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Alec Corper
03-26-2017, 10:02 AM
Budd,
I guess that depends on who you train with ;-)

Cass
03-26-2017, 10:38 AM
There is much discussion and conflict of opinions here that I must admit I have skipped ahead of as it is largely over my head at this point. Simply I will share my beginner opinion on the topic - for what it's worth.

When I first entered my dojo I was full of questions, I literally had a sheet of paper with what must have been 20 questions with which I interrogated my sensei. Many of these I had come up with from browsing here and other online resources regarding Aikido. One of the constant mentions that I had come across was thus, aiki or ki, both as a mindset and as a teaching. My sensei was bemused but humoured me my questions but when I arrived at "how much focus do you place on ki?" he was quite brief. He doesn't know what it is (even after 17 years training) and doesn't teach it. The more I experience Aikido the more I agree with this approach. Just the meaning of ki is very largely conflicted and nobody can really agree on a strict definition, there are biomechanical aspects that some try to teach (i.e. the unbendable arm) but there is also a strong emphasis on the mentality of it.

By now I have trained with a few hundred different aikidoka, from 4 seminars, visitors as well as the large membership of my dojo. I have admired many practitioners but so far I have not come across anything that I would deem mystical in the ilk that ki is held. They can all be defined. Some people train fast, some slow, some people I have felt a great connection with where we synchronized beautifully (flow) and others did not match well. Some people are graceful, some people possess great strength and power. Some people are good, warm, kind, peaceful and "aiki" and others resemble none of those traits. Many people vary on these scales as well depending on the particular day, perhaps if their mood is poor or good, distracted or not. Everyone that I have trained with has had tangible traits, I could see and feel what it was that I "liked" or "didn't like" about their aikido, typically it was a mix of the aforementioned. I believe that regarding aiki, it is as much a question such as "learning patience" from Aikido, sure, it can help, but at the end of the day if you are an impatient person just doing Aikido will not fix that. Striving to improve to fit that ideal I find admirable, but changing oneself on a mental level (particularly if it is extreme) cannot come from the physical alone, no matter how many ikkyo or ki exercises you do.

So in general, I think it can be quite a frustrating topic to discuss aiki, it is at best elusive and hard to prove effective. I mostly consider it as something like faith, if it improves people for the better I am all for it. Very few people claim to "possess" aiki and I have never had the experience to train with someone who does so. It's a little like trying to grab smoke, everyone has a perspective on what they think it is like or how much importance it has, but it is not tangible enough to be properly defined and outlined.

Demetrio Cereijo
03-26-2017, 10:53 AM
It's a little like trying to grab smoke, everyone has a perspective on what they think it is like or how much importance it has, but it is not tangible enough to be properly defined and outlined.

Maybe aiki itself is not tangible enough but the effects of having aiki should be.

Alec Corper
03-26-2017, 11:02 AM
Cass,
Aiki is not mystical, it is a way of training the body which makes more use of unified opposing forces. There are training methodologies which stress how to develop tissue and fascia connection to develop whole body strength. "One part moves, all parts move.". There are methods for developing coiling or spiral power by learning to rotate the joints and tissue from the central axis of tanden ( dantien in Chinese) There are methods for developing an enhanced "pump" action in hands and feet.
And so on.
Some of these methods are related to aspects of yoga and supposedly entered China via India with the monk Ta Mo. Many of these exercises were originally intended to strengthen the body for prolonged periods of meditation but quite quickly were seen to be effective in other areas, especially for monks who needed to protect themselves.
People who are practicing this way are generally not mystical but quite practical and looking for demonstrable changes in receiving and projecting power. What is interesting in this is that much of O Sensei's writings and lessons can be read as technical explanations clothed in the language of Eastern symbolism, much of it revolving around In and Yo, the Japanese version of yin and yang and how to unify these forces in oneself.
One interpretation of this, also known as Heaven, Earth, Man, is learning to stand in an immovable posture so that when moving there is an internal stability that makes it harder for an opponent to throw but also increase the power of throws.
I doubt that most of this can be successfully understood without feeling it. If you are ever in The Netherlands you are welcome to visit and get a sense of other ways of training.

Good luck with your training,
Alec

GovernorSilver
03-26-2017, 11:07 AM
So in general, I think it can be quite a frustrating topic to discuss aiki, it is at best elusive and hard to prove effective. I mostly consider it as something like faith, if it improves people for the better I am all for it. Very few people claim to "possess" aiki and I have never had the experience to train with someone who does so. It's a little like trying to grab smoke, everyone has a perspective on what they think it is like or how much importance it has, but it is not tangible enough to be properly defined and outlined.

As you can see, there's no universal agreement in the Aikido world at large as to what "aiki" actually is. However, the "aiki" talked about by Cady, Budd, etc. is a fairly specific thing.

This is one of those things that fall under "IHTBF" - It Has To Be Felt. It is quite tangible, but can be best understood by physical contact. Trying to understand by reading about it or watching videos that purportedly display it - without the prior physical contact experience - doesn't seem to work for most people.

Budd can show you how it feels, and also teach you how to do it in short order. There are a few others out there who can as well.

Cass
03-26-2017, 11:44 AM
Ahh so, if we are talking purely of the physical and more definitive aiki as mentioned. What are the tangible effects of having it versus not? How can you feel this in someones aikido? Alec, you mention it is for developing whole body strength, but when we train are not the techniques related to redirection of force? Ultimately with good technique strength should not be a factor, so how does it benefit the aikidoka to have this talent refined? I have heard also that some people naturally "possess" this ability (or not) more than others, so is it not quite difficult to teach? Strength, stability, redirection, all seemed as learned and honed abilities that I can't see much definitive connotation with necessarily coming from aiki teachings if they can be acquired without.

Also a generous offer, if I am ever in the neighbourhood I may take you up on that :).

Demetrio Cereijo
03-26-2017, 11:47 AM
Ahh so, if we are talking purely of the physical and more definitive aiki as mentioned. What are the tangible effects of having it versus not?

If you have it you can effortlessly slam Teddy Riner at will.

Budd
03-26-2017, 01:10 PM
Budd,
I guess that depends on who you train with ;-)

With whom and how, no doubt, Alec, based on many a historical precedent

Budd
03-26-2017, 01:15 PM
There is much discussion and conflict of opinions here that I must admit I have skipped ahead of as it is largely over my head at this point. Simply I will share my beginner opinion on the topic - for what it's worth.

When I first entered my dojo I was full of questions, I literally had a sheet of paper with what must have been 20 questions with which I interrogated my sensei. Many of these I had come up with from browsing here and other online resources regarding Aikido. One of the constant mentions that I had come across was thus, aiki or ki, both as a mindset and as a teaching. My sensei was bemused but humoured me my questions but when I arrived at "how much focus do you place on ki?" he was quite brief. He doesn't know what it is (even after 17 years training) and doesn't teach it. The more I experience Aikido the more I agree with this approach. Just the meaning of ki is very largely conflicted and nobody can really agree on a strict definition, there are biomechanical aspects that some try to teach (i.e. the unbendable arm) but there is also a strong emphasis on the mentality of it.

By now I have trained with a few hundred different aikidoka, from 4 seminars, visitors as well as the large membership of my dojo. I have admired many practitioners but so far I have not come across anything that I would deem mystical in the ilk that ki is held. They can all be defined. Some people train fast, some slow, some people I have felt a great connection with where we synchronized beautifully (flow) and others did not match well. Some people are graceful, some people possess great strength and power. Some people are good, warm, kind, peaceful and "aiki" and others resemble none of those traits. Many people vary on these scales as well depending on the particular day, perhaps if their mood is poor or good, distracted or not. Everyone that I have trained with has had tangible traits, I could see and feel what it was that I "liked" or "didn't like" about their aikido, typically it was a mix of the aforementioned. I believe that regarding aiki, it is as much a question such as "learning patience" from Aikido, sure, it can help, but at the end of the day if you are an impatient person just doing Aikido will not fix that. Striving to improve to fit that ideal I find admirable, but changing oneself on a mental level (particularly if it is extreme) cannot come from the physical alone, no matter how many ikkyo or ki exercises you do.

So in general, I think it can be quite a frustrating topic to discuss aiki, it is at best elusive and hard to prove effective. I mostly consider it as something like faith, if it improves people for the better I am all for it. Very few people claim to "possess" aiki and I have never had the experience to train with someone who does so. It's a little like trying to grab smoke, everyone has a perspective on what they think it is like or how much importance it has, but it is not tangible enough to be properly defined and outlined.

Cassia, the whole point some of us are getting at is that "aiki" (and many other Asian terms that seem spiritual or cosmic), have their roots in very measurable physical phenomena - many of us are actively researching it and can clearly demonstrate what it means in repeatable and physical terms.

Budd
03-26-2017, 01:21 PM
Ahh so, if we are talking purely of the physical and more definitive aiki as mentioned. What are the tangible effects of having it versus not? How can you feel this in someones aikido? Alec, you mention it is for developing whole body strength, but when we train are not the techniques related to redirection of force? Ultimately with good technique strength should not be a factor, so how does it benefit the aikidoka to have this talent refined? I have heard also that some people naturally "possess" this ability (or not) more than others, so is it not quite difficult to teach? Strength, stability, redirection, all seemed as learned and honed abilities that I can't see much definitive connotation with necessarily coming from aiki teachings if they can be acquired without.

Also a generous offer, if I am ever in the neighbourhood I may take you up on that :).

Cassia, the other thread I just started on Connection to the Ground, Rooting, etc addresses some of this - mainly in that the development of whole-body strength in an internal/Ki sense creates more capability to exhibit "aiki" as in "harmonizing with energy".