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stephenadams 04-13-2006 04:12 AM

Using your centre during training
 
HI,

I've been training in Aikido for a couple months and I know that your centre is very important in Aikido, but how do you concentrate on centre when training.

I find that when I'm trying to perform a technique if I try to concentrate on my centre my either my footwork suffers or my arms flap around.

So what techniques do you use to focus on your centre while training, do you try to suck in and tense up your centre before starting a technique?

Stephen

eyrie 04-13-2006 04:18 AM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
Why only DURING training? Why not when not at training? In fact, why not ALL the time?

Yann Golanski 04-13-2006 04:23 AM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
Quote:

Stephen Adams wrote:
I find that when I'm trying to perform a technique if I try to concentrate on my centre my either my footwork suffers or my arms flap around.

Move your body from your hips. Make sure you close your armpits (wakishimete) and have your hand in front of you while your arms are extended in te-gatana. It's simply said and really hard to do.

As a beginer, take the time to do the technique right rather than fast. Fast happens as you just let your body do the work without your brain interfering.

ian 04-13-2006 10:25 AM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
I used to say to people to move like the flintstones i.e. the hips move and the legs just run along underneath. However, practically, I think LOTS of bokken cutting automatically gets you to use your hips properly. Sometimes visualisation and verbal instruction are very difficult to apply properly.

Richard Langridge 04-13-2006 10:57 AM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
Ian, do you mean literally just 1st suburi, or bokken training in general?

aikidoc 04-13-2006 12:51 PM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
Quote:

Stephen Adams wrote:
HI,

I find that when I'm trying to perform a technique if I try to concentrate on my centre my either my footwork suffers or my arms flap around.
Stephen

My simple rule is if you move your center, take your arms and feet with you. If you move your feet, take your center (and arms) with you as well. This applies to any movement.

Mark Freeman 04-13-2006 01:14 PM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
Quote:

Stephen Adams wrote:
HI,

I've been training in Aikido for a couple months and I know that your centre is very important in Aikido, but how do you concentrate on centre when training.

I find that when I'm trying to perform a technique if I try to concentrate on my centre my either my footwork suffers or my arms flap around.

So what techniques do you use to focus on your centre while training, do you try to suck in and tense up your centre before starting a technique?

Stephen

Confusion is a common problem in the early days Stephen, relax dont try too hard. Certainly don't tense up anything. As you learn the footwork and hand movements, and practice will make them more natural, you will be more able to relax and naturally move from your centre.
Rome wasn't built in a day, aikido is not mastered in a short time, relax and enjoy your practice. ;)

regards,

Mark

James Kelly 04-13-2006 03:16 PM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
I would suggest not concentrating on your center. In the early days I would worry about the footwork and arm position and all that good stuff and eventually, your center will get behind the technique.

aikilove1 04-14-2006 06:21 AM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
Hi Stephen,

Centering takes a lot of time and patience so dont worry about concentrating on it too much as we all have everyday work to do and it is hard work trying to blend all that together early on, it will come with time and practice so dont worry! I'll try and explain a bit about how it should work to try and help give you an understanding, but its based on my own experience with centre, there are many people that can help explain what centre is and have different ways of achieving a good centre, but only you can find out for yourself what it feels like, learning about centre is a journey, so my explanations may appear a little vague or "over your head" to you and theres only so much i can type out on this thread unfortunately to try and describe it. Here it goes anyway!

Its important that to fully realise centre you should try relax into it, this takes a long time to master and that means taking time to relax and settle into centre as much as possible in daily life, even if you just try it a little to start with it in your spare time, a little soon amounts up to a lot. The easiest way i find to settle into centre is to try focusing and settling into it standing in shizentai (natural stance) and breathing from centre, in through the nose to centre and out through the mouth from centre, feeling centre rise and fall. Standing is the bodies most natural state for finding balance and helps to align the body properly and naturally for settling into centre. Breathing from centre is important and the ki that is taken in from your breath will help to build centre (which is ki) and also help develop breath power (Kokyu) which comes from centre, so its important to breath lightly and effortless without any force from your dantien (centre) to begin with until a strong centre is developed, ki is very subtle and linked with breath so this takes time and a lot of practice and patience to develop, but you will notice a huge difference in how this helps you develop your posture, technique and your natural flow of ki and how you move. You will feel more stable and grounded, balanced yet alert and free'er, you will also feel a lot calmer and harmonious and less tense. This grounding effect will enhance your technique and feel from centre as well as your feel of ki. All movement and technique should come from centre and also everything you do in daily life, whether walking, sitting, standing up, going to bed, doing the dishes ect, its not just for the mat. You may also develop a small pot belly around centre but this is just the bodies natural way of settling properly around centre as nature intended instead of living hunched up and tense in the head and shoulders (a sign of ego, tension and being off-balance), its only natural to keep the weight underside and centred and is a basic principle in aikido, without proper centre aikido cannot be performed properly. O'sensei Morihei Ueshiba spent years training and developing his centre prior to Aikido and it was the realisation of a true centre that gave him the insight to develop aikido, the principle of a true centre is called "nen" which is the complete co-ordination between mind-body-spirit at the centre and at this stage one actually becomes and exists as centre, which gives birth to supernatural power, this is the link to enlightement and true harmony which is the goal of aikido and the purpose of training. Aikido is much more than just learning the physical martial technique although the physical techniques and posturing will help you get a basic grounding for centre in the early stages, principle and technique come hand in hand and should be in harmony and that means giving and existing from centre, its only through proper centre that correct waza (technique) can be performed and it will continually transform your life. Once "nen" is achieved, technique becomes natural and from "nen" you will be able to perceive the imbalance of everything around you because you are so balanced and it will increase your awareness (zanshin). O'sensei used to say that you should "stand on the floating bridge between heaven and earth".

It takes a lot of trial and error to find it, so dont beat yourself up if you find yourself struggling, nobody can find it for you and its something that you have to learn for yourself, but its fun trying and its good to keep a positive frame of mind, it will take a while to get it, but you will get there, you get back what you put in! Just remember that everything should come from centre, move from centre, breathe from centre, technique from centre. Even ken and jo waza should link from centre, even the way you drink your beer.

Meditation is also good for developing centre, in fact centering is a meditation, but meditation is not in the act of trying to meditate, that is technique, it is what lies beyond the meditation that is "meditation", true centre "nen" works in the same way, when everything comes together in harmony (mind/body/spirit) is co-ordinated at the centre and you then become "nen", its when you reach that stage that all your single minded focus on your centre disappears naturally, "nen" takes over at this point and does the work for you, you are then simply functioning within the laws of nature, which protects you and opens a whole new world to you and fills you with love and wisdom.


There is a nice little chapter on the basics of practicing centre in a book called "Aikido in every day life" by Terry Dobson and Victor Miller. It gives a nice and easy way to understand what your trying to achieve from the very beginning and gives you some simple exercises to try and help you with your centre development, as most books dont really give you an in depth idea of what it is, is worth a read!

Good luck and happy centering!

Paul. :circle:

Mark Uttech 04-14-2006 06:50 AM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
A good way to focus on your center during movement is to practice the traditional seven bokken suburi of Saito. It is a tried and true method. In gassho

aikilove1 04-14-2006 08:02 AM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
Yes Mark is right,

Ken suburi is good as the cutting movements come from and return to centre, but start slowly and keep relaxed and try and keep an awareness of the movements from hara, always turn on centre too, remember that centre is a sphere and you should turn and move in harmony with that sphere to create the spherical movements that will help you develop centre and technique. If you go at it hammer and tongs you will only be unbalanced and loose your cool. Quality is far superior to quantity! Be calm and efficient! :)


Paul.

Mike Sigman 04-14-2006 08:18 AM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
Anyone ever wonder how there can be so many opinions about "moving from the center", probably one of THE basics of the art? Fascinating to read. So I say to myself, "Self, has the original poster really gotten the answer to his question (i.e., does he understand what 'moving from the center' really means) or does he now safely feel that he is safe because the answer is not clear to a lot of people?". :)

Mike (Just glad he didn't ask how to keep his mind on the one point) Sigman

Adman 04-14-2006 10:28 AM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
Quote:

Stephen Adams wrote:
... how do you concentrate on centre when training.

I'm assuming then you know where your center is?
Quote:

So what techniques do you use to focus on your centre while training, do you try to suck in and tense up your centre before starting a technique?
"Tense up?" I don't. In my style, one might hear "move from the one-point." This doesn't mean to shoot your hips out and let everything else catch up. It really means to move with your whole (mind &) body as a connected unit. Think of balancing the end of a jo in the palm of your hand, where your palm is the one-point or center, and the jo is your upper body. If you just move your palm (center) without any thought of the jo, the jo will fall. However, if you just work on keeping the jo balanced, you can eventually walk around the room without dropping the jo. This kind of thinking works for me. The key, I've found, is to first find my center and I guess you could say, establish it ... balance my upper body on that point ... let the thought go (more or less), then work on moving my entire body with that connection.

Not sure if I've made any sense. It's best to have this shown and felt. I'm still working on it, of course.

thanks,
Adam

kokyu 04-14-2006 10:58 AM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
There's an excellent book called Center by Ron Meyer and Mark Reeder. The book summarizes some of the ideas of Ikeda Sensei of Boulder Aikikai. I have to admit, the book completely changed my approach to training.

You can find out more about this book at this link

Alfonso 04-14-2006 11:13 AM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
Quote:

There's an excellent book called Center by Ron Meyer and Mark Reeder
now that you mention it there's a Mike Sigman quoted in that book.

It's an interesting read. .

Mike Sigman 04-14-2006 11:31 AM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
Quote:

Alfonso Adriasola wrote:
now that you mention it there's a Mike Sigman quoted in that book.

Land Sakes!.... you mean there's two of us??? ;)


The difficult part is not always "moving from the center"... that's fairly easy to do. If you imagine someone standing in the middle of an empty square room with bungee cords coming from the corners and hooking onto his obi/belt.... he can move back, forward, sideways, at an angle, push up, squat down, twist, etc., and let his center be the point of power that is moving against the bungee cords. No sweat. However, if you think about, to stay 'relaxed' he's essentially just letting the legs and hips do the work and power that the bungees would feel if they could feel.

The problem comes when he tries to use his hands to push or pull or raise or lower or whatever. Ideally what he wants is somehow to sort of make his center power be in his hands. So the real trick is connecting the center power to the hands/arms as purely as possible. If he resorts to his normal instincts, he'll unconsciously stick his shoulder power in there, thus diluting or robbing his hand/arm movements of the pure power from the center. It takes a lot of practice and attention to "keep your center in your hands" without resorting to the shoulders and it takes quite a while before you're successful at it. A slow fune kogi undo, trying to keep your center in your hands is a good start, IMO.

My 2 cents.

Mike

nathansnow 04-14-2006 11:39 AM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
Quote:

Stephen Adams wrote:
HI,

I've been training in Aikido for a couple months and I know that your centre is very important in Aikido, but how do you concentrate on centre when training.

I find that when I'm trying to perform a technique if I try to concentrate on my centre my either my footwork suffers or my arms flap around.
Stephen

You will have a much better idea of how to use your center as you continue to practice. Just as importantly, you will have a better idea of where ukes center is :D
Quote:

Stephen Adams wrote:
So what techniques do you use to focus on your centre while training, do you try to suck in and tense up your centre before starting a technique? Stephen

You use your center on every technique. Your hips must always be moving. They don't just glide forward and tenkan on the same plane. They also have to move up and down. You can create alot of power in your techniques simply by maintaining good posture and sinking your hips. ;)

raul rodrigo 04-14-2006 11:49 AM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
It took me eight years to even begin to understand what moving from my center really meant, and as Mike Sigman says, it was fune kogi undo, done with intent and sensitivity to what was actually going one, that helped unlock it for me. Not that I actually have it down pat now. But am much less stupid about it now than I used to be. So if after a couple of months it's a little mysterious for you, then thats perfectly normal. The wonderful and terrible thing about aikido is that its frustrating and mysterious and hard, and you will screw up all the time, but if you have an open heart and are willing to work, then at least you can hope to screw up at higher and higher levels as you go along.

Mark Freeman 04-14-2006 12:08 PM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote:
The problem comes when he tries to use his hands to push or pull or raise or lower or whatever. Ideally what he wants is somehow to sort of make his center power be in his hands. So the real trick is connecting the center power to the hands/arms as purely as possible. If he resorts to his normal instincts, he'll unconsciously stick his shoulder power in there, thus diluting or robbing his hand/arm movements of the pure power from the center. It takes a lot of practice and attention to "keep your center in your hands" without resorting to the shoulders and it takes quite a while before you're successful at it. A slow fune kogi undo, trying to keep your center in your hands is a good start, IMO.

This is so true. The interesting thing is, once you can do this it seems really easy! I was pretty well co-ordinated before started aikido and it took me a long time to 'really' understand and use this type of movement. Now it seems natural :) I keep wondering why we have to work at it for so long? Shame we weren't born with the ability, it would save so much time.

regards
Mark

Mike Sigman 04-14-2006 12:24 PM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
Quote:

Mark Freeman wrote:
I keep wondering why we have to work at it for so long?

It's because we've spent our entire life making our bodies a "stable tower" from which we move our arms, so the source of our arm power is really from that tower:

http://www.neijia.com/NormalTower.jpg

In "moving from the center" we're trying to change the source of our power from the ground (through the center control point):

http://www.neijia.com/JinVector.jpg

or, for power downward, from our weight (this is simplistic, but it'll do):

http://www.neijia.com/DownWeight.jpg

Of course, to learn to do that takes concentration and you want to do that, as Ignatius points out, fulltime in your daily movements or your body will never accept the idea that you're trying to change over your sources of power. That's the reason why weight-lifting is simply counter-productive when you're trying to learn to move from your center.

FWIW

Mike

Mark Freeman 04-14-2006 12:32 PM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
I like the pics in the links Mike, thanks, I'll probably print them out and take them in for my students, some may find them usefull.
I am also of the opinion that this movement should be for and practiced in daily life, after all we spend much more time off the mat than we do on it ( well most of us do ).

regards
Mark

Mike Sigman 04-14-2006 12:45 PM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
Quote:

Mark Freeman wrote:
I like the pics in the links Mike, thanks, I'll probably print them out and take them in for my students, some may find them usefull.

Sure, go ahead. I'll charge you a pint of lager if I'm ever near Devon. I'll be near London on July 1-2 for a workshop, but it's a long way to Devon ... and Tipperary. ;)

Mike

Dennis Hooker 04-14-2006 12:50 PM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
I know it sounds hokey but everything starts with the center. Before you take a step or lift an arm or a finger visualize the energy coming from your center. When you walk lead with your center not your feet or shoulders. When you turn start from the center. When you eat, brush your teeth, tie you shoes, open you car door start the action from you center. From an Aikido context try and always align your center with your hand or arm when grabbing, parrying or striking. If grabbed or struck at always use the center to parry or respond. Use the hand and arm as an extension of the center. Clark Sensei has a wonderful saying "the hands are connectors not affectors" all of your Aikido comes from your center the hands and techniques, the hips and feet are for control. When you move on the mat the center should remain stable and float not bounce around from side to side or up and down. If you tie your belt about two inched below your navel the knot represents the union of the top half and lower half of the body. That is the center and the knot should serve to remind you of that.

eyrie 04-15-2006 08:42 PM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
WHICH center are you referring to? There are many centers involved. Each affect the other.

justin 04-16-2006 03:42 AM

Re: Using your centre during training
 
Quote:

Mark Uttech wrote:
A good way to focus on your center during movement is to practice the traditional seven bokken suburi of Saito. It is a tried and true method. In gassho


are there any books covering the seven suburi ??


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