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Jeff Tibbetts 04-07-2003 09:41 AM

Focus on the Fingers
 
Sorry about the corny subject title, I didn't mean to do that.
In our last practice, we were experimenting with something very interesting, and I wanted to share it with everyone and see if you've got anything to add. We started focusing on our fingers for Ikkyo pins a while back, but now are trying it for different techniques as well. At first was simply a test, when you are pinning someone, you try to think first of the energy or momentum going through your index finger and then the uke tries to resist. Then you switch to thinking of the pinky, instead, and Uke resists again. What we learned from that was that the index finger "felt" stronger, but was less effective. If the pinky was focused on it felt like they weren't trying to hold you down so much, but yet it also made it so that the nage didn't feel as much resistance at the same time. That stuff was pretty cool, but the really cool stuff happened last practice. There were only a few of us there on a Saturday morning, but our instructor decided to try and test the pinky focus on some normal, basic techniques. The same thing, first you think of the index fingers, do the technique, then switch to the pinkys. It felt totally different to both Uke and Nage. In all techniques that we tried (tenchinage omote and ura, shihonage, shomenuchi ikkyo, and a couple others) there was a marked difference in the feeling of force, aggression and other factors. The same basic thing happened as with the pin. Focusing on the index was more physically forceful, more difficult to execute, slower, and made you feel like there was more of a fight and less blending. Pinkys gave you a feeling of flow, calmness, and control. Watching a group try both ways revealed very interesting body language to support this. We talked a bit about the body mechanics involved with this, and why it might make such a difference.
Has anyone done any experiments like this? Do you normally train with any focus on your fingers extending Ki, or just do the motions? If you do focus on a finger, which one? I encourage everyone to try this out if they haven't already, I know I'll be thinking more about it as I progress.

Chuck Clark 04-07-2003 10:12 AM

Re: Focus on the Fingers
 
Quote:

Jeff Tibbetts wrote:
Has anyone done any experiments like this? Do you normally train with any focus on your fingers extending Ki, or just do the motions? If you do focus on a finger, which one? I encourage everyone to try this out if they haven't already, I know I'll be thinking more about it as I progress.

Jeff,

Good stuff, try this as well. Coordinate that intent of energy focused and extending in very specific direction with the same thing in the toes. If fingers and toes are coordinated, most likely the center (the whole structure) will be doing what you intend to achieve the maximum effect.

It's really just a method of developing "Ki, Ken, Tai Ichi".

I also really like the idea of considering your practice as an "experiment in a laboratory."

Doug Mathieu 04-07-2003 01:54 PM

Hi

One of the Sensei's in our area talks a lot about using the thumb and making sure whatever direction your energy should go means your thumb should be pointing in that direction too.

We also train with our fingers mostly open and extending energy through all the finger tips.

Regards

Jeff Tibbetts 04-07-2003 03:17 PM

Douglas,

We pretty much train with fingers open, as well. Actually, I don't know that we ever really talked about what to do with the fingers much, but I'm sure we will now. We still deal with extension, but mostly on a mechanical level (an arm, etc.) Actually, the thumb thing came up when we were talking about Shihonage, my instructor was saying that he was taught to essentially stick your thumb in your center in that initial hand turn-in. I've never heard of it being used in other techniques, I'll bring that up!

JW 04-07-2003 08:05 PM

I have never had a class that specifically dealt with altering "finger focus" like this. However, I have ALWAYS been told that grabbing or holding is done with strength in the pinky, index finger, and tegatana. In other words you squeeze with the pinky-side of the hand, and relax the index finger area.
This has been told to me about bokken as well as taijutsu.

I am sure you have heard this before as well, but I think it is interesting that the art (across more than one style in my experience) seems to be "aware" of what you have discovered, in some way. Although, not many people seem to have experimented with it first-hand as you did. It sounds like you have hit on something that is built into the art deep down--yet we mostly had not realized it. I look forward to playing with that, thanks!
--JW

Misogi-no-Gyo 04-09-2003 01:14 AM

Well, actually...
 
Having received specific instruction on this during my studies with Seiseki Abe Sensei, I tend to focus on this topic during my intermediate training sessions.

There are three specific fingers of focus, each one a different key point one would use depending on which manner you are attempting to express a particular technique.

The three key fingers are:

Thumb (Tenkan)

Pinky (Irimi)

Middle (Kuzushi, both straight up and down)

There is specific relevance to particular KI lines, and Kokyu circles. These can be specifically demonstrated during the proper display of the Funakoki-no-Gyo ("rowing the boat") exercise. When understood, a person can then develop applications towards techniques.

Additionally, the execution of specific combinations, for example Thumb (forward)-Middle (up)-Pinky (back)-Middle (down) - direction relative to Uke & ground - would be the developed application for one type of Katatedori Sayunage. As one begins to become adept, the timing between the first and last focal point is less than .25 seconds.

The Yonkyo point under one's own index finger is the focal point for Ikkyo pins. Pins should not depend upon pinky, as a grab may not always be possible depending on the situation.

We might consider from the above posts that much more can, and needs to be said about the importance of this lost (relatively) understanding so that we may all move forward in our path of seeking O-Sensei's Aikido.

Jeff Tibbetts 04-09-2003 08:32 AM

Thanks Shaun. That was precisely what I was looking for. That all makes quite a bit of sense, but I feel like I don't really understand it on an intuitive level. Are there some particular exercises that I can try this out on? I know you mentioned a couple techniques, but I'm thinking... "try to focus on the middle finger here, then switch to the pinky here." Also, what exactly do you mean by Ki lines and Kokyu circles. I can think of some things, but could you expand on that a bit?

Thanks

Misogi-no-Gyo 04-09-2003 01:10 PM

Quote:

Jeff Tibbetts wrote:
Also, what exactly do you mean by Ki lines and Kokyu circles. I can think of some things, but could you expand on that a bit?

Thanks

Although not simple in nature nor in understanding, simply "speaking", KI moves in lines and Kokyu moves in Circles. If you think of the "direction" that your partner is moving, you can draw a line that would follow it. Now using that line, you can intersect it (center/tanden) at a right angle, or move along with it at a parallel. Kokyu (breath power) moves in concentric circles at 0, 30, 45, 60 and 90 degrees relative to the ground (in both directions, left/right & forward/backward). Much of this can be seen only when slowed down to 1/10 speed, but is the internal components of the "aiki" used within aikido techniques.

If you are ever in NY, come look us up and ask your questions on the mat.


Jeff Tibbetts 04-09-2003 07:22 PM

Quote:

Shaun Ravens (Misogi-no-Gyo) wrote:
Although not simple in nature nor in understanding...

If you are ever in NY, come look us up and ask your questions on the mat.

I guess I should know better than to ask a complex question and hope it's got a simple answer. Sorry about that. What I should ask, instead, would be if there were some exercises I can have my Dojo try out next practice that would give us insight into that concept? We've been having fun with this, so I was hoping to augment that with some tips from you wonderful people.

And about NY, that would be nice but I'm totally broke, and New York is a long way from here... I occasionally get out to DC because I have family there, but I don't pay for those tickets. Thanks though.


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