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John Matsushima
10-17-2005, 10:16 PM
I personally have found that kokyu is one of the most important principles in the practical application of the art, yet there seems to be much misunderstanding and confusion as to what it really means. Part of the problem I see in western aikido is the explanation of Japanese concepts in English. Many people use terminology such as "extend your ki", and "feel your energy" when describing kokyu. These are good efforts I believe, but sound mysterious, and doubtful as these are terms not common in explaining physical movement. As a result, I often see beginners with a big question mark above their head (Extend my what???, oh, OK, I saw this on Dragonball Z!) Kokyu "power" ends up sounding a lot like using the "force".
Another approach is to use physical demonstrations such as the "unbendable arm". However, this raises questions such as, is the person really applying the same pressure in both circumstances (when the arm is held using physical strength vs. kokyu power), and is the other person allowing their arm to bend, perhaps, even subconsciously?
I would like to ask if anyone has for the first approach, a more grounded and understandable explanation for kokyu, or for the second approach, other physical exercises which might help more to convey the feeling of kokyu.
Thank you in advance for any input.

Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer
10-18-2005, 04:17 AM
For our westeners the main problem with the concepts of kokyu and ki is that it is very difficult indeed to explain them verbally. The only way of understanding them is experiencing them with one's body. For our western minds it is very uncomfortable, or at least alienating, to be supposed to feel something which we cannot put into words.

When I was a beginner even more than I am now, I found it very helpful to think of the concept of ki in terms of energy of intention, the energy of wanting to go somewhere. There are many simple exercises to demonstrate this. It is also visible all the time in daily life. When people walk on a crowded sidewalk, trying not to bump into one another, there is a lot of projection of ki: people have a certain energy that originates from their intention to pass another person either at the left or at the right hand side and the other person easily percieves this as such from a distance. It is this kind of energy one feels even more when one is touching the other person while he is moving or even wanting to move. The advantage, I found, of this kind of definition of ki is that energy of movement and intention is something that can be understood to a certain extent in terms of western physics. Later I realized that this idea of ki is too limited, but I still believe it is part of it.

As a beginner I found kokyu (defined in its limited sense of "breath power") less problematic to feel and understand. Once one masters the very basics of, say, irimi nage, it is very clear that the technique works better when one exhales on entering: try to inhale once and you understand immediately that it does not work. Of course, kokyu ho demonstrates (apart from many other things) exactly the same thing: the movements go with a rythm of inhaling and exhaling which cannot be reversed without seriously impeding the effectiveness of the technique. Later, of course, I realized that kokyu is much more than these simple mechanics, but the beginning was there.

I hope this helps.

nekobaka
10-18-2005, 07:40 AM
kokyu literally means breath. To me most of the techniques are achieved by controlling breath, breath in as you come in contact, and breath out with ki-ai and you throw. In addition to that your body position has to bring uke to a point that they are off balance, same as most techniques, but there is no kansetsu waza (like nikyo, sankyo, kotegaeshi). It doesn't hurt, uke is just off balance and must fall. Many people say that when a technique doesn't have a name, it's just kokyu waza.

Ron Tisdale
10-18-2005, 09:16 AM
Due in some part to Mike Sigman's probing questions, I have been investigating this area for some time. I'll try to list some of the things I've found that seem to be making a difference in physical technique. Please understand that nothing I write here is being presented as final answers in any way. This is simply my attempt at answering your question by presenting my own investigations on kokyu / ki / aiki in three traditions I have had some access to: Yoshinkan Aikido / Abe Sensei / Daito ryu. I am still continuing to research this, and coincidentally, Inoue Sensei of the Yoshinkan will be here this weekend in Phila. I believe a major topic in the private sessions will be kokyu. An important part of this is that he has written a book in Japanese about kokyu, and he has spoken in the past about the specific differences in Aikido and Daito ryu in relation to kokyu, ki, and aiki.

Yoshinkan Aikido

The books of Gozo Shioda talk about the different powers that make up aikido, and Kokyu and Ki are dealt with specifically. The power of the centerline, the power of breath, the power of focus are all spoken of as combining to be the power of ki, a mastery of balance (or as Mike says, balancing all of these powers). I'm not going to go into much depth on this now...your best option is to read his books (esp. his autobiography, Mastering Aikido, the basic course, and the third one whose title I forget just now). One of the key features of reading Shioda Kancho's works has been his statement that the basic training in aikido yoshinkan is meant to develop this kokyu power. You also get clues from statements like the power comes from the big toe.

Combined with this are statements from Chida Sensei, one of the top shihan in Yoshinkan, who has made statements about 'taking the slack out of' the relationship between shite and uke. In other words, there needs to be a certain amount of relaxed (?) tension between shite and uke so that their centers are connected so that when you move, uke must move if the connection is maintained.

I have also had input from other practitioners in the yoshinkan, specifically Tom Yawata. Tom's experience with a Daito ryu group has been beneficial as well. You can see his contributions for yourself at http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=1045.

Daito ryu

In the thread mentioned above and other sources, Daito ryu does not seem to use the phrase 'kokyu'. That seems to be unique to Aikido. The focus in Daito ryu is on 'aiki' more so than ki. This is an interesting area for investigation, as in viewing films of Daito ryu adepts, Ueshiba, and Gozo Shioda, there seems to be some strong commonalities. If you look at a technique such as shihonage and the use of 'aiki' in locking uke's elbows and raising them, you also see similarities to what I saw with Abe Sensei's use of kokyu / ki.

Abe Sensei

Due to the kindness of Shaun Ravens, I was able to spend 3 days training in Iowa with Abe Sensei, who focused on using ki in technique during his time there. Most of the techniques we studied involved focusing on bringing the power from the ground using the big toe, 'clamping down' on the 'one point' with the breath, keeping our arms straight and uke's arms straight. Abe Sensei's methods seemed to me to work best with absolutely no slack in the relationship between shite and uke, at least while learning his methods. Perhaps the need for this is greatly reduced as you advance.

Some of My Own Observations

From all of the above.

Relax the shoulders as much as possible. The kokyu / ki / Aiki power seems to get stopped in shoulders if there is any tension there at all.

Close the spine. There was a marked difference in my sucsess at Abe Sensei's technique when I relaxed the shoulders in combination with closing the gap between the shoulder blades. This helped not only with Abe Sensei's technique, but with Yoshinkan waza as well.

Focus on the big toe...that's where the power seems to come from. Keep your weight centered on the ball of the foot beneath the big toe, and try to structurally align everything between there and your contact with uke.

Don't worry about 'setting up uke' at first by having them attack in a specific way. It seems that at first this gets you feeling what it takes to move in the correct direction. Applying these (and other) methods in more adverse circumstances seems to come much later.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
10-18-2005, 10:08 AM
Oh, another physical thing I forgot to mention...close your 'waki'...in english, the best way I can describe it is to keep your armpits closed. Perhaps Peter Goldsbury or Jun can give a good description of this. You also seem to need to be mindfull of where your elbows are in relation to your body.

Another factor I didn't speak about is the need to develop the ability to absorb or neutralize your partner's energy. There is a thread that speaks about this a bit here:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7801&highlight=

Best,
Ron

rob_liberti
10-18-2005, 10:19 AM
Can you elaborate on closing the spine a bit more. I agree with expanding the shoulders back a bit. But I have to admit I haven't considered how that does have the effect of closing the spine a bit between your should blades. -Rob

Eric Webber
10-18-2005, 10:19 AM
I believe I have heard kokyu explained as breath, as timing, and as spiraling. I generally explain to newer students who ask that kokyu (in the context of technique) is ultimately comprised of all of these things and works best when they are fully integrated. Not sure if that helps with the conceptualization part, hopefully it does. Good luck in your investigation and journey.

Ron Tisdale
10-18-2005, 10:41 AM
Hi Rob,

Because so much of this is still in investigation phase, I don't know how much my elaboration will help. But let's give it a try.

In the Yoshinkan, we focus on a very square (hips facing forward) kamae, as opposed to the hamni you see in many styles of aikido. The idea is supposed to help to learn centerline, focus, to build kokyu etc., but all of those things also require that you be relaxed (one particular sore spot in my technique and personal bearing). So I've been experimenting on just how and what you 'relax' in what seems like such a powerfull yet not really natural (for me) stance.

Dropping the shoulders at the same time you bring them back and 'close the spine' seems to take the power out of the shoulders and allow me to relax my arms as well. I seem to have an easier time absorbing my partner's power, and transmitting the power of the ground through my structure when I do this. Closing the waki seems to add to this...if the elbows come out away from my body it changes the amount of tension they carry.

Fred Little was working with me at Abe Sensei's seminar, and as I was struggling with some of the technique, he suggested that I bring my shoulder blades together, and it seemed to make a huge difference right then. Then he reminded me about 'closing your waki'...kind of like trying to hold a couple of small nuts in my armpit without dropping them. Peter Goldsbury has also mentioned the waki, as have some others. Ellis Amdur has added the eight brocade exercises/warmups to some of his teaching I believe, and has spoken of chinese arts that focus on the power and use of the spine in different ways. These are some of the things that brought this to my attention.

Often lately, in katate mochi / katate dori technqiues, instead of immediately flowing with my partner's incomming power, I will try to simply maintain my kamae using these additions, and absorb their power without moving. I try to use this body alignment to allow my focus to channel the incoming power to my hip, or my back foot, or my front foot...depending on what I need to do. In some nikkajo waza, the hip focus works best. In some pivoting on the front foot waza, the front foot is best since the wieght must be forward to pivot, so I channel their power to that foot. In other cases (kaiten nage) I'm pivoting on the back foot, so it helps to put thier power there.

I hope this helps somewhat...again, I'm not very good at this yet...very much a work in progress.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
10-18-2005, 11:20 AM
Oh another important point that I forgot...Daito ryu, Yoshinkan and Abe Sensei all stress opening the fingers widely. Very important to each style of aiki / kokyu / ki...very important.

Best,
Ron

grondahl
10-18-2005, 01:06 PM
Oh another important point that I forgot...Daito ryu, Yoshinkan and Abe Sensei all stress opening the fingers widely. Very important to each style of aiki / kokyu / ki...very important.

Best,
Ron

Thank you Ron for sharing your toughts about kokyu.

The wide opening of the fingers is also a feature of Iwama-style aikido. In fact many Iwama-style students would probably extend their arm/hand/fingers as an answer if you would ask them what kokyu is.
Also the closing of the armpits (elbows pointing down) has been stressed during my training.

//Peter

akiy
10-18-2005, 01:13 PM
Since this is in the language section, I'll just write:

呼 (ko) =~ To call out, invite.
吸 (kyuu) =~ To suck (in), inhale.

-- Jun

Ron Tisdale
10-18-2005, 01:23 PM
I hope it was helpfull. I'm sure all the different styles and teachers each have their own ways of bringing out this kind of power. One of the problems of looking for clues from different places is that good teachers have an entire system where everything (ukemi, waza, breathing, methods of kokyu) *everything* dovetails very specifically. I already know some styles will find some of the things I said above anathama...because they don't fit in their paradigm. That's ok too...I just probably won't spend much time there, is all. To each their own. The tricky part for me is looking at some of these differences, and finding where they fit in what I'm learning (they often have a place, even if not the same place).

Best,
Ron

senshincenter
10-18-2005, 04:22 PM
Great posts Ron - if you don't mind me saying so. Much appreciation.

d

Upyu
10-18-2005, 07:23 PM
Quick sidenote,

I've found from my own personal training, that while you "close" the waki you still keep it "open". There's always a "contradictory" nature of power going on in each joint. Absorption of energy also happens not because you want to absorb it so much, but as a side effect of maintaining this contradictory power (closed but open, open but closed, extended but contracted, contracted but extended) in each joint.

When you drop the shoulders, it might be interesting to play with the feeling of droping the shoulders "into" the elbows.
There's still a sliiiight feeling of tension in them as you try and maintain this feeling :) It's the difference between being relaxed & just "slack"

NagaBaba
10-18-2005, 09:28 PM
Very interesting, Ron, thank you.

rob_liberti
10-18-2005, 09:36 PM
When you drop the shoulders, it might be interesting to play with the feeling of dropping the shoulders "into" the elbows.Awesome. (whole post awesome, but I wanted to comment on this part). I find I'd have to drop the shoulders into the back of my elbows to keep everything open. I think it's important to "drop" as opposed to "push down".

Rob

Upyu
10-18-2005, 11:56 PM
I think it's important to "drop" as opposed to "push down".

Rob

Same here! :D
If you "push" down you activate the lats...something you don't want to do :) Still it's not neccessarily a comfortable feeling :crazy:

Mike Sigman
10-19-2005, 04:10 AM
Combined with this are statements from Chida Sensei, one of the top shihan in Yoshinkan, who has made statements about 'taking the slack out of' the relationship between shite and uke. In other words, there needs to be a certain amount of relaxed (?) tension between shite and uke so that their centers are connected so that when you move, uke must move if the connection is maintained. A good friend of mine who has studied predominantly with Ikeda Sensei has told me that "Keep tension!" was a common admonition of Ikeda's for a long time." If there is not a good, slightly stretched, connection from your center to your hand, you cannot move your hand with your center; if there is not a good connection to your opponent's center, you cannot control his center with your center. The connection will either be yang (kokyu path through the bones) or yin (connection through the slight tension along the outside of the body). This same idea is why the fingers are held open and extended, BTW. Relax the shoulders as much as possible. The kokyu / ki / Aiki power seems to get stopped in shoulders if there is any tension there at all. I don't know if it gets "stopped", i.e., if that's the best terminology. If you push a wall with relaxed kokyu, you can track the path of power from the ground to midsection and then straight out to the hand on the wall from the midsection. I.e., it is the shortest path from the ground and the "controlling" area is the mid-section/hara. If somehow the shoulder became involved in the actualy initiation of power, the "shortest path from the ground" is no longer valid, so you have diluted or ruined your path of "pure" power. Close the spine. There was a marked difference in my sucsess at Abe Sensei's technique when I relaxed the shoulders in combination with closing the gap between the shoulder blades. This helped not only with Abe Sensei's technique, but with Yoshinkan waza as well.If you think about it, this "close this, close that" approach is radically different from the "relax" approach of for instance Tohei. In other words, I think people are beginning to highlight the different approaches to ki/kokyu now that is within the higher ranks.Focus on the big toe...that's where the power seems to come from. Keep your weight centered on the ball of the foot beneath the big toe, and try to structurally align everything between there and your contact with uke. I just mentioned this on another list. My only comment here is that there is both a yin and yang connection to the toe.

Very good post, Ron. Thanks.

Mike

Ron Tisdale
10-19-2005, 07:10 AM
Mike, and all the others...you have all contributed to these posts, some of the pointers you've given me over the years, some of the harrassment (:)), some of the encouragement...this is all from the different things each of us has been struggling with (and will continue to struggle with). My thanks and appreciation for your support.

Next installment...as much as I can learn from Inoue Sensei in 3 days (ouch).

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
10-19-2005, 07:11 AM
I don't know if it gets "stopped", i.e., if that's the best terminology. If you push a wall with relaxed kokyu, you can track the path of power from the ground to midsection and then straight out to the hand on the wall from the midsection. I.e., it is the shortest path from the ground and the "controlling" area is the mid-section/hara. If somehow the shoulder became involved in the actualy initiation of power, the "shortest path from the ground" is no longer valid, so you have diluted or ruined your path of "pure" power.

I have the feeling that this is an important piece of what I'm missing...I'll proceed to struggle with it promptly...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
10-19-2005, 07:15 AM
When you drop the shoulders, it might be interesting to play with the feeling of droping the shoulders "into" the elbows.
There's still a sliiiight feeling of tension in them as you try and maintain this feeling It's the difference between being relaxed & just "slack"

This is one of the points that always confuses me! Everyone says relax..relax..relax..but it seems to be so much more than that. There has to be the right kind of tension in the right places...and very relaxed in other places...and how the heck you maintain that under pressure I haven't a clue.
Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
10-19-2005, 08:10 AM
This is one of the points that always confuses me! Everyone says relax..relax..relax..but it seems to be so much more than that. There has to be the right kind of tension in the right places...and very relaxed in other places...and how the heck you maintain that under pressure I haven't a clue. This falls into the category of the "levels" and "gradations" of power that I've referred to before. Some types of tension are used in *training*, but when it gets to using held tension-areas in actual application, I think a mistake is being made. Ueshiba and Tohei weren't talking about the type of ki/kokyu usage that has inherent tensions. It is possible that Daito Ryu, at least some proponents of it, use some of the tension methods derived from old Shaolin training. That's part of what the discussion on Aikido Journal is about.

The tensions that are used in training can run the gamut from coarse/obvious to very subtle indeed. But those tension devices are training mechanisms which can be thought of as supplements to the use of kokyu/jin which is the real "ki" that Tohei talks about in "ki flow", etc.

Personally, I would suggest that anyone advocating held tensions during the practice and application of Aikido, etc., may be going a bit off the mark.

FWIW

Mike

Ron Tisdale
10-19-2005, 09:12 AM
How does your use of 'held tensions' corroespond with the statement from Ikeda Sensei you mentioned earlier?

"Keep tension!" was a common admonition of Ikeda's for a long time." If there is not a good, slightly stretched, connection from your center to your hand, you cannot move your hand with your center; if there is not a good connection to your opponent's center, you cannot control his center with your center.

Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
10-19-2005, 09:20 AM
How does your use of 'held tensions' corroespond with the statement from Ikeda Sensei you mentioned earlier? There's a difference between maintaining a tension in your body and maintaining a slight tension between you and uke. E.g., you can relaxedly pull on uke's arm so there is a "tension" between you and him, but you need not have any unnecessary tension in your body while doing so.

Regards,

Mike

Ron Tisdale
10-19-2005, 09:30 AM
Got it! Thanks!

Best,
Ron

John Matsushima
10-19-2005, 10:47 AM
I very much appreciate everyone's input. There have been many excellent suggestions on how to achieve kokyu, such as relaxing completely, closing the armpits, dropping the shoulders, allowing energy to flow from the big toe to the fingertips, and extending the fingers. I am not quite sure what does it mean to close the spine, though, if anyone could clarify that, it would be much appreciated.

I noticed that some questions were raised regarding tensions felt in kokyu, and I would like to address them now. I believe that the tensions felt are not at all intentional and that the muscles must be completely relaxed. I believe the tension comes after movement begins as is demonstrated in the following example: take two beer cans, and tie a string to one end, and then thread the string all the way through out the end of the 2nd can. Now at this point the cans are completely relaxed, but once you pull on the string (this simulates movement either toward or away from nage) the cans pull together creating a "tension" between them. By the way, make sure the beer cans are emptied before trying this....this will help with total relaxation. ;)

While many good examples were cited on achieving kokyu, I think what I'm looking for with this thread is more along the lines of a short explanation, such as kokyu is.....

I'm still puzzled on where the term "breath" fits into all of this. Is it perhaps meant as a spiritual or philosophical reference, and not a literal one as relating to the practical application? I'm afraid that from my experience I can't agree that it means coordinating breathing with techniques, or simply kiai. I am also in disagreement with those who say it is the rotating of the arms forward. This raises the elbows, opens the armpits, and collects power in the deltoids, or upper shoulders.

I read Gozo Shioda's book, but found that he vaguely describes the meaning of kokyu. He goes into detail about center power and focused power, but not about kokyu power. Koichi Tohei does a superb job describing ki, but not kokyu.

If such a term which is so important to the application of the art is not clearly understood by so many, it is no wonder that it takes so long to learn! I don't know of any other art, where such a basic term is left so vague. Can you imagine studying music and not knowing what a "playing a chord" means?

Thank you to those who take the time to write.

Sincerely,

John Matsushima

Mike Sigman
10-19-2005, 11:46 AM
While many good examples were cited on achieving kokyu, I think what I'm looking for with this thread is more along the lines of a short explanation, such as kokyu is.....

I'm still puzzled on where the term "breath" fits into all of this. Is it perhaps meant as a spiritual or philosophical reference, and not a literal one as relating to the practical application? I'm afraid that from my experience I can't agree that it means coordinating breathing with techniques, or simply kiai. Hi John:

"Kokyu", i.e., the "breath" part refers to the power available as you develop your physical "ki". Abe Sensei refers to "holding" your breath, which is a little inaccurate when you say that in English, but he's referring most closely to the why's and where's of it being called "kokyu" power. Frankly, you have to build up to it before you can use it.

All I'll say is that it's related to why the kanji for qi/ki is *often* best translated as "pressure". Insofar as the actual power itself, the essential power used in "kokyu", it would be called "jin" in the Chinese. The point being that you cannot really separate the terms "kokyu" and "ki"... they are part of each other, as far as functional usage is concerned. Tohei's "ki" that he shows, for example, going in and out of the arms in the wrist exercises, is actually the direction of the kokyu forces... so you can see how it gets confusing.

My recommendation is to go beyond the definitions and get someone who knows how to show you how. That in itself can be problematic, given how few people in Aikido seem to have any substantive skills in these areas.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Fred Little
10-19-2005, 12:02 PM
Personally, I would suggest that anyone advocating held tensions during the practice and application of Aikido, etc., may be going a bit off the mark.

FWIW

Mike

Mike:

Abe Sensei's suggestion (to which Ron refers), like any verbal pointer extracted from the context of practice, is easy to misconstrue.

Similarly, I think that some of the ways in which you use the word "kokyu," outside the context of practice and feeling, are easy to misconstrue.

But quite aside from Abe Sensei's ranking, having seen and felt what he can still do at the age of 90 after walking up to the fifth floor on the stairs, I'd be hard-pressed to characterize what he was trying to get across as "a bit off the mark," although I would allow that it may be easy to misunderstand.

Best,

Fred Little

MaryKaye
10-19-2005, 12:18 PM
My dojo (Ki Society) doesn't talk about closing the armpits, but the continual admonition to have "weight underside" in arms and shoulders has exactly that effect.

I was working on this with a senior this week. When he holds me as if he's about to apply kotagaeshi, his elbows are very solidly down and his armpits closed. If I try to lift up on his arms there is relaxed but very strong resistance. It's immediately obvious by feel that when he chooses to throw me, I'm going to have to fall. If the arms are lighter and the armpits more open--the way I naturally try to do this, unfortunately--uke can center himself and stand, even against a much stronger nage.

From a novice's perspective it's really hard to tell which of the differences between styles are vocabulary and which actually reflect a different physical experience. This is something I hope to learn more about as I go along. Currently when I train in other styles of aikido I alternate between thinking "Gosh, this is just the same" and "Gosh, this is totally different" but I'm not sure either perception is at all accurate.

Mary Kaye

Mike Sigman
10-19-2005, 12:34 PM
Similarly, I think that some of the ways in which you use the word "kokyu," outside the context of practice and feeling, are easy to misconstrue. Hi Fred:

I'm open to suggestions. Why not explain about kokyu when someone asks (as John did) and explain my misconstruction substantively?But quite aside from Abe Sensei's ranking, having seen and felt what he can still do at the age of 90 after walking up to the fifth floor on the stairs, I'd be hard-pressed to characterize what he was trying to get across as "a bit off the mark," although I would allow that it may be easy to misunderstand.Actually, if we're going to use quotation marks, what I said was "Abe Sensei refers to "holding" your breath, which is a little inaccurate when you say that in English" ... the operative phrase was "when you say that in English", Fred. However, I'm game to hear your explanation of what he really means and how "holding" your breath is accurate. ;)

Regards,

Mike

Ron Tisdale
10-19-2005, 01:41 PM
Hi Fred,

Good to have you join the discussion. Please feel free to correct any inaccuracies I let slip in...I try to be carefull, but always make some mistakes anyway!

Abe Sensei is astounding...at 90 years old, to climb 5 flights of stairs, and then throw everyone in a room of about 65 people half his age...

{shakes head} un-be-f'n-lievable!

And then does about an hour and a half of absolutely fanstastic calligraphy to top it off.

Best,
Ron

Erick Mead
10-19-2005, 04:37 PM
Everyone is so focused on physical metaphors and "get your arm just so..." advice I thought a little different exploraiton may also help.

Etymology means a lot in pictographic languages, and is very helpful in sorting through the richness of meaning and relationship between concepts. This is true in Chinese, which is my background, as well as Japanese kanji.
The kanji for "KOKYU" 呼吸 mean, respectively "welcome, invite" and "sip, suck, inhale."
The connotation is potentiality, with constraint, and anticipation of filling.

"KI" 氣 , "Qi" in Chinese pinyin notation, is best understood by breaking it down into its component radicals.
In Chinese this character is composed of two characters:
"MI" 米 which means uncooked rice, in the connotation of a measured quantity.
and
"QI" 气 which means"air, gas" with a connotation of force or anger, used in description of steam, typically.

So the component characters of KI 氣 , together have a denotation of uncooked rice under steam.
The connotation is of process, involving pent up force, as with steam contained for cooking, potentiality, conversion of substance, improvement, danger that brings goodness.
The word is also used in colloquial Chinese expressions that describe a person who is angry, as in the equivalent English expression of someone who is "steamed."

This set of concepts maps quite well upon the Shinto "shikon" or four souls, as in O-Sensei's phrase adopted from Omoto "ichirei, shikon, sangen, hachiriki." "One spirit, four souls, three origins, eight powers."
Aramitama is "the powerful soul";
Nigimitama is "the harmonizing soul";
Kushimitama is "the transforming soul"
Sakimitama is "the blessing soul"
These four concepts are etymologically implicit in the character KI 氣..

An etymologically accurate metaphor for KOKYU 呼吸 can thus be the hungry man's eager sucking up a few grains of just-served rice from steaming hot bowl, but just taking just a few kernels at a time or else his lips get seriously burned.

That is why kokyu techniques have to be practiced so gently. They are very, very close to the hottest, most dangerous fundamentals of the art, where the raw stuff is cooked and made edible, and can be terrifically damaging if applied with too much vigor or too quickly.

John will please forgive me, yet again, for having to teach me this lesson as my uke . . .

Kokyu, when you know have applied it, has these four simultaneous qualities of shikon: it is fiercely dominating; it is not confrontational; it transforms his attack into yours; it ends his desire to keep attacking you.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Mike Sigman
10-19-2005, 04:42 PM
"KI" 氣 , "Qi" in Chinese pinyin notation, is best understood by breaking it down into its component radicals. :cool: heh.

Fred Little
10-19-2005, 06:28 PM
Hi Fred:

I'm open to suggestions. Why not explain about kokyu when someone asks (as John did) and explain my misconstruction substantively?Actually, if we're going to use quotation marks, what I said was "Abe Sensei refers to "holding" your breath, which is a little inaccurate when you say that in English" ... the operative phrase was "when you say that in English", Fred. However, I'm game to hear your explanation of what he really means and how "holding" your breath is accurate. ;)

Regards,

Mike

Hi Mike:

I think you touched it in passing in one of your posts and beyond saying that "hold your breath" is "really" a close approximation (a skillful means, a finger pointing at the moon) for a specific synchronization of internal muscular tension/relaxation in a specific time interval during technique, but it isn't simply or solely that, any more than "kokyu" is simply and solely breath, I'm afraid that I'm not likely to be much help here.

If you cut off the finger that points to the moon, the moon still remains as it was, people who were gazing at the finger will still gaze at the bloody stump, and nothing is gained, though a finger is lost..... except for the one person who gets it in that moment.

Which is all just fine.

Fred Little

Rupert Atkinson
10-19-2005, 08:56 PM
Giving mystical connotation to kokyu does nothing but confuse so the above explanations are excellent. For me, kokyu training is just getting your breathing in rhythm with your movement and the purpose is for martial movement. Swimmers, runners, and others all do it -- they train it a little, but after awhile it all becomes natural. The mistake would be for them to overly concentrate on it and give it mystical connotations. Imagine, if you would, if Lance Armstrong attributed his success to ‘over'-training his breathing. Many cyclists might suddenly start overdoing it -- though it was not the true secret (which of course would be to cycle a lot everyday).

The purpose of kokyu exercises is the get your breathing to match your physical movement. Once co-ordinated, your flow of power becomes more efficient. The obvious thing now is to add speed and power to that equation -- not just to concentrate forever on breathing co-ordination. Accordingly, I believe it to be a mistake to overly concentrate on kokyu, to the expense of speed and power training exercises. Once the breathing is in order, it is in order, and you can forget about it. You can't train it more than that. Instead you train to maintain it. I think that the mystique leads people to search for what is not there. For example, many of the points talked about above, all of which are good, would probably best be called something else, i.e., not kokyu. Lacking a name, it falls under kokyu. But kokyu is not a technique, rather it is movement-breathing co-ordination. The above explanations are technical.

What you can do is work on your power and also work on getting that power transmitted efficiently to uke -- once you have your breathing sorted. Kokyu is part of that, but is not all of it. I love to train in kokyu exercises and feel I get a lot from them that I can put into my technique; my advice is to try to put it into the techniques so that kokyu and technique merge, thus kokyu is there all the time because you are breathing in rhythm with the movement. So, I am saying that more emphasis needs to be placed on taking what you learn in kokyu and putting it in your techniques (rather than concentrating on kokyu and just hoping something might one day just happen out of the blue).

An unfit overweight beginner who concentrates on kokyu will get nowhere fast. S/he needs to get fit and healthy, stronger, and then work on getting their breathing sorted out. Sure, they can do kokyu stuff from day one but the result is they may fall for the mystique that attaches itself to martial movement. Send them on five mile daily runs for six months first.

Another mystery of kokyu is that people believe it to be the source of how the small and weak can overcome the big and strong. Not quite so; the small, strong, and co-ordinated can overcome the big, strong, and uncoordinated. Think about it.

I say the above not as a teacher, but rather as a frustrated student who has constantly been misled by many high-ranking misinformants whom I no longer trust as sources. I welcome the above ideas in posts above.

PeterR
10-19-2005, 09:03 PM
I liked that Rupert - thanks. Fits in with my understanding very nicely.

Upyu
10-19-2005, 10:37 PM
Quick interjection from something I heard mentioned about how Abe Sensei teaches:

While the breath work is important, it isn't the breath itself, so much as the resulting "power".
Once you manifest it, it can be done while breathing in, breathing out, held breath etc.
I believe that's only once you manage to divorce the power generation from the actual act of breathing.

From that aspect Rupert, maybe the explanation is a little more complex than simply coordinating breath with movement? I.e. it's a training tool, not how it's actually performed.
Martial movement from a bujustu aspect, is much different when compared to the sports you mentioned, which have rythmic movement involved.

Martial movement occurs in an instant. From a practical standpoint I don't think there's time to actually coordinate the breath with the movement under duress, no matter how natural. But you can learn to automatically coordinate something else that is a result of the training w/ Kokyu. (Which like I said previously most likely can become divorced from the actual "breathing" process)

Pauliina Lievonen
10-20-2005, 05:50 AM
While the breath work is important, it isn't the breath itself, so much as the resulting "power".
Once you manifest it, it can be done while breathing in, breathing out, held breath etc.
I believe that's only once you manage to divorce the power generation from the actual act of breathing.


Similarly we teach everything in the beginning with extension forward - for a crude example a student stands in hanmi, arms in front, another pushes on the arms, and the pushee should be able to keep standing without exerting a lot of effort - but once one starts to get that, the same extension (or whatever you want to call it) works in other directions and arm positions as well.

kvaak
Pauliina

Gernot Hassenpflug
10-20-2005, 08:35 AM
Abe Sensei

Due to the kindness of Shaun Ravens, I was able to spend 3 days training in Iowa with Abe Sensei, who focused on using ki in technique during his time there. Most of the techniques we studied involved focusing on bringing the power from the ground using the big toe, 'clamping down' on the 'one point' with the breath, keeping our arms straight and uke's arms straight. Abe Sensei's methods seemed to me to work best with absolutely no slack in the relationship between shite and uke, at least while learning his methods. Perhaps the need for this is greatly reduced as you advance.

Some of My Own Observations

From all of the above.

Relax the shoulders as much as possible. The kokyu / ki / Aiki power seems to get stopped in shoulders if there is any tension there at all.

Close the spine. There was a marked difference in my sucsess at Abe Sensei's technique when I relaxed the shoulders in combination with closing the gap between the shoulder blades. This helped not only with Abe Sensei's technique, but with Yoshinkan waza as well.

Focus on the big toe...that's where the power seems to come from. Keep your weight centered on the ball of the foot beneath the big toe, and try to structurally align everything between there and your contact with uke.


Hello Ron, Interesting what you say about the spine, and well done on gettting to the seminar, I heard it was a great success. From my experience, Abe sensei stresses relaxing the upper body and focussing entirely on the hara. He always says there are 2 ways to do his technique: with conditioned muscles of the hara, loins and so on (no breath needed), and with the breath itself. In the latter he will demonstrate how hitting one's own hara will send the vibration straight to uke if the pathways in the body and arm are correctly lined up. If I tense my shoulder even slightly it is "no good", and same if I bend my elbow even fractionally. The spiral to and fro of the technique is much easier initially with straight extended arms. Also, the fingertips should be lined up with the partner's hara ideally, and your own, and the finger used as the center rod of the spiral should not deviate but continue extending in that line like a speartip. Regarding the tension between the partners, yes, it is easier to feel a result that way, but the technique does not seem to depend on it. Even on a relaxed partner it seems to work. And certainly, if you partner only starts to resist your movement at a later stage, that is when you apply your "bringing mind to center" and sort of snap-shot freezing your body alignment as you perform the miniscule to and fro spiral before going in the direction you wish to. I hope that makes sense against the background of the seminar. It is very important that your outstretched fingertip is connected to your center by an immovable rod, so that the arm is neither liftable nor push-downable, nor moveable to either side. Then you can move the fingertips from center.

I just want to add here my own thoughts, something I've pondered about for the last two or three years, and only found the answer to last week at Akuzawa's class in Tokyo (thanks to Mike Sigman for the continual prodding, and Robert John for the kind introduction): the problem of lower body stability in any posture, such as after tenkan, or when being held (pushed, pulled). Most people in the dojo avoided a direct answer, and only Kinoshita sensei, the dojo-cho, laughed and said first comes the hardness (as I was trying to do it) which is not good enough, and then softness, as he stood on one leg against my fruitless pushing. I became more and more engrossed in finding ways to stand straight, and learned some things, as well as picked up bad habits. Mike's talk about a suit was the critical step here. Last week's first introduction to various exercises for 6 direction strength are likely the core thing I am looking for. Central to that is upright posture and focus on the spine, and as part of the self-realization and strengthening there is quite a bit of putting the shoulder blades together, as is mentioned many times in this thread. Abe sensei does not seem to put his together emphatically, but he does drop them backwards. I think the important thing is the dropping, so that they are free to be moved in any other direction (fore-back, up-down, back-fore, side-to-side).

Mike Sigman
10-20-2005, 12:37 PM
Just to muddy up the waters a bit more, let me comment once again that "ki" and "kokyu" are inextricably intertwined. Technically, kokyu ryoku is the physical manifestation of ki. In that sense, Tohei can stand with his forearm proffered (ready for his partner to push on the forearm in order to exhibit a rooted stance) and he has "ki" to his forearm. Once the partner physically pushes against the forearm and feels the actual path of power, Tohei is exhibiting either his "ki" or his "kokyu", depending on your fancy. If Tohei stores and releases along the path through his forearm into the pushing uke, he is exhibiting kokyu ryoku, as the Japanese use the term.

The essential power of kokyu depends on (1.) paths the mind sets up and also on a (2.) body-skill/development that is done largely by breathing training and control. The major nexus of that power is in the hara area, but it also extends out to the ends of the limbs, with training. Because the real power of the kokyu paths depends so much on this training with the breath, it can rightfully be called a "breath power". From various descriptions and sources of Abe's focus, I have no doubt that he knows and has developed this basic power source of "ki" quite well. And he knows how to use it.

One of the side-effects of this kind of development is an increase in good health... and I've personally seen this happen to me and others, so when someone says that Abe Sensei exhibits unusually good health and strength even at 90 years, my inclination is to attribute a lot of it to the development and use of this training. Remember that Shioda and Ueshiba also both indicated that these studies were focused somewhat on quality of life as they got older.

FWIW

Mike

Ron Tisdale
10-20-2005, 12:42 PM
Hello Gernot,

It's good to have you in this thread! I really did enjoy my time in Abe Sensei's seminar, and found him to be very open and interested in everyone getting his points. He highlighted some of the very things you mentioned, and I hope I portrayed it somewhat as spoken. Thanks for your more in depth discussion of Abe Sensei's technique.

It's good to know you got to Akuzawa's class...will you continue to train there? Please drop us a note from time to time on the training, I would be most interested. I was hoping to see him in Montana (I think that is where he will be) but there is little possibility of me getting in another road trip this fall. Family obligations and what not.

Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
10-23-2005, 03:20 PM
Fred Little was working with me at Abe Sensei's seminar, and as I was struggling with some of the technique, he suggested that I bring my shoulder blades together, and it seemed to make a huge difference right then. Then he reminded me about 'closing your waki'...kind of like trying to hold a couple of small nuts in my armpit without dropping them. Peter Goldsbury has also mentioned the waki, as have some others. Ellis Amdur has added the eight brocade exercises/warmups to some of his teaching I believe, and has spoken of chinese arts that focus on the power and use of the spine in different ways. These are some of the things that brought this to my attention.Just as a side note, I'm not sure you'd want to lump the "eight brocade exercises/warmups" in with the rest of your discussion, Ron. What a lot of westerners call the "Eight Pieces of Brocade" is really more accurately called the "Eight Strands of Silk" and silk is a metaphor for the fascia and tendons that I keep referring to in the breathing and movement exercises of "qi/ki". In other words, that particular qigong is a full-blown, very complicated exercise routine that involves movement with intent, deliberate breathing, focusing of pressure, etc., in a series that covers the whole body and all the meridians. It shouldn't be confused with some "spinal" or "waki" exercise.

Regards,

Mike

Ron Tisdale
10-24-2005, 11:16 AM
Hi Mike,

I certainly don't mean to confuse it as such. One of the exercises that Ellis showed us was (I don't remember the name) kind of like someone drawing a bow, and one of the effects was that it functioned to close the shoulder blades. That is what I was referring to. As far as anything else, you might want to talk to Ellis, I was only fortunate to do this over the course of a weekend, and I'm sure I missed most of what he was doing. But if you'd like to step through the sequence and discuss the intent, focus, breathing, etc., I'm all ears, as always! ;)

Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
10-24-2005, 12:05 PM
I certainly don't mean to confuse it as such. One of the exercises that Ellis showed us was (I don't remember the name) kind of like someone drawing a bow, and one of the effects was that it functioned to close the shoulder blades. That is what I was referring to. As far as anything else, you might want to talk to Ellis, I was only fortunate to do this over the course of a weekend, and I'm sure I missed most of what he was doing. But if you'd like to step through the sequence and discuss the intent, focus, breathing, etc., I'm all ears, as always! ;) I couldn't begin, Ron. Using "intent" to control the movements, jin in a contradiction, pressure, and condensing the qi would be the topics and you simply have to lead into it physically over a period of time. We're sort of skirting my "Dumb Ole Chinese" or "Dumb Ole Japanese" theory.... people attribute either superficial technique/skill or low-level technique/skill to these exercises, etc., and teach them as ancient Asian lore. In reality, attributing such low level stuff is the equivalent of saying the real precursors were making a big deal out of something that is easily passed on in a weekend, a year or two, or whatever. It's sort of like saying that O-Sensei's Aikido was pretty good and if you apply yourself you can become a teacher of it in 5 years. That would be my "Dumb Ole O-Sensei" theory.... "he knew some pretty kewl stuff and I'll teach it to you because I was able to catch it in just a short while". ;)

Mike

Fred Little
10-24-2005, 01:08 PM
Just as a side note, I'm not sure you'd want to lump the "eight brocade exercises/warmups" in with the rest of your discussion, Ron. What a lot of westerners call the "Eight Pieces of Brocade" is really more accurately called the "Eight Strands of Silk" and silk is a metaphor for the fascia and tendons that I keep referring to in the breathing and movement exercises of "qi/ki". In other words, that particular qigong is a full-blown, very complicated exercise routine that involves movement with intent, deliberate breathing, focusing of pressure, etc., in a series that covers the whole body and all the meridians. It shouldn't be confused with some "spinal" or "waki" exercise.

Regards,

Mike

Hey Mike,

The above exchange is illustrative of the problems of communication in this medium that reduce me to alternately making what may seem to be purposely cryptic comments or remarks that may seem utterly obtuse and off-point.

I don't disagree with your "should" or "shouldn't." I don't think that Ron is making the conflation that you caution against. I know I didn't conflate the two when Ron and I were working together.

At the time, it was just a specific technical point at a specific place in application of a specific technique, expressed in terms that would be understood by the person I was working with.

But it becomes very easy to conflate a couple of different pointers --which are only that -- and build up a (mis)impression of the systems from which the pointers might have been taken and the relationships between them.

Which leaves me sympathetic with your concern that they not be inappropriately conflated, capable of stating authoritatively that no such conflation was intended at the time, skeptical of any assertion that such a conflation was made by Ron at the time, and even so, seeing clearly how somebody reading the Ron's account at second or third hand might quite naturally make the conflation in the absence of the original context.

Similarly, I can tell somebody to "watch out for that falling safe" without being able to claim a detailed understanding of and ability to explain gravity without extensive study of either Newton or Einstein's mathematics.

Especially with the proprietary languages seeming to be valued more than what they communicate.

As Richard Brautigan put it in the title of one of his books, at that point, we might as well be "Shoveling Mercury with a Pitchfork."

But FWIW, if I had to do my language and culture studies over again, I'd start with the Chinese, not the Japanese.

Fred Little

Mike Sigman
10-24-2005, 03:03 PM
The above exchange is illustrative of the problems of communication in this medium that reduce me to alternately making what may seem to be purposely cryptic comments or remarks that may seem utterly obtuse and off-point.

I don't disagree with your "should" or "shouldn't." I don't think that Ron is making the conflation that you caution against. I know I didn't conflate the two when Ron and I were working together.

At the time, it was just a specific technical point at a specific place in application of a specific technique, expressed in terms that would be understood by the person I was working with. Hi Fred:

Well, I've stated it before that using exotic terms in place of functional instructions doesn't appear to be that fruitful. If the shoulder blades in certain position have definitive merits, it should be possible to discuss and analyse those merits, the physics behind, etc., without trying to justify with obscure terms. That was my indirect point. Everything I do I can give a physical explanation for, step by step. I would expect other people, all just as smart as I am, could do the same thing. Saying something "feels better" or "works better" (or similar vagaries) and then dropping in terms like "waki", "eight pieces of brocade", seems sort of pointless to me... albeit very, very "AikiWeb" sounding. If it's a "technical point", why not take a moment and explain the technical aspects of it, BTW? Similarly, I can tell somebody to "watch out for that falling safe" without being able to claim a detailed understanding of and ability to explain gravity without extensive study of either Newton or Einstein's mathematics. All I can do is hope that you don't really intend to "conflate" a martial teaching with general warnings. ;)

Just as a suggestion, Fred, and I mean it in a very respectful and well-intentioned way, why don't you discuss some of the more technical how-to's more openly on the forum? I'm quite certain that many people would benefit from your expertise.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

rob_liberti
10-24-2005, 07:16 PM
With similar respect and well meaning-ness, do we really need "caution" about such things?

If something "feels better" or "works better" (or similar vagaries) and you don't know percisely why that is so - what is the suggested alternative to posting about it and making any connection you can in hopes for additional information? It can be quite constructive. Even if the connection you try to make is hyberbolic - or just completely wrong - someone who knows a bit more will generally step in and help. They won't usually be a jerk about it either on aikiweb, so it seems safe enough to me. I say, trying to integrate as much understanding as possible is worth the "risk" of mis-conflation.

Rob

Fred Little
10-24-2005, 07:49 PM
To vastly oversimplify this, what I'm working with is quite simple: the support of the body by means of the soft white underbelly.

Just look at any four legged animal and see which muscle groups and vulnerable areas are protected from external threat as an inherent feature of the animal's anatomy.

Map those muscles onto the roughly corresponding areas of your own body.

Use them to support you when you sit, stand, or move.

The other muscle groups, corresponding to those areas of the animal that are exposed, are all about fine motor control. They CAN be (mis)used for support, and often are, which vastly decreases our ability to generate power (because we're not using the belly/inner surface portions of the musculature and fascia for support) as well as our ability to direct it (because we're using some or most of our fine motor control centers for support).

There are many systems of varying degrees of sophistication to reacquire this and other natural abilities which we have had civilized out of us.

Mike Sigman
10-24-2005, 08:15 PM
To vastly oversimplify this, what I'm working with is quite simple: the support of the body by means of the soft white underbelly.

Just look at any four legged animal and see which muscle groups and vulnerable areas are protected from external threat as an inherent feature of the animal's anatomy.

Map those muscles onto the roughly corresponding areas of your own body.

Use them to support you when you sit, stand, or move.

The other muscle groups, corresponding to those areas of the animal that are exposed, are all about fine motor control. They CAN be (mis)used for support, and often are, which vastly decreases our ability to generate power (because we're not using the belly/inner surface portions of the musculature and fascia for support) as well as our ability to direct it (because we're using some or most of our fine motor control centers for support).

There are many systems of varying degrees of sophistication to reacquire this and other natural abilities which we have had civilized out of us.Fred, I've heard that one before. I think it misses the point of yin and yang completely and is sort of a western patchwork gestalt-guess, if you want to use obscure-but-meaningful-sounding ideas. True balance and support would, by yin and yang theory, use a balance of the "yang" musculature (the outer stuff on the limbs and the back) and "yin" muscualture (the inner stuff on the limbs, the belly stuff, etc.).

The idea is that no one would propose to use 'only yang' for anything unless they were an idiot... yet you see westerners using this pseudo-explanation that you just gave, all the time.

"Jin" is a way of explaining a "skill-strength" or a "force vector" and it is the heart of what "kokyu" means. I.e., these were not just "Dumb Ole Chinese" or "Dumb Ole Japanese" that spoke with vagaries and that's how they communicated things... "with feelings that your subtle body can interpret". These guys were masters of descriptions, measurements, etc..... it's a western misconception that they communicated via vagaries.

True, there was a lot of in-house "Masons' Guild" secret-speak, particularly in the martial arts... but I think you're vastly missing what the exactitude of "jin" is and all the related topics. "Ki" actually is an umbrella term... but its relationships all go back to the idea of "pressure" and that's why the kanji is actually accurate and not some sort of metaphor that is open to "feeling".

FWIW

Mike

Fred Little
10-24-2005, 09:06 PM
Fred, I've heard that one before. I think it misses the point of yin and yang completely and is sort of a western patchwork gestalt-guess, if you want to use obscure-but-meaningful-sounding ideas. True balance and support would, by yin and yang theory, use a balance of the "yang" musculature (the outer stuff on the limbs and the back) and "yin" muscualture (the inner stuff on the limbs, the belly stuff, etc.).

The idea is that no one would propose to use 'only yang' for anything unless they were an idiot... yet you see westerners using this pseudo-explanation that you just gave, all the time.

"Jin" is a way of explaining a "skill-strength" or a "force vector" and it is the heart of what "kokyu" means. I.e., these were not just "Dumb Ole Chinese" or "Dumb Ole Japanese" that spoke with vagaries and that's how they communicated things... "with feelings that your subtle body can interpret". These guys were masters of descriptions, measurements, etc..... it's a western misconception that they communicated via vagaries.

True, there was a lot of in-house "Masons' Guild" secret-speak, particularly in the martial arts... but I think you're vastly missing what the exactitude of "jin" is and all the related topics. "Ki" actually is an umbrella term... but its relationships all go back to the idea of "pressure" and that's why the kanji is actually accurate and not some sort of metaphor that is open to "feeling".

FWIW

Mike

Mike --

Did you miss the first line about "vast oversimplification?"

It sounds a lot like you are simply projecting your own desire for the triumphal validation of a particular totalizing system onto my occasional crazyquilt banners.

It's undoubtedly true that the use of "ki" in Japanese is much broader and cruder than the precise usages of "ki" in Chinese, going all the way back to the Yellow Emperor's Classic.

I would be very surprised if the usages of "jin" in Chinese weren't also vastly more precise than the general uses of "kokyu" in Japanese, but it would take a good bit of several kinds of study for me to say much more than that.

I would be further surprised if there weren't individuals in Japan who had good solid Chinese educations, both scholarly and martial, and got it, but rather than laying it out for their students in plain, precise language, intentionally draped their teaching in obscure, vague, or simply incorrect explanations for the express purpose of maintaining their own positions as teachers in perpetuity.

That's what the whole iemoto system in particular, and Japanese culture more generally, is about.

But at the end of the day, however well or badly drawn, the map is still not the territory.

And I'm not even trying to draw a map, I'm just finding my way over the next ridge and dropping a few marks along my path.

FL

Mike Sigman
10-25-2005, 09:12 AM
Did you miss the first line about "vast oversimplification?"

It sounds a lot like you are simply projecting your own desire for the triumphal validation of a particular totalizing system onto my occasional crazyquilt banners.

It's undoubtedly true that the use of "ki" in Japanese is much broader and cruder than the precise usages of "ki" in Chinese, going all the way back to the Yellow Emperor's Classic.

I would be very surprised if the usages of "jin" in Chinese weren't also vastly more precise than the general uses of "kokyu" in Japanese, but it would take a good bit of several kinds of study for me to say much more than that. Hi Fred:

Asides aside, my point was *still* the questioning of why vagaries are constantly being used instead of factual discussions.

Insofar as, for instance, "kokyu", I know pretty exactly why the term for 'breath' is used to describe this power which has jin as its essence. I've laid out enough of the reason before (it, like many other things from me and many others, now resides in the archives for future generations to read). There is a bit more to it which is crucial, but I've never pretended to tell all I know, even though I have taken pains to tell exactly how many basic and checkable things are done. I would be tickled to death to see other people contribute in the same vein with factual how-to's and less "feels good". I would be further surprised if there weren't individuals in Japan who had good solid Chinese educations, both scholarly and martial, and got it, but rather than laying it out for their students in plain, precise language, intentionally draped their teaching in obscure, vague, or simply incorrect explanations for the express purpose of maintaining their own positions as teachers in perpetuity. I agree That's what the whole iemoto system in particular, and Japanese culture more generally, is about.

But at the end of the day, however well or badly drawn, the map is still not the territory.

And I'm not even trying to draw a map, I'm just finding my way over the next ridge and dropping a few marks along my path. If a beginner has a map that shows him where to go look for the treasure, that's a lot more valuable than vague directional hand-waves from people who have never been to where he wants to go. ;)

Regards,

Mike

Fred Little
10-25-2005, 10:36 AM
Hi Fred:

Asides aside, my point was *still* the questioning of why vagaries are constantly being used instead of factual discussions.

Multiple reasons:

1. Protection of material regarded as proprietary.

2. Intentional creation of mystique.

3. Firm belief in a pedagogical method that develops intuitive or inferential knowing out of training without the provision of an analytical framework to students along the way.

4. Unwillingness to acknowledge cultural borrowing.

5. "Fuzzy understanding." This may include practitioners who have genuinely developed such skill through a process that is osmotic or inferential.

Insofar as, for instance, "kokyu", I know pretty exactly why the term for 'breath' is used to describe this power which has jin as its essence. I've laid out enough of the reason before (it, like many other things from me and many others, now resides in the archives for future generations to read). There is a bit more to it which is crucial, but I've never pretended to tell all I know, even though I have taken pains to tell exactly how many basic and checkable things are done. I would be tickled to death to see other people contribute in the same vein with factual how-to's and less "feels good". I agree If a beginner has a map that shows him where to go look for the treasure, that's a lot more valuable than vague directional hand-waves from people who have never been to where he wants to go. ;)

Regards,

Mike

When we get to statements like "this power that has jin as its essence" we get to just the kind of "essentialist notion" that makes me very leery of misplaced reductionism. In this specific instance, while I'm open to the strong probability that study of the very well developed Chinese theory and method of developing "jin" is an excellent tool for the development of a significant subset of the skills encompassed by "kokyu," I would also argue that similar study of the fundamentally Indic theory and method of "AUM/AUN" is also required to get the full sense of "kokyu" as used by the founder of aikido, and while there's certainly some overlap, there are also some areas that "AUM/AUN" covers that "jin" doesn't.

So I study both and honor fundamental conditions like reason 1 where that was a basic prerequisite condition under which information was shared.

As I've said in the past, I think that competent authorized instruction in several basic mikkyo practices is useful.

You've said much the same thing about competent instruction in certain CMA.

I'm not competent or authorized to teach either, but I do think that those who sincerely seek that kind of instruction can find it.

Best,

FL

Mike Sigman
10-25-2005, 10:51 AM
Multiple reasons:

1. Protection of material regarded as proprietary.

2. Intentional creation of mystique.

3. Firm belief in a pedagogical method that develops intuitive or inferential knowing out of training without the provision of an analytical framework to students along the way.

4. Unwillingness to acknowledge cultural borrowing.

5. "Fuzzy understanding." This may include practitioners who have genuinely developed such skill through a process that is osmotic or inferential. I don't cavil with any of your points, Fred, I'm just suggesting specifically that we should be able to do better in these forums. The reason we can't, for the most part, is, in my opinion, #.6, people don't really know the subject and they're reduced to pretending they do rather than openly, as a group, searching out the information for the good of their art.When we get to statements like "this power that has jin as its essence" we get to just the kind of "essentialist notion" that makes me very leery of misplaced reductionism. Fine. I can show you easily and convincingly the logic behind the statement, though, and I offer to do so. Isn't that a step forward? In this specific instance, while I'm open to the strong probability that study of the very well developed Chinese theory and method of developing "jin" is an excellent tool for the development of a significant subset of the skills encompassed by "kokyu," I would also argue that similar study of the fundamentally Indic theory and method of "AUM/AUN" is also required to get the full sense of "kokyu" as used by the founder of aikido, and while there's certainly some overlap, there are also some areas that "AUM/AUN" covers that "jin" doesn't. No, they're all inter-related. Even "OM" (the original Indian version of "AUM") has a relationship that is easy to show as part of "jin". BTW, I hope you understand that these methods to developing power in Chinese martial arts also use/used sounds and breathing techniques. When I say "essentially jin", I'm comfortable in including all the peripheral aspects into the central argument.

Nice debate.

Regards,

Mike

Fred Little
10-25-2005, 11:12 AM
I don't cavil with any of your points, Fred, I'm just suggesting specifically that we should be able to do better in these forums. The reason we can't, for the most part, is, in my opinion, #.6, people don't really know the subject and they're reduced to pretending they do rather than openly, as a group, searching out the information for the good of their art. Fine. I can show you easily and convincingly the logic behind the statement, though, and I offer to do so. Isn't that a step forward? No, they're all inter-related. Even "OM" (the original Indian version of "AUM") has a relationship that is easy to show as part of "jin". BTW, I hope you understand that these methods to developing power in Chinese martial arts also use/used sounds and breathing techniques. When I say "essentially jin", I'm comfortable in including all the peripheral aspects into the central argument.

Nice debate.

Regards,

Mike

Hey Mike:

I'll openly concede that my knowledge of CMA is limited, but that's a matter I'm (very) slowly rectifying. As for showing the logic of your statement, go for it, I'm all ears.

On CMA training methods using sounds and breathing methods, sure. But there's more to it than that, some of which I know was once available in Buddhist circles in China. How and where those additional elements might have persisted is an open question, but I'm open to hearing about that too.

As for OM/AUM/etcetera.....to even begin to understand the full set of relationships implicit in that system, a skeletal understanding of the Sanskrit syllabary is a prerequisite, and that is neither Japanese nor Chinese, though the knowledge found its way to both places.Kukai insisted that Chinese Characters are an inferior mode of representing thought and language which distort meaning as much as they convey it, in part because ideograms don't convey sounds or the interrelationships between sounds in the way Sanskrit/Siddham structure does at every level.

Best,

FL

FL

Ron Tisdale
10-25-2005, 11:29 AM
I guess this last series of posts falls under the heading of "more prodding from Mike" ;)

Once we get past the prodding part, can we get back to any specifics in the things I did/didn't 'conflate'? Again, I have claimed no expertise in this area; I'm simply referencing the different aspects I have become exposed to, and listing the sources for the information. So for instance, if someone wants to go somewhere for information on the 'eight brocade' exercises, they could write Ellis Amdur, or better yet, attend some of his workshops, and judge for themselves how relevant his take on them might be to this area of kokyu.

I am in no sense trying to mystify anything...and have claimed no expertise...so if someone with information to add wants to add it, feel free. In my opinion, that would raise the level of this and other conversations quite a bit. We then might not get sidetracked with some of the posturing...no offense.

Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
10-25-2005, 11:43 AM
I'll openly concede that my knowledge of CMA is limited, but that's a matter I'm (very) slowly rectifying. As for showing the logic of your statement, go for it, I'm all ears. I meant literally "show", Fred. I can physically lead you through a series of steps and you'll get an "of course" moment out of it. Like most things, the magic vanishes and the peripherals focus into one picture, once you're shown how. Up until someone shows how the magic trick is done, it remains mystifying.... then it becomes obvious upon revelation. On CMA training methods using sounds and breathing methods, sure. But there's more to it than that, some of which I know was once available in Buddhist circles in China. How and where those additional elements might have persisted is an open question, but I'm open to hearing about that too.

As for OM/AUM/etcetera.....to even begin to understand the full set of relationships implicit in that system, a skeletal understanding of the Sanskrit syllabary is a prerequisite, and that is neither Japanese nor Chinese, though the knowledge found its way to both places.Kukai insisted that Chinese Characters are an inferior mode of representing thought and language which distort meaning as much as they convey it, in part because ideograms don't convey sounds or the interrelationships between sounds in the way Sanskrit/Siddham structure does at every level. I think you're missing the forest while you focus on the trees, in this instance. Breathe in while pulling your stomach/abdomen area in at the same time. Focus on the fact that you've increased the pressure in the intra-abdominal area (you can also pull up slightly on the perineum area to hold the pressure from "leaking" in that area.... and yes, now you know why there are these strange admonitions to tighten the anus or pull up on the perineum). While you're holding the abdominal pressure, let the sound "Aaaaaaaaaah" slowly come out while you focus on the effect that has and where it has it in the pressurized abdomen. Stop and change the sound to "Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" and watch where the pressure shift goes. You should be able to extrapolate the general idea to a small extent from that example. Exact sounds be damned. ;^) It's all part of a larger picture and why the dantien/hara is developed as the center of power. And I'm not trying to be cryptic... I just realize that the full effect of what's going on is best demonstrated in person. Still, I gave a concrete example that has substantive results and which can be discussed on a forum without really needing foreign words for anything other than reference.

Regards,

Mike

Ron Tisdale
10-25-2005, 12:26 PM
Bingo! That's what I was looking for! Thank you, Mike.

Best,
Ron

Fred Little
10-25-2005, 01:00 PM
I meant literally "show", Fred. I can physically lead you through a series of steps and you'll get an "of course" moment out of it. Like most things, the magic vanishes and the peripherals focus into one picture, once you're shown how. Up until someone shows how the magic trick is done, it remains mystifying.... then it becomes obvious upon revelation.

And that would be most interesting, the trick is getting us both in the same room at the same time. But if we get over that hump, by all means, I would love to see what you have to show.

I think you're missing the forest while you focus on the trees, in this instance. Breathe in while pulling your stomach/abdomen area in at the same time. Focus on the fact that you've increased the pressure in the intra-abdominal area (you can also pull up slightly on the perineum area to hold the pressure from "leaking" in that area.... and yes, now you know why there are these strange admonitions to tighten the anus or pull up on the perineum). While you're holding the abdominal pressure, let the sound "Aaaaaaaaaah" slowly come out while you focus on the effect that has and where it has it in the pressurized abdomen. Stop and change the sound to "Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" and watch where the pressure shift goes. You should be able to extrapolate the general idea to a small extent from that example. Exact sounds be damned. ;^) It's all part of a larger picture and why the dantien/hara is developed as the center of power. And I'm not trying to be cryptic... I just realize that the full effect of what's going on is best demonstrated in person. Still, I gave a concrete example that has substantive results and which can be discussed on a forum without really needing foreign words for anything other than reference.

Regards,

Mike

This is a fine example of an instructive application at the basic physical/biomechanical level.

One way to engage with some of the other levels is to find a qualified instructor in Gachirinkan meditation, which is among the most openly taught practices of Shingon Buddhism and is also found in the Tendai tradition.. This practice was almost certainly part of the Founder's early Shingon education, since there is documentary evidence of his initiation into "higher" teachings for which it is a prerequisite. It was also on the somewhat eclectic menu of practices that were part of Oomoto-kyo. Among the buildings destroyed in the Second Oomoto Incident was the Gekkyu-den, which seems to have been a site of Gachirinkan practice.

While this, and other practices in that tradition, are often advertised as promoting immediate tangible benefits, those immediate benefits are generally regarded as byproducts of the practices, rather than the purpose of the practices, which has a broader scope than the simple (mind you, simple doesn't mean easy) development of physical power..

The tricky bit is that a qualified instructor -- which means "fully ordained priest authorized to teach" -- who feels that the applicant is only seeking the immediate benefits of the practice may decline to teach him or her.

My take is that with this, as with some other practices in his repertoire, the Founder didn't teach any of his students precisely because he honored his vows; anybody who wants the material has to go to the same place he went, in several senses of the word "place."

Mike Sigman
10-25-2005, 01:07 PM
One way to engage with some of the other levels is to find a qualified instructor in Gachirinkan meditation, which is among the most openly taught practices of Shingon Buddhism and is also found in the Tendai tradition.. This practice was almost certainly part of the Founder's early Shingon education, since there is documentary evidence of his initiation into "higher" teachings for which it is a prerequisite. It was also on the somewhat eclectic menu of practices that were part of Oomoto-kyo. Among the buildings destroyed in the Second Oomoto Incident was the Gekkyu-den, which seems to have been a site of Gachirinkan practice.

While this, and other practices in that tradition, are often advertised as promoting immediate tangible benefits, those immediate benefits are generally regarded as byproducts of the practices, rather than the purpose of the practices, which has a broader scope than the simple (mind you, simple doesn't mean easy) development of physical power..

The tricky bit is that a qualified instructor -- which means "fully ordained priest authorized to teach" -- who feels that the applicant is only seeking the immediate benefits of the practice may decline to teach him or her.

My take is that with this, as with some other practices in his repertoire, the Founder didn't teach any of his students precisely because he honored his vows; anybody who wants the material has to go to the same place he went, in several senses of the word "place."Well, again we're sort of back to vagaries. What other benefits? I know some other benefits, but I can functionally relate them back as usual to the functional core, even though they may sound unrelated to the casual listener.

Insofar as Ueshiba not teaching parts of his own art because he was keeping his vows, makes you wonder why he even bothered, doesn't it?

Regards,

Mike

Don_Modesto
10-25-2005, 02:43 PM
One way to engage with some of the other levels is to find a qualified instructor in Gachirinkan meditation, which is among the most openly taught practices of Shingon Buddhism and is also found in the Tendai tradition.. This practice was almost certainly part of the Founder's early Shingon education, since there is documentary evidence of his initiation into "higher" teachings for which it is a prerequisite. It was also on the somewhat eclectic menu of practices that were part of Oomoto-kyo. Among the buildings destroyed in the Second Oomoto Incident was the Gekkyu-den, which seems to have been a site of Gachirinkan practice.

Damn, Fred! Where do you get this stuff?

...and more importantly, when is your book coming out? Sign me up.

I'm serious.

Ron Tisdale
10-25-2005, 02:54 PM
Hi Don, not only that, he can RUMBLE too!

Good stuff,
Ron

Fred Little
10-25-2005, 03:16 PM
Well, again we're sort of back to vagaries. What other benefits? I know some other benefits, but I can functionally relate them back as usual to the functional core, even though they may sound unrelated to the casual listener.

Insofar as Ueshiba not teaching parts of his own art because he was keeping his vows, makes you wonder why he even bothered, doesn't it?

Regards,

Mike

Mike:

Keep your eye on the prize: Sokushin Jobutsu.

The rest, up to and included full mastery of "jin" or "kokyu" are mere trinkets and baubles, however functionally related to the mundane core which is your primary object of interest.

But there's no need to take my word for anything. Instruction can be found, the practice can be done, you find it beneficial or you don't.

Ueshiba talked to his students at great length about many of the vaprous and esoteric aspects of his understanding. Most of them were too dense, or sleepy, or hungover, or dogmatically modern, or just plain disinterested in anything beyond simple jujutsu to open their ears, to ask the right questions, or to follow the pointers he gave them. So it goes.

If nothing else, he kept a bunch of badass young thugs off the street and in the dojo where they could beat on each other instead of innocent folks who got in their way, convinced them there was a path other than simple thuggery, and that alone is more than most people do in one life.

You're talking about structural engineering. I'm talking about architecture. I see the first as necessary for the second to be functional, but not enough to make it touch not only the sky, but truth and beauty.

But truth and beauty can be intoxicating delusions, which is why a structural engineer is always required to sign and seal the final plans.

Love ya, babe....

Mike Sigman
10-25-2005, 03:41 PM
Keep your eye on the prize: Sokushin Jobutsu. Why not Taoist Immortality? Or other esoteric ideals? Have you reached Buddha-hood that you're speaking from experience? :) The rest, up to and included full mastery of "jin" or "kokyu" are mere trinkets and baubles, however functionally related to the mundane core which is your primary object of interest. Are these, by any chance, baubles and trivializable trinkets that you already happen to have? If so, name me one student of yours who has these things, since you are an instructor with his sign hanging out.

I think we may be talking past each other (correct me if I'm wrong) in the sense that you're accepting a spiritual connotation about some of these "trinkets and baubles" because they were couched in spiritual terms, in those olden days. Let me remind you that common illnesses were also couched in spiritual terms in olden days and that they can now be discussed pretty accurately using "engineering terms", as horrible as that might sound to someone who prefers his explanations be wrapped in obscurity. ;)But there's no need to take my word for anything. Instruction can be found, the practice can be done, you find it beneficial or you don't. That's precisely the point I've been trying to make, Fred. This "take my word for it that such-and-such works or feel good" needs to be laid aside in favor of someone laying out some demonstrable facts. I will study levitation with someone only after I'm convinced they know what they're talking about and that they can demonstrate it. In other words, I'm encouraging you to offer substantive explanations in place of poetry.You're talking about structural engineering. I'm talking about architecture. I see the first as necessary for the second to be functional, but not enough to make it touch not only the sky, but truth and beauty.

But truth and beauty can be intoxicating delusions, which is why a structural engineer is always required to sign and seal the final plans. I'll take your word for it, Fred. ;) Without the laws of physics, there would be no architecture to build either a log cabin or a castle.

Mike

mathewjgano
10-25-2005, 10:04 PM
Well, again we're sort of back to vagaries. What other benefits? I know some other benefits, but I can functionally relate them back as usual to the functional core, even though they may sound unrelated to the casual listener.
I don't follow you. To me it sounds like you're being vague here. If the casual listener hears something which seems unrelated when it in fact is related, that is by definition, a vague statement:"Not clearly expressed; inexplicit." I am inclined to think I'm missing the point...it seems to me he was merely referencing a school of thought about ki/kokyu while suggesting people study directly with them instead of speaking for them.

Insofar as Ueshiba not teaching parts of his own art because he was keeping his vows, makes you wonder why he even bothered, doesn't it?

Are you asking why Ueshiba Sensei didn't just turn people away who wouldn't learn the "higher" aspects of his art (or were somehow unbefitting as students of this part)? I may be delusional, but it seems to make perfect sense to me. If I indeed understand your meaning: why wouldn't you teach someone one valuable lesson they can or should have, just because of another they can't or shouldn't have? Seems character is built upon many small facets of knowledge, and as such, every lesson learned brings us closer to those "higher" lessons you seem to be hinting at as the "better" way of understanding ki/jin/kokyu/etc.
Sorry for my ignorance,
Matt

mathewjgano
10-25-2005, 10:46 PM
Why not Taoist Immortality? Or other esoteric ideals?

Can you point me to a place which can scientifically/objectively define "jin"? I have no idea what that term means or if I know what it is by another name.

...a spiritual connotation about some of these "trinkets and baubles" because they were couched in spiritual terms, in those olden days. Let me remind you that common illnesses were also couched in spiritual terms in olden days and that they can now be discussed pretty accurately using "engineering terms",

So are you arguing that kokyu, etc. aren't spiritual qualities? How do you describe spiritual qualities in scientific/engineering terms?

That's precisely the point I've been trying to make, Fred. This "take my word for it that such-and-such works or feel good" needs to be laid aside in favor of someone laying out some demonstrable facts.

How on earth can we do that online?

In other words, I'm encouraging you to offer substantive explanations in place of poetry
This seems a good place for me to ask you, since you seem to display an understanding, to do exactly this. I don't speak Chinese. Can you offer a substantive description of "chi," "jin," and "dantien?" And since this is an Aikido forum, what terms do they fall under that are Japanese?
Take care,
Matt

Mike Sigman
10-26-2005, 08:21 AM
So are you arguing that kokyu, etc. aren't spiritual qualities? How do you describe spiritual qualities in scientific/engineering terms? Without intentionally being cute, Matt, why don't you first tell me what "spiritual qualities" means, in a substantive way. Can you define them? If they're definable...... This seems a good place for me to ask you, since you seem to display an understanding, to do exactly this. I don't speak Chinese. Can you offer a substantive description of "chi," "jin," and "dantien?" And since this is an Aikido forum, what terms do they fall under that are Japanese? I've tried to leave reasonable accurate descriptions and how-to's on a lot of these things during *this* tenure on AikiWeb. You'd have to do a search, if you're interested.

Regards,

Mike

Fred Little
10-26-2005, 11:42 AM
I've tried to leave reasonable accurate descriptions and how-to's on a lot of these things during *this* tenure on AikiWeb. You'd have to do a search, if you're interested.

Regards,

Mike

Mike,

I've followed your posts on these topics fairly consistently. I don't think the question posed was unreasonable at all.

Perhaps I missed it, but I have yet to see a post that has an "accurate description" that is expressed in plain english and provides an objective basis for the identification and evaluation of "jin" along empirical rationalist lines of the kind you continually press.

It's really no more than you've asked of anyone else.

If you could point all of us to a post in which you have already answered the question, that would be a big help.

Fred Little

Mike Sigman
10-26-2005, 01:59 PM
Perhaps I missed it, but I have yet to see a post that has an "accurate description" that is expressed in plain english and provides an objective basis for the identification and evaluation of "jin" along empirical rationalist lines of the kind you continually press.

It's really no more than you've asked of anyone else.

If you could point all of us to a post in which you have already answered the question, that would be a big help.I damned if I do and damned if I don't on this one... either I take the time to write it out or I go search the archives for things I know that I've already written! ;)

"Jin" is the pinyin for the word which originally has become part of the New Age culture because it was translated as "Energy". Hence you read a lot of stuff about "the ward-off energy", etc., in many Taiji books, "feel the energy", etc. However, that word "energy" was decided upon by a number of earlier translators, none of whom had any real martial skills, and it turns out to have been seriously misleading.

A more accurate definition from the choices available would have been a translation implying that "jin" is a trained-force-skill with perhaps a hint of "force vector" in it. When you use "jin" you use a strength skill which has been developed through practice, as opposed to "brute strength". Since the main "jin" that is chronicled in Chinese martial-arts-related articles is the "jin from the ground, controlled by the waist, manifested in the hands", it also has a close relationship to the idea of qi/ki and strength, which are always related. So it's really impossible to have a "jin" which is not an expression of "qi/ki" and a lot of confusion ensues. Tohei showing his "ki" is actually demonstrating his "jin" or his "kokyu ryoku". Often if you re-read an translated article and insert the words "strength-skill-controlled by the mind" for 'qi/ki', you can suddenly see the pragmatics involved in a heretofore mystical-sounding passage.

Under the umbrella-term/paradigm of "qi/ki" is also the idea of qi/ki being a part of the connective-tissue functions of the body. For instance, some Chinese used to postulate that an "iron shirt" (trained method of becoming resistant to blows, etc.) worked because the qi in the connective-tissue rose to meet any incoming blow. The idea of the connective-tissue, tendons, etc., being associated with qi goes back to the Yellow Emperor classic (i.e., this stuff has been around a long, long time). Because the connective-tissue can be trained by manipulating the breath and pressures/tensions in the body and because this enhanced conditioning also adds greatly to your strength, it naturally enhances your "jin" power. So "breath" in conjunction with well-developed "jin" is indeed "breath power". In fact this association of breath and jin is completely standard and common... the Japanese choice of the term "kokyu" is blatantly understandable in this light.

A caution should be made that "jin" is also the pinyin spelling for a different word (a different tone is used in the pronunciation) meaning "semen" or "sexual essence"... and a lot of people reading about "jin" and "qi" need to decide which of these meanings actually applies to what they're reading. Don't forget that the ultimate goal of most meditations is to literally raise "semen" or "sexual essence" up the spine (hey, the idea comes from India) and into the cranial cavity called the "shen" (shin in Japanese). Thence comes "enlightenment".

That's a thumbnail sketch, Fred. I could expand on something if there's a question.

Regards,

Mike

mathewjgano
10-26-2005, 07:50 PM
Without intentionally being cute, Matt, why don't you first tell me what "spiritual qualities" means, in a substantive way. Can you define them?

I'm sorry, but "cute" is an intention I cannot help but maintain. I mean no disrespect though.
Quote:
"...a spiritual connotation about some of these "trinkets and baubles" because they were couched in spiritual terms, in those olden days. Let me remind you that common illnesses were also couched in spiritual terms in olden days and that they can now be discussed pretty accurately using "engineering terms", "

me:"So are you arguing that kokyu, etc. aren't spiritual qualities? How do you describe spiritual qualities in scientific/engineering terms?"

I was responding to your use of terms and asking you to clarify what you mean. I already understand my own sense of things, I'm trying to understand yours. To answer your question though: no I don't think spiritual qualities can be described in a substantive way, thus to ask for such a thing regarding "ki" "kokyu" etc. is misguided. My implied point is that you seem to be asking for something which is impossible. I view the imprecise language you seem to be criticizing as the only honest way of attempting to describe these things, such as Ki, which, per my understanding, are by nature mystical things and can only be understood by practicing them. The imprecise/subjective language is a systematic vehicle for generating creative thought. You seem to be saying one can articulate these things (like disease can be) in scientific/objective terms. I'm asking you to do so.

I've tried to leave reasonable accurate descriptions and how-to's on a lot of these things during *this* tenure on AikiWeb. You'd have to do a search, if you're interested
I get the feeling that to search through these archives would take more time than I have available to me...and I have a lot of time available to me during the day-time. I'm looking for a succinct description, a trademark of scientific language which I am sorely lacking, but which, if I'm understanding correctly, you seem to be saying you have.
Sincerely,
Matt

Mike Sigman
10-26-2005, 08:07 PM
To answer your question though: no I don't think spiritual qualities can be described in a substantive way, thus to ask for such a thing regarding "ki" "kokyu" etc. is misguided. My implied point is that you seem to be asking for something which is impossible. I view the imprecise language you seem to be criticizing as the only honest way of attempting to describe these things, such as Ki, which, per my understanding, are by nature mystical things and can only be understood by practicing them. Well, can we describe what Ki can do, in the various usages of the term? In the body sense, such as resistance to blows, increased strength, increased health, resistance to puncture wounds, increased "magnetic feeling", etc., yes, we can. If we know what the characteristics of the particular thing we're calling "ki" are, then we can describe and quantify it. I.e., you don't need vague mystical terms in these discussions, IMO. On the other hand, would you concede that people wanting to pretend they understand ki, kokyu, etc., might often resort to vague terms? I think so. Would people who also really know how to do them, hide that knowledge with obscure terminology? I think so.

FWIW

Mike

mathewjgano
10-26-2005, 08:23 PM
I damned if I do and damned if I don't on this one... either I take the time to write it out or I go search the archives for things I know that I've already written!
Well, I for one appreciate your time, effort, and self-imposed damnation. ;)
However, that word "energy" was decided upon by a number of earlier translators, none of whom had any real martial skills, and it turns out to have been seriously misleading.
Good to know...so jin is not a form of energy (except "perhaps" kinetic or potential)?
A more accurate definition from the choices available would have been a translation implying that "jin" is a trained-force-skill with perhaps a hint of "force vector" in it.
So jin is a term reflecting willful coordination of deep-muscle tissues? Not sure I understand your phrase "...with a hint of 'force vector' in it," though. You mean jin is the coordinating ability, but also maybe including the resultant movement, or intended direction of movement, itself?
From all this it seems jin is a non-entity..not a thing, but an organizational relationship...a quality of an existing thing (the human body), much like color or shape, but of course, much much more complicated. Is this a valid desription?

So what is qi/ki? Are they able to be described objectively?
Take care, and thanks again,
Matt

Upyu
10-26-2005, 08:28 PM
You seem to be saying one can articulate these things (like disease can be) in scientific/objective terms. I'm asking you to do so.


I get the feeling that to search through these archives would take more time than I have available to me...and I have a lot of time available to me during the day-time. I'm looking for a succinct description, a trademark of scientific language which I am sorely lacking, but which, if I'm understanding correctly, you seem to be saying you have.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Mike just defined it pretty much as such? (Despite his comment on searching the archives for his past articles)


A more accurate definition from the choices available would have been a translation implying that "jin" is a trained-force-skill with perhaps a hint of "force vector" in it.


I'll go on to say that the trained force skill he refers to is still a manifestation of using our muscles/tendons/bone structure in a more refined way. (It's trained in a different way than we normally associate with power)


Because the connective-tissue can be trained by manipulating the breath and pressures/tensions in the body and because this enhanced conditioning also adds greatly to your strength, it naturally enhances your "jin" power.


Isn't this pretty much what you were looking for?
Granted its not the most precise definition, but it's grounded in human physiology, and not unexplainable terms.


The more esoteric defitions you refer to I think, come as a result of a "flip" in thinking that occurs when you train your body this way.
But even that I think, is still more or less a concrete "feel".
People can be extremely creative when it comes to describing things though :p

Upyu
10-26-2005, 08:39 PM
Doh, looks like you just hadn't seen his reponse yet.
Sorry Mathew ^^;

I'll interject here, while Japanese doesn't have an exact term for Jin, they do often use the term "hiriki" or "elbow power" (referring to the specialilzed type of power you use when you train the body using the bow, or other weapon).

And from my experience, it's basically yes, a willfull coordination of deep muscle tendon (rather than muscle itself).

The Qi/Ki paradigm that Mike refers to (correct me if I'm wrong here Mike) is connecting that Jin/hiriki with the power developed by specific breath related exercises. (thanks by the way for the hen/ha type hint that you gave earlier, realized some more stuff today :) )

The breath related exercises develop a type of power/skill that is used in conjunction with your already developed Jin/Hiriki skill.
I'll also bet, unless you already have structure/Jin/Hiriki skill, 10-1, doing the breath exercises won't be nearly as useful, and any skill gained from it will be kind of dicey...
It's why even the old JMA peeps used to train simple weapons until their legs gave out. They had to first develop a solid structure/hiriki before you could even begin to seriously start to develop the breath power which combined was referred to as "ki/qi"

Just my two cents

*Ohh mann... getting ready for the hot seat :freaky:

mathewjgano
10-26-2005, 08:52 PM
Well, can we describe what Ki can do, in the various usages of the term?

Is ki a thing or an idea about things? What I take as being at least part of this issue is whether or not ki exists as an objective thing, but I may well be injecting my own questions into the complicated conversation you've been having.

you don't need vague mystical terms in these discussions, IMO

I think what I'm trying to get around is the idea that there is one set of language that can be used to describe these apparently difficult "things." If one can describe and quantify something using its resultant behaviors, then how is that much different than describing kokyu or ki by describing the sensational effect, particularly given people share similar sensations? Plato used alegory to describe knowledge and it was successfull in articulating it to me. This was basically a myth he created and in this sense, while mystical/mythical language may or may not be "needed", when it is used, it's not in itself inferior to objective language, which you seemed to be saying.

On the other hand, would you concede that people wanting to pretend they understand ki, kokyu, etc., might often resort to vague terms?

No argument there, though I'd add that anyone wanting to pretend such a thing would certainly be malicious. I think in most cases erroneous knowledge would be in the form of an honest assumption. It's easy for people to see they know something and then assume that knowledge is itself very large. It's the relative nature of perception.

Take care!
Matt

mathewjgano
10-26-2005, 09:04 PM
Just my two cents
Beats my wooden nickle! :D
I do feel as though I'm starting to get a sense of this conversation though. It's tough coming in the middle like this, so i appologize for that. I know it can be annoying. I'm also very much a neophyte and patching the holes in my ability to clearly decipher and articulate things (certainly the down-side to too much subjectivity).
Thanks for your thoughts!
Matt

Upyu
10-26-2005, 10:27 PM
If you're ever in the Tokyo area PM me Matt :)

There's a guy here that does show how these things work, how they're related to pretty much all high level MAs, how you can develop them, all using an extremely precise training methedology. (Which is explained in common down to earth terms :D )
Oh, and he kicks butt too...literally :crazy:

Like someone said before IHTBF (It has to be felt).

-> Kind of like describing how a punch feels. You can describe what happens, how it feels, even scientifically define what happens when the punch makes impact on your body. You *think you know. And then you actually have it done to you :D

mathewjgano
10-27-2005, 01:55 AM
If you're ever in the Tokyo area PM me Matt :)

There's a guy here that does show how these things work, how they're related to pretty much all high level MAs, how you can develop them, all using an extremely precise training methedology. (Which is explained in common down to earth terms :D )
Oh, and he kicks butt too...literally :crazy:

Like someone said before IHTBF (It has to be felt).

-> Kind of like describing how a punch feels. You can describe what happens, how it feels, even scientifically define what happens when the punch makes impact on your body. You *think you know. And then you actually have it done to you :D

If I am I will! Thanks for the invite. One thing I've walked away with today is the distinct feeling I'm talking too much about things I don't know enough about, so it's back to the old drawing board. Besides, I'm a little too good at talking and not enough at walking.
Take care!
Matt

Mike Sigman
10-27-2005, 09:03 AM
I'll interject here, while Japanese doesn't have an exact term for Jin, they do often use the term "hiriki" or "elbow power" (referring to the specialilzed type of power you use when you train the body using the bow, or other weapon).

And from my experience, it's basically yes, a willfull coordination of deep muscle tendon (rather than muscle itself).

The Qi/Ki paradigm that Mike refers to (correct me if I'm wrong here Mike) is connecting that Jin/hiriki with the power developed by specific breath related exercises. (thanks by the way for the hen/ha type hint that you gave earlier, realized some more stuff today :) )

The breath related exercises develop a type of power/skill that is used in conjunction with your already developed Jin/Hiriki skill.
I'll also bet, unless you already have structure/Jin/Hiriki skill, 10-1, doing the breath exercises won't be nearly as useful, and any skill gained from it will be kind of dicey...
It's why even the old JMA peeps used to train simple weapons until their legs gave out. They had to first develop a solid structure/hiriki before you could even begin to seriously start to develop the breath power which combined was referred to as "ki/qi".As usual, it's obvious to me that we're talking about the same things, even though we have different backgrounds and different perspectives on some things. I agree with everything you've said, more or less, EXCEPT I'd throw out a caution about the "deep muscle tendon" concept. You're getting into a tricky area that demarcates "Shaolin" (Buddhist) from the supposed "Taoist" training methods, in some of the juvenile conversations (in reality, there is so much overlap, it is impossible to separate the two). While the fascia network permeates the body more like a sponge than anything else, the initial approaches to it are normally via the superficial myofascial structures, not the "deep muscle tendons". In other words, you're getting a bit to close to brute strength (even though you're doing it in a tendon-related manner) than I'm comfortable with (i.e., I need to indicate that I want to hear what you say without either agreement or disagreement).

Let me try to illustrate my area of concern. If someone is standing in a "tree hugging" posture and they pretend that they're actually standing in a hole dug in the ground so that their feet are on the ground in the hole and their elbows are resting on the grass around the top of the hole. Next they mentally try to rest their body-weight on the elbows and undersides of the arms somewhat. To add to that resting of the weight, they slightly attempt to raise both knees at the same time. This visualization sets up a standard "contradiction" within the body, although to an outside observer, nothing may appear to be happening.

The trick is in the level of contradiction that you're training. If you back off until the contradiction is just barely felt, you can actually be muscularly more or less relaxed, yet the contradiction is still felt throughout the body. This is the level I would suggest is appropriate to train the ki/qi as opposed to anything approaching "deep muscle tendon", because there is another important level beyond this that can't be entered if there is too much tendon/muscle involvement. The tendons will develop over time; the danger of going off on a tangent can be heightened by trying to rush too quickly into higher tension usages, IMO and FWIW.

Best Regards,

Mike

Mike Sigman
10-27-2005, 09:17 AM
Is ki a thing or an idea about things? What I take as being at least part of this issue is whether or not ki exists as an objective thing, but I may well be injecting my own questions into the complicated conversation you've been having.
"Ki" is an ancient paradigm that was used to explain how things worked. It became an umbrella-term which included just about every "unknown force" ever encountered (including blood-sugar levels, momentum, electricity, etc., etc.). So when you read "Ki" in the global sense, it is an attempt to suggest some universal thing that encompasses all "unknown forces" in the universe. Unfortunately, this idea doesn't withstand casual scrutiny in the modern western-science paradigm which now prevails and consequently you don't see any serious Asian scholars do anything more than drop the idea of ki/qi like a hot potato.

On the other hand, within that old nomenclature of ki/qi were some unusual discoveries about body mechanics which are obscure enough that our only current approaches are through the old names, as inaccurate and poorly descriptive as they are. The ki/qi in the body should not be confused with the global use of the "ki" or "qi" term. It is an objective, quantifiable amalgam of body abilities, attributes, and relationships (unfortunately it is ALL of those things and thus makes it hard to say any one thing is ki/qi).

Hope that helps. ;)

Mike

mathewjgano
10-27-2005, 06:54 PM
It is an objective, quantifiable amalgam of body abilities, attributes, and relationships (unfortunately it is ALL of those things and thus makes it hard to say any one thing is ki/qi).
So it sounds like ki isn't a thing, but an idea about things. Can you give me an example that distinguishes what you mean by "attributes" as opposed to "relatipnships" and "abilities"? Or are these terms overlapping and somewhat redundant?
Thanks for your time,
Matt

Upyu
10-27-2005, 07:02 PM
This is the level I would suggest is appropriate to train the ki/qi as opposed to anything approaching "deep muscle tendon", because there is another important level beyond this that can't be entered if there is too much tendon/muscle involvement. The tendons will develop over time; the danger of going off on a tangent can be heightened by trying to rush too quickly into higher tension usages, IMO and FWIW.


So, without overtly activating the tendons, keep the contradictory push/pull tug going at each part in the body?
When you say the muscles are relaxed, how relaxed are they?
In my case, they have a slight tension in them more due to the fact that I'm trying to keep that "push/pull" sensation going on in each joint of the body (that's put extremely simply though).


If you alternate the training so that you use the tension generated by relaxation and intent directed inward (pulling into yourself) to "hardcode" the groundpaths (done through say like, a shoulder wide horse stance),
while using softtraining in which you use the same groundpaths but more naturally and almost zero muscular tension (while maintaining) will it still impede the higher levels that you were talking about?

Rupert Atkinson
10-27-2005, 07:17 PM
Let me try to illustrate my area of concern. If someone is standing in a "tree hugging" posture and they pretend that they're actually standing in a hole dug in the ground so that their feet are on the ground in the hole and their elbows are resting on the grass around the top of the hole. Next they mentally try to rest their body-weight on the elbows and undersides of the arms somewhat. To add to that resting of the weight, they slightly attempt to raise both knees at the same time. This visualization sets up a standard "contradiction" within the body, although to an outside observer, nothing may appear to be happening.
Mike

I had never imagined myself 'hanging in a hole' while doing that exercise but what I do does seem to match. This is one area anyway where explanations are necessary since as you say, observers cannot see it.

I have another from the same position. Instead of your hanging, try this: With arms extended out in the same circle, palms towards you, press your fingers together - without letting them touch - while at the same time pressing your shoulder blades together at the back. Another kind of muscular contradiction perhaps. Hold the posture for a minute or so - not too strongly though, just a gentle burn. The key for this (my) exercise is to memorise the feeling in the chest area. Next, do it while moving around - bring the arms together with a semi-forceful, tense but relaxed = extended feeling, then try with imaginary techniques - first by yourself, then with a partner (ikkyo, irim-inage, shiho-nage etc). (Sinking is still important of course, but here I am concentrating on developing a strong, yet relaxed arm extension).

Incidentally, I name the static solo paractice as natural tension, and the moving solo practice as dynamic tension. I use the word 'tension' as I think the word 'relax' serves only to confuse, although it still remains the objective. Give it a try :)

Mike Sigman
10-27-2005, 07:30 PM
So it sounds like ki isn't a thing, but an idea about things. Can you give me an example that distinguishes what you mean by "attributes" as opposed to "relatipnships" and "abilities"? Or are these terms overlapping and somewhat redundant?It gets tricky and puts you into the world of "holistic" or "gestalt" almost. For instance the mind control of force origins and vectors is actually used, but not developed to a high skill, in normal motion. The fact that these "paths" can be markedly strengthened by seemingly unrelated fascia development (and shifting the normal myofascial coordinations) and they both assist each other gives a "relationship" that you can't ignore. It is this conjunction of skills and body attributes (with the mind controlling the relationship) that forms the framework for the ki/qi. There is a specific area of this relationship and body development that is focusedly referred to as the ki/qi, but it would take a lengthy and probably wasted explanation to try and point it out.

FWIW

Mike

Mike Sigman
10-27-2005, 07:35 PM
So, without overtly activating the tendons, keep the contradictory push/pull tug going at each part in the body?
When you say the muscles are relaxed, how relaxed are they?
In my case, they have a slight tension in them more due to the fact that I'm trying to keep that "push/pull" sensation going on in each joint of the body (that's put extremely simply though).


If you alternate the training so that you use the tension generated by relaxation and intent directed inward (pulling into yourself) to "hardcode" the groundpaths (done through say like, a shoulder wide horse stance),
while using softtraining in which you use the same groundpaths but more naturally and almost zero muscular tension (while maintaining) will it still impede the higher levels that you were talking about?I've been listening to what you've said about Akuzawa's training methods and so far I sense that it is mainly a variation of known approaches, but it is, as I've suggested offline, more of a Shaolin variation (who cares, if it works?... Shaolin was the basis for the Way of the Chinese Hand arts). It has to do with the breathing things we talked about offline. You do your kokyu FAQ to share with others and I'll send you a PM on the other... I simply don't want to suggest anything that might conflict with what your teacher is obviously teaching quite well. ;)

Regards,

Mike

Mike Sigman
10-27-2005, 07:40 PM
I With arms extended out in the same circle, palms towards you, press your fingers together - without letting them touch - while at the same time pressing your shoulder blades together at the back. Another kind of muscular contradiction perhaps. Hi Rupert:

What I'm suggesting is that these contradictions be set up so that the muscles are actually relaxed. That's why I said "back off". Back off until it's almost not there. The problem is that without having built up somethings with some preliminary breathing exercises, people won't feel that thing I'd suggest they go toward. So just giving the standing in the hole exercise won't necessarily tell someone the exact way to go, it will just give them a general idea about the topic I'm trying to illuminate.

Regards,

Mike

Rupert Atkinson
10-27-2005, 08:31 PM
I would suggest that "back off until it's almost not there" be done later - for me anyway. First, do it a little more forcefully for some time, then work it less. I understand what you mean, but how do you get peole to do that? Like, how much is less?

I have found that adding a natural kind of tension is more practical and that that tension reduces itself naturally as practice continues. So, for me, I want to play with both maximum and minimum tension and many in-betweens. 'Minimum' is for master and I'm not there yet and I don't want to jump the gun too soon. I want maximum power with minimum tension and that maximum power demands some tension at my present 'place' in time. I want to develop that tension and make it stronger and more efficient while at the same time training the skill that I need less perceived effort to facilitate the workings of the technique. I don't anticipate anytime soon reaching so called master status. I want a 'work now' method that is capable of future progression and development.

Mike Sigman
10-27-2005, 08:37 PM
Well, this is the area I was expressing concern about, Rupert. The difference between muscular isometric training and training of the qi/ki. It's not really done with tensioning what you're talking about. In fact, you must be "relaxed" while still having this not-quite-tension, "condensing of the qi", etc. Again, I'm not trying to be cryptic, I just don't want to waste a lot of time writing about something in which the ground discussions and terminology haven't been set.

Regards,

Mike

Charlie
10-31-2006, 06:54 AM
Due in some part to Mike Sigman's probing questions, I have been investigating this area for some time. I'll try to list some of the things I've found that seem to be making a difference in physical technique. Please understand that nothing I write here is being presented as final answers in any way. This is simply my attempt at answering your question by presenting my own investigations on kokyu / ki / aiki in three traditions I have had some access to: Yoshinkan Aikido / Abe Sensei / Daito ryu. I am still continuing to research this, and coincidentally, Inoue Sensei of the Yoshinkan will be here this weekend in Phila. I believe a major topic in the private sessions will be kokyu. An important part of this is that he has written a book in Japanese about kokyu, and he has spoken in the past about the specific differences in Aikido and Daito ryu in relation to kokyu, ki, and aiki.

Yoshinkan Aikido

The books of Gozo Shioda talk about the different powers that make up aikido, and Kokyu and Ki are dealt with specifically. The power of the centerline, the power of breath, the power of focus are all spoken of as combining to be the power of ki, a mastery of balance (or as Mike says, balancing all of these powers). I'm not going to go into much depth on this now...your best option is to read his books (esp. his autobiography, Mastering Aikido, the basic course, and the third one whose title I forget just now). One of the key features of reading Shioda Kancho's works has been his statement that the basic training in aikido yoshinkan is meant to develop this kokyu power. You also get clues from statements like the power comes from the big toe.

Combined with this are statements from Chida Sensei, one of the top shihan in Yoshinkan, who has made statements about 'taking the slack out of' the relationship between shite and uke. In other words, there needs to be a certain amount of relaxed (?) tension between shite and uke so that their centers are connected so that when you move, uke must move if the connection is maintained.

I have also had input from other practitioners in the yoshinkan, specifically Tom Yawata. Tom's experience with a Daito ryu group has been beneficial as well. You can see his contributions for yourself at http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=1045.

Daito ryu

In the thread mentioned above and other sources, Daito ryu does not seem to use the phrase 'kokyu'. That seems to be unique to Aikido. The focus in Daito ryu is on 'aiki' more so than ki. This is an interesting area for investigation, as in viewing films of Daito ryu adepts, Ueshiba, and Gozo Shioda, there seems to be some strong commonalities. If you look at a technique such as shihonage and the use of 'aiki' in locking uke's elbows and raising them, you also see similarities to what I saw with Abe Sensei's use of kokyu / ki.

Abe Sensei

Due to the kindness of Shaun Ravens, I was able to spend 3 days training in Iowa with Abe Sensei, who focused on using ki in technique during his time there. Most of the techniques we studied involved focusing on bringing the power from the ground using the big toe, 'clamping down' on the 'one point' with the breath, keeping our arms straight and uke's arms straight. Abe Sensei's methods seemed to me to work best with absolutely no slack in the relationship between shite and uke, at least while learning his methods. Perhaps the need for this is greatly reduced as you advance.

Some of My Own Observations

From all of the above.

Relax the shoulders as much as possible. The kokyu / ki / Aiki power seems to get stopped in shoulders if there is any tension there at all.

Close the spine. There was a marked difference in my sucsess at Abe Sensei's technique when I relaxed the shoulders in combination with closing the gap between the shoulder blades. This helped not only with Abe Sensei's technique, but with Yoshinkan waza as well.

Focus on the big toe...that's where the power seems to come from. Keep your weight centered on the ball of the foot beneath the big toe, and try to structurally align everything between there and your contact with uke.

Don't worry about 'setting up uke' at first by having them attack in a specific way. It seems that at first this gets you feeling what it takes to move in the correct direction. Applying these (and other) methods in more adverse circumstances seems to come much later.

Best,
Ron

Hello Ron...now that it is a year later...

Do you have a follow up to these postings? I would love to hear what you have to say to date...

Cheers,

Charlie

Ron Tisdale
10-31-2006, 07:12 AM
Nothing that I can really be specific about yet. I've been off the mat since July due to a problem with my neck...not training in the dojo is a bummer. I have been trying some of the exercises found online in these and other threads, and while I was still on the mat, felt that I was moving in the correct direction, but slowly. I also started doing yoga once a week for an hour, and on my own as time permitted...that seemed to help my aikido a lot. As I get this stupid neck under control, I hope to explore more...I'll keep you posted!

Best,
Ron

David Orange
10-31-2006, 08:51 AM
I've been off the mat since July due to a problem with my neck...As I get this stupid neck under control, I hope to explore more...

Ron,

What happened with your neck, if you don't mind saying?

Have you ever tried The Feldenkrais Method? Moshe Feldenkrais was the founder of the Judo and Jujutsu Club of Paris. He was introduced to judo by Jigoro Kano, himself, and trained by hand-picked instructors whom Kano sent from the Kodokan to instruct him. I've often wondered what would have happened if Feldenkrais had somehow met Morihei Ueshiba, instead.

Feldenkrais has two modes of treatment:

ATM (Awareness Through Movement) group floor "exercises" which are more explorations of small, soft movement to discover and release blockages in one's own movement;

FI (Functional Integration) table "adjustments" with clothes on, in which the practitioner works with the sufferer to help him find and release problems with movement that cause pain. This is "NOT" like a chiropractor: NO popping of the joints, etc., though there may be some "popping" spontaneously through one's own easy movement.

The theory behind Feldenkrais is that our bodies/nervous systems are equipped with an inate "reset" mode, like "rebuild desktop" on a Macintosh computer. The Feldenkrais Method teaches us how to access that "reset" mode, through which the nervous system returns the body to "natural" mode, releasing "parasitic" tension, shedding stress and releasing mental anxiety and wasted mental effort.

Physical training of various kinds can help us improve physical performance, but it invariably takes us away from "natural" mode, which is a very powerful mode of being. By going through the "reset," we can get back to the power of the "natural" mode without losing the benefit of the esoteric training (unless the training is very unnatural, which is always destructive). But Feldenkrais lets us "integrate" the esoteric training with the natural mode, so that the training has the effect of "cultivating" the natural instead of "replacing" the natural.

Both ATM and FI treatments are very relaxing, loosening, resting and invigorating. They help shed stress and contribute to a long-term correction of the desired course of one's life.

A friend of mine attended an ATM I'd organized in Japan. He enjoyed it, but didn't think much of it as he was leaving on his bicycle. But as he was riding home, he said he turned to look over his shoulder and was startled to find that he could look much further back over his shoulder than he could before the lesson and that his head moved far more easily and with much greater comfort than before. Feldenkrais training got me back in the dojo in Japan after I was out for some months with a back injury, barely able to walk!

This page lists 34 Feldenkrais practitioners in Pennsylvania:

http://www.feldenkrais.com/guild/find/list.lasso

Best wishes,

David

Ron Tisdale
11-01-2006, 08:07 AM
Herniated and bulging discs, osteophytes pinching a nerve that runs into my shoulder and down my arm. Numbness and not fun pain. Working on it...

Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
11-01-2006, 08:11 AM
Herniated and bulging discs, osteophytes pinching a nerve that runs into my shoulder and down my arm. Numbness and not fun pain. Working on it...As a suggestion, try holding your head up, like it's suspended from a rope, and let your butt relax and pull down on the spine. Just enough to extend things a bit. Tiring at first, but as your muscles get used to the idea, they'll work past the newness. Gets rid of a lot of compression-related problems in many people. It also is the basis for the sort of power that Rob John mentions in his exercises, BTW.

FWIW

Mike

Ron Tisdale
11-01-2006, 08:18 AM
I'm doing that, and traction in physical therapy as well, along with band exercises to strengthen the postural muscles. Unfortunately, somewhat limited in what exercises I can do because they can worsen the inflamation, which is pretty severe. Very frustrating.

Thanks,
Ron