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Mike Sigman
03-02-2005, 09:43 PM
Any input would be appreciated. O-Sensei demonstrated "Ki" with people pushing on his stance, on his head, on his jo, etc. I've always assumed that what he learned about "ki", etc., was what he learned from Takeda Sokaku, but I recently heard a theory that O-Sensei may have learned his techniques from Takeda, but learned the "ki" usages from other sources; once he combined the two, he felt he had the compleat martial art, harmony, etc. Has anyone else heard this type of theory or do they have substance, rumour, anecdote, etc., to indicate yay or nay either way? Thanks.

Mike Sigman

wxyzabc
03-02-2005, 11:15 PM
Dont know if this helps but I have vague memories of reading that O-Sensei discovered "Ki-manipulation" whilst struggling to grapple with a big sweaty sumo guy. The book didn`t elaborate on what this actually meant...perhaps other people can shed more light on this??

Lee

bkedelen
03-03-2005, 12:45 PM
There are many who believe that Osensei's "demonstrations" of ki were considered to be parlor tricks. Many uchideshi claim that daily training had little resemblence to the surviving cinematography of Osensei and his feats. "Aiki" is one of the core tenants of Daito Ryu, at least as described by Kondo sensei, so if aiki was invented by Osensei he must have taught it back to Takeda sensei. That seems unlikely to me.

Mike Sigman
03-03-2005, 02:08 PM
There are many who believe that Osensei's "demonstrations" of ki were considered to be parlor tricks. They are parlour tricks. However, they're important parlour tricks because they're being used to demonstrate the core strength that is part of bona fide Aikido. Tohei also recognized this aspect of the core strength and was smart enough to make this type of strength the basis upon which he founded his offshoot organization. I.e., there's a reason for these "parlour tricks". Many uchideshi claim that daily training had little resemblence to the surviving cinematography of Osensei and his feats. "Aiki" is one of the core tenants of Daito Ryu, at least as described by Kondo sensei, so if aiki was invented by Osensei he must have taught it back to Takeda sensei. That seems unlikely to me. Well, you can practice doing things "ai ki" without necessarily using the core strength of Aikido. In fact, that's what I think most people do... external techniques of blending, etc., but without the extensive core strengths. I have to note that from all accounts, O-Sensei seems to have deliberately not shown the uchi-deshi how he trained those strengths.... he considered the knowledge important, as do most other martial artists in Asia.

My point was that it's possible for Takeda to have done "ai ki" techniques without the core strength. Personally, I don't think that's what happened... I think Takeda was knowledgeable about those things. However, someone mentioned the possibility that O-Sensei added his later knowledge of ki-strength, etc., to the aiki techniques he learned from Takeda and it's a new idea for me. I'm just feeling around to see if anyone has knowledge, gossip, etc., etc., to add to what I know. ;)

Thanks kindly for the input.

Mike

Alfonso
03-03-2005, 04:16 PM
Tll, you can practice doing things "ai ki" without necessarily using the core strength of Aikido.
Mike

my understanding , mostly from discussions by people who know more than I do, is that "Aiki" is something totally different than "Ki" or "Ai Ki" as is used by Aikidoistas

I think some of the confusion in the discussion may come from equating this concept. I've read a description of the "Aiki" concept as understood in classical japanese swordsmanship (sorry I forget the details to put the link) . Under that definition "Aiki" doesn't have so much to do with "Centering" and "Kokyu" and "Ki", but it does on strategy and manipulation of an opponent , in very specific ways which are particulary practical in sword combat. This stuff is what resonates with some comments by O-Sensei as to Aiki being a way to get someone to do what you want them to.

It seems clear to me that Takeda taught "Aiki" to O Sensei and that the techniques of Aikido may have that concept in them though probably not overtly taught.

What you're talking about seems different to me. Not being a student of Aikijujutsu I can't really say if i'm misleading you though..

FWIW

Mike Sigman
03-03-2005, 04:31 PM
my understanding , mostly from discussions by people who know more than I do, is that "Aiki" is something totally different than "Ki" or "Ai Ki" as is used by Aikidoistas Yes, "Ai ki" ("aiki" if you prefer) is a concept of strategy or engagement while "Ki" is something different.
Under that definition "Aiki" doesn't have so much to do with "Centering" and "Kokyu" and "Ki", but it does on strategy and manipulation of an opponent , in very specific ways which are particulary practical in sword combat. Well, I never said or implied that aiki and ki and centering were the same things, so I won't comment about that anymore. The idea of "aiki" is not singular to Aikido, as you've noted, and it shows up in a number of other martial arts.

Regards,

Mike

Alfonso
03-04-2005, 05:52 PM
Ah, I didn't mean to imply anything about what you've stated. I was wondering if that distinction was meaningful to the question of where did O-Sensei's proposed knoweldge came from,.

I'm hoping this doesn't die out on a sideline on whether Aikido has aiki or not in it or who does

tedehara
03-06-2005, 05:24 AM
Any input would be appreciated. O-Sensei demonstrated "Ki" with people pushing on his stance, on his head, on his jo, etc. I've always assumed that what he learned about "ki", etc., was what he learned from Takeda Sokaku, but I recently heard a theory that O-Sensei may have learned his techniques from Takeda, but learned the "ki" usages from other sources; once he combined the two, he felt he had the compleat martial art, harmony, etc. Has anyone else heard this type of theory or do they have substance, rumour, anecdote, etc., to indicate yay or nay either way? Thanks.

Mike SigmanYou can't do any of those demonstrations unless you have mind and body coordination. You achieve that by learning how to relax completely. One way you can learn that is through intense training over a long period of time. Your mind and body becomes so tired that your subconscious takes over your actions. Soon, everything you do is done in the most efficient manner. The outward sign of that psychological/physical state is a change in breathing. Once you capture that feeling, you can continue to develop it.

Another factor that most people don't realize about the founder's training is the breath exercises that are inherent in Japanese spiritual exercises. The founder was experienced in chanting and the kotodama. This all requires an expert usage of the breath. If you look at a collection of Japanese and eastern spiritual exercises, like The Book of Do-In by Michio Kushi, you'll see what I'm writing about.

This ability to relax completely was the difference between the arts of Takeda Sokaku and Morihei Ueshiba.

Mike Sigman
03-06-2005, 09:59 AM
You can't do any of those demonstrations unless you have mind and body coordination. I agree, although I note for the record that a real nitpicker would take both of us to task since technically ALL motion is mind-body coordination. You achieve that by learning how to relax completely. No you don't. You can only be selectively relaxed. Complete relaxation would cause you to crumple to the ground. Correct relaxation is needed, BUT if you aren't told what to do other than just "relax", you won't learn these things either. It takes a certain amount of instruction. Given the poor successes of the average westerner in the Ki Society, I'd suggest that a bit more instruction along with the relaxation would be helpful. ;) One way you can learn that is through intense training over a long period of time. Your mind and body becomes so tired that your subconscious takes over your actions. Soon, everything you do is done in the most efficient manner. The outward sign of that psychological/physical state is a change in breathing. Once you capture that feeling, you can continue to develop it. Well, there are other, more direct ways, Ted. Out of all the people I know with these kinds of skills, few of them do it the way the Ki Society espouses. Another factor that most people don't realize about the founder's training is the breath exercises that are inherent in Japanese spiritual exercises. The founder was experienced in chanting and the kotodama. This all requires an expert usage of the breath. If you look at a collection of Japanese and eastern spiritual exercises, like The Book of Do-In by Michio Kushi, you'll see what I'm writing about.

This ability to relax completely was the difference between the arts of Takeda Sokaku and Morihei Ueshiba.Hmmmm. Somehow I feel like you're tying Tohei's Ki practices, which he didn't learn from O-Sensei, to what O-Sensei taught. Yet O-Sensei didn't teach any of the Uchi-deshi his training methods, as far as I've been able to find out. Can you elucidate?

Regards,

Mike

tedehara
03-06-2005, 12:50 PM
I agree, although I note for the record that a real nitpicker would take both of us to task since technically ALL motion is mind-body coordination. Well, everybody has some amount of mind-body coordination. But just as almost everyone can pitch a baseball, there is a difference between the sandlot player and a starting pitcher in the World Series. No you don't. You can only be selectively relaxed. Complete relaxation would cause you to crumple to the ground. Correct relaxation is needed, BUT if you aren't told what to do other than just "relax", you won't learn these things either. It takes a certain amount of instruction. Given the poor successes of the average westerner in the Ki Society, I'd suggest that a bit more instruction along with the relaxation would be helpful. ;)The phrase Relax Completely is one of the four basic principles for the Ki Society. I'm using it in that specific definition. Relax completely does not mean lying on the couch with the remote in one hand and bowl of chips on your belly, while you're yelling, "Honey, get me a beer!". This is an active form of relaxation. Well, there are other, more direct ways, Ted. Out of all the people I know with these kinds of skills, few of them do it the way the Ki Society espouses.Tessu used to have his student go through continual kendo matches. This practice could last for days. Finally the student couldn't fight or stand, yet would find the correct "place" to fight his last match. That was when Tessu would stop the match, knowing his student had learned.

At the start of intense misogi sessions, they would take your wallet and shoes, so you didn't leave during the practice. If this seems ridiculous, it was even more humorous when people would leave anyway, without wallet and shoes.

Yes, there are different ways to learn. Hmmmm. Somehow I feel like you're tying Tohei's Ki practices, which he didn't learn from O-Sensei, to what O-Sensei taught. Yet O-Sensei didn't teach any of the Uchi-deshi his training methods, as far as I've been able to find out. Can you elucidate?What Morihei Ueshiba practiced wasn't a "secret". Spiritual exercises are there for those with an interest in them. His approach though, was his own.

Michio Kushi is associated with macrobiotics. While there are Aikido teachers who practice macrobiotics, K. Tohei is not one of them. While many of the exercises are from Shinto, there is a healthy mix of Chinese and Indian practices and theory. He also throws in his own theories on ki, the universe and 42.

I am not trying to mix my metaphors. Michio Kushi is not associated with either aikido or the Ki Society. I think you'll appreciate The Book of Do-In, since you like the complexities of theory more than myself.

Mike Sigman
03-06-2005, 01:21 PM
Relax completely does not mean lying on the couch with the remote in one hand and bowl of chips on your belly, while you're yelling, "Honey, get me a beer!". **Stunned disbelief. Makes note to self** Yes, there are different ways to learn.What Morihei Ueshiba practiced wasn't a "secret". How do you know? If he had secrets, you wouldn't know about them, would you??? ;) Both Abe Sensei and Tohei had to go to outside sources for the Ki information... why didn't they get it directly from O-Sensei? Michio Kushi is not associated with either aikido or the Ki Society. I think you'll appreciate The Book of Do-In, since you like the complexities of theory more than myself. I only like theory if it has demonstrable practical results. My interest in the Aikido side of Ki, etc., is mainly historical, etc. My perspective, from many years of doing these things, is that there is a broad information base within a number of Asian martial arts, qigongs, quasi-religious practices, etc., on various approaches to developing "Ki" and related phenomena. You appear to view the Ki-society approach as the only way through the door and I would suggest that there are actually a number of approaches. But each to his own. :)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

tedehara
03-06-2005, 01:53 PM
...How do you know? If he had secrets, you wouldn't know about them, would you??? ;) Both Abe Sensei and Tohei had to go to outside sources for the Ki information... why didn't they get it directly from O-Sensei?Because the founder learned all of this instinctively. His subconscious learned and performed. His conscious self could not teach, only demonstrate. That is the traditional way to learn, through practice and observation. ...You appear to view the Ki-society approach as the only way through the door and I would suggest that there are actually a number of approaches. But each to his own. :)I know there are other ways to learn this besides through the Ki Society. However I've always been aware of this paradox that I've seen people caught in. Am I on a journey of self-discovery, or am I just re-inventing the wheel?

Mike Sigman
03-06-2005, 02:01 PM
Because the founder learned all of this instinctively. His subconscious learned and performed. His conscious self could not teach, only demonstrate. That is the traditional way to learn, through practice and observation. Then why did Tohei and Abe go to other teachers to get information, Ted? Why didn't they just "practice and observe" to get all from O-Sensei. Obversely, why did Abe and Tohei's teachers actively teach anything? Why didn't all those students just "relax completely" and learn all "instinctively"? I.e., your answer makes no real sense in relation to the question. I know there are other ways to learn this besides through the Ki Society. However I've always been aware of this paradox that I've seen people caught in. Am I on a journey of self-discovery, or am I just re-inventing the wheel? For all the Ki and kokyu things, you're attempting to re-invent the wheel from cryptic directions, Ted. There's easier ways to do it. :)

FWIW

Mike

George S. Ledyard
03-06-2005, 02:17 PM
**[I]Both Abe Sensei and Tohei had to go to outside sources for the Ki information... why didn't they get it directly from O-Sensei?

Just a thought about this... I tired to think about someone looking at my Aikido at the end of my life and trying to analyse the elements and the sources. I have gotten an immense amount from Ikeda sensei, Tom Read Sensei, Mary Heiny Sensei, William Gleason Sensei, and more recently Ushiro Sensei, Kuroda Sensei and Vladimir Vasiliyev.

Very little of what I got from these teachers was new to me in that I always found that that I got from them simply helped me undretsand something which Saotome Sensei had always been teaching but which I hadn't quite gotten. I think this is very normal. My teacher has a certain way of explaining things and demonstrating them. I have found over the years that changing viewpoints by training with other teachers has been an integral part of really understanding what my own teacher had been telling me all along. So for some person in the future it would be a mistake to say thet I got such and such from Kuroda Sensei and therefore Saotome Sensei wasn't doing it or teaching it. It was integral to both teachers but oen helped me better understand what the other had been doing.

I had this same experience myself on the Aiki Cruise when I spent much of a class working with a young man. After class he introduced me to his Sensei and proceeded to tell his teacher about the insights he had gained from some ideas I had given him while we trained together. His teacher started laughing and said "but that's what I've been telling you all along". I suspect that the same thing happened with the deshi... many looked outside the boundaries of their training with O-Sensei to try to better understand what O-sensei was teaching them. That doesn't mean that what they got from oustide was something O-sensei didn't know or wasn't teaching but his way of demonstrating it wasn't the way that "clicked" for them.

tedehara
03-06-2005, 02:30 PM
Then why did Tohei and Abe go to other teachers to get information, Ted? Why didn't they just "practice and observe" to get all from O-Sensei. Obversely, why did Abe and Tohei's teachers actively teach anything? Why didn't all those students just "relax completely" and learn all "instinctively"?Because both K. Tohei and Abe are modern men. Although the founder is only a couple of generations removed, his psychology represents the feudal period of Japan. K. Tohei and Abe knew that modern people needed to be taught i.e. communicated with consciously. The founder tried to explain, but he used the language of his subconscious, Japanese and personal symbols. The modern Japanese who sat in those classes were lost when hearing the subconscious language of their own past.I.e., your answer makes no real sense in relation to the question. For all the Ki and kokyu things, you're attempting to re-invent the wheel from cryptic directions, Ted. There's easier ways to do it. :)You keep saying there are easier ways to do it. However you are unwilling to explain. Now that sounds cryptic to me.

George S. Ledyard
03-06-2005, 02:54 PM
First of all, let me say that much of the discussion of things like Ki, aiki, kokyu etc. amongst Aikido folks is often characterized by a lack of knowledge of history and unfamiliarity with other styles in the family of aiki / aiki jutsu arts. This leads people to make completely unsupported suppositions like O-Sensei discovering something about Ki and taking it back to his teacher Takeda Sensei. In a technical sense Takeda sensei was every bit the giant O-sensei was.

Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu has techniques which are every bit as soft and "aiki" as anything which exists in Aikido. One of the things about Daito Ryu is that they are more traditional in approach than Aikido is. One of the things that they have is a prohibition against showing the highest level of their technique to anyone who is not a member of the ryu. So what you see of someone like Kondo Sensei in the videos or at the Expo is what for Daito Ryu are good solid basics. He is not showing off by demonstrating the most advanced versions of his technique. This can lead to a misunderstanding on the part of Aikido people seeing Daito Ryu from the outside.

I have trained with many of the best instructors of Aikido in the world at one time or another and no one was more "aiki" in his technique than Angier Sensei, Soke of the Yanagi Ryu. Yanagi Ryu was the family style of aiki jutsu handed down through the Yoshida Clan. The senior Yoshida did train with Takeda Sensei in Daito Ryu and was actually the person who introduced O-sensei to Takeda Sensei in the first place. Angier Sensei trained under the son. There is nothing about "aiki" that we have in Aikido which isn't in Angier Sensei's technique.

I've also had the good fortune to have trained a bit with Toby Threadgill Sensei of the Takamura Ha Shindo Ryu. While I am ignorant of the details of the style's history I know it is close enough to the Yanagi Ryu in concept that Threadgill sensei trained with Angier sensei after his own teacher, Takamura Sensei, died. I found his technique to be incredibly skillful and subtle.

In some ways much of what passes for Aikido today isn't as "aiki" as it should be. There is more strength involved, more tension created than in these other classical forms of aiki training. Anyone who thinks that Aikido is the end all be all in this category or who wants to maintain that O-Sensei invented all this blending and softness hasnít been out "out of the house" enough.

I got to put my hands on Kuroda Sensei who teaches another family style of classical kenjutsu / aiki jutsu. The man could move you and you wouldn't feel it being done to you, you'd just move. He was as relaxed in his technique of anyone I've ever trained with.

O-Sensei's unique creation was his connection of these principles to a set of Spiritual concepts. His spiritual take on things was unique. His pulling together the principles from his martial a training and the concepts from his Omotokyo practice was his unique creation. In a technical sense I don't think there is anything in Aikido which the teachers of aiki jutsu don't understand or couldn't do if they chose.

Mike Sigman
03-06-2005, 02:58 PM
Because both K. Tohei and Abe are modern men. Although the founder is only a couple of generations removed, his psychology represents the feudal period of Japan. K. Tohei and Abe knew that modern people needed to be taught i.e. communicated with consciously. The founder tried to explain, but he used the language of his subconscious, Japanese and personal symbols. The modern Japanese who sat in those classes were lost when hearing the subconscious language of their own past. How do you know these things, Ted? How do you know that his explanations weren't partially the product of his getting older and perhaps infirm? Some of his uchi-deshi have said that some of O-Sensei's speech and actions reflected his getting older. For instance when he gave a 10th dan to the woman dancer, some of the rambling speeches, etc. I leave open a lot of possibilities, but I wasn't there and neither were you, I think. :cool: You keep saying there are easier ways to do it. However you are unwilling to explain. Now that sounds cryptic to me. It is cryptic. I once asked a teacher I was subbing for why he didn't show his students how to correctly move the body. His reply was, "They either figure it out or they don't". All I'm saying is that there are more common-sensical approaches than "relax" and 4 unexplained statements.

Regards,

Mike

Mike Sigman
03-06-2005, 03:05 PM
First of all, let me say that much of the discussion of things like Ki, aiki, kokyu etc. amongst Aikido folks is often characterized by a lack of knowledge of history and unfamiliarity with other styles in the family of aiki / aiki jutsu arts. This leads people to make completely unsupported suppositions like O-Sensei discovering something about Ki and taking it back to his teacher Takeda Sensei. In a technical sense Takeda sensei was every bit the giant O-sensei was. Dammit, they were both short men and you know it. ;)

I agree with what you're saying, but I'd add that the whole idea of "aiki" is not just relegated to a narrow spectrum of Japanese arts, but is reasonably common across a lot of Asian martial arts. I got to put my hands on Kuroda Sensei who teaches another family style of classical kenjutsu / aiki jutsu. The man could move you and you wouldn't feel it being done to you, you'd just move. Just for clarification, do you mean he could move you while you were standing still or are you talking about the engagement while practicing a technique?

Regards,

Mike Sigman

George S. Ledyard
03-06-2005, 03:17 PM
I once asked a teacher I was subbing for why he didn't show his students how to correctly move the body. His reply was, "They either figure it out or they don't". All I'm saying is that there are more common-sensical approaches than "relax" and 4 unexplained statements.

This ties into discussions, mostly on the Aikido Journal board we had with Goldsbury Sensei about whether O-Sensei actually "taught" Aikido or was a "teacher" in the way that we mean in the West. When someone takes the approach that the students will either get it or they won't, I don't think that they are "teaching" in the way that we usually mean it.

Tohei Sensei influenced the whole direction modern Aikido took with his principle based instruction. As simple as they seem to be today, those principles were a revelation for many students at the Aikikai Honbu dojo who were hungry for something more concrete than O-Sensei's Shinto based lectures accompanied by physical technique.

That does not mean that there aren't more ways today of describing the same principles even more completely and in way that is even more comprehensible than what Tohei Sensei delineated.

George S. Ledyard
03-06-2005, 03:31 PM
Dammit, they were both short men and you know it. ;)

I agree with what you're saying, but I'd add that the whole idea of "aiki" is not just relegated to a narrow spectrum of Japanese arts, but is reasonably common across a lot of Asian martial arts. Just for clarification, do you mean he could move you while you were standing still or are you talking about the engagement while practicing a technique?

Regards,

Mike Sigman
These discussions have motivated me to put my thoughts together for my March article. I'd like to have a better working defintion of "aiki" and what it is, at least in Aikido / Aikijustu.

Anyway, both Kuroda Sensei and Angier Sensei can move you from a static position and you won't feel any increase in pressure beyond what you gave them in your own attack (in this a grab). Kuroda Sensei would call you over and have you put your hand on his arm and feel the muscle. He would execute the technique on another person and you'd never feel the muscles engage; total relaxation. He calls this "whole body movement".

I put a bear hug on Angier Sensei one time, an absolute white knuckler, and I am literally twice his mass. He popped me up in to a sankyo and I never felt the technique. I just popped up. Other people have done the same technique on me and I felt it as an irresistable force. In his case I simply popped up into the sankyo. It was amazing. That was when I knew he was the real meal deal. He did it without an ounce of tension.

These teachers totally changed my idea of what Saotome Sensei had been doing all thoise years. I felt really dumb because what I though I was supposed to be doing with my body simply turned out to be wrong. What I thought I felt Sensei doing to me when I took ukemi was wrong but like O-Sensei he didn't have a developed way of describing the mechanics of what he was doing. Both Kuroda Sensei and Angier sensei are extremely good at breaking down the technique into a set of movement principles so you can understand what is happening and why. Anyway, for me, once things clicked on a couple of the techniques that I had been trying for years and not getting, I suddenly was able to take the principles and go back through my Aikido and rework everything based on my new understanding.Sort of like a super saturated solution when it gets that tap on the glass; boom and everything changes. I compare it to the descriptions of various people's kensho experiences that you can read in certain Zen books... when the light finally went on it was "so simple" "how could I have missed it for so long", "it was there all along".

I still need to refine my technique according to these "new" insights. I still can't do this stuff the way Saotome Sensei or these other teachers can. But at least that this point I know I am using the same principles thay are using. That was a big line to cross for me.

tedehara
03-06-2005, 05:24 PM
How do you know these things, Ted? How do you know that his explanations weren't partially the product of his getting older and perhaps infirm? Some of his uchi-deshi have said that some of O-Sensei's speech and actions reflected his getting older. For instance when he gave a 10th dan to the woman dancer, some of the rambling speeches, etc. I leave open a lot of possibilities, but I wasn't there and neither were you, I think. :cool: It seems that you're running around the block when you can just walk around to corner to get to your destination. If you honestly believe that O Sensei's age was a factor in his speech and action, run with that. Develop it into something functional and useful to us all. ...All I'm saying is that there are more common-sensical approaches than "relax" and 4 unexplained statements.I think you have described your situation nicely, but not mine.

Mike Sigman
03-06-2005, 05:25 PM
This ties into discussions, mostly on the Aikido Journal board we had with Goldsbury Sensei about whether O-Sensei actually "taught" Aikido or was a "teacher" in the way that we mean in the West. When someone takes the approach that the students will either get it or they won't, I don't think that they are "teaching" in the way that we usually mean it. Well, another factor is that you traditionally don't give away valuable information. If a teacher knows that his heir's livelihood will depend on a martial art, etc., he'll hold back simply because he must in order to provide as the head of the family. Tohei Sensei influenced the whole direction modern Aikido took with his principle based instruction. As simple as they seem to be today, those principles were a revelation for many students at the Aikikai Honbu dojo who were hungry for something more concrete than O-Sensei's Shinto based lectures accompanied by physical technique. Maybe. I don't have enough data to comment intelligently, so I won't. His principles were certainly a start, but they're not very explicative. He doesn't even mention the "intent" that is needed, but sticks to vagaries associated with the necessary "relaxation" (if you don't relax, your normal use of primary musculature will interfere with the development of these skills). If you think about it, the best way to train for Aikido, once you know how to form these body-mind relationships, is to use the simple movement exercises that are commonly done at the start of most classes. If they're done with the correct "intent", they're perfect exercises.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
03-06-2005, 05:36 PM
(snip examples using Kuroda and Angier Sensei's)
These teachers totally changed my idea of what Saotome Sensei had been doing all those years. Well, what Saotome does is the same thing that Tohei, Abe, and some others do. The point is, of course, that most people are not using these skills in their Aikido (and Karate and Taijiquan and so on) and it's an important part.
I still need to refine my technique according to these "new" insights. I still can't do this stuff the way Saotome Sensei or these other teachers can. But at least that this point I know I am using the same principles thay are using. That was a big line to cross for me. I'd be interested in seeing what you've come up with. Generally speaking, there's a wide spectrum of possibilities and there are various levels of skills and facets to practice. Part of the point I made in another post somewhere was that the Chinese have some fairly sophisticated variations. But all in all, it's nice to see more people in the Aikido world getting the scent of these things instead of denying there's anything outside of technique. Of course, based on what you're saying, you see that these skills are intrinsic parts of the "real" techniques of Aikido (and a number of other martial arts), but at the same time they can be considered more or less "additives".... and just knowing how to use the additives doesn't make one's knowledge of Aikido any good. You have to practice the techniques, too. ;)

My opinion, FWIW

Mike Sigman

George S. Ledyard
03-08-2005, 03:53 AM
Of course, based on what you're saying, you see that these skills are intrinsic parts of the "real" techniques of Aikido (and a number of other martial arts), but at the same time they can be considered more or less "additives".... and just knowing how to use the additives doesn't make one's knowledge of Aikido any good. You have to practice the techniques, too. ;)

My opinion, FWIW

Mike Sigman
It's taken me over 25 years of being on the mat five or six days a week to start getting this.While it's true that I may not be the quickest study I do think that I can safely say that you can theorize about this all you want but it's hands on training time pure and simple that prepares your mind and body to "get it". I am hoping that the folks who starting to undertsand some of this will develop a better and more complete way of describing it for their own students. I don't think it should take as long as it has. But most of us trained with little technical direction... we had to figure out a lot of it on our own. That's why I am so greatful to the teachers who have worked so hard on developing ways to teach this stuff. Even my own teachers have changed drastically. I had a sword class last year with Saotome Sensei in which he explained in detail exactly what he was doing. I had been doing those techniques with him for thirty years and never heard him explain them that way. Ikeda Sensei has also changed completely. I remember when he had one response to any question you asked him. he would look thoghtful for a second and then say "Train more". Then we went through the period during which he got very verbal and would say "just catch it" by way of explanation. I remember one student saying"catch what?". Now he has developed an incredibly detailed way of explaining what he is doing. Every piece is broken down. He shows it full speed, static, stop action, what a difference from the old days.

But all the explanation in the world won't make any difference if people aren't training. The small number of folks who are training really seriously I think are making a stab at getting what these teachers are doing at an earlier stage in their training than I figured things out but the many folks aren't training hard enough to get it even though it's being handed to them. There's simply no substitute for mat time.

Mike Sigman
03-08-2005, 05:31 AM
It's taken me over 25 years of being on the mat five or six days a week to start getting this. [snipsky]
But all the explanation in the world won't make any difference if people aren't training. The small number of folks who are training really seriously I think are making a stab at getting what these teachers are doing at an earlier stage in their training than I figured things out but the many folks aren't training hard enough to get it even though it's being handed to them. There's simply no substitute for mat time.I don't see it quite that way, although time and effort practicing is certainly a given. The point I'd make is that if you don't know how to practice or if you practice incorrectly, you either never get it or you only get a few bits and pieces. A good part of my visiting this forum, in fact, was because I suddenly got another piece of curiosity about exactly how much the Japanese knowledge of these particular skills developed... regardless of how hard they practiced... because if they weren't shown how to do these things first, the practice didn't give them enough to discover more than the rudiments. This is why I think maybe Gempin (Chen Yuan Yun or other similar names) had a temple built in his honor near Tokyo. I think he showed the Japanese some amount of the Ki and Kokyu training along with some aspects of ancient shuai jiao techniques. I also speculate (that's all we can do at this point in time) that he only showed limited amounts of information, so my curiosity has been to see what various Japanese arts contain in terms of this information (unfortunately, it still has to be felt to be confirmed, although stories help point the way to information).

My martial arts, before going into Aikido, was around 14 years of judo competition and karate, so my interest in things like being able to fight, being strong, etc., wasn't particularly a factor in the curiosity I had. I met a visiting Hombu Dojo dan in the mid-70's and felt within him a form of strength that I hadn't encountered before, so I wound up doing Aikido for more or less 8 years before I decided that few people in Aikido knew how to do more than bits and pieces of a larger puzzle. So I went to the Chinese martial arts and only studied with demonstrably skilled people who had trained on the mainland, etc.

But backing up a bit in that story, let me emphasize that because I couldn't get any information on what was obviously a core skill in "Real Aikido" (TM) I never had any illusions from the start that all the techniques and extended practice I did ever gave me claim to any real expertise in Aikido. I was a beginner and knew it, even after that number of years. The people around me who were swishing around in hakamas, worried about pecking orders, dan ranks (I have some), women's issues, quasi-religiosity, etc., were never of much interest to me and seemed to be hugely missing the point.

Worse yet, as I got to know more of how this stuff works and started always looking at the broader picture (partially why I'm spending some time on this forum), etc., I finally realized that judo came from an art that had these kinds of skills and we'd never had a clue... and karate (I studied on Okinawa) came from arts that used variants of these skills, also. My point is that with all the years of practice I've had, I missed how much I was missing. So I had to re-evaluate (and I've done it several times now) and start over. It's not something you can go back and just "add in", except for some rough elements that miss the important building blocks, IMO.

"Mat time" won't really give it to you, either. Learning how to honestly move using your center and the jin forces requires re-training the way you move over a long period of time so that this form of power is instinctive and the subconscious will carry it for you automatically. The whole body, down to the fingers, is moved and controlled in 2 related ways by the power of the middle region. If you've spent years practicing moving "the normal way", it's not an aid... it's actually a hindrance to any real success. If you think about it, you'll understand why Taiji, Xingyi, Bagua, etc., are done so very slowly for the first few years... it's to re-train the body movement before getting into techniques done with the wrong movement basics, etc.

And it's a lot more complex than I feel like writing about... that's why it's so highly valued as a prize to know and keep retricted in Asia. The fact that Tohei and Abe sensei's had to get a lot of their knowledge from someone other than O-Sensei tells you the importance of the information to those two and also to O-Sensei, I think.

Frankly, seeing the importance of this part of it, I get a little irritated with the distractions so much of Aikido (and other arts, but Aikido is the worst in terms of extraneous distractions) has allowed itself to be drawn to. It's very difficult for me to listen patiently and "respectfully" to the peripheral noise in Aikido when I know for a fact that almost all (statistically) of what everyone is doing is in fact incomplete Aikido at best, if you can see my perspective. I.e., we're all beginners. Almost none of us are the experts we thought we were. We're better off stopping and then re-starting slowly while working on correct movement for a year or so than to spend umpteen more years frustratingly trying to "add in" minor things on top of wrong basic movement, IMO. :) Ultimately, results count. Do we want to do things wrong but that look good and impress beginners... or do we want to do things right and impress the real experts?

FWIW

Mike Sigman

rob_liberti
03-08-2005, 08:25 AM
Obviously, Tohei sensei decided to try to teach these things more directly. There are many other different aikido senseis who approached learning and teaching these things in their own way.

Pete Trimmer sensei had 20-25 years of Alexander Method training learning these kinds of complete re-training of body movements - and copied a shihan who naturally moved in that way already (Saotome sensei).

I've spoken to Dan Mesisco sensei about how he apprached re-training his body and he told me some interesting stories. He had a lot of training with Hwang Gee (Tang Soo Do grand master). Dan brought some friends from the aikido hombu dojo with him to one of his visits to Korea. His aikido-buddies felt that while the Tang Soo Do looked cool and all those guys couldn't have any real kokyu power. So they did kokyu tanten ho. Dan had to explain the whole idea to the senior Korean students. Needless to say, the aikido black belts couldn't budge the Korean martial artists an inch. Dan explained that these serious martial artists would spend 3 solid years doing "everything" moving from center - all day long. When Dan sensei stands, he lets the mat hold him up. He stands squarely over his center and while he can explode out with rediculous power he always feels gentile.

Whike I admit that I have never personally seen Henry Kono sensei enter an attack, I can say that the way he maintains a larger balance with him and the uke is inspirational. I'm certain that there is something to his words - as he got them directly from his talks about aikido with Osensei.

The Takeda sensei folks in AKI, seem to approach the whole thing by throwing so much that you get so physically exhausted that you cannot use your muscles in anything but the most optimal way. I've met some of these folks and that method works well and is very fun.

My teacher trained in Takeda sensei's dojo, as well as Yamaguchi sensei's private dojo, and hombu dojo a long while ago and continually developed his understanding based on his life-long research of the spiritual principles of aikido. What I have learned from his classes is generally the inspiration for me to completely deconstruct the movements I thought they were and re-think and re-train myself to initially copy his movments and eventually manifest the principles behind the technique my way. We actually have other tools to help as well. We have traditional Japanese sword training that helps us apparach the same thing from a different but similar way.

Where I train in Japan, the body re-training happens in class from sempai to kohai. It happens all class long and for a couple hours after each class.

I've also seen Ikeda sensei go through a major change in the way he does and shows aikido movements. His ikkyo when I first met him is completely different fropm what I saw and felt him doing last time I saw him in Boston.

I think all of these ways are good and valuable in developing some very real kokyu ryoku along the way. If there are drills that I can hijack from Tai-chi folks that will help me make more efficient use of my mat time then please, by all means, continue to share.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-08-2005, 09:44 AM
Obviously, Tohei sensei decided to try to teach these things more directly. Well, to an extent he did, Rob. Problem is, I can't judge the actual extent that he is being "open" because I had limited exposure to Ki Aikido, etc. Knowing what I know about how to do these things, my opinion is that he's not as open as he can be, but more open than anyone I've seen (which ain't necessarily saying much, given how the topic is held close to the chest usually). Pete Trimmer sensei had 20-25 years of Alexander Method training learning these kinds of complete re-training of body movements - and copied a shihan who naturally moved in that way already (Saotome sensei). Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, Modern Dance movement, etc., etc., have nothing to do with this, Rob. That's a New Age myth that doesn't even withstand casual scrutiny, although it's popular in some circles. The main difference is the required "mind intent" to do these things. "Proper body mechanics" and "proper posture", like in the aforementioned studies, will overlap each other and any good physical discipline, but they're not unique in the way this use of the body-mind is. I've spoken to Dan Mesisco sensei about how he apprached re-training his body and he told me some interesting stories. Sorry, but I don't know him, Rob, so I can't comment. There are some real differences, once you get into the Qi/Ki topic, that delineate basically 2 different approaches to this kind of power/training. It's like the difference between good Shaolin and good Chen's Taiji, over which there's always some partisan bickering. My real problem is that I'm pretty sure the basic Aikido "technology" is actually more what would be from Shaolin basics, even though I hasten to note that there are a lot of overlaps. It's a tricky discussion and beyond the scope of a web discussion. Whike I admit that I have never personally seen Henry Kono sensei enter an attack, I can say that the way he maintains a larger balance with him and the uke is inspirational. I'm certain that there is something to his words - as he got them directly from his talks about aikido with Osensei. Again, I don't know the man, so I can't intelligently make more than general observations which may or may not be germane. The only point I'll make here is that Tohei and others also studied directly with O-Sensei yet they appear to have had to go outside for some of the Ki stuff. I don't know the details of why this happened, but it puts a question mark on whether or not Kono Sensei was shown more about this particular topic we're discussing. The Takeda sensei folks in AKI, seem to approach the whole thing by throwing so much that you get so physically exhausted that you cannot use your muscles in anything but the most optimal way. I've met some of these folks and that method works well and is very fun. I've never seen 'em, unfortunately. Saying the "Takeda folks" may or may not be any more valid than calling most Aikidoka the "Ueshiba folks".... given what the average Aikidoka does, it wouldn't reflect fairly on O-Sensei, would it? What I have learned from his classes is generally the inspiration for me to completely deconstruct the movements I thought they were and re-think and re-train myself to initially copy his movments and eventually manifest the principles behind the technique my way. We actually have other tools to help as well. We have traditional Japanese sword training that helps us apparach the same thing from a different but similar way. I dunno, Rob, without seeing it. If you poll all the western Aikidoka, they'll pretty much assure you they're doing just what Ueshiba did, more or less, so it's a "show me" sort of thing. Just for starters, all the Tohei "ki tests" should be easy to replicate, since there is a singular body mechanics involved that has fixed rules. As I said, I'm a little fuzzy on the exact extent of what Ueshiba himself did, but I'm fairly OK on the parameters... enough to discuss it personally pretty well, I think. I've also seen Ikeda sensei go through a major change in the way he does and shows aikido movements. His ikkyo when I first met him is completely different fropm what I saw and felt him doing last time I saw him in Boston. Hmmm. OK, but I'm not sure what that means. I've seen Ikeda Sensei a number of times and I've also discussed this topic about this form of strength with some of his students, so I'll pass, given my aversion to typing. I think all of these ways are good and valuable in developing some very real kokyu ryoku along the way. If there are drills that I can hijack from Tai-chi folks that will help me make more efficient use of my mat time then please, by all means, continue to share. I think I left some good pointers, just in case there are AikiWeb readers who are stuck in Aikido the way I was and who want some hints about which way to go. Generally speaking, I don't think most Aikido practitioners really care much about this topic, though, because they're into Aikido for varying and different reasons. Aikido with the proper body strengths, I've learned, is a topic which irritates a lot of people and causes friction because it has an effect on the pecking order. God help me, I don't wanna get into that morass. ;)

FWIW

Mike

rob_liberti
03-08-2005, 10:10 AM
I'm getting bad about quoting. Sorry. I was addressing alternative methods of body movement re-training:

I don't see it quite that way, although time and effort practicing is certainly a given. The point I'd make is that if you don't know how to practice or if you practice incorrectly, you either never get it or you only get a few bits and pieces.

~snip~

"Mat time" won't really give it to you, either. Learning how to honestly move using your center and the jin forces requires re-training the way you move over a long period of time so that this form of power is instinctive and the subconscious will carry it for you automatically.

My point was that many people learn how to do these things not using the ki-society or tai-chi to do it.

I'm not sure why the complete re-training of body posture and body movements to allow reflexive movement like they do in Alexander method is different than what you are talking about. Can you explain?

Rob

PS.
I don't really follow your comment on calling the AKI folks the Takeda sensei folks. I wouldn't consider it unfair to be labeled one of the Gleason sensei folks, or one of the Saotome sensei folks, or one of the Yamaguchi sensei folks (although I never trained directly with him). I know many of the AKI folks, and I don't think they would take offense.

Mike Sigman
03-08-2005, 10:49 AM
My point was that many people learn how to do these things not using the ki-society or tai-chi to do it. Rob, I seriously doubt that you and I are talking about the same "things", TBH. It's the sort of discussion that is easily clarified in person, but difficult to do via typed words. I'm not sure why the complete re-training of body posture and body movements to allow reflexive movement like they do in Alexander method is different than what you are talking about. Can you explain? I can explain most easily in person without having to type a lot and then find out later that all that typing didn't convey things well because pre-conceptions blocked the message. ;) I've met with some Alexander Technique people who thought they did "the same thing" and who even taught that idea to a lot of people... but it turns out they were far off base. It made one of them change what he was doing, but it only antagonized 2 others to have it demonstrated that they were doing something quite different. I simply don't want to go the antagonism route while I'm offering my comments. I'm too sensitive and my aura might get damaged if there is any conflict. :D I don't really follow your comment on calling the AKI folks the Takeda sensei folks. I wouldn't consider it unfair to be labeled one of the Gleason sensei folks, or one of the Saotome sensei folks, or one of the Yamaguchi sensei folks (although I never trained directly with him). I know many of the AKI folks, and I don't think they would take offense. Like I said, I don't know the people. I can't assume anything about what they do, so I'm avoiding accepting comparisons that might possibly offend someone. When I offend people, I like to do it on purpose. ;)

Regards,

Mike

rob_liberti
03-08-2005, 11:22 AM
When I offend people, I like to do it on purpose.

No doubt there, but you are willing to share valuable information so I still like and appreciate your words. :)

-Rob

Mike Sigman
03-08-2005, 11:43 AM
No doubt there, but you are willing to share valuable information so I still like and appreciate your words. :) I admit it. However, to be fair, also think about my perspective, which I've mentioned obliquely. I practiced Aikido hard and fairly and made many good friends, but I also encountered a general arrogance that I've never encountered in any of the martial arts of Judo, Karate, and assorted Chinese martial arts, with the exception of Tai Chi. When from practical experience I KNOW that most people doing Aikido are doing incomplete Aikido and often a even a parody of that, it's difficult for me to listen to arrogance and assumption. What you misread a lot in my comments is often my uncontrollable instinct to not get too involved with people who have an attitude, who have limited skills, and who will attack viciously if their "knowledge" or place on the totem-pole is questioned in any way. Heck, they get all snitty if I challenge them to a real fight! :cool:

So if I'm "offensive" at times, I'll take the charge... but at the same time look at the comments and insinuations that almost always lead up to it. If you can take the time to highlight me being offensive, take the time to acknowledge the rest of the story. ;)

FWIW

Mike

rob_liberti
03-08-2005, 12:32 PM
Fair enough. I do understand that you must get very frustrated. Let's make pece.

Of course I don't agree that you need to be a bigger bully and challenge someone to a fight on a message board, but I really cannot take the morally superior position on this since I have to admit that when I was younger I got into a knock down drag out fist fight with one of my best friends - over sharing the ice from a soda I got from like McDonalds or Burger King. (I lost the fight so I suppose it turns out, it was his ice. Oh well.)

Regardless, as I've said, I'm willing to put up with all kinds of stuff if I can get something out of it. Not everyone is, and I would like to accomodate them too as they might have something useful to contribute but don't want to have to get into a battle with someone for daring to have an opposing opinion.

So, how about this functional ki skill. When I've attacked Saotome sensei or even Takeda sensei for that matter - I don't feel as if there is an opening to attack. They are just standing there and well I'm going for it anyway despite that uneasy feeling. Then it seems like the don't really move but there is something open - and I basically shift my attack a bit because of it. And then I'm spinning around, trying to maintain my posture, and recieve what they are doing to/with me or wondering where they are (and hoping it's not right behind me). I've attacked many other shihan, and no one's done that to do me. And ideas?

tedehara
03-08-2005, 01:10 PM
I don't see it quite that way, although time and effort practicing is certainly a given. The point I'd make is that if you don't know how to practice or if you practice incorrectly, you either never get it or you only get a few bits and pieces. A good part of my visiting this forum, in fact, was because I suddenly got another piece of curiosity about exactly how much the Japanese knowledge of these particular skills developed... regardless of how hard they practiced... because if they weren't shown how to do these things first, the practice didn't give them enough to discover more than the rudiments...But backing up a bit in that story, let me emphasize that because I couldn't get any information on what was obviously a core skill in "Real Aikido" (TM) I never had any illusions from the start that all the techniques and extended practice I did ever gave me claim to any real expertise in Aikido..."Mat time" won't really give it to you, either. Learning how to honestly move using your center and the jin forces requires re-training the way you move over a long period of time so that this form of power is instinctive and the subconscious will carry it for you automatically. The whole body, down to the fingers, is moved and controlled in 2 related ways by the power of the middle region. If you've spent years practicing moving "the normal way", it's not an aid... it's actually a hindrance to any real success. If you think about it, you'll understand why Taiji, Xingyi, Bagua, etc., are done so very slowly for the first few years... it's to re-train the body movement before getting into techniques done with the wrong movement basics, etc. And it's a lot more complex than I feel like writing about... that's why it's so highly valued as a prize to know and keep retricted in Asia. The fact that Tohei and Abe sensei's had to get a lot of their knowledge from someone other than O-Sensei tells you the importance of the information to those two and also to O-Sensei, I think. Frankly, seeing the importance of this part of it, I get a little irritated with the distractions so much of Aikido (and other arts, but Aikido is the worst in terms of extraneous distractions) has allowed itself to be drawn to. It's very difficult for me to listen patiently and "respectfully" to the peripheral noise in Aikido when I know for a fact that almost all (statistically) of what everyone is doing is in fact incomplete Aikido at best, if you can see my perspective. I.e., we're all beginners. Almost none of us are the experts we thought we were. We're better off stopping and then re-starting slowly while working on correct movement for a year or so than to spend umpteen more years frustratingly trying to "add in" minor things on top of wrong basic movement, IMO. :) Ultimately, results count. Do we want to do things wrong but that look good and impress beginners... or do we want to do things right and impress the real experts?

FWIW

Mike Sigman
As far as this rant goes, I basically agree with you.
:eek: eek

There are a few points I'd like to go over. The name Real Aikido (http://http://www.uscra.info/) is used by a Serbian based aikido organization. Their type of aikido is about 180 degrees different than what you are describing.

The four basic principles may seem simplistic, yet they have been used to teach people aikido with mind and body coordination for over fifty years. If you get into it, it is not "simple" at all.

K. Tohei took a different direction. He felt that mind and body coordination was just as important as the aikido. I've lived in the Chicago area for over fifty years. I've never used an aikido technique on the street. I do use things from ki development class daily.

Frankly, I'm not out to impress beginners or experts. I'm just out to impress myself.

Mike Sigman
03-08-2005, 01:22 PM
Fair enough. I do understand that you must get very frustrated. Let's make pece. With olive oil and parmesan cheese? ;) Of course I don't agree that you need to be a bigger bully and challenge someone to a fight on a message board, ...[snip]
Regardless, as I've said, I'm willing to put up with all kinds of stuff if I can get something out of it. Not everyone is, ..[snip] I'm not willing to tolerate it too long. Generally, I'll only take offensive remarks so long and then I begin to escalate it to see who is willing to back it up and who is a keyboard kommando. Or I just drop out of the conversation. But I do it without getting emotional about it. I assume that anyone who wants to be offensive needs to think about just how serious they are because the world can be a harsh place when a bulldog mouth overloads a chihuahua brain. ;) So, how about this functional ki skill. When I've attacked Saotome sensei or even Takeda sensei for that matter - I don't feel as if there is an opening to attack. They are just standing there and well I'm going for it anyway despite that uneasy feeling. Then it seems like the don't really move but there is something open - and I basically shift my attack a bit because of it. And then I'm spinning around, trying to maintain my posture, and recieve what they are doing to/with me or wondering where they are (and hoping it's not right behind me). I've attacked many other shihan, and no one's done that to do me. And ideas? There are 2 basic things in Asian martial arts: (1.) How you condition the body and (2.) strategy and tactics. The Ki and Kokyu things are conditioning, mainly, although the rooting and power of them strongly affect the strategy and tactics you are able to apply. Most westerners are oblivious to the importance of the conditioning aspects and think that you just need to "work hard and fine-tune your technique". As I've said before, the fact that Tohei grabbed the Ki-power stuff and made it the banner of Shin-shin Toitsu should be enough to clue people how important it is. But the point is that the question you're asking is mainly one of tactics and strategy, not the core subject we're discussing at the moment. Remember that the essential power of Ki and Kokyu is used in its variations and gradations over a great many different martial arts that use completely different tactics and strategies. :cool:

I'd also mention that when you "attacked" you weren't really seriously attacking (if you really attack someone, you should attack like your body is on fire and they're stopping you from getting to water. ;) ). Secondly I'd mention that your "attack" was comprised of one of a very few but well known Aikido Canards like Tsuki, Shomenuchi, Yokomenuchi, Munetsuki, etc., etc., and if you'd started your attack, relinquished the arm and struck with the shoulder or any other change-up, you might have had a different outcome and had your name moved higher up on someone's shit-list. :)

FWIW

Mike

Mike Sigman
03-08-2005, 01:30 PM
There are a few points I'd like to go over. The name Real Aikido (http://http://www.uscra.info/) is used by a Serbian based aikido organization. Their type of aikido is about 180 degrees different than what you are describing. I didn't know that. I was essaying a jape. The four basic principles may seem simplistic, yet they have been used to teach people aikido with mind and body coordination for over fifty years. If you get into it, it is not "simple" at all. They are simplistic and vague. Deliberately so. If they weren't so vague, more Ki-Aikido people would have quicker and more remarkable results, in my studied opinion. ;) K. Tohei took a different direction. He felt that mind and body coordination was just as important as the aikido. I do too. In fact, I consider mind and body coordination, as I understand it, to be more important than Aikido. The benefits of the mind-body coordination are far more useable for health and strength than Aikido is. There are many martial arts; there is only one real Ki (I say that to shrug off the bogus things people call "Ki").

FWIW

Mike

rob_liberti
03-08-2005, 04:21 PM
I guess I'm thinking that sitting in my chair typing about my favorite past time - the world of aikiwebforums is just not too harsh. I'm thinking that the people starving on the streets have it harsh.

Regardless of whichever canine brain or mouth I am to you, Mike, I appreciate your opinion. I think that people who do aikido value shin-shin toistu - we just call that rank sandan and move on from there towards michi. No doubt that many people are not appropriately ranked - to that standard. I have high standards for myself, and if I can learn more about shin-shin toitsu from ki-society, or tai-chi or any other sources then great!

My question,is do you have insight into the feeling that is given off by these sensei regardless of the power with which I attack them. Does this happen to students of tai-chi sifus?

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-08-2005, 04:48 PM
My question,is do you have insight into the feeling that is given off by these sensei regardless of the power with which I attack them. Does this happen to students of tai-chi sifus? Rob, Rob, Rob. I am not an empath and I don't speculate on other peoples' "feelings" since I can't feel them myself. A couple of thoughts come to mind. One is how practical most of the Asian teachers I know are and how they are stunned with westerners' perception of pragmatic arts as being mystical. I heard a funny but unrepeatable anecdote about one of Saotome's replies in Japanese to a woman practitioner who came up and asked, "what is the meaning of Aikido?". I have heard a number of similar stories about the frustration some experts feel in re all the focus on "feelings", etc., from westerners.

That being said, I have to jump to the other side and say, as I've said elsewhere, that "Ki" actually is related to the subconscious, the central nervous system, and the myofascial network. Most of the feelings like the "magnetic" one between your hands, the "rabbit running across your grave" shiver, etc., etc., are considered to be pure aspects of "ki". As you build the power of your Ki through breathing, standing practices, etc., there is an adjunct growth in the strength of your "feelings" of that sort. In one sense, your own "field" (ack, I hate to admit this, but it's possible that the scattered but consistent world-wide belief in aura's may have some substance... Asians consider the "aura" to simply be the Ki field) grows stronger as you're developing your Ki and as a consequence your interactability with other peoples' fields increases. Qigong experts, etc., do "healing from a distance" (but not too far; a matter of feet or inches) with the strength of their "field".

The problem with "fields" and "feelings" gets tricky because there are some feelings that are considered "psychological" and some that are considered "real" (you supposedly can tell by using the Tiger's Mouth point, but that's another story). The vague point I'm trying to make is that somehow our susceptibility to suggestion has something to do with our "fields" and so sometimes it is difficult to separate a "field" feeling from a subjective feeling based on our desire to feel something.

So when you ask me about your feelings, I pass. It's complex and too likely to be subjective. Some people will strongly feel something from a qigong expert, some people will feel nothing. I usually feel nothing with the phonies, but I've felt some remarkable things from some of the real experts. However, I consider the phenomena of "field feelings" to be some not-too-important part of Ki development (maybe on a level with our ability to sense heat waves from the stove) where the main focus is our measureable strength and health.

FWIW

Mike

Moses
03-08-2005, 11:53 PM
From the peanut gallery,
Interesting conversation, indeed. Not to split hairs, but I have a question about the word choice "sub-conscious?" I am trying to understand the context and related ideas. My understanding is that the "sub-conscious" pertains to Freudian terminology; specifically to the realm of the "Id" instinctual drives (i.e. killing, having sex, and eating of dead people [omophagia]). Conversely, from my understanding, Jung coined the term "un-conscious"; pertaining to the aspects with the mind, including body, normally not in a state of conscious awareness of the cognitive processes. Like I said, I don't mean to split hairs, but there seems to be a considerable implication between these two "usage" words. I am wondering if there is any implied/latent meaning in the use of the "sub-conscious," or if it is just an issue of semantics.
Thanks for the aside, Moses Jenkins

Mike Sigman
03-09-2005, 12:09 AM
From the peanut gallery,
Interesting conversation, indeed. Not to split hairs, but I have a question about the word choice "sub-conscious?" My mistake. I mean it as a general term indicating some specific or general group of functions we don't normally voluntarily control. A lot of the "mysticism of the East" involves using visualizations, clearing the mind, relaxing, etc., in order to strengthen the rapport and somewhat voluntary control of normally involuntary processes. Since I don't know everything involved here except the effects, I have to be vague about what is working behind the scenes.

FWIW

Mike

Moses
03-09-2005, 02:15 AM
["quote" I don't know everything involved here except the effects "/quote"]

I tried to quote so lets see if it worked :).

With a total of ten years within the Japanese and Chinese arts, I consider myself to be a novice at best. Here this is the crux of my situation, or I should say question; how does one differentiate between casual, i.e. implied visualizations (assumed to be of a minor significance / at best significant distractions), vs. natural visualizations (assumed to be of a functional significance). While it might seem obvious to some, from the position of discovery (which I believe I have made some progress in functionality) it is extremely disconcerting at times when looking at the available whole; i.e. there is all together too much information pertaining to, what I deem as being misleading.
Just my thought, Moses Jenkins

Moses
03-09-2005, 02:18 AM
Damn the foolishness, I didn't Quote corectly :)

Pauliina Lievonen
03-09-2005, 04:28 AM
I've met with some Alexander Technique people who thought they did "the same thing" and who even taught that idea to a lot of people... but it turns out they were far off base. It made one of them change what he was doing, but it only antagonized 2 others to have it demonstrated that they were doing something quite different.

What was different, could you explain some of that?

curious kvaak
Pauliina

Mike Sigman
03-09-2005, 09:22 AM
["quote" I don't know everything involved here except the effects "/quote"]

I tried to quote so lets see if it worked :). Leave out the quotation marks, square bracket at both ends, capitalize QUOTE. Or just punch the "quote" button at the bottom of the message you're quoting from and delete the parts you don't want.
how does one differentiate between casual, i.e. implied visualizations (assumed to be of a minor significance / at best significant distractions), vs. natural visualizations (assumed to be of a functional significance). One of the big problems in the martial arts, qigongs, etc., is that there is too much information, a lot of it being offered by people who don't really know. Never trust someone just because they're a "teacher" or "studied in the Orient" or "native Japanese or Chinese", etc. Get a handle on someone's actual credentials, their demonstrable ability (problem is newbies are too-easily impressed) and use common sense. If someone is teaching something, they need to be able to demonstrate it in such a way that you're satisfied they do it well. I can't tell you how many teachers I've seen who are teaching something they can't really do (like Aikido or Taiji, even?) but their excuse is that while they're not so hot they make a good coach and if you'll just keep practicing what they say, one day ability will arrive. Why didn't it arrive to them doing it the way they're doing it???

The useful visualizations always have a functional way of determining the results, not just "feelings". The "imagine a golden light" types should be left alone until much later because it's too easy to imagine things while not getting them to do anything. I can close my eyes and "imagine" that I am on Saturn right now, but that doesn't make it so.

Functional visualizations involve you "getting in touch" with a part of your body and then affecting it with a visualization and often an accompanying physical action (as you get better, the rule is that the physical action usually dwindles toward imperceptability). A good, useful, and simple example of this would be:

Relax and breathe in through your nose while imagining that the air is coming in through the fontanel/bai-hui at the top of the head and is flowing into the stomach/hara/tanden, pressurizing it slightly. Exhale the air from the stomach down the legs and out tiny holes in the soles of the feet and out the ends of the toes. Relax completely while you exhale, imagining the blood in your body dropping into the feet and lower legs. More factors could be attached to that "cleansing qigong" (new qi into the top of the head; dirty qi out through the feet), but if's functional enough as it stands. It will relax you... that's measureable. It will drop your blood pressure... it's been measured on a number of people. It will warm your feet (you can let a portion of the exhaled air flow out your fingertips and warm both hands and feet, to a degree). That's what I mean by a functional set of visualizations.

I tried to set up some functional visualization material on the "Functional Ki" thread that died a while back, for the few that would be interested in trying to move correctly. The problem is that it helps to actually feel what some of these things are like for the first few times and get corrections. But they're generally useable ideas for the thinkers and experimenters.

Regards,

Mike

Mike Sigman
03-09-2005, 09:33 AM
What was different, could you explain some of that? Good posture and good mechanical body movements are important to good body function, but first of all, people moving with Ki and Kokyu do not move using the muscles used in Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, Modern Dance, etc., etc. They use radically different musculature and they "will" supporting force paths to do a lot of the work from the ground and down-paths from the weight and body closing. I can usually use the manipulation of these paths to effect things without having to do any Alexander type movements. Rarely but unavoidably, there may be some transitory overlap with Alexander or Feldenkrais, etc., but it would be the exception, not the rule.

Take a very simple example of me sitting on a bar-stool and you pushing against my forearm in an attempt to push me over. The reason you can't has nothing to do with any "movement", but in the mental way I arranged a path so that your push pushes my butt against the seat and I direct the vector to the bar-stool leg where it meets the floor. Naturally, relaxing the upper body so that your push doesn't immediately work on that is important in my being able to direct your push to the floor. Do you see my point? The important part in that example was the mind and the path it built through the body, regardless of the "posture", etc. Hope that's not too unclear.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

rob_liberti
03-09-2005, 10:12 AM
Okay, slightly different example. There is that "ki test" where you put your thumb and pointer finger together and someone tries to pull them apart. The fingers are being pulled directly away from each other - as opposed to using any twisting motions or sideways vectors.

It's easy to resist the pulls as long as your arm is resting comfortably in front of you in the position where you would hold a sword. If you stick you are out away from your body and bend your elbow 90% upwards so that your hand is in the position where you might signal "OK" from across the room to a friend - it's generally much more difficult to resist the same amount of pulling apart force.

However, if I lengthen and widen (especially the arms, but everywhere) I can resist with the same amount as I could when I was in the initial easier position. I'm not making a ground path anywhere - but it seems related to kokyu power.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-09-2005, 12:20 PM
Okay, slightly different example. There is that "ki test" where you put your thumb and pointer finger together and someone tries to pull them apart. The fingers are being pulled directly away from each other - as opposed to using any twisting motions or sideways vectors.

It's easy to resist the pulls as long as your arm is resting comfortably in front of you in the position where you would hold a sword. If you stick you are out away from your body and bend your elbow 90% upwards so that your hand is in the position where you might signal "OK" from across the room to a friend - it's generally much more difficult to resist the same amount of pulling apart force.

However, if I lengthen and widen (especially the arms, but everywhere) I can resist with the same amount as I could when I was in the initial easier position. I'm not making a ground path anywhere - but it seems related to kokyu power. Well, it IS related to Kokyu power, Rob, but it's the reverse power, the yin power, as opposed to the yang power I described in my example. All I was trying to show Pauliina was why Alexander Technique and other methods don't apply to "how to do the power used in Aikido". The example I used was, in my opinion, pretty clear because I was able to use a bar-stool as part of the mind-body connection in a simplistic case.

The case you're talking about in a sense has more to do with "ki" than just kokyu and frankly it would take a gradual progression of demonstrations to bring it out to where you understand how it's done, when it's done correctly of course. I mentioned this sort of example in some earlier posts briefly, but the essence is that it would take too long for me to explain it clearly and besides, while I don't mind sharing a fair amount of information because it's what I wished people would have done for me, there're some alleyways I'm not going to discuss with people that I can't see personally and gauge their health, intentions, etc. :)

Regards,

Mike

rob_liberti
03-09-2005, 01:10 PM
Fair enough, and good response. Thanks. It kind of begs the side question - do you have any experience with people misusing ki/kokyu power?

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-09-2005, 01:31 PM
Fair enough, and good response. Thanks. It kind of begs the side question - do you have any experience with people misusing ki/kokyu power? For all practical purposes, insofar as Aikido goes, these kinds of powers are just a way to be strong without using a lot of muscle, etc. So what you're asking is akin to "do you have any experience with people misusing strength they've developed"? There are some sophisticated ways to develop this strength and apply it that I have not seen in Aikido, but you could still just consider them as "strengths" that are applied within a martial art... and any strength can be "misused".

For a rough idea what I mean "strength that needs less muscular effort", think of the example I gave of the person (the "pushee") sitting on a bar-stool while accepting a push to the forearm. The pusher feels a very solid, relaxed force. If the pushee carefully maintains (this becomes automatic with a little experience) the solid path to the ground that the pusher is feeling and bends his back a little he can "store energy" along the solid path to the ground. Then by straightening that path directly into the pusher's hands he can almost irresistably move the pusher backward. The thing that did most of the work in resisting the pusher's push was the solid but very relaxed path to the ground. A reasonably small person can feel irresistable using this sort of mind-formed path as the core of their strength; i.e., letting the ground do most of the work. There are many variations of how to use these things, but the bar-stool example I just fabricated is a good example of how the real power to do Ikkyo and many kokyu throws is formed. So a relatively weak person can feel exceedingly strong when trained well.

FWIW

Mike

Pauliina Lievonen
03-09-2005, 01:59 PM
The important part in that example was the mind and the path it built through the body, regardless of the "posture", etc. Hope that's not too unclear.


I think this was quite clear, thank you.

Just out of curiosity, do you happen to know how experienced the Alexander people were that you met? I was also curious about what you meant with an "Alexander movement"?

Interesting thread. :)
kvaak
Pauliina

Mike Sigman
03-09-2005, 02:23 PM
Just out of curiosity, do you happen to know how experienced the Alexander people were that you met? I was also curious about what you meant with an "Alexander movement"? Hmmmm.... I've met a few, but I only knew they were "Alexander Technique" practitioners. I've also met a number of Rolfers, Feldenkrais'ers, Modern Dance, etc., and when people have said "Such and such has a lot to do with the internal arts", I usually peruse a few books about them, just to get an idea. I slipped on the Alexander "movement" because I mentally shifted to Feldenkrais ... so pardon the slip. The point is that manipulating the body with these types of forces is not what Alexander technique, Feldenkrais, etc., do. It's hard enough to learn how to do these without adding complicating factors. ;) Which reminds me.... a little off-topic from what you were asking... no one learns to do "mind-body" movement just by "relaxing" and "emptying the mind" or "just maintaining good posture" ... you have to learn how the mind is applied to the movement. And the movement is actually a little more complex than I've mentioned, as one goes through varying levels of acquired skills.

Regards,

Mike

rob_liberti
03-09-2005, 02:35 PM
Now you see, my take on this was that the optimal movement would be when the part of the brain responsbile for reflexive movement is controlled/directed/send messages by the aprt of the brain that makes conscious decisions (about choices and strategy based on what is being percieved).

Alexander folks who really do things from the principles - as opposed to those who do things artificially (and there are plenty of those folks out there teaching and charging lots of money) are going to be abe to resist powerful pushes and expand in very difficult to stop ways. Well, that's been my experience. I suppose I'm not sure that pushing my arm while I'm siting on a bar stool (which did make a fari point I admit) has much to do with aikido and the power of reflexive movement. Typically, I see the optimal re-training of movements to be largely hindered by posture problems.

I do have a follow up question to the idea about really attacking someone like you on on fire and they are preventing you from getting to water. (I suppose I'd just hug them and make sure we both suffered.) But really, if you had to do this Mike, would it be a good kokyu-oriented "real" attack / series of attacks? Can you give an example?

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-09-2005, 02:50 PM
Now you see, my take on this was that the optimal movement would be when the part of the brain responsbile for reflexive movement is controlled/directed/send messages by the aprt of the brain that makes conscious decisions (about choices and strategy based on what is being percieved).

Alexander folks who really do things from the principles - as opposed to those who do things artificially (and there are plenty of those folks out there teaching and charging lots of money) are going to be abe to resist powerful pushes and expand in very difficult to stop ways. I had a well-known Alexander Technique person who also does/teaches Taiji visit me once, Rob. Trust me, you and I see things very differently. I suppose I'm not sure that pushing my arm while I'm siting on a bar stool (which did make a fari point I admit) has much to do with aikido and the power of reflexive movement. Typically, I see the optimal re-training of movements to be largely hindered by posture problems. I grabbed the bar-stool example out of my memory because Tohei did exactly that (and I've done it, too). See the old book "Zen Combat" by Jay Gluck if you want to read the example. I do have a follow up question to the idea about really attacking someone like you on on fire and they are preventing you from getting to water. [snip] But really, if you had to do this Mike, would it be a good kokyu-oriented "real" attack / series of attacks? Can you give an example? Before I can tell you an example, I'll have to know what you plan to do with the information, Rob. ;) Basically, I'm going to demur on this one because you haven't seen some of the things I do, so the description wouldn't be helpful as a reply.

Regards,

Mike

rob_liberti
03-09-2005, 03:21 PM
Am I to understand that the movements you have re-trained through your tai-chi practice are not reflexive in nature?

There are well known -popular and well respected - aikido shihans who failed to do nikyo and sankyo on me too, Mike. Other aikido folks have no trouble with my level of resistance. I'd say that this point is a push (<-- clever points for Rob).

About using the knowledge I gain from your answer about attacking people with kokyu power - well I can't see me using it on anyone. It'd be nice to work on and see how I might deal with it in an aikido-like way. I'm okay with the amount you are willing to share.

Mike Sigman
03-09-2005, 03:41 PM
Am I to understand that the movements you have re-trained through your tai-chi practice are not reflexive in nature? I'm not sure what your question is, Rob. I've already said previously that the body must be trained until this form of movement is automatic and replaces your "normal" movement. But despite saying that this form of movement is "natural", it needs to be understood that it is not the instinctive way the human body moves, it must be learned. Of course, there is some discussion that in an emergency, we all draw unusual strength, yada, yada, yada, but equating all potential factors as representing ONE factor is wrong, I think. When you toss out the word "reflexive", I sense another one of your semantic pratfalls and I tend to avoid it. ;) There are well known -popular and well respected - aikido shihans who failed to do nikyo and sankyo on me too, Mike. Other aikido folks have no trouble with my level of resistance. I'd say that this point is a push (<-- clever points for Rob). That was a twisted thing to say, Rob. About using the knowledge I gain from your answer about attacking people with kokyu power - well I can't see me using it on anyone. It'd be nice to work on and see how I might deal with it in an aikido-like way. I'm okay with the amount you are willing to share. Er.... why aren't you interested because it's what they use in Aikido, as well as a number of other martial arts, Rob? It's the stuff O-Sensei did his "parlour tricks" with. It's what Tohei thought was so important that he made it the keystone of the Ki-Society. It's what people like Abe, etc., went to special teachers to learn. Saotome gave Ki lessons when he was at Hombu dojo... about this kind of strength, etc. If nothing else, I think you'd work on it because it's simply part of Aikido. :cool:

Regards,

Mike

rob_liberti
03-09-2005, 05:33 PM
"Twsited" with regard to nikyo, and sankyo - excellent!. (score for you)

Seriously, the point was that you said a source was a well repected and popular Alexander person, and I've met well respected and popular aikido shihan that weren't - shall we say - the best representatives of the art. Maybe that Alexander person was really good and then your opinion of Alexander's shortfalls would very interesting - and maybe they were more on the artificial side, and that's what you saw. I've met some cool Alexander folks, and some cool Tai-chi folks and they seemed to have similar skills as far as I could feel - at least as far as skills I'd like to develop for myself.

I really didn't mean to suggest I wasn't intersted in what you were saying about kokyu - I post to you all of the time in hopes of sharing. I meant I wouldn't be using the 'Mike Sigman patented death strike' on my friends after a card game gone awry. Of course I'm interested in your take on kokyu strength.

Back to banter land - as far as your being apprehensive about being sematically correct. I understand, I'm quite intimidating...

Hugs,
Rob

Pauliina Lievonen
03-09-2005, 06:03 PM
Hmmmm.... I've met a few, but I only knew they were "Alexander Technique" practitioners.

Ok. I only asked because of course there's a difference between someone who's had a few private lessons and someone who's been teaching for years. Or should be. ;)

... I slipped on the Alexander "movement" because I mentally shifted to Feldenkrais ... so pardon the slip.

Ah, that explains it. :)

Back to reading...
kvaak
Pauliina

Hardware
03-10-2005, 02:31 AM
...It's the stuff O-Sensei did his "parlour tricks" with...

What were these "parlour tricks"?

A couple of nights ago my sensei took me to an advanced class at his sensei's dojo. The 69 year old sensei was doing techniques whereby senior black belts would touch his shoulder, he'd twitch the shoulder slightly and they would fall or roll dramatically.

I was invited to partake and grabbed his shoulder, (I'm 270+ lbs, he's about 110 lbs). He twitched but I didn't feel like I was being pummelled into the mat. Was I supposed to "play along" per se or is there something in these practices I'm just not getting?

Ideas, comments????

Michael Holm
03-10-2005, 04:21 AM
What were these "parlour tricks"?

A couple of nights ago my sensei took me to an advanced class at his sensei's dojo. The 69 year old sensei was doing techniques whereby senior black belts would touch his shoulder, he'd twitch the shoulder slightly and they would fall or roll dramatically.

I was invited to partake and grabbed his shoulder, (I'm 270+ lbs, he's about 110 lbs). He twitched but I didn't feel like I was being pummelled into the mat. Was I supposed to "play along" per se or is there something in these practices I'm just not getting?

Ideas, comments????

You should do what you like to do :) Why did you go to the dojo ?
Normally if I visit another dojo its to see their point of view, not to show my point of view, and the contact this establish will create what happen - maybe you will move when somebody does something and maybe you will not :hypno:

What happened after wards, did the Sensei slap you, laugh, look angry/happy ? :)

rob_liberti
03-10-2005, 07:31 AM
I've experienced something similar to the shoulder thing. If you set your resistance in your arms to defend against them rushing in at you as you go to grab their shoulder - everything works out. If you just bend your elbow and get a counter shove - you can jam the nage. There are a lot of techniques that work as long as you are resisting in such a way to allow them. I do some wonderful judo-type throws that would be jammed up pretty easily by someone getting very relaxed at the right time.

I'd say you were not suposed to play along. Your Japanese sensei might not be able to get away with challenging his teacher, but a gai jin, you get to challenge it. (I posted above about how Heny Kono sensei got to talk to Osensei directly - that was because although his parents were Japanese from Japan, and he could speak the langauge, he had been living in Canada and was allowed some gai jin liberties - like asking direct questions about what the heck Osensei was doing.)

As far as playing along, my advice is that in demonstration mode you should try to do what is expected of you (assuming you know what that is) - since your job in that role is to be a demonstrator. When you are training, ask the sensei to show you again and try to jam the technique - with respect for the teacher but also with respect for budo.

Rob

George S. Ledyard
03-10-2005, 08:29 AM
On this issue of ki and kokyu... One of the things that I see stands in the way of really relaxing in Aikido is the amount of tension we introduce into our movement because we are trying to make our technique look like what the Sensei just demonstrated.

In order to be really relaxed you have to get rid of your thoughts about what you want the outcome to be and let the technique become what it wants, to be so to speak. Yamaguchi Sensei said that no technique should take more effort than the weight of your arms resting on your partner. I have found that I am beginning to be able to do this to some limited extent but I have to be willing to allow the technique to become whatever is appropriate based on the subtle or not so subtle changes in the energy I get from uke.

I've had a bit of experience training with the Systema folks and they do an excellent job of getting people to relax. They don't teach technique but rather they learn to move and so they don'y have any investment in trying to produce any particular technique. One of their principles is that they don't dispute space so they are constantly blending with the force being applied by the attacker. They do excercises which are designed to remove any preference they might have for a particular stance or even body alignment. They do all sorts of training from off balance positions, positions of great disadvantage etc (randori from flat on your back, knife fighting from a push up position, etc)

They do a lot of conditioning and they combine ther conditioning exercise with very sophisticated breath control excercises. And they do alot of striking each other. They do this to remove the resistance we have to receiving impact. Over time they learn to receive greater and greater amounts of force without tensing up around it (in fact the act of tensing makes the pain greater and increases the destructive power; by relaxing and focusing the breathing on moving the energy of the strike through the body the get to the point where they can stay relaxed under a pretty heavy threat and if they do take a hit they are seemingly unaffected by strikes that would put a lot of people down.)

Anyway, I think their training methods bear some scrutiny. The extent to which I have played with them, my Aikido was always better afterwards. I've been playing with these ideas in training my students and one of the things I've done is encourage the students from about third kyu and up to not worry if the technique they are doing ends up differently than I did it. If they find themselves doing henka waza that's fine. I am putting more emphasis on them relaxing and feeling their partner than on trying to force their partner into some position so that they make their technique look just like what I did. I am happy with the results so far. They are considerably more relaxed than I was at the same point in my training.

Mike Sigman
03-10-2005, 08:41 AM
What were these "parlour tricks"?

A couple of nights ago my sensei took me to an advanced class at his sensei's dojo. The 69 year old sensei was doing techniques whereby senior black belts would touch his shoulder, he'd twitch the shoulder slightly and they would fall or roll dramatically.

I was invited to partake and grabbed his shoulder, (I'm 270+ lbs, he's about 110 lbs). He twitched but I didn't feel like I was being pummelled into the mat. Was I supposed to "play along" per se or is there something in these practices I'm just not getting?

Ideas, comments???? The parlour tricks, as they've been referred to by a lot of people, usually involved O-Sensei demonstrating some directional aspect of basic Kokyu power. The "sitting on the bar-stool" example I used yesterday was a simple example of a kokyu-imbued "aha, I can bring a mysterious force through my relaxed body and impress the natives". He did a few variants. The most famous may be his "jo trick". The only thing of importance to me is that it indicates to me, in my opinion, that he must have included a certain amount of standing meditation in his practice... if so, it adds one more datum to the things I can extrapolate from probabilities.

Insofar as you visiting a dojo and playing the local games, it's usually best to avoid those sorts of things, I think, so that no one's feathers get ruffled. I'm 225 pounds and generally that's big enough that people doing demonstrations and who don't know me will avoid asking me to participate. However, like you, if a technique doesn't actually work on me, I'm loathe to become part of a game, just to be courteous. I remember years ago visiting a dojo in Florida where I became Uke and was supposed to attack with yokomenuchi; the woman Nage tenkanned (without touching me) and pointed at the mat... I stopped cold, in confustion... she get very angry and told me I was supposed to FALL! and quit resisting the technique! Alas, I am slow to understand some of these complex social situations, so I usually just demur if someone asks me if I want to feel their teacher's power.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Ron Tisdale
03-10-2005, 08:53 AM
I know a teacher who does that shoulder trick...I don't believe anyone 'tanks' for him twice... :) I think Rob's take on how to behave is pretty much spot on...

Ron

Mike Sigman
03-10-2005, 09:01 AM
On this issue of ki and kokyu... One of the things that I see stands in the way of really relaxing in Aikido is the amount of tension we introduce into our movement because we are trying to make our technique look like what the Sensei just demonstrated. (snipsky)
Anyway, I think their training methods bear some scrutiny. (snip)They are considerably more relaxed than I was at the same point in my training. I think this comment is somewhat along the lines of whether Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, etc., "uses the same principles" as Aikido, Taiji, etc. They don't. I know some fairly good Systema people and while I enjoy what they do, I realize that it doesn't have anything to do with the body skills of Ki, kokyu, etc., that are found in the Asian martial arts.

My suggestion is to never take an assumptive step forward in your training until you're absolutely sure that it is correct. I listened with interest to some east-coast Taiji types who had modified their "real Taiji" and it became clear from the comments of a few experts that they'd erred in their assumptions. Their fallback was admirable, although quite silly.... they claimed that just like so many things Americans have received from Asia, we took a good thing and made it better. ;) The point was that they didn't really understand Taiji well enough to make good decisions about modifying the art and they thought the aspect they added was roughly the same thing. It was quite different. I.e., "bogus".

Watching Stan Pranin associate Systema, jiu-jutsu, etc., with the Aiki-Expo is quite interesting to me... basically, I'm all for show-and-tell's between the martial styles, but I think that continuing to learn how to cook and enjoy prime, aged-sirloin is worth more effort than just acquiescing to hunger and switching to a bowl of hash. :)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

George S. Ledyard
03-10-2005, 09:02 AM
I remember years ago visiting a dojo in Florida where I became Uke and was supposed to attack with yokomenuchi; the woman Nage tenkanned (without touching me) and pointed at the mat... I stopped cold, in confustion... she get very angry and told me I was supposed to FALL! and quit resisting the technique!

She just forgot the groin strike component, that's all. Put that back in and you don't have much trouble figuring out why you want to fall.

Mike Sigman
03-10-2005, 09:12 AM
I know a teacher who does that shoulder trick...I don't believe anyone 'tanks' for him twice... :) I think Rob's take on how to behave is pretty much spot on... I agree about going along with demo's. The problem often gets to simple practice and Uke's ability to provide a grip, strike, whatever, that is commensurate with the technique being practiced. I.e., if someone grabs you correctly when you're going to demonstrate a certain technique, it's not that hard to do the technique. If they grab you in a way (or hit, whatever) that is not good for the envisioned technique's dynamics, then things go haywire. If more people being Uke would take the time to do the attack in the manner commensurate with the technique being practiced, we'd have less of the "divers" one sees so often on the mat. Diving to make a half-ineffective throw look good is not good, IMO. That being said, someone who actually knows how to use power should be able to throw with a shoulder shake, assuming Uke grabs it in a way that allows his middle to be felt. But if the teacher was just mimicking something he'd seen done somewhere and he didn't really know how to do it, then Pasadena.

FWIW

Mike

Mike Sigman
03-10-2005, 09:14 AM
She just forgot the groin strike component, that's all. Put that back in and you don't have much trouble figuring out why you want to fall. Trust me, that woman was one of the types that was ALWAYS thinking of an excuse to groin-strike a man. ;)

Mike

rob_liberti
03-10-2005, 09:16 AM
I'm almost afraid to ask. Do tai-chi folks take groin shots by mentally forming a path to ground? Do systema folks relax and recieve groin shots? Both ideas sound like really bad choices - compared to say ... moving out of the way. I suppose those methods could be plan "b" - but I'm not sure I'm up for such practice.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-10-2005, 09:37 AM
I'm almost afraid to ask. Do tai-chi folks take groin shots by mentally forming a path to ground? Do systema folks relax and recieve groin shots? Both ideas sound like really bad choices - compared to say ... moving out of the way. I suppose those methods could be plan "b" - but I'm not sure I'm up for such practice.
I think you're mixing up "conditioning", "core strengths", and "Techniques & Strategy" again, Rob. For instance, think of Tohei and his "Ki Tests" where someone pushes on a hard-to-push partner. That in no way implies that Aikido stands still resistively in its techniques, does it?. You should go to one of Wang Hai Jun's workshops the next time he's in the northeast and ask him and put a couple of moves on him. ;)

Regards,

Mike

rob_liberti
03-10-2005, 09:53 AM
Is he the chen tai chi guy that goes around with Stan Baker? If so, he's really good and his exercises are challenging to say the least. If he wants to grab my shoulder, he's welcome - but he'll have to take a step or two to get it or abandon that attack. Either way is fine with me. I suppose if he wants to do a yokomen and just stand there while I hammer fist him in the groin, that's okay with me too. I suspect he'd move, though.

As far as isolating these elements for discussion. I'm okay with it, but since I endeavor to use my "conditioning" and "core strengths" in my "Techniques & Strategy" it seems reasonable to talk about such things in context as well.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-10-2005, 10:04 AM
Is he the chen tai chi guy that goes around with Stan Baker? If so, he's really good and his exercises are challenging to say the least. If he wants to grab my shoulder, he's welcome - but he'll have to take a step or two to get it or abandon that attack. Either way is fine with me. I suppose if he wants to do a yokomen and just stand there while I hammer fist him in the groin, that's okay with me too. I suspect he'd move, though. Actually I meant you should try to attack him and watch what he does. As far as isolating these elements for discussion. I'm okay with it, but since I endeavor to use my "conditioning" and "core strengths" in my "Techniques & Strategy" it seems reasonable to talk about such things in context as well. I don't disagree. The problem I have is that I don't really know what you consider core strengths and conditioning. We're apparently talking about different things, so it's hard for me to "mesh" with what you're saying, a lot of times.

Regards,

Mike

kironin
03-10-2005, 10:16 AM
Alexander folks who really do things from the principles - as opposed to those who do things artificially (and there are plenty of those folks out there teaching and charging lots of money) are going to be abe to resist powerful pushes and expand in very difficult to stop ways. Well, that's been my experience.

Not meant as a slam to anyone, but that has not been my experience with Alexander folks.

rob_liberti
03-10-2005, 10:19 AM
Well I suppose that conditioning related to stamina, and ability to receive impacts optimally. (The yin if you will of full body movement and resistance).

I'd say core strength, is when you use the most efficient body muscles (especially the smaller ones that I can't typically consciously control) in line such that they form a chain reaction resulting in an uncommon strength like the whip action of a professional baseball pitcher's arm. (The yang if you will of full body movement and release).

I'd say technique is just part of the strategy that were you use those other concepts to optimally protect yourself and the attacker(s).

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-10-2005, 10:27 AM
Well I suppose that conditioning related to stamina, and ability to receive impacts optimally. (The yin if you will of full body movement and resistance).

I'd say core strength, is when you use the most efficient body muscles (especially the smaller ones that I can't typically consciously control) in line such that they form a chain reaction resulting in an uncommon strength like the whip action of a professional baseball pitcher's arm. (The yang if you will of full body movement and release).

I'd say technique is just part of the strategy that were you use those other concepts to optimally protect yourself and the attacker(s). Well, as I think I noted in a couple of previous posts, we're discussing different things, Rob, and we'll probably never understand each other's viewpoint unless we meet, etc. Emails are fun and a certain amount of information can be shared, but they're limited to a certain degree.

Regards,

Mike

rob_liberti
03-10-2005, 10:37 AM
Okay. When that guys comes to New England, maybe you can come too. Otherwise, we'll have to wait for my son to get a little older before I'm willing to take a trip to Durango. But, I'm sure it could happen eventually, and that would be nice.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-10-2005, 10:42 AM
Okay. When that guys comes to New England, maybe you can come too. Not me. William Gibson's novels refer to "The Sprawl" on the east coast and I totally agree. Fighting traffic is not one of my favorite pastimes. ;) Otherwise, we'll have to wait for my son to get a little older before I'm willing to take a trip to Durango. But, I'm sure it could happen eventually, and that would be nice. I will alert the Chamber of Commerce that there is a potential big influx of money on the horizon. :D

Mike

kironin
03-10-2005, 11:45 AM
Watching Stan Pranin associate Systema, jiu-jutsu, etc., with the Aiki-Expo is quite interesting to me... basically, I'm all for show-and-tell's between the martial styles, but I think that continuing to learn how to cook and enjoy prime, aged-sirloin is worth more effort than just acquiescing to hunger and switching to a bowl of hash. :)
Regards,
Mike Sigman

LMAO!!!

Yeah, the show-and-tell's have been interesting and fun
but the subtext has been quite revealing however not surprising given the editorial direction of AJ.

George S. Ledyard
03-10-2005, 01:11 PM
Watching Stan Pranin associate Systema, jiu-jutsu, etc., with the Aiki-Expo is quite interesting to me... basically, I'm all for show-and-tell's between the martial styles, but I think that continuing to learn how to cook and enjoy prime, aged-sirloin is worth more effort than just acquiescing to hunger and switching to a bowl of hash. :)

Regards,

Mike Sigman
Some of what Stan is doing is simply providing an event that will appeal to the largest number of AJ people. Based on past threads I'd say that there are a ton of people who are doing Aikido and are training in BJJ or some such ground fighting art. The addition of a BJJ teacher isn't surprising.

As for the Systema, I've talked at length to Stan about these guys. He really believes, as I do, that these guys are doing, in terms of principle, what we should be doing and often aren't. I have traineddirectly with Vladimir on several occasions now and he can do stuff with energetics that you'd swear was fake if you weren't standing there watching him do it. I am sure that, if you went back to Takeda Sensei's and O-Sensei's generation, you would have found that many of the old guys knew far more than has been handed down. Kisshomaru simplified the art to some extent. His son is continuing the process. When I have trained with some of the folks from the Yanagi Ryu and people like Toby Threadgill Sensei, I get a sense of what has disappeared. The Russian guys have a systematic method for training kokyu power that doesn't require an Aikido person to change his technique one iota of he doesn't wish. They have an atemi waza method that is based on internal energy which is totally compatible with Aikido and , in my opinion, was probably part of the art when it was still Daito Ryu. Finally, the level of relaxation which allows them to let technique just happen is one of the best exeamples of Take Musu Aiki I have seen.

If Aikido, as it is being transmitted, were complete and contained everything in terms of knowledge that its antecedents had, it wouldn't matter so much. But so much of Aikido is almost totally lacking in "aiki", contains no systematic training in atemi waza, has only the most simplistic exposure to kokyu training (depends on style), etc. It's not a matter of creating a "hash". It's a matter of taking the principles of our own art to their limits. I've trained with many, if not most, of the top teachers in Aikido and whereas there is a vast amount of knowledge there, there are also great gaps. Whether that is because they have chosen not to teach some things they know or whether they aren't familiar with some of the areas themselves, the fact is that they aren't being taught or taught at a deep level.

I am not one to ignore someone who has attained an extremely high level of mastery in the principles that I am studying just because he calls his art something different. If you've trained with these guys yourself and have decided that there's nothing there for you, then that's that. But if you haven't trained directly with Vladimir or Ryabko then you are not basing your opinions on an informed basis. Thes guys are awesome. They would justify going to the Expo all by themselves.

Mike Sigman
03-10-2005, 01:42 PM
As for the Systema, I've talked at length to Stan about these guys. He really believes, as I do, that these guys are doing, in terms of principle, what we should be doing and often aren't. I have trained directly with Vladimir on several occasions now and he can do stuff with energetics that you'd swear was fake if you weren't standing there watching him do it. I am sure that, if you went back to Takeda Sensei's and O-Sensei's generation, you would have found that many of the old guys knew far more than has been handed down. [snip] But if you haven't trained directly with Vladimir or Ryabko then you are not basing your opinions on an informed basis. Thes guys are awesome. They would justify going to the Expo all by themselves. I have no doubt that Vladimir et al are "awesome". In fact I just got off an email exchange with one of his students.... but that student feels that the body mechanics are not really much different than is find in normal jiujutsu and the like. Let's take the worst-case approximation and assume that your view that you are just beginning to get some of these things is correct. I.e., you, like most people in Aikido, weren't really aware of the Ki and Kokyu stuff, not to the depths to realize how important it was. I don't personally know Stan Pranin, but let's assume for the sake of discussion that his awareness and skills in Ki and Kokyu things is "minimal", also. If you both believe that systema is "doing what you should be doing in Aikido", I'm a little apprehensive. What if you're wrong? What is logically going to be the route of your Aikido if you head off in the wrong direction after you've already decided that your current Aikido lacks something? How about this.... ask Vladimir to do the jo trick or one of the other ones? If he's doing the same thing, he should be able to do a reasonable approximation (I say that because I feel pretty sure that O-Sensei did some focused exercises to increase his ability on the jo trick, but someone with reasonable kokyu skills can come close).

But if he can't really do them, then I'd suggest that sure he's probably a remarkable martial artist, but there are remarkable martial artists who can do unusual things in a number of arts. I've personally seen a number Taiji, Xingyi, Bagua, etc., practitioners who couldn't get any bona fide information about Qi and Jin resort to using Shaolin training methods so they too would have "unusual skills". Some of them learned some pretty nifty neigungs and gained power, etc., but they didn't really learn how the internal martial arts did similar things and now they've so ingrained the wrong habits that they'll never learn the real stuff.

But, don't mind me.... I'm just laying out thoughts in an interesting discussion. ;)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Ron Tisdale
03-10-2005, 02:35 PM
What if you're wrong? What is logically going to be the route of your Aikido if you head off in the wrong direction after you've already decided that your current Aikido lacks something?

Well, one could say the same thing about taking a fully chinese approach to 'ki' and using that to supplement lost knowledge. One could even say that going back to Daito ryu and their use of 'aiki' might be going astray...what if what Ueshiba did was something new...something he added? In that case, whatever you find in Daito ryu, how ever good it may be, you *still* won't be reproducing what Ueshiba did...

I think at some point people and arts are going to diverge, merge, go astray, change, adapt whatever...and as long as people are honest about it, I'm fine with that. George is honest about it...to a much greater extent than many, that's for sure!

Ron

Mike Sigman
03-10-2005, 03:04 PM
Well, one could say the same thing about taking a fully chinese approach to 'ki' and using that to supplement lost knowledge. One could even say that going back to Daito ryu and their use of 'aiki' might be going astray...what if what Ueshiba did was something new...something he added? In that case, whatever you find in Daito ryu, how ever good it may be, you *still* won't be reproducing what Ueshiba did...

I think at some point people and arts are going to diverge, merge, go astray, change, adapt whatever...and as long as people are honest about it, I'm fine with that. George is honest about it...to a much greater extent than many, that's for sure! Hmmmm.... I disagree. First point: There is no "Chinese approach to ki"... it's a set of singular skills, in the sense that Tibetan throat singing is a basic set of skills albeit with some variations in different regions. The basic rules apply. There is no other harmonally enhanced singing like throat singing that produces the same results... there are no other ki-like skills that aren't ki skills. Period. There are simple variations (but they're limited) and gradations of skills.

Secondly, we *know* for a fact that O-Sensei used Ki skills... there is film footage of him doing so. While we're not sure what was in Daito-Ryu when Ueshiba studied, it's not relevant to the discussion because we're talking about what was done in Aikido... and there are enough surviving original uchi-deshi to settle that point. In fact, rather than a few westerners decide among themselves "we're missing something and this must be it", my suggestion would be to go ask some of the uchideshi for advice on whether Systema uses the same Ki and Kokyu power that was used in Aikido. That would seem to be the prudent thing to do, if someone is a purist. Of course these are just my thoughts and have nothing to do with any emotional investment on my part. People in Aikido can do what they want to do and call it anything they want. ;)

One personal comment I might add here is that I joined Aikido in the early 1970's because I saw *back then* that it involved some unusual method of generating strength, at least in the Hombu-Dojo visiting dan that I met. I left Aikido because I found that almost no one in western Aikido knew how to do these things and I reasoned they came from the Chinese arts (but information there is hard to get, also). When I sort of checked back in the mid-1980's with Aikido and practiced a little, I found there was almost complete rejection of the idea that any of these black-skirt wearing studs could be missing any part of Aikido and all I heard was ego-centric trivialization of the idea. Many of those sceptical people are now gone or have spent years in Aikido without having grasped the magnitude of the physical Ki skills.... they missed it. Now there is a generation where some people are beginning to see the involvement of the physical Ki skills and are beginning to search around for it.... the ice is breaking. In this generation there are already some Aikidoists who are beginning to apply these physical skills to their Aikido, so this generation will have some successes and a number of people who again missed it. Looking back from the future, there may be a case of "Oh him.... yeah, he was well known in western Aikido, but he was one of the ones before the use of Ki power became common so his stuff lacked it." It's a negligible and assumptive anecdote, but we're already seeing the same thing happen to a number of "Tai Chi Teachers", "Bagua Teachers", etc., in the Chinese arts. From a private conversation I had with one Aikido sensei recently, I think the first signs are showing in the Aikido world. I think George smells the coffee and he's attempting to do something about it, unlike most people, so think of my comments to him as encouraging and not disparaging, BTW.

FWIW

Mike

Ron Tisdale
03-10-2005, 03:11 PM
Oh, I certainly didn't think you were disparaging him...if you were, you'd be perfectly up front and blunt about it... :)

I think we may just have to disagree on the different approaches issue...but you know much more in this area than I, so I'm probably stepping out on a limb there. As for what the uchideshi have to say...some talk much more about 'aiki' than 'ki'...I'm still not settled on THAT debate...and probably won't be for some time.
Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
03-10-2005, 03:46 PM
As for what the uchideshi have to say...some talk much more about 'aiki' than 'ki'...I'm still not settled on THAT debate...and probably won't be for some time. Well, I admit that all these discussions have really given me a very different perspective on the impression I had about Ki, etc., in Aikido, who knew what, the presence in different arts, and so on. I'm getting a very different picture of the actual history than I had say a month ago.

Insofar as the "ki" and "aiki" debate among the uchideshi, I'm still not totally clear, but my impression is that the "strengths" issue was not an open discussion, it was not openly taught, and different people got different amounts of information about the use and applicability of these strengths, among the original uchi-deshi. That's my current view.

Regards,

Mike

Ron Tisdale
03-10-2005, 04:09 PM
I tend to agree...whether its ki or aiki...its a very mixed bag in terms of what people know, what they're willing to teach if they know, etc.

Hey, I just like to train...

Ron

Hardware
03-10-2005, 06:17 PM
You should do what you like to do :) Why did you go to the dojo ? ...

My sensei urged me to go to get exposure to practice in the advanced class. He accompanied me and formally introduced me to the dojo.

...Normally if I visit another dojo its to see their point of view, not to show my point of view...

Agreed. I didn't show my point of view at all. I was just trying to keep up with the higher ranks. One solidly built black belt was directed to practice with me by the senior sensei and he actively resisted all my techniques. We got into strength contests with every technique which was a first for me. I think the sensei selected him specifically for this to test me and to tire me out. It was all in good fun. After a while, when I figured out how to use ki in conjunction with brute strength and started to control the black belt a little, he started to laugh like I was getting what he was trying to teach me.

...What happened after wards, did the Sensei slap you, laugh, look angry/happy ? :)

When the sensei invited me to grab his shoulder, this was during concurrent practice and not when he did a demonstration in front of the whole dojo. He would move around and interact with different pairs as they practiced together. I didn't want to "dive" or play along but I also didn't want to come off as an arrogant gaijin who tried to show he was better than the Sensei. I tried to feel where the force should have been sending me and sort of went with it. The sensei chuckled and merely told me to relax.

I speak very little Japanese so I wasn't understanding anything that was being said. :sorry:

Hardware
03-10-2005, 06:28 PM
On this issue of ki and kokyu... One of the things that I see stands in the way of really relaxing in Aikido is the amount of tension we introduce into our movement because we are trying to make our technique look like what the Sensei just demonstrated.

In order to be really relaxed you have to get rid of your thoughts about what you want the outcome to be and let the technique become what it wants, to be so to speak. Yamaguchi Sensei said that no technique should take more effort than the weight of your arms resting on your partner. I have found that I am beginning to be able to do this to some limited extent but I have to be willing to allow the technique to become whatever is appropriate based on the subtle or not so subtle changes in the energy I get from uke...

You've articulated the concept in probably the best way I've read/seen/heard yet. My Sensei always tells me to relax and "forget about technique". I think that's what his Sensei was trying to teach everyone as well.

For any technique to require no more than the weight of your arms resting on Uke, there has to be a commitment from Uke to a certain degree. If coming at Nage with a shomen uchi, Uke has to move forward and actually put some force, however minimal, behind the strike. I suspect that in practice, too many Uke move towards Nage, raise our hand and stop in a shomen uchi pose, waiting for the technique to happen. At this point, technically there is no force being introduced by Uke. How could an Aikido technique work here?

Any summary or brief explanation of Aikido explains that the art uses an attackers force against them - it's such a core element of Aikido and maybe we (at least I) forget it in everyday practice.

This is something I will work on.

Charles Hill
03-10-2005, 08:37 PM
Anyway, I think their training methods bear some scrutiny. The extent to which I have played with them, my Aikido was always better afterwards.

I bought the new Systema Hand to Hand Dvd, watched it a few times, thought about it a lot and noticed an immediate improvement in my Aikido. I HIGHLY recommend it to any Aikido practioner.

Charles

Mike Sigman
03-11-2005, 11:10 AM
I've thought about the below comments a fair amount and also discussed them with some very longterm Aikido practitioners who are friends of mine (one of them is also a friend of Ledyard's, BTW):
[snip] As for the Systema, I've talked at length to Stan about these guys. He really believes, as I do, that these guys are doing, in terms of principle, what we should be doing and often aren't. I have traineddirectly with Vladimir on several occasions now and he can do stuff with energetics that you'd swear was fake if you weren't standing there watching him do it. I am sure that, if you went back to Takeda Sensei's and O-Sensei's generation, you would have found that many of the old guys knew far more than has been handed down. [snip] When I have trained with some of the folks from the Yanagi Ryu and people like Toby Threadgill Sensei, I get a sense of what has disappeared. The Russian guys have a systematic method for training kokyu power that doesn't require an Aikido person to change his technique one iota of he doesn't wish. They have an atemi waza method that is based on internal energy which is totally compatible with Aikido and , in my opinion, was probably part of the art when it was still Daito Ryu. Finally, the level of relaxation which allows them to let technique just happen is one of the best exeamples of Take Musu Aiki I have seen.

If Aikido, as it is being transmitted, were complete and contained everything in terms of knowledge that its antecedents had, it wouldn't matter so much. But so much of Aikido is almost totally lacking in "aiki", contains no systematic training in atemi waza, has only the most simplistic exposure to kokyu training (depends on style), etc. .... I've trained with many, if not most, of the top teachers in Aikido and whereas there is a vast amount of knowledge there, there are also great gaps. Whether that is because they have chosen not to teach some things they know or whether they aren't familiar with some of the areas themselves, the fact is that they aren't being taught or taught at a deep level.

I am not one to ignore someone who has attained an extremely high level of mastery in the principles that I am studying just because he calls his art something different. If you've trained with these guys yourself and have decided that there's nothing there for you, then that's that. But if you haven't trained directly with Vladimir or Ryabko then you are not basing your opinions on an informed basis. Thes guys are awesome. They would justify going to the Expo all by themselves. The above comments are good, IMO. The problem is that they involve a number of separate issues and the ones that readily pop to my mind are:
1. Power (i.e., what is real kokyu and how is it done).
2. Relaxation: what it is and why so many Aikidoka are not relaxed.
3. Full Aikido knowledge: who has it and why was does it appear to vary from uchi-deshi to uchi-deshi.
4. Are the people who honestly know all the "Real Stuff" (TM) really teaching it?
5. Is the impressive (at least to G.L. and some others) power displayed in Systema the same power that was used in Aikido? I.e., is it a viable alternative source for information that is difficult to come by in traditional Aikido training?
6. Do most people in Aikido even care about the above discussions or are they unconcerned with what Aikido really was because they're happy with their current, possibly-incorrect-but-who-cares-as-long-as-I-get-to-wear-a-hakama-and-be someone-in-a-dojo, view?

The idea of "a lot of the teachers don't show what they know, if they know it" comes up a lot in various conversations. A lot of westerners realize now that culturally, no matter how friendly someone is,( a Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, whatever) that does not necessarily mean that he shows all he knows. In fact, as I've posited before, I feel strongly that O-Sensei didn't show all he knew to his own Japanese uchi-deshi, forcing many of them to get lessons on Ki, etc., on the outside. So George's comments are pretty valid, as far as I'm concerned.

The idea of relaxation, kokyu, ki, reaction, etc., are all intertwined. Most of the Aikido people I know have a stilted, too-stiff way of moving and despite a lot of discussion about "moving from the center", most of them move from the shoulders. The fact at you can learn to push or pull someone sort of driving the middle does NOT mean that you have learned how to move from the middle in the correct way of not using the shoulders. That big mistake in thinking (that you've got it when all you did was hit a piece of it) is why a lot of people make one small step and never get any further toward actually using the middle in all movements rather than in just a limited few movements, IMO.

Does Systema contain the information we're talking about in Aikido in re kokyu, ki, etc. I haven't seen it, but I haven't seen Vladimir (as George has, etc.) either. All I can do is offer my opinion based on years of experience and having seen some Systema that it doesn't. I'll back that opinion up with a $10,000 bet, though, and I think I can make a compelling physical case to prove my point and collect. :)

Do most westerners in Aikido care about this rather important topic? I don't think so, but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe for most people Aikido is indeed what you make of it.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
03-11-2005, 11:20 AM
I tend to agree...whether its ki or aiki...its a very mixed bag in terms of what people know, what they're willing to teach if they know, etc.

Hey, I just like to train... But if you only know a limited amount due to "what people know, what they're willing to teach if they know, etc.," the question is valid about "what exactly are you training"? ;)

It's interesting to mull over what people knew, when they knew it, and are they teaching it, but the other side of the coin that I always think about is how few westerners are really curious about some of the training things in Ki or in "Abe Sensei swings a heavy suburi-bokken" or "why did Tohei focus on those weird things... was he being silly or did he know something I don't know?"... and so on. I.e., there is a remarkable lack of curiosity in many martial artists and they're there just to blindly follow what someone else tells them to do. I think it's the root reason why an Aikido friend of mine commented that many of the Japanese teachers don't really teach... they don't see a lot of curiosity or a lot of results; they see too many socially-oriented lemmings. Maybe he has a point? ;)

Mike

Ron Tisdale
03-11-2005, 02:10 PM
I'm training aikido...at the level I'm currently capable of discovering. :) Maybe if I'm persistant and keep training, I'll discover some of these other things, maybe not. I'm open to it...and if we can ever get together in person, I'll ask you to show me (I've been convinced for sometime that I *don't* do the things you speak of, at least not anywhere near consistantly, and I have no problems admitting it).

You have to remember...a lot of us would just as soon put on a white belt and train just as hard...as long as we can train. I don't really do it for the 'ki'...I certainly don't do it for the self defense (a glock would be *much* cheaper, even with the training courses), I don't do it for the funny pants or the belt. I do it because I enjoy it.

The japanese are famous for letting students 'steal' the technique...that's the culture. I knew that when I bought the package. :) No worries here...As for lemmings...well...they really don't jump off cliffs in hoards, doncha know... :)

Ron

Mike Sigman
03-11-2005, 02:35 PM
You have to remember...a lot of us would just as soon put on a white belt and train just as hard...as long as we can train. I don't really do it for the 'ki'...I certainly don't do it for the self defense (a glock would be *much* cheaper, even with the training courses), I don't do it for the funny pants or the belt. I do it because I enjoy it. Well, I sort of see it, Ron. However, regardless of what many people end up doing Aikido for, there is an emphasis in the anecdotes on the power of O-Sensei, Ki, and related things that you can't honestly separate out.... because they're all tied together. You're saying to me that you're doing it for the hard training, not the Ki, not the self-defense, but that begs the question of why you can't train hard, if that's all you want, at other things, too. A "Do" or "Dao" is a whole Way, not a fragment of a Way. But I understand what you're saying, sort of. ;)

Regards,

Mike

Ron Tisdale
03-11-2005, 02:55 PM
but that begs the question of why you can't train hard, if that's all you want, at other things, too...

Not really (as far as begging the question)...I do train at other things too...I'm just not as public about them :) The yosh is not known for 'ki training'....but they do stress moving from the center, balance, breath, centerline, suburi, aiki, and a lot of the things that are said to lead to 'the japanese understanding' of ki/aiki. That's why I pay attention to your discussions, train with a friend from time to time in push hands, take what opportunity I can to train in Daito ryu, and work very hard at something that is very difficult for me personally (relaxing). Frankly, I'm not out to justify my keiko...I'd rather just do it. With the right timing and effort, the 'other stuff/levels' will come.

First lesson of keiko...patience.

Best,
Ron

tedehara
03-11-2005, 03:25 PM
...The japanese are famous for letting students 'steal' the technique...that's the culture...
RonThat's not Japanese, that's Chinese. A common phrase when learning Tai Chi, especially by Americans.
:D

Ron Tisdale
03-11-2005, 03:37 PM
Must be both...I know for sure my teacher isn't chinese...
:)

rob_liberti
03-15-2005, 08:34 AM
6. Do most people in Aikido even care about the above discussions or are they unconcerned with what Aikido really was because they're happy with their current, possibly-incorrect-but-who-cares-as-long-as-I-get-to-wear-a-hakama-and-be someone-in-a-dojo, view?

I choose option 7.
I think that while developing ridiculous kokyu power (like being able to do the jo trick) would be wonderful and interesting at parties -- and valuable in a real life martial situation -- no doubt; I tend to see it more as one of the false starts that O-sensei was took to an extreme before he concluded that he didn't need that much power to do aikido at its highest level. That's part of the path, especially when developing a system.

Here is a list of Japanese terms used to describe the stages of development in aikido:

First stage: Agatsu -- Self Mastery or "Correct Intention" - gets the mind in order -- in harmony with universal function.

Second stage: Masakatsu - harmonizes our body, our entire being, with universal order. This is shin-shin toitsu, mind-body unification.

The final stage: Katsu hayabi - puts the ki that unifies mind and body into harmony with universal order. There is no difference between oneself and anyone else.

Basically, if I am in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing, I shouldn't need a whole lot of extra power. Having a whole lot of extra power by developing the second stage to an extreme would be nice and interesting, but not *my* main goal. When O-sensei explained for us to do what he doing towards the end of his career as opposed to what he used to do, we generally just think he meant - no need to do all of that pre-war hard style atemi-happy aikido, and go straight to grandpa-like movement. Maybe to some degree, but I think he *also* meant that taking that second level to such an extreme was unnecessary.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-15-2005, 09:01 AM
6. Do most people in Aikido even care about the above discussions or are they unconcerned with what Aikido really was because they're happy with their current, possibly-incorrect-but-who-cares-as-long-as-I-get-to-wear-a-hakama-and-be someone-in-a-dojo, view? Bingo. I choose option 7.
I think that while developing ridiculous kokyu power (like being able to do the jo trick) would be wonderful and interesting at parties -- and valuable in a real life martial situation -- no doubt; I tend to see it more as one of the false starts that O-sensei was took to an extreme before he concluded that he didn't need that much power to do aikido at its highest level. That's part of the path, especially when developing a system.

Here is a list of Japanese terms used to describe the stages of development in aikido:

First stage: Agatsu -- Self Mastery or "Correct Intention" - gets the mind in order -- in harmony with universal function.

Second stage: Masakatsu - harmonizes our body, our entire being, with universal order. This is shin-shin toitsu, mind-body unification.

The final stage: Katsu hayabi - puts the ki that unifies mind and body into harmony with universal order. There is no difference between oneself and anyone else.

Basically, if I am in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing, I shouldn't need a whole lot of extra power. Having a whole lot of extra power by developing the second stage to an extreme would be nice and interesting, but not *my* main goal. When O-sensei explained for us to do what he doing towards the end of his career as opposed to what he used to do, we generally just think he meant - no need to do all of that pre-war hard style atemi-happy aikido, and go straight to grandpa-like movement. Maybe to some degree, but I think he *also* meant that taking that second level to such an extreme was unnecessary. Ah... I think you're missing part of the main point, Rob. While I, as a westerner, may have the view that Ki and Kokyu power are supplemental strengths to martial arts, that is not what O-Sensei and many easterners think. They consider all the "harmony", "universal order", etc., to be missing if you don't have the Ki and Kokyu things. Ki and Kokyu are the "natural" powers that harmonize with the universe, Rob... you got it exactly backwards about the importance. Notice how the Ki training, etc., is tied into religion and if you want to learn it the deeper stuff comes through religious sources. In other words, your comments about extra power miss the importance of the Ki and Kokyu power and their place in O-Sensei's art. It was crucial. If it was just a toy, he would have taught everyone how to do it. He hid it. It was the core of the important part of Aikido, just as it's the hidden core, difficult-to-get-information-about part of most credible Asian arts. All the "mind-body" bits are part of the natural universal mechanism... the throws, blending, etc., are the superficial skin. You have the priorities reversed. :)

FWIW

Mike

Mark Mueller
03-15-2005, 09:09 AM
Rob,

I like # 7 with the caveat that time is not relevant (or an all encompassing kind of relevant, but then we get into a metaphysical discussion and I'm lost).

I have read this discussion with interest...even sent a couple emails off to Mike.

Mike? You still out there reading this? You have taken some good pokes at the dogma of the aikido church...I would be interested in how you came to some or your conclusions/realizations....I have a vague feel for some of your learning path....some aikido, chinese martial arts...etc.

I would like to better understand the context of your learning and how you came to your insights....and it doesn't count if you tell me you could share "but then you would have to kill me" ;).

Best Regards.....and thanks to you and Rob (and everyone else) for some interesting and thought provoking reading.

Mark

Mike Sigman
03-15-2005, 09:39 AM
I would be interested in how you came to some or your conclusions/realizations....I have a vague feel for some of your learning path....some aikido, chinese martial arts...etc.

I would like to better understand the context of your learning and how you came to your insights....and it doesn't count if you tell me you could share "but then you would have to kill me" ;). Hi Mark:

I look at most of these things with 2 thoughts in mind: "How does it work?" & "What's the Big Picture?". It takes a while to get enough data to see the big picture, but there are clues everywhere, if you look. First of all, the prevalence of discussion about Qi/Ki in Asian martial arts should signal that there is some commonality, immediately, but most people get into a "we is best" mindset and focus on how their art is different rather than how it is similar to other arts. Of course, the fact that most people only focus on one art or just a few arts as seen by the western perspective makes it similarly obscured.

If you get away from the conceit that Aikido (or any other martial art) is the be-all, end-all of martial arts, you'll find that it has a lot of similarities that cross-connect it with ju-jitsu and other "soft" arts, "avoiding conflict", Ki, "harmonizing with the universe's basic rules", etc. The giveaway is, as I said, the commonality of Ki/Qi, breathing techniques, etc., through all the Asian martial arts... that should clue us that there is a common thread and unless all those generations of Asians were stupid, there's something very important about the Ki, Kokyu, etc., aspects or all the arts wouldn't use it. I get a chuckle about the people who consider it some small "parlor trick" sort of stuff..... they need to dig deeper and quit focusing on the black culottes. ;)

Once you begin to learn the basics of Ki, kokyu, etc., and you look back at expert sources of other martial arts (I'm not talking about what you see in the typical McDojo), you see the same basis in breath-training, Ki, etc., when you probably didn't see them before [you certainly never saw them if you relied on amateurs like western teachers to represent "The Real Thing" (TM). ]

So my perspective on these Asian martial arts, is the commonality (of Ki, Kokyu and a few other things), not the differences. I see 3 main things:

1.) Variations in how to develop Ki, Kokyu, etc. (from harsher to very soft).

2.) Different body tricks to augment the common basics (use of hips versus dantien, use of back bow, body quivering, power "from the back", reeling silk, etc., etc.)

3.) Different techniques and strategies in the martial arts ("no conflict", "attack the center", "blend with his motion", etc., etc., etc.).

How I got to this viewpoint was through a lot of years of martial arts, but by avoiding all the religiosity, rah-rah macho, etc., and focusing on "how the heck does this weird strength-thing work", I suddenly saw what should have been obvious... the commonality. I didn't see the commonality because I, too, focused too much on "my style", Japanese culture, Chinese culture, and how each thing was special as opposed to looking at how each thing was really part of one big thing.

FWIW

Mike

rob_liberti
03-15-2005, 10:00 AM
that is not what O-Sensei and many easterners think.

Let's be fair, you cannot know what O-sensei thought.

I certainly consider all the "harmony", "universal order", etc., to be missing if you don't have the Ki and Kokyu things as well. I also agree that Ki and Kokyu are the "natural" powers that harmonize with the universe. I am very clear that there was a degree of importance of the Ki and Kokyu power and their place in O-sensei's art. I certainly agree that it was crucial. And of course I agree that all the mind-body bits are part of the natural universal mechanism... the throws, blending, etc., are the superficial skin.

My point is that developing kokyu power to the degree required to do the jo-trick is probably unnecesary to doing aikido.

Other students of O-sensei don't do the jo-trick and O-sensei promoted them to grand mastery levels. Maybe they just hid the parlor tricks, but that seems unlikely.

I conceed that I might have it exactly backwards about the importance. I'm not O-sensei nor a grand master promoted by him in his art so I don't *know*.

There are certainly degrees of superficiality, and there exists the case that something important was taken to an extreme. I simply do not agree that the degree of developement of that power - required to do things like the jo trick - was crucial to aikido.

I see no harm in developing these skills further, so I'm always interested in your posts about them.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-15-2005, 10:24 AM
Let's be fair, you cannot know what O-sensei thought. In the particular case of Ki, Kokyu and the rest, I'm on pretty safe ground in knowing what he thought because I know that's the general thought in regard to Ki, etc., in Asian martial arts. I.e., when you look closely at it, most of what O-Sensei voiced actually reflected some fairly general ideas within the martial and religious communities, so it follows that he thought in those same general frameworks. [snipsky]My point is that developing kokyu power to the degree required to do the jo-trick is probably unnecesary to doing aikido.

Other students of O-sensei don't do the jo-trick and O-sensei promoted them to grand mastery levels. Maybe they just hid the parlor tricks, but that seems unlikely. Well, in terms of promoting people to grand mastery, let's dispense with that immediately. Once O-Sensei promoted that woman dancer to 10th Dan, the meaning of his dan grades plummeted to zero. So we can deduce little about whom he promoted and why.

Secondly, in regard to the jo trick, I take both sides of every argument and I argue it to myself in an attempt to see things more clearly.... so I have to note that I am NOT an expert in any martial art (not at the level I would call "expert) and it MAY be that to do Aikido correctly, that much development is needed. For what I generally do, that much power would be a waste of my time, so I refuse to spend it, at the moment. :cool:

FWIW

Mike

Mark Mueller
03-15-2005, 10:32 AM
How I got to this viewpoint was through a lot of years of martial arts, but by avoiding all the religiosity, rah-rah macho, etc., and focusing on "how the heck does this weird strength-thing work", I suddenly saw what should have been obvious... the commonality. I didn't see the commonality because I, too, focused too much on "my style", Japanese culture, Chinese culture, and how each thing was special as opposed to looking at how each thing was really part of one big thing.

FWIW

Mike

So was there an "AHA" moment that gave you some insight? I have always worked from the practical side and avoided the mythology associated with Aikido.....under the assumption that "aikido" was my "laboratory" and that if I ran the experiments enough under the "controlled" aspects of my environment then observation, refinement and practice would give me the insights I was looking for....and that hopefully my intellect would allow me to apply this to the context outside the dojo.....and it seemed to work in application to my interest in boxing....and it seems to help in my new interest of horses.

The next question is "Have you developed a practical method of demonstrating, teaching and helping others develop these skills"? I guess this is really the question I have been dancing around...it sounds as if this is what you are suggesting.....but I can't find where you come right out and say it.

Regards,

mark

rob_liberti
03-15-2005, 10:59 AM
In the particular case of Ki, Kokyu and the rest, I'm on pretty safe ground in knowing what he thought because I know that's the general thought in regard to Ki, etc., in Asian martial arts. I.e., when you look closely at it, most of what O-Sensei voiced actually reflected some fairly general ideas within the martial and religious communities, so it follows that he thought in those same general frameworks.

Or you simply jumped to a false conclusion and can't see past it. Kind of like when you are holding a hammer, and everything starts looking like a nail.

Well, in terms of promoting people to grand mastery, let's dispense with that immediately. Once O-Sensei promoted that woman dancer to 10th Dan, the meaning of his dan grades plummeted to zero. So we can deduce little about whom he promoted and why.

Well, my take on the story was that this was a hyperbolic statement to tell her how much he admired her dancing/movement. As opposed to the people he put in charge of teaching aikido. I suppose that it could be that he really meant that she was a 10th degree black belt in aikido (althought I doubt it) - and assuming she couldn't do the jo-trick (although some dancers are pretty strong) I'd have to go with she would be a perfect example of demonstrating my point. But, we probably shouldn't discount everything he said or did based on that incident.


I have to note that I am NOT an expert in any martial art (not at the level I would call "expert) and it MAY be that to do Aikido correctly, that much development is needed. For what I generally do, that much power would be a waste of my time, so I refuse to spend it, at the moment.

Somehow, it seems that you are suggesting that no one would be an expert - to what you would call expert - unless they could do the jo-trick, and it kind of begs the question, do you know anyone who can do it?

Rob

Ron Tisdale
03-15-2005, 12:31 PM
The next question is "Have you developed a practical method of demonstrating, teaching and helping others develop these skills"? I guess this is really the question I have been dancing around...it sounds as if this is what you are suggesting.....but I can't find where you come right out and say it.


Yes, I have heard good things about the methods he's used to introduce what he talks about to others. I'd recommend taking the time to see it if you can.

Ron

Mike Sigman
03-15-2005, 01:51 PM
So was there an "AHA" moment that gave you some insight? I *felt* a visiting Dan from Hombu Dojo use this sort of strength, therefore I knew for certain that it existed. Even though almost everyone I encountered in Aikido after that couldn't do it or could only do small parts of it, I already knew it existed, so I simply kept up the chase and kept looking. I get pieces here and pieces there. In several funny cases, I've learned some pieces that some real experts didn't know.... very few people have ALL the pieces of the possibilities, I think... and I've had something to trade. :) The next question is "Have you developed a practical method of demonstrating, teaching and helping others develop these skills"? Well, I think so. The real problem is that I can't just show someone how to do everything because they have to start with some do-able skills and then work their way up. A lot of the things, to work effectively, require a strong mid-section, a different way of using the back, some conditioning that is done with the breathing, etc.,... and those things take a little practice. It's like playing the guitar... I can't just show you how and then you know how to do it. ;)

FWIW

Mike

Mark Mueller
03-15-2005, 02:07 PM
"I can't just show you how and then you know how to do it. "

Well Darn! that's what I was hoping for......all the secrets tied up in one neat little bundle.

I will keep my fingers crossed...maybe our paths will cross..either in Durango or soemwhere else. Very interested in learning more.

mark

Mike Sigman
03-15-2005, 02:31 PM
"I can't just show you how and then you know how to do it. "

Well Darn! that's what I was hoping for......all the secrets tied up in one neat little bundle.

I will keep my fingers crossed...maybe our paths will cross..either in Durango or soemwhere else. Very interested in learning more. Actually, part of the real problem is that people CAN learn to do a fair amount of things or enough of some things that they think "I've got it". Then they never progress from the few bits and pieces (sort of like being able to do some of the "Ki tests".... interesting, but not necessarily very useful). The reason for this is that you have to take the time to imbue this literal "moving from the center" and associated mechanics into your movement. You have to quit moving the old way. I've worked with a few Aikido people (some of my best friends are Aikidoists ;) ) and they can't stop using their shoulders and get rid of the "Hakama Strut" ... the movements they've used for years on the mat are part of their ritualized motion and sometimes it's almost impossible to change. Aikido, like a lot of the arts involving "internal strength", is easy to learn wrong and then difficult to correct, IMO.

FWIW

Mike

rob_liberti
03-17-2005, 08:03 AM
Mark,

There is a term called makkyo which means false enlightenment. I've been there countless times in my training - and I'm sure I'm not done. Basically, I found something that worked for me at my level and started taking it to an extreme. Luckily I had the fortune of having a good student-teacher relationship with an excellent teacher or two or three. It is just as easy to blindly stay in surface-level nonsense as it is to dig-in so to speak and decide you found the answer and need not look any further. I just ask myself questions to try to stay honest at this point. Like in this example, I'd ask myself how much time should I devote to getting extremely strong and unified compared to the amount of time I should spend focused on getting to the right place in the right time such that I do not need so much excessive full body strength. I'd like both to an extreme, but considering the amount of time required, you might want to consider your priorities. For instance consider weapons practice: if the attacker has a knife, I'd probably want ot be able to move very quickly and well with regard to their movment much more than I'd want to be able to move very strongly. I suppose this leads me into thinking about sword practice. I sword practice, the amount of body retraining to swing a sword correctly - which is where a lot of aikido movement comes from as taught by Osensei at one point - is staggering. It's just that when doing sword, you are also focusing on distancing and timing and movement with the attacker - as something which is AT LEAST equally important. It is truly a shame that they stopped teaching sword in hombu dojo when Saotome sensei left.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-17-2005, 10:42 AM
I'm not sure anyone should be waiting for "enlightenment", whether false or not. If you're talking about various epiphanies, they happen all the time and some of them are, as noted, simply wrong. My suggestion would be to follow the most obvious logic trail:

A number of people, including me, have run into higher-level martial practitioners in Aikido or related arts who use a palpably different form of strength that is "softer" than normal strength and difficult to resist.

O-Sensei showed some unusual examples of this and various film clips record it. Tohei Sensei, Abe Sensei, and others use this form of strength. The obvious point is that Aikido contains this form of strength => if someone doesn't use this form of strength in their Aikido then their Aikido is not fully Aikido, but some approximation thereof. If someone can make the various techniques of Aikido work using normal strength, etc., is it the same thing? If someone has an "enlightenment" about what Aikido means (to them) philosophically, does that validate their Aikido?

If a teacher can't palpably be felt to have this form of strength, can't exhibit the simple "ki tests" and stuff Tohei does, then the teacher's Aikido must not be correct; is it time to look for someone who CAN exhibit and teach this form of strength.... because what is the point of learning Aikido which is using the wrong form of movement? Because it looks like Aikido, wears a black skirt, and does a lot of Japanese ritual, is it really Aikido? (Incidentally, these aren't tear-down questions, but think-questions).

If this type of strength is core to Aikido, is it better to practice wrong, imbuing the wrong power in each movement until it is absolutely fixed, or is the first priority to learn how to move with this form of strength? If you really understand this form of strength, you can exhibit it in all circumstances... it's not a matter of enlightenment. I remember an acqaintance of mine who told me over coffee one time how to do a certain type of power release. Listening to him I was sure he was just blathering, but I said, "OK, sounds interesting. Can you demonstrate on me how you do that?". His reply was, "Oh no, I can't do it myself, but I know how to coach people how to do it."

Look for the person who can do it.... let him/her tell you which way you should go. Don't wait for "enlightenment". The person who can't do it (or "can't do it yet... still learning") can't tell you the correct way to go. ;)

FWIW

Mike Sigman

rob_liberti
03-17-2005, 11:07 AM
You know I agree with everything you said. Absolutely, the term refers to those epiphanies that happen along the way that people get stuck on in their focus to the detriment of better progression.

Luckily, I have also met people who can use a palpably different form of strength that is "softer" than normal strength and difficult to resist. They also move really well.

Tieing this up, my point has been that the degree to which this softer than normal strength which is difficult to resist is necessary to develop is in question -- again due to my experience with actively seeking out aikido senseis who have it along with excellent movement, timing, judgment. I think focusing on developing that strength beyond a certain point is actually not taking me closer to where these individules have gone - which is through the levels of stages of aikido I outlined above.

The bottom line is that I only need so muh force/power to do things from the corect position to try to do that. Here is a simple analogy. Lifting a person up in the air is much easier to do when you are really close to them as opposed to being at arms length. Getting strong enough to lift the person at arms length - which would be similar to the extraordinary amount of power someone wuold need to develop to do the jo trick - is cool, but probably not the best approach if your intention is to lift people.

I totally agree that you should look for the person who can do it - and I'll add to look for as many of them who can do as much of it as possible who want to teach you.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-17-2005, 11:27 AM
You know I agree with everything you said. Absolutely, the term refers to those epiphanies that happen along the way that people get stuck on in their focus to the detriment of better progression.

Luckily, I have also met people who can use a palpably different form of strength that is "softer" than normal strength and difficult to resist. They also move really well.

Tieing this up, my point has been that the degree to which this softer than normal strength which is difficult to resist is necessary to develop is in question -- again due to my experience with actively seeking out aikido senseis who have it along with excellent movement, timing, judgment. I think focusing on developing that strength beyond a certain point is actually not taking me closer to where these individules have gone - which is through the levels of stages of aikido I outlined above. Well, possibly you're making a valid point, Rob, but also it's possible that you're trivializing the importance of this form of strength for some reason. Difficult to say. Can you give me the name of the teachers who you say you recognize as using this form of strength? I'd be interested in investigating some of this in Aikido, assuming the person is in the US, of course. The bottom line is that I only need so muh force/power to do things from the corect position to try to do that. Here is a simple analogy. Lifting a person up in the air is much easier to do when you are really close to them as opposed to being at arms length. Getting strong enough to lift the person at arms length - which would be similar to the extraordinary amount of power someone wuold need to develop to do the jo trick - is cool, but probably not the best approach if your intention is to lift people. Well, although I understand your perspective, I think that if you see it only as a way to do strength then you're missing some of the very important points. ;)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

rob_liberti
03-17-2005, 11:52 AM
Well, possibly you're making a valid point, Rob, but also it's possible that you're trivializing the importance of this form of strength for some reason.

Just the need to develop it beyond a certain degree.

Can you give me the name of the teachers who you say you recognize as using this form of strength?


I thought I mentioned several people on this thread already who exhibited strength which fit that definition (softer and hard to resist). A couple names that spring to mind would be Gleason sensei (who will be at the Aiki Expo), Charlie Page sensei, Pete Trimmer sensei, Ikeda sensei (who will be at the Aiki Expo), Saotome sensei, Endo sensei (who will be at the Aiki Expo), Rasso Hultgren sensei, and George Ledyard sensei (who will be at the Aiki Expo). I'm sure there are others who are not in the ASU, I just haven't felt them in a while. Maybe you should go to the Aiki Expo. I doubt any of these people can do the jo trick, but the power of their movement results in strength that is softer and hard to resist. Beyond what they can do, I'm not certain it's so important to to develop that kind of strength.

I think that if you see it only as a way to do strength then you're missing some of the very important points. ;)


Of course. Conversely, I think that if you see developing "it" as the "core" of aikido to the exclusion of the other "core" principles you're missing some of the very important points ;)

Rob

Mark Mueller
03-17-2005, 12:36 PM
Rob,

I practiced Aikido for 15 years...I too had some great teachers including Bob Galeone and several of the senior yudansha at Saotome's dojo in DC. I'm sure you and I might have crossed hands at one of the winter or summer camps in DC. I have found the aikido stuff extremely useful in the context of Aikido.... and I learned alot about posture, movement, timing, etc in that time. A major emphasis at Bob's dojo was on bokken work and Saotome's paired kumi-tachi....I don't know if that qualifies as "real" sword work but I learned alot from it.

I learned a LOT more in a short period of time boxing....but maybe that's because I applied a lot of what I learned in Aikido...I also found it much more intellectually honest.....I went back to Aikido for a short while but found a lot to question...and rather than prod the established Aikido Hierachy I went out and attempted to find stuff on my own.

Am I still looking...yes, somewhat...and when Mike voices some ideas that I had carried around in my head for awhile...I listen. Am I still a little skeptical...Hell, I am a LOT skeptical (evidently "LOT" is my favorite word today) but he has not come across as belligerent..only willing to defend his position...and I will give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that I can run across him someday and see if his "stuff" works for me...he seems to be a little vague on details...but I am willing to buy into his argument that it is hard to explain and works better in demonstration.


Regards,

Mark

Mike Sigman
03-17-2005, 12:38 PM
I think that if you see developing "it" as the "core" of aikido to the exclusion of the other "core" principles you're missing some of the very important points ;) Well, I place the same amount of importance on this "it" as the Asians do, Rob. I suspect that we're talking past each other on exactly what this "it" is, based on some of the names you used, but be that as it may. It's possible to use Romanji to write Japanese, but it misses both the point and the effectiveness in comparison to learning katakana, hiragana, and kanji. What is the point in learning sentence construction, pluralization, etc., when you never really learned the alphabet? (horrible analogies, I know... but you get the point) ;)

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
03-17-2005, 12:41 PM
he seems to be a little vague on details...but I am willing to buy into his argument that it is hard to explain and works better in demonstration. It's sort of like riding a bicycle... imagine trying to write a description clearly enough so that someone will know how to do it. ;) It's not rocket science, but if you've never done it before.....

Mike

rob_liberti
03-17-2005, 12:43 PM
Maybe we are talking past each other. I'll try to clarify. To extend your analogy, whats the point of spending years of dedicated focus learning every single kanji and where they came from to the point you never had time to actually use them, as opposed to learning enough to be functional and actually use the language?

Rob

rob_liberti
03-17-2005, 01:01 PM
Mark,

I'm sure we trained together or in the same room at one point. I'm terrible with names.

I would say that aikiken kumitachi is not real sword, and I think so would Saotome sensei. They are useful kata. Most people practice them too close, too mechanically/artificially, and with no foundation like you might get if you actually studied something like kashimashindoryu.

I don't know Bob Galeone very well, but I can say that from what I have personally experienced with him, I can say that I do not agree with some of his opinions about aikido. Also, I like boxing very much too - although I'm more interested in aikido. I'm certain that Mike's stuff works to a point and I'm NOT intending to suggest that he is being belligerant on this thread. I do think that the degree to which he developed his stuff is not the *exclusive* "core" of aikido. Just one example of why I think that is that I do think that Saotome sensei's movement is mastery level aikido, and that he probably can't do the jo trick.

I can appreciate dissatisfaction with the way some/most people teach and do aikido - really. On of the problems is that teaching aikido doesn't really teach people how to be good teachers - and there are a whole lot of people who have been misled by their own false perception, or by their teacher's or by a combination of the both. I am certainly not immune to that. I just go see as many people as possible and try to train as honestly (yet as safely and level-appropriately) as I can. I've seen a lot more people's aikido than the folks I've mentioned in the ASU, and I think I have a farily decent idea of where I need to train. I do think some of the things Mike talks abotu would be very helpful. I just don't agree with to what degree it should be focused on.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-17-2005, 02:36 PM
Maybe we are talking past each other. I'll try to clarify. To extend your analogy, whats the point of spending years of dedicated focus learning every single kanji and where they came from to the point you never had time to actually use them, as opposed to learning enough to be functional and actually use the language? Well, at the moment, I'll leave it the idea that we're talking past each other. As I said in a previous post, there is an inescapable logic to these things. If you understand part of it well, all else makes sense. If you don't understand it, then there will be a continual talking past each other.

Regards,

Mike

rob_liberti
03-17-2005, 02:47 PM
If you understand part of it well, all else makes sense.

When I think something like that about aikido, my critical mind starts going into deep makkyo detection mode.

Also, I know plenty of Asians, none of the ones I know seem to express your particular views.

Well, good luck.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-17-2005, 03:40 PM
Also, I know plenty of Asians, none of the ones I know seem to express your particular views. Actually, I knew plenty of Asians before I knew what I know now, and none of them voiced what I'm voicing. However, when I discuss what I know now with Asians who really know this topic, they often shrug and say, "Of course". And they still don't want to offer up too much. ;)

But, now we're into unproductive exchanges. Let's just leave it that you're downplaying the importance of something, while not giving much indication that you really understand the topic, and I'm simply holding the position (as I have for years) that skills in Ki-related things is actually more significant in a tangible way than most of us realized for years. There will be a tendency to defend what we know, think we know, knew, etc., before accepting the idea that we err... that's human... but the question I once asked before is still relevant, "Do we go on as usual, playing to our peers and to neophytes, or do we back up and correct things so that our performances will impress the real experts?".

I'm still a little vague on who learned how much from whom, but it now seems clear that people like Abe Sensei, Tohei Sensei, and some others developed various levels of ability in these skills, while at the same time, others in the hierarchy accomplished some general but limited levels of skill. To me it's simply a curiosity. I don't have any position or status in the Aikido community that I need to protect, so perhaps I'm being needlessly offhand about an issue that would cause concern in the Aikido community if it became a wholesale discussion. :cool:

FWIW

Mike

rob_liberti
03-17-2005, 04:19 PM
Hi Mike,

I have no status I need to protect either. I simply don't accept your slant on our exchanges, what it seems like your particular view on what is the main "core" of aikido and to what degree it should be developed compared to other things, your corroboration or your assurances. No hard feelings. I'm not convinced. How productive you make it is up to you.

Like maybe you have not considered that the Asians you know, probably run in the same martial arts circles you are interested in, so of course they are going to see things more similar to the way you see them. While maybe some other Asians might also be in the know - but happen to prioritize things a bit differently.

I have honestly continued to add additional thoughts and insight as to why I am not a believer based on experiences that might be useful to at least someone else who reads this thread. They or you might never have heard the term makkyo before, and it might help them. They or you might be incredibly strong in functional kokyu power and they might read this exchange and say to themselves "Hmm. I've devoted 30+ years of my focus to this, and I'm probably powerful enough to at least attempt to move on to the third level of aikido development that Rob listed. Maybe getting any more powerful is just a total waste of time compared to the other things I need to work on." Maybe it would help. Of course I don't honestly *know*. What I do know hasn't jived with what you know. That seemed like a valuable contribution to a forum based thread.

There is no need for you to defend your point further with the same points. If you get some inspiration about how to attempt to convince me further -and you have the inclination, please by all means go ahead.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-17-2005, 04:23 PM
What i do know hasn't jived what you know. That seemed like a valuable contribution to a forum based thread. Thanks. I agree.

Regards,

Mike

Mike Sigman
03-17-2005, 05:28 PM
I've devoted 30+ years of my focus to this, and I'm probably powerful enough to at least attempt to move on to the third level of aikido development that Rob listed. Maybe getting any more powerful is just a total waste of time compared to the other things I need to work on." Maybe it would help. Of course I don't honestly *know*. What I do know hasn't jived with what you know. That seemed like a valuable contribution to a forum based thread.

There is no need for you to defend your point further with the same points. If you get some inspiration about how to attempt to convince me further -and you have the inclination, please by all means go ahead. I was thinking of a way to shortcut these discussions to some degree, in order to save time. In essence, the basic commentary from a lot of people seems to be this: "O-Sensei, Tohei, and others did 'parlour tricks' that are interesting but not particularly germane to "Real Aikido" (TM) like I do. What I do is indeed Aikido and if I wanted to learn those somewhat unimportant parlour tricks and display them, I easily could, but it's got little to do with the bulk of Aikido, even if O-Sensei (who produced an art I claim to love and respect) did them to emphasize some point, etc."

Of course, the only thing someone making these claims about how unimportant these ki things are needs to do is show the "tricks" as offhandedly as they dismiss the study of how to do them as not very important. ;)

As I've noted, Rob... these things are not just about "power". If it was just "power", we'd all go to the local sports club and that's what Ueshiba would have recommended. Instead, he recommended Mishogi and gave a couple of other pointers. I think what has been misleading for so many people is that Ueshiba said very little about HOW to do these things and only showed them sparingly... the mistake was to assume that he didn't place much importance in them. If I had to point at any real contributing factor, it would be that one. The counter-factor would be that Tohei, Abe, and others sought this stuff out for themselves when they saw they couldn't get it from Ueshiba.

Insofar as convincing you, I have no intention of doing that. I pointed out previously that the idea of substantive Ki things was outright rejected by a lot of people 20 years ago and they have passed beyond ever learning them. That was their choice and I simply watch it as an outsider... nothing more. :cool:

FWIW

Mike Sigman

rob_liberti
03-18-2005, 09:16 AM
Well, that certainly inspires my thoughts, but I'm not sure it will get you your desired goal of shortening the discussion. Well, here are my thoughts:

if I wanted to learn those somewhat unimportant parlour tricks and display them, I easily could

Who thinks that? No one claimed that they could easily do the jo-trick.


, but it's got little to do with the bulk of Aikido, even if O-Sensei (who produced an art I claim to love and respect) did them to emphasize some point, etc."


Maybe that's some other people's take, it was not mine. First off, O-sensei who produced an art I do claim to love and respect ALSO DID OTHER THINGS TO EMPHASIZE *OTHER* POINTS. (Please note those CAPS are not meant to mean yelling but rather to really try to get your full attention to apoint I think you are missing.)

My take on that particular point has consistently been that of course that type of integration is necessary - but probably not to the absurd degree that O-sensei was demonstrating because:
1) O-sensei outlined 3 levels of progression where the level you are talking about is level 2.
2) Several people can clearly demonstrate that they have made it to that 3rd level who cannot do the jo-trick.
3) In my personal experience, I have learned many things where I thought "wow I really have something here" and then I focused on it to the point is started becoming a crutch. I saw there were things my aikido teachers could do that I couldn't do - even with my new "crutch" so I had to admit I was focusing on something that was no longer helping me progress. I've seen many students and many teachers go through that time and again. I've seen many people not realise that they were stuck and they just stagnate - lost in their ego attachment to the depths of understanding they have with regard to their "crutch". From my specific experiences, most people get stuck in some degree of that shin-shin toitsu level. That crutch is extremely appealing to the ego because they did need to do quite a bit of work to get there, and well now that they got something they like it and kid themselves into not growing further - or at least in any other way.
4) Osensei explained that we should not try to do what he did before, but instead should focus on what he was doing closer to the end of his life. My experience leads me to believe that he probably went through a somewhat similar type of progression, and was trying to help us avoid getting stuck in taking any one aspect absurdly far like do the jo-trick.


Of course, the only thing someone making these claims about how unimportant these ki things are needs to do is show the "tricks" as offhandedly as they dismiss the study of how to do them as not very important. ;)

Again, maybe you are not talking about my posts, but just in case. While *I* think they are important skills and have consistenly expressed interest in how to do them, it's a matter of *priority*. For example, I'd rather be able to move effortlessly around 5 people trying to hit me with shinai like Saotome sensei does BEFORE I consentrate too much on being able to resist 3 people pushing the end of jo while I resist by holding the other end. There is no doubt in my mind about which of those two skills has the best chance of saving my life.


As I've noted, Rob... these things are not just about "power". If it was just "power", we'd all go to the local sports club and that's what Ueshiba would have recommended.

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and say that I think the jo-trick is an amazing display of ability to resist power more than anything else. Regardless, no one has made any such claim that it was just the kind of power you could develop in a local sports l cub. The topic at hand is the power of mind-body unification with regard to martial principles.


Instead, he recommended Mishogi and gave a couple of other pointers.

Some of those misogi recommendations were mulitfaceted, Mike. For instance, I have been told that at one point they spent 8 hours a say doing ikkyo, everyday for 6 months straight. Sure that is misogi and hisogi, and certainly that develops shin-shin toitsu, but IT ALSO DEVELOPS OTHER ASPECTS of aikido. I'm going to go with that he probably felt he was making a strong recommendation about where he thought people needed to focus their training when he did things like that too...

I think what has been misleading for so many people is that Ueshiba said very little about HOW to do these things and only showed them sparingly... the mistake was to assume that he didn't place much importance in them.

Another potential mistake is to place TOO MUCH importance on them - where too much is defined by how much is needed to continue on to other aspects which are appropriate for your level. You can and probably should go back and continue to develop these things - but it seems remarkably more reasonable that effectively learning aikido would be more of an itterative process than a linear sequential one. That's how it's been for everyone I have ever met - especially the ones who have made a lot of progress.


If I had to point at any real contributing factor, it would be that one. The counter-factor would be that Tohei, Abe, and others sought this stuff out for themselves when they saw they couldn't get it from Ueshiba.

At what point in their training/development? The other side of that point would be that others potentially didn't seek this out because they had all the shin-shin toitsu development they needed for both their martial and spiritual practice - and while more kokyu power would be nice, there were more important priorities given the whole picture.


Insofar as convincing you, I have no intention of doing that.

Well I thank you for your discussion anyway.


I pointed out previously that the idea of substantive Ki things was outright rejected by a lot of people 20 years ago and they have passed beyond ever learning them.

That is interesting. I hear that type of sentiment often, and I have trouble relating to it. I've leaned/relearned how to go about walking 3 times now. Once as a child like everyone else. Then, after a echo virus I had to relearn but I didn't do a great job teaching myself again as I was only 9. Then at around 26, I found I had to correct the problems with my walking because I had been moving my shoulders and hips on the same side together since I was 9 and I found it was hurting my aikido development. Then when I was 30, I it started learning more about reflexive moment and started relearning walking again. I walk a lot, so I find a lot of time to practice. I guess I guess I can't relate to the idea of not being able to retrain movement. I retrain movements in aikido constantly. Gleason sensei's excellent yet a bit frustrating approach to teaching is kind of set up to give you something and then pull the rug out from you and then give you something with a bit more depth, and the process continues for quite a while. I don't know. the itterative approach makes a lot of sense to me, since I can only learn so much at a time.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-18-2005, 10:56 AM
From my specific experiences, most people get stuck in some degree of that shin-shin toitsu level. I agree that most people get stuck where they are and consider it the best place to be... or else THEY wouldn't be there. You're attempting to distort what I'm saying and have already said a number of times, Rob. I've never said that all of Aikido is Ki and Kokyu. What I'm saying is that it's such an integral part that you can't have one without the other. If you look at a post of mine from some weeks ago, I summed it up with the saying "technique without internal strength is no good; internal strength without technique is no good". You're attempting to minimize the second part of that statement, calling it a "crutch", etc. While *I* think they are important skills and have consistenly expressed interest in how to do them, it's a matter of *priority*. For example, I'd rather be able to move effortlessly around 5 people trying to hit me with shinai like Saotome sensei does BEFORE I consentrate too much on being able to resist 3 people pushing the end of jo while I resist by holding the other end. There is no doubt in my mind about which of those two skills has the best chance of saving my life. I recently watched and listened to the teacher at a dojo who was explaining techniques, how to strike, correct body alignment, how all these fit into self-defense applications, etc., etc. However, while he was demonstrating he did the stiff, curved-in back that seems to be so de rigeur amongst western Aikidoka, he pirouetted smoothly and beautifully in a way my little sister could have off-balanced, he planted his weight into the wrong foot on his suburi strokes, etc. I.e., he didn't really know squat about the how's and why's of basic body mechanics, regardless of his spiel and students taking dives for him. Would you shrug off the body mechanics because he was agile and could irimi and tenkan, etc.? No? Well, when you understand the inseparable relationships between technique, body mechanics, Ki, and Kokyu, you might not be so hasty to treat them as separate issues. Aikido, ki, and kokyu are inseparable. External techniques are indeed separable from ki and kokyu. ;)

FWIW

Mike

Ron Tisdale
03-18-2005, 11:12 AM
4) Osensei explained that we should not try to do what he did before, but instead should focus on what he was doing closer to the end of his life.

/off topic/ I'm sorry...is there a source for this statement? I've seen it paraphrased more than once...but I never see a source associated with it. /on topic/

I understand what you are saying Rob, and generally tend to agree...

Thanks,
Ron

rob_liberti
03-18-2005, 11:32 AM
Mike, I think this is a good example of talking past each other, but I'll try to calrify.

You're attempting to distort what I'm saying and have already said a number of times, Rob.

I am? This was not and still is not my intention. I do admit that it never occured to me that what you said was to be left pure. I suppose that's because of my take on what a forum is.

I've never said that all of Aikido is Ki and Kokyu. What I'm saying is that it's such an integral part that you can't have one without the other. If you look at a post of mine from some weeks ago, I summed it up with the saying "technique without internal strength is no good; internal strength without technique is no good". You're attempting to minimize the second part of that statement, calling it a "crutch", etc.

That's really not what I said, what I meant, or what I was attempting to do. I'm only going to bring this up to support my stance - as opposed to just picking on you. You have told me what I am attempting to do a couple times here and it wasn't right. I bring this up because maybe if you can see that you do jump to conclusions about some things, it might logically follow that you may not be on as solid ground as you think you are on other things - like the topic at hand.

What I was saying was that there are degrees of things. While a certain degree of ki and kokyu power are absolutely required for aikido, developing these very important things to the absurd degree of being able to do the jo-trick is in all probability not required for aikido. There are other aspects. Focusing on developing ki and kokyu power to the absurd degree will take time and energy away from developing other aspects.

If you don't get to the level of being able to do the jo-trick but you have developed your kokyu power way beyond many other people - and you have done that at the expense of learning other equally important aspects of aikido such as distancing, timing, blending, etc. and that results in you not standing in the optimal place and just using your excessive amount of kokyu power to make things work out - I call that a "crutch".

I hope that clears this misunderstanding up.

Lastly, I never said that technique, body mechanics, Ki, and Kokyu, are separate issues. I agree that aikido, ki, and kokyu are inseparable and that external techniques are indeed separable from ki and kokyu - and never said or thought otherwise.

Rob

rob_liberti
03-18-2005, 11:35 AM
Ron,

Good point. I'll investigate it.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-18-2005, 02:17 PM
While a certain degree of ki and kokyu power are absolutely required for aikido, developing these very important things to the absurd degree of being able to do the jo-trick is in all probability not required for aikido. There are other aspects. Focusing on developing ki and kokyu power to the absurd degree will take time and energy away from developing other aspects.

If you don't get to the level of being able to do the jo-trick but you have developed your kokyu power way beyond many other people - and you have done that at the expense of learning other equally important aspects of aikido such as distancing, timing, blending, etc. and that results in you not standing in the optimal place and just using your excessive amount of kokyu power to make things work out - I call that a "crutch". Why is doing the jo-trick an "absurd degree" of ki and kokyu, Rob? We can lay it to the side, if you wish, but I don't consider that it's an "absurd degree". If there were any "absurd" factors in O-Sensei doing that trick, they were more in relation to the heavy implements and the Aikido he trained with, etc., that gave him the unusual wrists to support the kokyu power at the weakest point of that trick. Forget that trick and quit using it as a "crutch" in your argument. ;) Look at the other "tricks" he did.... they really weren't absurd, they were just demonstrations of the level he know how to train to or that he figured out how to train to, as a complement he considered necessary for his other Aikido skills. Think about Abe Sensei swinging a 40-pound suburito, for a second... do you consider that to be "an absurd degree" of training? As I've indicated before, a goodly portion of Asian martial arts is what they for training tricks on the side. Tricks for developing ki and kokyu, because they're so important, are closely guarded secrets throughout Asian martial arts... the western mistake was to attribute the lack of information about Ki and Kokyu for meaning that they weren't as important as the techniques and role-playing. :)

FWIW

Mike

rob_liberti
03-18-2005, 03:00 PM
Why is doing the jo-trick an "absurd degree" of ki and kokyu, Rob?

Maybe I'm arguing an absurdity here. I'm acutally not sure I can explain it to you. I thought you'd take that as a given. I suppose because no one to my knowledge has ever displayed their ability to do it since O-sensei (not even Tohei sensei). Again, to my knowledge, no one has ever displayed their ability to do it before him either. Do you know some people who can perform the jo-trick? Surely, some of those Asians in your circles must have more favoriable body-types for such a demonstration.

The uchideshi in Suganuma sensei's dojo were lifting a extra-large and very heavy suburi-to similar I'm sure to what Abe sensei uses. They would sit in seiza and lift it with one hand, and explain that it is similar to doing kokyu tanden ho. One of my sempai showed me how to do it and I've been practicing myself with my extra heavy suburi-to which is made out of cedar, as think as my leg, and maybe as long. As easily as I can move that around, I still can't do the jo-trick, so the point is that there are degrees. Many people couldn't lift my sword up over their head with one hand, and nobody but 1 person that I am aware of in history could do the jo-trick (to the degree that it was done). That was the point I was highlighting - that there are levels - and that how much you focus on developing past a certain level as opposed to moving on to something else is matter of your priorities.

the western mistake was to attribute the lack of information about Ki and Kokyu for meaning that they weren't as important as the techniques and role-playing.

I hear you, and just to keep it balanced, I'll reiterate too. A human mistake is to find something important and focus on it to the exclusion of other aspects which are at least equally important.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-18-2005, 08:59 PM
Maybe I'm arguing an absurdity here. I'm acutally not sure I can explain it to you. I thought you'd take that as a given. I suppose because no one to my knowledge has ever displayed their ability to do it since O-sensei (not even Tohei sensei). Again, to my knowledge, no one has ever displayed their ability to do it before him either. Do you know some people who can perform the jo-trick? Surely, some of those Asians in your circles must have more favoriable body-types for such a demonstration. Actually, all the "tricks" Ueshiba did are copies of well-known Chinese demonstrations of "ki" or are simply variants adjusted for Aikido. The "jo tricks" (there are 2 different ones from either side that O-Sensei did) are essentially showing that you can withstand a push from the side of the arm and most of the other tricks (that I can remember offhand) are ways of "taking a push" from the front, on the head, etc. Kokyu throws are using this same ability/skill as a "push", i.e., in the outgoing direction. So when you indicate you don't know anyone else that can do it, I can tell you that I've seen people stretch their arm out comfortably and relaxedly and take pushes to the side of the arm and I've seen one person use an outstretched sword for the same demo. O-Sensei also demonstrated bringing 4 people down ("throw" them) along the length of a jo, but in a way it's the same idea and it's meant to show that he is "extending" his power not just locally but along the entire length of the jo.

I hasten to add a couple of caveats about the push-from-the-side jo tricks:
1.) O-Sensei was only 5-feet tall and had a history of being very conditioned his whole life. I.e., your comment about "favorable body types" is indeed germane because people with very short limbs can do things that longer-limbed people can't do (if you ever had the opportunity to watch short, strong people do astonishing numbers of pull-ups or push-ups, you know what I mean).

2.) Some allowance has to be made for how hard the uchi-deshi were actually pushing against the jo ... much in the same way one can validly ask how realistically the "attacks" against Nage often are.

Those things being said, my response to you is that while the jo-trick shows well-developed power, it is not something I would categorize by saying I've never seen anyone do anything like the jo-trick, because I recognize it as a good exhibition of power, but not unique in Asian martial arts. The uchideshi in Suganuma sensei's dojo were lifting a extra-large and very heavy suburi-to similar I'm sure to what Abe sensei uses. They would sit in seiza and lift it with one hand, and explain that it is similar to doing kokyu tanden ho. One of my sempai showed me how to do it and I've been practicing myself with my extra heavy suburi-to which is made out of cedar, as thick as my leg, and maybe as long. As easily as I can move that around, I still can't do the jo-trick, so the point is that there are degrees. I know weight lifters that can lift very large amounts of weight in the way you're describing, but they can't do the jo-trick, either. The point is that these uses of power are a different way of approaching strength; kokyu, ki, etc., is not normal strength. My response to you would be to ask you to describe how to lift the suburito in the correct manner. As I've said, there's only one way to do these things... and I can quickly tell if you're doing it correctly and probably gauge to what extent you understand the mechanics. :) Many people couldn't lift my sword up over their head with one hand, and nobody but 1 person that I am aware of in history could do the jo-trick (to the degree that it was done). That was the point I was highlighting - that there are levels - and that how much you focus on developing past a certain level as opposed to moving on to something else is matter of your priorities. If you're moving correctly and doing an acceptable amount of correct training over an extended period of years you should be able to do a rudimentary level (at least) of the "jo trick". Sure, if you train for it specifically you can do it better, but the training that enables you to do the jo trick also makes your Aikido better, so it's not a waste of priorities.

What I'm saying is in a way not necessarily counter to what you're proposing, but I'm saying that someone who does good basic Aikido should as a matter of course be able to do the "ki tricks" of Tohei or be able to understand and replicate to some moderate degree the "jo trick". It's not that far fetched, Rob. I hear you, and just to keep it balanced, I'll reiterate too. A human mistake is to find something important and focus on it to the exclusion of other aspects which are at least equally important. On the one hand, I'm suggesting things that are backed up by film-clips, etc., and you're attempting to counter with an unsupported rhetorical assertion of a possibility. I.e., there is apodictic proof that Ueshiba, Tohei, et al considered ki/kokyu things as important, but you're not supporting your contention that there are limits beyond which you shouldn't focus, other than the rough idea in common sense... and I've never implied that one should be silly. However, I'll repeat something I said once before... Ki and kokyu things are considered so important that to one degree or another you find them in almost all Asian arts. Aikido is not so importantly perceived by all Asian arts, so maybe your weighting is a bit off and maybe Tohei's weighting of importance is close to the truth than many of us believe. It's an interesting thought, ne?

Mike

Pauliina Lievonen
03-19-2005, 05:11 AM
A quick question from the sidelines - is there a photo or a clip of the jo trick or something similar on the net somewhere? So I can understand what you guys are talking about? I know i've seen it sometime but it was a long time ago and I'm hazy on the detail. Thanks. :)

kvaak
Pauliina

rob_liberti
03-19-2005, 06:34 AM
Well, I'm okay with that explanation. After reading that explanaiton of what you mean, I don't feel I need to support what I'm saying since you are doing it well for me. Yes, being able to do some rudimentry version of the jo-trick and moving on is probably a much better plan than actually focusing on being able to perform it to the absurdly strong degree that O-sensei was doing it. Some rudimentry ability to resist a push using your whole body and mind integration as well a doing throws in this way is probably enough. Going beyond some rudimentry level is probaby overkill. I think we are on the same page.

By the way, I can't lift the suburi-to with just my typical arm strength. From a physics point of view, it seems that I get a bit of momentum lifting the handle up my centerline (with my palm basically up underneath the sword handle) and then I have no idea how my muscles really behave after that. I don't know how to directly consciously control them. What I need to do is imagine that I'm closing each finger, one after another starting from my pinky, and then I imagine that the last finger in that sequence is way at the tip of the sword. It pops right up. Somehow that visualation helps me to recruit smaller muscles along the needed path/flow. While I do this kind of stuff in most of my aikido techniques, I don't think I could resist a push to an extened jo staff if I were holding it like O-sensei shows. (I can, of one of the 3 people pulls instead of pushes!). I think my time is better spent at this point working on leading from hara and then supporting that macro-movement with these body-art micromovements. Many of the people I know who can do wonderful feats of kokyu power exibitions are really just not that good at moving around people - and when I see that I always wonder why they continue to spend their focus there. Wouldn't it be better to be in such a good place that so much power is not needed? Well, that's just my take on aikido as an art of dealing with multiple attackers.

Rob

Paulina, Mike provided a link to a picture on an earlier jo-trick thread, where he was looking for different pictures.

Mike Sigman
03-19-2005, 08:50 AM
A quick question from the sidelines - is there a photo or a clip of the jo trick or something similar on the net somewhere? So I can understand what you guys are talking about? I know i've seen it sometime but it was a long time ago and I'm hazy on the detail. Thanks. :) Try this one to get an idea. I'm having some trouble with my ftp site, but it should work:

http://www.neijia.com/backJoStart.JPG


Mike

Mike Sigman
03-19-2005, 09:02 AM
Well, I'm okay with that explanation. After reading that explanaiton of what you mean, I don't feel I need to support what I'm saying since you are doing it well for me. Yes, being able to do some rudimentry version of the jo-trick and moving on is probably a much better plan than actually focusing on being able to perform it to the absurdly strong degree that O-sensei was doing it. None of us know how "absurdly strong" O-Sensei's demonstration was because we don't accurately know the amount of force the uchi-deshi were really applying. Probably, after having watched a number of these demo's on film and after having spent many years watching cooperative students in Asian martial arts like Aikido, the amount of force was relatively small in relation to the histrionics. Some rudimentry ability to resist a push using your whole body and mind integration as well a doing throws in this way is probably enough. Going beyond some rudimentry level is probaby overkill. I think we are on the same page. To me that is like saying "rudimentary attention to posture and body mechanics is probably all you need". I think you perceive this still as a minor additive component, still. It is a large part of the "Do", Rob. At higher levels, even the fingers are closed with this power; no movement is too small to be contained in your Ki. By the way, I can't lift the suburi-to with just my typical arm strength. From a physics point of view, it seems that I get a bit of momentum lifting the handle up my centerline (with my palm basically up underneath the sword handle) and then I have no idea how my muscles really behave after that. I don't know how to directly consciously control them. What I need to do is imagine that I'm closing each finger, one after another starting from my pinky, and then I imagine that the last finger in that sequence is way at the tip of the sword. It pops right up. Somehow that visualation helps me to recruit smaller muscles along the needed path/flow. I think we're just talking past each other on this one, Rob.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Ellis Amdur
03-19-2005, 10:50 AM
Terry Dobson told me that Ueshiba M. would never use him for the jo demo, leaving him to sit alone while he used the other (all Japanese) uchi-deshi. He was convinced that the old man new that Terry wouldn't collude with the game and would simply push him over, unlike his Japanese comrades who simply fixed their posture and played the game. "So one day I just had it! He was doing this demo on stage, and he had three or four guys pushing. I jumped up and just threw myself in an airborne cross-body block right across their backs. I bounced off. Osensei just glanced at me on the floor - looked kinda pissed off, actually."

Yes, I know. There's no film record, Terry was probably deluded or on drugs or making it up or it was a function of the bracing power of the uchi-deshi trying to hard to pretend to be unable to move . . . .but that's what he told me.

Best

Ellis Amdur

Mike Sigman
03-19-2005, 10:54 AM
Ellis, you are one of the few reasons I have any respect for Aikido in the U.S. And I mean that. Good to see you post.

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
03-19-2005, 06:00 PM
Terry Dobson told me that Ueshiba M. would never use him for the jo demo, leaving him to sit alone while he used the other (all Japanese) uchi-deshi. He was convinced that the old man new that Terry wouldn't collude with the game and would simply push him over, unlike his Japanese comrades who simply fixed their posture and played the game. "So one day I just had it! He was doing this demo on stage, and he had three or four guys pushing. I jumped up and just threw myself in an airborne cross-body block right across their backs. I bounced off. Osensei just glanced at me on the floor - looked kinda pissed off, actually." It dawns on me that to be fair, I should mention my impressions from watching the filmclips of O-Sensei doing this trick. Actually, he was showing an amount of power that was impressive... the mistake was that his demonstration was a little over-the-top, in my opinion.

Take the example of Tohei standing on one leg while his partner pushes against his forearm... it shows a good command of kokyu/ki strength, but if he'd done it with 15 guys in a line pushing against him, he'd have lost the import of what he was doing in the showmanship.

What Ueshiba did (I'm thinking of the clearest film clip that I've seen: http://www.neijia.com/jotrick2.avi ), regardless of the over-acting of the Uke, was actually pretty good. I'm impressed. Particularly at how powerful he is for his age. Heaven knows what he was like in his 40's and 50's. Yes, I know. There's no film record, Terry was probably deluded or on drugs or making it up or it was a function of the bracing power of the uchi-deshi trying to hard to pretend to be unable to move . . . .but that's what he told me. Yeah, you rogue. You should apologize to the True Believers (TM) on this forum. ;)

Incidentally, one of the impetuses of my taking another look at the extent of Ki in Aikido, etc., was in the story you told about Wang Xu Jin and Chiba where Wang said something like "you have some ki; come back when you have more". That told me that there was more to it than I had been allowing for.

FWIW

Mike

rob_liberti
03-21-2005, 09:12 AM
Right, so on a scale of 0 to 1,000,000 where 0 is dead and 1,000,000 is the absurd degree of resistance ability that would have Terry Dobson bounding off the backs of the ukes, I'd put 'some rudimentary ability to resist a push' closer to "1,000" than near the "1,000,000" mark.


I never questioned the idea that having more effective training methods of kokyu power would be desireable. I suppose, to each his own interpretation of what is most important about the core of aikido based on ALL of what O-sensei said and did. I will certainly give you that the ability to manifest kokyu power to a certain degree is core to aikido and even that degree is a bit lacking in many aikido dojos. I'm not sure why you don't seem to agree that after some degree of development in that area, there are other things that generally require some attention and focus especially since you can always go back and work on increasing kokyu power when you are hitting plateaus in those other areas.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-21-2005, 09:38 AM
Right, so on a scale of 0 to 1,000,000 where 0 is dead and 1,000,000 is the absurd degree of resistance ability that would have Terry Dobson bounding off the backs of the ukes, I'd put 'some rudimentary ability to resist a push' closer to "1,000" than near the "1,000,000" mark. Sorry... I'm a bit thick I guess, but I can't fully understand what you're saying. Let me be a little clearer in expressing my estimation. In my considered opinion, the amount of resistance I can see O-Sensei demonstrate in that film clip (and in others, as well as still pictures) is not up to what the general appearance of the demonstration indicates. However, the amount of relaxed force he is able to generate, even at an advanced age, is remarkable. A meaningless numbers comparison might be: his demonstration indicated he could resist a force of 10 (on a 1-to-10 chart), but in reality he could only do 5; most people can't do 2. I never questioned the idea that having more effective training methods of kokyu power would be desireable. I suppose, to each his own interpretation of what is most important about the core of aikido based on ALL of what O-sensei said and did. I will certainly give you that the ability to manifest kokyu power to a certain degree is core to aikido and even that degree is a bit lacking in many aikido dojos. I'm not sure why you don't seem to agree that after some degree of development in that area, there are other things that generally require some attention and focus especially since you can always go back and work on increasing kokyu power when you are hitting plateaus in those other areas. As I've suggested in earlier posts, I think you can, for the purposes of discussion, break most Asian martial arts into (1.) conditioning and (2.) techniques and strategy. But in reality you can't separate the two. An absurdly extreme example is a boxer who has been laid up for 3 months with hepatitis and is weak as a sick puppy... no matter how much he has developed his punch, without the physical conditioning to support it, he has nothing. On a more moderate level, I would suggest that an increase in Aikido technique cannot be separated from in increase in kokyu power and ki.

My opinion, FWIW

Mike

rob_liberti
03-21-2005, 10:09 AM
his demonstration indicated he could resist a force of 10 (on a 1-to-10 chart), but in reality he could only do 5; most people can't do 2.

Any scale which suggests degree of that kind of ability is fine with me. On that scale, if Terry Dobson bouncing off the backs of the pushers is a 5, I'd say that you are right that people including most aikido experts are not at 2. I don't think that translates into those people not really being experts at aikido. I think it may translate into some people not understanding how other aspects are integrated with using only as much power as actually needed.

There is a Japanese term "tsuri tsugi" (I hope I romanized that well) and it basically means over done, as in too much spice in the soup. I think Ron understood what I was talking about.

Rob

Ron Tisdale
03-21-2005, 10:30 AM
I did...I've had this same discussion before, and spoke of the fractured nature of what I see as the various skills in aikido. Sword work, kokyu, ki, technique, martial complexity, philosophical...many of the icons in the art chose certain aspects to focus on...not necessarily to the exclusion of all others, but you certainly see a focus. That does not mean they are not doing 'aikido', whatever that is or however someone may chose to define it.

For whatever it may be worth,
Ron

PS Ellis, another great story!
RT

Mike Sigman
03-21-2005, 11:33 AM
I did...I've had this same discussion before, and spoke of the fractured nature of what I see as the various skills in aikido. Sword work, kokyu, ki, technique, martial complexity, philosophical...many of the icons in the art chose certain aspects to focus on...not necessarily to the exclusion of all others, but you certainly see a focus. That does not mean they are not doing 'aikido', whatever that is or however someone may chose to define it. Well, I sort of disagree, for reasons I've voiced before. You're looking at Aikido as a series of components like technique, sword work, philosophy, etc., and I'm saying that ki and kokyu are sort of a blood that flows through them all, not a separate component that you can "devote more time to as you wish". But... whatever. Each to his own. ;) I would have argued the point on your side a few years back; I'm just saying now that I realize it's more important than I originally thought.

FWIW

Mike

Ron Tisdale
03-21-2005, 12:12 PM
Please don't take my listing of 'facets' to be dogmatic...ki and kokyu I believe are in all of the 'factions'...as I said, it depends on the individual how *much* any *one* thing is *focused* on (not that the others aren't there or are not foundational). Ki is a good example...the yoshinkan usually refers to ki as just 'perfect balance', and moves on to discuss other more 'concrete' matters...but that does not mean that it is not important, or not an underlying foundation.

My own personal belief is that Shioda Sensei tended to stay away from things that got too psudo religeous, and that he lumped much of the talk about ki in that category. So if you can't talk about it a usefull way, just train. :) I've always found the way you talk about it interesting, and sometimes quite usefull. I'm afraid hands on exposure is needed to get much more from it...but that's ok...sometimes I get lucky in who I meet. :)

Ron

Mike Sigman
03-21-2005, 12:25 PM
Please don't take my listing of 'facets' to be dogmatic...ki and kokyu I believe are in all of the 'factions'...as I said, it depends on the individual how *much* any *one* thing is *focused* on (not that the others aren't there or are not foundational). Ki is a good example...the yoshinkan usually refers to ki as just 'perfect balance', and moves on to discuss other more 'concrete' matters...but that does not mean that it is not important, or not an underlying foundation. Actually, if I may be so bold as to clarify the statements of a man of your prestige and ability.... the idea that Ki is "perfect balance" is poorly stated and not what Shioda meant. What he actually says is more along the lines of "Ki is a balance of a number of factors" and one of the factors he mentions is kokyu ryoku... which is perfectly in line with what I said about kokyu being an aspect of Ki. Shioda does a wonderful job of trying to define the components that make up the "ki power" and he does it by breaking out the ideas of chusin ryoku, shuchu ryoku, and kokyu ryoku, timing, etc., and by then saying that Ki is a balance of all these things. I agree, but there's also a substantial part of "ki" that he's not mentioning; what I'm trying to get a feel for is if he knew these things and left them out of the books for simplicity's sake or if he was satisfied with the practical portion he knew. At the moment I don't have enough data to bet either way. My own personal belief is that Shioda Sensei tended to stay away from things that got too pseudo religious, and that he lumped much of the talk about ki in that category. Interestingly enough, that approach was the hallmark of Wang Xiang Zhai, the founder of yiquan and the teacher of Kenichi Sawai.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Ron Tisdale
03-21-2005, 12:36 PM
Actually, if I may be so bold as to clarify the statements of a man of your prestige and ability.... the idea that Ki is "perfect balance" is poorly stated and not what Shioda meant.

Uhh, nah, no prestige, and questionable ability. :)

He does in one sentence sum up his analysis of the different 'powers' by stating something to the effect that ki is perfect balance...I wasn't trying to give an exact quote, or I would have listed the exact source. But since you bring it up, I may check the various sources tonight and present the exact quote to the group sometime tomorrow...

As to divining what someone meant, as opposed to what they said, I can make intelligent or not so intelligent guesses...but that would be the limit of my clairvoiance...:)
Ron

Mike Sigman
03-21-2005, 12:43 PM
Uhh, nah, no prestige, and questionable ability. :)

He does in one sentence sum up his analysis of the different 'powers' by stating something to the effect that ki is perfect balance...I wasn't trying to give an exact quote, or I would have listed the exact source. But since you bring it up, I may check the various sources tonight and present the exact quote to the group sometime tomorrow...

As to divining what someone meant, as opposed to what they said, I can make intelligent or not so intelligent guesses...but that would be the limit of my clairvoiance...:)
Ron It's not clairvoyance... it's stated in the book. ;)

Mike

rob_liberti
03-21-2005, 02:18 PM
I've found that sometimes people read into a statement what they want it to mean.

There was this University Professor who devoted most of his class to what Robert Frost meant when he repeated the line "and miles to go before I sleep". One day Robert Frost went to the University and when asking for questions, this professor asked him "Isn't it true that when you repeated that line ..." ... blah blah blah ... and he basically went into a great summary of his class. Robert Frost let him finish and then explained that he just liked the way it sounded with the last line repeated...

I'm sure that professor taught a very interesting class, and I'm sure he felt that he knew what the core reason for that last line really was. I'm just not convinced that he didn't take his believe a bit too far. I'm also not sure that he didn't fool himself a bit because he really liked being up on that pedastol he put himself on.

As far as Ki flowing thorugh the other components like blood. Well, you can work on blood flow both directly and indirectly. You can pump the heart externally by pounding on the chest like in hospital shows. You can hit it with the electric pads. You can simply take hot and cold baths to help the capillaries pull the blood and off load some of the hearts pumping work. You can increase exercise, change your diet, take certain drugs, etc... No is is doubting that ki and kokyu are important, there are other important things to work on that might give you better bang for your buck with regard to time spent focusing on it directly at the expense of other things.

And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-21-2005, 02:25 PM
As far as Ki flowing thorugh the other components like blood. Well, you can work on blood flow both directly and indirectly. You can pump the heart externally.... (snip)

Rob.... don't take the analogy too far. ;) Practice the way you want.

Mike

rob_liberti
03-21-2005, 02:34 PM
I suppose it should be noted that the professor I mentioned continued to teach his same class material... ;) It takes all kinds.

Rob

Ron Tisdale
03-22-2005, 08:34 AM
Ki is the mastery of balance

In aikido we often use the work 'ki', or energy, but this word covers a variety of meanings. "Ki" as it is manifested in the performance of techniques is what we have when the components of correct posture, center line, breathing, the explosive power of focused energy, timing, etc., come together so that we reach the hightst state of perfect balance. It might be said that 'ki' is the 'mastery of balance'.


From Total Aikido by Gozo Shioda

tedehara
03-22-2005, 10:12 AM
... I suppose because no one to my knowledge has ever displayed their ability to do it since O-sensei (not even Tohei sensei)...RobWhen he was younger, Koichi Tohei could do at least two people in the jo demonstration. Perhaps Aikikai no longer does these types of demonstrations because they're concentrating on the martial aspects of aikido. However some people in the Ki Society still do these type of things.

Mike Sigman
03-22-2005, 10:24 AM
Although I actually sort of admire Shioda's analysis of the components of "Ki" and how he defines ki as a "balance" of those components, I don't fully agree with his analysis. There is a part of Ki/Qi that is approached through a type of conditioning to the body with deliberate breathing techniques and he doesn't address that aspect at all. However, because of the way they hold the hand in Yoshinkan, I have the suspicion that he knew something about that part of it.... I just can't be sure.

FWIW

Mike

Mike Sigman
03-22-2005, 10:25 AM
When he was younger, Koichi Tohei could do at least two people in the jo demonstration. Perhaps Aikikai no longer does these types of demonstrations because they're concentrating on the martial aspects of aikido. However some people in the Ki Society still do these type of things. Do you know if there are any film-clips of Tohei doing this, Ted? Thanks.

Mike

tedehara
03-22-2005, 02:36 PM
Do you know if there are any film-clips of Tohei doing this, Ted? Thanks.

MikeLike you, my sensei was obsessed with the "jo trick". He and a friend lured K. Tohei to his friend's basement rec room, where they "just happened" to have a movie screen and projector with a film of O Sensei doing that demo. After showing Tohei the film, they asked him if he could also do that. Tohei replied, "Yes" and did it using both of them as uke.

Mike Sigman
03-22-2005, 02:44 PM
Like you, my sensei was obsessed with the "jo trick". He and a friend lured K. Tohei to his friend's basement rec room, where they "just happened" to have a movie screen and projector with a film of O Sensei doing that demo. After showing Tohei the film, they asked him if he could also do that. Tohei replied, "Yes" and did it using both of them as uke. Ah, I see. So it's not on film anywhere? Shucks. And incidentally, I'm not obsessed with the jo-trick... I've been using the fact that many Aikidoists are obsessed with it as an entre' into some facts-digging. I sometimes show people how to do the front variant of the jo-trick as part of a series of explorations into jin-mechanics, but most of my focus has to do with more direct practices of the jin. I've told people in the past that Tohei could probably do the jo-trick, so it was nice to hear some corroboration. :)

FWIW

Mike

tedehara
03-22-2005, 03:25 PM
...And incidentally, I'm not obsessed with the jo-trick...MikeMaybe you should be obsessed.

At least my sensei can do it now with one person.

Mike Sigman
03-22-2005, 07:20 PM
Maybe you should be obsessed.

At least my sensei can do it now with one person. Good for him.... and I mean that. I tend to focus on a few other minor things in my own training. I'm slowly getting there, but I'm still an amateur. :)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

tedehara
03-23-2005, 12:01 PM
Good for him.... and I mean that. I tend to focus on a few other minor things in my own training. I'm slowly getting there, but I'm still an amateur. :)

Regards,

Mike SigmanI remember hearing that he could do it, but it wasn't until this thread that I questioned him and saw him do it.

You have my email, so if you want to question him or see him, contact me and I'll try and arrange it. He'll also be at the Las Vegas seminar in June.

sanskara
03-23-2005, 08:20 PM
I had a fairly unknown fourth dan Ki Aikido instructor for a while that once fielded a challenge in a gym against two big weight lifters with the jo. He held the jo forward in standard defensive sword kamae. As we looked on, the two guys grabbed it from the front and attempted to push him backward. They pushed so hard the thick jo started to bow and make a cracking sound, but they couldn't budge him. After a minute or two, they were completely exhausted, out of breath, and couldn't push anymore. But they finally understood that there was something "strange" at work, and that a little respect was in order.

Of course, this instructor basically followed Koichi Tohei around everywhere he went back in the 60's and 70's, and taught Ki no shuren ho and Shin Shin Toitsu do exclusively through the 80's and 90's, with little regard for martial technique. For years, he would only let us practice Aikido technique in parts as Ki development exercises. We spent a whole year on 5th kyu techniques alone, as I recall.

Ironically, in many respects, this led to more martially effective Aikido than the "hard" mechanically oriented training I've encountered in other schools. Simply put, this guy knew his stuff, but will never be famous--as is often the case, as those focused on real development don't necessarily have the time or inclination for self-promotion.

But for those whose memory goes back far enough, his name is Larry Hudson, he still teaches a bit in the Bay Area, but mostly just rides motorcycles. Sometimes you have to promote those who won't promote themselves. :)

tedehara
03-27-2005, 12:27 PM
That reminds me of my sensei. He was fourth dan when I became his student. While there were higher ranked instructors with fancy dojos, I realized he was the one I wanted to train with. I have not regretted that choice.

All of this talk of ki and kokyu is well and good. However it reminds me of a story about K. Tohei. He was asked by a man if this mind and body coordination was really worth it. He replied that if you use it everyday, then it was worth it. But if you never practice it, then it was worthless.

Mike Sigman
03-27-2005, 02:34 PM
All of this talk of ki and kokyu is well and good. However it reminds me of a story about K. Tohei. He was asked by a man if this mind and body coordination was really worth it. He replied that if you use it everyday, then it was worth it. But if you never practice it, then it was worthless. Of course if you don't practice it correctly, you really don't get very far after years of practice, either. If you're doing Aikido, you have to do ki and kokyu with your Aikido or your Aikido doesn't get very good. If you just want to do ki and kokyu, you can do any of a number of exercises that don't require doing Aikido (or a lot of other martial arts), as well.

From "Total Aikido", page 13:

As you get older, your muscles weaken,
And you can no longer lift and pull.
In the end there's a limit to physical strength, no matter how you build it up.
That's why Ueshiba Sensei says that
Unlimited strength comes from breath power (kokyu ryoku).
In effect, it is based on natural phrinciples.
If the other person comes powerfully against you,
And you respond by simply taking his power into yourself,
There is no need for any effort.

Gozo Shioda Sayings (1)

The idea that Ki and Kokyu studies are an investment that pays off as you get older is a traditional Asian comment about those studies.

FWIW

Mike

tedehara
03-27-2005, 05:16 PM
Of course if you don't practice it correctly, you really don't get very far after years of practice, either...MikeMaybe I should change that signature line. Seems nobody notices anyway.
;)

Mark Mueller
03-29-2005, 11:48 AM
Interesting articles in light of the discussion here.....

http://www.channel4.com/entertainment/tv/microsites/M/mindcontrol/trick/doll.html and

http://www.channel4.com/entertainment/tv/microsites/M/mindcontrol/mind_control/planting.html

Leung Jan
05-03-2005, 07:24 AM
"Mat time" won't really give it to you, either. Learning how to honestly move using your center and the jin forces requires re-training the way you move over a long period of time so that this form of power is instinctive and the subconscious will carry it for you automatically.

The whole body, down to the fingers, is moved and controlled in 2 related ways by the power of the middle region. If you've spent years practicing moving "the normal way", it's not an aid... it's actually a hindrance to any real success. If you think about it, you'll understand why Taiji, Xingyi, Bagua, etc., are done so very slowly for the first few years... it's to re-train the body movement before getting into techniques done with the wrong movement basics, etc.

I experienced the same... :(
I was training Aikido for 9 years and could find nobody to teach me how to move as a "unity" and use proper ki...so I quit practising and choos a chinese ultra hard style :D
But it was the same....you get only to some point and there are allways a very low number on people that move "different" and can do things that are beyond regular "mat time"...
one day at a workshop a high rank instructor came to me. he was 2 heads shorter then me and I thought to have an easy play...
when crossig his arms I suddenly realiezed something I remembered from my very first Aikido Sensei...there was it again...a certain feeling of emptiness when entering and he was able to move me where he wanted me to go...I could not help but follow :eek:
I stopped and asked him "what did you do? It felt like you where using Ki on me. I didn't know this art is using that kind of force."
He pulled me aside and said "Psst...be quiet....there are things not revealed to everyone in this art and I don't want to be assosiated with using/teaching chi". I was happy and disgusted the same time but I understood...and I asked him a last question "when it is an element of the art, how can I train chi?" and he said "just relex completly and practice your first form veeeery slowly, not like we do it in the class... and you will find out".

so I tried....and after almost 1 month my hands started to becomming warm and a week later my whole upper body was glowing during the form...this was the begining of my journey discovering my own chi/ki flow and unity within.
...energy always follows your mind and thought....
But this was not the only benefit I gained. By relaxing completly my outer muscles (the big known ones) I had at the begining a hard time staying in balance when moving my arms. This procedure trained my inner muscles and changed the way I move.
Bevor it was like upper body and lower body are two seperate parts and only through my stomach muscles I could move both parts together what looked like moving as ONE but wasn't!!!
and this was exact the same in Aikido in my 9 years :dead: ...when turning with Tenkan for example I copied the turning of Sensei but felt not whole. When checking the center by Ikkyo Undo I was always told that I was off center but could not figure out why...I tried my best to copy the posture 100% and followed hunderts of technical advices but this could not fix it....and because of this I had no foundation at all for doing real Aikido...
Now with the inner muscles built it was no longer a problem moving as ONE and staying centered...
so I phoned my old training partner who was now a leading DAN of the aikido dojo and told him I want to test with him Ikkyo Undo :cool:
He agreed an we met...
the impact threw him completly off center and I could control him like I wanted to...he was looking like a sheep not knowing what happened....hahaha
we are still good friends and I plan starting with Aikido again...this time with a better foundation and with love on my heart an the force of the universe and earth within....so I finally hope to find my :do:

love & light to all of you
Jan

rob_liberti
05-03-2005, 09:25 AM
I think you can develop this kind of thing by taking a lot of full body resistance type ukemi from a highly killed sensei, practicing your warm up exercises properly, and conentrating on kokyu in your movement during class. I don't know what your 9 years expereince in aikido was but my guess is that you probably weren't endlessly thrown skillfully in such a way that you had to contort and stretch from inside out to maintain full body connection/resistance. Regardless, if you found an alternative way of doing it, good for you.

Rob

sunny liberti
05-03-2005, 10:38 AM
full body resistance type ukemi from a highly killed sensei:dead:

S/he must be very skilled indeed having been so highly killed... ;)