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John Matsushima
11-08-2004, 01:13 AM
I've just been wondering if any women out there find it hard or unatural keeping thier center and focus in the hara, or lower abdomen. I think a woman's center of gravity is higher up, more like the upper abdomen or solar plexus. What do you women think about this? If anyone could try this out in practice (keeping one point in the solar plexus area), I would be happy to hear of your experiences and opinions on this matter.

-John Matsushima

PeterR
11-08-2004, 01:33 AM
Hey John;

This is only an observation but have you notice that many women tie their belt high on their hips. The dojo fashion police usually have a word with the occasional guy that does this but I have also suggested to some women that do so and appear to have the problem you are talking about that it might help if they do the same. Sort of a reminder to lower their hara - sometimes it even works.

rachmass
11-08-2004, 05:33 AM
????? I believe women naturally have a lower center, not the opposite! While I tie my hakama high, because that is where my natural waist is, my weight is definately in my center and low, as anyone practicing with me can attest. This is the way I find most women to be and have seen absolutely the opposite with a lot of men. I found this a rather funny observation, since it is so counter to most women I've trained with (of course that is a generalization, because there are women who carry high and women who carry low, just like men).

skyetide
11-08-2004, 05:54 AM
I would echo what Rachel said... I believe that most women's center of gravity is lower. Our natural waist, where most of us tie our belts, tends to sit higher than our center of gravity. I have never heard of women having a higher center of gravity than men. ???

stern9631
11-08-2004, 08:04 AM
Maybe breast size has something to do with that.

Chuck Clark
11-08-2004, 08:25 AM
I agree that women have a lower center of gravity than men. Time and motion studies have shown, for example, that if you want to load small to medium size packages on a truck, women can do it more productively (and longer) than men of the same size and strength. It's because they have a lower center of gravity. Center of gravity is not the same as the waist.

Qatana
11-08-2004, 08:39 AM
I Wish I could tie my belt on my hips. The fact is that women have waists that are smaller than their hips (usually) and the belt will just slide up no matter How low we tie it.
What the H would breast size have to do with Anything?

Hanna B
11-08-2004, 08:44 AM
Oh, everything physical about women can be explained with breast size. Didn't you know? :-o

Wish I remember where I read a man saying he believed that the breasts make a women prone to fall over... no no. It is the biceps that causes the men to have such bad balance.

DaveO
11-08-2004, 08:44 AM
Maybe breast size has something to do with that.

Not likely. :) Ignoring the potential for humour for the moment; they don't add a whole lot of mass in and of themselves. Unless the woman in question is endowed to truly ridiculous proportions; they're not going to shift her C of G upward very much; if at all.

And to my understanding; though related the 'center' or one-point is not the same as the CG. The CG is a physical point at which gravity affects the body as a whole. The hara OTOH is a spiritual point through which an aikidoist focusses his/her energy and movement. :)

Janet Rosen
11-08-2004, 11:27 AM
Another woman, echoing what my sisters have said: if anything, my center of gravity is at or below my hara, but I can't tie a belt down there.

suren
11-08-2004, 11:41 AM
If I remember correctly Saito Hitohiro Sensei during his seminar in Reno this year said that women has their hara higher than that of men. He touched this topic while explaining the level where to keep your bokken after the cut - in front of your hara. My memory is not very clear on this though.

akiy
11-08-2004, 12:04 PM
And to my understanding; though related the 'center' or one-point is not the same as the CG. The CG is a physical point at which gravity affects the body as a whole. The hara OTOH is a spiritual point through which an aikidoist focusses his/her energy and movement. :)
The way I use the term "center'" isn't spiritual but conceptual/physical in nature. It may not be the literal center of gravity, but when I try moving "from my center," it allows me to connect my hands/arms (usually my "connectors") with my legs (usually my "affectors"). As such, I tend to see "center" as a concept that cultivates my using my entire body (from the point of contact with my partner down to the ground). In addition, the concept also allows me to articulate my body more freely (eg using my hips, knees, elbows) by shifting my awareness away from the point of contact.

It seems from many scieitific studies that women do have a lower center of gravity than men. However, I'll observe that this doesn't necessarily mean that they have a lower "hara" or "center."

-- Jun

Hanna B
11-08-2004, 12:23 PM
One of my previous teachers said that it took a bit longer time for women to "get their center down". Some of you migh say "find their center". Well, that was his experience... I wonder if most women breath with more superficial breaths than most men? This would then most probably be something culture-dependent.

DaveO
11-08-2004, 12:36 PM
Jun said:
The way I use the term "center'" isn't spiritual but conceptual/physical in nature. It may not be the literal center of gravity, but when I try moving "from my center," it allows me to connect my hands/arms (usually my "connectors") with my legs (usually my "affectors"). As such, I tend to see "center" as a concept that cultivates my using my entire body (from the point of contact with my partner down to the ground). In addition, the concept also allows me to articulate my body more freely (eg using my hips, knees, elbows) by shifting my awareness away from the point of contact.

Hi Jun; thanks for that - that's largely - though far more detailed - the way I think about it; you're far better at explaining it than I. :)

Hanna said:
One of my previous teachers said that it took a bit longer time for women to "get their center down". Some of you migh say "find their center". Well, that was his experience... I wonder if most women breath with more superficial breaths than most men? This would then most probably be something culture-dependent.

Hi Hanna - I suspect it's nothing more than the fact that women tend to be smaller and lighter than men; and are more likely to have to reach up to grab a shoulder etc. Which will cause any newer student to 'think high' and let their center rise. :)

skyetide
11-08-2004, 12:48 PM
Jon,

Your comment is inappropriate and ridiculous.

Magma
11-08-2004, 01:26 PM
Women definitely have a lower center of gravity than men; that is a proven point demonstrated in the structure of their hips and in how they carry and distribute their body weight. Look at these pages for some quick information:

http://www.survivaliq.com/physical_fitness/physiological-differences-the-sexes.htm

http://www.medicinenet.com/womens_health/article.htm

...otherwise, just google up "men women center of gravity" and you'll see several sites dealing with allowances/changes that must be made in different activities because of this discrepancy in frame between men and women.

Secondly, on the emerging topic of center of gravity vs. hara, in so far as one is encouraged to move from center (hara) and as aikido tends to be an art that maximizes the body's potential through proper mechanical application of the body and limbs, the two concepts of "center of gravity" and "hara" reference the same point in the body. There may be more spiritual, holistic appliations to the concept of hara and how it interacts with shakras, etc., but there can be no doubt that the points are one in the same: to move efficiently and powerfully (the mechanical goal of aikido), the center of gravity must be manipulated. The situation is easily demonstrable through the application of modern physics and physiology. Even inanimate objects are most easily moved through an understanding of their center of gravity.

Any misunderstanding of hara (specifically the tanden) and the center of gravity as two separate points in the body fails to explain adequately the biological proximity in the mid to lower pelvis of a human. There is single point in the hip/pelvis area which has significant mechanical meaning. Any discussion of the points as being separate seems to me to be a retroactive definition caused by an incomplete knowledge of women's physiology (e.g., that they have a higher center of gravity).

JMO, of course.

Finally, I agree with Tonya, Jon. That comment was completely inappropriate and juvenile. Find a chat room.

DaveO
11-08-2004, 01:51 PM
Jon,

Your comment is inappropriate and ridiculous.

Finally, I agree with Tonya, Jon. That comment was completely inappropriate and juvenile. Find a chat room.

Whoa - chill guys; I don't think Jon's comment was meant to be either sexist or sexual in nature. Women have 'em; men don't - strictly from an observational basis; it could seem that relatively large masses that high on the torso could affect the CG - The way I read it; that was what Jon was asking; I think as adults we can discuss such things without resorting to locker-room mentality.*

In truth; they don't - to my knowledge anyway - have any effect on the body's CG that isn't overwhelmed by the differences in basic body design. Basically; the breast is a fatty structure supporting and protecting the mammary glands - not very massive (heavy) at all. By contrast; men tend to have a much heavier upper body musculature and skeletal build; which is why our CG is centered more in the chest; rather than the woman's which is in the hips.

:)

* Edit - after re-reading that; it looked to me like I might be accusing someone here of that. I'm not - just pointing out that IMO Jon hasn't either. :)

Janet Rosen
11-08-2004, 02:08 PM
Women have 'em; men don't - strictly from an observational basis; it could seem that relatively large masses that high on the torso could affect the CG - The way I read it; that was what Jon was asking
Center of gravity is based on skeleton, not a few pounds of soft tissue. Women's mass, statistically averaged, is in the hips; men's in the shoulders.
I didn't take it as sexist, just ignorant.

Magma
11-08-2004, 02:26 PM
I agree with Janet. We all know that muscle weighs more than fat, and that men tend to develop muscle mass in the chest and shoulder area where women have their breasts. It should be obvious.

Center of gravity is based on skeleton, not a few pounds of soft tissue. Women's mass, statistically averaged, is in the hips; men's in the shoulders.
I didn't take it as sexist, just ignorant.

Can I say that I took it as sexist *and* ignorant?

Cause... cause... I did.

If that's not what Jon meant to say, then he certainly chose an impolitic way of expressing himself.

Hanna B
11-08-2004, 03:17 PM
No nead to bash Jon. I made an ironical remark, and now quite a few people have said they did not find the comment tasty. Maybe we can let it stay at that?

akiy
11-08-2004, 03:42 PM
Hi folks,

Just a gentle nudge towards the original topic... Thanks.

-- Jun

Lan Powers
11-08-2004, 07:10 PM
>Hi folks,

Just a gentle nudge towards the original topic... Thanks.

-- Jun <
Wink, wink, nudge, nudge....say no MORE!

heh heh.....Monty Python fits yet another application.
Lan

Keith_k
11-08-2004, 07:10 PM
I always thought a woman's center of gravity is lower. I know they're harder to throw than most men I train with.

John Matsushima
11-08-2004, 08:04 PM
Thank you everyone for taking the time to reply. There is lot of good information and things to think about. For those of you who think that a woman's CG is lower, have you had to make any adjustments, such as a wider stance, positioning, etc.? Also, have you noticed any differences in your technique (such as koshi nage) and agility as compared to men?
From what I have observed it seems that women have smaller, natural stances and yet are more fluid in their movement. Women also seem lighter on their feet. Any thoughts?

Any bad posture in the upper torso for me and I lose my center and clod around like Godzilla at times.

-John Matsushima

Jeanne Shepard
11-08-2004, 09:08 PM
More women took ballet lessons.

Jeanne :p

bleepbeep
11-08-2004, 09:46 PM
i tie my belt at the waist, but my center IS definitely lower. :)

PeterR
11-08-2004, 10:07 PM
Perhaps some confusion from my post.

I never even considered whose center of gravity is lower or whether women are more imbalanced than men. Frankly I've worked with so many body types that I could not possibly make a generalized statement.

However, quite a few beginners move as if their center of gravity is much higher it actually is. I find that simply tying your belt around the hips rather than the waist often goes a long way to solving the problem.

ruthmc
11-09-2004, 06:02 AM
Women have 'em; men don't
Fat men do have 'em ;)

Ruth

Janet Rosen
11-09-2004, 11:07 AM
More women took ballet lessons.
Jeanne :p
Jeanne, I"ve an observation/question: I never took ballet or other dance. But what I''ve observed in the dojo is that women who do come to aikido from ballet/modern dance actually seem top heavy, NOT in a literal weight sense but in the sense that, while their posture is excellent, they don't seem to sink into the center as much as float and move the upper body. As a result as newbies they unbalance very easily when, as nage, they try to throw people. This is by no means a scientific survey, but based on observing 3 women over the yrs. Wonder if you or other dance folks (Jo?) have thoughts on this.

BC
11-09-2004, 11:42 AM
I have understood for a while that women have a lower center of gravity than men, due to the their different hip structure. One can easily determine this by picking a man and a woman of approximately the same height, and trying a koshinage on each one. You will most likely find that you will have to get YOUR center lower on the woman than the man to do an effective throw. IMHO.

stern9631
11-09-2004, 12:52 PM
Well, I survived all of the name calling and libelous comments. I just wanted you all to know that training in gymnastics and seeing girls develop into women while at the same time trying to achieve mastery of a skill that depended on balance, rotation and center led me to make a simple comment that was based on valid observations. Compound spirals are also found in gymnastics and having extra weight high on the body led to a change in their CG. Being so reactionary is not very productive. You can use the following website to mimic my hypothesis. The blocks can be used to mimic a cross-section of the body from a vertical or horizontal POV. Notice how the CG changes.
Be nice, jeez.
http://www.phy.ntnu.edu.tw/java/block/block.html

Magma
11-09-2004, 01:09 PM
Jon,

Your comment was made in support of women having a higher center of gravity than men. The patent absurdity of such a claim convinced me that your motive was more nefarious than a simple statement of fact.

Yes, breasts impact the center of gravity as they add weight to the woman. However, with the wide range of breast size you could not make a generalization regarding women's centers being always higher than men's because of their breasts. Not only is it wrong, it falls far short of diagnosing the situation. Especially in gymnastics, where the secondary sexual characteristics are supressed through overly-rigorous training, it would seem to be a safer statement to say that whatever small increase in upper body weight was added by breasts is offset several times over by musculature gains in the legs and lower body.

Sure, breasts raise a center of gravity. Negligibly. Certainly not enough to rewrite scientific thought that women's centers are relatively lower than men's, and that is what you seemed to be doing with your previous post.

Qatana
11-09-2004, 09:06 PM
Ballet Dancers are trained to "split" their bodies so that from the hara down thay are thinking "down" but from there up they are thinking "up and forward", partially because this is what gives us height in jumps and lifts, also because ballet was developed when people wore corsets and that is the natural posture of a corsetted body. But yes, this is why they seem top- heavy.
If I had only had ballet training I probably would have had to learn how to locate my hara and orient to "down" however jazz dance is also down oriented, and I'd had lots of yoga & belly dance and some tai chi before I started training.

stern9631
11-10-2004, 07:09 AM
Hey, guys I am ok with being wrong. No big deal. I honestly don't really care. I was offering an idea. So, maybe next time you all can avoid the name calling and I can make sure to be more clear.

Magma
11-10-2004, 09:39 AM
Eh. No real name calling, except for descriptions of the comment made.

Impugning your motives? Guilty as charged.

sunny liberti
11-30-2004, 06:06 PM
I'm surprised that no one has touched on the topic of childbearing... I have found that having a baby has tremendously impacted where my mind is. There is the emptying of the void feeling and all. I don't know if I will ever be the same in terms of hara after that experience. I made tremendous progress.

In general, I 100% agree with Rachel and others. And I also don't think that where we tie our belts really has anything to do with feeling center. I can't really even imagine it.

I've always been under the impession based on my observations that men have to break through reliance on their shoulder strength to get anywhere in MA. This makes their movement akward in the beginning in a different way than women are. We tend to store our traumas and fears in the hips, which can be tight for a while. I think these factors influence movement and perception of center for a long time in early training...

Just my random thoughts on the matter...

wendyrowe
11-30-2004, 10:57 PM
Lots of food for thought here --

First off, I was surprised at how people took Jon's suggestion. I'm an engineer, and knowing a few seriously topheavy women I found myself thinking that in some cases (not enough to generalize to all women) that probably could raise their center of mass by a non-negligible 5% or more.

I tie my belt at my waist because that's where it stays put.
My center of mass is most assuredly below my waist, probably about three fingerwidths.

I was recently training at a karate dojo that shares space with a ballet school, and there's some cross-pollination. The karate instructor mentioned that all the dancers had trouble lowering their centers when they started, because in dance they are taught to float.

Re Sunny's observation on having a baby: I'd had mine over a decade before discovering martial arts, so maybe it's just that I'm used to them -- but I'm able to find my center (spiritual as well as physical) just fine. I go to class thinking about a zillion different things about work and family, then let it all go as I prepare for class and get filled with aikido.

As for John's question re differences in techniques, I have a feeling it's my relative shortness that's the biggest cause of any differences. I'm close to a foot shorter than nearly everyone and weigh about half what some of my classmates weigh. Many of them have trouble sinking their centers under mine since they're so much taller; but if they do manage it, I go flying. I'm more agile than the big, muscular guys, but I figure that's because I'm so much less massive so I have much less inertia (please forgive the engineer talk again; I can't help it, it's how I think). I know I'll get better at it as I study longer, but I haven't yet mastered the subtleties that'll let me overcome the basic physics -- if I don't get out of the way, I can be launched really easily by bigger people even when I feel well rooted. Again, though, I'm sure that's because of my size not because I'm female with a slightly lower center than a comparably sized male.

KerstineElnegaard
12-01-2004, 09:56 AM
Hey people :)
I've been reading the discussion, and decided to pipe in with my two cents, just to be difficult.
I tie my hakama below my waist, at my hips. I do this, because it seems more natural for me, and this is also where I tied my belt, before I got my extra pants (haven't gotten quite used to it yet... grrr :confused: ) ...I am smaller around my waist, than around my hips... but as i tie my belt somewhat hard, it actually stays somewhere near where I put it initially...
I have never tried tying it at my waist, 'cause I have this idea that it must feel somewhat like a corset... Like I said, my gi doesn't stay on (closed) unless I tie my belt firmly... and tying it like that at my waist... ouch... :freaky:
So when women tie their hakama at the waist... how do you "keep it on"?

Just curious :)

KerstineElnegaard
12-01-2004, 09:58 AM
hehe oh yeah... Im a girl... :D forgot to mention that :rolleyes:

Janet Rosen
12-01-2004, 10:00 AM
Hi, Kerstine. Well, as one who makes and wears corsets, I assure you they are not at all like a belt around the waistline; a well fitted corset provides comfortable, even compression around the lower torso and abdomen and as my latest happy customer tells me you can do ukemi in a waist cincher (smile).
I keep my dogi top very neatly and modestly closed with ties at waist and bustline.

sharonbader
12-01-2004, 02:04 PM
I've just been wondering if any women out there find it hard or unatural keeping thier center and focus in the hara, or lower abdomen.
-John Matsushima

Not at all.

I think it would be easier for women to 'find' their center based on what Janet Rosen said - that women tend to carry their weight lower as compared to men who carry their weight in their shoulders.

This fact is compensated for in many activities done by men and women. Probably also why it is hard for women to learn 'male' dominated sports. But this is another topic.

Hagen Seibert
12-01-2004, 04:05 PM
Could there be a sensible way to make use of one´s breasts as a tool of self defence ?
Like: Soft but distracting atemi at close distance or ground fight, flashing them and then kick the balls, or I also remember this Russ Meyer film where this chap suffocates inbetween two of them...

Janet Rosen
12-01-2004, 04:56 PM
Could there be a sensible way to make use of one´s breasts as a tool of self defence ?
I will not dignify with a larger quote than the above.
May I request that this thread not devolve in this direction? thank you.

akiy
12-01-2004, 05:36 PM
May I request that this thread not devolve in this direction? thank you.
Agreed.

-- Jun

sharonbader
12-01-2004, 05:56 PM
The guys are just talking about what's always on their little minds... :rolleyes:

John Matsushima
12-01-2004, 06:19 PM
Now, now, that's not fair, we think think about sports sometimes too, ha ha....but seriously let's not have any more posts like that one on this thread. Thank you to everyone for your input.

-John

Qatana
12-01-2004, 08:00 PM
my latest happy customer tells me you can do ukemi in a waist cincher (smile).
.[/QUOTE]

That would be me! I'm wearing it onstage in a comedy dance piece (at the Dickens Fair in San Francisco ) and do a lovely back roll on the wood stage two or three times a day.

Hagen Seibert
12-02-2004, 05:05 PM
I claim myself guilty of trolling.