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Khaled 04-27-2005 10:57 PM

No Balance No Aikido
 
Hi every1
I've been told this title by a martial arts expert I met him the other day in a plane.

he was sitting next to me. he told about his 4th dan in judo and his 5th dan in karate.WOW
he dispise any other martial arts except my true love ( aikido ).

he says aikido is very complicated martial art and depanding on your balance.

what I think is ( no women no cry) :sorry:
but is no balance no aikido true?!.

I'm far from home now.
my quistion is:
how can I mentain my balance?
is there any kind of solo training helps me to do my aikido with proper balance.

thats it
and have a nice day or night what ever your watch says :D

bye

xuzen 04-28-2005 12:04 AM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Quote:

Khaled Abdullah wrote:
Hi every1
I've been told this title by a martial arts expert I met him the other day in a plane.

he was sitting next to me. he told about his 4th dan in judo and his 5th dan in karate.WOW
he despise any other martial arts except my true love ( aikido ).

Assaimulaikum Khaled,
Your friend is great indeed to have proficiency in two very good arts. However I doubt he despise other martial art, it is very unlikely word from a highly accomplished MA. I do not think it is an appropriate behaviour for someone who is an accomplished MA to be despiseful anyway.

Quote:

he says aikido is very complicated martial art and depending on your balance.
Yes aikido can be complicated to learn. But then all MA depends on balance, so it is not specific to aikido alone.

Quote:

how can I maintain my balance?
is there any kind of solo training helps me to do my aikido with proper balance.
Practice practice and more practice. And since my background is from the Yoshinkan school, I find my balance by clocking in a substantial am out of kihon waza (basic movement).

A quote from the founder of Yoshinkan school, G. Shioda Kancho, "Everything start from the basic and then return to the basic."

Hope this helps.

eyrie 04-28-2005 12:29 AM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Here's something to think about....
Pick a sequence of aikido techniques and perform it solo, slowly and forcefulIy, with low deep stances. What would that look like?

Now, do these gross movements slowly and gently with a partner. What does that look like?

Now do it at speed, with a "cooperative" uke. What does that look like?

maikerus 04-28-2005 01:10 AM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
One definition of Aikido that I have heard and really like is that it is applying all your focus and all your power at single point at a single time. Since this can best be done when you are completely balanced (or else some of your focus/power is elsewhere) then I would say that balance is key.

As Boon mentioned, in Yoshinkan this idea is practiced by paying strict attention to seiza, kamae, kihon dosa and kihon waza. Other styles have their own ways of working on being balanced and focused.

Eyrie's post also shows a way to accomplish this. As you go through his suggestions, pay close attention to your balance. As an additional point to his suggestions you might add a "do it carefully at 75% speed with a resisting uke. How's your balance then? What does that look like?" to the end.

cheers,

--Michael

rob_liberti 04-28-2005 07:06 AM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
If you stand and get totally balanced on your two legs, you cannot move from that spot. You need to have balance, break balance, and regain balance again with every step. Since I typically move in aikido, I'd say this statement is at best a 1/2 truth.

SeiserL 04-28-2005 07:58 AM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
IMHO, the basics of Aikido is blending (non-resistance) and balance (taking theirs while maintaining your onw).

Solo practice? (1) Irimi-tenkan (step and turn). Work on staying relaxed and keeping body aligned. (2) Read, (3) Generic cardiovascular conditioning, (4) relax and stayed centered in all you do.

jester 04-28-2005 08:02 AM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Good description Rob, your totally right!

Chris Birke 04-28-2005 06:17 PM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Balance can happen in motion, otherwise none of us could ride a bike.

Balance for a body is a relationship between the forces acting upon the body, be they gravity pushing you down, or another body pushing you back.

A spinning top only balances so long as it is spinning.

Misogi-no-Gyo 04-28-2005 10:17 PM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Quote:

Rob Liberti wrote:
If you stand and get totally balanced on your two legs, you cannot move from that spot. You need to have balance, break balance, and regain balance again with every step. Since I typically move in aikido, I'd say this statement is at best a 1/2 truth.


Rob,

Actually, balance can be maintained on one foot, and kokyu can be applied from there. Once aiki is acheived, one can also move on one foot, or change feet, moving in any desired direction, and with with kokyu applied, aiki is maintained. Let's explore this sometime, shall we...?



.

rob_liberti 04-29-2005 07:06 AM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
I do not think that either of us are saying incorrect things. My premise was that if you are totally balanced on 2 feet, you have to break balance on at least one of those feet to go anywhere (unless you are standing on something which moves like the pedals of a bike).

I agree that if you are balanced on one foot, you can maintain balance there as well. Now try to take two steps forwards and there has to be a point where you break the balance in that foot. I agree that you can have an overall dynamic balance, but the process is still a constant regaining of balance - or more simply a constant process of "righting" - which is a pretty good definition of aikido if you ask me.

And yes, I have every intention of going to meet you! (I'm working on a bit of rescheduling.)

Rob

jester 04-29-2005 08:59 AM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Shaun, I'm not sure I understand what you are saying. The very act of walking, running etc. is off balance. Were so used to it, that it seems like we never lose our balance when in fact we are almost always out of balance when we are in motion.

Chris, a bike has 2 wheels in constant contact with the ground, and there is no weight shift either. A top has symmetrical mass which is spinning on an axis. These 2 examples aren't the same as when we walk. The Bike and Top require Motion to make them balance.

kironin 04-29-2005 10:04 AM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Quote:

Khaled Abdullah wrote:
my quistion is:
how can I mentain my balance?
is there any kind of solo training helps me to do my aikido with proper balance.


practice
1. Focus your mind at your one-point (roughly 4 fingers below your navel or when tensing your stomach muscles, the point below the band of tension you feel)
2. Relax Completely (or more accurately - become conscious of and let go of any muscle tension that is counterproductive to what you are doing)
3. Keep Weight Underside (whether standing or sitting, imagine you are floating, if someone comes along and tries to lift part of you - all of you has to move up - don't forget no. 1 and 2 above.)
4. Extend Ki (have positive mind, positive feeling extending out in all directions from your one-point)

do the above while practice breathing slowly (inhale through nose and exhale through your mouth) while sitting upright in a chair or seiza or standing or walking.

do it daily for a year.

Chris Birke 04-29-2005 10:46 AM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Well, I have a heathens attitude on this matter. So I apologize.

Platitudes aside, people are always in motion. Our hearts beat, we breath in and out, tiny fibers within our muscles rachet, cellular processes continue...

The shifting atmospheric pressure pushes in on us, the floor pushes up, our friend pushes us over.

It's always in motion, even when you perceive stillness.

To extend this, balance is dynamic.
There is a clear difference between being balanced on a bike, and unbalanced. Or balanced upon a horse, or balanced with your training partner as you both connect in motion, or stable as they attempt to move out from under you. Even skydivers have a sense of balance (not spinning around out of control - I guess this applies to space as well, but I havn't been there...)

Balance to me isn't only about connection to the ground. Gravity is a primary force, yes, often it's the greatest one we must contend with for balance, but it isn't the only one.

I have trouble defining balance, but perhaps it is a place where you have internalized the forces placed upon you such that you can move with control. I try to think of all the examples of balance, and look for a common theme, and that's what comes to mind. It is a very dynamic thing.

And in those situations where the force acting upon you is much stronger than gravity, my sense of balance maintains that you must see that force as a new ground to be dealt with in addition to the one you were standing on.

NagaBaba 04-29-2005 01:07 PM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Quote:

Shaun Ravens wrote:
Rob,

Actually, balance can be maintained on one foot, and kokyu can be applied from there. Once aiki is acheived, one can also move on one foot, or change feet, moving in any desired direction, and with with kokyu applied, aiki is maintained. Let's explore this sometime, shall we...?



.

Let's explore more!

Once aiki is achieved, one can disappear, read in other mind, tenkaning against bullets, do levitation, all other magic things, and with kokyu applied, aiki is maintained. :D

jester 04-29-2005 02:07 PM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Learn to live out of balance and be happy! :p

maikerus 04-29-2005 11:41 PM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Quote:

Rob Liberti wrote:
If you stand and get totally balanced on your two legs, you cannot move from that spot. You need to have balance, break balance, and regain balance again with every step. Since I typically move in aikido, I'd say this statement is at best a 1/2 truth.

Rob...I'd say that's a bit of an exageration. Not picking on you, but yours was the first post to talk about balance this way.

The idea that one is always struggling to regain balance when walking and running is a common thing to say, but really only applies to toddlers who are learning to walk/run.

Perhaps a better way of saying it is that walking is constantly moving your balance. At any point in the motion of walking you should not feel unbalanced. Running is the same as is riding a bike.

Aikido should probably be the same way. Think about suriashi and how to maintain your balance while sliding forward. At any point you should be able to stop completely balanced. Pivoting should give you the same feeling. Crosstepping is also the same.

I think Chris summed it up best with the phrase "balance is dynamic". You should always feel balanced. If you ever feel unbalanced, you should probably review what you are doing and figure out why.

So, I maintain that balance is key and learning to move with balance throughout a technique is what makes Aikido dynamicly strong.

Just a thought,

--Michael

eyrie 04-29-2005 11:59 PM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Actually, I was attempting to draw a parallel between karate, judo and aikido, and how each art chooses to practice, in my example. I think it got lost somewhere in the translation. ;)

A friend of mine who does taiji in addition to aikido was fond of using taiji principles of weighting the feet. i.e. 30/70 weight distribution on either the front or back foot, depending on whether you intend to move forward or backward. Balanced movement is effected by simply transferring weight to either foot thru the knees.

otto 04-30-2005 03:08 PM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Interesting toughts as usual , I've always associated balance with a degree of control and conciousnes towards where are you moving to..

So , in light of this , you guys think we're in a state of balance/unbalance while in ukemi?

jester 05-01-2005 02:51 PM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Quote:

Michael Stuempel wrote:
Rob...I'd say that's a bit of an exaggeration. Not picking on you, but yours was the first post to talk about balance this way.

Hi Michael. I don't think he was talking about struggling to get you balance back at all. I agreed with him and that's not what I was thinking of.

The fact remains, you are out of balance. Have you ever been foot swept by a judoka???

In judo, you FEEL in balance, then suddenly your on your back.

How was this possible if you were in control of your balance?

It's because you were out of balance for a brief instance, and you probably didn't even know it.

How do you think techniques happen? Uke is being set up when he is not in balance. It doesn't have to be extreme or even noticeable on uke's part.

rob_liberti 05-01-2005 07:58 PM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
I didn't mean to suggest anyone was unbalanced... :)

Seriously, I agree with Tim. When you are walking, there is a point where you cannot un-step. Judo people sweep the leg at that moment. We also do more sophistocated things in aikido (and I'd imagine Judo does it in more sophistocated ways as well) but they are all built on simple basics like this.

Rob

maikerus 05-01-2005 09:23 PM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Rob, Tim...I am sorry for misunderstanding. However, I still don't get what you're talking about.

<sigh>

I agree that in walking there is a point where you can't unstep. Sure. I suggest that if you can slide along in your movement then that point is a lot smaller. When I watch my teachers, I don't see them look at all unbalanced. They also don't lift their feet off the ground (or at least not noticeably) when they move.

Since this thread started with the question of how important balance was, I thought the suggestion that we should be balanced half the time (or unbalanced the other half) because we're moving didn't really cut it, which is how I interpreted Rob's post.

As for being foot swept by a judoka...no. But my ankle's been bruised from them trying ;)

It's a joke, jeez. Not a challenge :)

--Michael

rob_liberti 05-02-2005 07:57 AM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Maybe an example would help. Consider the case when you are taking ukemi for say iriminage - not so much when someone is doing the low-level yank around, but the more sophisticated version where you feel like you are falling into a void. Taking that kind of ukemi, you have at least three main reflexes at play (the yank around causes other things to happen which can confuse the matter). You have your righting reflex which is getting a bit tricked by a skilled nage - but works to get your shoulders perpendicular to your spine (which should be tilted and lengthened by the nage). You also have the anti-gravity reflex which is why you stick your foot out when you are falling forward, and you have your placing reflex which is why you step back and to angles when you are falling backwards or to the side when your balance is committed to the front leg and you are out of balance. (I'm not doing justice to these, but I hope you get the idea.) The anti-gravity and placing reflexes are complimentary antagonistic (like how your bicep is a bending muscle which is complimentary antagonistic to your tricep which is an extending muscle). Anyway, that is the basic way we move. It has to be a constant state of righting.

In aikido, we get into people's balance through diagonal vectors into the uke's shoulders (and then indirectly their hips). If the nage is a bit more skilled, they can more directly do it from their hips. When the nage is much more skilled, they can do it much more indirectly by leading their partner in such a way that they are naturally unbalancing themselves to continue their attack or maintain their safety.

The line where a human (pretty much any biped who's body conforms to the devine proportion) can be most easily unbalanced (using the least amount of energy) is the line you would imagine drawn through their anus to naval. In shiho nage, the way you are unbalanced up travels up that line, and when you are thrown it travels down that line. The same holds true for a kotegaeshi although it is much more subtle (I know that lots of people perform the lower-level (meaning higher energy required to perform) version where they do a wrist crank to only force loss of balance traveling down the line - but you have to start somewhere!).

In iriminage, I would suggest that the skillful nage will lead you into a a situation (by stepping off line when you are fully commited to the direction of your attack which is I'm sure where Tim was going, but I'll take this further..) where they can get their hand fully attached to the back of your neck so as they twist and extend that arm like the natural turn-over your right hand does when cutting diagonally out with a sword. Since the bottom of their hand is well fitted to the base of uke's neck, and does not break connection with the twist, the uke's righting starts getting lengthen and tilted such that their righting reflex works against them - tricking them into chasing the direction of the technique in an attempt to restore balance. That also works up the line from anus to naval. Of course in iriminage, many things are happening at once. The nage's leading arm (the one between uke's elbow and shoulder) starts retracting a bit like a punch. That leads uke's direction a bit down and in towards where the nage continues to have just been - down that line of balance from naval to anus - which engages both the anti-gravity reflex and the placing reflex - out of synch with the righting reflex. Lastly, since the majority of uke's body mass would be feeling more extended up and out - as compared to the relatively smaller amount of body mass in their attacking arm being lead in and down the nage has to step back away from the direction set by their extending and twisting hand on uke's neck just enough to keep all of the forces in balance and continue to lead. The uke's balancing mechanisms work against each other to the point that the next most natural thing to do is to try to restore balance by depending on an outside source (like gripping more firmly on the rung of a ladder when you and the ladder are falling away from a building). The moment nage feels that connection, the nage simply bends their legs more and uke wonders how they ended up so close to the ground. That line is also why nage has to readjust their direction to be in synch with uke at the bottom of the technique so that they can lead uke's head back up to nage's shoulder as the nage simply steps back and leaves their arms expanding away from their hip (which is performing the back step). I agree that this is more difficult to do with an uke who stops their attacking momentum unnaturally. That's why I'd say no attack - no aikido, but no balance 1/2 of the time is pretty much required for aikido.

All I do these days is work on taking ukemi such that I maintain my safety and honestly of the attack in such a way that I continue to improve my posture and thus my dynamic balance. But, if I were not unbalanced at all while attacking, the attack would have no power unless the nage attacked me first (making them the uke!).

Rob

maikerus 05-02-2005 09:40 PM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Rob,

I think I see the misunderstanding (on my side). I was only thinking of shite and not the fact that you would be unbalanced as uke when you are thrown, controlled or whatever.

Your description of iriminage makes 100% sense. As do your explanations of shoulders/hips and how to use the line of uke's body to affect their balance.

I don't agree when you say that uke is unbalanced while attacking. I agree that uke becomes unbalanced, but I think that unbalance is because of what shite does to control the situation.

One person told me along time ago that in Aikido shite's job is balance and uke's job is unbalance. As I've progressed through the years I have discovered I totally disagree with that statement. I believe that both shite and uke should try to be balanced, but it is shite's job to extend uke so they become unbalanced.

This is probably more of a pet peeve of mine which I jump on whenever I see it because of the aforementioned comment about shite strives to be balanced while uke tries to be unbalanced. Since I don't agree with that and I have had several senior teachers shoot that theory down I tend to overreact.

Sorry about the misunderstanding. Thanks for taking the time to explain where you were coming from.

cheers,

--Michael

rob_liberti 05-03-2005 08:02 AM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Hi Michael,

Quote:

I don't agree when you say that uke is unbalanced while attacking.
Well, I think we are just clashing in pet-peeves then. I have had people walk up to me - in range for me to just blast them in the face, stand all totally balanced, then slowly bring their hand up to do a shomen at my head and then wonder why I have to completely change my position to do an ikkyo like thing instead of a normal shomenuchi ikkyo.

There is no martial honesty in ignoring the fact that you have just walked into the range of the person you want to attack and they are suppsoed to not take advantage of that because it's your turn to be the attacker and their turn to be the responder.

Anyway, once we decide it is a bit pointless/fruitless to train that way, we are left with more dynamic situations, and that's really where I am hoping to explain my point of view to you. The way I see it is that I move forward and change the angles (so that they are not 100% in my center vision) and take them in as they attack. Certainly they have to move from a state of "total balance" to "dynamic balance" if they want to hit me or grab me period since I am not suffering from narcalepsy. The way I understand "dynamic balance" is that they are losing it a bit and recovering it quickly. In fact, I believe O-sensei made some statements to that effect like 'I am not centered all the time, I just recover it more quickly than the attackers' - although I think the source is word of mouth from Saotome sensei and relayed from his students (coming from people who teach entire seminars in how "center is balance"). I train to take advantage of those moments, and I claim that you are supposed to do that in aikido and probably judo and karate as well. Otherwise, how do you ever get into the proper position?

Quote:

One person told me along time ago that in Aikido shite's job is balance and uke's job is unbalance. As I've progressed through the years I have discovered I totally disagree with that statement. I believe that both shite and uke should try to be balanced, but it is shite's job to extend uke so they become unbalanced.
We are totally on the same page regarding this. I think the people making that statement were maybe trying to oversimplfy things. My teacher tells people to always keep your hands in the center-plane of your body, and then proceeds to do techniques where he violates that rule - because that's how he teaches. The point is that I think you have to teach to some basic level, and let the people with more experienced eyes see what is appropriate for them without confusing the majority of the class. He confirms that by walking around and showing and explaining more individually to those who he thinks wouldn't get confused.

Rob

maikerus 05-04-2005 02:17 AM

Re: No Balance No Aikido
 
Hi Rob,

It looks like we're saying the same thing with different words.

My triggers are just up against certain phrases that invoke "incorrect" images to me even if they mean the same thing. My own cross to bear...Once I get past that then what you say vibes with my understanding.

cheers,

--Michael


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