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-   -   Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki" (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13069)

Timothy WK 08-15-2007 10:05 AM

Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Practicing sword work has me thinking about "Aiki", particularly in light of all the internal skill stuff.

I think it's obvious that sword work can (should?) include internal skill. Just look at Kuroda Tetsuzan (I think that foot-thing they discuss around 1:50 has to involve some kind of internal movement). There's also the idea of "projecting one's ki" into the sword, such that it becomes unmovable. That sort of thing seems inherent/implicit in Ono-ha Itto-ryu.

Much of the discussion of internal skill implies that "internal skill" = "Aiki". This implies that the popular idea of "flowing" & "blending" Aiki is misguided.

But the "connecting" one can do in sword work is highly limited. Sword work definitely seems to include alot of "flowing & blending" (in that video of Kuroda, they call it "moving through the gaps and spaces in [your opponent's] mind"). Though to be fair, I think the idea of "flowing & blending" you get from sword work is slightly different from what you get in popular Aikido.

And here we must acknowledge that Takeda Sokaku was known as a swordsman before he started teaching jujutsu. Thus it seems likely that he would practice this type of "flowing & blending" strategy.

OK, so I believe high-level *empty-hand* Aiki has to involve some measure of internal skill. But if you believe that Daito-Ryu was based on sword work, or at least incorporated Sokaku's experience as a swordsman, it seems that "Aiki" would also include the "flowing & blending" idea. Daito-ryu kata, the jujutsu portion at least, does seem to involve alot of this.

The question would then be, what ratio of each makes up "Aiki"? Is Aiki primarily internal skill, or is Aiki primarily flowing & blending, with just internal support? I don't know, it's just stuff I've been thinking about.

Allen Beebe 08-15-2007 12:37 PM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Perhaps "internal skill/Aiki" and flowing and blending aren't mutually exclusive.

Perhaps the flowing and blending that can take place when one has "internal skill/Aiki" is different than the flowing and blending that folks do without "internal skill/Aiki." This would explain the varying results achieved, the disparity of experience, and the difficulty and confusion in communication.

Perhaps this could be true for both armed and un-armed circumstances seeing as a weapon most likely has no inherent "internal skill/Aiki" or "flowing/blending" contained within it.

Something more to think about anyway . . .

Allen Beebe

Ron Tisdale 08-15-2007 02:00 PM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
My meager experience with Daito ryu leads me to believe that flowing and blending may have something to do with some forms of aiki...but I think penetrating, peircing, imobilizing and who knows what else may be more appropriate to Daito ryu.

Except perhaps from a Roppokai perspective, which I have not experienced in any depth yet. Not that the other experiences were in great depth. Oh shucks...

Never mind,
Best,
Ron

Allen Beebe 08-15-2007 04:48 PM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Well yeah.

From my pre-war/post-war Aikido perspective this IS blending and flowing . . .

The blade of a sharp sword is really a wedge that is so fine that it has the ability to pierce and penetrate such that it essentially blends with its target and, if handled properly, flows. All of which can have an immobilizing effect on the recipient.:eek:

Our pedagogical progression goes from an outwardly obvious piercing, penetrating, immobilizing physical expression to an outwardly appearing blending flowing expression which is facilitated by a non-outwardly appearing piercing, penetrating, immobilizing. Both expressions are built on a foundation of internal (mental/physical) organization that determines the relative quality of performance and result.

On the Ki/Kokyu/Aiki "trick" side of things how about:

Receiving oncoming force such that it flows cleanly through one's structure and then if one chooses blends with the force generated by the recipient and is then channeled cleanly back out again.

One's ability to "flow" and "blend" in this scenario is dependent upon one's development of physical/mental organization.

Maybe it is just semantic slight of hand, but I was taught to think of these things synergistically, kind of like the paradox of a "Martial Art of Peace."

Jeremy Hulley 08-15-2007 04:56 PM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Nice Post Allen,
Thanks
Jeremy

Mike Sigman 08-15-2007 08:42 PM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Quote:

Allen Beebe wrote: (Post 186520)
Well yeah.

From my pre-war/post-war Aikido perspective this IS blending and flowing . . .

The blade of a sharp sword is really a wedge that is so fine that it has the ability to pierce and penetrate such that it essentially blends with its target and, if handled properly, flows. All of which can have an immobilizing effect on the recipient.:eek:

Our pedagogical progression goes from an outwardly obvious piercing, penetrating, immobilizing physical expression to an outwardly appearing blending flowing expression which is facilitated by a non-outwardly appearing piercing, penetrating, immobilizing. Both expressions are built on a foundation of internal (mental/physical) organization that determines the relative quality of performance and result.

On the Ki/Kokyu/Aiki "trick" side of things how about:

Receiving oncoming force such that it flows cleanly through one's structure and then if one chooses blends with the force generated by the recipient and is then channeled cleanly back out again.

One's ability to "flow" and "blend" in this scenario is dependent upon one's development of physical/mental organization.

Maybe it is just semantic slight of hand, but I was taught to think of these things synergistically, kind of like the paradox of a "Martial Art of Peace."

Good post, Allen. Like a lot of these things involving internal skills, the answer is fairly obvious, so I'll leave it for those more skilled in Aikido to answer. ;)

Best.

Mike Sigman

Timothy WK 08-15-2007 09:49 PM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Quote:

Ron Tisdale wrote:
My meager experience with Daito ryu leads me to believe that flowing and blending may have something to do with some forms of aiki...but I think penetrating, peircing, imobilizing and who knows what else may be more appropriate to Daito ryu.

Quote:

Allen Beebe wrote: (Post 186520)
Well yeah.

From my pre-war/post-war Aikido perspective this IS blending and flowing . . .

The blade of a sharp sword is really a wedge that is so fine that it has the ability to pierce and penetrate such that it essentially blends with its target and, if handled properly, flows. All of which can have an immobilizing effect on the recipient.:eek:

Our pedagogical progression goes from an outwardly obvious piercing, penetrating, immobilizing physical expression to an outwardly appearing blending flowing expression which is facilitated by a non-outwardly appearing piercing, penetrating, immobilizing. Both expressions are built on a foundation of internal (mental/physical) organization that determines the relative quality of performance and result.

Good post. I think your comments about sword work are pretty right on. That sort of thing was what I was referring to when I said that the idea of flowing/blending in sword work is slightly different from what you get in popular Aikido. The example I was thinking of was kiri-otoshi in Itto-ryu. At first glance, it looks like you're simply overpowering your opponent's cut. But upon closer examination, it's actually rather blend-y. You're cutting down a downward moving sword.

But I (think) I know what Ron was talking about, and it's not really the same thing as what one does with a sword. Daito-Ryu physically takes a person's balance and physically locks up their body such that they can't move. Even if you want to make some sort of philosophical comparison, in the practical sense it's much different.

Quote:

On the Ki/Kokyu/Aiki "trick" side of things how about:

Receiving oncoming force such that it flows cleanly through one's structure and then if one chooses blends with the force generated by the recipient and is then channeled cleanly back out again.
Yes, I believe that internal skill allows a person to receive and generate force in ways (even in flow-y/blend-y ways) that you can't without the skills... but follow me a minute.

I can see a few different ways one can blend/flow. The first is with physical momentum. This is big in popular Aikido.

The second would be... I guess you could call it mental/psychological momentum. I think you see this more with sword work, and not much in popular Aikido.

Third would be external structural flowing/blending. This would be following the weak lines of the body & form.

And the last would be internal structural flowing/blending. This would involve "feeling" where a person's structure was weak, or how they were distributing internal forces, and flowing/blending with that. For example, if my teacher feels a weakness in my structure, he can "attack" that weakness and overpower me on a "strong line". I think this sort of thing may or may not look #1 and #3, but would feel alot different.

Sword work seems to primarily involve #1 and #2, with maybe a touch of #3. Popular Aikido primarily seems to emphasize #1 & #3, with the occasional #2. But the current discussion of internal skills seems to want to emphasize #4.

So I guess I'm wondering if the current discussion is exaggerating the emphasis of internal skill in defining "Aiki". My own exposure to DR seems to suggest that "Aiki" is more like #1 & #2, and that the internal aspects simply underpin it all.

But at this point I don't want to sound like I'm taking a step backwards and saying that internal skill is unimportant. I certainly believe some measure of internal skill is necessary for high level Aiki. I guess I'm just wondering if the popular Aikido understanding is really "wrong", or if it's just incomplete.

Allen Beebe 08-16-2007 12:09 AM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Quote:

Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: (Post 186541)
Good post. I think your comments about sword work are pretty right on. That sort of thing was what I was referring to when I said that the idea of flowing/blending in sword work is slightly different from what you get in popular Aikido. The example I was thinking of was kiri-otoshi in Itto-ryu. At first glance, it looks like you're simply overpowering your opponent's cut. But upon closer examination, it's actually rather blend-y. You're cutting down a downward moving sword.

But I (think) I know what Ron was talking about, and it's not really the same thing as what one does with a sword. Daito-Ryu physically takes a person's balance and physically locks up their body such that they can't move. Even if you want to make some sort of philosophical comparison, in the practical sense it's much different.

I,of course, wouldn't deny that this difference is true for your experience. In my experience, however, there is far more commonality than difference between the ken and taijutsu. For example, taking your Itto-ryu example, the opponent's sword IS physically displaced and their body is momentarily locked up enough to allow the delivery of of a coup-de-gras. We happen to use this very form to teach how all encounters should be both mentally and physically with the opponent being defeated the moment they form the will to attack. Of course, if this can't be physically manifested it is only so much philosophical mumbo jumbo. Now, when one compares how this is achieved technically there are, as you state, similarities and differences. However, once again I find there are more similarities than difference. They both, for example, require proper discernment and use of timing, distance, generation and manipulation of power, psychological state, strategy, etc. They differ slightly in the use of physical technique, however, even here there is overlap.

So to put it simply, as I was taught Aikido, without weapons work, it would be nigh impossible to understand completely and/or achieve the level of physical mastery demonstrated by those that excel at both. The reason being that, between weapons work and taijutsu the greatest difference isn't technical or physical it is the margin of error allowable.

[Please note that I cannot speak with authority about Daito-Ryu. My teacher was initially taught Daito-ryu and received licenses in Daito-ryu from Ueshiba Morihei, but he taught Aikido.]

Quote:

Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: (Post 186541)
Yes, I believe that internal skill allows a person to receive and generate force in ways (even in flow-y/blend-y ways) that you can't without the skills... but follow me a minute.

I can see a few different ways one can blend/flow. The first is with physical momentum. This is big in popular Aikido.

The second would be... I guess you could call it mental/psychological momentum. I think you see this more with sword work, and not much in popular Aikido.

Third would be external structural flowing/blending. This would be following the weak lines of the body & form.

And the last would be internal structural flowing/blending. This would involve "feeling" where a person's structure was weak, or how they were distributing internal forces, and flowing/blending with that. For example, if my teacher feels a weakness in my structure, he can "attack" that weakness and overpower me on a "strong line". I think this sort of thing may or may not look #1 and #3, but would feel alot different.

Sword work seems to primarily involve #1 and #2, with maybe a touch of #3. Popular Aikido primarily seems to emphasize #1 & #3, with the occasional #2. But the current discussion of internal skills seems to want to emphasize #4.

Not too surprisingly my analysis is a bit different. From my experience I would say that the ken uses #2, #3, #4 and sometimes #1, but #1 usually isn't very viable with someone that is really good with the ken. Furthermore, and by now you know this is coming, I would say the same is true for taijutsu.

Quote:

Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: (Post 186541)
So I guess I'm wondering if the current discussion is exaggerating the emphasis of internal skill in defining "Aiki". My own exposure to DR seems to suggest that "Aiki" is more like #1 & #2, and that the internal aspects simply underpin it all.

But at this point I don't want to sound like I'm taking a step backwards and saying that internal skill is unimportant. I certainly believe some measure of internal skill is necessary for high level Aiki. I guess I'm just wondering if the popular Aikido understanding is really "wrong", or if it's just incomplete.

I wouldn't dare to say. I suspect it would be pointless to anyway. It seems to me that each individual has to decide and discover this for themselves and often that process of decision and discovery has many twists and turns. Sensei, dojos, and organizations can have their respective views but that doesn't mean that they are necessarily "TRUE" in an unchanging eternal sense. Certainly when one looks to the respective fathers of Daito Ryu and Aikido they followed their individual paths and were open to both challenge and change and this enabled them to grow and excel, perhaps this was their "key" to success.

That's my two bits for tonight anyway!

Allen Beebe

Timothy WK 08-16-2007 05:51 AM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Quote:

Allen Beebe wrote: (Post 186547)
From my experience I would say that the ken uses #2, #3, #4 and sometimes #1, but #1 usually isn't very viable with someone that is really good with the ken. Furthermore, and by now you know this is coming, I would say the same is true for taijutsu.

I think we're working off different definitions of "internal skill", and I think that might be contributing to some confusion. I'm talking about the ki/kokyu skills Mike Sigman and Dan Harden like to discuss. I don't see how one can blend/flow internally the way I tried describing in #4 with a sword. It requires direct, physical contact.

I also think it's interesting that you don't think flowing/blending with momentum (#1) is viable or used much. Wouldn't something like, say, ukenagashi be considered flowing/blending with momentum?

Ron Tisdale 08-16-2007 07:41 AM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Quote:

Wouldn't something like, say, ukenagashi be considered flowing/blending with momentum?
As it's done in Aikido, yes. In other sword work? Maybe not...my experience in aikido of this is that it is highly dependant on timing, awase, musubi, things like that. I personally could never get that to work with someone trained in sword.

Best,
Ron

Chuck Clark 08-16-2007 09:30 AM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
I like the feeling I get when thinking about Allen's discription of "flowing/blending"... it is similar to the picture I have of what I want to do and am doing with one addition... receiving (ukemi) incoming force by flowing/blending is great if you add the very small ripple of change in the direction of the force vector so that you end the movement on balance and the original "force giver" (attacker) feels the need and decides in their brainstem that they need an extra adjustment to get their structure unlocked and back in line and balance so that they can put out more force in my direction (kuzushi). If the connection of this flowing/blending and kuzushi has happened properly then the tsukuri part of kuzushi (jibun o tsukuri and aite o tsukuri) is really the result of the blending/flowing and joining. This must result in gaining the sente. Kake or the decisive point of the waza continues to influence/force the necessary recovery of the attacker even after the technique appears finished through zanshin. If sente isn't gained then the "flowing/blending is just dancing.

I think it is the full picture of what Tomiki Sensei called "Appropriate Fitting" or aiki.

This flowing/blending/fitting is at the heart of all high level bujutsu/budo and weapons arts of all kinds. It's there in the best boxers, I think even some tennis players show it, etc.

Sorry for the rambling... it just came out that way and it makes sense to me as one way to articulate what I feel, of course it will change...

Best regards,

Allen Beebe 08-16-2007 12:05 PM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Quote:

Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: (Post 186559)
I think we're working off different definitions of "internal skill", and I think that might be contributing to some confusion. I'm talking about the ki/kokyu skills Mike Sigman and Dan Harden like to discuss. I don't see how one can blend/flow internally the way I tried describing in #4 with a sword. It requires direct, physical contact.

Well, like I said, I haven't felt Mike or Dan. Nonetheless, from my experience, one can do precisely as described in #4 with a sword. This is particularly true when there is, as you say, direct physical contact with the ken (or other weapon for that matter.) When one can do that through an intermediary medium, using direct contact body to body is a breeze! (Kokyu joke! :rolleyes: ) I would be really surprised if Mike, Dan, Ark, etc couldn't do this (use an intermediary device as a conduit for information/force), in fact it sounds to me like they could probably do it a lot better than I can.

Now, in an effort to completely have you discount what I have to say :D , I'll also proffer that it is possible to do something like #4 WITHOUT physical contact. I'm not sure of the exact mechanism for this (therefore I won't venture to guess) which makes it rather difficult to teach without providing direct physical experience, but it does seem to work with some consistency and it is teachable. I suspect it works something rather like your #2 (if I recall correctly) but to which I would add mental stagnancy (along with your "mental inertia."). The difference being (my interpretation) that instead of using an obvious mental inertia, one can intuit a specific area of deficiency and "fill it." Of course being successful with this, or anything else for that matter, is a lot less sure the better the "opponent." [This makes me think of Shioda sensei's story of O'sensei and the Master Marksman.]

With this, BTW, I've completely stepped out on a limb. However, I think if you will look into history (particularly weapons arts) almost all refer to this phenomena as part and parcel of their modus operandi in one form or another. Whether I can really do such a thing (some times, not all the time, and not as well as I would like) is a mute point over a forum and really unimportant. What is important is, are any of these ideas (that seem to contradict your experience) worthy of exploration for you now? If the answer is "Yes" then the easy way is to find somebody that can do whatever it is you want to learn and try to learn what they have to teach or "steal" what they are willing to show. (This isn't a plug for me, BTW. There are a whole lot more talented individuals out there for sure! I hardly ever post, feel like I've already said too much (going from teetering on the brink of debatability to falling head first down the slippery slope of internet M.A. babble) and am looking forward to going back to lurking!) The harder way is to try to discover things for yourself . . . but even with a teacher one ends up here eventually anyway. :sorry:

Quote:

Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: (Post 186559)
I also think it's interesting that you don't think flowing/blending with momentum (#1) is viable or used much. Wouldn't something like, say, ukenagashi be considered flowing/blending with momentum?

I agree with Ron's post. Conceptually "Yes." In practice, however, this is a lot harder to pull off, especially with a skilled, non-compliant partner. [Sword is a rarified world. I don't think there are that many truly skilled folks and most of them probably aren't trolling in places unrelated to their art.] BTW, I think Ellis said something about everybody (most schools of Ken) having something akin to Ukenagashi but in his experience not many people can pull it off in reality. If Ellis reads this, perhaps he can comment. (And I can back out. He writes a TON better than I do! ;) )

What Chuck said!!

I especially resonated :hypno: with your phrasing:

"... it is similar to the picture I have of what I want to do . . ."

That really applies to me I think. I have pictures of 'Archetypal Images' (Exemplary Teachers) and 'Ideals' of how things ought to be done and try to pattern myself within those pictures . . . and usually fail. But there IS incremental improvement and change over time and that is as much as I can hope for it seems.

To quote a wise man: "Don't quit, and don't die.

At the same time I also realize that, "of course it will change..."
(That little piece of wisdom didn't come quickly though. In my 30+ years of M.A. practice I did my share of banner waving, teacher worshiping, and "knowing the truth." I guess the question is, what am I blind to now? :dead: )

Allen Beebe

Chuck Clark 08-16-2007 02:22 PM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Quote:

Allen Beebe wrote: (Post 186591)
At the same time I also realize that, "of course it will change..."
(That little piece of wisdom didn't come quickly though. In my 30+ years of M.A. practice I did my share of banner waving, teacher worshiping, and "knowing the truth." I guess the question is, what am I blind to now? :dead: )

We can't know what we're blind to... until we can see... and then we have to have seen and understood... and be willing to say, "I don't know." ... while still willing to keep looking for what we can't see.

Erick Mead 08-16-2007 04:32 PM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Quote:

Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: (Post 186541)
I can see a few different ways one can blend/flow. The first is with physical momentum. This is big in popular Aikido.

The second would be... I guess you could call it mental/psychological momentum. I think you see this more with sword work, and not much in popular Aikido.

Third would be external structural flowing/blending. This would be following the weak lines of the body & form.

And the last would be internal structural flowing/blending. This would involve "feeling" where a person's structure was weak, or how they were distributing internal forces, and flowing/blending with that. For example, if my teacher feels a weakness in my structure, he can "attack" that weakness and overpower me on a "strong line".

I will posit (have regularly posited) that it is not in fact four ways but one way with the four aspects that you address.

1) NOT physical momentum (m * v) -- but angular momentum (I * ω). Not the same thing. One is linear billiards and common sense 2D vector sums -- the other one is 3D or 4D "english" and spooky and counterintuitive. Works for swung swords, articulated bodies and pool balls all the same. Angular momentum is conserved -- bodies forming a system conserve angular moment as to the system such that alteration of one (almost) instantaneously alters the angular momentum of the other(s).

2) Instantaneous perception of the actual state of angular momentum can be performed analytically, but not by ordinary human brains. Intuitive sense-pattern building is the only way to grasp it in a concrete immediate sense.

3) Transmission of angular momentum through an articulated body can make a structure more coherent (locking up) or less coherent (destablizing) depending on its application and the situation.

4) AND The flip side of 3, management of angular momentum through the articulations of the body can prevent structural decoherence (rooting) or use decoherence advantageously (void or lightning).

This is the mechanical basis for what we are talking about. The psychological factors can take any shape (mythical, poetic, physical or pseudo- physical) that happens to work for the imagery of the practitioners. The practice process in grasping the use of angular momentum is fourfold along these same lines:

A) building fundamental sense-patterns,

B) heightening sensitivity to make yet more subtle sense patterns

C grasping the nature of dynamic articulation of the body in sense-patterns,

D) grasping the nature of systemic connection in sense patterns

(iterate ad infinitum)

Upyu 08-17-2007 05:49 AM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Quote:

Erick Mead wrote: (Post 186615)
I will posit (have regularly posited) that it is not in fact four ways but one way with the four aspects that you address.

1) NOT physical momentum (m * v) -- but angular momentum (I * ω). Not the same thing. One is linear billiards and common sense 2D vector sums -- the other one is 3D or 4D "english" and spooky and counterintuitive. Works for swung swords, articulated bodies and pool balls all the same. Angular momentum is conserved -- bodies forming a system conserve angular moment as to the system such that alteration of one (almost) instantaneously alters the angular momentum of the other(s).

2) Instantaneous perception of the actual state of angular momentum can be performed analytically, but not by ordinary human brains. Intuitive sense-pattern building is the only way to grasp it in a concrete immediate sense.

3) Transmission of angular momentum through an articulated body can make a structure more coherent (locking up) or less coherent (destablizing) depending on its application and the situation.

4) AND The flip side of 3, management of angular momentum through the articulations of the body can prevent structural decoherence (rooting) or use decoherence advantageously (void or lightning).

This is the mechanical basis for what we are talking about. The psychological factors can take any shape (mythical, poetic, physical or pseudo- physical) that happens to work for the imagery of the practitioners. The practice process in grasping the use of angular momentum is fourfold along these same lines:

A) building fundamental sense-patterns,

B) heightening sensitivity to make yet more subtle sense patterns

C grasping the nature of dynamic articulation of the body in sense-patterns,

D) grasping the nature of systemic connection in sense patterns

(iterate ad infinitum)

Wow...that was like the most readable post by you yet Eric...
But for some reason I definitely get the feeling you're completely missing the mark. You really should get out and feel Dan, or someone else with these skills etc etc etc <yawn>

but somehow I feel another post coming up on angular gyrotonical hip swaying.

go out feel someone with these skills then come back here and post on this subject.:rolleyes:

Erick Mead 08-17-2007 10:27 AM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Quote:

Robert John wrote: (Post 186635)
Wow...that was like the most readable post by you yet Eric...
But for some reason I definitely get the feeling you're completely missing the mark. You really should get out and feel Dan, or someone else with these skills etc etc etc <yawn>

but somehow I feel another post coming up on angular gyrotonical hip swaying.

go out feel someone with these skills then come back here and post on this subject.:rolleyes:

Etc. etc. etc. Sorry to disappoint. It's taken some time to get it that short. It's all bundled above, and I have no further need to unpack it for my own purposes -- unless asked -- unless -- you are asking??? :D

As for the rest, my approach is sound from either perspective, since I have taken the time to digest and comprehend the conceptual perspective that you and some others here take on the matter of your own practice in comparison with my own and those I have practiced with. While I have not perceived the same effort directed at my observations -- it does not trouble me at all. Beyond that I won't respond to the presumption of my experience or practical understanding merely from my interest in conceptual matters, except to relate this: 知行合一。 (I'll presume you recognize it as Chinese.)
Quote:

陽明子 wrote:
知是行的主意;行是知的工夫。知是行之始;行是知之成。若會得時,只說一個知,已自有行在。只說一個行,已自有知在。

My translation: "Knowledge is the rule of action. Action is the work of knowledge. To know is action's beginning. To act is knowing's completion. If you put this together in some moment, then speaking of knowledge alone, already your knowledge itself is possessed of action in that moment; and speaking of action alone, already your action itself is possessed of knowledge in that moment."

The principle goes both ways. Action in ignorance is ultimately no more effective or wise than 'knowledge' not acted on. And this form of knowledge in action is not really capable of shortcut, either, conceptually or practically. Kimura Sensei, a student of Sagawa in DTR (See Dan's tagline) was reported in an interview in Aikido Journal to have said that "when a person first has some inspiration about aiki, it still takes a considerable amount of time until one can execute aiki in all techniques. However, the difference lies in the performance of all techniques. [Kimura said]: 'The difference appears later since the way of progress is very different with aiki than without aiki.' " http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=242

As to the variance of my approach on the conceptual, the state of Japanese learning has not always nor everywhere been so monotonically against novelty. I've already quoted this once in another thread, but it is very responsive so I'll include this excerpt again here:
Quote:

First Steps Into the Mountains (Uiyamabumi), Motoori Norinaga, 1798 wrote:
: In life, there are many routes to pursue learning, not just one. ...
[E]ach student learns according to his preferred way. The method of learning also varies according to the intentions of the teacher and his students.
...
You should begin studying your discipline in an orthodox manner, adopting a correct attitude; in this way you will not later deviate into erratic and improper directions. In addition, your learning will bear fruit sooner if the most effective methods are clearly outlined from the beginning. This is the most desirable way to approach scholarship.
...
In any kind of study, it is easy enough to teach a method based on a set of superficial reasons, with the teacher instructing the pupil to follow this path or that. There is no way of knowing, however, whether the adopted method is indeed good, or whether against all expectations it may turn out to be unhelpful. So the method should not be forced onto a student; the choice should be left entirely to his preference. In essence, the most important and fundamental requirement is that learning be pursued for many years, sparing no effort, without ever becoming boring or fatiguing.

In this respect, any methodology is acceptable and it should not be a matter of great concern. Yet, however excellent your method of study, you will meet with no success if you are lazy and make no effort. . . .

from Nishimura, "First Steps. . . .", Monumenta Nipponica, 42:4,
Winter 1987, pp. 449 et seq.


Budd 08-17-2007 10:49 AM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
The philosophical underpinnings of learning theory can be pedagogically abstracted until the benefits inherent in learning anything can be ultimately questioned to nullification via the perspective of remote observation and commentary.

But is it sound judgement to pursue a tactic of implicit understanding without commitment of bodily engagement to uncover and underscore the inequities of methodological reasoning by statement of authority?

Mike Sigman 08-17-2007 11:12 AM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Quote:

Erick Mead wrote: (Post 186658)
Kimura Sensei, a student of Sagawa in DTR (See Dan's tagline) was reported in an interview in Aikido Journal to have said that "when a person first has some inspiration about aiki, it still takes a considerable amount of time until one can execute aiki in all techniques. However, the difference lies in the performance of all techniques. [Kimura said]: 'The difference appears later since the way of progress is very different with aiki than without aiki.' "

Kimura is correct and that's the warning that is paramount.... doing techniques without ki/kokyu skills is actually very different from doing them with those skills, even though many people can't see the difference visually because the manipulation of force vectors within your body can't be seen (it's why the Chinese refer to ki-strength as "the concealed strength").

Norinaga's comments, in comparison, are mundane.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Erick Mead 08-17-2007 01:36 PM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote: (Post 186663)
Kimura is correct and that's the warning that is paramount.... doing techniques without ki/kokyu skills is actually very different from doing them with those skills, even though many people can't see the difference visually because the manipulation of force vectors within your body can't be seen (it's why the Chinese refer to ki-strength as "the concealed strength").

Norinaga's comments, in comparison, are mundane.

Suffice it to say that Norinaga's comments, on any topic -- whatever else may said about them -- are never mundane.

I am not going to get into a jargon preference contest as any set of ideas can map onto a concrete reality in some way or fashion. As I said, whatever works, physics, poetry, psuedo-science, myth .

I anticipate the objection: "Ah, but we are talking about THE concrete reality of movement, not some conceptual balderdash." The point is you cannot separate them. One cannot really move without the mind conceiving movement, anymore than one can really conceive of movement without actually moving. Everything else is illusion. It matters not how we label it on either side unless that description is a barrier to improvement. Analysis requires more precision in description is all, which has some advantages as well as some impediments.

As to Oyomei's famous dictum, what is true of subjective knowledge and action is true also of objective knowledge and action -- any action betrays knowledge, and knowledge discerns action. Not even the mind moves without moving, because the mind is not apart from the body. The more subtle the knowledge the more subtle the action it can perceive or perform and vice versa.

That is another reason to encourage development of greater precision in both the form of knowledge (my focus here) and in the form of action (your focus here). Both perspectives are aided if we acknowledge that the form of either type is ultimately inadequate to the reality of the undivided thing itself -- but also indispensable if we are to communicate it to others.

All that is required is a process to reach progressively subtle understanding in action. For some this is traditional technique combined with kokyu undo. Because technique does not actually work properly without aiki, unless the effortlessness illustrated by proper kokyu undo (quite different from a foolish lack of effort) is being achieved in technique it is not actually fully realizing aiki.

Your school of thought correctly diagnoses two common problems in that approach -- the person does not know that technique is not actually working, either 1) because of excessive cooperation or 2) because they imagine that proper application of technique in aiki requires any significant force to apply). Both errors may present barriers to progress but there is nothing about practicing aiki in technique that makes those errors inevitable or even likely.

Just because some find a barrier to improvement in one process does not mean that it is a barrier for all or even most. For some solo kata work is preferred or predominant because they have a barrier that prevents progress when they have a partner. For some perhaps, it may be in sparring. Although I find this is antithetical to proper aikido for considered reasons beyond mere authority against it, I am willing to acknowledge the variety of human experience may make it worthwhile for some and so would concede the point. For some, movement exercises without direct martial reference may work better or be predominant, as they may have barriers because they find forms of movement restrictive to progress.

In short, it is wrong to over-extend anyone's own experience as a hard-wired template for the development of others. A point which is NOT mundane precisely because the tendency to do so is all too common and thus goes unrecognized or unquestioned. This may be one reason for the lack of detailed explanation or repetition offered by thye Founder of the art. One's own experience can only be a point of beginning to another one trying to follow.

Mike Sigman 08-17-2007 02:12 PM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Quote:

Erick Mead wrote: (Post 186673)
All that is required is a process to reach progressively subtle understanding in action.

Which process is not going to really be words on the internet, though... for one thing. For another thing, the obvious lack of success with what many westerners *thought* was traditional training (perhaps too quickly) more than strongly suggests that the perceived "process" needs to be examined. Ellis Amdur's proposed thesis about "Hidden in Plain Sight" highlights the possibility that the perceived process might have not been the real process but a process coloured by other factors.
Quote:

In short, it is wrong to over-extend anyone's own experience as a hard-wired template for the development of others. A point which is NOT mundane precisely because the tendency to do so is all too common and thus goes unrecognized or unquestioned. This may be one reason for the lack of detailed explanation or repetition offered by the Founder of the art. One's own experience can only be a point of beginning to another one trying to follow.
Oh, pooh. The elements of the ki/kokyu skills, etc., permeate Asian martial arts. The idea that this stuff is unique to Aikido and Daito Ryu is flabbergasting, given how many demonstrations of the same "ki tricks" are found in every city in Asia with a decent martial arts school. The near-mystical perspective of correct training of these basic skills and how hard it is to do is simply overwhelmed by the numbers. Following some "traditional rituals" with the idea that "one day it will come" doesn't sound very encouraging, particularly when Ueshiba himself seems to have been involved in teaching a few people the essence of these skills in only a matter of months (supposedly).

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Erick Mead 08-17-2007 03:11 PM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote: (Post 186677)
Which process is not going to really be words on the internet, though... for one thing. For another thing, the obvious lack of success with what many westerners *thought* was traditional training (perhaps too quickly) more than strongly suggests that the perceived "process" needs to be examined.

Any forum for ideas is a part of development. As I see it that is part of the examination of the process that occurs here. Obviously, you do too. I don't deny the value of examination, I just don't see that making a foregone conclusion is warranted nor that your experience of it is a valid or adequate representation of mine or others. As to the remainder of what is obvious or not, I will not try to unpack your implicit assumptions. We don't need a further 1500 post thread.

Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote: (Post 186677)
Oh, pooh. The elements of the ki/kokyu skills, etc., permeate Asian martial arts. The idea that this stuff is unique to Aikido and Daito Ryu is flabbergasting, given how many demonstrations of the same "ki tricks" are found in every city in Asia with a decent martial arts school.

So, why is everyone so entranced by the demonstration of those parlor tricks that O Sensei deigned not to teach. I do not get the impression that Sagawa or Kimura were much interested in the transmission of showmanship either. Nor am I.

Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote: (Post 186677)
The near-mystical perspective of correct training of these basic skills and how hard it is to do is simply overwhelmed by the numbers. Following some "traditional rituals" with the idea that "one day it will come" doesn't sound very encouraging, particularly when Ueshiba himself seems to have been involved in teaching a few people the essence of these skills in only a matter of months (supposedly).

Who are you arguing with? Not me, since I said none of that. Numbers? Bring 'em on baby! Preferably, the high hard ones. I like the physics, remember? Not preaching it either, just describing an approach to the mechanics. Do what works for you. I just don't discount other ways of thinking about the problems as long as they are effective. I've never felt the need to be encouraged. I don't excuse sloppy practice on that account, either.

Kimura acknowledges that there is a partial revelation of aiki that is only fully developed through further extension from some techniques and eventually through all technique as a process of progressive development that takes"considerable time." Moreover, please note that he assumes the aiki, once partially realized, will progressively be fully realized through the vehicle of technique. The tradition is not so far out on a limb here, I think.

Mike Sigman 08-17-2007 04:04 PM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Quote:

Erick Mead wrote: (Post 186681)
So, why is everyone so entranced by the demonstration of those parlor tricks that O Sensei deigned not to teach. I do not get the impression that Sagawa or Kimura were much interested in the transmission of showmanship either. Nor am I.

Er, actually, almost no one was "entranced" by what you call "parlor tricks". In fact, everyone seemed to overlook and discount them. And it cost them badly. However, now that a few people are understanding that these "parlor tricks" are actually demonstrations of ki/kokyu skills that are used in the actual martial art, I'm pointing out further that not only are these evidences of skill, but they're evidence that this stuff is bigger than just Aikido and Daito Ryu.
Quote:

Who are you arguing with? Not me,
You got that right.
Quote:

Kimura acknowledges that there is a partial revelation of aiki that is only fully developed through further extension from some techniques and eventually through all technique as a process of progressive development that takes"considerable time." Moreover, please note that he assumes the aiki, once partially realized, will progressively be fully realized through the vehicle of technique. The tradition is not so far out on a limb here, I think.
Other than hearing his name here and there, I don't really know of Kimura as a standard-bearer for anything, so I'll demur on extended discussion of his opinions.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Upyu 08-17-2007 04:53 PM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Eric:
Before you go quoting Kimura I'd go back and read Sagawa's book "Clear Power" (assuming you can read japanese)

He outlines the "progression" to develop these skills pretty clearly. And techniques are secondary. Solo training such as sumo stomping etc is stressed pretty highly. Also he was pretty famous for doing 1000 reps of pushups (and did 100 in one go in front of Kimura's younger brother, a doctor at Tokyo Univ) at a time, using them to connect his body.
No *angular momentum* junk at work.

Btw, to be blunt, Ive read Kimuras book, and while Ive heard from acquaintances that he has the skill in spades, he's a) extremely secretive(cant really blame the man at this, since he did spend over 20 years under who was considered the preeminent student of Takeda), b) he doesn't reveal jack in his book about what he's doing.

Like I said, I'd go get a feel from someone who has these skills first and establish a common baseline

Thomas Campbell 08-17-2007 07:20 PM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
BTW, I am headed away for an extended period of time, including time in Asia, pursuing a new direction in my own training that I'm pretty excited about. The discussions on Aikiweb over the past several months have been personally very illuminating and useful for my own training. There are several very dedicated, open-minded and helpful posters here whose contributions to the forum have helped clarify my own practice. Whether that clarification will result in real and significant improvements in my own skills is up to me.

I won't necessarily have ready access and definitely won't have time to peruse and post here in the foreseeable future, so I just wanted to say thanks to all those contributors whose perseverance and open-minded exploration of internal skill issues makes it worthwhile sorting through the forum politics and personal frictions that more than occasionally becloud the discussions here. Jun, thanks for making this forum available.

Best wishes for people getting out of their training what they truly seek.

Cheers,

Thomas

Erick Mead 08-17-2007 11:27 PM

Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"
 
Quote:

Robert John wrote: (Post 186688)
Eric:
Before you go quoting Kimura I'd go back and read Sagawa's book "Clear Power" ...he was pretty famous for doing 1000 reps of pushups (and did 100 in one go in front of Kimura's younger brother, a doctor at Tokyo Univ) at a time, using them to connect his body...
No *angular momentum* junk at work.

Showing only that you do not really understand what it is and what it means. One cannot perform a pushup without angular momentum being developed :D -- or any other motion involving the articulation or rotation of limbs or torso. Besides, I can find at least ten Marines age 50 plus in this town at the drop of a hat to equal that -- and I doubt they have developed aiki.
Quote:

Robert John wrote: (Post 186688)
Like I said, I'd go get a feel from someone who has these skills first and establish a common baseline

sigh. (I don't cop feels, BTW. :p )
Quote:

Thomas Campbell wrote: (Post 186696)
The preceding three posts are a rough and unedited translation by another forum member.

And much appreciated -- if ill advised... So, to respect the copyright in the original (which Jun has by now deleted in observance of wholesale copying restrictions), I will simply use a small portion -- in proper fair use commentary. This I found most intriguing:
Quote:

Sagawa wrote:
You (the Author) are always thinking about math, so you should be able to do even better work <as you go on>. The secret is in always thinking about it. The reason no one progresses or gets any better, stronger is because no one thinks. They forget about what they do in between practices. It has to become a part of your life.
(Author "Even Gauss, and other Mathematicians said the same thing.")
See! This is why you are no good. You don't do something simply because so and so said so. If you simply go through life by simply thinking you can copy people you'll never get anywhere. The only person that can do this is you. You must create your own understanding for yourself.
Take Aiki for example. There is no way to really teach this. Even if I could point at something that is Aiki I can't put it into words. You simply think you can learn everything from me, so you don't develop the habit to think for yourself. That is what divides people that are smart from whose who are not. Even with mathematics, its not as if you suddenly wake up one day able to do these things, am I right? This is the same with Bujutsu. It is about long periods of work, innovation, that you slowly over time become able to do these things.

The counterargument to the traditional approach in aikido training seems to be that its selection of waza and kokyu undo are simply not capable of functioning as tanren in the manner described by Sagawa and what he relates of Takeda. What is essential, says Nidai Doshu, quoting his father, is nen (concentration), kan (intuition) and assiduous training. I fail to see a significant difference in the technical merit of the two recommended approaches to training, on these grounds, if followed faithfully with right intention. If this intention has failed anywhere then the training has failed -- and has failed to meet what Nidai Doshu transmitted. It is not a failure in the transmission of the art, as such -- at least as compared to Sagawa on these grounds, if the intention is maintained elsewhere.
Quote:

O Sensei wrote:
In training the first task is to continually discipline the spirit, sharpen the power of nen, and unify the body and mind. This is the foundation for development of waza, which in turn unfolds endlessly through nen.

To give due self-criticism, Nidai Doshu acknowledged objective analysis in physical terms as valid in itself, but simply not a substitute for the required development of the ki-mind-body unity. I think I am fairly clear that I merely suggest the mechanics as a way to think critically about correction and form -- again in line with Sagawa's advice.

Sagawa says that kokoro is the key, an indomitable spirit. Again, little difference in approach with O Sensei. Sagawa's approach, however, clearly following Takeda, is calculated commitment. Commendable, and undoubtedly effective. Actually, coming from my critical, analytic bent, there is much that resonates with me in that perspective.

But what is different? O Sensei said Love. O Sensei's premise is that committed love is ultimately superior to committed calculation. The purpose in the practice methods of traditional aikido is directed toward that end. That practice Sagawa does plainly criticize. Uncommitted anything is nothing at all, without question. But there is a point in aikido that is not contained in Sagawa's thought nor in Takeda's, however much their teaching on commitment, innovation and constant and critical self-improvement must be applauded and followed.

Personally, I see what O Sensei meant, from the standpoint of warfare as well as conflict short of that. There is an objective physical basis to believe he was right about the superiority of loving protection as motivation in physical terms. The unification of k-mind-body flows from loving- protection in ways that nothing else, neither calculation nor rage, can match biomechanically. There is much mythic truth in that perspective, a source of wisdom ignored at peril, too, in the psychosocial arena that is actual combat. The study of combat unit cohesion tells me he was right. That doesn't mean we don't need to be just as critical and committed as Sagawa suggests. But the approach of traditional aikido training has a point beyond his intent, and which his criticism shows that he does not get or disagrees with.

Quote:

Sagawa wrote:
You must possess instant intuition. Do not become obsessed with frames or shapes. ... You must always be ready to defeat any opponent in front of you. You build upon this spirit. In the end it is about spirit clashing against spirit. This applies to everything. A person with weak will could never move hand nor foot against his opponent. A real match is about who will be cut down. If you are weak willed, you will be cut down instantly.

Un wavering will is absolutely essential, regardless of approach. But merely reacting without thinking from indomitable will to cut down the opponent and reacting without thinking from loving protection are two very different forms of intuitive action.
Quote:

Even if you train everyday all the while innovating yourself, it will take at least 20 years. Ten years or so isn't nearly enough time.
If aiki takes 20 years according to Sagawa to use reliably, it hardly seems a grave imposition to develop that instant intuition in O Sensei's mode, assuming, of course, that one gets his point about why.

If not, then by all means, carry on with my blessing and pay me no mind.


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