most notably felt or seen.

Certain spinal reflexes respond to these signals to avoid structural damage before voluntary motor perception or action can occur. The muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs (http://frankdag.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/GTO.jpg)mediate these reflexes, and are sensitive to the amount and rate of load on the muscle or stretch on the tendon associated with a muscle bundle. This is the physiology behind pressure-point tuite and targeted in yonkyo.

Secondly. in Aikido, we see this vulnerability exploited displayed in sankyo and aiki-age (firing the extensor reflex arc), and in nikkyo, kotegaeshi, and aikisage (firing the flexor reflex arc) They are also sensitive to certain oscillation -- because at certain rates these present sensations of uncontrollable shear at joints (positive and negative phases so close they appear to be acting at the same time -- as far as the body can tell).

This occurs at the resonance frequency of the body 5Hz (furitama) and its first harmonic at 10Hz (tekubifuri). Resonance is particularly dangerous because undamped resonance will increase in amplitude until it destroys a structure-- like a glass shattering -- or the Tacoma Narrows bridge tearing itself to pieces in moderate wind. The body responds wiht the flexor or extensor arcs -- or both in succession depending on how the peak phases of the oscillating stretch hits the sensor bundles.

Slightly higher frequencies (starting at ~30Hz) cause the tonic vibration reflex response, though this is of less certain of application here. Sustained vibration at these frequencies causes involuntary contraction of the smooth muscle-like fascia surrounding the skeletal muscle fiber bundles -- like your hands that become clenched from the vibration of the tines when raking leaves.

If you and I are correct about the the involuntary nature of these structural protections, then "intent" is an inaccurate and misleading word -- though understandable.

If the perception and active control is happening below conscious perception and too fast for direct reaction (and it is, we seem to agree on this much) then the more accurate description is a feed-forward control. A feed-forward control is something readied or actuated BEFORE the action or event to which it is meant to address, but because the control is based on a known pattern of the action or event -- the control effects a change in the event or action when it does occur, even though the control preceded it in time.

To say that the structures are like tensegrity models is not wrong -- but it is incomplete. The architectural tensegrity structures are polyhedrally organized -- the body plainly isn't. This linked model, though, is a good guide to what is very probably correct as to the spine, (http://tensegrity.wikispaces.com/file/view/Spines_models_05-TVM-3.2%2C_05-SVM-3.1%2C_05-TS-1.1_Spiral_Vertebral_Masts_by_Flemons.JPG/160672961/367x426/Spines_models_05-TVM-3.2%2C_05-SVM-3.1%2C_05-TS-1.1_Spiral_Vertebral_Masts_by_Flemons.JPG) It takes little imagination in those models to see that there are spiral load paths tracing along the "tendons" attached to the spinal processes. The limb muscles not only perform opposed levered joint action but also supinate and pronate the limb causing torsion of the limb. These reciprocal spiral paths through the sensor bundles are vulnerable to torques. The resonant oscillations attack all of them, sequentially.

Spirals of what is the issue. And "intent" toward them in what manner.

I say they are spirals of the shear of torsion -- fire in tension, water in compression (to use the traditional mode), exploiting reflex arcs, and a related physiological action based on critical oscillations. Both of these have field effects in any structure in continuity -- hence the importance of the quality of connection.

Where I believe I differ from what you seem to be doing is that I think this IS a two-way street -- both in exploiting the attacker's vulnerabilities and exploiting the defender's reflexive aspects counter-offensively also. I think that there are reflexive actions that have offensive value if used in a feed-forward fashion. There are some other neurological and physiological points that inform these perspectives as far as recommendations for training, and constructive critiques of certain modes of training, but that is enough for this response, since "succinct" already went by the boards...

To pick and choose my response to the bolded items...

Structure absolutely separates body comparison and not everyone does have it. Anyone who watched football this weekend probably experienced several opportunities to experience the [external] nature of a compromised structure. My brain is not dumb- it is usually not fooled by falsity. When my body is deciding whether or not it can accomplish a task (i.e. running through my partner), it is not going to be fooled by my partner saying, "I am a wall." My intent needs to match my structure or its false. Its not just visual - its sensory.

Aiki is bad news. Someone who moves with internal power and aiki is serious bad news. When you contact these people, you are instantly in jeopardy. Not your wrist, not your face; its not a bruise or a hard fall. Your entire body should feel compromised and unsafe. The waza we know is the nice response, not the primary response. That nikyo you feel is an acute representation of the entirety of your body jeopardy. Kansetsu waza in aiki are not as small as joint manipulation - they affect your entire body - that's why O Sensei dropped the variations of kansetsu waza and named principles of body control.

Aiki moves faster than the body can react. O Sensei mentioned the devastating true nature of aiki and purposefully slowed it down to give our partners time to participate. Intent is a significant tool that gives us (as partners) the opportunity to understand what will happen to our bodies unless we figure out something...and fast. It is part of our training to give our partners time to react. Messores Sensei talks about the timing of allowing your partner to participate in technique - If you don't want to let uke resist nikyo, do it faster (but corectly). Correct technique performed quicker than uke can respond is dangerous but it sure encourages compliance since uke's first response cannot be to resist.

Core concepts that transcend tensegrity are suspended (oppositional) tension, pressure and conformity that maintains structure. One thing moves, everything moves. We have a t-shirt.

Aiki is not waza. As long as "do to uke" is part of the conversation, it will be hard to contextualize aiki. Waza does not beget aiki; aiki begets waza. Mechanics are the stuff of jujutsu - you are not differentiating jujutsu from aikido by explaining mechanics of form, however sophisticated.

Erick Mead
09-09-2014, 12:30 PM
Structure absolutely separates body comparison and not everyone does have it. Anyone who watched football this weekend probably experienced several opportunities to experience the [external] nature of a compromised structure. We are using the word "structure" differently -- but not - I think actually disagreeing. "Structure" as I am using it refers to the general arrangement of components of the body to each other and not how they are particularly arranged to deal with an external load. You seem to mean it in the latter sense.

I would refer to that as two different things: "structural action/response" for something requiring a change in arrangement in response to load, or "structural form" which is a principle where shape carries the load more than primary stresses in the material. For instance, a beam carries load primarily through bending stress in the material, and requires a certain amount of material to spread the load without exceeding the strength of the material. But reorient that beam as a column for the same load and the shape and orientation in respect of the load alone allows you to use orders of magnitude less of material than is needed in the beam.

My brain is not dumb- it is usually not fooled by falsity. Sure it is -- perceptual illusions abound. I can detail some that will kill you dead when flying if you assume what you subjectively feel is objectively true. YOU are not dumb, however -- and your mind can get around the problem of physical illusions created by your brain & body.

When my body is deciding whether or not it can accomplish a task (i.e. running through my partner), it is not going to be fooled by my partner saying, "I am a wall." My intent needs to match my structure or its false. Its not just visual - its sensory. Don't deny the sensory part. But illusion can be kinesthetic as much as visual. The perception is real. What it suggest of the objective reality is not, necessarily. I am not saying this is one of those -- I am just saying you can't -- as a matter of principle --just dismiss it out of hand when dealing with something subliminal in perception and action. Nor should we even so -- as deception is an inherent aspect of martial action. As Sun Tzu says: "All war is deception. ... Let your plans be dark and as impenetratable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt."

Aiki is bad news. ... Your entire body should feel compromised and unsafe. ... That nikyo you feel is an acute representation of the entirety of your body jeopardy. ... and a ready guide to what it is that makes the whole body feel in immediate jeopardy. Nikkyo can be applied so as to pop all the joints loose -- this is a jujutsu waza. It can also be applied with a mere pulse or shudder -- and which is not at all inherently damaging -- but the body certainly acts catastrophically as if it were. I'd call that a manipulation based on a bodily illusion. The orientation of the waza tells you something about the mechanism(s) of that illusion. The shudder tells you something about the nature of that illusion. The physiology of response to certain forms of stresses tells you even more.

Aiki moves faster than the body can react. O Sensei mentioned the devastating true nature of aiki and purposefully slowed it down to give our partners time to participate. No debate. On the other hand, as a teaching point -- fast is a wide-open invitation to substitute mere momentum, as is so frequently the case -- and is often wrong -- though seemingly effective. If it works slow, it will work fast -- if the opponent cannot adapt slow, he cannot adapt fast.

Aiki is not waza. As long as "do to uke" is part of the conversation, it will be hard to contextualize aiki. Waza does not beget aiki; aiki begets waza. Mechanics are the stuff of jujutsu - you are not differentiating jujutsu from aikido by explaining mechanics of form, however sophisticated.By "mechanics" I do not mean "push-pull" rube-goldberg chains of action/ reaction. I agree that is jutsu -- and not what we are trying to deal with.

I mean to understanding how the human machine (mechanism) works and how it fails to work. I mean closer to what you mean by "structure" -- in that how the body arranges itself -- and how we choose to arrange it ( or train it to arrange itself, to be more precise) -- are part of those questions.

That does not mean it is not something that is "done." Aiki is not a manner of being -- it is a manner of doing -- it may be that it is not primarily directed by the conscious mind -- and that lack of immediate awareness gives it martial value. That gap in awareness would make it seem subjectively a condition of being upon being achieved -- but that does not mean it is not objectively something that is done. It is not something that alters the material substance (like the various body-hardening methods do). It is analogized to those "body" methods in many discussions -- and far too loosely, IMO -- for it is something far different.

RonRagusa
09-09-2014, 02:26 PM
Aiki is not waza. As long as "do to uke" is part of the conversation, it will be hard to contextualize aiki. Waza does not beget aiki; aiki begets waza. Mechanics are the stuff of jujutsu - you are not differentiating jujutsu from aikido by explaining mechanics of form, however sophisticated.

By "mechanics" I do not mean "push-pull" rube-goldberg chains of action/ reaction.

Aiki is not a manner of being -- it is a manner of doing -- it may be that it is not primarily directed by the conscious mind -- and that lack of immediate awareness gives it martial value. That gap in awareness would make it seem subjectively a condition of being upon being achieved -- but that does not mean it is not objectively something that is done. It is not something that alters the material substance (like the various body-hardening methods do). It is analogized to those "body" methods in many discussions -- and far too loosely, IMO -- for it is something far different.

Given the two opposing viewpoints, my vote goes with Jon here. You can train waza form now till the cows come home, but without the inner work (by whatever path), you will most likely never achieve that "condition of being".

I have encountered many very strong and powerful Aikido people in my years on the mat. And I've noticed that they fall into two categories. There are people who are able to overpower you through sheer strength, good timing and the promise of injury if you decide to fight the throw. They are very effective at what they do.

Others I have met are able to overpower you in a way that isn't wholly understandable physically. They are soft while being absolutely unyielding. Being thrown by someone like that is more like walking into the technique than having it applied as in the first case. In essence folks in the second category deprive you of the ability to remain on your feet or just don't leave you anywhere to stand. They are also very effective at what they do.

Ron

Cliff Judge
09-09-2014, 02:47 PM
What is the rationale for distinguishing Aikido from jujutsu again?

It seems strange, because Takeda was a jujutsu guy, Ueshiba was a jujutsu guy, then when he decided to get out from under Takeda's shadow he started taking his art in a new direction. But when we say we want to restore the full internal power glory of Aikido that will make it a truly effective martial art, we seem to be yearning for the days when Ueshiba was doing jujutsu, not when he was yelling at his ukes for not taking falls for him.

Erick Mead
09-09-2014, 08:42 PM
Given the two opposing viewpoints, ... ... on that aspect I really don't think we are opposed-- just different perspectives.

Others I have met are able to overpower you in a way that isn't wholly understandable physically. They are soft while being absolutely unyielding. Being thrown by someone like that is more like walking into the technique than having it applied as in the first case. In essence folks in the second category deprive you of the ability to remain on your feet or just don't leave you anywhere to stand. They are also very effective at what they do. Take Zhan Zhuang as a training tool -- just stand there. In various postures -- but still. Just standing. Sounds silly-- but it's not.

Just standing is an amazingly complex bit of feed-forward control and barely noticeable stabilizing oscillations. One major point of Zhan Zhuang -- among other things -- is to become aware of how much really is occurring. Then you can begin to feed into it with patterns of action.. You may call it intent, if you like -- but the intent is always a premise to action -- so I prefer to look at the action, even when it is merely a stabilizing action. This intent or action premises on and amplifies what is already happening repeatedly in the body -- while just standing there.

What Jon and I are both trying to capture is the sense of WHAT one is capitalizing on and then HOW one should best capitalize on it. I am more focused on the former -- he is more focused on the latter. At least, so it appears to me.

kewms
09-09-2014, 08:52 PM
What is the rationale for distinguishing Aikido from jujutsu again?

It seems strange, because Takeda was a jujutsu guy, Ueshiba was a jujutsu guy, then when he decided to get out from under Takeda's shadow he started taking his art in a new direction. But when we say we want to restore the full internal power glory of Aikido that will make it a truly effective martial art, we seem to be yearning for the days when Ueshiba was doing jujutsu, not when he was yelling at his ukes for not taking falls for him.

I would phrase it a little differently. Is it possible to get to where O Sensei ended up without having the foundation that he built upon?

Katherine

Rupert Atkinson
09-10-2014, 02:59 AM
I would phrase it a little differently. Is it possible to get to where O Sensei ended up without having the foundation that he built upon?

Katherine

Of course not. But you can only follow his journey so far, then you have to carve out your own and make sure it's as good as it can be. Searching is the key.

Cliff Judge
09-10-2014, 06:18 AM
I would phrase it a little differently. Is it possible to get to where O Sensei ended up without having the foundation that he built upon?

Katherine

Is it possible to have a realistic understanding of "where Osensei ended up" at all?

Rupert Atkinson
09-10-2014, 08:05 AM
Is it possible to have a realistic understanding of "where Osensei ended up" at all?

Keep him in mind, but 99% of the time we need only worry about where we are at.

jonreading
09-10-2014, 09:21 AM
Cliff-

I am not messing with the jujutsu aspect because the thread is more aiki, less jujutsu. That's all. It is worth discussing, just maybe not on this thread. My point for Erick was that explaining good jujutsu does not really address "aiki", it only points out good jujutsu; of which there are plenty of people training who call it aikido.

As Sun Tzu says: "All war is deception. ... Let your plans be dark and as impenetratable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt."
So why, then, should any definition of aiki include a bi-directional communication-based relationship? Such as "connecting center"? It shouldn't. This is one of my main grievances with the "connected center" aikido stuff - whoever has the bigger center will always win. That's great, as long as you are the gal with the biggest center in the room.

As for the structure thing... Taken another way, it's to say that when our structure is superior to our partners, that is an advantage. When our structure can be evaluated by our partner, that is a disadvantage. When our structure can be overcome by our partner, that is a disadvantage. External structures can be evaluated and compromised. We can argue how easy that is (but probably another topic). The point is that our structure can do more for us if we use it differently. I want my partner to view my structure a s a giant immovable object that brings a rubix cube-like conundrum that requires her to figure out how to beat that object - more importantly devote effort and energy to figuring out what to do. All the while, I remain free to move and address her directly. And if I address her with an unstoppable force... I can actually create a shimmer of Chuck Norris...

Cliff Judge
09-10-2014, 10:49 AM
Cliff-

I am not messing with the jujutsu aspect because the thread is more aiki, less jujutsu. That's all. It is worth discussing, just maybe not on this thread. My point for Erick was that explaining good jujutsu does not really address "aiki", it only points out good jujutsu; of which there are plenty of people training who call it aikido.

So why, then, should any definition of aiki include a bi-directional communication-based relationship? Such as "connecting center"? It shouldn't. This is one of my main grievances with the "connected center" aikido stuff - whoever has the bigger center will always win. That's great, as long as you are the gal with the biggest center in the room.

As for the structure thing... Taken another way, it's to say that when our structure is superior to our partners, that is an advantage. When our structure can be evaluated by our partner, that is a disadvantage. When our structure can be overcome by our partner, that is a disadvantage. External structures can be evaluated and compromised. We can argue how easy that is (but probably another topic). The point is that our structure can do more for us if we use it differently. I want my partner to view my structure a s a giant immovable object that brings a rubix cube-like conundrum that requires her to figure out how to beat that object - more importantly devote effort and energy to figuring out what to do. All the while, I remain free to move and address her directly. And if I address her with an unstoppable force... I can actually create a shimmer of Chuck Norris...

This is part of what bothers me about the IP movement, you guys are all so concerned about winning, and beating, and overcoming and all that. The reason why Aikido spread around the world in the first place was because it had this really intriguing alternative martial philosophy about not fighting, not opposing, looking at conflict in terms other than win/lose. And the whole "connecting to your partner's center" has always been a very specific part of that.

It might be that I train in Washington DC but we do not get anyone new in the door who is not interested in connecting two centers. I mean that's the appeal of Aikido. It's like after decades of dealing with people saying Aikido is stupid because you can't "win" with Aikido, in the 21st century all of these senior Aikido people are now trying to cast Aiki as "the internal power which allows you to win."

The thing is, this is basically jujutsu talk. You are worried about connecting to partner's center, and partner's center is larger than you? There is a whole classification of martial arts that have been teaching smaller people how to handle bigger people for centuries. It's been classified as jujutsu since the 1800s in Japan. Jujutsu is seizing people, taking them down, avoiding their attacks, etc. The deception you speak of in your quote, that's a concept that is seriously considered in all the old koryu systems, including the ones known today as jujutsu systems. if you are trying to "do something" to somebody, you are in jujutsu land.

So let me modify my original definition a bit. Aiki is an effect that can be created via various means, wherein you capture or absorb your partner's ki with your own. You generally do some jujutsu on the combined system - i.e. you exert your will to cause something to happen that is advantageous for you, disadvantageous for them, ideally ends the conflict immediately, and by the way, free will is an illusion so all you are really doing is letting the combined system of ki resolve itself as it must.

Studying how to create Aiki just in and of itself is not a martial art. It can be budo, if you treat it serious as death and let it transform you. But you must study jujutsu if you want to learn how to create Aiki that can be used for self defense or combat. That guy who teaches you the internal power stuff of the questionable lineage, I recently read someone quote even him as saying that.

jonreading
09-10-2014, 11:23 AM
This is part of what bothers me about the IP movement, you guys are all so concerned about winning, and beating, and overcoming and all that. The reason why Aikido spread around the world in the first place was because it had this really intriguing alternative martial philosophy about not fighting, not opposing, looking at conflict in terms other than win/lose. And the whole "connecting to your partner's center" has always been a very specific part of that.

It might be that I train in Washington DC but we do not get anyone new in the door who is not interested in connecting two centers. I mean that's the appeal of Aikido. It's like after decades of dealing with people saying Aikido is stupid because you can't "win" with Aikido, in the 21st century all of these senior Aikido people are now trying to cast Aiki as "the internal power which allows you to win."

The thing is, this is basically jujutsu talk. You are worried about connecting to partner's center, and partner's center is larger than you? There is a whole classification of martial arts that have been teaching smaller people how to handle bigger people for centuries. It's been classified as jujutsu since the 1800s in Japan. Jujutsu is seizing people, taking them down, avoiding their attacks, etc. The deception you speak of in your quote, that's a concept that is seriously considered in all the old koryu systems, including the ones known today as jujutsu systems. if you are trying to "do something" to somebody, you are in jujutsu land.

So let me modify my original definition a bit. Aiki is an effect that can be created via various means, wherein you capture or absorb your partner's ki with your own. You generally do some jujutsu on the combined system - i.e. you exert your will to cause something to happen that is advantageous for you, disadvantageous for them, ideally ends the conflict immediately, and by the way, free will is an illusion so all you are really doing is letting the combined system of ki resolve itself as it must.

Studying how to create Aiki just in and of itself is not a martial art. It can be budo, if you treat it serious as death and let it transform you. But you must study jujutsu if you want to learn how to create Aiki that can be used for self defense or combat. That guy who teaches you the internal power stuff of the questionable lineage, I recently read someone quote even him as saying that.

Lots of things are appealing. It doesn't necessarily mean they are good for you. Nor does it mean they are bad. Aikido is about removing competition, but that is different than role play.

If two centers connect someone has to lead and someone has to follow - you cannot simply orbit in equality. If scripted winning and losing because nage is scripted to be the leader. While over-simplistic, modern aikido still does not evade the issue of winning or losing, it just scripts a winner and a loser. In script, a junior can be empowered to win over senior. A senior can facilitate losing to a junior. This is not martial and it does have appeal to some. I would not argue it is the appeal, but one of other appeals.

I have not personally experienced anyone (IP) with whom I work speak in terms of winning or losing outside of using that concept as a metric of performance. I have worked out with IP people who do not allow for a script, which puts significant pressure on my performance quality.

kewms
09-10-2014, 11:27 AM
This is part of what bothers me about the IP movement, you guys are all so concerned about winning, and beating, and overcoming and all that. The reason why Aikido spread around the world in the first place was because it had this really intriguing alternative martial philosophy about not fighting, not opposing, looking at conflict in terms other than win/lose. And the whole "connecting to your partner's center" has always been a very specific part of that.

AND because O Sensei was a serious badass.

If he hadn't had serious martial chops, no one would remember him as anything but a crazy Japanese mystic.

Here lies the paradox. In order to choose a non-violent, "harmonious" resolution to a conflict, you have to be able to handle serious attacks from extremely violent people who are intent on imposing their will on you. The claim is that IP is an essential element in being able to actually do that.

Katherine

Cliff Judge
09-10-2014, 11:46 AM
Lots of things are appealing. It doesn't necessarily mean they are good for you. Nor does it mean they are bad. Aikido is about removing competition, but that is different than role play.

If two centers connect someone has to lead and someone has to follow - you cannot simply orbit in equality. If scripted winning and losing because nage is scripted to be the leader. While over-simplistic, modern aikido still does not evade the issue of winning or losing, it just scripts a winner and a loser. In script, a junior can be empowered to win over senior. A senior can facilitate losing to a junior. This is not martial and it does have appeal to some. I would not argue it is the appeal, but one of other appeals.

I have not personally experienced anyone (IP) with whom I work speak in terms of winning or losing outside of using that concept as a metric of performance. I have worked out with IP people who do not allow for a script, which puts significant pressure on my performance quality.

Uke/nage roles during training are very different than a "loser/winner" script and they were used for hundreds of years in Japan to transmit martial skills amongst professionals. I don't think Aikido needs to work on the same paradigm as the koryu schools. But if you don't divide responsibilities like that you are wrestling, which is, you know...jujutsu.

phitruong
09-10-2014, 12:56 PM
This is part of what bothers me about the IP movement, you guys are all so concerned about winning, and beating, and overcoming and all that.

Actually, no. we aren't concerned about those stuffs. we are more focusing on world domination, and possibly fixing that pesky problem of world hunger once and for all.

methink, the IP marketing department hasn't been good at promoting its theme of "peace and harmony through superior fire power". ok, that's a bit of tongue in teeth kinda thing. of course the aikido marketing department is much better at advertising its peace and harmony concept. they have a lot more years to that. in most of human conflict, unless you are alien from mars then this doesn't count, there are only few possible outcomes: win, lose, or draw. and please let not deceive ourselves, that you like to lose. and then ask yourself, is the purpose of martial arts to lose? if the answer is yes, then why study martial arts unless it's an art of couch potato which would guarantee you the losing side, without sweating. maybe sweating if you pig out on some really spicy stuffs.

personally, i prefer the ability to decide whether i want to win, lose or draw. let me bold that "the ability to decide". if you don't have the ability, then all your waxing about peace and harmony is kinda meaningless to me, at very least, cause me some indigestion.

and for some reason, folks seem to equate IP to aiki. it's not. read my definition and my definition is always right. aiki is one, let me bold that "one", of the many applications of IP. it's an engine, no more no less. how you use the engine is up to you. it can be use to pump water or drive a battering ram through the wall. it can be use to lift a wheel chair off the bus or crush a car into a compact chunk. your choice. if you don't have the engine, you don't have that choice.

jonreading
09-10-2014, 12:58 PM
Uke/nage roles during training are very different than a "loser/winner" script and they were used for hundreds of years in Japan to transmit martial skills amongst professionals. I don't think Aikido needs to work on the same paradigm as the koryu schools. But if you don't divide responsibilities like that you are wrestling, which is, you know...jujutsu.

Correct. We have kata. Kata is intended to provide guidance for learning technique and defining roles. But kata does not address the degradation of uke and nage into winners and losers as we see it in the dojo. You're still not getting away from role play. This is where the koryu can preserve the integrity of the training while aikido starts to give out the white hats to nage and the black hats to uke...

So with kata, why do I need a partner to tell me what to do? I know the kata and have an understanding of my role. Why can't I just be the best uke possible and if my nage is doing bad kata, who cares? If I am not concerned with my partner its not a competition. This is an IP thing - it's not competition because your partner is affected by you, not the other way around.

Jeremy Hulley
09-10-2014, 01:00 PM
Here's a couple of thoughts sparked by this thread.

Kisshomaru Ueshiba speaks pretty explicitly about blending with your opponent's ki in The Spirit of Aikido

In regards to the term "power" that some people object too: It can be expressed in softness, in projection, in absorption, in making the partner or oppenent move in ways where they don't feel as if there they are being moved. Force is not met head on with force...then there is a conflict that feels like power.

Keith Larman
09-10-2014, 01:04 PM
This is part of what bothers me about the IP movement, you guys are all so concerned about winning, and beating, and overcoming and all that.

I'm sure there are those who do, but most I've met and trained with have no such illusions or concerns. Really the realization for most is that what we're discovering is finally being able to actually do those things we've always tried to do, just do them a bit more easily, a bit more powerfully, a bit more repeatedly, and on command. And in my case realizing it's not about the timing or physics or sleight of hand aspects that most try, but through an actual skill and ability developed with hard work to make these things happen. So is it about "winning"? No. It's finding that sometimes you actually can do the stuff you were trying to do. And more completely and efficiently.

If others don't agree that's really what it was about, that's fine. But saying the concern is with "winning" completely misses the point of why most serious folk train and I'm sure you're exactly the same way.

It's like those who like to say folks are "drinking the koolaid". Why? Because they found it works they're enthusiastic? Um... I get if they're deluded. Or if a whole lot of us are (always possible). But if you find something works, is repeatable, is teachable, is improvable (is that a word), isn't that what you naturally follow? And if you find that it allows you to do it better no matter what the other guys does, does that make it about winning or simply about doing it better?

I had a similar talk with my daughter and wife about my daughter's soccer practice. She's good at it. She's in club. She gets extra training. She did some olympic prep training last summer. She's on a good track and we're already getting interest from universities early. And my wife was upset about her team not playing well and wanting to "win". I pointed out that practice isn't about winning, but about getting better. And if you get better, well, the side-effect of that is likely winning more often. But the goal is still the same -- getting better. That's why you train -- to get better. To challenge yourself. To improve. To explore. So when you find something that seems to expand your toolbox or helps you understand the tools you already have in a more nuanced fashion, working on those things isn't about becoming a walking, talking killing machine (or soccer game winning maniac). It's about getting better.

So I think comments like that are really straw man arguments. I don't know many who are in the IP area who are there simply to "win". I'm sure some are, but most I know there are very serious, many with decades of experience, many with decades of experience across many arts. They aren't fools. And they aren't testosterone charged aggression seeking nitwits either.

The biggest problem facing these discussions is the sort of preconceptions people have of the motivations of others they've never met or trained with. And what we read in to what they say. It seems some find any exuberant discussion of an alternate approach to be "drinking the koolaid". Or when people find something that allows them to improve suddenly then others say "ah, you're only concerned with winning".

Generally no. On all ends of the spectrum. There are those who are perfectly happy doing what they do. There are those who have their own ideas of what Aiki is and it seems to me many of those are quite nebulous, varied, and often carry multiple meanings depending on context even for individual people. Me, I'm more in the IP crowd and think aiki is something rather specific and I now "see" it when I watch videos of Ueshiba and others. But of course those could be my "Rose Colored Glasses" as Bertrand Russell used to like to describe. Or to use a more down home saying, "when all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail".

But I promised to wander off from these discussions. I'm not training enough. And typing here means I'm not outside shaking a pole are standing around in odd stances or playing with my rubber bands. Yeah, the koolaid is sweet, cold and delicious. Makes me sweat a lot too. But we're all drinking our own flavors. And maybe it would be good to get out and taste some other flavors... I try. And while sometimes I really dislike some, at least I now know that pineapple ain't my flavor...

So yeah, I'm not a fan of Erick's koolaid. But I don't begrudge him nor do I say he doesn't have some validity in what he's doing. I do think he's missed some stuff and has confused some things. But that's okay, the earth will continue to turn. And you guys can continue to practice what you do. I'll do the same.

Okay, I'm going out for beers. Who's coming?

dliver5150
09-10-2014, 01:22 PM
How about stop talking about what is or is not and just do it.

phitruong
09-10-2014, 01:27 PM
I'm not training enough. And typing here means I'm not outside shaking a pole are standing around in odd stances or playing with my rubber bands.

dude! that's so rude! you kept playing with your stick and rubber and enjoying it. not right, man! :D

kewms
09-10-2014, 01:30 PM
Here's a couple of thoughts sparked by this thread.

Kisshomaru Ueshiba speaks pretty explicitly about blending with your opponent's ki in The Spirit of Aikido

Link? Quote of the relevant passage?

And are you referring to the English version or the Japanese version? As our own Chris Li has demonstrated, accuracy of translations has been a real problem in the English-language aikido literature.

Katherine

Jeremy Hulley
09-10-2014, 01:52 PM
I'll see if I can track it down in the next day or two...English translation and I agree about mistranslation.

Cliff Judge
09-10-2014, 02:09 PM
I'm sure there are those who do, but most I've met and trained with have no such illusions or concerns. Really the realization for most is that what we're discovering is finally being able to actually do those things we've always tried to do, just do them a bit more easily, a bit more powerfully, a bit more repeatedly, and on command. And in my case realizing it's not about the timing or physics or sleight of hand aspects that most try, but through an actual skill and ability developed with hard work to make these things happen. So is it about "winning"? No. It's finding that sometimes you actually can do the stuff you were trying to do. And more completely and efficiently.


Alright, I will be content to know, anytime I see someone post about how they are afraid of the idea of connecting to their partner's center because they might be "owned" or that they are going to present a rubik's cube body to their partner while treating her to a fist full of unresistable force, that the philosophy of openness, non-resistance, and harmony that I have always loved about Aikido and that continues to draw in the new students who are most likely to stick around, is not in any way being threatened. :)

Erick Mead
09-10-2014, 02:53 PM
Here lies the paradox. In order to choose a non-violent, "harmonious" resolution to a conflict, you have to be able to handle serious attacks from extremely violent people who are intent on imposing their will on you. As Tolstoy said, "You may not be interested in war; but war is interested in you."

mathewjgano
09-10-2014, 03:16 PM
I'll see if I can track it down in the next day or two...English translation and I agree about mistranslation.

I'm rereading the passage on ki right now (thanks for the reminder! It's been about a decade since I last read it) and so far he's been talking about harmonizing the individual ki with the universal ki.

Pages 19-31 speak to "Harmonizing Ki" and finishes with a doka.

Aiki is the power of harmony
Of all beings, all things working together.
Relentlessly train yourself-
Followers of the Way

On pages 24 and 25:
Through budo I trained my body thoroughly and mastered its ultimate secrets, but I also realized an even greater truth. That is, when I grasped the real nature of the universe through budo, I saw clearly that human beings must unite mind and body and the ki that connects the two and then achieve harmony with the activity of all things in the universe.
By virtue of the subtle working of ki we harmonize mind and body and the relationship between the individual and the universe.

The subtle working of ki is the maternal source that affects delicate changes in breath. It is also the source of martial art as love. When one unifies mind and body by virtue of ki and manifests ai-ki [harmony of ki], delicate changes in breath-power occur spontaneously and waza [proper technique] flows freely. The change in breath, connected with the ki of the universe, interacts and interpenetrates with all of life. At the same time the delicate breath-power enters into all corners of one's body. Entering deeply, it fills one with vitality, resulting naturally in variegated, dynamic, spontaneous movements. In this way the whole body, including the internal organs, becomes united in heat, light and power. Having accomplished unification of mind and body and being in oneness with the universe, the body moves at will offering no resistance to one's intentions.
The delicate changes in breath cause subtle movements of ki in the void. Sometimes movements are fierce and potent, at other times slow and stolid. By such changes one can discern the degree of concentration or unification of mind and body. When concentration permeates mind and body, breath-power becomes one with the universe, gently and naturally expanding to the utter limit, but at the same time the person becomes increasingly self-contained and autonomous.
Ki, then, is twofold: the unity of individual-universe and the free, spontaneous expression of breath-power.
(English translation; 1st edition paperback)

Keith Larman
09-10-2014, 05:35 PM
Alright, I will be content to know, anytime I see someone post about how they are afraid of the idea of connecting to their partner's center because they might be "owned" or that they are going to present a rubik's cube body to their partner while treating her to a fist full of unresistable force, that the philosophy of openness, non-resistance, and harmony that I have always loved about Aikido and that continues to draw in the new students who are most likely to stick around, is not in any way being threatened. :)
Seriously, that's how you read those things? Never mind then. We ain't getting anywhere here...

Robert Cowham
09-10-2014, 06:06 PM
Correct. We have kata. Kata is intended to provide guidance for learning technique and defining roles. But kata does not address the degradation of uke and nage into winners and losers as we see it in the dojo. You're still not getting away from role play. This is where the koryu can preserve the integrity of the training while aikido starts to give out the white hats to nage and the black hats to uke...

This is interesting to me as regards kenjutsu training (Kashima no Tachi with Inaba sensei) - fairly traditional (koryu) stuff as regards uke's role as the senior is to pressurise shite (nage) in such a way as to elicit a particular response (during a kata).

As nage, I have many times had the experience of being able to respond in a way that I couldn't subsequently repeat - and that was due to the uke at the time giving me the appropriate pressure (or placing me in a situation) which forced me to respond in a particular way.

As a teacher (uke), I have had to learn how to transmit this experience to my students. And part of that is how to continue to advance my own training at the same time as I am teaching others - that is a "not so obvious" aspect that I am very much still working on...

phitruong
09-10-2014, 08:06 PM
I would refer to that as two different things: "structural action/response" for something requiring a change in arrangement in response to load, or "structural form" which is a principle where shape carries the load more than primary stresses in the material.

isn't a pre-stressed structure both "structural action/response" and "structural form"?

Carsten Möllering
09-11-2014, 02:31 AM
--- Off Topic ---

...The reason why Aikido spread around the world in the first place was because it had this really intriguing alternative martial philosophy about not fighting, not opposing, looking at conflict in terms other than win/lose. ...
I'm not sure whether this assumption can be approved by historical facts.

I am not so familiar with the history of aikidō in the USA.
But at least the history here in Europe shows that "being able to win" was crucial at the different starting points of the spreading of aikidō over here.

The people from the UK may speek for themselves. But I think it is obvious that aikidō had to prove itself - and did.

In France aikidō was practiced first by jūdōka. In particular it was shown during jūdō competitions. And jūdōka became interested because they were thrown against their will, without understanding why. So they wanted to learn that stuff.
My first about ten years or so I practiced "french" aikidō, stemming from this tradition. The philosphy was clearly there - but also there was the clear intention to "finalize" the opponent. This french aikidō was very, very martial. A lot of waza, epecially certain atemi with the intention to hurt the attacker.
It was only when Christian Tissier returned from Japan that he brought a seemingly "new" style of aikidō - he always claimed he wouldn't do anything "new". (In fact I think it wasn't new, it was only that he represented a new generation.)

In Germany aikidō first started because the authorities concerned with the penal institutions were looking for a system the prison officers could use to controll the prisoners in cases of conflict. (This happened about ten years before Asai sensei came here.) So in Germany aikidō was spread in police clubs at first.

The other way round in Eastern Europe ... so to say ... ;) In Polland and Russia there was an emphasis on being able to defend oneself in the street. aikidō simply had to work. And it did. It was not spread because of it's philolosophy first of all, but because it proved itself to work als self defence.
Also aikidō often was pracitced in army clubs in Eastern Europe as a means of close combat. This phenomenon can also be found in Scandinavia.

So I think, "being able to win" was crucial in the spreading of this budō, at least in Europe.

jonreading
09-11-2014, 06:35 AM
This is interesting to me as regards kenjutsu training (Kashima no Tachi with Inaba sensei) - fairly traditional (koryu) stuff as regards uke's role as the senior is to pressurise shite (nage) in such a way as to elicit a particular response (during a kata).

As nage, I have many times had the experience of being able to respond in a way that I couldn't subsequently repeat - and that was due to the uke at the time giving me the appropriate pressure (or placing me in a situation) which forced me to respond in a particular way.

As a teacher (uke), I have had to learn how to transmit this experience to my students. And part of that is how to continue to advance my own training at the same time as I am teaching others - that is a "not so obvious" aspect that I am very much still working on...

Absolutely. Good uke waza can be critical in soliciting non-confrontational movement from nage and getting her to see a path that she might not otherwise see (or believe). Last night we had a surprise visit from Dan Messisco and it is nothing short of amazing how well he will take ukemi for you to solicit the right movement.

MRoh
09-11-2014, 06:55 AM
So I think, "being able to win" was crucial in the spreading of this budō, at least in Europe.

The Situation in Germany was completely different than in France, where competent Aikido teachers like Mochizuki and Abe began their work in the early fifties.

In Germany, there was no chance of "spreading" Aikido in the fifties.
When Hölzel, who was graded to 3. Dan in Judo in 1950, became the mandate to teach prison officers, he had not learned Aikido at all.
Besides that, prison officers are a limited category of people, so talking about spreading aikido does not appear appropriate.
A real chance that the number of people who had access to the new art could increase, came in 1965 with the person of K. Asai as a delegated Aikikai teacher.

Of course the reason why people were interested in Aikido was mainly because this new art promised to be a way that leads to the ability to defend against stronger opponents.
With Asai Sensei came a young teacher who did not have philosophy in his suitcase, but hard training for three years as a start.
He came back again when it became clear that the spreading of Aikido in Germany would come to an end if he stayed away.
There was another trend that was influenced from France, but later went in a direction, that had no focus on practical use and applications.

What was consistently stressed by Asai Sensei, was that the main purpose of Aikido is not winning,
"on the mat we don't fight". What had to be understood was, that it had been Ueshibas deep wish that this way of thinking in categories of winning and loosing needs to be overcome.
This did not mean to be a helpless victim. Permission to "finish" serious attackers outside was given explicitly.
People do not understand how to achieve any fighting skills that could help in a serious situation in the streets while training in a spirit of not fighting and non-resistance, but understanding the principle of O Senseis Aiki is impossible when thinking in such categories.
To destroy an attacker is easy if you want. If you are cold blooded, you can finish him with a single movement. But that was just for the street, to do this you don't need to incure this strenous effort of training. This was the crucial point, not winning.
Nevertheless, the willpower and adamantness Asai Sensei demonstrated when he was challenged by strong Judoka in the beginning, surely was one reason why more and more people joined his seminars and became members of the german Aikikai.

jonreading
09-11-2014, 07:13 AM
Alright, I will be content to know, anytime I see someone post about how they are afraid of the idea of connecting to their partner's center because they might be "owned" or that they are going to present a rubik's cube body to their partner while treating her to a fist full of unresistable force, that the philosophy of openness, non-resistance, and harmony that I have always loved about Aikido and that continues to draw in the new students who are most likely to stick around, is not in any way being threatened. :)

To be clear, its not the fist of irresistible force that's the problem. It's the broken glass stuck to my knuckles with resin that's the problem... I know you are just funnin' with my comments, but I would clarify that my concern with connecting centers is not fear-based. It is a fact that a lesser center connected to a greater center will be overcome. Rather, it's actually courageous to grab someone who can trash you, trust they will not, and then participate in what comes next. Anyone who has worked with an uke who is personally timid can appreciate the courage that person needs to muster every time he grabs nage. What about when he gives not just his arm, but his center?

Aiki is not a threat to aikido. Granted, I could hear some PR-based arguments that to may indicate otherwise, but it's not. As far as I know, the IP people do not intend to issue an order 66 on non-IP people practicing aikido. It sounds like you have a philosophical investment that you have projected onto aikido. I think a have previously mentioned that when we project philosophical and religious beliefs onto aikido the art cannot be challenged without also challenging that beliefs tied to it. That doesn't sound very free or open, especially if you are training with many people who may not share those beliefs tied to your aikido.

There are different paths to aiki. There are better an worse paths. I know a lot of good aikido people who have aiki and have gotten there from different avenues. Personally, I think they are closer in their paths than they want to admit, but there's something about tigers and space to roam... Some paths can be more direct, some paths will never reach the top. I like these threads because they force us to address uncomfortable truths. When I see someone struggle simply defining aiki, guess what are the chances I am going listen when she starts talking about how to do aikido? Even if she's wrong, she dropped an anchor and committed to something and I will listen, even if I don't partake.

But, at some point in time, the have-nots will touch the haves and they will need to resolve what will be a discrepancy in skill. And the haves will be peers without skirts of occlusion to hide behind. No more, "well, he's a 5th dan and I'm not." Or, "he trained in Japan with Sensei fancy pants." Or, "we don't do fighting." Or, "We don't do traditional aikido." I empathize for those who are rigidly tied to what they do because it will be uncomfortable. It was for me. But I also understand that not everyone wants to do this stuff.

Cliff Judge
09-11-2014, 08:07 AM
What was consistently stressed by Asai Sensei, was that the main purpose of Aikido is not winning,
"on the mat we don't fight". What had to be understood was, that it had been Ueshibas deep wish that this way of thinking in categories of winning and loosing needs to be overcome.
This did not mean to be a helpless victim. Permission to "finish" serious attackers outside was given explicitly.
People do not understand how to achieve any fighting skills that could help in a serious situation in the streets while training in a spirit of not fighting and non-resistance, but understanding the principle of O Senseis Aiki is impossible when thinking in such categories.
To destroy an attacker is easy if you want. If you are cold blooded, you can finish him with a single movement. But that was just for the street, to do this you don't need to incure this strenous effort of training. This was the crucial point, not winning.
Nevertheless, the willpower and adamantness Asai Sensei demonstrated when he was challenged by strong Judoka in the beginning, surely was one reason why more and more people joined his seminars and became members of the german Aikikai.

This is pretty much what i am talking about with the philosophy. It's back to square one with the IP folks it seems.

Cliff Judge
09-11-2014, 08:13 AM
To be clear, its not the fist of irresistible force that's the problem. It's the broken glass stuck to my knuckles with resin that's the problem... I know you are just funnin' with my comments, but I would clarify that my concern with connecting centers is not fear-based. It is a fact that a lesser center connected to a greater center will be overcome. Rather, it's actually courageous to grab someone who can trash you, trust they will not, and then participate in what comes next. Anyone who has worked with an uke who is personally timid can appreciate the courage that person needs to muster every time he grabs nage. What about when he gives not just his arm, but his center?

Aiki is not a threat to aikido. Granted, I could hear some PR-based arguments that to may indicate otherwise, but it's not. As far as I know, the IP people do not intend to issue an order 66 on non-IP people practicing aikido. It sounds like you have a philosophical investment that you have projected onto aikido. I think a have previously mentioned that when we project philosophical and religious beliefs onto aikido the art cannot be challenged without also challenging that beliefs tied to it. That doesn't sound very free or open, especially if you are training with many people who may not share those beliefs tied to your aikido.

There are different paths to aiki. There are better an worse paths. I know a lot of good aikido people who have aiki and have gotten there from different avenues. Personally, I think they are closer in their paths than they want to admit, but there's something about tigers and space to roam... Some paths can be more direct, some paths will never reach the top. I like these threads because they force us to address uncomfortable truths. When I see someone struggle simply defining aiki, guess what are the chances I am going listen when she starts talking about how to do aikido? Even if she's wrong, she dropped an anchor and committed to something and I will listen, even if I don't partake.

But, at some point in time, the have-nots will touch the haves and they will need to resolve what will be a discrepancy in skill. And the haves will be peers without skirts of occlusion to hide behind. No more, "well, he's a 5th dan and I'm not." Or, "he trained in Japan with Sensei fancy pants." Or, "we don't do fighting." Or, "We don't do traditional aikido." I empathize for those who are rigidly tied to what they do because it will be uncomfortable. It was for me. But I also understand that not everyone wants to do this stuff.

I have no problems with the material itself, its the trainwreck of mythology that has sprouted up to link it to Aikido and the personalities of certain people at the front of the movement that have pretty much turned me off of it. I have other interests to focus on if I end up having to deal with too much of this BS in person.

Zoe
09-11-2014, 09:40 AM
I have no problems with the material itself, its the trainwreck of mythology that has sprouted up to link it to Aikido and the personalities of certain people at the front of the movement that have pretty much turned me off of it. I have other interests to focus on if I end up having to deal with too much of this BS in person.
That sounds exactly like my *Aikido* experiences! Thank you.

It doesn't sound anything like training internal and aiki with Dan.
This training has been a breath of fresh air to many, many people. I could never fully convey what I have seen happen with it in so many rooms with highly ranked people, with things that actually make sense!
I also enjoy now reading other sources revealing a pedagogy throughout the arts that is supportable. I have found it fascinating to now understand what Ueshiba Sensei, Saotome Sensei, and my Daito ryu and Koryu teachers were actually talking about and see that I can now do some of it and have a real path to improve for the first time, instead of just hoping by repeating techniques for decades only to end up feeling or looking like the people that Dan moves all around the room without much thought to it.
In fact, no matter what the arguments are here, or what you might want to call it, I have seen enough to know I would rather be doing that compared to anything else I have seen. This material is the stuff that was missing. The only material I have encountered that makes sense out of what to me was at best a rather hopeful, lukewarm, jujutsu that had little meaning outside of a dojo.
Zoe

Dan Richards
09-11-2014, 09:47 AM
This is pretty much what i am talking about with the philosophy. [ ... stressed by Asai Sensei, was that the main purpose of Aikido is not winning,
"on the mat we don't fight". ] It's back to square one with the IP folks it seems.

I have trained Aikido with a lot people from US, Japan, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, France, Poland...and, actually, all along the way I have found them mostly to be fighting. Especially within the yudansha. Fighting with themselves - their own bodies, fighting with others, muscling through technique, hiding behind their hakamas and their grades, and their philosophies, and their Japanese cultural fetishes, and their hero worship.

Marc MacYoung has a good article on "patching." Patching is defined as the things we do to "patch" the holes in our technique and understanding. http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/patching.htm

When I first started Tai Chi Chuan, while still training Aikido, I immediately noticed a difference in the bodies and movements of the practitioners. They were more relaxed, more compressed, more solid, more flowing. And they weren't fighting. They put patient, concentrated, focused effort into working to refine body/mind skills. I only trained TTC for about a year. But between that and some Ki Aikido training I'd had, and getting my hands on Shoji Nishio, plus early exposure to works by people like Mantak Chia and Peter Ralston, I was able to put some core pieces together to carry with me on my journey And have for over 20 years had a view towards, and a mindset on, internal training.

I think John makes some good points in his post #87. And I don't find that people here in these forums who are training this stuff, or those who train Aiki and internals in real life, fight much at all. In fact, I think we cheer each other on. And I agree with, "...I think they are closer in their paths than they want to admit..."

I totally agree with Asai Sensei, that this is not about fighting and winning. And it'd be nice to see that truly reflected in the training in more Aikido dojos.

Cliff Judge
09-11-2014, 10:15 AM
That sounds exactly like my *Aikido* experiences! Thank you.

It doesn't sound anything like training internal and aiki with Dan.
This training has been a breath of fresh air to many, many people.

Great! This is really, really great and I am honestly very happy for you all.

Dan Richards
09-11-2014, 11:07 AM
Anyone wanting to refine their view of aiki - and what it's not; there's a short video of William Gleason demonstrating different principles, opposing energies, and movements that can give some insight.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9i6AVhn0TQ8

A few notes:

1. Power does not move in a straight line.
2. Perfect balance of opposing forces (yin/yang) is not effective in dynamic movement
3. It's not about moving from the hara
4. Opposing forces are always changing
5. Kuzushi is achieved by ki extension
6. Movement in the body can occur in places you didn't think you could move

Gerardo Torres
09-11-2014, 01:54 PM
My notes on your notes. :)

1. Power does not move in a straight line.
2. Perfect balance of opposing forces (yin/yang) is not effective in dynamic movement
3. It's not about moving from the hara
4. Opposing forces are always changing
5. Kuzushi is achieved by ki extension
6. Movement in the body can occur in places you didn't think you could move

2. Can you elaborate? I'm not sure I agree ("motion in stillness, stillness in motion" comes to mind).
3. While perhaps not a strict requirement to create aiki, opposing forces from hara is perhaps the most important tenet of IP. What part of Gleason sensei's demo/words made you think it's not about moving from hara?
5. Sure, ki is what makes in-yo. But for practical/training purposes I would say kuzushi is achieved by "[in-yo imbued] movement before contact".

MRoh
09-16-2014, 07:01 AM
This is pretty much what i am talking about with the philosophy. It's back to square one with the IP folks it seems.

In my experience the desire to be strong can be found in any group. Some Aikido-people seem to take a path to jujutsu, others may tend into a direction to develop the strongness of daito-ryu aiki.

I think both represent just a subgroup of two larger streams, whereby of course the IP-stream is much smaller.

For me there is no difference in internal or external training, because developing body and mind and conditioning of the body through tanren is what Aikido-training is about, I never heard anything else from my teacher.
To do some kind of solo training is neccessary if someone wants to develop to higher levels, but without a strong foundation it has no use.

To understand why O Sensei did what he did, why he changed his Aiki from direct application to 90 degree angles in kihon or to blending movements in ki no nagare, I think one will not understand if one does only IP-training and does not learn the correct forms, or how to handle a sword correctly.

allowedcloud
09-17-2014, 08:12 AM
In a dialectic effort to simplify discussion:
My current definition is that aiki can be summed up as the purposeful balancing of (apparently) opposing forces/aspects in and around the self (taking what seemed conflicted and finding how they work together for a common purpose): "In-Yo-Ho." How is this definition lacking?

May I please ask people to also attempt to define aiki as succinctly as possible?

Please no directly commenting on others' views of aiki. The point here is to get a simple sample of different working definitions of aiki, and to offer my own view as fodder for an effort in distilling what the thing itself might be, assuming it can be described as a discrete "thing" at all.
Thank you for your time (I hope :D ).
Take care,
Matt

I think this is a good start but incomplete. I see aiki as utilizing the neutral points between those opposing forces to produce kuzushi on contact (as well as other effects). An aiki body has such neutral points everywhere, as the result of spiraling, and all supported by the hara. But in order for this to become effective you must build the aiki body, you must develop the right mind/body connections using solo training.

This is why I disagree with those here that say kihon and form are the foundation of aikido. The solo training *is* the foundation, the kihon waza of aikido is just there for you to practice and apply what you develop in solo training.

Cliff Judge
09-17-2014, 09:16 AM
I think this is a good start but incomplete. I see aiki as utilizing the neutral points between those opposing forces to produce kuzushi on contact (as well as other effects). An aiki body has such neutral points everywhere, as the result of spiraling, and all supported by the hara. But in order for this to become effective you must build the aiki body, you must develop the right mind/body connections using solo training.

This is why I disagree with those here that say kihon and form are the foundation of aikido. The solo training *is* the foundation, the kihon waza of aikido is just there for you to practice and apply what you develop in solo training.

That's great, so why was solo training never really a part of Aikido until Tohei cross-trained in a yoga system, and was never a part of Daito ryu until Sagawa found he had too much time on his hands?

I am certainly not saying solo training cannot be a core part of *your* Aikido or that it won't / doesn't work for you or anyone else. It is just that you are expanding the definition of aiki to suit your own needs if you require solo training for IP for aiki.

Cliff Judge
09-17-2014, 09:23 AM
In my experience the desire to be strong can be found in any group. Some Aikido-people seem to take a path to jujutsu, others may tend into a direction to develop the strongness of daito-ryu aiki.

I think both represent just a subgroup of two larger streams, whereby of course the IP-stream is much smaller.

For me there is no difference in internal or external training, because developing body and mind and conditioning of the body through tanren is what Aikido-training is about, I never heard anything else from my teacher.
To do some kind of solo training is neccessary if someone wants to develop to higher levels, but without a strong foundation it has no use.

To understand why O Sensei did what he did, why he changed his Aiki from direct application to 90 degree angles in kihon or to blending movements in ki no nagare, I think one will not understand if one does only IP-training and does not learn the correct forms, or how to handle a sword correctly.

I agree with almost this entire post.

Cady Goldfield
09-17-2014, 09:43 AM
For aiki, solo is the essential first step. You have to develop unity within your own body - upper body to lower body, left to right, front to back, up to down - and be able to control and direct intent, before you can both be stable and generate power. Once you can harmonize In and Yo (Yin/Yang) in yourself, you then can use it to affect others.

So, I can't imagine any of the truly aiki-adept masters not doing solo training. You can learn only so much by hands-on transmission from a teacher. You can develop some basic skills that way. But to reach the refined levels, truly understand them and to be able to document the step-by-step process of developing an aiki body, you have to be able to parse out each element and train it yourself, mindfully.

allowedcloud
09-17-2014, 10:06 AM
That's great, so why was solo training never really a part of Aikido until Tohei cross-trained in a yoga system, and was never a part of Daito ryu until Sagawa found he had too much time on his hands?

I am certainly not saying solo training cannot be a core part of *your* Aikido or that it won't / doesn't work for you or anyone else. It is just that you are expanding the definition of aiki to suit your own needs if you require solo training for IP for aiki.

Oops:

I have asked Doshu and other Hombu teachers whether Morihei Ueshiba did IP training and the answer was yes, but with the rider that he never taught it: he left this type of training to students who perceived it and wanted to do it. The corollary was (is) that this type of training should be a complement to one's 'kihon' training, but not a substitute for it.

Anyway I am curious as to why someone with no interest in IP/Aiki training would post constantly in the "Internal Training in Aikido" forum. Do you have an axe to grind? If so, why?

If not then I would imagine the amount of energy you put into this here board could be better spent in other areas of the board, like helping newbies on how to fold a hakama.

kewms
09-17-2014, 10:06 AM
That's great, so why was solo training never really a part of Aikido until Tohei cross-trained in a yoga system, and was never a part of Daito ryu until Sagawa found he had too much time on his hands?

Um... I seem to remember stories of Ueshiba Sensei training solo for hours upon hours at a time...

Katherine

Cliff Judge
09-17-2014, 10:32 AM
Um... I seem to remember stories of Ueshiba Sensei training solo for hours upon hours at a time...

Katherine

See above...he never taught it.

Cliff Judge
09-17-2014, 10:37 AM
Anyway I am curious as to why someone with no interest in IP/Aiki training would post constantly in the "Internal Training in Aikido" forum. Do you have an axe to grind? If so, why?

It is actually quite difficult to not take your lots insistence that internal power is the true inner secret of Aikido as something of an affront to the practice of people who haven't heard anything about that from legitimate sources.

allowedcloud
09-17-2014, 10:54 AM
It is actually quite difficult to not take your lots insistence that internal power is the true inner secret of Aikido as something of an affront to the practice of people who haven't heard anything about that from legitimate sources.

IN other words, your whole purpose of posting here is to act as some "defender of the faith", rather than contributing anything of substance?

jonreading
09-17-2014, 10:55 AM
That's great, so why was solo training never really a part of Aikido until Tohei cross-trained in a yoga system, and was never a part of Daito ryu until Sagawa found he had too much time on his hands?

I am certainly not saying solo training cannot be a core part of *your* Aikido or that it won't / doesn't work for you or anyone else. It is just that you are expanding the definition of aiki to suit your own needs if you require solo training for IP for aiki.

To clarify some points. First, solo training was part of aikido and trained by Ueshiba. Now, if you are claiming it was not taught, I think we should revise what was said here because that is different. Granted that point, I think you are still talking about someone teaching what they thought was aikido, which leaves the possibility what they thought was aikido is wrong. To the other argument, it could be argued that it is not aiki that is expanding in definition, but rather aikido limiting its definition.

Solo training is a methodology of training to understand the complex body mechanics required to interact with your partner. Kuriowa Sensei referred to this training as "kihon", as in the basics that precede kata or the basics on which kata are built. Kata no kihon was his term for what we curtly call "kata." Not to mention the fact that it opens up the time and convenience of training to expand beyond mat time, which I think is generally a positive thing.

Internal power is real, train-able, and part of aikido. I understand its not everyone's bag and I can appreciate that perspective. It neither changes the fact that you can grab someone and feel what's going on, nor that it has a place in aikido. It's whether it's in your aikido.

Cliff Judge
09-17-2014, 11:14 AM
IN other words, your whole purpose of posting here is to act as some "defender of the faith", rather than contributing anything of substance?

Hey, the only threads I have bothered with recently are this one - and I posed my view of Aiki - and the Aikido vs Aiki thread, where, if you put yourself in my shoes, what you call "defending the faith" is entirely on topic.

If you guys want to talk about your yinyangs and tai chi stuff I usually leave those alone.

Cady Goldfield
09-17-2014, 04:16 PM
See above...he never taught it.

Possibly because no one wanted to learn it. They wanted to do technique - tangible, overt things they could instantly see and quickly understand and do. They didn't want the weird, esoteric stuff the old man was doing and ranting about. ;)

Erick Mead
09-17-2014, 08:06 PM
Possibly because no one wanted to learn it. They wanted to do technique - tangible, overt things they could instantly see and quickly understand and do. They didn't want the weird, esoteric stuff the old man was doing and ranting about. ;)
"These go to eleven..."

MRoh
09-18-2014, 06:49 AM
I see aiki as utilizing the neutral points between those opposing forces to produce kuzushi on contact (as well as other effects). An aiki body has such neutral points everywhere, as the result of spiraling, and all supported by the hara. But in order for this to become effective you must build the aiki body, you must develop the right mind/body connections using solo training.

This is why I disagree with those here that say kihon and form are the foundation of aikido.

Ma thought upon this is, that technical the foundation of aikido is mainly daito-ryu.
In daito-ryu there exists a step by step learning process. First you learn techniques, jujutsu. After mastering the techniques you come to aiki-jujutsu and aiki-no-jutsu, a growing understanding of aiki.

In aikido the application of aiki was changed from a more direct and confrontational way, that was designed for knocking down the opponent in the first moment, to hanmi-stance, to circular movements and blending with the ki of the opponent, and to 90 degree angles that were introduced in kihon waza. So it would be reasonable to assume that this things were essentially important for O Sensei, and that his view of aiki was closely linked with the way he performed techniques.

O senseis definition for aiki changed after the war, more and more involving aspects resulting from the omoto-kyo thinking.
For him it might have been neccessary to change to "more peaceful" movements or to apply aiki in a non-confrontational way. Thats why we have to broaden the concept of aiki without to loose its core, in order to take account of the development of aikido.
In the most of the discussions I followed on this matter, this aspect is missing.

In aikido, keiko as we do is also tanren, conditioning of the body. Playing around with techniques a bit is not tanren.
Solo Training of course is also important, but IP is not all what has to be developed. Aikido is still a martial art, in which various physical and sensory abilities have to be developed for handling multiple attackers, such things can only be learned in the different traditional forms of keiko in which physical and mental pressure is built up, not in solo training.
It shouldn't be the aim to be able to do some tricks on somebody who has no real ambition to attack or to defeat. This would be playing with internal body skills, without the spiritual and philosphical dimensions which Ueshibas budo had.

Tada Sensei, who also talks about building the budo body, was doing solo-training 8 hours a day when he was younger , for every practice he did, number of replicates was 1000 (as my teacher Asai Sensei once stated, he saw him do 1000 push-ups).
I know Tada Sensei has enormous inner power and is able to project it in his techniques, all I ever saw him do, was just very powerful aikido.
So I think what underlies the nature of aikido can't be reduced to neither outer nor inner body-skills, they are just tools.
We can go back to jujutsu, or we can go back to daito-ryu aiki. Both I think would not be aikido, although both are foundations of aikido.

kewms
09-18-2014, 09:52 AM
It is actually quite difficult to not take your lots insistence that internal power is the true inner secret of Aikido as something of an affront to the practice of people who haven't heard anything about that from legitimate sources.

Who do you consider "legitimate" sources? You realize, I hope, that describing some fairly senior *aikido* teachers as "not legitimate" can also be seen as an affront.

Katherine

kewms
09-18-2014, 06:50 PM
See above...he never taught it.

And none of his students ever asked, "What are you doing for all those hours, Sensei?" And he never encouraged them to join him in what he clearly considered a critical practice? Any of them? Ever?

Katherine

kewms
09-18-2014, 08:31 PM
I finally figured out what's wrong with this thread.

Every dojo I've ever visited practiced the rowing exercise, irimi-tenkan footwork, and a variety of breathing exercises. Other exercises, too, depending on the dojo.

And yet people are saying that there is no solo training in aikido.

Look closer. Why do you suppose we all do those specific exercises? Are they just warmups, or is there something more interesting going on?

Katherine

Cliff Judge
09-18-2014, 08:38 PM
And none of his students ever asked, "What are you doing for all those hours, Sensei?" And he never encouraged them to join him in what he clearly considered a critical practice? Any of them? Ever?

Katherine

That would evidently not be enough for this type of training to be a part of the transmission.

I am not really sure why you don't understand what I am saying. I am just trying to distinguish Osensei's own practice with what he left to us.

Did Ueshiba want to train and develop his own skills? Well obviously.

Did he want to share what he had developed with students? Probably.

Did he want to create a system of instruction that his students could pass on to their students, on and on, for many generations? Yes I believe so. But what was in that system?

Was internal power solo training part of Ueshiba's personal practice? Sure, why not, though I wonder if it is 100% a done deal that this wasn't more important to a religious side of his practice that he didn't see as integral to the martial art. Most people think they were one and the same, so why not.

Was in internal power solo training part of the system Osensei was trying to develop that would be his legacy for his students and his students' students? I think not. Even if, as I think we have started to agree in the margins here, he was basically not a good teacher, and not a good architect of a lasting martial system.

Because if IP solo training was integral to making Aiki happen, AND he understood this AND he wanted it to be a part of Aikido, he'd have everybody stand in a line and do it, every time.

And no, his students wouldn't have stood around deciding they didn't like it or they didn't want to do it. They may have done it poorly but they would have done the exercises and passed them on to their own students.

That's how I make sense of it anyway.

Cliff Judge
09-18-2014, 08:41 PM
I finally figured out what's wrong with this thread.

Every dojo I've ever visited practiced the rowing exercise, irimi-tenkan footwork, and a variety of breathing exercises. Other exercises, too, depending on the dojo.

And yet people are saying that there is no solo training in aikido.

Look closer. Why do you suppose we all do those specific exercises? Are they just warmups, or is there something more interesting going on?

Katherine

That is actually what I am getting at.

RonRagusa
09-18-2014, 08:54 PM
I finally figured out what's wrong with this thread.

Every dojo I've ever visited practiced the rowing exercise, irimi-tenkan footwork, and a variety of breathing exercises. Other exercises, too, depending on the dojo.

And yet people are saying that there is no solo training in aikido.

Look closer. Why do you suppose we all do those specific exercises? Are they just warmups, or is there something more interesting going on?

Katherine

There's lots of solo training in Aikido for those that choose to practice it. I think the solo exercises of Aikido are looked upon as warm-up exercises because mostly no one outside of Ki Aikido circles and independent offshoots wants to talk about Ki development as a distinct discipline within Aikido.

And yes, there's something more interesting going on.

Ron

Cliff Judge
09-18-2014, 10:14 PM
\
And yes, there's something more interesting going on.

Ron

It's like we are all trapped in a kitchen and the magnetic poetry kit on the fridge only has the words "demonstrable," "power," "reproducible," "internal," "body skill," "spirals," "intent," "structure," "opposing," and a whole bunch that are just "...".

But a lot of them are underlined and/or bolded.

phitruong
09-19-2014, 06:39 AM
I finally figured out what's wrong with this thread.

Every dojo I've ever visited practiced the rowing exercise, irimi-tenkan footwork, and a variety of breathing exercises. Other exercises, too, depending on the dojo.

And yet people are saying that there is no solo training in aikido.

Look closer. Why do you suppose we all do those specific exercises? Are they just warmups, or is there something more interesting going on?

Katherine

i went to seminars with different schools and organizations. although, we do those things similarly, we don't emphasize the same. It's because the old transmission which i mentioned in this post http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=339801&postcount=465 .

i remembered attending sessions at Saotome's dojo in FL. we did furitama and he corrected us a few times, explaining that it's not shaking your arms or flexing your leggs, but to "move inside" while pointing at his hara. and how many times have you heard Ikeda sensei said to move your "inside" at his seminars? Saotome sensei told a story of him and O Sensei, who made him do furitama. Saotome sensei was young and wanted to go throwing folks around, so he did furitama but not paying much attention to it. he said O Sensei would yell at him and shown him how to do it right. so Saotome sensei said that it was his duty and obligation to O Sensei that he would pass on the teaching to us. so to say O Sensei didn't teach would be ignoring a lot of information. as i mentioned in my post before, O Sensei was a product of another time and another culture where knowledge transmission was very different. but he also live in a period of change where western education influenced as well. so the old cadre of students ended up with a mixture of eastern and western type of education in term of this time of training. over time, the western education became more dominant. however, the IP training is IHTBF, which worked best with the eastern approach. and it's (IP) not for everyone, just like aikido isn't for everyone. the old teachers knew that, so they only taught to those who had the inclination to it. and this would be true for other arts too.

if one wondered why not all of O Sensei students got the same stuffs, then one can draw some parallel with the current situation in ASU. of all the direct students of Saotome and Ikeda sensei, how many came close to their levels? and why so many variety in levels of those students (i have crossed hands with a few of them)? and the ones with skill level closer to Saotome and Ikeda sensei, how many of them went outside to get it? then you got to ask, why that is? why they couldn't learn that from Saotome and Ikeda sensei?

those thoughts just boggled the mind sometimes.

ps. i didn't get the stuffs from Saotome and Ikeda sensei either. i had to go to outside sources. sort of out sourcing my IP education from some of dark lords of IP sith. i am lost to the dark side. so you can call me Darth Foo (ask Ledyard about the name :) )

Cady Goldfield
09-19-2014, 07:26 AM
Teaching this stuff with words is difficult. Telling students to "move the hara" is not descriptive enough. You have to tell them -how- to move the hara. This requires a break down of actual physical movements of muscle/connective tissue groups. Very few methods seem to have such an approach, and those that do tend to be Chinese systems. Japanese internal arts still seem to be based largely on feel (with vague terminology that draws on metaphor and analogy to familiar actions, such as rowing or lifting up and setting down a tea tray) and person-to-person transmission through touch. Through this applied sensory-learning approach, an individual eventually is able to replicate the internal actions. But then, the recipient does not have the words to transmit what he now can physically do, and so must also use physical transmission to teach the next person.

Cliff Judge
09-19-2014, 07:56 AM
i as i mentioned in my post before, O Sensei was a product of another time and another culture where knowledge transmission was very different. but he also live in a period of change where western education influenced as well. so the old cadre of students ended up with a mixture of eastern and western type of education in term of this time of training. over time, the western education became more dominant.

The thing is, Osensei was, himself, actually a product of the period of change. Takeda, or at least Daito ryu, was a product of a period of change. The problems of transmission had been worked out in the Japanese martial arts by the 1500s.

It might be that the real issue is that the "seminar format" that we are all familiar with - teacher is in front of the class, demonstrates something, everyone pairs off and tries to do it - is where things went off the rails. And that was something Takeda came up with, IMO inspired by Sakakibara who realized that if you had warrior skills in the Meiji period and you wanted to make a living, you needed to get heads in the door for a brief time, and give them something that would keep them coming back. Hence the performance art aspect to the aiki arts that was not prevalent in koryu.

It might be that if Ueshiba had just had a small handful of students who he worked with hands on, patiently and repetitively, in paired kata format, not as much would have been lost. Well, except that's how Sagawa dojo worked - how many people came out of there with Sagawa's skills?

By the way, that's another thing. I have never met anyone in any martial art who thinks they met or surpassed their teacher's skill level. Has anybody? It is probably true that nobody in Aikido has ever topped Osensei, but that doesn't mean we should flog ourselves or our traditions for it.

MRoh
09-19-2014, 07:58 AM
Because if IP solo training was integral to making Aiki happen, AND he understood this AND he wanted it to be a part of Aikido, he'd have everybody stand in a line and do it, every time.
And no, his students wouldn't have stood around deciding they didn't like it or they didn't want to do it. They may have done it poorly


A clip exists (alas I can't find it), in which you can see exactly such kind of a situation.
Ueshiba ständig in front of his students and doing exercises, one that could be interpreted as jumping up, but it istn't.
In another well known he shows some exercises to Terry Dobson who tries to reproduce them.
I remember times when the rites of spring were part of the preperation in the classes of certain teachers.
These and other exercises were directly passed from Ueshiba to his students.

Cliff Judge
09-19-2014, 08:01 AM
Teaching this stuff with words is difficult. Telling students to "move the hara" is not descriptive enough. You have to tell them -how- to move the hara. This requires a break down of actual physical movements of muscle/connective tissue groups. Very few methods seem to have such an approach, and those that do tend to be Chinese systems. Japanese internal arts still seem to be based largely on feel (with vague terminology that draws on metaphor and analogy to familiar actions, such as rowing or lifting up and setting down a tea tray) and person-to-person transmission through touch. Through this applied sensory-learning approach, an individual eventually is able to replicate the internal actions. But then, the recipient does not have the words to transmit what he now can physically do, and so must also use physical transmission to teach the next person.

Cady, I think I have discussed this with you in the past. my very brief experience with internal Chinese martial arts left me with the impression that training is intellectually driven. The bit of bagua and tai chi I have done involved the teacher instructing me in movements to perform by myself, and offering corrections in the form of images to use as I performed them.

Japanese martial arts are based on the paired kata, and corrections are more utilitarian - your feet should be here, your sword should be held like this, you are still not making that cut right, try again, and look, that did not work, do this instead.

In other words, your own knowledge or understanding is not as important in the learning process. I think trying to graft a Chinese approach onto that is a recipe for extreme confusion, if not disaster.

Cliff Judge
09-19-2014, 08:08 AM
A clip exists (alas I can't find it), in which you can see exactly such kind of a situation.
Ueshiba ständig in front of his students and doing exercises, one that could be interpreted as jumping up, but it istn't.
In another well known he shows some exercises to Terry Dobson who tries to reproduce them.
I remember times when the rites of spring were part of the preperation in the classes of certain teachers.
These and other exercises were directly passed from Ueshiba to his students.

Yeah I am coming around to this. The fact of the matter is, most Aikido practitioners don't see these things as part of the formalized, systematized curriculum of Aikido, and I still think that Ueshiba bears responsibility for that.

RonRagusa
09-19-2014, 08:13 AM
Through this applied sensory-learning approach, an individual eventually is able to replicate the internal actions.

With simple activities like push testing or learning to demonstrate weight underside that "eventually" is actually a pretty short amount of time. Students learn to perform simple internal skills quite early in their training. What takes time is learning to strengthen the simple skills in order to build on them and employ them to perform more complex tasks such as executing technique while standing or in motion without relying on brute force.

But then, the recipient does not have the words to transmit what he now can physically do, and so must also use physical transmission to teach the next person.

True enough. But he does have a rich history of experience to draw on in order to transmit his knowledge to the next generation of students. And once the feelings are learned, the metaphors act like triggers to evoke and reinforce the feelings at later times without having to replicate the transmit via contact process.

Ron

Erick Mead
09-19-2014, 08:26 AM
Teaching this stuff with words is difficult. Telling students to "move the hara" is not descriptive enough. You have to tell them -how- to move the hara. Teaching this stuff with impressionistic non-objective words is admittedly tough. But that is a chosen limitation of description -- not an inevitable one.

This requires a break down of actual physical movements of muscle/connective tissue groups. Very few methods seem to have such an approach, and those that do tend to be Chinese systems. Japanese internal arts still seem to be based largely on feel (with vague terminology that draws on metaphor and analogy to familiar actions, such as rowing or lifting up and setting down a tea tray) and person-to-person transmission through touch.Through this applied sensory-learning approach, an individual eventually is able to replicate the internal actions. But then, the recipient does not have the words to transmit what he now can physically do, and so must also use physical transmission to teach the next person. I agree the Chinese are far better in systematizing their traditional knowledge than the Japanese -- but their systems are based on merely on interconnected correlative relationship systems, with much left to "just-so" presumption and not rigorously isolating empirical causes and effects.

When a system is based on intensely networked correlations (think wu xing) -- then the student is left to sift through all or nearly all the correlative factors in the network or correlation for each and every error he or she is trying to diagnose in any failure to perform in the manner sought. It may be that their use in settings where the network effects ARE the issue remains valid -- and traditional healing is complex enough and successful enough to warrant a decent respect -- with a wary eye. But that is not this.

WE of the West are far better than either of them at objectively systemizing evidence to demonstrate repeatable causes and their effects -- and in terms unsurpassed in any field that it has yet been applied to. China and Japan both owe their present socioeconomic success to adoption of OUR methods.

I urge application of our methods to this -- and that is what I am doing.

What takes time is learning to strengthen the simple skills in order to build on them and employ them to perform more complex tasks such as executing technique while standing or in motion without relying on brute force.

And once the feelings are learned, the metaphors act like triggers to evoke and reinforce the feelings at later times without having to replicate the transmit via contact process. And a system of metaphor -- may help physical imagery in some situations -- but be hard to translate or apply in other situations just different enough to make such metaphorical imagery not only not helpful -- but often causing additional confusion. It is better if the metaphors were grounded in physical facts -- and then there is a way to relate and understand different metaphors that have proven training value to a concrete basis in the mechanics and physiology of the body.

What is more, I believe all the successful metaphors can be translated or related in these terms. If they are successful, then they must have some meaningful basis in the mechanics and the physiology of the body. The trick is to suss it out. Then ANY and EVERY successful training metaphor or method can be put in a proper system that is both internally consistent and objectively coherent.

Jeremy Hulley
09-19-2014, 08:45 AM
Yeah I am coming around to this. The fact of the matter is, most Aikido practitioners don't see these things as part of the formalized, systematized curriculum of Aikido, and I still think that Ueshiba bears responsibility for that.

Agreed.

Erick Mead
09-19-2014, 08:56 AM
It might be that the real issue is that the "seminar format" that we are all familiar with - teacher is in front of the class, demonstrates something, everyone pairs off and tries to do it - is where things went off the rails. And that was something Takeda came up with, ... It is well-documented in his training ledgers that Takeda charged by the "technique." This was the custom in the trade, so to speak, so he did not invent the idea. It was not in his economic interest to explain deeply, nor to diminish the sense of discrete techniques rather than an underlying principle that resulted in them.

One can see the current testing and rank system as directly descending from that perspective. This was also one reason Takeda was so offended by Ueshiba trying to teach aiki directly and explicitly -- it threatened his livelihood based on set-piece "techniques." I think laying a similar charge to the current system of testing, ranking and mass seminars is lacking a proper historical understanding of the problem -- in addition to being unfair, wrong and misplaced as a moral criticism -- but --- the origin of its design defects as a teaching paradigm cannot be denied.

Dan Richards
09-19-2014, 09:45 AM
Following along...

I really think this whole idea of "transmission" may have been relevant 40+ years ago. And it's obvious that looking at the movements of aikidoka and even Shihan, some of them got it and a lot of them didn't get it.

I was fairly late to the game when I started training in 1988 at the age of 27. And I started at NY Aikikai. And this was long before the internet and information being more freely shared and discussed. But even back then there were people like Mantak Chia, Peter Ralston, John Painter, and Koichi Tohei who were making previously very esoteric information quite available. Chi Kung classes and workshops were publicly available. Ki Society classes had open doors. And most of all this were clearly based in Daoist principles and practices.

This was 25 years ago. Now it's 2014. I think it can be interesting to research the past. The distant past even gets more dizzying. And I appreciate the efforts of the historians – like Stanley Pranin, Chris Li, Peter Goldbury, and Ellis Admur - for bringing information to light.

And the conclusions are basically the same. This stuff has been around, sometimes more open, sometimes not. But it's been around for a long time and can be seen in cultures all over the world.

Fast forward 25 years...

Katherine makes a great point that the "warm up" exercises are the Chi Kung / Aiki Tanren of Aikido. They've been there all along. But a huge point is, are they treated and viewed as "warm ups" or internal exercises to build the Aiki Body?

John, I agree with you that M Ueshiba wasn't that great of a systematic teach. But he obviously provided a fantastic environment for learning. I think one of the problems is when we try to look at it as a "system" at all. Ultimately, there is no system. And ultimately it's the responsibility of the student to explore and suss out what they're looking for. And this is a continuous endeavor.

Ueshiba talked about sword. When Nishio showed up, no one at Hombu knew much about swordwork. So, Nishio went to some of the top sword masters and learned. And I doubt Ueshiba taught Nishio much on the level of "technique." It was more about principles, concepts, and approach.

In all the time I trained under Nishio, he never made a physical movement and said, "The founder did it like this. He moved his hand like this and he put his feet like this." In fact Nishio moved very differently than Ueshiba. But Nishio would go on and on about Budo and principles the Founder said. And he would also frequently comment on how the movements, and the way many people who training aikido, were martially ineffective.

Nishio was already seeing a lot of Aikido being turned to shit - years ago. Same observations that you're seeing and ranting about, John, and others here.

I'm going to start a topic called Third Wave Aikido in the General forum. And rather than just bang on the whole Aiki/IP/IS aspects, I'd like to get some discussions going of the overall evolution and revolution that's occurring in Aikido. And things we can look for in the training methods and organization to see what works and is adding quality, and what's crap and needs to be removed.

A lot of Aikido really does suck. And this can be seen not just by longtime aikidoka, but other martial artists and even the general public.

kewms
09-19-2014, 09:57 AM
A lot of Aikido really does suck. And this can be seen not just by longtime aikidoka, but other martial artists and even the general public.

But remember Sturgeon's Law. As aikidoka, we don't really see all the awful karate and judo and TKD that are out there.

Katherine

phitruong
09-19-2014, 10:23 AM
But remember Sturgeon's Law.
Katherine

that they are only good for caviar? :)

PeterR
09-19-2014, 10:32 AM
that they are only good for caviar? :)

:D

Cliff Judge
09-19-2014, 11:02 AM
It is well-documented in his training ledgers that Takeda charged by the "technique." This was the custom in the trade, so to speak, so he did not invent the idea. It was not in his economic interest to explain deeply, nor to diminish the sense of discrete techniques rather than an underlying principle that resulted in them.

One can see the current testing and rank system as directly descending from that perspective. This was also one reason Takeda was so offended by Ueshiba trying to teach aiki directly and explicitly -- it threatened his livelihood based on set-piece "techniques." I think laying a similar charge to the current system of testing, ranking and mass seminars is lacking a proper historical understanding of the problem -- in addition to being unfair, wrong and misplaced as a moral criticism -- but --- the origin of its design defects as a teaching paradigm cannot be denied.

Eh? "Custom in the trade?" Where do you get that idea?

Who else was moving around a bit, giving 10-day seminars, charging by the technique?

Before Takeda started teaching Daito ryu in this way, he trained with Sakikibara, who started to create a sort of MMA league of bujutsu, and taught thousands of students. This was an innovation in direct response to the collapse of the social system where bushi were paid stipends and given rewards for mastering bujutsu, and thus the collapse of the market for classical Japanese martial arts.

I would be interested to hear why you think this was commonplace. What other teachers and schools were doing this in the Meiji, Taisho, and early Showa periods?

The idea that Takeda didn't like Ueshiba "directly teaching" Aiki was a cause for their falling out is common, that could be true. But it seems like Ueshiba getting closer to Deguchi was a considerable part of the strain. And Ueshiba was teaching harder, more direct, application-oriented jujutsu at the Asahi dojo before Takeda came to town and pronounced that he had been teaching incorrectly. Then he proceeded to teach them more subtle, aiki-related applications. Which confused them, so Tokimune suggested that they just start everybody over on the Hiden Mokuroku.

Dan Richards
09-19-2014, 11:02 AM
But remember Sturgeon's Law. As aikidoka, we don't really see all the awful karate and judo and TKD that are out there.

I think Judo has managed to keep up the quality for the most part, and still has a pretty good reputation.

With karate, there's so many various schools. I've trained with a lot of karate people, and a lot of them are not really clued in the bunkai aspect of their training. It's similar in the world of taijiquan. Lots of time doing single kata movements, and not enough time working in pairs and groups. Consequently, they can train for years and never get to the actual applications of the kata movements. And that's an area where a lot of karate and taijiquan sucks.

I had an 8th dan karate renshi in the same dojo where I used to teach, and he and I would exchange ideas in long discussions and on the mat. He said that one of his teachers told him that when his karate reached a high enough level it would look and feel like aikido. And I would work with the karate students on their bunkai - showing them the applications and possibilities within their kata.

A lot of martial arts suck. But there's some good stuff out there, too. And there are people who are practicing and exploring more progressively who are more open to training in different ways than the models they were spoonfed.

Alec Corper
09-19-2014, 11:08 AM
Hello Dan,
I don't mean to be rude towards Nishio Sensei or any of the other highly ranked shihans but the term in aikido "martial lye effective" is suspect in itself. Did you ever see Nishio or for that matter any Shihan fight an opponent using aikido (as it is generally agreed to be at this moment in time)? All I have ever seen in almost 24 years of aikido is the set up of uke/tori. Please understand the same can be said of a huge number of CMA teachers demonstrating push hands or applications upon "trained, compliant" students .i have done my fair share of sparring in my almost 40 years of Budo and that doesn't really indicate martial effectiveness either, unless of course you practice outside of your own discipline, at least demonstrating the ability to freely react, fast and effectively to whatever presents itself.
Now at the age of 62 I don't mind a bit of friendly sparring, I still do it outside of the aikido dynamic but I don't really fancy going at it full tilt to see if we can develop this elusive "martial effectiveness". After all if it was a sport system it would make sense to train differently, and if it were intended to be self defense, which I take more seriously at my age than I did before, then the whole approach should be revamped.
As for aiki skills, they don't make a fighter, only fighting skills used for fighting make a fighter. In fact I would say I could turn a guy into a fighter inside of six months if he was dumb enough and tough enough to survive a bar fight every month for those six months of training. He would then be more marginally effective than 90% of people practicing aikido. When I grew up in London I trained full contact Chinese boxing, I still lost more fights than I won, even though I did well in competition.
So what exactly are you proposing, more aiki/IP training, more contact free fighting, more study of martial strategy and tactics, more experimentation on the streets as some of O Sensei's early students were supposed to have done, according to urban Tokto legend.
What's all the fuss about?

RonRagusa
09-19-2014, 11:27 AM
I don't mean to be rude towards Nishio Sensei or any of the other highly ranked shihans but the term in aikido "martial lye effective" is suspect in itself ... What's all the fuss about?

+1

Ron

HL1978
09-19-2014, 01:46 PM
Cady, I think I have discussed this with you in the past. my very brief experience with internal Chinese martial arts left me with the impression that training is intellectually driven. The bit of bagua and tai chi I have done involved the teacher instructing me in movements to perform by myself, and offering corrections in the form of images to use as I performed them.

Japanese martial arts are based on the paired kata, and corrections are more utilitarian - your feet should be here, your sword should be held like this, you are still not making that cut right, try again, and look, that did not work, do this instead.

In other words, your own knowledge or understanding is not as important in the learning process. I think trying to graft a Chinese approach onto that is a recipe for extreme confusion, if not disaster.

Japanese or Chinese, if its "internal" or not, the teacher should be pretty hands on making adjustments to posture, showing which parts of the body move and how to do it plus all the imagery.

I tend to avoid teachers that don't do that.

oisin bourke
09-19-2014, 02:15 PM
Cady, I think I have discussed this with you in the past. my very brief experience with internal Chinese martial arts left me with the impression that training is intellectually driven. The bit of bagua and tai chi I have done involved the teacher instructing me in movements to perform by myself, and offering corrections in the form of images to use as I performed them.

Japanese martial arts are based on the paired kata, and corrections are more utilitarian - your feet should be here, your sword should be held like this, you are still not making that cut right, try again, and look, that did not work, do this instead.

In other words, your own knowledge or understanding is not as important in the learning process. I think trying to graft a Chinese approach onto that is a recipe for extreme confusion, if not disaster.

Here's a fascinating article by someone who trained over a long period in both koryu and Chen style tai chi:

http://www.hoplology.com/weapons_detail.asp?id=7

Cliff Judge
09-19-2014, 02:32 PM
Japanese or Chinese, if its "internal" or not, the teacher should be pretty hands on making adjustments to posture, showing which parts of the body move and how to do it plus all the imagery.

I tend to avoid teachers that don't do that.

I think what I am saying is that in my ephemeral experience with Chinese martial arts, the brain is taught first. You are given movements to practice, and things to think about, and try to get your movements to sync with what your brain has been told is supposed to go on.

With Japanese martial arts, it is almost directly the opposite. You are given a basic idea of the moves you are supposed to make, and you jump in and do them without really understanding what their meaning is. Your teacher and seniors have a much better idea of how good you are then you do, and they sort of poke and prod you into shape over time. You may figure things out intellectually, but then further on down the line you revise what your thinking is and start fresh. At some point your teacher may inform you of something that literally blows your mind.

The big problem with the classical Japanese model is you need a continual succession of teachers who are clued into how the school is supposed to shape you. If there is a break, it is probably gone forever.

FWIW everything I have read leads me to believe that Takeda was 100% a man of the classical Japanese method, in the way he was himself trained, and in the way he taught his inner students.

jdostie
09-19-2014, 08:57 PM
I think what I am saying is that in my ephemeral experience with Chinese martial arts, the brain is taught first. You are given movements to practice, and things to think about, and try to get your movements to sync with what your brain has been told is supposed to go on.

With Japanese martial arts, it is almost directly the opposite. You are given a basic idea of the moves you are supposed to make, and you jump in and do them without really understanding what their meaning is. Your teacher and seniors have a much better idea of how good you are then you do, and they sort of poke and prod you into shape over time. You may figure things out intellectually, but then further on down the line you revise what your thinking is and start fresh. At some point your teacher may inform you of something that literally blows your mind.

The big problem with the classical Japanese model is you need a continual succession of teachers who are clued into how the school is supposed to shape you. If there is a break, it is probably gone forever.

FWIW everything I have read leads me to believe that Takeda was 100% a man of the classical Japanese method, in the way he was himself trained, and in the way he taught his inner students.

How do you think that squares with the "itinerate teacher"/seminar model where he moved from place to place? Certainly there were periods where he remained at a dojo or another (Sagawa and Ueshiba for example), but I was given to understand that most of his teaching was done "on the road" so to speak. But I may have read more into that than is the case.

Cliff Judge
09-20-2014, 01:05 PM
How do you think that squares with the "itinerate teacher"/seminar model where he moved from place to place? Certainly there were periods where he remained at a dojo or another (Sagawa and Ueshiba for example), but I was given to understand that most of his teaching was done "on the road" so to speak. But I may have read more into that than is the case.

Sagawa, Ueshiba, and Horikawa each spent a lot of time with him. He had a huge number of students who trained with him at 10-day seminars also. My feeling is that he taught the inner students in a hands-on fashion similar to how a classical school would have it. He might even have taken ukemi for them. The seminar attendees, on the other hand, had a learning environment that was much more like the modern Aikido seminar. That's my impression anyway. I am due for a cover to cover reread of Conversations with the Daito ryu Masters.

Ellis Amdur
09-20-2014, 07:29 PM
Cliff - I agree with most of what you say, re inner and outer students. But I would wager quite a few of my hard-earned dollars that Takeda n-e-v-e-r took ukemi, in the sense of taking the fall, that we are familiar with in both aikido and koryu. That is a level of vulnerability that I cannot see him doing - not a man who carried a naked blade inside his belly band, leaving slash marks on his own abdomen, because he was concerned re the delay a sheathe might cause if he suddenly had to draw it.
1. I believe he regarded his techniques as possibly a form of ukemi, in that ukemi is the teaching position. Sagawa states that he never let Takeda know that he'd grasped aiki - and never manifested it to him. The implication here is that although one has to steal the technique, if you succeed, you are still a thief.
2. The other type of ukemi we might consider is when he played sumo.

Best
Ellis Amdur

Rupert Atkinson
09-22-2014, 03:06 AM
Hello Dan,
All I have ever seen in almost 24 years of aikido is the set up of uke/tori. Now at the age of 62 I don't mind a bit of friendly sparring, I still do it outside of the aikido dynamic but I don't really fancy going at it full tilt to see if we can develop this elusive "martial effectiveness".
So what exactly are you proposing, more aiki/IP training, more contact free fighting, ....
What's all the fuss about?

I like the way you think. I used to do a lot of Judo and was always trying to fiddle with my opponent's balance vis-ą-vis aiki/aikido. Mostly I failed as I would get thrown while 'studying' but I never gave up. Sometimes, it would work perfectly - 1/100 - and it would provide enough food for me to nourish myself on for ages on afterwards. And the weapons work - I trained in so many schools I got disillusioned with all the petty differences - we do it this way because etc. So now I follow my own ideas. The purpose of weapons is #1 to aid Aikido learning. That is what I follow. But also, on another slant, #2, I have a few methods that aim for freestyle. That is what it is ultimately about. And, when doing freestyle, try to keep the aiki in it. Just start slow, say, OK, you hit me and let's see what happens. I have developed all sorts of fun methods. Far better than pedantic predictable kata training. Here, trust is paramount. Start slow, stay slow - a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and a weak link means you get hit on the head. It certainly wakes you up. I can honestly say I have never seen anyone do anything like this except Sikhs and Indians (Kalari). Also saw some incredible Zulu stuff in Korea a few years ago (they were covered in scars - think about it). Maybe I stole a few ideas. Aikido certainly needs a bit of a reality check from time to time.

Dan Richards
09-26-2014, 02:20 PM
Hi Alec, I'm not really sure what you mean by "fighting." And are you referring to "sparring" in the pugilistic, squaring-off manner?

...doesn't really indicate martial effectiveness either, unless of course you practice outside of your own discipline, at least demonstrating the ability to freely react, fast and effectively to whatever presents itself.

Nishio did precisely that. And he constantly told students to do the same.

NIshio is quoted in this interview (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shoji-nishio/).
That’s why most people’s practice today is empty. They don’t look at other types of Budo. Right from the start, the value of a Budo is determined by comparisons with other Budo.For the most part, if you set up Kokyu-ho between two Aikido people it’s just useless. That will only be effective in the dojo. I guess that those people say things like “Even though you do Aikido you’re also doing Karate and sword. If you want to do Karate then go to Karate. If you want to do the sword then go to Kendo. If you’re doing Aikido you don’t need to do other things.”. Even in other Budo, everybody is working hard, you know. When we see that we should make an effort to surpass them with our Aiki. That is the mission of Aikido as a Budo.

Alec Corper
09-27-2014, 03:12 AM
Hi Dan,
I'm lazy when it comes to posting here, mostly because i think it is a waste of time. i reckon if you and I met up on the mat we would get on fine and not need to talc so much to find common ground. Anyway I will respond as best as i can.

I'm not really sure what you mean by "fighting." And are you referring to "sparring" in the pugilistic, squaring-off manner?

Seeing as I'm not sure which bit of the post you mean I"ll just give a general response. By fighting I mean unscripted, unplanned, no rules, no rounds, risking life or serious injury. The sort of thing Shioda referred to in Aikido Shugyo when he was posted in Shanghai. I do not believe you can tell if someone is able to use their skills in a live way when you only see set up situations with a teacher and one of their students, or someone from within the mainstream of the discipline the teacher represents. I believe what I feel. Having touched hands with Akuzawa, Dan Harden, Sam Chin, and one or two good Chen guys, and been handled with ease in a light sparring manner, i can't say i have ever felt that from aikido teachers. I'm not therefore saying they couldn't do it but i was never allowed to explore that possibility.
By sparring I mean somewhere on the continuum between Tui Shou and Sanda. Freestyle push hands with light body strikes, hands and feet, indicating other more dangerous techniques, with only a touch.

P.S. My last aikido teacher was a fan of Nishio, and i respect what Nishio represented when he suggested that people cross train. However cross training won't develop aiki, even if it can develop some martial skills.
So i guess what I am saying is this:
You need specialised training to develop an "aiki" body and as far as I am concerned that does not happen through normal aikido training. that's my hands on opinion after almost 40 years of MA. The guys that have really got this stuff are in a different league.
You need to fight freestyle if you want to claim to be martially effective. Sport fighting may be an inroad for some but it is still far away from fighting as i understand.
If you have aiki and fighting experience and martial skills you are a martial artist who can fight.

If you can fight without aiki and without martial training you are a fighter.

Now i am not going to go anywhere near defining what aiki is. I'm not qualified to do so and couldn't be bothered to defend my limited knowledge against all the expert desktop budoka. I would recommend to you dan that you seek out those people who have something other than what is generally available if you are serious about your aiki research.

all the best Paduan.

mathewjgano
09-28-2014, 01:43 PM
Now i am not going to go anywhere near defining what aiki is. I'm not qualified to do so and couldn't be bothered to defend my limited knowledge...


I think this reflects an important aspect to these conversations and has to do with why I wanted to frame things somewhat in terms of a "working definition," which acknowledges that there will be gaps in understanding (one way or another) from the get-go. In retrospect I don't think it was a good idea for me to conflate this with an objective attempt for definition in the same thread, though.

Also, wanted to say thank you to everyone for sharing your thoughts and keeping the tone productive. Sometimes it's nice to let the topic wander a little and see what we get.
Take care,
Matt

Dan Richards
09-30-2014, 09:04 AM
i reckon if you and I met up on the mat we would get on fine and not need to talc so much to find common ground.
Hi Alec. Absolutely. I think we may be cut from a more similar swatch of cloth than it might first appear.

I don't think the links were working in my signature for awhile; but if you click on them, you'll find we are on quite similar ground.

Speaking of "ground," I had a wonderful training with some Systema guys last night in Riverfront Park in Troy, NY (http://ww4.hdnux.com/photos/14/07/75/3178355/7/628x471.jpg). We used the entire area: steps, grass, concrete, etc.. I'm 53 years old, and after two hours last night of taking punches, falling and rolling and doing ground work - and even some full forward rolls and backward rolls on the concrete - I woke up today not only not feeling any aches or pains, but feeling like I got a $200 full-body massage.

The thought just came to me that a lot of people talk about working with "resistance," "aliveness," reality-based," etc.. And yet they'll train on thick mats or bouncy flooring - often with gloves and other pads.

Wanna talk about "real?" Wanna work with some serious "resistance?" Wanna see IP/Aiki work pay off in spades?

Train on concrete.

RonRagusa
09-30-2014, 10:50 AM
Speaking of "ground," I had a wonderful training with some Systema guys last night in Riverfront Park in Troy, NY (http://ww4.hdnux.com/photos/14/07/75/3178355/7/628x471.jpg).

Dan -

Was that Simon's Systema group you worked out with last night? He studied Aikido with Mary and me for many years before moving to Troy. Wonderful martial artist and a fine person.

Ron

Dan Richards
09-30-2014, 11:09 AM
Hey Ron, yep, that Simon. Great group of guys. He's a total sweetheart. I'm sure we must have looked strange to passersby - laughing and cracking up while punching and throwing each other into the pavement. I thought that if anyone asked what we were doing we'd just tell them we were from Blue Man Group - or practicng for a theatrical production of Pirates of Penzance.

BTW, click on that seminar link in my sig. Simon and I are both instructing. And I think you know Larry Gravett. You and Mary are about 1.5 hours away. Wanna come? It's Ueshiba's birthday. We could squeeze you in on the instructors bill.

mathewjgano
09-30-2014, 12:15 PM
Train on concrete.
I have only ever done simple rolling exercises on concrete, but the hard, pointy, etc., ground is great for learning how to engage/move softly! Studying how to spread or otherwise manipulate incoming force through/around the body safely, and moving around immoveable objects spontaneously and at will, is kind of what the budo aspect is all about it, isn't it? We're rolling along the path and suddenly that little rock you didn't notice makes its point real quick. Your proprioceptive awareness for all the boney bits in your body tends to go up too, I imagine. :uch: :D

WolFlow
10-12-2014, 01:52 AM
I have a pretty simple view of Aiki. Yet simple doesn´t mean it is easy to do.....

My background is 20 years of BJJ and for the last 6 years in addition I trained mostly Systema Homo Ludens with Alex Kostic but also met guys like Vasiliev, Ryabko,Rickson Gracie, Dan Harden, Torsten Kanzmeier and Akuzawa. Some I could watch, others I felt. With some I trained only a few hours others I know for years. Without judging all of these guys I have a certain opinion about Aiki.....

First of all I don´t think it is something that you could put really into words. It´s a feeling or a level of moving that you only can develope when you go through a long process of self discovery in many ways.

At the root of this whole Aiki thing is the ability to fight no matter how. All the good guys with "strange" skills (call it Aiki if you like) where fighters when they where younger. The reason is simple how can you be relaxed and sophisticated if you flinch or freeze as soon as a punch is thrown or someone grabs you.

Being able to be calm under pressure is one of the key qualities of developing more sophisticated body skills and if you can´t do that all the secret solo drills in the world will not help you to be able to use any kind of Aiki under pressure.

The next thing is that a lot of the guys I met where pretty awsome in their skills yet they explained the process of how to get there very differently. Everyone has his one pictures, ideas and modells to understand what he is doing but from my feeling and observation the best guys JUST FEEL IT.

Of course they are explaining it and there are no secrets but its a feeling in your body a way you move and respond to force which can be translated into words a little bit but never fully.

For me since I am doing a lot of BJJ it is always my testing ground of what works and what not. My defintion of Aiki is pretty simple:

Work with the least possible effort and that only works when you are able to "relax" your opponent and work with a different force than brute strength.

Honestly I love these internal stuff but there is no better testing ground as 25 year old, strong athlete who doesn´t know anything about Aiki and is just stiff and tensed and wrestling you on the ground.

From these experiences you learn how to be more and more effortless but its a process not something that happens over night.

In my opinion there are two quailites that are pretty important when it comes to developing Aiki skills.

A connected body so you move as a whole being rather than in single units and this is something you can perfectly see in animals or little childs. Look at a baby when his head turns his feet move too.

And these whole body movement gives a lot of strength that is difficult to detect. I have a very small dog who weight 15 pounds. Yet his stability and ability to pull is amazing for such a small weight and he is always moving in a connected way.

A simple example in Grappling is that people forget the lower body when they roll around. They tense up grab headlocks and don´t care about their feet.

If you are able to create a connection to your lower body the whole time you are grappling for example your abilities of movement and strength will be much better.

The second skill which is very important is to keep the balance between tension and relaxation. If you can be like a guitar string able to deal with incoming forces and return back and actually never loose your structure than you will be much more effecient in your movements than if you are rigid like many people or "pseudo relaxed" which is also very common.

Aiki is experience of fighting skills that is more and more refined into effortless movement.

My own formula of working with this stuff is pretty simple:

Years of intense regular training (like BJJ, Boxing, etc.) I did that for about 15 years before I was looking into more effortless movement.

Then it s all about understanding your body by feeling. Learning how to keep posture, learning how to relax certain parts of the body while you use other muscles for keeping your posture. It´s about using the middle of the body because think about it. That´s the only way to coordinate 4 limps. From the inside out not from the outside in. Look at good dancers or good boxers or MMA guys like Anderson Silva. They always lead with the middle of their bodies and not from the outside. It´s how animals and little kids do. Think about how little kids turn from their back to their belly.......

And besides all that work it is always going back on the mat as testing ground and checking out if your new feelings and skills work.

In my opinion it is a way back to your natural movement ability you had as a kid. I don´t think it is a secret skill set. The secret is in the body and there are tons of ideas and principles that help some people but don´t work for others.

Like I said everyone of the good guys was different. Yet they had all one thing in common:

THEY MOVED EFFORTLESS

even under stress and that should be a great guideline to work your own skills.

Take care
Björn

Rupert Atkinson
10-13-2014, 12:16 AM
Reflecting on Bejoern's post above: I did Judo for a long time and I had one friend in particular - Colin - who could lay on people and they could not move. He just crushed them into the mat with his weight, even though he was no heavier than the rest of us. He had been trianing longer than the rest of us and no matter how he explained or how he tried, we just could not do it - but I did not forget - it was always in the back of my mind. A few years later I was wrestling with someone on the ground and afterwards he asked me how I held them down with such ease. While showing him it clicked - not the how to - but just the fact that I was doing it. I was at a loss for words. Of course, I had no way of explaining it. But then I incorporated it into my training - as a warm-up exercise - and I even use it occasionally when teaching Aikido. But, when I think about it, I would not call it aiki. Holding someone down is just neutralising their effort to get up. Aiki both neutralises and manipulates their response - much harder. For example - my friend Colin could hold people down very efficiently, but he would be at a total loss to use such skill to create, say, irimi-nage. Or even, to create a Judo throw using that 'same' soft skill.

WolFlow
10-14-2014, 09:05 AM
Yeah but I don´t mean laying on top distributing the weight and just control someone. That´s basic Grappling skill you will get over the years. I talk about the ability to take people down, defend the takedown, doing balistic deep striking and kicking, evading without much effort. Sweeping people, taking balance, etc.

mathewjgano
10-15-2014, 11:14 AM
Rupert and Bjoern, thank you for sharing your insights! It is very much appreciated! The aspect that catches my beginner mind the most is that idea of feeling. I'm a dabbler compared to most people here (although I do consider myself a serious life-long student of conflict resolution and Aikido), so I don't mean to sound like I really know what I'm talking about, but the sense I get is that paying attention to what's happening inside of the body is every bit as important as paying attention to what's happening outside, and that while we all pay attention to some degree, we tend to focus much more on the outside factors. It's hard to be aware of so much at once and upping the sample rate of our attention is one of the biggest mental aspects to learning how to use the body most efficiently. This is where slowing things down and focusing on feeling comes in handy, since it allows the mental sample rate to catch up to what's happening, and that makes it easier for the body to "fill in" those weaker openings that chronic bad habits impose upon our bodies. We need to be working with people who are sensitive enough to perceive those things we cannot, in order to be most effective at this. And this is where the partnered feedback becomes so important.
...again, not trying to teach anyone anything here, just thinking out loud.
Take care,
Matt

mathewjgano
10-15-2014, 11:34 AM
...Our bodies communicate to us all the time, so I don't mean to suggest that people aren't paying attention to their insides. The impression I get is that it's a matter of developing the sensitivity to unpack the load of messages your body is sending to you, addressing the individual components of that on their own terms, and then repackaging it all into a cohesive whole. When I'm walking I often play with how I'm engaging my feet and toes and have noticed that this makes my hands want to do sympathetic movements. For example when I create a kind of suction cup with my foot, I notice my hand wants to make a similar shape. Whether that's because I've just conditioned it to do that or because it represents some innate relationship I can later utilize to greater effect is almost moot to the process of discovering how my body can operate. However, that's where the feedback and constant training (i.e. testing) come into play. Through this, we can learn more about the contexts which make these little things valid (or not) and purposeful additions to the whole.

WolFlow
10-16-2014, 11:29 AM
That´s true and one of the biggest challenges. You must find the balance between relaxation and tension.

If you just relax you will be like a cooked noddle and not very effective and if you tense up like crazy you can´t do much either.:-)

Many people carry chronic tensions around from working desk jobs (shoulders), mental stress and physical injuries and don´t even recognizing it.

If you tell someone relax everyone will be different since not everyone has the same feeling for his internal body and the same will be if you tell him to tense up.

The best guys I felt had both. I would call it a relaxed tension like a guitar string and I belive this should be one of the main goals. First while you are moving on your own and later when people are trying to attack you maybe first prearranged but later definately free.

Working slow is a great tool to research your own movement patterns but you have to be honest to yourself while doing it.