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Mike Sigman
04-14-2005, 10:37 AM
I've been reading "Aikido Shugyo" ( http://www.shindokanbooks.com/shugyo.shtml ) and find it one of the best Aikido books I've ever read. The caveat I would make is that I wouldn't have fully understood it earlier in my career... i.e., there are a lot of comments in the book that sound innocuous but which are meaningful if you already understand what he's (Shioda) talking about.

I would suggest without reservation that it's a book everyone doing Aikido, regardless of style, would benefit from reading.

The one point that I'd make is that Shioda, in his systemitized way, is focusing on "ki" things just as much as Tohei does. Shioda breaks his approach to ki down into components and he refers to ki as a "balance" of the factors that he names. As noted in a previous post, when Shioda's *books* are *translated* (that's the problem, the translation) to say "Ki is about balance" or "Ki is the concentration of balance", that's actually an incorrect and misleading translation... he means that it is a balance of several different powers and focuses.

I've watched Shioda on a videotape ("Shingi Denju") and it appears that he at some time did a focused study on the use of paths and power applications using kokyu ryoku (in fact, you can see him indicate the full paths several times, using his finger). I was quite impressed with the sophistication and automatic usage of kokyu paths that he showed in instantaneous movement against an opponent's "empty" directions... he was good. (I have to caveat here that some of his demonstrations are really clever and enlightening, but they wouldn't really work without a cooperative student... but that's the nature of some demonstrations, isn't it?).

Shioda's breakdown of the factors of "ki" is quite clever and gives me a new perspective about thought approaches to the subject, but I also have to comment that his explications are not complete enough to allow someone to just read and understand. In fact, looking at the video of his interaction with students during the demonstration I was commenting on above, I'd say that although he was clearer than anyone I've seen, he wasn't clear enough for some of his students to do exactly what he was doing or to even get the basic idea correct. It would be interesting to see what command of kokyu some of the higher dans in Yoshinkan have... it is, as Shioda noted in his book, an easy skill to lose from the martial arts because it it hard to transmit.

Anyway... I'd recommend the book to everyone. It's a lot about "ki", as are Tohei's interesting books, but it explains more things about ki and Aikido than Tohei's books do. In other words, all these books supplement your overall knowledge of the big picture, but this one is a really good book and has some good discussion topics in it.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Ron Tisdale
04-15-2005, 10:07 AM
I really like this book myself. In light of some of our recent conversations, I'll reread it again (I've got a plane ride comming up, so I should have some reading time).

You've mentioned several times that you would like to feel some of Shioda's top students. I'd like to extend an invitation again to come to Philadelphia...

21 (Fri) 6:30pm-7:30pm
7:30pm-8:30pm Semi-private workshops
w/ Inoue Yoshinkan Kancho
22 (Sat) 9:00am-10:00am
22 (Sat) 10:30am-11:30am
11:30am-12:30pm
1:30pm-2:30pm
2:30pm-3:30pm Inoue Yoshinkan Kancho
23 (Sun) 9:00am-10:00am Semi-private workshops
w/ Inoue Yoshinkan Kancho
23 (Sun) 10:30am-11:30am
11:30am-12:30pm Inoue Yoshinkan Kancho

Info may be found at www.yoshinkai.org

Best,
Ron

John Boswell
04-15-2005, 10:47 AM
I LOVED the book! I don't read a whole lot, but I got it and couldn't put it down. We've passed it around to a few students in my class and I think Riggs Sensei has my copy of it now. (need to get it back)

It is well worth reading and re-reading. A lot of good information, both on ki and on atemi.

Thanks for the review!

akiy
04-15-2005, 10:59 AM
Yup, good book. I read it in the original Japanese a while back.

-- Jun

Ron Tisdale
04-15-2005, 11:10 AM
As noted in a previous post, when Shioda's *books* are *translated* (that's the problem, the translation) to say "Ki is about balance" or "Ki is the concentration of balance", that's actually an incorrect and misleading translation... he means that it is a balance of several different powers and focuses.

Hi Jun,

Do you have any comments about the above? I'd be interested in hearing a native speaker's viewpoint on the statements by Shioda Sensei on the different powers (centerline power, focus power, breath power, ki power, etc.). Especially as it pertains to this statement and statements like it:

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

Thanks, Ron

Mike Sigman
04-15-2005, 11:18 AM
I really like this book myself. In light of some of our recent conversations, I'll reread it again (I've got a plane ride comming up, so I should have some reading time). Don't let those lips get tired or wear out the tip of that finger, Ron. ;)

I really think there's a huge amount of useable information in that book and a lot of items about O-Sensei that are interesting, particularly for someone trying to get a good start on the art.... although of course the main criterion for good training is to have a good teacher who is willing to show you more than just techniques, choreography, and rituals. You've mentioned several times that you would like to feel some of Shioda's top students. I'd like to extend an invitation again to come to Philadelphia... Thanks, Ron. Maybe someday. I essentially want to feel their skill level in ki and kokyu and that won't take but a moment.

Shioda's skill is very good, but it is more in what I would call "kokyu" than the full "ki" skills. Tohei's stuff, from what I can see of it, includes some kokyu and some ki, although the useable kokyu things *that I've seen* don't appear to be as sophisticated as Shioda's that I could see on that video "Shingi Denju".

Also, although I appreciate Shioda's comments on timing in order to achieve power, I'd observe that it's very true that timing is tremendously important as an additive to your power, but the big-dog Chens from Chen Village can let you grab them around the chest with both arms and break your bones with a shake. When they release power even on a simple punch, they shake a whole house (now you see the fixation so many of us have with trying to figure out the training methods of Chen's Taiji). I.e., the point I'm making is that I'm very impressed with what Shioda can do, but I still look at all abilities of any person within the context of all martial arts that I've been able to practice or investigate. I think you'd enjoy meeting Wang Hai Jun (sort of a youngish man, not one of the big-dogs) the next time he comes to Philly. The levels of these particular ki skills we're talking about can be appreciated better if you get input from all available sources, IMO.

Regards,

Mike

Mike Sigman
04-15-2005, 11:25 AM
Do you have any comments about the above? I'd be interested in hearing a native speaker's viewpoint on the statements by Shioda Sensei on the different powers (centerline power, focus power, breath power, ki power, etc.). Especially as it pertains to this statement and statements like it:

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'.

Thanks, Ron

Just to clarify, Ron, notice that the heading says "Ki is the mastery of balance". In the normal English usage that immediately leads a not-too-careful reader into the idea that Ki is the mastery of stability or equilibrium. The text below, though, elucidates that the "balance" is actually a "balance of skills". In my opinion, the translation for the paragraph heading should have been "Ki is the mastery of a balance of physical skills".

FWIW

Mike

AikiSean!
04-15-2005, 11:43 AM
Another interesting thing I found about the book was that Shioda says he was an athiest. I know a lot of people have their reservations with ki being spirtual and such, but shioda really points out that its not.

Ron Tisdale
04-15-2005, 11:47 AM
I understand what you are saying, but what I'm trying to do is get the take of a native speaker...do you speak japanese? If so, have you read the original? I don't speak more than dojo japanese myself, and don't read even that (in kanji), so I'm trying to get to the heart of the matter.

Even in the translation, it is obvious that he is talking about combining all of the powers mentioned before...

Thanks,
Ron

Mike Sigman
04-15-2005, 11:57 AM
Even in the translation, it is obvious that he is talking about combining all of the powers mentioned before... Well, I'm mainly talking about the translation of the subject header, Ron, because it's confusing. If you'll remember, you yourself quoted "ki is the mastery of balance" before when we were discussing this and you apparently went and looked it up that evening... you had only remembered that part about ki and balance. I.e., "Ki is the mastery of balance" is the confusing part to many people. :)

Mike

Mike Sigman
04-15-2005, 11:59 AM
Another interesting thing I found about the book was that Shioda says he was an athiest. I know a lot of people have their reservations with ki being spirtual and such, but shioda really points out that its not. Both Shioda and Tohei are clear in the point that these skills are the results of physical laws and not anything to do with religion. I believe Tohei mentions that O-Sensei attributed ki and kokyu skills to the "gods", but Tohei rhetorically shrugs that approach off as being unnecessary.

Regards,

Mike

akiy
04-15-2005, 12:00 PM
Do you have any comments about the above? I'd be interested in hearing a native speaker's viewpoint on the statements by Shioda Sensei on the different powers (centerline power, focus power, breath power, ki power, etc.).
Let me see if I can find the book at home. It may have been one I borrowed from my instructor.

In the meantime, perhaps folks like Peter Goldsbury or Chris Li might have some time to take a look?

-- Jun

Ron Tisdale
04-15-2005, 03:27 PM
you had only remembered that part about ki and balance.

Ah, not quite, I remembered both that and the different powers coming together. But our conversations may be leading me in a slightly different direction, which is good...

Ron

Mike Sigman
04-15-2005, 03:54 PM
Ah, not quite, I remembered both that and the different powers coming together. But our conversations may be leading me in a slightly different direction, which is good.. Speaking of different directions, I found a number of comments by Shioda that describe things in ways I would not necessarily describe them, but I know pretty much what he's talking about. It's like an observation I've tried to make a couple of times... there is a certain logic to these things, particularly in regard to the basic principles. So if two people are using different terminology but they understand the basic principles, there should be a fairly quick arrival at a common dialogue.

Tohei's ki tests, etc., are pretty much in line with common ki/qi things, but from what I've seen they seem to be at a fairly basic level (which is, of course, a good level from which to start people). Because I've been able to observe Shioda on DVD and read his far more explicative thoughts on how things work, I have a lot better idea about what he did, how he moved, etc. As I said, I have to re-think my ideas about how sophisticated the Japanese understanding of ki and kokyu things are, but I'd reaffirm my opinion that the kokyu seen in Aikido is what I would call "linear" (even if it's used circularly at times) and everything appears to have evolved from Shaolin-type use of qi and jin (of course, quotations from O-Sensei pretty much confirm that impression).

But to get to the point I want to make from the background in the above paragraph, it is my *impression* that the ki usage in Tohei shows in his ki tests was pretty much understood by Shioda. Of course the use of "focused power" by Shioda means that he could easily have withstood the pushes, etc., just as the ki tests show. The question would have been some of the techniques that cause the body to "connect" within itself.... and Shioda refers to a way the body "locks" (see pages 85-86 in "Aikido Shugyo") which sounds like the same idea, as Shioda describes it. The general point I'm making once again is that although there are variations, I don't see any real difference between the Aikido that Tohei himself did and the Aikido that Shioda did. Nor do I see anything but confirmation about how important these ki and kokyu skills are to the practice of Aikido. My opinion, of course.

FWIW

Mike

James Young
04-15-2005, 04:32 PM
Although I haven't read Aikido Shugyo yet, from watching videos of Shioda-sensei I'd agree with Mike that I believe he had a mastery level of kokyu. One example that comes to mind is on a couple of videos I remember watching Shioda-sensei do randori and there would be instances where he would turn his back to his attacker and when the attacker's hands reached his back (shoulder blade area) he would throw them or repel them back with a slight movement of his back. I wouldn't be surprised if I could talk to those ukes that they would say the power in that throw was much more powerful than seemingly appears by just that visible slight movement of his back. To do something like that effectively not only requires superb timing but also the ability to connect with an attacker in that moment and then throw them with kokyu power. This leads me to believe Shioda-sensei probably knew how to move and manifest kokyu power (or ki power if you prefer) around his body, at least in this case the upper back, and then use it effectively. Of course it's hard to be sure without being the uke yourself, but that's my opinion based on what I've seen.

Lan Powers
04-15-2005, 06:52 PM
[QUOTE=Mike Sigman]Both Shioda and Tohei are clear in the point that these skills are the results of physical laws and not anything to do with religion. (/QUOTE)

One of my instructors oft repeated sayings is that Ki is (to him) mostly good biomechanics.
Effective use of the proper form makes SUCH sense.
I am not sure about any other "purely energy" non-physical form.

Open to the idea though..shrug
Lan

Peter Goldsbury
04-15-2005, 08:50 PM
Let me see if I can find the book at home. It may have been one I borrowed from my instructor.

In the meantime, perhaps folks like Peter Goldsbury or Chris Li might have some time to take a look?

-- Jun

Hello Jun,

I only have the Japanese original. I did read the English translation when I was in Holland recently, but I did not have the Japanese text with me then, so I could not evaluate the translation. The English text reads very well and I read the entire book in a couple of hours, but my suspicion is that this is the result of fairly heavy editing

The section heading in question (on p.129 of the Japanese text), reads "Ki to wa baransu no kesshuu". (Ki is the concentration/marshalling together of [the elements of] balance]). "Baransu" is written in katakana and is the Japanese version of "balance". Notice that there is no talk of kuzushi.

A little further on, on p.130, we have: "watashi wa, ki to wa baransu no kesshuu" da to kangaete imasu." (My thinking is that ki is the concentration/marshalling together of [the elements of] balance).

"Tadashii shinsei to kokyuu, sore ni shuuchuuryoku kara umareta bakuhatsu ryoku." (The explosive power which is created from the concentrated power of correct posture and breathing. Literally: Correct posture and breath: added to this the explosive force of the concentrated power [of these]).

"Chuushinsen no chikara mo sou dashi, taimingu mo ki no naka ni irete ii to omoimasu." (The strength of the centre line is also produced in this way. I think it good to include also timing within ki).

There is then a detailed discussion of the concept in terms of the entire encounter between oneself and one's partner.

Best regards,

Ron Tisdale
04-15-2005, 08:53 PM
I wouldn't be surprised if I could talk to those ukes that they would say the power in that throw was much more powerful than seemingly appears by just that visible slight movement of his back.

I spoke to one of his uke about this, Chida Sensei, the current chief instructor at the yoshinkan hombu dojo. He told me that he went around with the dogi patch from Shioda Kancho's back imprinted on his chin for about a week from one of those throws. They were VERY powerful...

Ron

Mike Sigman
04-15-2005, 09:42 PM
[snipsky] The section heading in question (on p.129 of the Japanese text), reads "Ki to wa baransu no kesshuu". (Ki is the concentration/marshalling together of [the elements of] balance]). "Baransu" is written in katakana and is the Japanese version of "balance". Notice that there is no talk of kuzushi.

A little further on, on p.130, we have: "watashi wa, ki to wa baransu no kesshuu" da to kangaete imasu." (My thinking is that ki is the concentration/marshalling together of [the elements of] balance).

"Tadashii shinsei to kokyuu, sore ni shuuchuuryoku kara umareta bakuhatsu ryoku." (The explosive power which is created from the concentrated power of correct posture and breathing. Literally: Correct posture and breath: added to this the explosive force of the concentrated power [of these]).

"Chuushinsen no chikara mo sou dashi, taimingu mo ki no naka ni irete ii to omoimasu." (The strength of the centre line is also produced in this way. I think it good to include also timing within ki). [snip again] Thanks for the quotes from the original text, Peter. The point is pretty clear that "balance" is being idiomatically used to indicate a balance or admixture of factors, not equilibrium or stability. As is usual, the description may be accurate, but the actual "how" is not very clear.

Shioda is using "ki" in a very narrow sense of power/force, in this particular description and "breathing" can actually mean several things, as he uses it. It's a puzzle what he's saying precisely, but the general drift isn't that hard to grasp.

There are things he obviously doesn't say in his descriptions. Watching his use of downward kokyu on DVD, it's obvious that he doesn't tell all the ways that he trains, but it's clear that he's spent a fair amount of time doing standing postures and practicing some of the things he personally uses. Probably he shared most of these things with his senior students. I'd be interested to see if Shioda ever talks more about breathing or kamae in other sources. Does anyone have any more good sources?

Ron, I can't comment on the levels of power Shioda generated, based on an account from a student. As I've mentioned before, I was a little frustrated that Shioda's students were a little dramatic in their reactions to his techniques... something that always obscures exactly what's happening, but you have to live with the dramatics whenever you're involved with Asian martial arts and demonstrations, so I'm sort of neutral about it.

In terms of striking with the back, it's not very hard to do in comparison with striking with the chest or some other areas. The question is what kind of additive factors you add to your chain of power in the strike. The back offers its own additive factor that other body areas don't have and it can be fairly powerful even if you don't have any ki or if you don't have the skills to slip in some of the power boosters. If someone is interested in how to start training (without the ki and boosters), I'll try to describe it.

What's interesting is that we're looking at power generation techniques in Aikido... a surprise. A second interesting point is to read some of Shioda's descriptions of what O-Sensei could do with his ki abilities. I had underestimated (based on the information available to me) the amount of ki things in Aikido, previously. However, if I underestimated the amount of ki things used by O-Sensei et al, that only reinforces the point that most people doing Aikido are missing out on the contribution of ki-training to Aikido.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

crbateman
04-16-2005, 06:48 AM
Just wanted to inject a word about the English translation. The translators, Jaques Payet Sensei and Christopher Watson Sensei, who are "western", but both longtime devotees of Yoshinkan, state at the outset of the book that the translation is not word-for-word, but has instead been enhanced to make it easier for "westerners" to understand. The translation originally began as seperate projects by Payet and Watson, but then became a collaboration. It was done after Shioda Kancho's death, so there was no oversight by him personally, although the translation was endorsed by Kyoichi Inoue Sensei. Like most of you who have posted here, I would be interested to know from native speakers how much liberty was taken with the original wording.

Mike Sigman
04-16-2005, 07:42 AM
Just wanted to inject a word about the English translation. The translators, Jaques Payet Sensei and Christopher Watson Sensei, who are "western", but both longtime devotees of Yoshinkan, state at the outset of the book that the translation is not word-for-word, but has instead been enhanced to make it easier for "westerners" to understand. The problem with translations is that problems always arise. Take for example one of the most significant errors in translating that has affected so many people and their studies, "jin". "Jin" is essentially what "kokyu" is, although there is a slightly enhanced meaning to "kokyu". Jin is a skill, as is kokyu, but out of the possible translations of "jin", the earlier translators chose the word "energy". It was the start of the "energy" revolution for the New Age. Combine "energy" with "ki" and you have the basis for a quasi-religion, as we've all seen.

Another case, but more to the point of what I'm trying to say is in this example: I once invited a teacher in to do teach (just an overview) a spear form that I'd heard about but never seen. He brought his wife with and she was a brilliant (PhD in Chemistry) native Chinese who had been raised in a martial-arts village; she spoke very fluent English and he spoke almost none. I happened to have found a copy of all the posture names in another place and I wanted to use them as a handout for the class. I asked the woman if she would translate the names from the Chinese into English. She tried for over a day to do it and gave me her best effort but told me she was not really able to do it because even though the characters and words were literally translatable, the actual meaning was something quited different to martial artists. I took the list to another Chinese who had studied martial arts his whole life and who also spoke fluent, idiomatic English... he translated it pretty quickly but cautioned me to never ask even a native speaker to understand the nuances that are meant in a martial context because the subtle changes in meaning can completely alter the meaning of the words.

Over the years, I've found that many martial-arts *basics* that were mistranslated into English by fluent speakers who have lived in a country, etc., were wrong. I'm not pointing any fingers (particularly not at the generous people who have taken the time to provide us translations), I'm pointing out an area where I'm always very cautious. Take a simple example... does "shihonage" mean "four-direction throw" as it is literally translated (even in many books), or does the phrase "any-direction throw" more adequately convey the original sense? Some translators' versions are different than other translators' versions and sometimes all these versions are different from the idiomatic sense of the word.

FWIW

Mike

Peter Goldsbury
04-16-2005, 10:05 AM
Just wanted to inject a word about the English translation. The translators, Jaques Payet Sensei and Christopher Watson Sensei, who are "western", but both longtime devotees of Yoshinkan, state at the outset of the book that the translation is not word-for-word, but has instead been enhanced to make it easier for "westerners" to understand. The translation originally began as seperate projects by Payet and Watson, but then became a collaboration. It was done after Shioda Kancho's death, so there was no oversight by him personally, although the translation was endorsed by Kyoichi Inoue Sensei. Like most of you who have posted here, I would be interested to know from native speakers how much liberty was taken with the original wording.

Mr Bateman,

Thank you for your mail.

In this website, as in the AJ website and E-Budo website, there are so many isues where the western translators have to take liberties with the Japanese original that I now always want to to give the original Japanese text, with a litteral tranlation, so that people may judge for themselves both the text and my own translation skills.

In this case, I believe that the translators took liberties with the best of intentions, but I also believe that they themselves may have taken liberties with the concept of "making it easier for westerners to understand" and perhaps 'edited' the text unduly.

In my opinion Japanese native speakers are not in a position to pronounce on the liberties taken with the translation from Japanese into English, unless they are truly bilingual.

So, I myself am in the position of being able to translate Japanese to English and have the sense of an English native speaker of what translation "fits" the English language, but not the other way round.

So I am not attacking the translation here (at least, I do not think so). However, I think that the English translation does not do what Mike Sigman expects from it. For this, I think you would need a critical translation, in the style of the German translations from ancient Greek texts in the 18th century, witrh a full apparatus criticus.

Since I was brought up in such a classical tradition, my instinct is to give the original Japanese text, and a translation, and then leave others tro judge. This is rarely done nowadays on the Internet, especially with the output of M Ueshiba. So we are left with the douka, which Jun always posts at the head of this web site, and the occasional translation from Mr Stevens, which people seem to take as the actual words of the Founder. But when you want to pry more closely into the concept of ki, as Mr Sigman seeks to do (and whose concerns I also share), then you need look much more closely at the original Japanese.

Best regards,

Mike Sigman
04-16-2005, 11:09 AM
But when you want to pry more closely into the concept of ki, as Mr Sigman seeks to do (and whose concerns I also share), then you need look much more closely at the original Japanese. Hi Peter:

"Ki" is at best a vagary of which "kokyu" is a more specific subset. The manifestation of "Ki" in Aikido and other arts has to do with the coordination of the mind and how the body moves or is motivated with strength that involves a sort of myofascial component. Shioda actually acknowledges part of this by indicating people become unaffected by blows, etc., but his books focus on a "ki" that more directly tries to systematize what "kokyu" is, to my mind (I have a caveat about this which I'll get to in a minute).

Tohei focuses on the "kokyu" also, in the main, but he does it in conjunction with the more proper concept of proper mind/body/myofascial "ki" being involved in the formation of kokyu power. I suspect fairly strongly that Shioda knew somewhat more about proper "ki" than is indicated in his books, but I'm dithering about just how he may have known because I have only limited information to extrapolate from.

The question overall may be about Japanese knowledge of "ki" (what they knew and when they knew it), but more specifically I'm focused on this term "kokyu" and its full meaning/derivation. I suspect that this term has to do with the relationship of breathing techniques to the training of the actual "ki", which results in the ability to manifest kokyu. In the real world, people can be taught to do a certain level of kokyu without having learned how to train the pressure and fascia components with the breath, so I tend to separate "kokyu power" from "ki", in terms of training, etc. The upshot of all my comments is that the concept of Ki as a whole I have no problem with, but the etymology of "kokyu" and the history of it in Japan is interesting to me. Any help would be appreciated.

Additionally, I'm having some problem with the term "bakuhatsu ryoku" ("explosive power") as Shioda uses it. I suspect the idea derives from the "fa jin" (literally "attack force", but it means an explosive release of power) concept in Chinese, but I don't see Shioda using what I would technically term fa jin ability, although he appears to be able to use focused power quite quickly.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Ellis Amdur
04-16-2005, 01:00 PM
Regarding Standing Practice: One of Shioda's uchi-deshi recently published an account of his training at http://www.yoshinkan.info/deshi.php

"The training in this course consists of three parts starting from basic movements. The basic movements are like "Kata" in Karate which can train the physical strength of legs and groin necessary for Aikido techniques. In the basic movements you must stand with 80 percent of your body weight rested on one leg for about five minutes moving both left and right with different movements."

Best

Ellis Amdur

Mike Sigman
04-16-2005, 01:32 PM
Regarding Standing Practice [snip] Interesting article. Sounds like the author underwent a lot of psychological pressure, in addition to actual training. I would like the skills, but not the nerve problems he reported. ;)

I think a certain amount of "standing practice" is now established as integral to a lot of higher-level Aikido. Not many people seemed aware of this in the West, from my experience. Standing practice, when done correctly, will give you actual "ki" over time, although just developing ki and not knowing how to use it in your movements is an oft-encountered problem. I occasionally meet people that I know do standing practice the moment I touch them, and they are "heavy", but they have no idea how to move so it doesn't do a lot of good except for the 'health' aspects and some of the strength. For strength and health, doing standing exercises and some movement exercises using the kokyu power is probably sufficient, but martial practice involves a lot more.

O-Sensei's jo-trick indicates that he did standing exercises; comments in Shioda's book "Aikido Shugyo" tend to corroborate that idea. Shioda's use of kokyu in some of his demonstrations indicates the kind of power you get from standing, not the power from repetitive exercise. Shioda apparently did some sort of down-power exercise from what I see of his usage of it, but I can't get a handle on what that exercise was. It may have simply been suburi, but it might have been something more direct. After watching Shioda on video, I'm still up in the air about whether he got outside help on ki/kokyu training tips. But the sleuthing is fun. Any tips or comments are appreciated. :)

Mike

Steven
04-16-2005, 09:57 PM
Just wanted to inject a word about the English translation. The translators, Jaques Payet Sensei and Christopher Watson Sensei, who are "western", but both longtime devotees of Yoshinkan, state at the outset of the book that the translation is not word-for-word, but has instead been enhanced to make it easier for "westerners" to understand. The translation originally began as seperate projects by Payet and Watson, but then became a collaboration. It was done after Shioda Kancho's death, so there was no oversight by him personally, although the translation was endorsed by Kyoichi Inoue Sensei. Like most of you who have posted here, I would be interested to know from native speakers how much liberty was taken with the original wording.


Christopher's lastname is Johnston, not Watson.

As for your last question, I suppose you could write to either Jacque or Chris directly and ask. Anything else would be pure speculation.

This is from Shindokanbooks.com.
The translators, Jacques Payet and Christopher Johnston, have worked closely with the Yoshinkan Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, to present the definitive English translation of Shioda Sensei's exciting and thought provoking book.

Ellis Amdur
04-17-2005, 02:03 AM
Going back to one of Mike's previous posts, it is unlikely that Shioda developed his kokyu/ki through sword practice/suburi. Pre WWII uchi-deshi did little sword training. In the mid-thirties, a lot of what they did was kendo (which would not develop "sinking.") Shioda was not known as having skill with a sword. One of his exact contemporaries, Shirata Rinjiro spresented some sword exercises that he developed (quite interesting in their own right) and I heard him say in a class, "These probably look different to you from what you've seen from people like Saito sensei. Back when I studied, Osensei hadn't really developed much training with a sword." So however Shioda accomplished it, it wasn't likely through suburi or other weapons training.

Best

Ellis Amdur

Mike Sigman
04-17-2005, 08:12 AM
Going back to one of Mike's previous posts, it is unlikely that Shioda developed his kokyu/ki through sword practice/suburi. Pre WWII uchi-deshi did little sword training. In the mid-thirties, a lot of what they did was kendo (which would not develop "sinking.") Shioda was not known as having skill with a sword. One of his exact contemporaries, Shirata Rinjiro spresented some sword exercises that he developed (quite interesting in their own right) and I heard him say in a class, "These probably look different to you from what you've seen from people like Saito sensei. Back when I studied, Osensei hadn't really developed much training with a sword." So however Shioda accomplished it, it wasn't likely through suburi or other weapons training. Thanks for the info and thoughts. Just to be clear, I was mainly talking about Shioda's sudden-down ability, which he appears to have developed pretty well (again, I'm somewhat stymied in judging his actual power by his tolerance for over-dramatic uke's).

Since all ki and hence kokyu can be viewed (in the ki paradigm) as coming from the hara, downward kokyu is technically not viewed as separate from kokyu that goes vertically up or away from the body or toward the body. In the real world, though, you have to train it somewhat differently. You can develop pretty good kokyu and ki skills in all non-downward directions using standing, hitting/pulsing practice, Aiki Taiso, etc., but downward takes something else, some other training method. There's a natural progression of going from large movements to small movements to "stillness" (unseeable movements) and Shioda's skills indicates he was fairly well along in his practice, whatever it was, with the caveat being again that the overly cooperative students obscure exactly what he could do.

Since I saw so little sophisticated ki and kokyu skills among western (and a lot of Japanese) practitioners and since I had only limited information about the early Aikido days, my perspective of Japanese knowledge of ki and kokyu things was skewed. I still haven't seen anything of really sophisticated jin and qi skills, but in comparison with the normal skills you see good Chinese martial arts, Shioda and Tohei (and by inference, some others) aren't too shabby, either. The bad side of this observation is that a lot of dedicated students have probably unknowingly been somewhat short-changed by the typical Asian reticence to completely disclose how these skills are done..... worse yet, so many people seem to be totally unaware that they're missing anything. Even worse than that, they defensively deny that they could be missing anything. :) Reading some of the side anecdotes in "Aikido Shogyu" about what O-Sensei and what Shioda Kancho could do would be enlightening to the true seekers, IMO.

FWIW

Mike

Ron Tisdale
04-18-2005, 08:32 AM
HI Mike and All,

Thank you to Clarke, Ellis, Steven, and Peter for chiming in! Quite a lot of information. I have heard on pretty good authority that Shioda Kancho continued his Daito ryu training for some period of time after his training association with Ushiba Sensei ended. Basically, it is said that he chased everyone out of the dojo to train with Horikawa Sensei. Some comments on this can be found here:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=4458&highlight=shioda+horikawa

I have since confirmed that this did indeed take place, but I don't know on how regular a basis. I'd be interested in Mike's (and others) take on what usage of 'ki' and kokyu they see in any video of Daito ryu demonstrations, particularly in this case, the Kodokai.

I also noted something that Stan Pranin added to the thread...But I'll ask him about that in the original thread.

Thanks again all,
Ron

Mike Sigman
04-18-2005, 09:41 AM
Thank you to Clarke, Ellis, Steven, and Peter for chiming in! Quite a lot of information. I have heard on pretty good authority that Shioda Kancho continued his Daito ryu training for some period of time after his training association with Ushiba Sensei ended. Basically, it is said that he chased everyone out of the dojo to train with Horikawa Sensei. Some comments on this can be found here: [snip] I have no dog in this hunt about Horikawa and Daito Ryu, so I won't go into it too much other than to say I consider the two arts so close as to be indistinguishable, *in their essentials*. Just like in all arts, there are variations between instructor, some are better than others, some move differently, etc., but the *essentials* that are done by the high-level practitioners appear to be pretty close. Again, though, there is that question of ki, kokyu, etc. I'd be interested in Mike's (and others) take on what usage of 'ki' and kokyu they see in any video of Daito ryu demonstrations, particularly in this case, the Kodokai. I have to concur with the comment I've seen and heard a number of times.... the way Shioda moves and does Aikido is different from what I see in so many Yoshinkan practitioners. I'd make an offhand guess that the systematization of Aikido that Shioda invented also resulted in people not doing quite what he himself learned to do and it shows. But I don't want to go off on that tangent; I just throw my *opinion* in FWIW.

In terms of Ki and Kokyu, that appears to be as much of a focus to Shioda as does his Aikido techniques. Maybe even more so, watching how he delights in showing off the kokyu things. In my opinion, learning Aikido with "enough to get by" ki and kokyu is an absurdity... Aikido without a strong emphasis on ki and kokyu is like Aikido in which you learn shihonage but you only rarely make token attempts at nikkyo and sankyo and other controls because you see no point in overemphasizing "controls". ;)

While Tohei uses ki/kokyu things as an integral part of the way he moves during all his Aikido (and all his daily motions, etc.), Shioda seems to delight in "tricks" that can be done with the manipulation of kokyu, etc. Reading his books, I got the impression from his systematization that his level was so-so, but better than most people. Watching him in person, I realize that his kokyu manipulation (in conjunction with his uncanny, lightning-fast "feel" for where someone's empty spot is) is quite high. He's impressive.

The question about Shioda is now, for me, to fine-tune exactly what he knew, where he learned it, etc., if I ever can pin those things down. From what Shioda does, I can generally tag what he can do by how he does the things he shows, but this one aspect of down-power is troubling because if he's doing it in a more sophisticated way than I can see (I don't think so, but I always have to allow for the possibility that I'm missing something), then the puzzle gets deeper.

To more directly address your question, I'd say that what I've seen and read by Shioda has largely increased my respect of what full-blown Aikido really means to the big dogs. Seriously. Shioda's take on Aikido (plus a lot of his anecdotes showing O-Sensei could do these things, too) is quite similar to real Taiji (not what you see practiced in the West), too. The "neutralize the attack and apply technique through timing", etc., is the same basic idea. The neutralizations and response in real Taiji are quite small in comparison to the larger "swirling" things you so often see in Aikido, but Shioda's Aikido reconciles that disparity nicely, IMO.

As I mentioned, I only have the DVD "Shingi Denju" (which has a lot of historical footage, so it's a nice overview) to go by, but there's a lengthy section of Shioda demonstrating very clever and direct jin/kokyu applications (even using his keiko-gi as the transmitter in some cases) that's really interesting. It raised my eyebrows to see that level of control used in Aikido. It would have been a high level of control in just about any art that I know of.

FWIW

Mike

Ron Tisdale
04-18-2005, 10:20 AM
One reason I suggest looking at Daito ryu is because of something we've discussed before I believe...the focus on 'aiki' as opposed to just 'ki'. That seems (to me) to be the real focus in aikido's predesessor, and that is why if you want to see the basis for a lot of these things, it pays to look at what the other 'top dogs' in Daito ryu did/do. Its just a suggestion, and given the more secretive nature often associated with the higher levels in Daito ryu, not an easy thing to do in any case.

One of the benefits would be to see more of those direct applications, without the large circles of aikido.

Best,
Ron

Alex Megann
04-18-2005, 11:34 AM
This is one of the most fascinating threads I've seen on Aikiweb for a long while!

My teacher (Kanetsuka Sensei) talks a lot about "aiki" and contact, and these days spends far more time teaching these than technique itself, to the evident frustration of many in his classes. His original teacher was Gozo Shioda, and one can see much of the influence of Shioda in the way he moves, and also in the kind of very quick, direct "centre-to-centre" contact he has with his uke. This, as I understand it, is a kind of contact which is rarely seen in Aikido, and Kanetsuka Sensei is constantly berating us for not getting this point.

Mike's mention of "standing" intrigues me - I have only limited experience of the Chinese arts, but Kanetsuka Sensei went through a phase about fifteen years ago, when he had come through the worst of his serious bout with cancer, of doing some exercises which I've never seen elsewhere in Aikido. One I think of (in my ignorance of its real name) as "holding the circle": standing with the arms out at chest height, fingertips touching and palms facing the body, and the heels held a little off the floor. He also taught an exercise he always refers to as being Chinese in origin - swinging the arms from shoulder level down to a little behind the hips, while letting the heels rise a little with each swing. At that time he would have us do both of these for twenty minutes or more.

What I would find very interesting is what other contributors to this thread think of Yamaguchi Sensei's Aikido in this context. He has been another strong influence on Kanetsuka Sensei, and to me his contact, which he referred to as "atari", seems to be similar in its essence to that of Shioda's (though their Aikido was quite different in form). I was of course hugely impressed by his Aikido when I first saw him twenty years or so ago in Oxford, but each time I watch video footage of him now the more I wish he were still around, as I see new subtleties in his extraordinarily smooth but powerful Aikido.

Alex

Mike Sigman
04-18-2005, 11:45 AM
One reason I suggest looking at Daito ryu is because of something we've discussed before I believe...the focus on 'aiki' as opposed to just 'ki'. That seems (to me) to be the real focus in aikido's predesessor, and that is why if you want to see the basis for a lot of these things, it pays to look at what the other 'top dogs' in Daito ryu did/do. Its just a suggestion, and given the more secretive nature often associated with the higher levels in Daito ryu, not an easy thing to do in any case. I get a little confused with the term "aiki" as some people are using it. Some people are using it to mean what actually is kokyu and some people are using it to mean "blending", etc. One of the problems with the term "aiki" is that a lot of somewhat sheltered Aikidoists think there's this neat Aikido idea of not resisting and blending with the opponent's attack and then either setting them aside gently or planting their face in the floor at the choosing of nage. The unfortunate thing is that if you've been around a while you understand that this same philosophy appears in a number of martial arts. So, it's a cool idea, etc., but it is not something really unique like the comparison in a lot of peoples' minds between Aikido and "karate" (poor karate... it's always the fall guy for people who do "soft", "internal", and "spiritual" stuff).

In terms of "aiki" as a definition of kokyu, I'll have to pass, BTW. It does not compute.

The interesting thing about "harmonizing" with the opponent is that to a large extent you always have to harmonize with your opponent if you're going to beat him with anything other than a sucker-punch or brute strength/size. If you read Shioda's comments on timing, etc., and the use of atemi, these are certainly within the realm of "aiki" as he defines it (of course, Shioda, not being of style X, could not possibly understand the real meaning of "aiki" the way adherents of style X do... that goes without saying. He was only a direct student of Ueshiba and was not enlightened in the approved manner. ;) ).

What I meant about Daito-Ryu and Aikido is that I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that at the higher levels of both arts they use the same amounts of ki and kokyu..... which is to say every movement is imbued with this sort of power/skill/conditioning.

My opinion, FWIW.

Mike

Ron Tisdale
04-18-2005, 11:45 AM
I like the parallels and differences between Shioda and Yamaguchi Sensei too, Alex. Its one reason I value my opportunities to train with some from that lineage here outside Phila. The form vs no-form thing is very interesting...for some reason the different training styles seem to compliment each other well. I don't know why. Are there any online clips of Kanetsuka Sensei?

One of my yoshinkan sempai does a lot of standing practice, some of which is similar to what you describe, and he also talks of equilizing the pressure throughout his body (seems similar to some of the things Mike describes).

Thanks,
Ron

Mike Sigman
04-18-2005, 12:04 PM
Mike's mention of "standing" intrigues me - I have only limited experience of the Chinese arts, but Kanetsuka Sensei went through a phase about fifteen years ago, when he had come through the worst of his serious bout with cancer, of doing some exercises which I've never seen elsewhere in Aikido. One I think of (in my ignorance of its real name) as "holding the circle": standing with the arms out at chest height, fingertips touching and palms facing the body, and the heels held a little off the floor. He also taught an exercise he always refers to as being Chinese in origin - swinging the arms from shoulder level down to a little behind the hips, while letting the heels rise a little with each swing. At that time he would have us do both of these for twenty minutes or more. Standing-post exercises are thought of by a lot of westerners and even a lot of Asians as some sort of Chinese ritual which is superfluous to actual practice. Or they think it's a mind-calming "meditation" where you "get in touch" with yourself and the universe. It's actually necessary training if you're ever going to get anywhere with ki/kokyu things. The problem is that you have to know how to do it... just copying somebody's posture won't do you much good, although it *will* build your ki somewhat, despite yourself.

However, there is martial standing practice and there is standing for "health". In the health-type standing you simply relax, but it's important that you understand how to shift your source of power to your hara (and that derives its power from both the ground and your weight). The idea is that standing develops your ki, which is true because it does, and if your ki is strong then the acupuncture circuits through your body get better ki flow and therefore you can improve your health (and if you have cancer worries, that's why you do standing exercises). Martial standing and qigongs are a little more sophisticated and even though they may look exactly the same as a health standing-exercise, they are a lot more involved. In health standings, the mind is deliberately shut down to allow the cerebral cortex or whatever to strengthen; in martial standings, deliberate kokyu extensions are held, so the mind can be said to be "focused" as opposed to "empty".

The things your teacher led you through were for health, but they can also develop some ki. Bear in mind that ki and strength are inextricably intertwined and so anyone who simply lifts weights (or works out in a dojo) will have more ki than someone who does no exercise... i.e., don't think of ki as apart from normal life. However, deliberately cultivated and conditioned ki can do some odd things... and that's the level we're talking about in these discussions about Shioda, Tohei, O-Sensei, etc.

FWIW

Mike

Pauliina Lievonen
04-18-2005, 12:22 PM
FWIW there are a couple (very short) video clips of Kanetsuka sensei on the AikidoFAQ.

Those standing things sound similar to things my teacher's teacher, Terry Ezra sensei, does as well.

kvaak
Pauliina
off to class

Yann Golanski
04-19-2005, 03:42 AM
Since Ezra sensei and Kanetsuka sensei were in the same organisation before Ezra split from it I am not surprised that their technique look similar. No, I don't know why they moved to different organisations.

Alex Megann
04-19-2005, 05:30 AM
It's interesting to hear mention of Terry Ezra in this context. He certainly has this ability to transmit power, and also has a feeling of soft solidity to him that I've rarely encountered elsewhere in Aikido. He tends to move very little (in contrast to Shioda, for instance), and has the ability to take the uke's strength away in very small, quick movements. I remember being amused when fast-forwarding a video of him demonstrating - there was Terry in the middle of the dojo, almost stationary, with a barely-recognisable blur of movement around him.

The strange thing is that his Aikido is actually very different from Kanetsuka's, despite his central position in the BAF for so many years. Practising with him was always a unique experience.

Alex

Rupert Atkinson
04-19-2005, 09:05 AM
Lots of names appearing in this thread related to me so I'll give my 2 Won.

Hello Alex - I still do both those standing exercises you mention that I remember Kanetsuka doing way back when. Here in Korea various other arts (some Chinese, some Korean) use them too. I also like to do the arms-in-a-circle one while holding a jo - once static, once pressing it, once pulling it apart.

For the person who asked about vids - I have seen Kanetsuka's teaching videos - they are quite useful but nothing compared to seeing the man himself.

I was also fortunate to meet Shioda in person so - the following is copied and pasted from a private message I sent to Mike Sigman:

I was fortunate to learn Yoshinkan for about 18 months from one of Shioda Gozo's top students in Japan. I also saw a few other sensei and they were pretty much identical to mine. Identical in that the Yoshinkan syllabus was enforced to the letter in minute detail. Everyone did everything the same way - any deviation was simply, wrong. And then came Shioda. I saw him do three demos while there and he came to our club to give a demo and do gradings twice. He did not do Yoshinkan! He was a free spirit and was the only person who did nothing related to the syllabus whatsoever. His style was like Kanetsuka in the UK except harder and meaner - he had a bit a of a mean streak and loved to inflict pain. Another interesting thing was - none of his students could do what he could do. Not surprising really, since he never taught it - all his students taught the robotic basics method.

Shioda was good, but one thing that turned me off was his demos. The first one was great, the second and third were exactly the same! Even the Jyuu waza (free practice) - same techniques in the same damned order. That was pretty bad form if you ask me. Especially if you call it Jyuu-waza.

I also saw Shioda wave his bokken about in demos. He was very fast and precise. I never saw anyone else do weapons work in Yoshinkan while there.

Here, I am just guessing: Kanetsuka, I think, is related to Shiseikan (I trained there one year), who used to be related to Yoshinkan. Kanetsuka probably had a lot of robotic Yoshinkan style training and then found his freedom when he went to the UK. Also, Kanetsuka's style changed for the better AFTER he got over his cancer - he had less strength I guess. He also has the same piercing glint in his eye that I saw in Shioda.

Terry Ezra was Kanetsuka's #1 student - but has now chosen to go his own way - and is the only person I have come across who did things to me that I could not understand. The guy is amazing. Again, vids do not do him justice. Experience it for yourself.

ki/chi/aiki - To me, ki / chi is that magical energy that I don't really believe in. Aiki, however, is the feeling of merging/blending/flowing (or not, if you so choose) with your partner - the feeling can be nothing / soft / sticky plastic / firm / immovable / penetrating - yet always changing. That's how I rationalise it to myself. The problem is, we all have different definitions and end up talking cross purposes.

Mike Sigman
04-19-2005, 09:22 AM
Terry Ezra was Kanetsuka's #1 student - but has now chosen to go his own way - and is the only person I have come across who did things to me that I could not understand. The guy is amazing. Again, vids do not do him justice. Experience it for yourself. Is it possible for you to describe something of an instance that you "could not understand"? I.e., was it a command of technique/application or was it in terms of body power/skill? ki/chi/aiki - To me, ki / chi is that magical energy that I don't really believe in. A single magical energy that permeates the universe? No, I don't either. That's just an ancient paradigm that the Chinese used before the advent of scientific method. Most modern Chinese don't really believe in a single magical force, either. Wang Xiang Zhai, founder of yiquan, said all the qi stuff was bunkum as do many others. The physical skills, which have traditionally been referred to as "qi" for centuries, are unusual and real, but they all seem to fall into accordance with the natural physical laws when you look at them closely. That kind of "qi" I believe in, but I consider the name just an arbitrary and vague handle. Aiki, however, is the feeling of merging/blending/flowing (or not, if you so choose) with your partner - the feeling can be soft / sticky plastic / or firm. That's how I rationalise it to myself. The problem is, we all have different definitions and end up talking cross purposes. Debate-wise, I'd point you to Shioda's comments about "harmony" (i.e., "aiki") when he talks about atemi. I.e., I would venture that ki and kokyu are skills that are independent of technique and strategy components that you appear to be adding to the definition. ;) My opinion, only.

Regards,

Mike

rob_liberti
04-19-2005, 09:32 AM
What I would find very interesting is what other contributors to this thread think of Yamaguchi Sensei's Aikido in this context.I think he was a sword master, and generated a tremendous amount of power with completely relaxed arms. I think the countless times when uke's who were remarkably difficult to move would attack him in something like ushiro ryokatatori and their elbows would just pop up due to some imperceptable movement on Yamaguchi sensei's part speaks to his ability in this area. He had his own private dojo and produced some incredibly strong aikidoka in their own right and did not do any standing exercises beyond shin-kokyu and suburi.

Personally, I think that no one thinks that we should develop just enough ki and kokyu to get by. I think people have their own approach to further developing these things from new perspectives. To get to those new perspectives, you sometimes have to shift your focus for a while and look at things in a new light. Bruce Cockburn's "keep kicking the darkness until it bleeds light" is fine when you have a tremendous amount of time - but it also reminds me of the definition of insanity where someone keeps trying the same actions and keeps expecting different results.

Rob

Rupert Atkinson
04-19-2005, 09:42 AM
Is it possible for you to describe something of an instance that you "could not understand"? I.e., was it a command of technique/application or was it in terms of body power/skill?
Mike

I can do things to my own students that they can not do. In time though, some of them can do it right back on me. If you understand something it becomes technical - it can be explained, so you teach it. Ezra Sensei is beyond me and I can't do it so can not explain. His body skill is subtle. You grab him but you can not control what you hold. Tamura Sensei did something similar to me last year but he was more interested in having fun with me than trying to teach me anything. Ezra Sensei tries his best to teach you what he is doing yet it is exceedingly difficult to copy. It is sometimes possible to do it on someone less skilled than yourself, but impossible to do back on Ezra. It is good to meet people like Ezra if only to expand your realm-of-the-possible. Another great man I met only a couple of times was a Bagua/Hsing I/Tai Chi teacher in Tokyo called Mr. So. He could do anything to anyone - they were puppets in his hands. He did not have that Aikido 'love and peace' outlook and used his skill at 'harmonising' with devious yet superbly skillful martial purpose. It's a body thing, not technical. I am up to my ears in technical. Actually, it's both - I just need to get my body in order!

And yes - time and strategy. They are major components of harmony, as is distance or space. It is not easy to fit time or space into explanations of feeling, but that's where we need to go.

Mike Sigman
04-19-2005, 11:10 AM
I can do things to my own students that they can not do. In time though, some of them can do it right back on me. If you understand something it becomes technical - it can be explained, so you teach it. Well, Tohei voiced some frustrations that O-Sensei described ki and kokyu skills in terms of the gods entering his body, etc. Tohei puts *some* practical descriptions to the same things and refers to them in such ways as "keeping his center sunk", etc. Some people are trying to develop kokyu skills by waiting for the body and the mind to do certain things, but they don't know what. Shioda attempted to approach the same skills mechanistically, for purposes of description and getting the most number of people to acquire some skills (I personally suspect he reserved some of his skills, just as Tohei does, O-Sensei did, etc.). So the problem for a wide-spectrum forum like this one is to find a common dialogue and/or logical approach (as Shioda attempted to do) that is understood by the most number of people. And yes - time and strategy. They are major components of harmony, as is distance or space. It is not easy to fit time or space into explanations of feeling, but that's where we need to go. I don't think we need to go into "feeling" at all. I think we can discuss things fairly well right up to the area of "feeling", but that's about it because feelings are simply too subjective. Heck, I was discussing with a friend of mine on the phone the other night that we can't even define who is "good at Aikido" because it's so subjective. Dan ranks have been given out indiscriminately by some instructors so knowing someone's rank doesn't tell us all that much; people are basing "good" on how someone handles essentially cooperative attacks that are limited in scope, etc. I even have people that want me to see "how good" their instructor, etc., is by "getting on the mat with him", i.e., they envision me wearing a hakama and offering shomenuchi or katate-tori or something and their instructor taking my proffered attack and driving me into the mat or perhaps dislocating my elbow with a foreshortened shihonage. ;) Anyone who can talk me into sacrificing my body to prove someone is "good" would be a smoothe-talking devil, indeed. My point is that I have great difficulty with some of the descriptions in Aikido (and other arts, as well) if we don't have some basis for what "good" is. None of us know how "good" the other person is from our typewriting skills on these forums, so none of us can be clear what is "amazing" without some fairly clear descriptions of what happened. Perhaps if we try to fine-tune our descriptions of the things we think are extraordinary?

I remember the first time I mentioned to a teacher of mine that I thought such-and-such was a great martial art, as I understood it. He asked, "Oh... what great fighters has it produced?". I named a name and he replied, "Oh... who did he beat?". In other words, he cut to the chase and had me really reviewing a lot of my definitions and musings. :) I think it's a helpful way to approach things, even for those people who don't want to let go of cherished "beliefs" and "feelings", by being so pragmatic. Every truly accomplished martial artist I know is pretty darn pragmatic and did a lot of thinking about how things actually work in his years of practice.

Notice that as things are getting better in various arts, including Aikido, a lot of it has to do with more specific and detailed information oh how to do things correctly (not to say that there isn't a lot of totally bogus information out there that will lead you the wrong way, if you're not careful).

All the Best.

Mike

Pauliina Lievonen
04-19-2005, 04:52 PM
Not meaning to get the topic too much adrift, apologies... http://www.aikido.co.uk/ has some clips of Ezra sensei, click on "resources", and then on the title of either cd. The clips from the Ikkyo cd are way down the page.

kvaak
Pauliina

Peter Goldsbury
04-19-2005, 07:10 PM
A few points.

Minoru Kanetsuka was not directly related to the Shiseikan. His relationship came indirectly through Takushoku University, also attended by Tanaka Shigeho (and, incidentally by Masatake Fujita).

After William Smith separated from M Kanetsuka in the early 80s, Terry Ezra stayed with him in the BAF. However, Terry had other influences, notably K. Chiba and healer John Kane, and I think they grew apart from quite early on.

I trained with Kanetsuka Shihan almost every day for about 5 years, between my return from the US and my departure for Japan. From what I know of Yoshinkan training, this was very similar, but he also began to study M Saito's aiki-ken and aiki-jo and also the Kashima swordwork practised by Chiba's father-in-law, M Sekiya, who stayed in the UK for a year. He was nothing if not eclectic.

Rather than S Yamaguchi (aiki, in my opinion), I think the Aikikai shihan who embodies kokyuu most clearly is Hiroshi Tada. I trained/train regularly with both shihans here in Japan and they are quite different. Both awesome, but quite different. The one common link is that both do (did, in the case of Yamaguchi Sensei) aikido and studied (stole) directly from M Ueshiba.

Best regards,

MM
04-19-2005, 08:55 PM
Rupert Atkinson wrote:
>I can do things to my own students that they can not do. In time
>though, some of them can do it right back on me. If you
>understand something it becomes technical - it can be explained,
>so you teach it.

Yes, I can definitely understand that.

>Ezra Sensei is beyond me and I can't do it so can not explain. His
>body skill is subtle. You grab him but you can not control what
>you hold.

I have been in that situation also, so I understand what you're talking about. And I agree, you can't explain it or teach it. But if you experience it enough and train enough, you start to understand it and then you're on your way.

>And yes - time and strategy. They are major components of
>harmony, as is distance or space. It is not easy to fit time or
>space into explanations of feeling, but that's where we need to go.

Time and timing are two separate components that have an important part in things. Distance and space are another two.

No two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. If you're good enough with aiki, ki, timing, and distance, you can "make" some uki believe that the space that they are going to occupy has suddenly been occupied by tori/nage. The time part is the fraction of a second where tori/nage occupies that space with ki/whatever. The timing is knowing when to start and end this process. The space is the exact point where uki believes himself to be. The distance is how much each person moves to accomplish these things. But all four are separate entities.

Now, if a tori/nage can do this without physically occupying that space, that's what I call using ki. My opinion. But when you can do that (and I can't, yet), and use aiki/blending/harmonizing, then you have an infinite amount of choices/movements to play with.

Think about blending with an uki to redirect them where you want them and then occupying the space they were going to land in with your ki. You would have an uki that would be putty in your hands. And that's about as well as I can explain some of the things I've felt but couldn't comprehend. And I'm not even sure I'm right in my thinking that this is what is going on. But until I'm further along and can understand more ... it'll be a mystery worth solving.

Mark

Mike Sigman
04-19-2005, 09:16 PM
Time and timing are two separate components that have an important part in things. Distance and space are another two. Time is what keeps everything from happening at once; Space is what keeps everything from happening to YOU. No two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. If you're good enough with aiki, ki, timing, and distance, you can "make" some uki believe that the space that they are going to occupy has suddenly been occupied by tori/nage. The time part is the fraction of a second where tori/nage occupies that space with ki/whatever. The timing is knowing when to start and end this process. The space is the exact point where uki believes himself to be. The distance is how much each person moves to accomplish these things. But all four are separate entities.

Now, if a tori/nage can do this without physically occupying that space, that's what I call using ki. My opinion. But when you can do that (and I can't, yet), and use aiki/blending/harmonizing, then you have an infinite amount of choices/movements to play with.

Think about blending with an uki to redirect them where you want them and then occupying the space they were going to land in with your ki. You would have an uki that would be putty in your hands. And that's about as well as I can explain some of the things I've felt but couldn't comprehend. And I'm not even sure I'm right in my thinking that this is what is going on. But until I'm further along and can understand more ... it'll be a mystery worth solving. I would still point out that even O-Sensei stressed atemi, even though many Aikidoists think everything can be done by magically "blending with your opponent". Every really good Aikidoist that I've ever seen uses checks and hits when he can't "blend" with even cooperative attacks, so I'd at least offer the opinion that the perhaps false goal of blending may not be totally on target. :)


FWIW

Mike

davidafindlay
04-20-2005, 02:11 AM
Hello,

Don't think my two cents isn't worth very much in this discussion (which is really good, btw), but I just have a quick observation about instructors and how they feel. Interesting how the feeling of advanced people is so similar.

My background is Shodokan; ended up at our hombu dojo in Osaka for a year in 1999/00 then went tripping about some. I bumped into Ezra sensei at a seminar in the UK. Over the course of nine years in aikido he had the closest feeling to Nariyama Shihan of our hombu dojo. I was almost tempted to journey up to Liverpool from the English deep south to train with him. (Logistics unfortunatey, were not kind.)

A signifcant part of the Shodokan system can be seen to focus on itoistu rokyu, kokyu rokyu and datsu rokyu (granted; exact definitions only valid within a school, but anyway). When I've felt Nariyama's technique and, on the one occasion, Ezra sensei's, these aspects felt very similar.

Best,
Dave Findlay

Alex Megann
04-20-2005, 03:44 AM
Minoru Kanetsuka was not directly related to the Shiseikan. His relationship came indirectly through Takushoku University, also attended by Tanaka Shigeho (and, incidentally by Masatake Fujita).
Best regards,

Kanetsuka Sensei had more a prolonged - although informal - influence from the Shiseikan in later years: for a while (in the late eighties, if I recall correctly) he had quite close contacts with Minoru Inaba, now head of the Shisekan, and would travel halfway across Europe to see him. I remember him speaking of Inaba as if he were some kind of prodigy - even though he is a little younger than Kanetsuka, the latter had great respect for his insights. I would guess the initial link with Inaba would have been through Sekiya Sensei.

There is an Aikido Journal interview with Inaba here:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=107&highlight=inaba

Alex

rob_liberti
04-20-2005, 04:25 AM
Rather than S Yamaguchi (aiki, in my opinion), I think the Aikikai shihan who embodies kokyuu most clearly is Hiroshi Tada. I trained/train regularly with both shihans here in Japan and they are quite different. Both awesome, but quite different. The one common link is that both do (did, in the case of Yamaguchi Sensei) aikido and studied (stole) directly from M Ueshiba.

I would agree that Yamaguchi sensei did not stress kokyu over aiki in his teaching of aikido and was quite awesome. Yet, he and his students certainly had/have kokyu power in abundance.

Saotome sensei's first teacher was Yamaguchi sensei. Some other notable students (for members of this forum) would be Endo sensei, Yasuno sensei, Takeda sensei, Gleason sensei, and I believe Christian Tissier sensei as well (not to mention some of their own students).

I chose my approach based on the number of excellent students produced by that training methodology. Just curious, who are the notable students of Tada sensei? I don't know that lineage very well at all.

Rob

Alex Megann
04-20-2005, 05:57 AM
I chose my approach based on the number of excellent students produced by that training methodology. Just curious, who are the notable students of Tada sensei? I don't know that lineage very well at all.
Rob

In Europe at least, Tada's notable students include Hideki Hosokawa (7 Dan), Masatomi Ikeda (7 Dan) and the late Giorgio Veneri (6 Dan).

Alex

Peter Goldsbury
04-20-2005, 06:11 AM
I would agree that Yamaguchi sensei did not stress kokyu over aiki in his teaching of aikido and was quite awesome. Yet, he and his students certainly had/have kokyu power in abundance.

Saotome sensei's first teacher was Yamaguchi sensei. Some other notable students (for members of this forum) would be Endo sensei, Yasuno sensei, Takeda sensei, Gleason sensei, and I believe Christian Tissier sensei as well (not to mention some of their own students).

I chose my approach based on the number of excellent students produced by that training methodology. Just curious, who are the notable students of Tada sensei? I don't know that lineage very well at all.

Rob

I was not thinking in terms of lineage, so much as my own direct experience of these shihans over the twenty-odd years I have been here. Both have/had large numbers of senior students here in Japan. Yamaguchi Shihan had kokyuu but did not stress it: he was able to control uke's balance. Tada Shihan places great stress on kokyuu and on stranding exercises. Of course, when he was a deshi, he supplemented his aikido training with training under Tenpu Nakamura (as did Tohei) and others.

Mike Sigman
04-20-2005, 06:19 AM
There is an Aikido Journal interview with Inaba here:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=107&highlight=inaba
Alex It's a good article. Relevant to the thread topic of Ki Things, was this: However, even if you grasp timing, if you don't focus your power or energy you cannot do anything. In the human body the area to focus power is the lower abdomen (kafuku tanden).

Power focused here is defensive power; power going out is offensive power.

How can you put forth offensive power? The first thing you have to do is to focus the power in your center. Offensive power will naturally flow if you focus your power in the center. That is forceful power (iryoku). It is a condition of focused energy that becomes center energy. In budo, people use the terms "bui" or "iryoku", don't they? Most important in martial arts is "iwoharu," showing this powerfully focused energy. It's not good to pretend that you have energy (karaibari). Try to use the energy in the lower abdomen. You can call this energy focused "ki" energy. If you don't have center energy, you are bluffing. Really, you have to develop this energy. The energy will flow naturally if you can focus it in the lower abdomen. If you understand this point, you will understand how to develop your body and mind and how you should train.

If you forget this essential point, you'll think only about winning, and you won't have the power to keep centered. This power won't be released and you will be destroyed. What Inaba Sensei said is another stress on the importance of the ki and kokyu components. What I think happens is that everyone gets so used to hearing these terms (often from the mouthes of people with little or no real skills), that they automatically think of it as not too important (in comparison with technique) or as something a bit separate and which they already do enough of. But... each person has to see and choose their own way. Perhaps I'm too enamored with the recent (to me, with the perspective I have) revelation that there was a stronger undercurrent and knowledge of ki things in Aikido than I had thought. With today's sources of information (Aikido Journal, books, etc.) these things become more apparent. You do exercises to straighten up your back muscles and relax your shoulders. Drop your focus to your lower abdomen. If you do that, you'll find your center point and you will produce center energy. If your center is not developed, you won't have ki energy available to project through your fingers.

If you take excess energy from the upper body and train the lower body as in sumo wrestling, and if you train the energy of the lower abdomen, you will develop your center energy. You use that power wherever necessary.

Even though you focus the energy in your lower abdomen, you will not be able to move the energy to the area where you need it right away. You have to think about how you are going to move it. You have to think about two things, gathering and filling up the power, and then moving the power to where the opponent will attack. Also if you have a weapon, you have to project energy through the weapon. If you understand this point, you'll know how to train and what you need to develop. At the same moment you meet your opponent, you focus on your abdomen (hara) and project your ki where you need it. The result will be that you will shut down your opponent's power. I understand that as the power of "aiki." Those last 3 sentences are interesting because they discuss our previous topic of "aiki" (the one I said that I found confusing due to the different way people were using it). IF I assume that Inaba Sensei's definition is correct (and I think it's a good working assumption) and I take into account the what I called "clever" and ""sophisticated" usages I saw Shioda do, then I know what he means and I can see a general definition that seems plausible to me. As Inaba use it, "Aiki" has to do with the use of kokyu in relation to what I called the "lightning fast feel for someone's empty spot" that Shioda demonstrates repeatedly in a segment of the DVD "Shingi Denju". And I agree... this is the essence of all good techniques when you know how to really use kokyu. Let me add one point to that last sentence... it's very common to meet a simple statement like that last one with an "Oh yeah, I know what he's talking about and I already do that", but I'm talking about a specific area of skill that I saw Shioda do that I doubt the average person knows how to do. I.e., it's probably worth the chase.

My opinion, FWIW

Mike

Peter Goldsbury
04-20-2005, 06:27 AM
Kanetsuka Sensei had more a prolonged - although informal - influence from the Shiseikan in later years: for a while (in the late eighties, if I recall correctly) he had quite close contacts with Minoru Inaba, now head of the Shisekan, and would travel halfway across Europe to see him. I remember him speaking of Inaba as if he were some kind of prodigy - even though he is a little younger than Kanetsuka, the latter had great respect for his insights. I would guess the initial link with Inaba would have been through Sekiya Sensei.

There is an Aikido Journal interview with Inaba here:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=107&highlight=inaba

Alex

Hello Alex,

Yes, I know the article and have some stuff Inaba wrote in Japanese. There is a book called "Budo e no izanai: Nihon Seishin no Shuuyou". When you next meet KS, ask him if he My own connection with him is through my very first aikido teacher, who is a senior member of that dojo. This was before I met K. Chiba in Chiswick (in the days of the AGB). I remember Sekiya Sensei mentioning two powerful students, Inaba and Noguchi. Of course, they also trained with Yamaguchi Sensei.

Best regards,

Peter Goldsbury
04-20-2005, 07:05 AM
Hello Mike,

Compare, if you will, the "lightning fast feel for one's empty spot", with the 'explosive power' talked about earlier in this thread. In my opinion, Yamaguchi's trademark was the first and Tada's trademark is the second, though of course they are two sides of a larger whole.

Inaba was greatly influenced by Yamaguchi, who never divorced kokyuu training from aikido training in general. Tada Shihan, on the other hand, practised a whole load of standing exercises, which he called "Ki no Renma" and insisted that kokyuu power could come only via very intensive training. As I intimated in a previous post, Tada supplemented his aikido trainig at the Hombu with training outside.

In aikido taking ukemi is a good way to sense what is happening and I have done this regularly over the years with both shihans. With Yamaguchi it was like grabbing hold of water. He found the empty spot, but then allowed you to fill it and then controlled your own ki/kokyuu until the next empty spot, and so on. With Tada it is more like entering a whirlpool, since he controls the 'kokyuu field' from the very begining. Tada expects you to keep up with his kokyuu, whereas Yamaguchi matches yours and draws it out, at every step.

Does this make sense?

Best regards,

Peter Goldsbury
04-20-2005, 08:12 AM
Hello Alex,

Yes, I know the article and have some stuff Inaba wrote in Japanese. There is a book called "Budo e no izanai: Nihon Seishin no Shuuyou". When you next meet KS, ask him if he My own connection with him is through my very first aikido teacher, who is a senior member of that dojo. This was before I met K. Chiba in Chiswick (in the days of the AGB). I remember Sekiya Sensei mentioning two powerful students, Inaba and Noguchi. Of course, they also trained with Yamaguchi Sensei.

Best regards,

I see that I sent the post without finishing a sentence. I meant that you should ask Kanetsuka Sensei when you next see him if he knows of the book.

Best regards,

rob_liberti
04-20-2005, 08:19 AM
Peter,

It makes perfect sense to me! I can totally relate to the idea of the teacher matching you and drawing you out at every step. That is what Gleason sensei does and teaches quite well. You are constantly receiving as uke and nage.

I actually got to train with Sekiya Sensei as my partner in Boston once! When he visited the area (one of his deshi had originally come from the area) he came to the annual Saotome sensei seminar at Gleason sensei's dojo. He had a dark black mustache and a big white afro. It was just ridiculous getting thrown by him. I had no idea what he was doing! He was totally soft and totally powerful.

Also, I believe that Noguchi sensei was the person who taught Kashimashinryo to Gleason sensei. He always speaks very highly of them.

I'm sure that explosive power is very interesting and useful, and I will continue to research it as a side curiosity while I stick to Yamaguchi sensei's approach. It obviously works quite well without focusing on kokyu divorced from aikido training in general. If someone wants to focus primarily on kokyu, I hope it works for them. (Maybe they should call what they do kokyudo? :))

Rob

Ron Tisdale
04-20-2005, 08:29 AM
Jun, is there a way you can archive this thread in a prominent place on the board?

I'd really like to thank everyone for their contributions!

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
04-20-2005, 08:33 AM
It obviously works quite well without focusing on kokyu divorced from aikido training in general. If someone wants to focus primarily on kokyu, I hope it works for them. (Maybe they should call what they do kokyudo? )

Hi Rob, isn't that a little close to saying what Tada Sensei does is not aikido? Or was that a slight shot across the bow to Mike? ;) You know, Mike took quite a bit of flak coming here...but in the end, look at the thread it produced....

Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
04-20-2005, 08:49 AM
Compare, if you will, the "lightning fast feel for one's empty spot", with the 'explosive power' talked about earlier in this thread. In my opinion, Yamaguchi's trademark was the first and Tada's trademark is the second, though of course they are two sides of a larger whole. Hi Peter:

Actually, this can be looked at on about 3 levels of understanding. At the moment I'm going through a "duh" phase with myself, but the real problem was that I hadn't had anyone actually define the specific part of "aiki" before, the way Inaba did. Using that, I go back and see that Shioda wasn't just "delighting in kokyu tricks", as I earlier said, he was focusing on what "aiki-do" actually meant to him. It's an honest epiphany for me. Not that I missed what he was doing, I missed what it meant in the grand scheme of things because we all get confused in trying to pick out what is the important information when so much is always being paraded in front of us (that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it). I had already decided that what Shioda did was like an exquisite riff on a guitar that I had never thought about, even though I'm a "guitar player" as well. And I was already beginning to concentrate on accomplishing the riff the way he did it.

What Shioda did was being missed by his students that attempted to emulate him. They saw it on the first level. The second level would be after you got some kokyu skills and you emulated it on a gross level. The third level would be an extension beyond just the kokyu skills but how you move them outside of your body. Suddenly I see a whole art built around that concept (well, I see it after reading Inaba's enlightening comment) and I see even more clearly than before why just a few techniques are necessary if you have that particular skill. In a way, it's the same basic idea in real Taiji, but I again missed the focus because I was engaged in developing the extent of my powers and overlooked the four-leaf clover. Duh. ;)

The point being that "explosive power" is just one way you can apply this concept (or you can just use it to show off) and that's somewhat aside from "finding the empty spot" (which is important, but more complicated than I'm making it). Shioda did somewhat more than just "find the empty spot" but I figured that was accurate enough for the purposes of these discussions. Inaba was greatly influenced by Yamaguchi, who never divorced kokyuu training from aikido training in general. Tada Shihan, on the other hand, practised a whole load of standing exercises, which he called "Ki no Renma" and insisted that kokyuu power could come only via very intensive training. As I intimated in a previous post, Tada supplemented his aikido trainig at the Hombu with training outside. The level of kokyu is, as I've said before, a matter of degree. It goes from the coarse "driving with the whole body" stuff that some people do (they're sure they've "arrived", though) to the fairly sophisticated levels. At the fairly sophisticated levels you can do what Shioda did without actually having a lot of the true "ki" (and it's quite possible that Shioda didn't really understand what that is, given his definitions) or you can do what Shioda did and have in addition the actual ki-things the body can do, the ones that Tohei likes to focus on. In terms of the essence of Aikido, as I'm seeing it now, it can be effected without going to the full limits that Tohei does, but it's not simple and it does take some practice. So it could be that Tada was going for the full boat in addition to the essence of Aiki and Yamaguchi was focused only on the essence of Aiki. If that makes sense to you. I only offer it as a possibility since I don't know either person. In aikido taking ukemi is a good way to sense what is happening and I have done this regularly over the years with both shihans. With Yamaguchi it was like grabbing hold of water. He found the empty spot, but then allowed you to fill it and then controlled your own ki/kokyuu until the next empty spot, and so on. With Tada it is more like entering a whirlpool, since he controls the 'kokyuu field' from the very begining. Tada expects you to keep up with his kokyuu, whereas Yamaguchi matches yours and draws it out, at every step.

Does this make sense? Well, it makes sense, certainly, but it sounds like different usages of the same basic concept that Inaba called "aiki". I.e., once you understand it, you can play variations on the same theme. In fact, that's what Shioda was doing with his "riff".... it was a series of variations on the central theme; the way he did his ura, omote, leading, etc., would also be variations of that same theme, without a doubt. So someone being uke for Tsuki-Kotegaeshi with Shioda might have described a "whirlpool" or whatever feeling, but the essence of what Shioda did would have been this use of "aiki" throughout the throw, regardless of the feeling his particular variation of aiki induced on uke. IMO. Email me at mikesigman at earthlink.net so I can get your preferred email address and I'll try to lay it out more clearly, when I get a few minutes.

Regards,


Mike Sigman

Alex Megann
04-20-2005, 09:05 AM
I see that I sent the post without finishing a sentence. I meant that you should ask Kanetsuka Sensei when you next see him if he knows of the book.

Best regards,
Thanks, Peter - I will do!

Alex

rob_liberti
04-20-2005, 10:04 AM
Hi Rob, isn't that a little close to saying what Tada Sensei does is not aikido? Or was that a slight shot across the bow to Mike? ;)

Hi Ron.

I'm certain that what Tada sensei does is aikido. The point being made was about where to put your focus. My point doesn't have to be taken as a shot any more than say writing about how it would be an absurdity to study aikido and not focus on kokyu.

You know, Mike took quite a bit of flak coming here...but in the end, look at the thread it produced....

Now does that seem ... "Equitable?" ;)

I do agree that this is a wonderful thread.

Rob

Ron Tisdale
04-20-2005, 10:16 AM
I'm reading the article posted earlier now, and I'm going to go back and re-read this entire thread afterward. The really cool thing is that I get to keiko this weekend with both Utada and Ikeda Sensei at the same time! I hope I can explore some of what is in this thread really soon...starting tonight, in fact!

Its funny, I've been reading Mike's writing off and on for quite sometime now, and trying to figure out some of this stuff and how it relates to my keiko here and there. But this is the most productive thread for me on this subject I can think of. In a sense, his 'challenge' to the art was very valid for me...I studied 'smash mouth' aikido for some time...not realizing that that wasn't what my teachers were teaching. Some of us just catch on slowly. I'm not convinced the problem is with the teachers so much as it is with the students (like me).

Good reading you again...

Best,
Ron

MM
04-20-2005, 11:12 AM
Mike Sigman wrote:
>I would still point out that even O-Sensei stressed atemi, even >though many Aikidoists think everything can be done by magically
>"blending with your opponent". Every really good Aikidoist that I've
>ever seen uses checks and hits when he can't "blend" with even
>cooperative attacks, so I'd at least offer the opinion that the
>perhaps false goal of blending may not be totally on target.

Oh, yes, I agree with the atemi. I was just trying to explain that, as an uki, when you get "tossed around like a rag doll" by someone good, that they can use either a physical atemi or what some people call "ki". Right now in my understanding, I view them both as atemi (in the previous instance that I was talking about). One is physical and one is something else that I don't have a great understanding of yet, but I've been on the receiving end of both. :)

Mark

Mike Sigman
04-20-2005, 11:34 AM
Getting back to the idea of developing Kokyu power, I thought of the below-styled thought attributed to Tada Shihan. I also note that Tohei's instructions for ki and kokyu seem pretty vague, but added to Tohei's cloudiness was a similar obscure comment in "Aikido Shugyo" about just training and it will happen. Here's the Tada comment via Peter :Inaba was greatly influenced by Yamaguchi, who never divorced kokyuu training from aikido training in general. Tada Shihan, on the other hand, practised a whole load of standing exercises, which he called "Ki no Renma" and insisted that kokyuu power could come only via very intensive training. As I intimated in a previous post, Tada supplemented his aikido trainig at the Hombu with training outside. But notice below that Inaba Sensei is fairly pragmatic in his suggestions: However, even if you grasp timing, if you don't focus your power or energy you cannot do anything. In the human body the area to focus power is the lower abdomen (kafuku tanden).

Power focused here is defensive power; power going out is offensive power.

How can you put forth offensive power? The first thing you have to do is to focus the power in your center. Offensive power will naturally flow if you focus your power in the center. That is forceful power (iryoku). It is a condition of focused energy that becomes center energy..... Try to use the energy in the lower abdomen. You can call this energy focused "ki" energy. If you don't have center energy, you are bluffing. Really, you have to develop this energy. The energy will flow naturally if you can focus it in the lower abdomen. If you understand this point, you will understand how to develop your body and mind and how you should train.....Drop your focus to your lower abdomen. If you do that, you'll find your center point and you will produce center energy. If your center is not developed, you won't have ki energy available to project through your fingers.

If you take excess energy from the upper body and train the lower body as in sumo wrestling, and if you train the energy of the lower abdomen, you will develop your center energy. You use that power wherever necessary.

Even though you focus the energy in your lower abdomen, you will not be able to move the energy to the area where you need it right away. You have to think about how you are going to move it. ......At the same moment you meet your opponent, you focus on your abdomen (hara) and project your ki where you need it. The result will be that you will shut down your opponent's power. I understand that as the power of "aiki." I just wanted to point out that it's not a hopeless or obscure task to develop kokyu skills, despite the traditionally voiced obscurities. O-Sensei talked obscurely about the "gods" being involved. Some people talk obscurely about "just relax". Others offer rituals. And so on. From the descriptions, it all sounds like they're doing different things or that they have special approaches that are somehow different, but at heart the steps of all the "different approaches" are the same. I like Inaba's very direct words, in this regard.

Like the development of any skill, you start out with simple steps and go forward (Inaba has some good recommendations involving Sumo, etc., but that's not much of an option to westerners). At first there's not much there (hence a lot of people miss something without immediate and obvious results), but after a while it blossoms into something extraordinary... and within reach of some of the manipulation skills that Shioda, Tohei, and others show.

Notice above in Inaba's comments which were translated at first as "power", but then shifted to "energy". Granted, after a while this skill seems unique and powerful and mysterious enough to perhaps warrant the use of the word "energy", but "power" is an adequate-enough term to start out with. Inaba goes on to recommend:

If you take excess energy from the upper body and train the lower body as in sumo wrestling, and if you train the energy of the lower abdomen, you will develop your center energy. You use that power wherever necessary.

That comment just above pretty much sums up what is probably the best approach and the most accurate comment of what ultimately happens, in the main (there are a number of other things that get involved, but this is the important part). In all kokyu training the basic idea is that the strength of the lower body is transmitted through the relaxed upper body and the "hara" or "Tanden" area is the control point. The trick is that the upper body must be very relaxed so that the mind learns how to handle this new way of movement and to assign "paths" by recruiting lots of small muscles (and the "ki", but that's a complexity we don't need for this suggestion of how to start on the road to this skill)... i.e., you want to avoid use of the strong upper-body primary musculature so the body-mind can re-train. Inaba Sensei suggests something like Sumo, but the idea is to train in a way that uses the lower body and not the upper body... in *all* your movements. So naturally this form of movement "with the center" is something you need to do full time in order to effect the most rapid transition to true "center-powered" movement. Also, if this power is truly to be powerful, you need to strengthen the legs and hips (suwari-waza, anyone?) and you need to learn to let the power flow up not only from the legs but from the ground on which the legs rest. You don't lift anything when you use this kind of power, you push things upward with the ground.

Anyway, that's the best place to start if you're like I was when I joined Aikido and wondered what the first step should be in order to develop this odd sort of power. Go back and re-learn your movements so that every bit of the power your upper body expresses is powered by the lower body. Pretend that your shoulders have been moved from where they are to just below the shoulderblades... i.e., to operate these new shoulders you'll have to use your middle and back rather than your current shoulder muscles. It feels weird and not very productive at first... but isn't that true of most attempts to learn a new skill?

FWIW

Mike Sigman

MM
04-20-2005, 01:16 PM
Just as an off-note -- what you posted that Inaba Sensei wrote is very close to the same thing that a friend of mine says. Only he studies Yoga. Weird.

Mark

Mike Sigman
04-20-2005, 01:29 PM
Just as an off-note -- what you posted that Inaba Sensei wrote is very close to the same thing that a friend of mine says. Only he studies Yoga. Weird. I don't know if your friend knows how to move like this or if he's just parroting some of the "energy" stuff. Anyone can talk the talk. ;) However, this form of movement is very practical and the study of the flows of power from this sort of movement are the basis for acupuncture, etc.... and the original idea was brought to China (and thence to Japan) by people in India who thought this was a very important and practical form of movement. A "natural" form of movement that "puts you in harmony with the way the cosmos moves", in fact.

FWIW

Mike

Misogi-no-Gyo
04-20-2005, 03:30 PM
...but the real problem was that I hadn't had anyone actually define the specific part of "aiki" before, the way Inaba did. Using that, I go back and see that Shioda wasn't just "delighting in kokyu tricks", as I earlier said, he was focusing on what "aiki-do" actually meant to him. It's an honest epiphany for me.
:)

...Suddenly I see a whole art built around that concept
;)

...and I see even more clearly than before why just a few techniques are necessary if you have that particular skill.
:)

...The point being that "explosive power" is just one way you can apply this concept (or you can just use it to show off) and that's somewhat aside from "finding the empty spot" (which is important, but more complicated than I'm making it).
:)

...Well, it makes sense, certainly, but it sounds like different usages of the same basic concept that Inaba called "aiki". I.e., once you understand it, you can play variations on the same theme.
:)

...So someone being uke for Tsuki-Kotegaeshi with Shioda might have described a "whirlpool" or whatever feeling, but the essence of what Shioda did would have been this use of "aiki" throughout the throw, regardless of the feeling his particular variation of aiki induced on uke.
:) ...but I do believe that many would benefit if we clarify what is meant in the underlined portion of your last statement.

Mike Sigman
04-20-2005, 04:02 PM
Shaun, why don't you post something meaningful? Tell us something about your 'other ways to do it' rather than these silly posts with all the smileys. I.e., if you have something substantive to contribute, please do so.

Mike Sigman

Misogi-no-Gyo
04-20-2005, 04:13 PM
Shaun, why don't you post something meaningful. Tell us something about your 'other ways to do it' rather than these silly posts with all the smileys. I.e., if you have something substantive to contribute, please do so.

Mike Sigman


Hi Mike,

I was just acknowledging your conclusions. The smiley face is just agreement. As I have made the mistake in the past, in this case I just didn't want to add anything that had the potential to draw you into a conversation of semantics. As for if I have something substantive... Yes, that would be the part where I mentioned the benefit of clarifying what you meant in the last portion of your last quote in my post.

I liked the first part of what you said there, but felt that others would benefit by fleshing out the details of the latter part.



.


PS - might we see you at the Aiki-Expo?



.

Mike Sigman
04-20-2005, 04:32 PM
As for if I have something substantive... Yes, that would be the part where I mentioned the benefit of clarifying what you meant in the last portion of your last quote in my post.

I liked the first part of what you said there, but felt that others would benefit by fleshing out the details of the latter part. I don't see what the question is...you may be reading something into it that's not there.

If someone is taking a force and responding to it in a certain way (i.e., "aiki"), there are multiple variations of aiki or its immediate aftermath that various individuals might utilize. If they do a good aiki technique (as Inaba defined it), then their following and finishing moves may well differ, but that doesn't mean much about the propriety of the aiki technique. In other words, regardless of different feelings *within* the technique of Tada and Yamaguchi, it doesn't necessarily imply they do anything other than aiki. PS - might we see you at the Aiki-Expo? I doubt it. L.A. traffic is not something I get involved in for pleasure. Maybe if it was in Denver or some smaller venue I'd be tempted, but not the major urban cities.

Mike

James Young
04-20-2005, 05:14 PM
I doubt it. L.A. traffic is not something I get involved in for pleasure. Maybe if it was in Denver or some smaller venue I'd be tempted, but not the major urban cities.

Don't let the traffic discourage you. The venue at CSU Dominguez Hills is very close to the airport (less than 15 miles I think). So you wouldn't have to really fight too much traffic, if any, to get there.

Getting back to the topic at hand I think I get what you are saying. That is that "aiki" (by the definition given earlier) can be manifested by individuals in various forms of techniques. One can witness someone like Abe-sensei utilizing it with his very subtle and hardly visible movements just as well as someone like Tada-sensei with his larger, sharper, and "explosive" movements utilizing it as well. It's more about what that power is and where it originates from more than the visible form it takes through an individual's technique.

Mike Sigman
04-20-2005, 05:38 PM
Getting back to the topic at hand I think I get what you are saying. That is that "aiki" (by the definition given earlier) can be manifested by individuals in various forms of techniques. One can witness someone like Abe-sensei utilizing it with his very subtle and hardly visible movements just as well as someone like Tada-sensei with his larger, sharper, and "explosive" movements utilizing it as well. It's more about what that power is and where it originates from more than the visible form it takes through an individual's technique. Yes, that's right. Let me try, just for the fun of it, to re-state what I'm trying to say:

1. If an Aikidoist has a strategy and tactic of "blending" with an attack and then converting the attack into a throw, etc., it is a nice strategy, but it's not particularly different from a number of other arts' strategies. It also does not explain the times when a punch, body-check, etc., is used. This is pretty low-level as a definition, but in actuality it is what you see most often.

2. If an Aikidoist knows how to generate and use kokyu strength in the above strategy and tactics, it is a lot better, although it really doesn't distinguish Aikido from a number of other martial arts, in principle.

3. If an Aikidoist can instantly manipulate or place his kokyu power in such a way that it combines with uke's force and negates it (as part of the start of the technique), it is a very high-level martial art and worth all the hoopla. Since kokyu and its manipulations would be the power behind checks and punches (in relation to timing, etc.), then the "aiki" is still there and the art is still a legitimately superior art.

My opinion, FWIW

Mike

Misogi-no-Gyo
04-21-2005, 01:33 AM
I don't see what the question is...you may be reading something into it that's not there.

If someone is taking a force and responding to it in a certain way (i.e., "aiki"), there are multiple variations of aiki or its immediate aftermath that various individuals might utilize. If they do a good aiki technique (as Inaba defined it), then their following and finishing moves may well differ, but that doesn't mean much about the propriety of the aiki technique. In other words, regardless of different feelings *within* the technique of Tada and Yamaguchi, it doesn't necessarily imply they do anything other than aiki.

Hi Mike,

Sorry I wasn't more specific in either of my first two attempts. You originally said,

...So someone being uke for Tsuki-Kotegaeshi with Shioda might have described a "whirlpool" or whatever feeling, but the essence of what Shioda did would have been this use of "aiki" throughout the throw, regardless of the feeling his particular variation of aiki induced on uke.

I have no questions about either the first part your comments which I quote, above or the more descriptive way you speak about it both in your reply to me, above, and in your response to James Young (hi James). As for the latter part (the underlined part) I wanted to better understand what you meant there. Specifically, I agree about what you say the nage is doing, in terms of aiki, is a continuous, unbroken approach. Therefore, my approach is to effect, or summarizing your words induce a particular feeling in or on uke. For me the effect - whatever that may be, must be maintained with the same continuous, unbroken methodology. I wasn't sure if you were implying that the state of aiki ended within nage or at the point of connection of nage and uke and is being maintained solely by the nage - meaning that the uke's experience might actually vary throughout any one given encounter. Or, perhaps you meant that uke's feeling is based upon any of a number of varying methods employed by individual practitioners each capable of expressing an aiki-response that they (the uke) feel is maintained throughout the encounter. I was wondering whether you agree, or disagree with either of the two, above, scenarios. I just couldn't tell by what you had written.

Looking at your further comments, something else came up for me that I wanted to talk about… Simply speaking, Aiki may be looked at as the relationship between things. It is true that being able to do this, in the manner you specified in your post is a rare and high level thing. It is also true that without this being present, there is no aikido - and on that you and I have never disagreed as far as I can tell, regardless of semantics, or our personal styles of writing. I guess my point is that while what you have pointed to is the precursor to aiki, it is only when it is extended out to include harmonizing with another that it actually becomes aiki. In many ways this may be looked at the next level of aiki, but I believe it is more accurate to state this is where the state of aiki actually begins. To illustrate my point, the moment that uke stops his attack, nage, seeking to maintain aiki, must also cease in his harmony of the attack. This is simply, "a mirror reflects what stands before it" or mushin, if you will. Of course, the nage can still harmonize with uke's new state and in doing so he preserves the state of aiki. However, it is just that there is no aikido in a vacuum, or in a cave, and by extension, one cannot practice aikido by himself.

This is a significant point along the path one must follow towards understanding where ki & kokyu end and aiki and ultimately aikido begin. One can have all the power of ki and kokyu harnessed within themselves to the Nth degree. But, so what? That doesn't mean that they can create a state of aiki, or be able to maintain that state throughout a particularly lengthy encounter with a determined attacker.

Of course, if you agree with me there, then I would be interested to get your thoughts on my next point. This is where I will take head on the question you have as to the originality, or uniqueness of aikido. I am certainly not out to prove it in that light, nor am I able to do so should I even choose to try. However, that doesn't mean that I don't feel that it is original and unique, or that regardless of my feeling, or yours for that matter, that it isn't original and unique.

You wrote:
If an Aikidoist can instantly manipulate or place his kokyu power in such a way that it combines with uke's force and negates it (as part of the start of the technique), it is a very high-level martial art and worth all the hoopla. Since kokyu and its manipulations would be the power behind checks and punches (in relation to timing, etc.), then the "aiki" is still there and the art is still a legitimately superior art.

I am sure that everyone's experience of the art is dependent upon the source to which they go to experience it. I have seen some poor things done on the mat in the name of aikido, and enough has been said by others on this subject (aiki-bunnies, aikido doesn't work, is aikido a martial art…etc, etc.) that I don't need to comment here. However, I can honestly say that my experiences coming from the sources from which I sought it in the past, and seek it even now, have always been exactly the way you have described it, above. That is not to say anything about my particular sources. However, if you had that same experience, albeit from your own sources, and that had been your only experience of the art form, wouldn't you find it strange, as did I, when you encountered comments like (aiki-bunnies, aikido doesn't work, is aikido a martial art…etc, etc.)? Furthermore, had you had experienced aikido in said manner, what you might envision your most recent epiphany, having occurred years before, might have led you to in terms of your understanding of the art as it might very well have revealed itself?



.

Alex Megann
04-21-2005, 03:54 AM
...Also, if this power is truly to be powerful, you need to strengthen the legs and hips (suwari-waza, anyone?) and you need to learn to let the power flow up not only from the legs but from the ground on which the legs rest. You don't lift anything when you use this kind of power, you push things upward with the ground.


Shioda Sensei is said to have taught that kokyu power comes from the toes.

I've found that when practising suwariwaza kokyu-ho, if I manage to tune everything out except the sensation of the contact of my toes with the tatami, the technique becomes almost effortless. I'm still working on extending this to standing practice.

Alex

rob_liberti
04-21-2005, 08:27 AM
Alex, I find it works better for me to not tune everything out. At one point (pun intended) I developed a fairly unified push oriented to get the uke's knees to lift up. Now, I have abandoned that sillyness. What I try to work with now is that I generally recieve the grab a bit (not using my center at all - certainly not allowing them to feel a connection from my arms to my center) and then as their grab starts making some progress I allow them to feel my body's connection and move to energize a weak spot of theirs (typically below their center) such that they start to (and continue to) apply themselves. As I feel them apply themselves, I move the base a bit so that they are a bit more energized below their center until we follow that energy flow up and out of their body. My inspiration for this has come from the ideas of thrusting and cutting. YMMV.

Shaun, I appreciated your ideas about the state of aiki very much. Thank you.

While I would like to have more ability in kokyu explosiveness, I think I just have the goal of minimizing - or using minimal energy. And I suppose I have the belief that that my futher developing kokyu from within the state of aiki would be much more usable for my goals.

Rob

Alex Megann
04-21-2005, 08:52 AM
Alex, I find it works better for me to not tune everything out. At one point (pun intended) I developed a fairly unified push oriented to get the uke's knees to lift up. Now, I have abandoned that sillyness. What I try to work with now is that I generally recieve the grab a bit (not using my center at all - certainly not allowing them to feel a connection from my arms to my center) and then as their grab starts making some progress I allow them to feel my body's connection and move to energize a weak spot of theirs (typically below their center) such that they start to (and continue to) apply themselves. As I feel them apply themselves, I move the base a bit so that they are a bit more energized below their center until we follow that energy flow up and out of their body. My inspiration for this has come from the ideas of thrusting and cutting. YMMV.
Rob

Rob, actually I don't normally "tune out" in kokyu-ho, and I think my usual approach to the exercise is more similar to what you describe. The focus through the toes was really just an experiment which turned out to have surprising results!

By the way, one of our students visited your dojo in Connecticut a couple of years ago. Jim (American, glasses, beard, big grin) had a good time with you and your students. He mentioned a discussion with you about a certain movie of Yamaguchi Sensei...

Alex

Mike Sigman
04-21-2005, 09:19 AM
Specifically, I agree about what you say the nage is doing, in terms of aiki, is a continuous, unbroken approach. Therefore, my approach is to effect, or summarizing your words induce a particular feeling in or on uke. For me the effect - whatever that may be, must be maintained with the same continuous, unbroken methodology. I wasn't sure if you were implying that the state of aiki ended within nage or at the point of connection of nage and uke and is being maintained solely by the nage - meaning that the uke's experience might actually vary throughout any one given encounter. Or, perhaps you meant that uke's feeling is based upon any of a number of varying methods employed by individual practitioners each capable of expressing an aiki-response that they (the uke) feel is maintained throughout the encounter. I was wondering whether you agree, or disagree with either of the two, above, scenarios. I just couldn't tell by what you had written. Maybe it's simpler if I say that the defining moment of "aiki" is, *to me*, the moment nage engages with uke... that is the moment you actually "aiki" with his force and the way you do it determines your level of skill, in reality. From there on, I don't care too much for the simple reason that most Aikido throws and techniques and *followthrough* are dependent upon cooperative training partners. Besides, I was pretty clear... my "epiphany" was caused by (1.) seeing a level of kokyu manipulation that I have never seen in Aikido before (and hey.... most people seeing it wouldn't know what they were seeing, Shaun) and (2.) by Inaba Sensei's comment: At the same moment you meet your opponent, you focus on your abdomen (hara) and project your ki where you need it. The result will be that you will shut down your opponent's power. I understand that as the power of "aiki."

Notice that the focus is essentially that *at the moment you meet the opponent* you manipulate your kokyu in such a way as to negate his power. That is aiki. Yes there are necessary elements to the rest of the engagement, but the "aiki" moment is at the meeting.Looking at your further comments, something else came up for me that I wanted to talk about… Simply speaking, Aiki may be looked at as the relationship between things. It is true that being able to do this, in the manner you specified in your post is a rare and high level thing. It is also true that without this being present, there is no aikido - and on that you and I have never disagreed as far as I can tell, regardless of semantics, or our personal styles of writing. I guess my point is that while what you have pointed to is the precursor to aiki, it is only when it is extended out to include harmonizing with another that it actually becomes aiki. Well, then, we disagree and you're also disagreeing with what Inaba Sensei said. I know some people in Aikido really cherish the "whirlpool" stuff, etc., but I'm just saying without judgement that I consider it extraneous to the discussion at hand... I'm not being for or against it. However, I can honestly say that my experiences coming from the sources from which I sought it in the past, and seek it even now, have always been exactly the way you have described it, above. I didn't really describe it, Shaun. Not that clearly. That is not to say anything about my particular sources. However, if you had that same experience, albeit from your own sources, and that had been your only experience of the art form, wouldn't you find it strange, as did I, when you encountered comments like (aiki-bunnies, aikido doesn't work, is aikido a martial art…etc, etc.)? Furthermore, had you had experienced aikido in said manner, what you might envision your most recent epiphany, having occurred years before, might have led you to in terms of your understanding of the art as it might very well have revealed itself? I'm not sure what you're trying to say, Shaun, other than that you've experienced better Aikido than I have, etc. We've already been there, I think. It's an Aikido pecking-order thing that you keep returning to and it is aside from the discussion at hand. Why don't we just leave it that if what Inaba Sensei said is correct and what you are saying is incorrect, then I validly saw in Shioda some high-level Aikido which I never saw from Yamada or many others ... and it's a revelation for me. For you to debate that point with me, I'd need to see your credentials that you understand what I'm talking about with some factual posts indicating you understand what this sort of kokyu manipulation involves. Unless you understand what I'm talking about, it's a little early to tell me that my perceptions are wrong or misguided. :)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
04-21-2005, 10:02 AM
Shioda Sensei is said to have taught that kokyu power comes from the toes.

I've found that when practising suwariwaza kokyu-ho, if I manage to tune everything out except the sensation of the contact of my toes with the tatami, the technique becomes almost effortless. I'm still working on extending this to standing practice. I've recently read some of Shioda's comments about this. He also mentions that O-Sensei subscribed to the same belief about the big toe, incidentally. However, he's mainly talking about using the big-toe (and the pad behind it) as part of the chain of power of his standing kokyu usage, I think. In an application of kokyu (disregarding the "down" applications for this discussion), there is a "power chain" that originates at the ground and there are various additive powers you can insert between the ground and the hand. Strengthening the musculature of the big toe and foot would certainly add power. Using the big toe area brings the larger part of the calf into play and that's an additive. The hips are an additive unit of power. The dantien and lower back can be an additive unit. The shoulder can be a unit. Of course the core is the kokyu path. By the way, I actually use a different set of power-chain components than someone would normally encounter in Aikido, so I don't focus much on the big toe area, but more on the front-center of the foot for standing usage.

In the case of suwariwaza kokyuhodosa, the legs are pretty much taken out of the equation and the distance is closed so that you are forced to manipulate your kokyu path with only a short portion of your body (mainly the hips and waist). Of course, a beginner will try to use his arms, but the idea is to manipulate the opponent with the kokyu power-path from the ground (probably from somewhere near your toes, I agree) with your hips and waist (mainly). And again, if you skill is high your initial meeting of the opponent's force on you should determine the engagement, IMO.

FWIW

Mike

rob_liberti
04-21-2005, 10:19 AM
From what I got out of a few seminars, that the first moment you actually "aiki" with uke's force is called called "Dei-ai" (pronounced: "day-eye"). I'm not too clear on that because Saotome sensei seems to be "aiki"-ing with me well before I get anywhere near him, but I never knew if that pre-uke's force time was part of "Dei-ai".

Rob

Misogi-no-Gyo
04-21-2005, 01:20 PM
Maybe it's simpler if I say that the defining moment of "aiki" is, *to me*, the moment nage engages with uke... that is the moment you actually "aiki" with his force and the way you do it determines your level of skill, in reality. From there on, I don't care too much for the simple reason that most Aikido throws and techniques and *followthrough* are dependent upon cooperative training partners.

Agreed. Again, the cooperative training partner issue is according to your own experience. However, given your newfound appreciation for what actually might be possible in aikido, is there room for aikido to work on uncooperative, even dare I say truly aggressive attackers, ones with even skills of their own?

Besides, I was pretty clear... my "epiphany" was caused by (1.) seeing a level of kokyu manipulation that I have never seen in Aikido before (and hey.... most people seeing it wouldn't know what they were seeing, Shaun) and (2.) by Inaba Sensei's comment: At the same moment you meet your opponent, you focus on your abdomen (hara) and project your ki where you need it. The result will be that you will shut down your opponent's power. I understand that as the power of "aiki."

Well, then, we disagree and you're also disagreeing with what Inaba Sensei said.

Well, actually... no. I was asking you if you saw the two possible avenues as mutually exclusive, which by your reply, you seem to. I actually don't see any difference in my approach from what Inaba Sensei points to in his article, but I would have to speak with him directly about it to know for sure.


I didn't really describe it, Shaun. Not that clearly.

Oh, my mistake. However, I got what I needed from what you did say, and it was clearer, at least for me, than most of the other points you have made.

I'm not sure what you're trying to say, Shaun, other than that you've experienced better Aikido than I have, etc. We've already been there, I think. It's an Aikido pecking-order thing that you keep returning to and it is aside from the discussion at hand.

I do believe that you missed my point, entirely. I only mentioned my own experience to provide a specific example so that I could point back to it and say, "Had you had the same experience, what would you now hold as your thought on the subject..." As for better, or worse, I couldn't say. However, you have relayed on many occasions your own personal experiences of aikido, your distaste for it at the level you experienced it, and how "real" martial arts, as you see them (and I don't disagree with you here...) contain elements that you found to be missing. I don't think it then unfair for me to basically quote you (when I said that you had not had my experiences, I was merely paraphrasing your sentiments found in many of your posts). I was simply attempting to find common ground upon which to ask you some questions - and apparently you are still not yet comfortable giving up any of the ground upon which you stand - at least to me, anyway... No biggie, as it is no loss to me at this point in time. However, you might consider what loss it is to you... oh never mind...

Why don't we just leave it that if what Inaba Sensei said is correct and what you are saying is incorrect, then I validly saw in Shioda some high-level Aikido which I never saw from Yamada or many others ... and it's a revelation for me. For you to debate that point with me, I'd need to see your credentials that you understand what I'm talking about with some factual posts indicating you understand what this sort of kokyu manipulation involves.

Again, I wasn't debating you on that point, or any other. I couldn't do so because I wasn't entirely clear about the only thing upon which I might be disagreeing with you? That is why I asked, stating where I stood for you to agree, disagree, or debate... As for my credentials, well, they don't really matter at all - especially to you.

Unless you understand what I'm talking about, it's a little early to tell me that my perceptions are wrong or misguided. :)
:) I guess you might be correct there, sir... even if I had been doing that - even subconsciously..., but alas, I was not. :straightf


.

Mike Sigman
04-21-2005, 01:38 PM
Agreed. Again, the cooperative training partner issue is according to your own experience. However, given your newfound appreciation for what actually might be possible in aikido, is there room for aikido to work on uncooperative, even dare I say truly aggressive attackers, ones with even skills of their own? Who knows? What known great and truly aggressive and uncooperative fighters have been beaten with Aikido? Name me a few and we'll discuss the possibilities. The rest of your post again contains no substance and only innuendoes, so I'll circumvent it.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

rob_liberti
04-21-2005, 01:53 PM
I suppose you can visit Fukuoka, Japan and find a strong aikidoka named Nashida san who has been known to do quite a bit of no rules fighting. When we have asked him about the rules his reply was basically: if you fall down and there is a brick on the ground, you pick up the brink and hit them with it.

I've never seen him actually in one of those fights. His aikido is awesome. I have punched him in the nose and was amazed about how it went completely flat, and how he just sniffed, shook it off, and smiled. But hey, don't take my word for it, I'd be happy to help you go find him and you can challenge him to a fight yourself.

I don't know if any of the people he fought were great fighters. But I'm sure they would be considered "truly aggressive and uncooperative fighters". Don't we generally refer to people as "great" fighters if they have never been beaten? I don't honeslty know. Who are "great" fighters in your opinion?

Rob

Mike Sigman
04-21-2005, 04:34 PM
Let me try this one again. I evaded it mainly because I didn't want be in a situation where I was offering false hope and I didn't want to give a tactic away: Agreed. Again, the cooperative training partner issue is according to your own experience. However, given your newfound appreciation for what actually might be possible in aikido, is there room for aikido to work on uncooperative, even dare I say truly aggressive attackers, ones with even skills of their own? Yes. Assuming someone has a certain skill level, conditioning level, and knows how to manipulate kokyu. I'd pass on anything below that.

Mike

MM
04-21-2005, 05:20 PM
Mike Sigman wrote:
>Maybe it's simpler if I say that the defining moment of "aiki" is, *to
>me*, the moment nage engages with uke... that is the moment
>you actually "aiki" with his force and the way you do it determines
>your level of skill, in reality. From there on, I don't care too much

So, following this reason of thought, what do you think about the timing issues at this moment (where nage engages uke)? I learned them as sen no sen, go no sen, and sen sen no sen. Basically, same timing (where uke and nage move at the same time, late timing (where nage moves after uke) and for lack of a better term, moment of inception (where nage moves just as uke thinks of the attack but just before uke physically implements attack).

Where does the "aiki" defining moment begin?

Or what if nage merely side steps and lets the uke continue through the attack without nage ever affecting uke? Is there a defining moment of "aiki" in that situation or does it begin when uke turns to continue the attack and nage meets that force? Can nage not start the "aiki" by letting uke pass even though there is no disruption to uke?

I'm still working out aiki, ki, kokyu, etc. That's the reason for the questions. To me, it's just like a major strategy game and all the good players are working on not just a few levels, but on major levels.

>for the simple reason that most Aikido throws and techniques and >*followthrough* are dependent upon cooperative training partners.

That's sort of a given, really. Especially the way most aikidoka train. We train to fall a certain way and to work with energy. So, yeah, I agree, that most aikido throws are from cooperative training partners. Just try a kotegaeshi on someone who's never heard of aikido and you will definitely not get that nice break fall. :)

>(2.) by Inaba Sensei's >comment: At the same moment you meet
>your opponent, you focus on your abdomen (hara) and project >your ki where you need it. The result will be that you will shut >down your opponent's power. I understand that as the power >of "aiki."
>
>Notice that the focus is essentially that *at the moment you meet >the opponent* you manipulate your kokyu in such a way as to >negate his power. That is aiki. Yes there are necessary elements >to the rest of the engagement, but the "aiki" moment is at the >meeting.

But, that doesn't necessarily mean that "aiki" stops there, does it? Just because there is no mention that "aiki" continues, doesn't mean that we can assume it's just at the meeting, does it? Yeah, I agree that you can shut down, or negate your opponent's power at the meeting and that it can be defined as "aiki", however, personally, I don't believe that it stops there. Because what you've done at that very beginning, the meeting, where you use kokyu to negate power ... well, you use that again and again and again throughout the encounter. At least that's my view so far. Especially considering that when I'm the uke and I'm being tossed around like a rag doll, I get the feeling over and over again that my power is constantly being negated and I'm having to regain center all the time.

Just my thoughts,
Mark

Mike Sigman
04-21-2005, 06:40 PM
Mike Sigman wrote:
>Maybe it's simpler if I say that the defining moment of "aiki" is, *to
>me*, the moment nage engages with uke... that is the moment
>you actually "aiki" with his force and the way you do it determines
>your level of skill, in reality. From there on, I don't care too much

So, following this reason of thought, what do you think about the timing issues at this moment (where nage engages uke)? (snip)

Where does the "aiki" defining moment begin? Let me try again. :) I had always thought of "aiki" as meaning all the factors involved in the technique... the timing, the entry or whatever, the taking of balance, the follow-through, and so on... and that was "The Way of Aiki". The combined techniques and approach were sort of a composite philosophy for dealing with an attack, etc. Pretty much as most practitioners see it. Suddenly I realize that I may have been viewing it wrong, or at least somewhat skewed from what the real idea is. The real idea is, I think now, focused on the skill of blending kokyu to an opponent's force. Inaba Sensei actually says that. Shioda delights in showing that. It's pretty sophisticated and maybe worthy of the religious significance O-Sensei attached to it, after all.

Think of it as a martial art with a secret, powerful punch called "Punch-Do". This is a spectacular punch that no one else really has and you have to be shown how to do it right because to an outsider it appears to be a normal punch. To apply this punch you need to have timing, yes, and you need some sort of finishing followup as part of your full strategy, yes. But the secret is in the moment of the punch... that's why it's called "punch-do", not because of the timing, the followup, the different ways you apply the punch, etc. If you follow my reasoning (you don't have to agree, of course). So this art of "punch-do" becomes popular and people learn all these approaches, punches, and followups that are in the art, but they use a normal punch while doing it. Of course, they would be outraged if you told them they weren't doing the punch correctly... heck, some of the are Go-dans!!.. anyway, you get the drift. ;) I'm still working out aiki, ki, kokyu, etc. That's the reason for the questions. To me, it's just like a major strategy game and all the good players are working on not just a few levels, but on major levels. Don't get me wrong... I'm not trivializing the rest of an Aikido technique or diminishing the importance of working on those things. I'm just saying I personally have a different perspective. Go back and look at what Inaba Sensei said... he would not have separated it out like that if all parts of a technique were the "aiki". Suddenly, "aiki" is not just another marketing tool and there's not a big mystery why O-Sensei thought his art was different than Aiki-jujitsu ... it's actually pretty high level if you look at it as being at heart a system that uses sophisticated kokyu controls in an engagement.

My opinion, FWIW,

Mike

gwailoh
04-21-2005, 09:09 PM
Hi Mike, any conjecture as to why these guys 'hold back' the real goods of how they've learned to do what they're doing? I'm mainly a Judo player, but i couldn't imagine purposely allowing my students to practice incorrectly, in less-than-the-best way that i know how to do it. If standing practice, swinging clubbells etc are so primary to developing real ki stuff, well ... why don't they feel like they're wasting their time by teaching non-essentials? I can think of better things to do than waste my time by tricking my students. I'm not arguing you're wrong, i'm just curious if anyone has an insight into why these few special ones haven't laid it out clearly in person, in their classes, as to how to do Aikido properly? Cheers, Charlie.

Mike Sigman
04-21-2005, 09:49 PM
Hi Mike, any conjecture as to why these guys 'hold back' the real goods of how they've learned to do what they're doing? I'm mainly a Judo player, but i couldn't imagine purposely allowing my students to practice incorrectly, in less-than-the-best way that i know how to do it. If standing practice, swinging clubbells etc are so primary to developing real ki stuff, well ... why don't they feel like they're wasting their time by teaching non-essentials? I can think of better things to do than waste my time by tricking my students. I'm not arguing you're wrong, i'm just curious if anyone has an insight into why these few special ones haven't laid it out clearly in person, in their classes, as to how to do Aikido properly? Actually, it's not all that bad, the way I see it. But let me think out loud a minute (i.e., I'm not going to formulate my thoughts, but just articulate as they come to me).

First of all, as a number of people have already begun to realize, actually how to do kokyu hasn't been shown to most people in Aikido... that's where the "why" should start, not why they haven't heard about the really high level of kokyu skills. Besides, most Asian martial arts I know of have this bit about things normal students, etc., aren't shown. This shouldn't be a big surprise, if you think about it. Where I got surprised was that I thought I knew where the hidden goods were and that I already had them pinpointed... that's why I openly posted my surprise at some of the things I saw Shioda do. I underestimated the level (hey... given the information I had previously, etc., etc.).

Secondly, Aikido is more or less functional (less functional than a lot of martial arts, but that's mainly because most people aren't really hard-core, multiple-hours-per-day practitioners) as it is and it *generally* leads in the direction of these higher-level skills... so you can't say it's at all in the category of "tricking students" or teaching them nonessentials. Not really. You can "manipulate" an opponent on an acceptable level with grosser skills, anyway, so pay your dues if you want to learn the full shooting match. :)

I don't know if you caught the post where I commented that I've run into this situation of "hidden levels" in so many martial arts that I consider it the rule, not the exception. Judo, I've often thought just lost it because of the bottle-neck at Kano starting his own gig and we don't know what Kano was privy to. Bear in mind that it's well known in China that a number of arts used to have these skills but lost them because they only showed the higher-level stuff to a few students.

Another thought, but one I've mentioned before, is that Tohei, Tada, Abe, and a number of others made no bones about the fact that they had to go outside of Aikido proper (i.e., O-Sensei) to get things that they were aware were there but which O-Sensei wasn't teaching them. Knowing that tells you that without a doubt there is knowledge some have and others don't, wouldn't you say? Seriously, wouldn't you say it's pretty obvious, so it's not a question of "why would anyone do that?".

Besides, in a broad sense I'm not doing anything more than making an observation that seems to be born out by facts, but one which doesn't do anything but change the perspective of Aikido as a whole. Beginners on up through super-experts are more or less still working on the same syllabus, it's just these hidden strengths and expertise at the usage levels of these strengths are floating around within the art. The only thing remarkable to me is that the term "aiki" suddenly came into focus and the actual "value" of high-level Aikido went up in my estimation. Actually, there appear to be 4 or 5 people lurking on the forum (from other arts) that have the jin skills to appreciate this possibility... so while I may be wrong, I don't think so and there's some agreement that it's a realistic estimation. If nothing else it's an interesting speculation. ;)

FWIW

Mike

Rupert Atkinson
04-21-2005, 11:25 PM
Hi Mike, any conjecture as to why these guys 'hold back' the real goods of how they've learned to do what they're doing? I'm mainly a Judo player, but i couldn't imagine purposely allowing my students to practice incorrectly, in less-than-the-best way that i know how to do it. If standing practice, swinging clubbells etc are so primary to developing real ki stuff, well ... why don't they feel like they're wasting their time by teaching non-essentials? I can think of better things to do than waste my time by tricking my students. I'm not arguing you're wrong, i'm just curious if anyone has an insight into why these few special ones haven't laid it out clearly in person, in their classes, as to how to do Aikido properly? Cheers, Charlie.

Actually, there appear to be two styles of Judo. I did Judo on and off for 15 years or so up until 1998. What I noticed was that most Judo, at the club level, is not very good technically or practically. People just try - for years - to make their bad technique work. As they imrpove they find ways to make their bad technique work better (forced kuzushi etc) but it is still pretty bad technique. And then there are those who push themselves further with the aim of competing at the top level. Well, I have met a a few of these advanced types - some fall into the previous category (making crappy technique work), but the really good ones (many who are not good will claim to be good, and many will also claim to have teachers who are good - who may or may not be) have fantastic technique - it includes a lot of power and speed but their technique is fantastic and well trained - precise and effortless (but with a mountain of power in reserve).

Not many can reach/teach this level and I have only experienced it from - very few - Judoka in Japan and Korea. I am not one of them, but I recognise what they have is excellence and it has been gained through correct teaching combined with hard training - as soon as I came to grips with them my instant feeling was "Where did you study!" And, "Damn it - I have wasted all these years!" Unfortunately, like Aikido, the correct teaching aspect is at best hidden, or worse, unknown.

Peter Goldsbury
04-22-2005, 04:40 AM
Hi Mike, any conjecture as to why these guys 'hold back' the real goods of how they've learned to do what they're doing? I'm mainly a Judo player, but i couldn't imagine purposely allowing my students to practice incorrectly, in less-than-the-best way that i know how to do it. If standing practice, swinging clubbells etc are so primary to developing real ki stuff, well ... why don't they feel like they're wasting their time by teaching non-essentials? I can think of better things to do than waste my time by tricking my students. I'm not arguing you're wrong, i'm just curious if anyone has an insight into why these few special ones haven't laid it out clearly in person, in their classes, as to how to do Aikido properly? Cheers, Charlie.

Hello,

Like Mike, I'll respond by thinking aloud. My thinking is based on my long experience of teaching Japanese students, especially graduate students, in an academic institution. Of course, there are some differences between academic teaching and training in the martial arts, but the differences are less striking than the similarities. (Actually, I have been pursuing this theme for the past two years in Stanley Pranin's "Aiki News"--in Japanese, unfortunately.)

I do not think it is a question of purposely allowing students to practise incorrectly, so much as showing them and then expecting them to figure things out for themselves. Postwar Japanese education mollycoddles students, but the prewar elements are still there. From elementary school onwards they are taught to be passive recipients of knowledge, which is acquired by rote-learning, with the general aim nowadays is of acquiring the required number of credits or passing examinations.

I think Japanese education has always stressed rote learning and a central example of this is the learning of Chinese characters. There are 80 characters that have to be mastered in Grade 1, 160 in Grade 2, 200 in Grade 3, 200 in Grade 4, 185 in Grade 5, and 181 in Grade 6. You can find these in any dictionary. So it a reasonable hypothesis that in every elementary school throughout Japan, virtually the same characters are being learned at the same time. And they are learned by rote. Of course there are some explanations, as with BU, for example, which is No.802 and comes in Grade 5, and which is composed of 'stop' and 'spear', but they are mastered by reading and by copying them out hundreds of times.

In a way, the education is kata-based, in the sense that there is an accepted way of acquiring knowledge, understood as a kind of skill, whether it is mathematics or English. This is seen in an unusually striking form in the Japanese driving test. To obtain a license to ride a Harley, you have to pilot a bike round a course and execute a series of manoeuvres with no mistakes. To do this, you go to a driving school, pay large sums of money and practise, practise, practise. Only when you have passed the test can you take the bike on a public road and demonstrate to other road users how little you actually know about riding.

Coupled with the 'kata' basis of education, there is also a long tradition of 'teacher-centred' education, based on the old Master-deshi model. Thus a graduate student will go to a professor and join the professor's zemi (seminar). The student will expect to be given appropriate research 'kata' and guided through it. However, the research will be governed by the professor's view of the subject and done according to the professor's preferred method. Any attempt by the student to branch out on his/her own is frowned upon, as is any approach to research that smacks of dialectic. The professor is interested in the students only to the extent that they show the correctness of his research methods and is not afraid of using their results as his own research. The similarity to the martial arts is that students are expected to learn by witnessing the professor in action, so to speak, and imitating this as best they can.

Add to kata-based teaching by showing and to the central place of the teacher as Master, a third aspect, namely the dichotomy of omote and ura: what is open and what is hidden. In the aikido dojo students learn omote waza and ura waza, but M Ueshiba himself never used these terms.

Omote and ura can be coupled easily with the general idea of degrees of knowledge or skill, with the ura aspects coming after the omote aspects, even though in aikido they are two aspects of the same waza. Levels are found in many traditional Japanese arts, for example, 'kuui' (nine levels) in Noh drama (three upper, three middle, three lower)--and Zeami suggests that the middle levels are mastered first. Of course, the concept of levels of knowledge is not in any way a Japanese original.

Where you have a master who teaches by showing, he shows his understanding of the art, in its omote and ura aspects, but the students do not grasp this in its entirety: they do not "see". It is expected that they will "see" in time and with proper training, but this can never be a foregone conclusion. It is interesting that Tada Shihan went elsewhere to study KI and KOKYUU, but taught his own students in exactly the same way as M Ueshiba. One student, Masatomi Ikeda, found this so frustrating that he embodied what he had learned in a system, a 12-year spiral, if you like, based, I suspect, on the seasons and the Chinese calendar.

Best regards,

Mike Sigman
04-22-2005, 08:02 AM
[snip]Where you have a master who teaches by showing, he shows his understanding of the art, in its omote and ura aspects, but the students do not grasp this in its entirety: they do not "see". It is expected that they will "see" in time and with proper training, but this can never be a foregone conclusion. It is interesting that Tada Shihan went elsewhere to study KI and KOKYUU, but taught his own students in exactly the same way as M Ueshiba. Good points. I'd emphasize that I also have noted many high-level teachers take great pains to demonstrate at high level, since it would be beneath them to exaggerate, slow-down, etc. If there is a subtlety that is best learned by starting with slow, exaggerated movements and all you see is the polished, finished product, you're screwed.

And of course, this veiling of substance isn't always just the accident that happens because of a traditional teaching method. There have been a lot of things that were shown to me or to close friends where the comment was along the lines of "now I'll show you how to really do it, the part you can't see". This holding back of things until you want to show the student is pretty traditional in the martial arts (look at the examples of O-Sensei's students accepting that approach for what it was and simply going outside to seek the knowledge as best they could). Another approach, if the teacher has the right personality, is to wait until the right psychological moment and then ask the right question, framed in the right way.

A downside to this witholding approach is that the martial arts is chock full of people who act mysterious and who try to get you to become their student, play their game, etc., when they really have minimum information (but how does a neophyte know what is a poor source of information since they don't know enough to judge?). Martial arts that are somewhat cloistered, like Aikido, Taiji, and others, and which "test" within stylized parameters but not in any competitive or realistic situations, can pick up unduly high numbers of "teachers" that have little real information other than a grasp of the rituals and outward appearance of the arts. True, they may have bits and pieces, but generally they're like spiderwebs that grab a fly and never let it go. I had one teacher (a yondan) that had a rudimentary grasp of how to use simple kokyu in certain situations and who delighted in demonstrating it but never explaining. When I went outside, found a good source and learned how to do it myself, he got very angry and began to treat me as some sort of threat to his position (it was time to go and I did).

Another consideration to bear in mind is that a traditional teacher will often support his family with the income from his teaching. If a son is going to follow in his footsteps for the next generation, the teacher will obviously withold information and give it only to the son so the son's livelihood is not jeopardized. In other words, when you're dealing with a good but traditional teacher who is grooming a son to take over, get the basics you can but spend a lot of time searching anywhere you can for supplemental information.

I'd mention again that I appreciated the amounts of information that Shioda's books (like the "Aikido Shugyo" we were discussing) and a few other good books by Tohei, Ueshiba, etc., contain... they at least give a format of information that allows us to make sense of Aikido as a whole when all we see is a confusing whirl of various techniques being done for brief periods of time over scattered intervals.

My thoughts, fwiw

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
04-22-2005, 01:56 PM
Dustin Craig posted this on a thread in the "Spiritual" section (I hope you don't mind my borrowing, Dustin): There is a quote on the back of John Stevens Invincible Warrior...
"The secret to Aikido is not how you move your feet it is how you move your mind. I'm not teaching you martial techniques, I'm teaching nonviolence." -Morihei Ueshiba While that comment translated by Stevens (I don't know how accurately it is translated, BTW, so that may be a factor) appears to be advocating some spirituality, I can read it another way that supports some of the issues in this thread. You use your mind to manipulate and control kokyu directions and manipulations... if the "aiki" is focused on the mind controlling kokyu manipulation (as I posited in connection with a comment attributed to Inaba Sensei), this sentence would provide support for the idea of "aiki" being this use of kokyu against uke at the moment they join.

While the second sentence could be an injection of philosophy about the grandness of using the mind to control situations (it can be read a number of ways, I think), the first sentence is rather striking in light of the ongoing discussion.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

rob_liberti
04-22-2005, 03:27 PM
According to whoever translated these doka, he also said :

You must realize this!
AiKi cannot be captured with the brush
Nor can it be expressed with the mouth
And so it is that one must proceed
to realization (satori)

Even the most powerful human being
has a limited sphere of strength.
Draw him outside of that sphere
and into your own, and his strength will dissipate.

Enlightement or delusion?
Who is to say which person has which
Like the evening moon they appear and fade
Not one knows exactly when.

YMMV
Rob

Peter Goldsbury
04-22-2005, 08:06 PM
Where you have a master who teaches by showing, he shows his understanding of the art, in its omote and ura aspects, but the students do not grasp this in its entirety: they do not "see". It is expected that they will "see" in time and with proper training, but this can never be a foregone conclusion. It is interesting that Tada Shihan went elsewhere to study KI and KOKYUU, but taught his own students in exactly the same way as M Ueshiba.

Best regards,

Actually, Tada Shihan was not the only one who did this, but he rarely discussed teaching as such. When in Hiroshima, S Yamaguchi and S Arikawa on occasion did do and both argued that the finer points of aiki and kokyuu should not be taught explicitly, on the grounds that enlightenment was of value only to those who were ready for it.

Usually after practice finished my own (7th dan) teacher would ask questions and the questions were always answered by showing. Arikawa Shihan, especially, was a great believer in having people figure things out for themselves.

The problem here, of course, is that some people never manage to figure things out, but imagine they have. In a koryu this might be solved by having the master take uke from the deshi and teaching as such. In aikido, this rarely happens and so the only way the deshi has of figuring things out is by taking ukemi from the master: it is rarely the other way round.

Best regards,

Mike Sigman
04-22-2005, 08:50 PM
Where you have a master who teaches by showing, he shows his understanding of the art, in its omote and ura aspects, but the students do not grasp this in its entirety: they do not "see". It is expected that they will "see" in time and with proper training, but this can never be a foregone conclusion. It is interesting that Tada Shihan went elsewhere to study KI and KOKYUU, but taught his own students in exactly the same way as M Ueshiba.

Actually, Tada Shihan was not the only one who did this, but he rarely discussed teaching as such. When in Hiroshima, S Yamaguchi and S Arikawa on occasion did do and both argued that the finer points of aiki and kokyuu should not be taught explicitly, on the grounds that enlightenment was of value only to those who were ready for it.

Usually after practice finished my own (7th dan) teacher would ask questions and the questions were always answered by showing. Arikawa Shihan, especially, was a great believer in having people figure things out for themselves. Well, I see your point, but it sounds a little odd for someone to go outside in order to learn something he can't, apparently, figure out on his own and then turn around and take the position that others should just work hard and hope for an epiphany.The problem here, of course, is that some people never manage to figure things out, but imagine they have. In a koryu this might be solved by having the master take uke from the deshi and teaching as such. In aikido, this rarely happens and so the only way the deshi has of figuring things out is by taking ukemi from the master: it is rarely the other way round. I'm not sure I know enough to comment intelligently about who takes ukemi from whom. I think that there are fairly simple ways to determine if someone has a certain level of skills. You can ask them to demonstrate them... it's usually obvious in a flash. Take, for instance, the anecdote someone told about Tohei demonstrating the jo-trick. Right away I know roughly his *threshold level* of skills (he's definately "got it"), that he does some standing practice, etc., in addition to the information I already know because of the "ki tests" that he exhibits. I *might* be able to figure some parts of that out over time from deductions I made in the dojo. However, from my own experience, I would offer that some things are, as Yang Cheng Fu said, "simple after you have been shown how to do them, but they would take two lifetimes to figure out by yourself." Some of the ki breathing techniques, etc., you would never figure out for yourself, for instance.

But ultimately, even if someone gives you pointers, you have to spend a lot of time thinking and working things out. Or you just won't get it. Oddly enough, a lot of people won't even think hard enough to realize that there's something important out there (What?..Me Worry?) -- much less devote the energy to figure anything difficult out. In a lot of Aikido (and other arts), it's a peer-group thing... if no one in your dojo really has ever talked about or shown demonstrable kokyu skills, you won't believe in its existence and you certainly won't think it's important enough to go after it to figure it out. Look at how many people have rationalized away O-Sensei's "parlor tricks", as they call them. There are so many clues laying around that I can't see how someone really devoted to Aikido could miss seeing them. :cool: The "enlightenment" part comes, IMO, for the people who hunt the elightenment down through every source available. Just as Tohei, Abe, Tada, et al did.



Regards,

Mike Sigman

Peter Goldsbury
04-22-2005, 10:13 PM
Well, I see your point, but it sounds a little odd for someone to go outside in order to learn something he can't, apparently, figure out on his own and then turn around and take the position that others should just work hard and hope for an epiphany.
Regards,

Mike Sigman

Hello Mike,

Well, M Ueshiba himself seems to have done this. Tada Shihan once told me that he did not 'teach' in any accepted sense. He 'showed' and then expected the deshi to 'steal'. The deshi used to train together informally and much of this training consisted in figuring out what thay had been shown. This has been said so often by the prewar uchideshi (e.g., in Stanley Pranin's "Modern Masters") that it seems to me to be part of what it meant to be an 'uchideshi' in the traditional sense (not as the term is used nowadays).

So I think the oddity you are pointing out is part of a whole load of general issues concerning pedagogy as the Japanese see this (I do not know enough to judge whether they are Asian, also). The issues involve questions like the dynamic between teaching & learning, the role of questioning, the role of explanations, the concept of time as a teaching & learning tool. I can see these issues because I face them everyday here in Japan, but in a situation completely divorced from aikido.

Best regards,

Mike Sigman
04-22-2005, 11:26 PM
So I think the oddity you are pointing out is part of a whole load of general issues concerning pedagogy as the Japanese see this (I do not know enough to judge whether they are Asian, also). The issues involve questions like the dynamic between teaching & learning, the role of questioning, the role of explanations, the concept of time as a teaching & learning tool. I can see these issues because I face them everyday here in Japan, but in a situation completely divorced from aikido. I have often thought that a lot of the "oddities" of Asian societies were related to the competitiveness that develops in long-extant societies in which many people don't make it. It's a harshness that permeates the ritual social behaviour.

I've often puzzled about this particular subject of the transmission of the ki and kokyu things. As exemplified by O-Sensei's dojo, he was grudging to share what he knew. The product that people going to Tempukai and other places to get seems to be diluted with a certain amount of religiosity, i.e., it is not "easy" in the sense that it probably is not straightforward and is encumbered with ritual. The difficulty in obtaining information like this is common, insofar as my experience goes. On the other hand, the knowledge, in different forms and different degrees, is amazingly widespread in Asia. I suppose this knowledge is a comodity of sorts and not easily given away easily because it has a traditional value.

I tend to reject the notion that learning these things (ki and kokyu things) is something that must go hand in hand with any full-blown martial art and that people can only learn by following, etc., and must be at a certain point, etc. I've seen too many cases where I know some person has been shown (like by his father, etc.) and the results are apparent. Showing beats waiting for the hand of god. Besides, I know of a few qigong specialties that deal with developing much of these strengths in non-martial ways simply in order to promote health and strength. They do a pretty good job just focusing on standing, movement exercises, and breath conditioning. But regardless of anything else, I think these are good and important conversations to have in the community.

Regards,

Mike

rob_liberti
04-22-2005, 11:27 PM
Gleason sensei has real kokyu skills which are fairly well known. Also, he is capable of teaching them by means of keiko and suburi. (He does take ukemi for students to check out them out and provide feedback.) One of his top students Ralph Malerba (who studied exclusively with Gleason sensei) is now a 5th dan was throwing around a professional football player which is remarkable in that Ralph sensei has shoulder damage from a motor vechile accident to the point that he would be totally unable to do a push up. I'm quite sure that neither of these senseis can do the jo trick. I suppose that's why I consider it to be not too important.

If that is considered rationalizing away one of O-sensei's "parlor tricks" well that's one way to look at it. The other way to look at is that focusing on resistive powers to that degree might be a bit of overkill and a bit of wasted focus. To each his own.

Rob

sanskara
04-23-2005, 05:58 PM
Well, I see your point, but it sounds a little odd for someone to go outside in order to learn something he can't, apparently, figure out on his own

I've heard you mention this a number of times in this and other threads, but in regards to Koichi Tohei, you may be operating under a misconception.

In his case, it's not that he needed to go outside of the Aikikai to discover Ki and Kokyu development of the type and kind demonstrated by Ueshiba on a regular basis. Tohei was already actively involved in such training prior to enlisting as a deshi and was drawn to Ueshiba precisely because he saw him demonstrating physical manifestations of the aforementioned in martial technique.

If you follow Tohei's history, he came from a Judo background, was injured, and threw himself into Ki development (via the Ichikukai and other often unstated but hinted at misogi and zen training, formal or otherwise.) Upon returning to Judo, he found it to be less than the challenge he had recalled from previous experience and went in search of other outlets. He then came upon Ueshiba, recognized the principles at work in the art of Aikido, and enrolled as a means of continuing his Ki training.

Therefore, for Tohei, Ki development was never separate from Aikido; for him, it happened first, rather than as a frustration with Ueshiba's teaching style, and was integral from day one. It was only after Ueshiba's death in 1969 that a "deal" was struck with the then current Doshu Kisshomaru to teach Ki development training separately from Aikido and at a separate geographic location. This is important, because it undermines your very premise that Tohei, Abe, Tada, etc. were forced to go outside of Aikido to learn something that Ueshiba would not teach and that they could not get.

While I can't speak for Shioda or Abe, in regards to Tada, there is no evidence that he had to go outside of Aikido to the Tempukai to learn something he was otherwise incapable of getting--I've spent some time in a Tempukai dojo myself. It is far more likely, based on the testimony of some of his top students that I've talked and trained with directly, that he was drawn to the Tempukai, as many indulge in multiple disciplines, and simply incorporated it into his Aikido. Why this should project badly onto Ueshiba in your mind or on an individual's ability to "steal" the technique from the likes of said same is not entirely clear.

Take, for instance, the anecdote someone told about Tohei demonstrating the jo-trick. Right away I know roughly his *threshold level* of skills (he's definately "got it"), that he does some standing practice, etc., in addition to the information I already know because of the "ki tests" that he exhibits. I *might* be able to figure some parts of that out over time from deductions I made in the dojo.

I would be careful about drawing too many definitive conclusions from secondhand stories (no matter how accurate) or the writings of an individual (Tohei and his books on Ki, for example) that are designed for public consumption.

I don't believe from your postings here and our brief communications via e-mail that you have any significant firsthand knowledge of Tohei's teachings. As such, I wouldn't be too quick to stuff your knowledge in this area into a succinct paradigm of your own devising, that validates your particular path and martial preferences.

Your infactuation, for example, with standing exercises, no matter how well placed, is not particularly relevant to the Ki no Kenkyukai or Tohei's private Ki no Shuren ho. He did not classify waza in regards to standing, as it is viewed within Chinese arts, nor did he put any significant emphasis on fluid versus static (in regards to Ki development, technique was another matter) seiza versus tachi, etc. The notion of emptying your proverbial cup here when approaching other practices and disciplines with which you are not intimately familiar is very apropros.

I believe you mean well, Mike, and wish to have a hand in pushing the level of Ki training in Aikido forward in a positive way. But based on your offerings here, it really seems as if you badly want Aikido and the personal practices of the likes of Tohei, Shioda, Tada, Abe, etc. to fit your Chinese-centric views and experiences first, as a means of ingratiating yourself to the Aikido community--makes sense given your credibility lies in Chinese arts. And then to utilize that attention and acquired camaraderie to springboard into becoming indispensable to the Aikido community via the offering of solutions to a problem you've convinced people exists--it may or may not.

This is understandable (assuming it's true.) We would all like to improve our surroundings and get the ensuing credit for such endeavors. And the lack of hands-on non-philosophy-based Ki development training in Aikido may be a shortcoming in need of remedy. Be that as it may, there is a real danger in trying to fit people and events to a preconceived cognitive mold if they otherwise don't necessarily fit. And far better for the growth and development of Aikido, in my opinion, to accept things as they are, whether it validates a personal perspective or not, and work from there. The reality may be that people don't want to do standing exercises or Ki development. If so, there is little that can be said or done that will change their preferences.

In any event, if you are truly interested in the Ki and Kokyu practices of some of the aforementioned pioneers of Aikido and not just looking for a pulpit and a responsive audience, I would suggest you familiarize yourself with the upper eschelons of their various organizations and accompanying dojo. There is no other way to get a hold on just what someone meant or did than to train directly with them or with those who were there and witnessed it firsthand. F.Y.I.: these forums are filled with individuals who either fit that bill, or have direct contact with those who do. And this isn't a euphemism for me, by the way, I'm firmly entrenched in Okinawan Karate and Hojutsu and don't practice Aikido any more--although, I do enjoy the occasional good post in the Aiki forums.

Mike Sigman
04-23-2005, 06:47 PM
I've heard you mention this a number of times in this and other threads, but in regards to Koichi Tohei, you may be operating under a misconception.

In his case, it's not that he needed to go outside of the Aikikai to discover Ki and Kokyu development of the type and kind demonstrated by Ueshiba on a regular basis. Tohei was already actively involved in such training prior to enlisting as a deshi and was drawn to Ueshiba precisely because he saw him demonstrating physical manifestations of the aforementioned in martial technique.

[snip to another comment] This is important, because it undermines your very premise that Tohei, Abe, Tada, etc. were forced to go outside of Aikido to learn something that Ueshiba would not teach and that they could not get. If you read Stanley Pranin's four-part interview with Tohei, you'll find Tohei saying:

"When I went to Hawaii and tried to use the techniques I had learned form Ueshiba Sensei, I found that many of them were ineffective. What Sensei said and what he did were two different things. (snip)... when I returned to Japan and had another look at Ueshiba Sensei, I realized that he did indeed apply his techniques from a very relaxed state.

While I was with Ueshiba Sensei I was also studying under Tempu Nakamura. It was he who first taught me that "the mind moves the body." Those words struck me like a bolt of electricity and opened my eyes to the whole realm of aikido. "

In other words, Ueshiba was not teaching him how to move with ki and kokyu and he had to get it from outside.... but he wasn't aware of any of this until he had been with Ueshiba for quite some time.

Although you took the original quote out of context, the essence of your debate is that Tohei didn't need to go outside of Ueshiba's dojo in order to understand the principles of ki, etc. Yet Tohei and others certainly did need input from outside of the dojo in order to understand (to whatever degree) what Ueshiba was doing. Tohei himself says that his understanding originates with the teachings of Nakamura. The comment you quoted from was me saying that it sounds odd for someone to go outside and yet apparently say something to others indicating that they should get their knowledge only *within* the dojo. I don't believe from your postings here and our brief communications via e-mail that you have any significant firsthand knowledge of Tohei's teachings. As I've publicly stated a few times, quite clearly. Having read some of your strange ideas in private email (and that's why I quit responding), I don't think you have much idea about what Tohei does, so I'm not sure what your point is in reinforcing something I've already said in public. As such, I wouldn't be too quick to stuff your knowledge in this area into a succinct paradigm of your own devising, that validates your particular path and martial preferences. I'm not sure you understand. The discussions about ki, kokyu, qi, jin, etc., etc., are sustainable as a discussion outside of any "martial preferences". That's the way I'm discussing them, not as tied to any martial system. And what I do is more properly a "field of study", not a "path". I realize you have the belief that ki and kokyu things are different than the way I've discussed them... all you have to do is engage in the discussion and show me where you think I'm wrong or debate what you think you know, instead of simply posting what you think are my thoughts and motives and being insulting in doing so. If there's a point in the ki and kokyu things that you disagree with (as you did in private email), why not just lay them out in this forum and let's play it from there? Or do you feel that it's easier to take a cheap shot than debate honestly?

Insofar as my motives for being on this forum, etc., trust me I won't be here a bit longer than when I'm certain I can't get any more information along the lines that I've publicly mentioned, James. You may worry that you're not being recognized for your true value, but I'm simply an information-hound and I'll be out of your way soon enough. If you've paid attention, you've noticed that I've indeed learned some new and interesting things and it's been worthwhile so far.

Incidentally, I asked you before and you didn't answer... did you study with Tohei personally?

Regards,

Mike Sigman

sanskara
04-24-2005, 12:15 AM
If you read Stanley Pranin's four-part interview with Tohei, you'll find Tohei saying:

"When I went to Hawaii and tried to use the techniques I had learned form Ueshiba Sensei, I found that many of them were ineffective. What Sensei said and what he did were two different things. (snip)... when I returned to Japan and had another look at Ueshiba Sensei, I realized that he did indeed apply his techniques from a very relaxed state.

Tohei learned much about relaxation prior to going to Hawaii in 1953. The changes he made to Aikido were primarily to technique, and involved accomodating taller opponents. The alterations were made on the spot, which is why most (if not all) who were in Hawaii at the time attest to Tohei's effectiveness on his first trip to the U.S. So it's not as if he failed, went home, and then re-evaluated. He also says that he believed originally he had discovered new ways to do these techniques until he revisited Ueshiba and found that he also sometimes practiced this way (nothing new under the sun, and all that.)

It's easy to misunderstand this if one's knowledge on such things comes primarily from interviews on the Internet--not being pejorative here, mind you, just saying a lot of this won't carry over well in brief text.

While I was with Ueshiba Sensei I was also studying under Tempu Nakamura. It was he who first taught me that "the mind moves the body." Those words struck me like a bolt of electricity and opened my eyes to the whole realm of aikido. "

Yes, but that doesn't represent all that defines Tohei. A little legwork might be in order. It's very clear from his own words and those of his top students that he was actively involved in Ki development prior to even meeting Ueshiba. That he acquired something of value from Tempu Sensei is unquestionable, but doesn't support your basic thesis.

Tohei himself says that his understanding originates with the teachings of Nakamura.

Actually, he's never explicity said that he owes it all to Tempu. He might credit some ideas and exercises to the Tempukai, but he is very emphatic (especially in now out of print versions of his books) that his methods are his and are drawn from teachers, like Ueshiba and Nakamura, as well as his own experiences. Much emphasis is placed on the latter.

Having read some of your strange ideas in private email (and that's why I quit responding), I don't think you have much idea about what Tohei does, so I'm not sure what your point is in reinforcing something I've already said in public. I'm not sure you understand.

I have no idea what you're referring to here. I can dig up those old e-mails out of the recycling bin and sent folder and post them, if need be. We had some friendly disagreement about things (nothing heated,) but if I have controversial or weird views on Ki, you'll have to point them out--it's news to me and those who have followed my postings for years on Aikido Journal. As for understanding Tohei and his teachings, I understand that slamming me after my last post seems like the order of the day, but I'm not sure you're in a good position to judge my knowledge of Tohei's teachings either way, no matter what I say here.

The discussions about ki, kokyu, qi, jin, etc., etc., are sustainable as a discussion outside of any "martial preferences". That's the way I'm discussing them, not as tied to any martial system. And what I do is more properly a "field of study", not a "path".

Well, research is one thing, talking down to anyone who disagrees with you is quite another. You may not feel guilty of the latter, but if potential sources of info think so, it seriously hamstrings your investigation.

I realize you have the belief that ki and kokyu things are different than the way I've discussed them...

Actually, I don't necessarily disagree with your views on Ki or Kokyu. I disagree with the way you make large sweeping judgments about Aikido and some of its pioneers. I think you oversimplify and insist that this and that person must be doing this and that exercise because you've watched a video and decided it's so. It may or may not be so. Go and find out. Trying to figure things out from behind a desk is preferred to hard work (I'd much rather do that if the option is available), but is not the way to learn about martial arts.

all you have to do is engage in the discussion and show me where you think I'm wrong or debate what you think you know,

I think I've done just that, and you've replied to me much the way you have to everyone who's disagreed with you. And it represents a perspective that is in direct contradiction with the pretense of gathering information and investigating the facts.

instead of simply posting what you think are my thoughts and motives and being insulting in doing so. If there's a point in the ki and kokyu things that you disagree with (as you did in private email), why not just lay them out in this forum and let's play it from there? Or do you feel that it's easier to take a cheap shot than debate honestly?

In our e-mails I thought you were overly concerned with Chinese practices and the implication that the Japanese somehow just don't get it. That may not be the case, but that's the impression I had. My response in e-mail was similar to my style here: rational, reasonably reserved, relatively intelligent--don't know about cheap shots or overt weirdness.

But given your past discussions with members of this forum, it seems to be a pattern that whenever anyone says anything about Ki that's different than what you believe, you mark them as being somehow outside of the confines of current Asian practice and ideology (as if you were the sole litmus test.) Perhaps, this is a means of not so surreptitiously saying they're some sort of whack job econoclastic individualist, with little regard for convention, and should be ignored thusly.

Insofar as my motives for being on this forum, etc., trust me I won't be here a bit longer than when I'm certain I can't get any more information along the lines that I've publicly mentioned, James.

Don't leave on my account. I'm not looking to chase you out of Dodge. As I said in our e-mails, your initial responses and perspective in the women and Aikido thread were pretty spot on--it kind of degraded after that. Either way, do what you want.

You may worry that you're not being recognized for your true value,

Not sure where you're getting that from, unless it's the old "same to you and more of it" defense. My actions, limited though they may be on this forum, don't exactly scream that I'm looking for positive attention. Also, as a non-Aikidoka, my contributions to this forum can easily be dismissed as irrelevant by those looking for a reason to do so. Consequently, my "value" might be better appreciated elsewhere, if I had that in mind.

Incidentally, I asked you before and you didn't answer... did you study with Tohei personally?

Well, I didn't really dodge the question (I did ask you to call if you wanted more info about Tohei's teachings in the 70's and 80's, which is what you seemed to be after.) Although it isn't lost on me that the potential for a circumstantial ad hominem waits in the wings. I'll play anyway:

I've never met Tohei. When I was actively part of the Ki Society in the 80's and early 90's, spanning almost fifteen years (twelve full-time), meeting him was not a big deal. I had access to the likes of Shiohira, Kataoka, Eto, Nonaka, Shoji, Suzuki, Maruyama (Koretoshi), Kashiwaya, and many more, who spent the better part of their lives with Tohei. I spent the better part of my free time training with such talent, everytime the door was open (as a matter of fact), but money to fly to Japan as a teenager, I did not have.

Ultimately, such an endeavor would have been expensive and less fruitful than one on one extended experience with some of the aforementioned individuals, who are talented in their own right, access to Tohei notwithstanding.--I opted to train rather than add to my scrapbook. Current uchi deshi at Ki no Sato have very limited access, if any, to Tohei; it was not so different a few years ago before his "retirement." Additionally, while attending a seminar with hundreds of others, that included Tohei, might have made for bragging rights, it wouldn't necessarily equal competency.

For what it's worth, I know plenty of people who have gone to a seminar, shaken hands with Tohei (which is about the extent of contact these days, if you're lucky,) and their Aikido isn't very good. I also know plenty who have strong Shin Shin Toitsu and Kokyu but have never met the man--you might be in that category for all I know. So take from that what you will.

In my more active Aikido years, I personally took great interest in what Tohei was teaching in his prime and spent considerable time prying information out of the old school practitioners who were there, for example, when Tohei defeated seven Judoka in Hawaii. Many are now dead or have moved on to other things.

Naturally, it's just my word, but If you poke around the Ki Society you can probably find a few people who were around when I was and if nothing else, can vouch for my presence, abilities, and understanding of Tohei's principles. I could have just as easily lied about it and no one would have known the difference. In fact, that would have been easier, as mentioned previously, who would be around to contradict me?

Mike Sigman
04-24-2005, 10:40 AM
Actually, he's never explicity said that he owes it all to Tempu. He might credit some ideas and exercises to the Tempukai, but he is very emphatic (especially in now out of print versions of his books) that his methods are his and are drawn from teachers, like Ueshiba and Nakamura, as well as his own experiences. Much emphasis is placed on the latter. Not to lose sight of your entre' into the discussion, you were essentially cavilling that people didn't have to go outside of Ueshiba's teachings to get ki things. I submit that now you've pretty much admitted that Kohei *did* have to go outside of Ueshiba's teachings to get his full understanding of ki and kokyu, but now you want to argue how much. I don't want to go there, thanks.

Insofar as Tohei not giving certain amounts of credit to Nakamura and Ueshiba, Tohei often doesn't give credit and he's prone to oblique putdowns to Ueshiba and others, as well. Let's accept what useful knowledge we can from Tohei without being drawn into side discussions. Remember, he also said there was no such thing as the Bataan Death March, etc.... i.e., I have never accepted a lot of Tohei's statements as being particularly 100% accurate because there is a certain amount of self-concernedness in many things he says. Not that it bothers me... I'm just not naive, nor do I want to get involved in a "Tohei is the Greatest" discussion.

For the purposes of the discussion at hand, elements of ki training that were not given by Ueshiba were picked up in the Tempukai and other places by students of Ueshiba. I know that for a fact. I have no idea what you're referring to here. I can dig up those old e-mails out of the recycling bin and sent folder and post them, if need be. We had some friendly disagreement about things (nothing heated,) but if I have controversial or weird views on Ki, you'll have to point them out--it's news to me and those who have followed my postings for years on Aikido Journal. I think you see the world of ki and kokyu as revolving around Tohei and your understanding of what he said. And apparently you feel you have some sort of "position", given your "postings for years on Aikido Journal". I didn't mean to trivialize a long-time poster on Aikido Journal or to show lack of respect, but I'm coming from outside of that, James. I have a moderate level of understanding and abilities (which I can demonstrate, not just talk about) and in my world Tohei and his teachings are simply a variation of something I've seen in many places. It is not the special cloistered world you seem to imagine it is because you have a loyalty to Tohei. Because I'm dispassionate about these things, you make think it's offensive to Tohei and your beliefs, but you'll have to accept it that I'm neither for nor against Tohei or anyone else. I just look at it all as interesting information about a fascinating subject that is quite large. I get information where I can and I try to be as open as I want others to be with me. If you want me to take you seriously and respect your knowledge, how about displaying some of what you know? As for understanding Tohei and his teachings, I understand that slamming me after my last post seems like the order of the day, but I'm not sure you're in a good position to judge my knowledge of Tohei's teachings either way, no matter what I say here. I dunno.... I can't be the only person in the world who understands this concept, but it is obvious to me that if I engage in a conversation with a real expert (which I don't claim to be) in ki and kokyu things, I'm fully aware that what I say and don't say will give a general indication of what my level of understanding is. Based on what little you've written about ki and kokyu, how little of substance you've been able to contribute, your strange views on "kung fu" and "tai chi", etc., I have a good idea about what your level of understanding is in ki and kokyu things. Your level in what Tohei teaches isn't particularly relevant to the current ki-and-kokyu-focused discussions, despite the fact that you seem to think that the ki things in Aikido are somehow different from ki things in general. If you believe that, please lay out your reasoning, etc.... you can do so without making my personality an issue. I'm asking you to do so once again. Well, research is one thing, talking down to anyone who disagrees with you is quite another. You may not feel guilty of the latter, but if potential sources of info think so, it seriously hamstrings your investigation. Give us some... *any*... substantive information. You seem to be saying that I'm not recognizing you for the knowledgeable person you are..... you can't win a poker hand without showing any cards at all, James. From my perspective (and I could be wrong), I haven't been "talking down" to anyone, I've been trying to engage a conversation on a certain level and some people feel defensive about that level, as basic as it is... i.e., they want me to drop back into the typical AikiWeb level that they can participate in and are offended if someone doesn't play by the peer rules they imagine are in play. Why don't we stop with all this flummery and just discuss ki and kokyu things? Contribute something. Don't keep hinting, as Shaun does, that you have hidden-but-deep resources of information we would all die to have. Just say something useful and let's go from there. ....and you've replied to me much the way you have to everyone who's disagreed with you. And it represents a perspective that is in direct contradiction with the pretense of gathering information and investigating the facts. Oh, please. Quote me an example instead of these vague charges about my personality... and elaborate on the factual parts of it. But given your past discussions with members of this forum, it seems to be a pattern that whenever anyone says anything about Ki that's different than what you believe, you mark them as being somehow outside of the confines of current Asian practice and ideology (as if you were the sole litmus test.) Perhaps, this is a means of not so surreptitiously saying they're some sort of whack job econoclastic individualist, with little regard for convention, and should be ignored thusly. Give me some quotes, please, now that you've made the charges. And go to substance as soon as you can on ki and kokyu, rather than this constant harping on your perceptions of my personal flaws. You seem oblivious to the fact that you have not given a single supporting fact to support any of your personal comments and you still have not discussed substantively any aspect of ki or kokyu. Here's your chance. Tell us something substantive about ki and kokyu that is different from what I believe. Then let's discuss it. I've never met Tohei. Good. So your objections to what I said about Tohei and Ki are simply based on what you believe, not on what Tohei told you. That was my point. I.e., I can see what he does in pictures and on videos and read what he writes and I can compare it all to 25+ years of focusing purely on the ki phenomenon in many arts, your objections notwithstanding. Am I correct in thinking that's permissible? Instead of playing this game that you know secret things, yada, yada, yada, I invite you... and Shaun Ravens, who implies the same things... to take the conversation as an interesting, personality-free discussion about how ki and kokyu things work and simply join in rather than sit on the sidelines and snipe. Anyone can snipe.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

sanskara
04-24-2005, 03:12 PM
A couple of things in need of clarification:

1. I do respect Tohei, but also disagree with many aspects of his organization, administration, etc. We actually discussed this in personal e-mails, so you know my views of Ki development don't revolve around Tohei. I actually don't agree with some of his basic philosophy and teaching methods. But that's outside the scope of this conversation.

2. We have talked about Ki and I've been clear, not vague, about my perspectives. I brought up a number of points related to your posts and you decided that that wasn't good enough--your choice. Perhaps, I'm partially at fault for this conflict because of the tone of some of my posts. If an apology will help smooth things over, I offer it for whatever negative roll I've played, but that shouldn't undermine the content of my posts, nor does it erase your liability in the excursion.

3. I've never intimated that I have secret information--not once. However, if you are interested in Tohei's teachings during a certain time period, I have some knowledge of such things. So do others. Ultimately, it shouldn't matter where you get the info from; it doesn't to me.

4. Your insinuation that you can know about a teacher or their organization from watching videos given your background is pretty shaky ground for an argument against someone who was actually immersed in the culture under scrutiny for a number of years. Personally, I wouldn't make it.

5. Lastly, to reiterate, my issue is with your generalizations about Aikido and some of its pioneers--including Shioda, by the way, but I can't speak for the Yoshinkai, so I won't. Which is exactly what I stated earlier. Tohei is just one example, not necessarily the most prevalent. It just happens to be a subject I know well enough to debate, and therefore have.

By the way, I don't know Shaun Ravens, but I followed your discussion with him in the forum. It seems to me that given he is/was a student of Abe for a number of years, you might want to take his word on Abe's teachings and perspectives, especially since you're doing research and all that, and may not necessarily have any other connection with that branch of Aikido. I wouldn't be so quick dismiss any offers I got in that area if I were genuinely searching for knowledge with an open mind and not just looking to feed a confirmation bias. Your mileage may vary.

Mike Sigman
04-24-2005, 04:16 PM
2. We have talked about Ki and I've been clear, not vague, about my perspectives. I brought up a number of points related to your posts and you decided that that wasn't good enough--your choice.Here's the only definitive things I could find that you *opined*... you backed up your opinions, though, only with "there appear to be" and "I have to think".

> And yet, there do appear to be obvious differences between Ueshiba's
> movements and those found in Chinese arts. To my eye, the difference in
> rythm and overall mechanics looks to be a different flavor of Ki
> manipulation--not necessarily better or worse, just different. The most
> telling thing, though, is Ueshiba's "inability" to transmit what he had,
> or as you suggested, unwillingness. But for someone who surely wanted
> Aikido to spread, I have to think it was the former, rather than the
> latter. Perhaps, he never full understood why he was able to do what he
> did.

So basically, all you have said is that the ki of Aikido (or Ueshiba) is different, in your opinion, from the ki used in Chinese martial arts. Your later comments indicated that you in fact know almost nothing about Chinese martial arts, though. So we're left with you perhaps still taking the position that the ki in Aikido is not the ki used in Chinese martial arts. So I'd like to see you support how this can be true. 4. Your insinuation that you can know about a teacher or their organization from watching videos given your background is pretty shaky ground for an argument against someone who was actually immersed in the culture under scrutiny for a number of years. Personally, I wouldn't make it. I think the basic point is that you're maintaining that the ki Tohei uses must be different from the ki everyone else uses and therefore I could not possibly understand what Tohei is really doing. So let's start with your making a case for why the ki of Aikido is different from what I know and which is in other martial arts. 5. Lastly, to reiterate, my issue is with your generalizations about Aikido and some of its pioneers--including Shioda, by the way, but I can't speak for the Yoshinkai, so I won't. Which is exactly what I stated earlier. Tohei is just one example, not necessarily the most prevalent. It just happens to be a subject I know well enough to debate, and therefore have. I'm not sure what you're trying to say. Is it something along the lines of I'm not qualified to make generalizations, I don't have permission from the Aikido Committee to make generalizations, I can't make generalizations unless I studied with Tohei personally, or what? You're not being clear. By the way, I don't know Shaun Ravens, but I followed your discussion with him in the forum. It seems to me that given he is/was a student of Abe for a number of years, you might want to take his word on Abe's teachings and perspectives, especially since you're doing research and all that, and may not necessarily have any other connection with that branch of Aikido. I wouldn't be so quick dismiss any offers I got in that area if I were genuinely searching for knowledge with an open mind and not just looking to feed a confirmation bias. Your mileage may vary. I asked Shaun repeatedly to clarify his positions, but he appears to prefer to go to personalities instead of substantive give-and-take discussion. Here is the only substantive thing he's said since I joined the forum, and he seems want to avoid any commitments on what Ki is, how to practice, etc. :

(From the Misogi thread)
However, for the record, and again just so that we are all working from the
same page. Kokyu-ho is the breathing method applied when practicing
Kokyu-dosa (popular breath exercise usually done with a partner, in seiza)

So Shaun has defined Kokyu-ho-dosa as a breath exercise done with a partner. I have said somewhere previously what I think it is. All he needs to do is explain why he thinks it is a practice in a "breathing method" and we can go forward and avoid these discussions about personality. If you could explain why you think the ki of Aikido is different from the ki used in other martial arts, I'd be interested in hearing it.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

sanskara
04-24-2005, 04:35 PM
Actually, since you've quoted my e-mail, I'll also quote the message I sent subsequently, in the same series of communications, to clarify my position in the matter.

The point is that there are different "flavors" of Ki. That it's all Ki is not the point. Getting thrown/punched by two practitioners of Ki-related arts can often feel different and result in varying effect. The energy may be the same, but the concentration/channeling may differ. It is my contention that the body dynamics often flow from this manipulation of Ki. But it goes without saying that some forms of kinesthetics are simply expedient for a given battlefield or combat situation, and born more of practicality than esoteric practices.

I'll also add that I was not saying that Tohei's Ki was unique. Just that you are not necessarily qualified to say that you know what he's doing with it because you have a background in Chinese arts and have watched him on film.

But this shouldn't be a Tohei-centric discussion, the same objections can be applied to your views on Abe, Shioda, and Tada. You are qualified to have opinions in this matter (everyone with a login and password is) but it is not gospel, simply because you say it's so. And people who take umbrage with your generalizations are not necessarily enemies to be slain and ridiculed. You're in a public forum, anyone can respond within the rules of this site. If you're having difficulty with that, then you may need to consider gathering your information through other means.

But at this point, we've beaten this to death. The last word is yours.

Mike Sigman
04-24-2005, 05:01 PM
Actually, since you've quoted my e-mail, I'll also quote the message I sent subsequently, in the same series of communications, to clarify my position in the matter.The point is that there are different "flavors" of Ki. That it's all Ki is not the point. Getting thrown/punched by two practitioners of Ki-related arts can often feel different and result in varying effect. The energy may be the same, but the concentration/channeling may differ. It is my contention that the body dynamics often flow from this manipulation of Ki. But it goes without saying that some forms of kinesthetics are simply expedient for a given battlefield or combat situation, and born more of practicality than esoteric practices. I'll also add that I was not saying that Tohei's Ki was unique. Just that you are not necessarily qualified to say that you know what he's doing with it because you have a background in Chinese arts and have watched him on film. But you haven't changed anything... you're still stating your opinion, but asserting that the "concentration/channeling" is different. How about some sort of support to these oddities instead of just assertion. Your argument is that the ki in Aikido is somehow different than the ki in other things, yet you offer no support.

Secondly, I say it again...this is NOT a martial arts discussion. It's a discussion about ki and kokyu. I have about 8 years of experience in Judo, about the same (not simultaneous, either) in Okinawan karate, and roughly another 8 in Aikido... so my background is fairly large in Japanese martial arts, as well. Let's just stick with ki and kokyu and leave all the side issues, please. I asked you to support your position about the ki and kokyu being different and now you're also saying something vague, and strange, about the "concentration/channeling"... could you support that please? So far, you've offered opinions and insults and one apology, but you have not made a single substantive support for your assertions. In my opinion, if you want to discuss an issue you'll need to formulate and articulate your thoughts. If you can't marshall a compelling argument, don't take it out on the other guy.

Lastly, let me point out clearly your problem of the "different ki's" thesis that you're saying bars me from making general observations. What Tohei, Shioda, and others that I've commented on (from observation and other data) do are very well-known and recognized phenomena. I.e., it is not me by myself that would identify what they do as standard ki/kokyu things. I'm not putting myself alone as an expert on ki and you're questioning my ability to make observations, I'm making those observations with the extreme secure feeling of knowing that I haven't said anything radical or risky. So for your thesis to be true, you're essentially having to posit that there are two different phenomena in human capability that appear to be the same, but they're actually different. If we take your argument back to basic increments of how the human body works, etc., your *assertion* of differences will fail... and you should know that, just from common sense. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and it looks like a duck, it's not a penguin.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Misogi-no-Gyo
04-24-2005, 05:25 PM
Don't keep hinting, as Shaun does, that you have hidden-but-deep resources of information we would all die to have.

As for me, I have no hidden source for anything. My sources are well known, both on these forums and in the real world. What I have said is that if there was someone willing to take the time to get out from behind their keyboard, and in your case off your pulpit, that I would take them directly to my sources to see for themselves, feel for themselves, ask questions for themselves, so that they may make up their own minds. It doesn't seem that you care to do this at all, and have even gone as far as saying that you are here for your very own selfish reasons - that you are seeking information and that once you have it you will be gone. I said to you before that this is a two-way street, and that you would find it a troubling place if you came here wanting information, making demands, pretending to be able to evaluate teachers by watching a video or reading their interviews when their own students spending major portions of their lives with their teachers were unable to do so.

If you want an example, as you always "demand" here is one. You keep insisting that Abe Sensei went somewhere else for his information. I am telling you here and now that you are wrong. I have asked him this, and we have discussed it at length. Time and time, again, you go on about how he did things outside of his training with O-Sensei, and time and time again I have told you that this was before he met O-Sensei and that once he did meet him he altered his training methods and completely focused on what O-Sensei was teaching him. He said that when he encountered O-Sensei's methods that he realized that his own were insufficient to get him to reach the goals that he had set for himself. It doesn't get any plainer than that, yet you continue to deride Abe Sensei's relationship with O-Sensei. You either have your own agenda, or you simply have a blind spot when it comes to dealing with facts because as James just noted, "They differ from your own conclusions, ones which are based upon information that you can't possibly even know.

Instead of playing this game that you know secret things, yada, yada, yada, I invite you... and Shaun Ravens, who implies the same things... to take the conversation as an interesting, personality-free discussion about how ki and kokyu things work and simply join in rather than sit on the sidelines and snipe.


Personally, Mike I find it interesting how you keep demanding a personality-free conversation, yet can't seem to get your personality out of the way. In fact, you deliberately put it in the way. That is what James, I and others have pointed to, over and over and over, but alas it is you who can't get passed it. Simply speaking, you don't feel that you should pay the cover charge at the door, and then complain that you are being accosted once inside.

As for the sidelines, you are simply full of it. Here and now I ask you to step up and put out the names of the Aikido teachers with whom in the last six months you have made an on the mat inquiry into the ki and Kokyu of Aikido, rather than show up with your preconceived notion that everything is the same, and you are here to tell everyone how we all have been missing it.

Truth be know, the reason the probable answer to the above question is "no one" not that you will come out and say it, is because someone like Abe Sensei wouldn't waste his time on you - no matter what you think you know, or what you even do know. What you can't understand is that with the piss-poor selfish attitude that you have show from day one, and your inability to understand how to show respect dictates that even if you had ten times the cover charge and were willing to pay it, you still wouldn't get in.

There is a saying, at least in Aikido, I am not sure if it is one that is repeated in the Chinese circles within which you travel, but it goes something like this, "If you want to learn anything here, you first need to have a major attitude adjustment"

I have said it before and I will say it again, I feel it a great loss because for anyone who might be truly interested in what you have to share might not ever approach you because of your selfish need to be closed to someone until they "prove" themselves to you in some forum where you think you make the rules, but in truth are just crapping on those who came before you who actually did make them.

Once again, I invite you to step out from behind your computer, and show up for the Aiki-Expo. Of course, you won't not even anonymously to see it for yourself. However, I invite you just the same.



.

Mike Sigman
04-24-2005, 05:45 PM
(snip post with not a single substantive comment about ki or kokyu) Once again, Shaun, you've done nothing but personally attack. So I take it the last thing you have to say on kokyu is:However, for the record, and again just so that we are all working from the
same page. Kokyu-ho is the breathing method applied when practicing
Kokyu-dosa (popular breath exercise usually done with a partner, in seiza) It's a direct quote. Why don't we just leave it there along with your repeated personal attacks and mischaracterizations of what I've said? I'll be glad to respond to any substantive discussion about the issues.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

SeiserL
04-24-2005, 05:49 PM
Once again, I invite you to step out from behind your computer, and show up for the Aiki-Expo. Of course, you won't not even anonymously to see it for yourself. However, I invite you just the same.
Shaun, I look forward to seeing you (and others) again at the Expo.

Misogi-no-Gyo
04-24-2005, 09:10 PM
Shaun, I look forward to seeing you (and others) again at the Expo.

Lynn,

Thanks! I will be on the mat with Matsuoka Sensei on Satuday and will be around for the demo on Saturday evening. Perhaps those of us on the board can set up a time to get together between the event and the demo, or shortly thereafter for a soda, brew or stronger at one of the local establishments. We can keep a chair open at the head of the table for Mr. Sigman in hopes that he will step out from behind the tall, dark shadow he likes to cast down upon the rest of us, though I won't hold my breath...



.

rob_liberti
04-24-2005, 10:00 PM
I'm looking forward to meeting some of you at the Expo too!

James and Shaun, those posts were awesome.

It is a fact that several people have posted about Mike's personality - especially the way he treats people he disagrees with - is a problem that gets in the way of discussions. It is also a fact that no one is posting that about anyone else.If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and it looks like a duck, it's not a penguin..

About kokyu: I'd say that when something is clearly in the way of the flow, you should probably consider trying to change it.

Rob

Misogi-no-Gyo
04-24-2005, 10:06 PM
Once again, Shaun, you've done nothing but personally attack. So I take it the last thing you have to say on kokyu is: It's a direct quote. Why don't we just leave it there along with your repeated personal attacks and mischaracterizations of what I've said? I'll be glad to respond to any substantive discussion about the issues.

Regards,

Mike Sigman


Mike,

You get back what you put out. I, for one am not here to garner any information, from you, or otherwise. If I was really interested in what you had to say, I would show up at one of your events, pay the fee and do the work. Therefore, I am not really concerned whether the likes of you care for me or not. However, you, one who seems to be interested in pilfering information from those on the board want to do so without paying the fee, which in this case is in the form of respect for those who just might have something which you seek.

As for mischaracterizing you, I have not done so in any way, shape or form. I merely stepped up and said to you what everyone is saying, both to you here on the board and behind your back. We all want to understand why a guy who says he wants to learn so much about the "ura" side of aikido, can't even get past lesson one, that being that martial arts begin with respect and end with respect. Sure, what may happen in between can and will take many forms, but you have to get beyond the first bow, which you have yet to do. You see, it really isn't what you know, think you know or otherwise that matters at all here. We all know you know something, but in truth, based on your disrespectful nature, who really cares?

I have on several occasions put all your insulting B.S. aside and bowed down in an effort to move things forward. You either haven't noticed, don't care to notice or are unable to notice that it is your turn to step up and acknowledge where you have been full of yourself.

I said directly to you in my last post that, once again, you have been disrespectful. And once again, in your last post you step over it without an apology. If that is your way of being, and it is your only way of being, well that is your right. I will not judge you for it. However, even in a debate there are both rules of debate and rules of decorum. When it comes to debating, while winning may be important, for me it is not first and foremost. To do so without observing the rules of decorum would be in bad fashion. However, when one person takes the gloves off, spits in their hand and slaps others in the face, as you so often do, it becomes less about debating within the rules as it does about just winning simply to uphold the higher truth, and not let those who take the low road to get off without equal reciprocity. Speaking clearly, while you may believe this to be a conversation about kokyu, it is in this case more about you being disrespectful of the Art, of the Founder, of the Senior teachers and even us lowly forum members. If you don't like being called a jerk, stop acting like one, or worse, pretending that you don't, or that it doesn't matter that you do. Do you think that you would get away with that on the mat with Tohei Sensei, Abe Sensei, Shioda Sensei, or the like? Obviously not - you would be thrown out of the dojo, or even more likely, just allowed to pay your tuition, never being given much information at all and left to wonder why there was not substance in aikido. Oh, wait, isn't that what already happened to you in Aikido? Isn't that why you said that you left? Well, low and behold, yes, yes, that is what you said. Yet, here you are again back with the same old questions, and the same old lousy attitude. Do you really imagine that the results will be any different? Obviously not.

So, when it comes to your statement of "So I take it the last thing you have to say on kokyu is..." separate from the fact that as usual you have misread what I said, and therefore drawn an incorrect conclusion about it, What I will say is - no it is not the last thing I have to say about kokyu, but until you sincerely apologize for crapping on the feet of those from whom you say you are interested in obtaining information, it is the last thing about kokyu I will say to you. However, I do reserve the right to come back here and say that you are acting like an ass when you do so, whether you like it or not, or consider even consider it germane to a conversation about kokyu.

Oh, one last thing, as for this not being a conversation about martial arts... perhaps that is where you should take a step back and take another look, as it may be at the very source of your misguided foray into Aikido forums, wherever they may be found. You see, when it comes to martial artists, it doesn't matter if you are talking about the weather - it is always martial arts, all the time. While making that mistake here on the boards is bound to result in a minimum of karmic effect back into your life, doing so in your life may result in someone taking offense and ending your life for you in short order. Hopefully in that case your standing postures will measure up to the level which you like to bandy them about here on the AikiWeb board.




.

SeiserL
04-24-2005, 10:27 PM
I will be on the mat with Matsuoka Sensei on Satuday and will be around for the demo on Saturday evening. Perhaps those of us on the board can set up a time to get together between the event and the demo, or shortly thereafter for a soda, brew or stronger at one of the local establishments.
Saturday 2/28/05 10:30 AM mat D.
I'll be on the mat with Phong Sensei.
See you there.

Ron Tisdale
04-26-2005, 01:57 PM
and there's not a big mystery why O-Sensei thought his art was different than Aiki-jujitsu ... it's actually pretty high level if you look at it as being at heart a system that uses sophisticated kokyu controls in an engagement.

Hi Mike (your friend passed on your greeting...thanks for having him get in touch),
I'm not sure I can agree with that statement...ki and kokyu seem (from my novice point of view) to be
be at a pretty high level in Daito ryu (both then and now)...they also speak of aiki needing to happen at the moment of contact, and demonstrate the same. Daito ryu sources might say that the reason he changed the name of his art is that his teacher was a bit miffed with him...miffed enough to stroll into a dojo of Ueshiba's in Osaka and take over the instruction there. Not to mention a time when Ueshiba at least seemed to find it best to be elsewhere when his teacher came calling. Both good reasons for changing the name of what he did, technical reasons aside. Just a thought...

As to the side issues here, I note that Peter Goldsbury seems as always to stay above the fray somehow...I'm still trying to learn how to do that myself. It seems one way is to let any personal comments just pass by. I hope to do so more and more often (perfect practice might actually have a chance to make perfect).

Best,
Ron

PS Hi James B. good to see you posting. Missed you!
RT

rob_liberti
04-26-2005, 02:42 PM
Hi Ron,

Your post got me thinking. Were the Daito ryu people miffed at him for teaching what he taught in the name of Daito ryu? I have heard that O-sensei took on all challenges. You'd think that someone from his old Daito ryu school would have done just that if they were miffed with him. (Unless, changing the name got him out of the dog house.)

As to the side issue: My opinion is that it has a lot more to do with Mike's previous description of how _he_ would like to see this online forum as a virtual dojo, where _he_ decided who was a sempai, dohai, and kohai, and seemed to treat people according to _his_ ranking system.

I really must see things differently from you but from my perspective, you have consistently stated that you are not bothered by the things Mike has written which have offended others, and yet you have commented on your disatisfaction with those people's responses. Shouldn't those responses "just pass by" you too? I mean no offense. I really can't see where you must be coming from.

Rob

Ron Tisdale
04-26-2005, 03:00 PM
Hi Ron,

Your post got me thinking.
Where the Daito ryu people miffed at him for teaching what he tought in the name of Daito ryu?

I used the word a little faciciously...but I guess you'll have to reach your own conclusions. On the one hand, Takeda Sensei said something like 'what Ueshiba has taught you is fine...now for the next level"...on the other hand, its said that he tried to meet up with Ueshiba, and couldn't...and he did take over that dojo. I can't claim to have the definitive answer. Read some of the interviews and research at aikido journal.

I heard that O-sensei took on all challenges. You'd think that someone from his old Daito ryu school would have done just that if they were miffed with him. (Unless, changing the name got him out of the dog house.)

My own opinion is that it got him out of the dog house...and its hard to challenge someone if you can't find them because they disappear every time you come to town. :) And please, realize that I mean no disrespect to either party by saying these things. I think we should also realize that there may have been some issues about money and prestige involved.

I really must see things differently from you but from my perspective, you have consistently stated that you are not bothered by the things Mike has written which have offended others, and yet you have commented on your disatisfaction with those people's responses. Shouldn't those responses "just pass by" you too? I mean no offense. I really can't see where you must be coming from.
Rob

Hmm...I try not to be bothered by some things in Mike's manner...in the past, it stopped me from getting interesting perspectives. I actually am friendly with and appreciative of the others who are posting who disagree with Mike (yourself included). How can I put this...I see the same problems you do (and I believe I have said that before...), I have posted quotes from people I felt Mike misrepresented, and I don't believe I have commented too much or too strongly on other people's responses.

I just feel if we let some of the snide remarks pass, we can continue to have a good conversation. I've seen Peter G. have productive conversations with some of the banes of these forums (I don't think names are needed here ;) ). All I'm saying is that maybe we could look at how he does that...and that I could use some of his skill too. I should add that my closing sentence was as much for Mike as for anyone one else...And that all should feel free to ignore it. After all, I've got my own distastefull quirks...

Best,
Ron

rob_liberti
04-26-2005, 03:44 PM
Fair enough.

That's kind of funny. Then, I'll take on all announced challengers too. (I'm great at hiding!)

Rob

bob_stra
03-07-2010, 12:54 PM
Regarding Standing Practice: One of Shioda's uchi-deshi recently published an account of his training at http://www.yoshinkan.info/deshi.php

"The training in this course consists of three parts starting from basic movements. The basic movements are like "Kata" in Karate which can train the physical strength of legs and groin necessary for Aikido techniques. In the basic movements you must stand with 80 percent of your body weight rested on one leg for about five minutes moving both left and right with different movements."

Best

Ellis Amdur

Sorry to necromance but -

The fellow in the above article (I used wayback to doublecheck) appears to me Michiharu Mori Sensei - who is alive and well and teaching in Brisbane.

Has anyone trained with him? Does he employ anything like the above quoted regimen with his students?

Here's a clip of Mori Sensei in action. As you can see, he's the spitting image of Shioda, movement wise

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

greenapple
03-13-2010, 07:18 AM
more details regarding Mori Sensei at Brisbane Australia

http://www.yoshinkan.info/index.php?pageID=History