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-   -   The Unbendable Arm: (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3894)

Dave Miller 05-21-2003 06:28 PM

The Unbendable Arm:
 
I have heard this spoken of in varying degrees from just an Aikido "parlor trick" to one of the most fundamental principles of Aikido.

What think ye?

Jeff R. 05-21-2003 07:30 PM

Have you tried it? It's a pretty cool exercise in Ki extension. Of course, if one doesn't believe in Ki, it might not work well. Regardless, it's a good way to center oneself and practice visualization, extending [ki] beyond the surface of and into/through or beyond the other person.

Mel Barker 05-21-2003 08:11 PM

We don't talk about Ki much in our dojo, and we teach unbendable arm to beginners in two minutes without having them visualize anything or mentioning the work ki.

The importance of it lies in one's ability to use the effect while doing aikido I think. Otherwise, it's a nice party trick.

Mel

Erik 05-21-2003 10:06 PM

They laughed when I stood up and straightened my arm

But when they couldn't bend it!

"Can he really keep his arm straight?" a girl whispered. "Heavens no!" Arthur exclaimed. "He never kept his arm straight in his life."

I decided to make the most of the situation. With mock dignity I adjusted my gi. Then I stood tall and made a quarter turn, just as I had seen our aikido shihan do.

"What do you think of his execution?" called a voice from the rear.

"We're in favor of it!" came back the answer, and the crowd rocked with laughter.

Then I Started to extend....

Not that, you sick bastards.

Instantly a tense silence fell on the guests. The laughter died on their lips as if by magic. I extended ki and I heard gasps of amazement. My friends sat breathless -- spellbound!

I extended ki and I forgot the people around me. I forgot the hour, the place, the breathless listeners. The little world I lived in seemed to fade -- seemed to grow dim -- unreal. Only the unbendableness was real. Only the unbendableness and visions it brought me. Visions as beautiful and as changing as the wind blown clouds and drifting moonlight that long ago inspired the master composer. It seemed as if O'Sensei himself were speaking to me -- speaking through the medium of ki -- not in words but in energy. Not in sentences but in exquisite melodies!

A Complete Triumph!

As the last bit of unbending died away, the room resounded with a sudden roar of applause. I found myself surrounded by excited faces. How my friends carried on! Men shook my hand -- wildly congratulated me -- pounded me on the back in their enthusiasm! Everybody was exclaiming with delight -- plying me with rapid questions... "Jack! Why didn't you tell us you could do that?"... "Where did you learn?" -- "How long have you studied?" -- "Who was your teacher?"

"Just a short while ago I couldn't straighten my pinkie."

"Quit your kidding," laughed Arthur, himself an accomplished aikidoist. "You've been studying for years. I can tell."

"I have been studying only a short while," I insisted. "I decided to keep it a secret so that I could surprise all you folks."

Then I told them the whole story.

Have you ever heard of the Aikido School of Aikido?" I asked.

A few of my friends nodded. "That's an aikido school, isn't it?" they exclaimed.

"Exactly," I replied. "They have a new simplified method that can teach you to use ki in just a few months."

Then I explained how for years I had longed to have an unbendable arm.

"A few months ago," I continued, "I saw an interesting ad for the Aikido school of Aikido -- a new method of learning to use ki which only cost a few cents a day! The ad told how a woman had mastered ki! Best of all, the wonderful new method she used, required no laborious scales -- no heartless exercises -- no tiresome practising. It sounded so convincing that I filled out the coupon requesting the Free Demonstration Lesson.

"I was amazed to see how easy it was to extend ki".

"After the first classes, nothing stopped me. I could keep my arm straight in all kinds of circumstances."

Thousands of successful students never dreamed they could keep their arm straight until it was revealed to them by a remarkable "Ki Test".

If you are in earnest about wanting to keep your arm straight -- if you really want to gain happiness and increase your popularity -- take a class at the Aikido School of Aikido. No cost -- no obligation. Right now we are making a Special offer for a limited number of new students. Sign and send the convenient coupon now -- before it's too late to gain the benefits of a straight arm.

If you are in earnest about wanting to keep your arm straight -- if you really want to gain happiness and increase your popularity -- send at once for the free booklet and Demonstration Lesson. No cost -- no obligation. Right now we are making a Special offer for a limited number of new students. Sign and send the convenient coupon now -- before it's too late to gain the benefits of this offer. Kokken and jo supplied when needed, cash or credit. Aikido School Of Aikido, 1031 Some Bldg., Some City, Some State.

Thalib 05-22-2003 12:02 AM

What the???

Paul Klembeck 05-22-2003 12:18 AM

Both.

As a demonstration, it's a parlor trick, relax opposing muscles, you don't help defeat yourself.

As an exercise, it begins to get at fundamentals. How you visualize your body working effects how it does work.

adwelly 05-22-2003 01:00 AM

As an exercise I've noticed that because the bicep is relaxed its not working with the uke's effort to bend the arm, making the arm much harder to bend.

But here's the odd thing, I've also noticed that on really cold days when I'm out on a run - the same mental effort for unbendable arm make the blood flow into my hands so they don't feel cold any more. I think there's a bit more going on than just relaxed muscles.

They don't talk much about ki in my dojo either. But they do talk about relaxation, extension, and visulisation.

PeterR 05-22-2003 01:36 AM

Brilliant Erik :D

Much vigorous back slapping.

jk 05-22-2003 02:06 AM

Erik's been smoking that Yellow Bamboo again... :D

happysod 05-22-2003 03:36 AM

As an exercise, yes it's a parlour trick. As part of an entering move, very useful, mainly because of the effect on your upper body rather than anything to do with the arm itself. If you're extending "unbendable arm" properly, your shoulders and neck are relaxed and you're not fighting yourself during the technique. Simplest application I can think of to show this is a basic nikkyo with a cross-handed attack (from static).

Erik, I want the training video (do you do VHS?)

tedehara 05-22-2003 06:51 AM

Quote:

Mel Barker wrote:
We don't talk about Ki much in our dojo, and we teach unbendable arm to beginners in two minutes without having them visualize anything or mentioning the work ki.

The importance of it lies in one's ability to use the effect while doing aikido I think. Otherwise, it's a nice party trick.

Mel

What about the rest of the day when you're off the mat? Shouldn't you be extending ki during the other 23 hours of the day? :eek:

Unbendable arm is a simple demonstration of ki extension. BTY the Ki Society has changed it's understanding from "Extend Ki" to add "Ki is Extended". This means that your arm should always be unbendable. That your natural state of being is extending ki, you shouldn't have to do or think of anything special. :cool:

Dave Miller 05-22-2003 07:47 AM

Quote:

Jeff Rychwa (Jeff R.) wrote:
Have you tried it? It's a pretty cool exercise in Ki extension. Of course, if one doesn't believe in Ki, it might not work well. Regardless, it's a good way to center oneself and practice visualization, extending [ki] beyond the surface of and into/through or beyond the other person.

Not only have I tried it, I consider it to be foundational to many of the techniques of Aikido. (That's part of what my signature is talking about.) Perhaps the simplist and most direct form of this is shomen ate. I believe the explanation for how it works can be found as much in physics as Ki. One of my senseis is a yondan who can pile several people onto his unbendable arm and yet he doesn't give the notion of Ki much creedance at all, hence my contention that physics explains the technique as well as Ki.

Mel Barker 05-22-2003 09:27 AM

Quote:

Ted Ehara (tedehara) wrote:
What about the rest of the day when you're off the mat? Shouldn't you be extending ki during the other 23 hours of the day? :eek:

Well since I have no concept of what it means to extend ki, and since I never have heard any of the shihan I've studied under mention such a thing and since my instructors consider such language to be nonsensical and useless, I doubt I "should" be doing it. I think such notions get in the way to learning to do aikido. Others, I know, have a different perspective. I don't know what they "should" do either.

Mel

Erik 05-23-2003 12:34 AM

I'm glad a few of you got it. I was worried.

I should probably leave this as a mystery and let you all think I'm a great copywriter but with the exception of about 30 words I borrowed the piece verbatim from what is perhaps the single most famous piece of advertising ever written. You can see it at

http://www.passaicparc.com/killer/caples.html

Anyone doing any copywriting/advertising should read this guys book.

PeterR 05-23-2003 02:18 AM

Erik you just lost a life long fan - I mean I was really really impressed. And like all disappointed fans .....
Quote:

Erik Haselhofer (Erik) wrote:
I'm glad a few of you got it. I was worried.

I should probably leave this as a mystery and let you all think I'm a great copywriter but with the exception of about 30 words I borrowed the piece verbatim from what is perhaps the single most famous piece of advertising ever written. You can see it at

http://www.passaicparc.com/killer/caples.html

Anyone doing any copywriting/advertising should read this guys book.


tedehara 05-24-2003 09:54 AM

Quote:

Mel Barker wrote:
Well since I have no concept of what it means to extend ki, and since I never have heard any of the shihan I've studied under mention such a thing and since my instructors consider such language to be nonsensical and useless, I doubt I "should" be doing it. I think such notions get in the way to learning to do aikido. Others, I know, have a different perspective. I don't know what they "should" do either.

Mel

While most people practice a form for a technique, the style I practice changes things around every year. As the years go by, these small changes add up and the techniques takes on completely different physical motions. But while the physical forms change, this idea of extending ki remains the same.

What is extending ki? It's being calm and moving in a relaxed, natural motion. Someone asked K. Tohei how to pass the advanced ki tests. His reply was, "Do Nothing." i.e. don't get in the way of yourself.

I threw in the faces :eek: :cool: partly to indicate that I wasn't really getting on your case specifically. You saw the possiblity that this approach might help improve a person's aikido. Most people don't even get that far. Because they don't understand it, they deride it and call unbendable arm a "cheap parlor trick".

However the other observation is also valid. If being calm and moving in a relaxed manner is good for your aikido, imagine how that approach could improve your life! If you look at top athletes, they are always playing in a calm manner. How many times have you taken an exam and your mind freezes up because you're too tense? Any type of performance situation usually brings on the possibility of subconscious tension rising. How would your life change if you could avoid that?

This is one approach to aikido. There are others.

Jeff R. 05-24-2003 12:56 PM

Quote:

Dave Miller wrote:
I believe the explanation for how it works can be found as much in physics as Ki.

I'm sure it's true, but why bother? I was a physics major, and I love solving scientific mysteries, but some things are better left to just knowing with your heart rather than understanding with your brain. In fact, it's that incessant desire to understand, to figure out, that leads us toward conquering, overcoming and losing the spiritual essence that makes the magic happen.

Quote:

Dave Miller wrote:
One of my senseis is a yondan who can pile several people onto his unbendable arm and yet he doesn't give the notion of Ki much creedance at all, hence my contention that physics explains the technique as well as Ki.

Quote:

Mel Barker wrote:
Well since I have no concept of what it means to extend ki, and since I never have heard any of the shihan I've studied under mention such a thing and since my instructors consider such language to be nonsensical and useless, I doubt I "should" be doing it. I think such notions get in the way to learning to do aikido. Others, I know, have a different perspective. I don't know what they "should" do either.

Mel

We don't give breathing, or seeing, or any of the senses much notion at all either. We take them for granted--until we lose one. If he'd rather call a tomato an onion, whatever. People used to believe the world was flat, and that atoms were only an idea. Many of us are stuck in the empirical mode, but it is a very limited way to experience the Universe. With all due respect, we should all be learning from as many sources as possible. Unless a teacher is enlightened, then I would consider their information carefully and respectfully, but I could not accept it as the end-all be-all. Heck, even an enlightened teacher is only a guide. We may have very different paths to enlightenment. Some don't desire to be enlightened at all--and they are the ones with whom I have a concern.

Thalib 05-24-2003 06:25 PM

Nicely put Rychwa-san...

Mel Barker 05-26-2003 12:40 PM

Quote:

Ted Ehara (tedehara) wrote:
What is extending ki? It's being calm and moving in a relaxed, natural motion. Someone asked K. Tohei how to pass the advanced ki tests. His reply was, "Do Nothing." i.e. don't get in the way of yourself.

Ah! I see. Now that you've defined the term. I see that we are in agreement. :D

Dave Miller 05-29-2003 10:46 AM

Quote:

Jeff Rychwa (Jeff R.) wrote:
In fact, it's that incessant desire to understand, to figure out, that leads us toward conquering, overcoming and losing the spiritual essence that makes the magic happen...

With all due respect, we should all be learning from as many sources as possible. Unless a teacher is enlightened, then I would consider their information carefully and respectfully, but I could not accept it as the end-all be-all. Heck, even an enlightened teacher is only a guide. We may have very different paths to enlightenment. Some don't desire to be enlightened at all--and they are the ones with whom I have a concern.

Ah yes, the old "you just can't understand because you're not 'enlightened'" argument.

First off, I never said that I only experience the universe emperically. It is a statement of fact that Empericism is an indefensible position. That having been said, it doesn't follow that every non-emperical explanation for how things work is true.

For example, I could argue that rings of mushrooms are caused by fairies dancing in a circle. You might counter with the proper scientific explanation, specifically that they are simply growing on the edge of the circular mass of the fungus. If I chose to, as you did, counter that with "I'm sure it's true, but why bother?... [the]incessant desire to understand, to figure out, that leads us toward conquering, overcoming and losing the spiritual essence that makes the magic happen.", that doesn't suddenly make it true that fairies cause "fairy rings" of mushrooms to appear.

In the same fashion, the fact that you have chosen to reject science at some level doesn't mean that physics doesn't explain Aikido. Nor does it mean that the rest of us are somehow on a lesser plane of understanding because we don't hold to the same ideas about ki as you do.

You seem to have this habit of comparing ki with breathing and seeing and other essential bodily functions and yet these are all things well explained by science. There's nothing magical or mysterious about breathing or seeing, these are simply the results of how our bodies were made and how we were designed to interact with our world. The notion of ki is a very different sort of thing altogether.

Darren Raleigh 05-29-2003 12:23 PM

Quote:

Dave Miller wrote:
...In the same fashion, the fact that you have chosen to reject science at some level doesn't mean that physics doesn't explain Aikido. Nor does it mean that the rest of us are somehow on a lesser plane of understanding because we don't hold to the same ideas about ki as you do...

Please don't use such rudeness in my presence.

First of all, is Jeff's rejection of science a "fact?" You say that it is, but I don't think I read in Jeff's post that he utterly, completely, rejects science.

Second, your (unfounded) assertion that he claims to be on a greater plane of understanding is simply insulting.

Science has, at it's very core, the willing acceptance of new ideas based on new, provable data. Science never stops. It accepts every single "fact" only as long as it takes new information to modify that fact. Some take a very long time, but that doesn't mean that science has closed the book on them. The book doesn't close.

I do get tired of hearing the phrase "Oh, it's just physics," used to mean, "There's nothing mysterious or magical about it." Really? Gravity is just physics, too. How does it work, please?

In the end, someone may find out that ki is fully explainable using the terminology of physics. That won't lessen it one bit. But if you're uncomfortable with the idea of ki, at least don't be so rude about it.

Given that you started this thread, and then jumped on Jeff the way you did, begins to read a little bit like trolling.

Jeff's aikido is not your aikido is not my aikido. You will never change that fact, and you're making unpleasant noises while you try.

Greg Jennings 05-29-2003 12:53 PM

Maybe the question is what does gravity smell like?

Cheers!

Darren Raleigh 05-29-2003 01:03 PM

Now that's a tough question!

Cheers!

Darren

Dave Miller 05-29-2003 01:09 PM

Whoa, hold on a second...
 
First off, I wasn't "jumping on Jeff". If that's the impression I gave, then I'm truly sorry.

Second, I never said that Jeff had totally rejected science as fact, I said that he had rejected it on some level. I based that on:
Quote:

I was a physics major, and I love solving scientific mysteries, but some things are better left to just knowing with your heart rather than understanding with your brain.
I took this to mean that although Jeff had studied science, he had since come to accept other sources of knowledge as being more reliable in certain circumstances.

As for the "greater plane of understanding" argument being insulting, he's the one to made distinction between teachers who were or were not "enlightened":
Quote:

Unless a teacher is enlightened, then I would consider their information carefully and respectfully, but I could not accept it as the end-all be-all.
As far as physics taking the mysteriousness and "magic" out of Aikido, this is exactly the same line of argument that was used against science when it came on the scene in its early days. Personally, I don't have a great need for Aikido to be mysterious and magical. If you do, then that's cool but don't berate others of us who are comfortable explaining it in terms of science.

As far as Jeff's Aikido being different from mine, I stated that plainly in my post. I would like to know why I'm considered rude for countering his arguments with my own logical assertions. That's part of what a message board is for, to make points and offer counter-points. My intent was never to be rude nor was it to be a troll. I deeply apologize to Jeff if he felt that I was being rude to him.

Mel Barker 05-29-2003 01:58 PM

I hadn't detected any rudeness, just engaging dialog.

Mel


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