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-   -   How to teach and train relaxation (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11449)

Mark Jakabcsin 12-13-2006 08:45 AM

How to teach and train relaxation
 
Mike Sigman wrote: One point I will make though, which I think is important to note. Tohei's approach may not be fully clear and it results in a lot of Ki-Society people missing the fine point and staying always at a fairly basic level, etc....... BUT, Tohei's approach through relaxation and softness is the correct one for the really high-level route, IMO. This is not to say that there are not exercises and explanations that are needed (and I daresay it's a certainty that Tohei used some for the in-door disciples)..... what I'm stressing is that relaxation, not tension, is the road to the higher-level stuff. So kudos for that part of the Ki-Society perspective. "From great softness comes great hardness".
_____________________________________________

The above quote is from Mike's thread concerning his recent Ki Society seminar. I think Mike is spot on with his thoughts concerning relaxation being the road to higher-level stuff. I was thinking this might be a good topic for discussion. I know it has been touched on many times in the past but with all of the new faces a new discussion might bear new fruit.

The question for the forum at large is how do you or your system teach/train an individual to become relaxed? Is there a specific method or is it simply a hope that over time the student will relax? What drills or exercises are explicitly used for the purpose of teaching relaxation and it's powers?

Take care,

Mark J.

Mike Sigman 12-13-2006 09:33 AM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Hi Mark:

It's my experience that until someone knows how to use the kokyu/jin forces, they do not really "relax" or stop moving from the shoulders. The essence of the kokyu forces is that they derive their power from either the ground or the weight, allowing the load-bearing responsibilities to shift to the ground or weight and thus relieving the primary muscle-system of the necessity for normal muscular tension.

There is a second, equally-important part of the equation which has to do with the support of the body structure through the myofascial structures and the mind. The myofascial stuff is done through breathing, stretching, held postures like in correct standing practice and/or Akuzawa's stuff, etc. But in a way, you can look at all the breathing and postural stuff as simply being the system with strengthens and increases your abilities with the kokyu/jin stuff. Altogether, it's an extensive and complex system; more so than my summary indicates clearly.

So my answer to your question is "forget the emphasis on "relax" until the principles on using the kokyu forces (aka 'the One Point') are understood". ;) Trying to "relax" while still using normal strength modes is simply an exercise in frustration and it's about as useful as teaching a pig to sing.

Best.

Mike

billybob 12-13-2006 10:01 AM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Quote:

The question for the forum at large is how do you or your system teach/train an individual to become relaxed? Is there a specific method or is it simply a hope that over time the student will relax? What drills or exercises are explicitly used for the purpose of teaching relaxation and it's powers?
Mike. Excellent description in paragraph 1.

However, sir, you have not answered the gentleman's question quoted at top.

david

Ron Tisdale 12-13-2006 10:09 AM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Good question...I'm going to think on it, and maybe reply after/during lunch...

Best,
Ron (Jeff says hi!)

Gwion 12-13-2006 10:22 AM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
it does seem that some styles don't teach relaxation until 'higher-level' stuff.

And Ki Aikido teaches relaxation from the beginning.

If you compare Aikido to say, piano playing....
one wonders which is better in the long run?

I would argue that learning proper relaxation from the beginning enforces those 'good habits'. As it seems that Aikido is all about letting go of 'bad habits' of tensing up and trying to force things, so I don't see why you wouldn't want to emphasis relaxation from the beginning.

As far as what we DO to emphasize relaxation....

Ki Breathing, Ki meditation, Sokushin no Gyo, and then all the ki testing we do. You can't pass ki tests unless you are relaxed and keeping one point, so you tend to learn to relax yourself.

One important note, is that it's important for general relaxation, especially to help beginners, to have a non-contentious, non-competitive atmosphere. Although Aikido always gives lip service to being a non-competitive art, you can still see it creeping up everywhere.

and btw Mike, which Aikidoka were you? I was at that seminar, the only guy in the room with a purple belt.

--WW

Mike Sigman 12-13-2006 10:27 AM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Let me see if I can highlight the problem.

Essentially the idea is that any movement comes from the "center" (hara, tanden, dantien, "One Point", "Field of Cinnabar", whatever). So the ground, via direct vector forces up the legs, supplies the "solidity of the Earth"; the weight/gravity supplies the power in the other direction. Both of these powers reside in the middle for us to access. The trick, though, is to get these powers unhindered out to the rest of the body. It's getting these powers out to the hands, feet, or anywhere on the body that starts the discussion about "relaxation".

If you try to use jin and the strength of the muscles and joints, you will dilute your power from the Center. Yes, you can get more power than normal with this combination or muscle and kokyu forces, but if you want to aim for the higher levels, you need to follow the classical track.

The Ki Society is somewhat vague in how things are done, but generally the approach is to try to use the Center and let the mind handle the connection: it will grow over time, as they see it (this is true, but the overall effectiveness of this approach is open to discussion). Incidentally, even though I think the Ki Society approach could be clarified greatly, it is still in line with the classical approaches to these skills and if they tweaked their curriculum a bit, I think the Ki Society could wind up with an Aikido that contains good ki/kokyu skills and which is martially competent.

Other approaches than the classical soft approach generally encourage "relaxing" also, but they add different perspectives AND they add training methods that strengthen the fascia/mind connection to the Center.

{{Here I have to make a quick caveat. Misogi practices should contain methods that strengthen the connections through breathing, etc., so the Ki Society may be more explicit in the breathing technologies at the upper levels of Ki skills. I don't know.}}

The drills and exercises are all there in Aikido, it's just that they're vague or unexplained-to-the-masses or something like that.

Let me add a thought, BTW.... whether relaxed or not-completely-relaxed (say, by practicing in Sanchin Kata or some harder source of these skills), it's probably best to get something from which to start than it is to get nothing and let this important subject pass one by. So I don't object to any of the various sources of information that I presently see, even the ones that I don't consider to be relaxed enough for the full banana. ;)

Regards,

Mike

Mike Sigman 12-13-2006 10:31 AM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Quote:

Wayne Wilson wrote:
it does seem that some styles don't teach relaxation until 'higher-level' stuff.

And Ki Aikido teaches relaxation from the beginning.

If you compare Aikido to say, piano playing....
one wonders which is better in the long run?

If I'd understood then what I know now, Wayne, I'd say the relaxed approach, without a doubt. But with more data than just the vagaries.
Quote:

and btw Mike, which Aikidoka were you? I was at that seminar, the only guy in the room with a purple belt.
I was the one with the classical Greek profile and the humble demeanor. ;)

Regards,

Mike

Luc X Saroufim 12-13-2006 11:01 AM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
this thread rocks!

Mike, let me ask you:

"you can't write poetry without learning grammar first".

do you think it's more efficient for beginners to learn the basic motions of the waza, *then* concentrate on the fine details?

kironin 12-13-2006 11:08 AM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote:
The Ki Society is somewhat vague in how things are done, but generally the approach is to try to use the Center and let the mind handle the connection: it will grow over time, as they see it (this is true, but the overall effectiveness of this approach is open to discussion). Incidentally, even though I think the Ki Society approach could be clarified greatly, it is still in line with the classical approaches to these skills and if they tweaked their curriculum a bit, I think the Ki Society could wind up with an Aikido that contains good ki/kokyu skills and which is martially competent.

This is not meant as disagreement because there can always be improvement, but my personal reaction to reading this is my experience of about 15 years is the the Ki Society it is not a monolith. I have had some wonderful teachers which I have discussed/argued/practiced with and some others which ... ah lets just say don't fill me with enthusiasm. Being pretty analytical and a scientist, I am pretty experimental in teaching and working to clairify things all the time and I am tweaking the curriculum all the time drawing on my knowledge, experience, and intuition.

best,
Craig

Mike Sigman 12-13-2006 11:23 AM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Quote:

Craig Hocker wrote:
This is not meant as disagreement because there can always be improvement, but my personal reaction to reading this is my experience of about 15 years is the the Ki Society it is not a monolith.

Hi Craig:

Of course I should have caveated that my observations were based only on what I'd seen of Ki Society of the years. Although I've seen a reasonable amount of people, I can't claim to have seen what I feel is a fully-representative spectrum.

Part of my statement was based on the fact that I've seen and trained with Kashiwaya Sensei in the past and I now have something of an idea of Tohei-transmitted concepts through Shaner Sensei. In other words, I was speaking to my perspective of the *general* Ki Society approach, not each individual dojo or individual instructor, etc. And let me say unequivocably that my impressions are simply opinions subject to change.
Quote:

Being pretty analytical and a scientist, I am pretty experimental in teaching and working to clairify things all the time and I am tweaking the curriculum all the time drawing on my knowledge, experience, and intuition.
I'd be interested in seeing what you do while still remaining within the confines of the Ki Society dicta. In fact, I'd be interested in seeing the face of a Ki-Aikido person when I did my more-analytic discussions/demos' of what is actually going on. ;)

Frankly, I had mixed feelings about Shaner Sensei (because I was there to critically evaluate; no other reason), but overall I felt like there was a part of him that normally would have been more clinical in his analyses if he hadn't been constrained by his obligations to Tohei Sensei and the Ki Society. And don't get me wrong... in my mind, Shaner is one of the few organizational types that I would consider as a (+) plus to Aikido for his efforts to teach and research these core and difficult topics. Most of the organizational types I'm aware of don't really know much about the subject and are making no great efforts to find out for the sake of Aikido, either. So kudos to Shaner Sensei.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman 12-13-2006 11:26 AM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Quote:

Luc Saroufim wrote:
do you think it's more efficient for beginners to learn the basic motions of the waza, *then* concentrate on the fine details?

I think the most important thing for beginners is to first get a "feel" of what the kokyu forces are and what they can do. From there they should move forward with proper waza training AND Ki training which involves clear instruction and description of exactly what is going on physically. That's my opinion. YMMV. ;)

Regards,

Mike

Mark Jakabcsin 12-13-2006 12:14 PM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Many interesting posts, thanks to all.

Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote:
It's my experience that until someone knows how to use the kokyu/jin forces, they do not really "relax" or stop moving from the shoulders. The essence of the kokyu forces is that they derive their power from either the ground or the weight, allowing the load-bearing responsibilities to shift to the ground or weight and thus relieving the primary muscle-system of the necessity for normal muscular tension.

Mike,
I am understanding that you are saying above that one learns relaxation by learning to use the kokyu/jin forces. Is that correct? Is there a method to bridge the two or does it just happen? Also if you do not mind please give the definitions of kokyu and jin that you are using so we can all stay on the same page. Thanks.


Forum,
I suppose we should also have a discussion about tension as it is the opposite of relaxation. What creates tension and/or where does it come from, seems like a good place to start. By identifying and becoming aware of what creates our tension perhaps we can work to reduce/eliminate these causes and become more relaxed. Yes/No?

Mark J.

Erick Mead 12-13-2006 12:19 PM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Quote:

Mark Jakabscin wrote:
The question for the forum at large is how do you or your system teach/train an individual to become relaxed? Is there a specific method or is it simply a hope that over time the student will relax? What drills or exercises are explicitly used for the purpose of teaching relaxation and it's powers?

Quote:

David Knowlton wrote:
(Directed to Mike Sigman) However, sir, you have not answered the gentleman's question quoted at top.

Yes he did. Mike has said it before:
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote:
... I only do seminars IF I feel like them. And only on a whimsical basis. I don't teach.

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpo...4&postcount=19

Adman 12-13-2006 12:28 PM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Relax! No, really. :cool:

Terms like "dead relaxation" and "living relaxation" might provide a clue to what's going on. Then there's "relax completely". I think something like, "relax completely in all directions" is more helpful.

Just as a relaxation starting point, here's something I learned to see if someone can shut down all muscle activity to a particular body part. Ask your partner to let you lift their arm from their side, up to their front, to a position where their hand is level to their shoulder. You can lift from their fingers or wrist. Tell your partner, that when you let go, their arm should fall naturally to their side. It is amazing how often I see their arm hesitate, upon release, before falling. Or how often I'll feel my partner assist in lifting their arm, even when they know and have been told not to. :straightf Of course, this is used primarily to illustrate the point of what one kind of relaxation can be. And how something so simple, can be difficult for someone to grasp. This can also be used as a first step to then acquiring much the same feeling in the arm, while keeping it raised.

thanks,
Adam

ChrisMoses 12-13-2006 12:31 PM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Quote:

Adam Bauder wrote:
Terms like "dead relaxation" and "living relaxation" might provide a clue to what's going on. Then there's "relax completely". I think something like, "relax completely in all directions" is more helpful.

If one were to relax completely in all directions, you would collapse to the floor. Total relaxation is not what's going on in Aikido. Selective relaxation and tone is what's actually going on.

DonMagee 12-13-2006 12:32 PM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
I went to the doctor for broken ribs. He suspected I had some dislocation so he attempted to manipulate my arms to adjust my spine/back/etc. I had to laugh. I was sitting there feeling perfectly relaxed, he couldn't lift my arms from my lap. It took an extreme effort of will to let him move me around without stopping him.

Mike Sigman 12-13-2006 12:37 PM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Quote:

Mark Jakabcsin wrote:
I am understanding that you are saying above that one learns relaxation by learning to use the kokyu/jin forces. Is that correct? Is there a method to bridge the two or does it just happen? Also if you do not mind please give the definitions of kokyu and jin that you are using so we can all stay on the same page. Thanks.

Mark, everyone uses jin forces in their daily lives. It's a skill that we all have, like many other skills, but one which can be developed to a high level and which is martially very applicable.

Notice that I said "jin" in the above paragraph and for once I didn't say "jin/kokyu" or "kokyu". There's a reason. The full definition of "kokyu" will include some of the development of the fascia/breathing stuff; for that reason I tend to say that "jin is the essence of kokyu".

We can all plunk a taut string. But it's a lot of training to go from there to playing a guitar. Same thing with jin... we can all do it, but it's a long way from there to the single-grain qi and high-level force manipulation.

Just to give you a better idea of what I'm talking about in regard to "jin" and "relaxation", try the following:

Stand upright, arms hanging by the sides, feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. Have friend come to your right side and push against your shoulder (and hold for a few seconds steadily) in the direction of the left side of the body... either he pushes horizontally or slightly downward toward your left leg. Force should not exceed 4-5 pounds. Relax your lower back and hold his push with your left leg/foot. Just a few seconds, but make sure his force is steady, his elbow is straight (to keep the force rigid).

Then have him walk around to the other side, to the left shoulder. You shouldn't move a muscle. Let him push in the same way on the left shoulder and you let the push be held purely with the right leg/foot.

Keep doing it a few times. As you get better at it, you'll notice that you need only "will" the path from your shoulder to your foot on the opposite side and your use of muscle will decrease. The path forms almost automatically with a little practice. This is the essence of what jin is, but it's the coarse beginning steps, not the "I got jin!!!!" step. ;)

Can you see how good jin and relaxation go together with that example?

Regards,

Mike

Adman 12-13-2006 12:38 PM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Quote:

Christian Moses wrote:
If one were to relax completely in all directions, you would collapse to the floor. Total relaxation is not what's going on in Aikido. Selective relaxation and tone is what's actually going on.

And yet, I remain standing. :D

The meaning I was getting at is equitable to the "tone" you mentioned. I also didn't say "Total relaxation". Which, BTW, I do not equate with dead relaxation, which would be me collapsing to the floor.

thanks,
Adam

billybob 12-13-2006 12:44 PM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Don Magee [/quote]I went to the doctor for broken ribs. He suspected I had some dislocation so he attempted to manipulate my arms to adjust my spine/back/etc. I had to laugh. I was sitting there feeling perfectly relaxed, he couldn't lift my arms from my lap. It took an extreme effort of will to let him move me around without stopping him.[quote]

My wife can not 'follow' when we dance. I have to let her lead - jokes aside about who wears the pants in our family - she is amazed that I can follow without having to stop and think about it. Lord, she has to stop and think about everything, except one time we heard a gunshot and I said 'get on the floor' and she did it. How's that for trust? :)

dave

p.s. Mike - if it is I whose claim that I learned some internal stuff bothers you sir, then you must follow your own advice to me, and read it without comment. I have to thank you for above - it is the clearest I have seen you describe the technique - and it mirrors both what I learned in judo and some specific physical therapy I had from my Rolf physical therapist last year.dk

Adman 12-13-2006 01:17 PM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote:
Then have him walk around to the other side, to the left shoulder. You shouldn't move a muscle. Let him push in the same way on the left shoulder and you let the push be held purely with the right leg/foot.

Keep doing it a few times. As you get better at it, you'll notice that you need only "will" the path from your shoulder to your foot on the opposite side and your use of muscle will decrease. The path forms almost automatically with a little practice. This is the essence of what jin is, but it's the coarse beginning steps, not the "I got jin!!!!" step. ;)

Can you see how good jin and relaxation go together with that example?

The tester can also work on developing the same skills so that the same amount of pressure becomes a more challenging test (sounding like a 'ki test'?).

Mike, did you experience similar exercises at the Shaner, sensei workshop?

thanks,
Adam

Mark Jakabcsin 12-13-2006 01:49 PM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Mike,
I am understanding from your post that jin is the path or connection in the body from an external force to the ground. Or perhaps connecting the entire body to the ground to dissipate a force. Is that correct?

While you haven't given your views about where tension comes from I am guessing that you would view tension as a result of not knowing how to move and connect the body properly. Good guess or not?

Take care,

Mark J.

Mike Sigman 12-13-2006 02:03 PM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Quote:

Mark Jakabcsin wrote:
I am understanding from your post that jin is the path or connection in the body from an external force to the ground. Or perhaps connecting the entire body to the ground to dissipate a force. Is that correct?

While you haven't given your views about where tension comes from I am guessing that you would view tension as a result of not knowing how to move and connect the body properly. Good guess or not?

And
Quote:

Adam Bauder wrote:
The tester can also work on developing the same skills so that the same amount of pressure becomes a more challenging test (sounding like a 'ki test'?).

Mike, did you experience similar exercises at the Shaner, sensei workshop?

The essence of that particular and limited demonstration is that

(1.) The mind can arrange paths at will.
(2.) The lower body is allowed to have the load-bearing and power-generating responsibilites.

If the "paths" and load bearing are rigged (by choice; mentally) so that the lower-body and ground (in this example) are the sources of power and the upper body is simply the conduit through which the forces go, then the upper body can be "relaxed".

In the case of the Ki Society people (I didn't test them all, but this seems in my mind to be a fair general observation based on what I did get to feel), it appeared that too many of them thought the end-point of forces should be their "One Point" and what happened was that they didn't often appear to have the full solidity they would have had if they had understood that the body simply conveys the ground to their push, so that they are pushing the ground. Once that basic power is understood, it can be manipulated in all sorts of interesting ways.

I thought in general that the Ki Society people were definitely working toward the right things, but that there were a lot of problems caused by the vagueness of their descriptions and an incomplete understanding of the forces and mechanics involved.

Another point would be that if someone pushes on the upper body and you want to convey that force to the ground without using any appreciable tensions in the upper body, the body "structure" must be coherent. This is the essence of Rob's and Dan's discussions about their trainings with the body axes, etc. So it all ties into one thing... not a discussion of separate things.

Best.

Mike

ChrisMoses 12-13-2006 02:12 PM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Quote:

Adam Bauder wrote:
And yet, I remain standing. :D

The meaning I was getting at is equitable to the "tone" you mentioned. I also didn't say "Total relaxation". Which, BTW, I do not equate with dead relaxation, which would be me collapsing to the floor.

thanks,
Adam

So what would you say the distinction is between "Relax Completely" and "Total Relaxation" and how do you feel this implies active muscle tone to maintain structure? (I realize that probably comes off pretty snide, but I'm honestly curious.)

Mike Sigman 12-13-2006 02:21 PM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote:
In the case of the Ki Society people (I didn't test them all, but this seems in my mind to be a fair general observation based on what I did get to feel), it appeared that too many of them thought the end-point of forces should be their "One Point" and what happened was that they didn't often appear to have the full solidity they would have had if they had understood that the body simply conveys the ground to their push, so that they are pushing the ground. Once that basic power is understood, it can be manipulated in all sorts of interesting ways.

Incidentally, Shaner Sensei was pretty good with his forces, etc., but a couple of times when he directed someone to push him harder he got caught out, just like all of us do at one time or another, and had to make slight compensation with his hips in order not to be pushed over. For the intellectually inclined, that should be enough to tell you that we're dealing with the laws of physics and not the Ki of the Universe... or that somehow these terms are being co-mingled.

Think. Experiment. ;)

Regards,

Mike

kironin 12-13-2006 03:06 PM

Re: How to teach and train relaxation
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote:
Part of my statement was based on the fact that I've seen and trained with Kashiwaya Sensei in the past and I now have something of an idea of Tohei-transmitted concepts through Shaner Sensei.


It may not make some happy I say this but, Kashiwaya Sensei as much as I respect his abilities, is hampered in teaching open seminars by the requirement that he be KNK HQ's representative in North America. KNK's expectation that everyone get on the same page means those seminars are dumbed down quite a bit (IMO) when it comes to the internal aspects. Unless you have been at smaller more informal unofficial advanced student gatherings or closed Ki Society instructor intensives, you haven't seen Kashiwaya Sensie really loosen up as a teacher and show various exercises and stuff.

Did Shaner Sensei do any Q&A ?


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