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Ecosamurai 04-06-2007 04:08 PM

The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Sorry this is a long one. Trolling aside, declarations of martial prowess aside, testimony about how great we all are at what we do or how great our teachers are aside...

I think it'd be useful to at least attempt to try the 'internal how to' debate. For the purposes of at least trying at having a decent discussion let's assume and not question that Mike Sigman can do this internal stuff, Dan Harden can do this internal stuff, others can do this stuff. Let's also assume that Aunkai, Ki-aikido and CMA internal training methods Dan's stuff etc.. are all basically aiming for the same end, an end we might call Aiki. I know, broad assumptions but we've got to start somewhere. Also let's try to divorce the martial efficacy discussion from this. I don't think it's useful to argue the validity of a method by saying that it wouldn't provide useful fighting skills in this discussion. Yet. Aikido waza and how they compare to MMA or CMA or whatever isn't going to help the 'internal how to' discussion.

I'll start by describing a few beginner level ki aikido tests (i.e. stuff that will take you to the early dan grades in ki soc derived styles).

For all the below tests the levels as they are applied are as follows:

1) Basic coordination by applying light and increasing pressure (you should be able to pass these tests easily after 6 months to 1 year of training maximum)
2) Uses a fake or hesitation before the test is applied in order to determine if the receiver has a calm mind, if they don't they will move by anticipating the test and try to push into it and resist the testers application of ki.
3) Receiver must not allow testers ki to enter their body. Tester often approaches test with 'intent' before applying a strong test in which the tester extends ki powerfully.

I'll describe a number of different tests (there are many). The tests should not be confused with being used purely for assessment and rank advancement, the word 'test' is a bit of a misnomer in this respect. They are learning tools. Intended to be used to allow a student to gain feedback on their attempts at using internal power, in order that their instructor can determine their ability and help them to improve it.

Unbendable arm. (often totally misunderstood by even the most well-read) receiver extends their arm elbow should be unlocked and arm slightly curved. Testers hand is rested on the bicep area. Testers other hand at the beginning is applied to the wrist, later tests can be applied to hand and fingertips.

Standing naturally. Receiver stands with feet shoulder width apart. Weight on the balls of the feet not the heels. Upright posture. Knees unlocked, hands resting by their sides. Test is applied between the shoulder blades or (in the beginning) on the front of the body at the shoulder. Later tests involve tester walking in with 'intent' from a few steps away.

Walking forwards whilst being held from behind. Tester stands behind receiver and places hands on the front of receivers shoulders at the tops of the pecs below the collar bone. Receiver then tries to walk forwards. If receiver isn't moving from their centre their legs will try to move first and they will let their shoulders remain behind by yielding to the pressure being applied by the tester. After walking 5-6 steps tester suddenly lets go. If receiver lurches forwards they fail, this is because they have been physically pushing against tester by using physical strength instead of moving from their centre.

Rowing exercise. Varied tests, count 1 for receiver to execute fwd part of movement, 2 for the return. At 1 tester may hold receivers wrists and either push or pull them (they do not indicate which one they will do). Hands may be placed under receivers arms and tester may try to lift them. Tester may also push between receivers shoulder blades. On no 2 count, receivers hands should be by their sides. Tester my pull receivers hands downwards or push upwards. Tester may place hand on receivers shoulders and pull straight back.

Leaning backwards. For beginners, this is done with one foot in front of the other, later, feet are side by side. Receiver leans back (bad idea to let their head tilt upwards, receiver should keep eyes front). Tester places hand on shoulder of receiver and pulls straight downwards, later tests may be done by tester placing hand on top of receivers head (not for beginners though).

As previously said these are called 'tests' but they should properly be considered learning tools more than a method of rank assessment. They are only a sample of the many tests available.Eventually, you should be pretty much solid as a rock. Note that they do not necessarily teach fajing or explosive power release as Akuzawa (and others) demonstrates in videos I have seen. But IMHO they are the basic skill needed to achieve fajing and if you can do the above mentioned things then you have the internal skills and the stability with which to do fajing type stuff. I personally view fajing as an application of these core skills, some of the explosive power release is quite intuitive if you have the above developed skills. But like all else, if you don't train for it you don't get it. Or to put it more simply, in the Aunkai vids I've seen on youtube I know I can't kick as powerfully as that (at least as best as I can tell from a video). But. I do know that I can kick and punch more powerfully than many people I know who are karateka, Muay Thai fighters etc would expect me to be able to. Hence my reasoning that the ki tests and the skills that they develop are related and complimentary to explosive power release methods (I have sooo gotta find a way to train with Akuzawa sometime in the future to find out what % of what I just said is actually BullSŁ"^..... :eek: ). Please note, none of the above tests are well descirbed, the descriptions are brief and it is easy to assume that you can do them just by reading what has been written. The only way to really know for sure is to find a qualified instructor to help you learn these things. The tests can be deceptively simple, they are subtle and my vague descriptions are but the tip of the iceberg. If anyone does want to try them, please do so and then describe in as much detail as possible what you found happened (every detail helps), I may be able to give further clarification from this post. I'm sure others might chip in too.

Right. Now, in as constructive and positive a way as possible. Rip it all apart so I can learn some good things.

Regards

Mike

ChrisHein 04-06-2007 04:46 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Internal is a set of natural body movements so it's a bit hard to brake down directly but I'll do my best.

Producing force.
First the body must be relaxed from head to toe, using no effort (by effort I mean no unnecessary muscular force to remain standing, but of coarse muscles will be engaged to remain standing.) The motion will begain with the lower muscles in the calves, and move up the body in a continues fashion, with all muscles along the path of force firing in order, then relaxing after they fire. This will create a current of force moving up your body, and being released at the desired location (Hand, elbow shoulder, hip, knee, leg etc.). The body acts like a whip, the motion being started in the lower body, and traveling out to the desired location.

Rooting force.
Kind of the opposite of the former. This means taking force into the body, and directing it back down into the ground. In reverse direction from before. taking the force into your body from what ever location (hand, head, shoulder, hip etc.) and directing it through your body via skeletal alignment and support muscles back into the ground.

There are also other tid bits about how to align properly, and how to fire your muscles in order. How to direct force in specific directions etc., but that's the super basic brake down of what I would call internal.

Ecosamurai 04-06-2007 06:20 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Chris Hein wrote: (Post 174809)
Internal is a set of natural body movements so it's a bit hard to brake down directly but I'll do my best.

Producing force.
First the body must be relaxed from head to toe, using no effort (by effort I mean no unnecessary muscular force to remain standing, but of coarse muscles will be engaged to remain standing.) The motion will begain with the lower muscles in the calves, and move up the body in a continues fashion, with all muscles along the path of force firing in order, then relaxing after they fire. This will create a current of force moving up your body, and being released at the desired location (Hand, elbow shoulder, hip, knee, leg etc.). The body acts like a whip, the motion being started in the lower body, and traveling out to the desired location.

Rooting force.
Kind of the opposite of the former. This means taking force into the body, and directing it back down into the ground. In reverse direction from before. taking the force into your body from what ever location (hand, head, shoulder, hip etc.) and directing it through your body via skeletal alignment and support muscles back into the ground.

There are also other tid bits about how to align properly, and how to fire your muscles in order. How to direct force in specific directions etc., but that's the super basic brake down of what I would call internal.

Interesting but I think it's a bit too super basic breakdown-ish. It doesn't detail methods used to train and teach, rather a description of what you call 'natural body movement'. So I think it's more of a definition than a description of a 'how to'. Also, the word 'natural' has peculiar connotations and often leads to misunderstanding so I think it's probably a good idea not to use that word too often. For example is air pollution natural? No, man-made. But aren't humans natural creatures? Yes, evolved from apes. So then if humans are natural creatures surely their actions are natural too and therefore air pollution is natural? Er..... Just an example of the trouble you can get into using the word 'natural'. I only used it in my post because one of the ki tests is usually referred to as 'stand naturally', though I find the word a misdirection because it is a decidedly unnatural way to stand when you compare it to the way most people stand. In the case above I think of it as just a label and pay it no real attention. Same as the word unbendable in the unbendable arm test.

Mike

Kent Enfield 04-06-2007 08:50 PM

How-to?
 
Quote:

Mike Haft wrote: (Post 174807)
As previously said these are called 'tests' but they should properly be considered learning tools more than a method of rank assessment

Okay, I've stayed out of all the "internal skills" threads, as they're all beyond me.

But you haven't actually posted a "how-to". If the thread was titled "The oranges-in-boxes 'how to' thread', what you've posted would be
1) Open the box.
2) Look in the box.
If there is no orange in the box, then
3) Close the box.
4) Re-open the box.
Repeat until there is an orange in the box.

The question isn't whether some boxes have oranges in them. It's how to get oranges into boxes that don't have them. There seem to be two main schools of thought. The first is that having an orange in your box isn't important anyway. The second is that if you keep checking, eventually there will be an orange in your box. But Dan, Mike, and Rob are offering a third way. They are offering actual, step-by-step, explicit methods for getting oranges into boxes.

Do they work? I don't know. Other people who've tried their methods seem to think so, and I'm doing my own investigation. But their way, or maybe ways, can't be any worse than the just-keep-checking method.

To make this a how-to, answer this question: If I fail one of your tests, what specifically should I do, both mentally and physically, to pass the test? And please give the answer in a form that is not equivalent to "do what is required on the test." To borrow some ki-aikido terminology, if I'm not keeping one point, what should I do? If I'm not extending ki, what should I do? If my weight isn't underside, what should I do?

If the answers are "keep one-point", "extend ki", or "keep weight underside", they're not going to help, as by failing the test, I've already demonstrated that I don't know how to do those, and I don't know what they mean in my own body. If, however, you can say something like (and I'm making this up, so don't anyone get on me for it being wrong) contract the middle of my back to pull my shoulder blades together while relaxing my shoulders and stretching my head and neck upwards, that's a how-to.

ChrisHein 04-06-2007 09:43 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Mike, I agree with your example of the word natural, it's a tricky whicket.

However if we don't agree on what "internal" even is, then how are we going to get at "how to"?

I would like to see some super basic ideas of what internal even is. maybe thats a differnt' thread...

Ecosamurai 04-06-2007 09:46 PM

Re: How-to?
 
Quote:

Kent Enfield wrote: (Post 174816)
To make this a how-to, answer this question: If I fail one of your tests, what specifically should I do, both mentally and physically, to pass the test? And please give the answer in a form that is not equivalent to "do what is required on the test." To borrow some ki-aikido terminology, if I'm not keeping one point, what should I do? If I'm not extending ki, what should I do? If my weight isn't underside, what should I do?.

That's a common misinterpretation of ki tests, and to be fair, I could've gone into the how-to details you described but the post was really long anyway so I thought it'd be better to just get things started with the basics. Glad you asked though as the how-to you said you would want is the how-to given by the instructor in person and hugely depends on individual situations.
Nevertheless, here goes.

Unbendable arm. Your arm bends so you fail. The solution isn't as you describe to keep doing it in isolation with no feedback until it magically stops bending, that would be stupid. Instead if I am teaching I usually begin by telling people to imagine a laser beam or something similar moving through their arm (their exact visualization depends on them, but that's as good a start as any to get them moving). That basic idea of energy moving through their arm when displayed in contrast to what happens when they actively try to tense their muscles is the beginners unbendable arm. It usually takes about 2 min to explain and get someone to do and people often think that that is the end of the story (as I've said before unbendable arm is hugely misunderstood by many people IME). That first explanation of the laser beam is the very baby step. Unfortunately, next steps usually need feedback, i.e. you need to see and feel what they are doing to be of much help.

This thread was always gonna be hard because talking about these things on the internet leaves lots to be desired. What I offered in the first post was a snippet of baby level ki stuff, knowing full well that it wasn't a full explanation. I had to start somewhere and I'm not tryng to write a book. In the end the only real way to get this stuff is to go to an instructor. I'm just curious to hear how others use their own exercises to teach things and what theories they are employing when they use those exercises. That's the how-to that you can discuss reasonably well in a forum like this I think.

Mike

PS - Incidentally they're not my tests. They're Koichi Tohei's

Ecosamurai 04-06-2007 09:52 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Chris Hein wrote: (Post 174817)
Mike, I agree with your example of the word natural, it's a tricky whicket.

However if we don't agree on what "internal" even is, then how are we going to get at "how to"?

I would like to see some super basic ideas of what internal even is. maybe thats a differnt' thread...

Yeah that'd be nice. Not sure it'd happen without irritating a whole bunch of people though. I think I know what Dan is getting at when he says internal, and Mike and Rob. It's impossible to be certain without meeting them and practicing but.... I'm pretty sure this is all about the same stuff in a broad sense. It's not about the natural coordination athletes have which they train for very hard. Nor is it about the use of physical strength with a small amount of coordination such as you might need to efficiently lift heavy objects with minimal effort. Weigthlifitng technique or something similar isn't it. It's something else. Once you've experienced it you know what it is. I'm afraid that's the best I can offer in terms of a description :( Wish I could do better, but once you've felt it there's definitely no mistaking it... describing it though is not easy to do without resorting to hyperbole.

Cheers

Mike

Upyu 04-06-2007 10:23 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Chris Hein wrote: (Post 174809)
Internal is a set of natural body movements so it's a bit hard to brake down directly but I'll do my best.

Producing force.
First the body must be relaxed from head to toe, using no effort (by effort I mean no unnecessary muscular force to remain standing, <snip>

Rooting force.
Kind of the opposite of the former. This means taking force into the body, and directing it back down into the ground. In reverse direction from before. taking the force into your body from what ever location (hand, head, shoulder, hip etc.) and directing it through your body via skeletal alignment and support muscles back into the ground.

First off, I hate to say it, but I'm pretty sure from the descrip that Chris just gave of producing force the "internal" way, he's pretty much way off base.

What was just described is more akin to "kinetic linking" say in the fashion that a boxer hits.

The second you initiate movement in your foot you should feel it in your hands. There's no delay.
Actually, scratch that, you should always feel "the ground" (in a metaphorical sense) in your hands. As in it's always there.
It's like your (and I'm stealing M. Sigmans imagery here) body is covered in a huge tight spiderman suit. Tugging on one part of the suit causes an instantenous reaction in the opposite end of the suit.
This is a physicl feeling and not some kind of metaphorical "oh if I visualize it this way it works better" thing.

As for rooting, that's way too vague. You could direct the force to the ground and simply "brace" with your leg but that isn't it either. In fact you can be "rooted" as you move ;)

ChrisHein 04-07-2007 02:35 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Robert John wrote: (Post 174820)
First off, I hate to say it, but I'm pretty sure from the descrip that Chris just gave of producing force the "internal" way, he's pretty much way off base.

What was just described is more akin to "kinetic linking" say in the fashion that a boxer hits.

The second you initiate movement in your foot you should feel it in your hands. There's no delay.
Actually, scratch that, you should always feel "the ground" (in a metaphorical sense) in your hands.

How would that happen without "Kinetic linking"?

statisticool 04-07-2007 09:35 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
I think the discussion should try and be done without using any ki/qi/jin/kokyu/shui zhu yu/sushi words because they are highly open to interpretation.

guest945984 04-07-2007 09:53 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Robert John wrote: (Post 174820)
The second you initiate movement in your foot you should feel it in your hands. There's no delay. Actually, scratch that, you should always feel "the ground" (in a metaphorical sense) in your hands. As for rooting, that's way too vague. You could direct the force to the ground and simply "brace" with your leg but that isn't it either. In fact you can be "rooted" as you move ;)

This is one of the biggest conceptual hurdles I had to (and still have to, alas) get past in my taiji practice -- caveat: I am a rote beginner -- that the "push" or "whatever you are trying to do" (insert pretty much any example here) happens all at once, with the entire body, when you do it right. That's not to say a movement might not take time, or have a direction to it (usually a spiral in some way) but that it starts all at once, and that filling or connection (what I am guessing Mike means by 'the suit') is there all at once, on or off like a switch. At first I was always collapsing a bit in order to extend instead of filling or expanding up. Those are bad choice of words, I think I mean to say peng, but that won't help someone either if they have not felt it.

My guess why shiko is so important in some Daito-ryu is you get a similar connection in the body as what I am describing (or failing to adequately describe) above because instead of lifting say the right knee up from the right knee, instead you keep the arch of the legs fixed and draw the right knee up maintaining the arch by pulling across that entire inner leg structure using all the muscles and fascia of the legs and abdomen in the process. This engages the core of the body (psoas complex, etc) including the wedge shaped structure in the pelvis talked about in taiji and yoga to a great extent and links the entire lower half of the body together up into the abdomen, maybe similar to what Su Dongchen says when he admonishes students to "lift up" during single palm change.

Doing even a couple (e.g. 2 or 3) like this wear me out, and I'm pretty sure I'm not doing them right since I haven't had any instruction on this, just read Kimura's book "Discovering Aiki", and thought about how I feel when I do taiji. For me, when I start the leg raise, there is some wobbling of my torso going on as I use a bit of momentum to get the movement started, and then have to stabilize it. I imagine if I were to do it properly over a longer period of time, that wobble would go away as my body got linked together. So, I'm probably obviously missing stuff but it is still a killer exercise when done without much momentum -- and I freely admit am just fooling around with it once in a while when I remember, since I have a bagua and taiji practice to keep up with. Kind of like an ongoing experiment for myself: "does my taiji and bagua practice improve my ability at this shiko exercise over time?"

My current (again, inexpert) feeling is that the shiko drill might be similar in some way to the taiji basic stepping drill of replacing the walking-falling reflex into another way of movement (e.g. separation of weight), except taken in the left right direction instead of the forward back direction. I don't know if Daito-ryu has a consistent theory of separation of weight, such as that found in bagua or taiji. If so, that did not seem to make it fully into the aikido I've seen or the modern aikido/kempo/jujtusu mix I first learned (and spent ten too many years at) before I discovered the internal arts. Separation of weight does not seem to be in the basic Daito-ryu jujutsu waza I've seen from two different lines, so I am guessing even in some Daito-ryu these are more advanced or inner door ideas? Maybe that is precisely why Sagawa and Kodokai are closed groups -- because these ideas are taught earlier than in other lines?

Dan pretty much gives it away when he calls the practice "inyoho" which means "yin/yang practice" -- if that is not a dead giveaway that not just physically by some accident Daito-ryu has similar ideas to neija, but also they frame the mechanism for doing so in the same fundamental language (e.g. yin/yang, insubstantial/substantial), I don't know what is.

My guess is that the shiko (left-right) really works internal development a great deal, while the stepping (front-back) helps with martial development at an earlier stage of the development because it is dealing with a certain way of movement, versus a certain structure that will drive the movement or lack-thereof.

My guess is also that separation of weight is a tactical idea accomplished by certain structural rules in how one holds the body and accomplishes weight transfers. This is very useful for certain reasons, but works best if you support it with certain internal development of the muscles/fascia of the body. But that muscle/fascia development can be done absent of any tactical goal as well?

This post might be slightly off topic, but in terms of how-to put an orange in the box, it might be rephrased as "learn neija or learn daito-ryu". Or, do shiko many times, slowly, without wobbling, and hope that is enough without further guidance.

I mean not to be dismissive with that comment, but rather to be helpful: in some way trying to do internal development exercises by reading written descriptions, for stuff as subtle as internal skill, would be like someone trying to learn aikido waza by reading Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere and copying the line drawing pictures. I had no idea my whole idea of pushing was flawed until I had someone physically correct me to show me how to do it -- even then I only got it five times out of ten as I was rewiring a new movement.

I think it is perfectly fine to go out to people who have specific skills directly and learn from them if for whatever reason the pedagogy you find in your primary art is not ideally suited to an aspect of its curriculum. If you admit that internal development is part of aikido (and you may not -- go back to your regularly scheduled programming), and if you assume it is the same development as Daito-ryu, and if Dan and Mike are correct in saying it is similar or identical to that found in good taiji or good bagua or good xingyi, it is not a betrayal of your love of aikido to go to one of those four arts to focus some of your training and improve your aikido. After all, the Founder had his own development and if Ellis is on the mark in all his blog entries, I don't think he would be disappointed with anyone going out and seeing where it matched up, and improving one's understanding even further.

Not trying to sound like an expert -- many here could probably push me over with a feather -- but maybe this will spur some comments by the people who are in the know.

Namaste,
Mark

Mark Raugas
www.innerdharma.org

Pete Rihaczek 04-07-2007 10:16 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
[quote=Robert John;174820]First off, I hate to say it, but I'm pretty sure from the descrip that Chris just gave of producing force the "internal" way, he's pretty much way off base./QUOTE]

I'm afraid I have to agree. Chris is clearly talking about something else. There is nothing natural about this. Same thing with the guy who posted yoga as an example, that's not it either.

The upside is it's very easy to see when people are talking about something else, the downside is there's not much else to be said about it that's likely to be fruitful.

Pete Rihaczek 04-07-2007 10:28 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Justin Smith wrote: (Post 174841)
I think the discussion should try and be done without using any ki/qi/jin/kokyu/shui zhu yu/sushi words because they are highly open to interpretation.

Not only are you not part of this discussion, but the very fact of you being involved kills any desire to share anything of substance. Here again you have the nerve to participate, with your signature an affirmation of your lack of character, and your total lack of understanding. I've been in online forums since the beginning of online forums on the net, and I've seen all types, but never a more odd, more useless personality. You seem absolutely oblivious to how obnoxious you are, and how obvious it is to normal people that you have nothing whatsoever to say. You're like a bum that asks for money, while being insulting the whole time and somehow expecting people not to care or notice. I've seen my share of online oddballs, but they usually have some attendant quirks that at least keep them interesting. In your case I see nothing redeeming whatsoever. The existence of people like you is why things aren't shared in public.

Ecosamurai 04-07-2007 10:37 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Pete Rihaczek wrote: (Post 174847)
The upside is it's very easy to see when people are talking about something else, the downside is there's not much else to be said about it that's likely to be fruitful.

Which is of course the whole problem really. Exercises and tests as I mentioned above are only a way to illustrate and transmit theory. You actually have to be standing there with someone to be able to help them do it in my experience.

As to the moving all at once. That is what Tohei talks about when he says 'keep one point'. The hara or one-point is the centre of all movement, all movement should be initiated from here. It is our centre of gravity physically so this makes sense. The problem with being told to 'keep one-point' is that people often become internally focused (no pun intended), they have no awareness of their surroundings and so it is easy to take their mind away from their centre (i.e. by grabbing them elsewhere such as their wrist for example). I often try to help people through this by telling them that they need to look at the horizon. By which I mean, if you are on board a ship and it is bad weather, you get seasick when you look at the rail and you tend to fall down more. If however, you keep your eye focused on the horizon your balance improves and you feel less sick. Same sorta thing needs to happen when you keep one-point.

Also, it's easy to move from your centre but leave other parts of your body behind if they aren't coordinated with your centre. But that's a different story.

Regards

Mike

Ecosamurai 04-07-2007 10:39 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Pete Rihaczek wrote: (Post 174848)
The existence of people like you is why things aren't shared in public.

Take it easy, saying things like that doesn't help either...

Mike

Upyu 04-07-2007 10:46 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Chris Hein wrote: (Post 174824)
How would that happen without "Kinetic linking"?

National Geographic did an excellent yet basic overview of how a boxer punches in their spectacularly craptastic MA pseudo research flick "fight science", and for those that know how to use connection, it's a good illustration of how the body mechanics are COMPLETELY different ;)
(Btw that's where I stole the term "kinetic linking, so if you want to know the perspective I'm coming from I'd suggest you give it a look... try not to faint from the overly bad examples they give of other stuff they cover)

fwiw, anyone that I've met that can do an "internal" method of striking would agree that the body mechanics are different Chris ;)

ChrisHein 04-07-2007 10:49 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
All right I've been told twice now that I'm way off base. That's cool. But now explain how it is that I'm off base.

We'll never come to an understanding if I explain what I know, and you just say "no, you are wrong." So what am I wrong about?

I do agree with Rob John by the way, the method I'm describing is the same used by boxers. That is also why I have said in the past that top level athletes do internal (not just boxers but golfers, footballers etc.). I believe the description Jack Dempsey gives in "Championship Fighting" of throwing a punch, is a perfect example of internal.

I promise I'll try to keep this from being personal if you will. I would like to root this problem out.

Pete Rihaczek 04-07-2007 11:00 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Mike Haft wrote: (Post 174851)
Take it easy, saying things like that doesn't help either...

Mike

You're probably right, interventions tend not to work with personality disorders. ;) People are amazing, unfortunately often in a very disappointing way. He's ensured that no one in their right mind would ever show him anything of substance. Which is fine, but it lessens the value of the forum for others by ensuring that people take the most productive discussions somewhere private.

Pete Rihaczek 04-07-2007 11:15 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Chris Hein wrote: (Post 174854)
All right I've been told twice now that I'm way off base. That's cool. But now explain how it is that I'm off base.

We'll never come to an understanding if I explain what I know, and you just say "no, you are wrong." So what am I wrong about?

I do agree with Rob John by the way, the method I'm describing is the same used by boxers. That is also why I have said in the past that top level athletes do internal (not just boxers but golfers, footballers etc.). I believe the description Jack Dempsey gives in "Championship Fighting" of throwing a punch, is a perfect example of internal.

I promise I'll try to keep this from being personal if you will. I would like to root this problem out.

Hi Chris, there is nothing personal here. There's no "shame" in not knowing this stuff, everybody is in the same boat until they are personally shown something. "Internal" is not a copyrighted word, and like any other word it can mean different things to different people. In this case (insert acronym for Mike, Rob, Dan, Etc) are talking about a specific skillset that you won't get naturally. It has nothing to do with natural movement, any more than a perfect golf swing is natural. Any complex athletic movement is a learned skill, and people take decades to master this one IF they have a good combination of interest, talent, dedication, and good access to information. It has nothing to do with yoga, in fact IMO yoga would be counterproductive. Skills are highly specific, bowling isn't going to help your golf much. Heavy weightlifting isn't going to improve your endurance, in fact it will do the opposite. Etc. You have to know what the target is, and intelligently shoot for it. To understand the target, you have to get a hands-on demo. There's no other way. The only real purpose of these discussions is to make that point, and if someone isn't interested enough to check it out in person, there's no utility in discussion. I wish there a way to do it all in writing, that would be a huge benefit, but it just doesn't work.

Ecosamurai 04-07-2007 11:26 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Chris Hein wrote: (Post 174854)
All right I've been told twice now that I'm way off base. That's cool. But now explain how it is that I'm off base.

We'll never come to an understanding if I explain what I know, and you just say "no, you are wrong." So what am I wrong about?

I do agree with Rob John by the way, the method I'm describing is the same used by boxers. That is also why I have said in the past that top level athletes do internal (not just boxers but golfers, footballers etc.). I believe the description Jack Dempsey gives in "Championship Fighting" of throwing a punch, is a perfect example of internal.

I promise I'll try to keep this from being personal if you will. I would like to root this problem out.

Ok. Best way I can get you to imagine how it feels when you encounter this stuff in a more mundane everyday situation. Ever try to lift someone who has passed out drunk? Heavy aren't they? They're heavy cos they're not helping you to lift them, they're not using their muscles, they are relaxed completely.

Of the 4 basic principles. 1) Keep one point, 2) keep calm and relaxed, 3) keep weight underside, 4) extend ki. They are doing 2 and 3 as perfectly as is possible. They aren't keeping one point very well (only insofar as it is their centre of gravity so they mus be using it. But keeping one point involves consciously coordinating the rest of your body with your centre by extending ki from it) nor are they extending ki owing to unconsciousness.

Make sense? Now imagine that sort of thing being applied via conscious effort. Then you might have an idea what it's about.

Regards

Mike

Upyu 04-07-2007 11:31 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Pete Rihaczek wrote: (Post 174856)
You're probably right, interventions tend not to work with personality disorders. ;) People are amazing, unfortunately often in a very disappointing way. He's ensured that no one in their right mind would ever show him anything of substance. Which is fine, but it lessens the value of the forum for others by ensuring that people take the most productive discussions somewhere private.

Chris, if you're interested I wrote a couple of articles here describing the basis for the upper body connections (the cross, as ark calls it) in the training section of this forum. It's called "Training the Body for Martial Movement" and "Training the Body for Martial Movement 2: Exercises". Give'em a read and let me know where you think we overlap :)
FWIW no one's looking to hang you out here. It's all good to bicker and yell, a lot of information exchange happens as a result :)

ChrisHein 04-07-2007 06:49 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Well,
Respectfully, what you guys are saying, and what I am saying is in fact the same thing.

First off.

Pete. Maybe just maybe what you are calling internal and what I am calling internal are different. However, what I call internal is natural, and will help you with cross training. Internal the way I am explaining it will make you a better golfer, a better baseball player etc. It is, I believe, the method in which the body is suppose to function. This is why I say it's natural.

I believe the way most of us operate is physically unnatural. This is because we force ourselves to sit in desks and at tables from a very young age. Not that this is the only factor but a major one. Secondly few of use experience long heavy work. Work of the type our ancestors might have done hunting or foraging for food. This type of continuos effort will start to naturally train the body in it's organic use's. I think if you could take a Paleolithic lithic man and look at his movements they would be perfectly athletic, and perfectly "internal".

This is what I'm trying to get at with the word "natural". I think we as humans no longer live "natural" lives so we have never gained our full natural abilities. Maybe it is something you "learn", but you don't need special exercises to do it.

The reason the body works best in this manor is because it was designed (in a manner of speaking) to work this way; it's natural.

Mike,
I agree with your points, but not your reasoning. An unconscious person is pretty natural. No one has to learn to pass out and relax they just do it. So it's a matter of unlearning some unnatural behaviors (when conscious) not a matter of learning something different.

I'm not trying to be a jerk, but honestly I think you guys are making this stuff out to be way harder then it is. I'll try your ki tests and report back how I did. Hmm, I may even make a video.

Rob John. I don't have time to read your stuff this second, but when I get some time tomorrow, I will and let you know what I think.

Pete Rihaczek 04-07-2007 09:38 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Chris Hein wrote: (Post 174885)
Well,
Respectfully, what you guys are saying, and what I am saying is in fact the same thing.

First off.

Pete. Maybe just maybe what you are calling internal and what I am calling internal are different. [snip]

Well, what you just wrote there is a contradiction. On the one hand you're claiming we're all saying the same thing, then you say we're using the word internal to describe different things. I understand the meaning you want to give to the word "natural", and that's fine even though it's not the common usage, but it still doesn't sound the same to me. Even if it was, saying "keep one point" and "move naturally" should mean the same thing then, and they're therefore equally useless in getting much.

Also from a basic common sense standpoint, if I were to say X, and you say that doesn't sound anything like what you were thinking, where would be my basis to claim we're talking about the same thing over your objection? Like I said, this can't be talked around, it can only be demonstrated. Then and only then are you sure what the other person is trying to say.

And for the record, I find these ki tests relatively meaningless. Once someone publishes a test, people can work on just doing whatever the test is. That's not the point. The point is that someone who can do these things could pass all manner of tests on the fly as a byproduct of their training. The reverse is not true - passing the tests doesn't mean you can do much of anything else. As a practical matter, if you know what you're looking for you don't need any tests, you can easily feel what someone knows. You can often see it by looking at them too, once you know what to look for. If you know it, tests are pointless, and if you don't know it...tests are pointless.

For example, here's Chen Xiao Wang (direct descendant of the family that created Taiji, and best of his generation) doing some rooting demos for fun:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldH40uF_f28

But does this really show what he's capable of? No. If you can duplicate these things, can you do what he does in the general sense? No. If you tried pushing him, grabbing him, putting a lock on him, taking a hit from him, would you be impressed, and know why people make a big deal out of it? Yes, very much. Probably more like shocked. If at that point you want to say it's "natural" movement cavemen did, I would still disagree (and I doubt you'd say that anymore), but at least we'd all be on the same page as far as what exactly is being discussed. Then you can get to the discussion of how to do this stuff, how to train it, and all the rest.

Haowen Chan 04-07-2007 10:07 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
As Mike Haft said, the ki-tests are learning aids for the student's benefit, used for feedback to the student for the correct feeling and correct effect. They are not supposed to be proof of ability.

RonRagusa 04-07-2007 10:38 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Robert John wrote:
This is a physicl feeling and not some kind of metaphorical "oh if I visualize it this way it works better" thing.

Metaphor (noun) -

Symbol -- one thing used or considered to represent another.

Quote:

Robert John wrote:
It's like your (and I'm stealing M. Sigmans imagery here) body is covered in a huge tight spiderman suit. Tugging on one part of the suit causes an instantenous reaction in the opposite end of the suit.

Of which the above quote is an example. In this case the metaphor is used to present a picture of a feeling i.e. that of an internal force and how it is instantaneously propagated through the body (as an aside, unless quantum entanglement processes are involved with this force propagation there must be a delay in the reaction at the other end of the suit; the purpose of aikido training and ki development is to have this delay approach zero without limit… my metaphor for coordination of mind and body).

When communicating feelings experienced during a particular exercise ("you should always feel "the ground" (in a metaphorical sense) in your hands" -- Robert John) metaphor is the tool of choice for giving substance to information that otherwise is incapable of being directly transmitted from one person to another. However, metaphorical imagery is less satisfactory when communicating results of a particular exercise. For results to be meaningfully communicated they must be felt. That requires the participants to be in direct contact.

When I am training with students during ki development drills I encourage them construct ever more powerful metaphors for what they feel going on inside of them. The metaphors provide a mental visualization that they can associate with the feelings. As they grow more powerful new metaphors are used to reinforce the feelings in terms that make sense in the real world. I have noticed that eventually students will come to trust the feelings themselves and dispense with the metaphorical imagery.

An example: Weight underside
Standing in natural stance the student extends an arm to the front, elbow and wrist slightly bent. Initially I have the student tense the arm and hold the tension while I lift the arm at the elbow. Invariably, the arm will rise or if sufficiently tense the student will be tipped over. Next I have the student restart the exercise in a relaxed state. I tell the student that in order for the arm to rise the opposite foot must simultaneously be lifted off the mat. If the student successfully internalizes the metaphor of rising arm and rising foot it will take considerably more energy for me to get the arm to move. I have the student compare how it "feels" to practice weight underside both ways. Understanding the process of using metaphors to aid in attaining what S. Maruyama Sensei terms "correct feeling" is the first step. Once mastered the student is free to create personally more powerful metaphors to reinforce the feelings of doing the exercise correctly.

We practice many ki exercises in this manner. Currently our ki development syllabus contains fifteen solo, thirty four partnered stationary, thirteen partnered motion, six solo weapons and seven partnered weapons ki exercises.

statisticool 04-08-2007 09:04 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Pete Rihaczek wrote: (Post 174848)
Not only are you not part of this discussion, but the very fact of you being involved kills any desire to share anything of substance.

I think you need to read the OP again. :cool:

Quote:

Here again you have the nerve to participate, with your signature an affirmation of your lack of character,
I think the signature is an affirmation of a highly guarded secret to the internal martial arts.

Quote:

The existence of people like you is why things aren't shared in public.
Why what is not shared? Parlor tricks? One thing that is obviously not shared in public venues, such as UFC-ish competitions, is the martial efficacy of any internal artist making claims that he cannot be pushed over.

I'm not sure why asking for evidence of martial efficacy of a martial art from martial artists who makes claims upsets some people so. Maybe they should not make claims?

Justin

Ecosamurai 04-08-2007 10:26 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Pete Rihaczek wrote: (Post 174889)
And for the record, I find these ki tests relatively meaningless. Once someone publishes a test, people can work on just doing whatever the test is. That's not the point. The point is that someone who can do these things could pass all manner of tests on the fly as a byproduct of their training. The reverse is not true - passing the tests doesn't mean you can do much of anything else. As a practical matter, if you know what you're looking for you don't need any tests, you can easily feel what someone knows. You can often see it by looking at them too, once you know what to look for. If you know it, tests are pointless, and if you don't know it...tests are pointless.

Actually, you're both right and wrong at the same time. Tests aren't meaningless. They are a learning tool. They are not the skill itself. They are a methodology used for helping a student acquire the skills you talk about and that's all. If you're doing this stuff right then the ki tests should help you to understand the fundamental principles being used and you should be able to apply them to anything you do. As I said in a previous post I can look at my students and tell if they're going to pass a test before I even lay hands on them.
Just like you described it, were I ever in the same room as Dan for example or Mike, I wouldn't have to ki test them to tell what they were like, you just see it.

The tests are tools for helping the student to learn the correct feeling. That's all. Also: "Once someone publishes a test, people can work on just doing whatever the test is" is simply untrue, eventually all the tests overlap in their methods, because you need 4 things to pass each and every one of them. Let's assume that you happen to be very good at unbendable arm. But not so good at the walking forward whilst being held from behind. In the beginning you may pass one test and not the other, but, as the tests get higher in level the things that make you bad at one test will make you bad at all of them. You cannot simply train for one and only one test because it doesn't work that way. They are a collection of tests designed to help you learn how to do 4 things, not 30 or 40 separate movements and scenarios, the tests do not work in isolation.

So basically the ki tests are exactly what you said they weren't. When you said:
"But does this really show what he's capable of? No. If you can duplicate these things, can you do what he does in the general sense? No. If you tried pushing him, grabbing him, putting a lock on him, taking a hit from him, would you be impressed, and know why people make a big deal out of it? Yes, very much."

Essentially what you said was that in those vids what Wang is doing are ki tests. Are they the root of his ability? No. Are they ways in which to demonstrate his ability? Yes. Which is exactly what ki tests are. The logic of using them as a learning tool goes like this: If I can duplicate the things that Chen Xiowang does in those vids I'm probably gaining some understanding of how he does these things. So if I continue to practise them and other 'tricks' like them I will continue to understand more about how he does them. Like I said learning tools, not to be thought of in isolation. They are not the skill itself, the skill itself is different.

Mike

PS - And for the record Chen Xiowang is 'cheating' when he does those things. When the guy's are pushing on him (one or 100 makes no difference) he has his hands (watch his right hand in the first part of the film in particular) on them and is redirecting their force and neutralizing it. It's not a very hard thing to do. The reason I know it's not a very hard thing to do is that I can do it and I'm not very good. Though to be fair I've never tried it with that many people all at once, most I've done is four, but I suspect after that the numbers mean nothing. Certainly, going from 3 to 4 people felt little different.

Ecosamurai 04-08-2007 10:30 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Justin Smith wrote: (Post 174900)
I'm not sure why asking for evidence of martial efficacy of a martial art from martial artists who makes claims upsets some people so. Maybe they should not make claims?

As I said in the first post. Martial effectiveness aside, let's try to make this a discussion of internal principles and how to teach them. Not whether or not they are useful in UFC, or useful against a tank or whatever. That said however, feel free to troll away if you think it'll be helpful....

Mike

statisticool 04-08-2007 01:32 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Mike Haft wrote: (Post 174904)
Martial effectiveness aside, let's try to make this a discussion of internal principles and how to teach them. Not whether or not they are useful in UFC, or useful against a tank or whatever.

How can martial effectiveness be put aside? We are talking about martial arts done by martial artists, no?

If they are ways of moving more efficiently they should be able to be used in any movement, no?

Justin

Ecosamurai 04-08-2007 01:41 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Chris Hein wrote: (Post 174885)
Mike,
I agree with your points, but not your reasoning. An unconscious person is pretty natural. No one has to learn to pass out and relax they just do it. So it's a matter of unlearning some unnatural behaviors (when conscious) not a matter of learning something different.

I'm not trying to be a jerk, but honestly I think you guys are making this stuff out to be way harder then it is. I'll try your ki tests and report back how I did. Hmm, I may even make a video.

Yeah, but like I said, the word 'natural' is a pain in this respect, better not to use it at all than risk getting bogged down in a semantic argument about 'natural movement' IMO internal stuff is decidedly unnatural movement, if it were 'natural' everyone would do it from birth. Clearly they do not do so or there would be so much discussion of it here.

I would also say that unlearning a behaviour is learning something different, and yet again we run into the problem of the word 'natural'. Honestly you see the word appear from time to time in the writings of Koichi Tohei and it troubles me then too. When he refers to natural as in standing naturally I think he's probably talking about something different than you are. But I could be wrong, I'm pretty sure that I know what it is that he is talking about, but I'm having a bit of trouble with your descriptions, sorry :(

Also as I said before. They aren't my ki tests, and what I've described is only a basic bit of stuff, even were you to attempt what I'd written you might not be doing the right stuff. That's where instructors come into the picture. As I've said before, the tests aren't the skill itself, and passing or failing them isn't what it's about, they are a learning tool and you need an instructor there to talk to you about what you're doing when you try these things.

Regards

Mike

Ecosamurai 04-08-2007 01:42 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Justin Smith wrote: (Post 174917)
How can martial effectiveness be put aside? We are talking about martial arts done by martial artists, no?

If they are ways of moving more efficiently they should be able to be used in any movement, no?

Justin

Of course they should be, and they are (I use them all the time in a non-martial context as well as a martial one). But that is simply not the topic of conversation, at the moment.

Mike

Pete Rihaczek 04-08-2007 08:51 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Mike Haft wrote: (Post 174903)
Like I said learning tools, not to be thought of in isolation. They are not the skill itself, the skill itself is different.

Mike

PS - And for the record Chen Xiowang is 'cheating' when he does those things. When the guy's are pushing on him (one or 100 makes no difference) he has his hands (watch his right hand in the first part of the film in particular) on them and is redirecting their force and neutralizing it. It's not a very hard thing to do. The reason I know it's not a very hard thing to do is that I can do it and I'm not very good. Though to be fair I've never tried it with that many people all at once, most I've done is four, but I suspect after that the numbers mean nothing. Certainly, going from 3 to 4 people felt little different.

I think you just reiterated my point. Your ability to duplicate any of them does not make you Chen Xiao Wang. I don't think they're very effective as learning tools either, or else we'd have a lot more Chen Xiao Wangs as well. If you got the chance to see what your level is compared to his, I think you would abandon the notion that ki tests as a learning tool will allow you to bridge the gap in ability. This is obviously not how these guys learn to do this stuff, there is serious work to be put in, and that's the real how-to.

Ecosamurai 04-08-2007 09:25 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Pete Rihaczek wrote: (Post 174961)
I think you just reiterated my point. Your ability to duplicate any of them does not make you Chen Xiao Wang. I don't think they're very effective as learning tools either, or else we'd have a lot more Chen Xiao Wangs as well. If you got the chance to see what your level is compared to his, I think you would abandon the notion that ki tests as a learning tool will allow you to bridge the gap in ability. This is obviously not how these guys learn to do this stuff, there is serious work to be put in, and that's the real how-to.

Actually I think we're saying the same thing from different ends. You seem to have missed my point that ki tests aren't actually how you learn this stuff, you learn it by being taught it by an instructor, probably in much the same way you're thinking of. The tests are just the tool for that purpose. Suppose for example that Chen Xiao Wang teaches this stuff by having his students adopt a stance/position or demonstrate a movement(s). He then corrects their movements and gives advice, telling them what they were doing wrong and so helping them to develop the correct feeling to achieve the ends he's aiming for, he uses metaphors to illustrate the feeling they need to aim for and gives them feedback on their performance. That's the ki test pedagogy right there. Only the ki test methods have a basic curriculum commonly taught as a minimum criteria for not only teaching this stuff but assessing rank in ki development.

How do you know there aren't more Chen Xiao Wangs? What makes you think others aren't putting in serious work?

Regards

Mike

Haowen Chan 04-08-2007 09:39 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Pete: Respectfully, what is "serious work"? I'm curious.

ChrisHein 04-08-2007 10:36 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Mike.
I think we are capable of doing them from birth. It's that whole baby squeezing your hand thing. When a baby can squeeze your finger very strongly, he is simply using himself correctly. I think people who are "natural" athleats, are simply people who didn't learn as many bad habbits as the rest of us. I also think athleats do most things "internally".

eyrie 04-08-2007 11:01 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
I dunno Chris... what you call "natural" is completely unnatural and counter-intuitive. What is "natural" is that our reticular activating system is pre-programmed for flight or fight response. One of the primary reasons it is difficult to tell someone to try "relax" harder... it's completely counter-intuitive to do so, particularly when under duress.

As for babies doing what they do intuitively is not because it is "natural", it's because they haven't yet been subjected to environmental conditioning.

There's a big difference between "natural" movement and "internal" movement. Picking my nose and scratching my butt might be completely natural...(or unnatural... depending on your perspective) but whether that is internal or external is quite another thing... ;)

Which leads us to what exactly is the definition of "internal"? Until this is addressed and agreed upon, the rest of this discussion is moot.

Gernot Hassenpflug 04-08-2007 11:45 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Hi Ignatius, I think the "internal" is too wide. IIRC Mike Sigman pointed out several times in the past that there are "internal body mechanics" which are used by a wide variety of Asian martial arts, regardless of whether the arts are currently classified as "internal" or "external", then there are specific internal mechanisms which could be used to specify whether an art qualifies as "internal". For most of us, the latter is not really of interest at the moment, as we struggle to come to terms with the baseline internal body mechanics. I think that is what you were referring to, but thought it might help to elaborate.

Pete Rihaczek 04-08-2007 11:50 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Mike Haft wrote: (Post 174964)

How do you know there aren't more Chen Xiao Wangs? What makes you think others aren't putting in serious work?

Regards

Mike

Well, you used the phrase "learning tool", which is fine as far as your description goes, I just question how much they really contribute to learning.

The number of real masters of this stuff is very small, relative to the available pool of practitioners, which wouldn't be the case if all the people who have been exposed to ki tests made good progress. The existence of various tests doesn't seem to be much of a factor in getting people to an impressive level of skill. Some of these guys, like Chen Xiao Wang in particular, are frighteningly powerful. You don't get that just from being told "keep weight underside", and then a few years of pirouettes and you're there. There are bigs chunks of fundamental information missing from the basic stage to the impressive power and ability stage. That all-important information is very closely guarded.

ChrisHein 04-08-2007 11:58 PM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Ignatius Teo wrote: (Post 174976)

As for babies doing what they do intuitively is not because it is "natural", it's because they haven't yet been subjected to environmental conditioning.

Yes, this is the way I am useing natural. Current enviromental conditioning is not natrual. The natural state of man is to hunt and gather. Those are the conditions we evolved under.

Pete Rihaczek 04-09-2007 12:00 AM

Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope
 
Quote:

Howard Chan wrote: (Post 174967)
Pete: Respectfully, what is "serious work"? I'm curious.

Effortful practice directed toward the goal of achieving particular motor patterning and the body conditioning to go with it. In other words just practicing your Aikido moves over and over will make you skilled at doing that, but it isn't going to make you feel like "steel wrapped in cotton" or otherwise make anybody scratch their head and wonder how the heck you produce a lot of unusual power, and all the rest of the Ueshiba-like qualities that get so many people into Aikido in the first place.


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