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MorpheusNSC 01-20-2006 11:55 PM

VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
I just started aikido training, and I already have a question. :freaky:

We've only had one class so far, and we mainly covered lots of very basic things like stance, position, some movement, and some initial technique-lets that will be built into real techniques.

My question, though, is about pivotting, of all things. We learned the tenken circle-step, and another pivot which I don't know if there's a name for, where you basically reverse your position. For instance, if you start out in left kamae, you rotate around your center and pivot on both feet 180 degrees, still maintaining left kamae but facing the opposite direction.

Sensei instructed us to pivot by slightly lifting our heels and turning on the balls of our feet, and this seems to be pretty consistent through what I've read.

I'm practicing it that way, but I find it infinitely easier to maintain balance, center, and control if I pivot *on* my heels instead, lifting the balls of my feet slightly.

Because of some joint-construction issues (I was a crooked baby :D ), I'm used to having to do things differently some times to balance myself and align my center, but pivoting on my heels rather than on the balls of my feet seems more drastic.

Apart from correctness of technique, would I be looking at any particular problems by heel-pivoting?

Thanks, all!

Jorge Garcia 01-21-2006 01:54 AM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Hi Nicholas! I think that it does make a difference which way you do it. It has been shown in general theory that your balance is better the way your Sensei says than the way you want to do it. Often, when we are beginning, the Aikido way of doing things seems odd and feels strange. Its like when someone says, "Why can't I step instead of slide?" The answer is that in martial arts, it has been shown that sliding the foot is more efficient and in keeping with other movements, if we slide instead of step. If I were you, I would try as hard as I can to do what my Sensei says, no matter what the reasoning otherwise may be. If he sees at some point in the future that you have a physical problem, then I am sure he will recommend an adjustment but at least you will have learned the "standard" way and you will understand that he let you do that differently because of a physical defect.
There are two seemingly contradictory principles in play here. 1) is that you can do almost anything you really want to do if you want to badly enough. For example,the man with no legs can get around if he wants to badly enough. The blind can make their way around a city, even though they can't see.
2) In order to do that, you can make unusual adjustments to make up for your deficiency. It must first be proven though that you really can't do it the first way.
Best,

Adam Alexander 01-21-2006 03:49 PM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
What a refreshing question!

Although I'm no expert, I'd add a little. My position is that a Sensei is a guide--he or she isn't necessarily telling you "it must be done exactly like this." It's more "this is the direction, make adjustments to make it work."

I've found lots of little lessons in the whole "ball of the foot" thing. It's worth investigating. If you're "crooked," you still have a center of balance--it's a spot that might be a little off from the same point in others, but it's still a distinct spot. I'd think that your body might appear off balance to the average person by compensating for some personal peculiarity, but your Sensei will be able to tell.

Very refreshing. I hope I added to this exchange. Keep in mind if you use my advice, that this might not apply to your situation. It's just been my experience.

Best of luck.

asiawide 01-21-2006 09:12 PM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
If you pivot on your heel, you may lose your balance easily if somebody push you back since your balance is on your heel. Basically your feet must be adhere to the mats always. Apparently it's NATURAL to pivot on your heel. However, it's not natural in aikido. :)

Jaemin

MorpheusNSC 01-22-2006 10:04 PM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Thanks, all, for the helpful perspective on the issue. I'll be sure to let you know it goes, especially after our next class meeting.

Amir Krause 01-23-2006 08:09 AM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
The way I have learned to turn in Korindo Tai-Sabaki, is on the heals.

If one learns to turn correctly (Korindo way), this way is more stable, since it is easier to bend the knees and keep a lower center of balance while turning on the heals. Going to the hills should be done without shifting the center of weight backwards. And at the higher level, the turn should be performed while all the foot slides on the ground.

Amir

roosvelt 01-23-2006 09:41 AM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Quote:

Nicholas Corduan wrote:

Sensei instructed us to pivot by slightly lifting our heels and turning on the balls of our feet, and this seems to be pretty consistent through what I've read.
:
:

Apart from correctness of technique, would I be looking at any particular problems by heel-pivoting?

Thanks, all!

Your sensei is right. Ball-pivoting is correct way.

bratzo_barrena 01-23-2006 10:20 AM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Nicholas,
some instructors teach pivoting on the heels, others on the balls of the feet (it would be actually on the "balls" under the big toes). I teach pivoting on the balls because that's a more balanced way of doing it.
Try this. Walk fast or run on your heels, then walk fast or run on the balls of your feet. Feel the difference in balance, you'll find that you have more balance walking on the balls of your feet than on the heels. So its a matter of balance.
When you are new, seems easier to pivot on the heels, that's because you're not "lifting" the wieght of your body to pivot (you don't use your calves muscles) so the weight, goes from the heels right into the ground, so you feel lighter and faster. But balance is really poor. Even more if you make several pivots.
When you pivot on the balls of your feet, you're actually slightly lifting the weight of your body, using the muscles of the calves, so you feel heavier and slower, but with practice you'll get used to using your calves muscles to carry your body weight, and you'll be able to turn faster and most importantly, with good balance.

I tried to be as clear as possible, but English is not my native language. Hope you get the idea.

Bratzo Barrena
Instructor
Aikido Goshin Dojo
Doral, FL

Mark Freeman 01-23-2006 11:15 AM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Quote:

Roosvelt Freeman wrote:
Your sensei is right. Ball-pivoting is correct way.

As you can see from other posts there are more ways than one to achieve a similar end.

Where I train, emphisis is given neither to the balls of the feet or the heels, but to use the foot as naturally as possible. When one walks, both the heel and ball are employed, usually in one smooth motion.

We train to change direction by shifting weight from one foot to the other, lifting and turning the 'light foot' and putting it back down on the ground, shifting weight again. Hence no reliance on either the ball or the heel.

I have tried all three ways, and for me the heel puts me way off balance, swiveling on the ball can be reliant on the amount of friction between skin and surface, so lifting the whole foot and turning works best for me!

So Ball-pivoting is 'a' way not the only correct way,

Regards,

Mark

roosvelt 01-23-2006 11:47 AM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Quote:

Mark Freeman wrote:

We train to change direction by shifting weight from one foot to the other, lifting and turning the 'light foot' and putting it back down on the ground, shifting weight again.

You don't even know how to make a turn correctly.

Lyle Bogin 01-23-2006 01:42 PM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Stay on your toes, I think, is a good guideline while you move naturally. The full foot turn is good for some movements too. When I used to do a lot of sparring, seeing someone on their heels meant I could go for a leg kick, sweep, or even a knockdown strike to the chest since they are already falling backwards a bit. Also, when doing "ki exercizes" I dunno what my "ki" is doing but if I stay with my weight sunk into my toes/ball of the foot I pass all of the tests.

Pivoting on your heels will seem easier to most people at the beginning because you remove the ankle and toes from the movement. This means less parts to coordinate, and less weight being supported by the calf. After many pivots it will feel more natural, and your mobility and stability will improve. You can speed up the strengthening process by doing calf raises, always followed by a stretch.

Mark Freeman 01-24-2006 04:23 AM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Quote:

Roosvelt Freeman wrote:
You don't even know how to make a turn correctly.

You obviously have a problem my friend, in that you read something and completely disregard what is being said and retort with your own 'bias' opinion.

The fact that you say what you say is proof of that. I was trying to explain that there is more than one way of doing some things 'correctly' And that I had tried a number of different ways, and had found what works best for me.

And you tell me I'm wrong..

I must remember to talk to my Sensei tomorrow and explain that what he does after 50 years in Aikido is suspect, because "he doesn't know how to turn correctly" I doubt if he'll pay much attention. :D
Which come to think of it is what I should have done with your post. :blush:

Regards
Mark

rottunpunk 01-24-2006 04:43 AM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
heyo. i agree with mr freeman.
teachers are there to advise on standard and tested methods.
however, everyone is built differently. for example i have to adapt my forms slightly from the standard version because im short and light compared to most of the blokes in the dojo. however, i only do this when he advises me on whats best after seeing that the original way doesnt work (im not confident at always finding my own way yet as im just a novice)

martial arts are a sbjective thing that still try to find a standard way so as to keep order and not loose teachings of their founders.

theres a guy in iai who has balance problems and has to adapt his waza quite dramatically in order to make them work for him and so as to not fall over.

i would try moving on the balls of the feet a bit longer until you get used to the mechanics of aiki. it could be that your body is just not used to moving in such a manner. however, if it causes pain, complete lack of balance or risk of injury, stop and ask your teacher te best way.

i have a question to add to this thread myself if thats ok.
doing irimi tenkan etc, i keep getting told off for pointing my toes in whilst doing the step forward. i can see the logic in that if done quickly one can risk going over on the ankle. however, it hurts and i find it harder doing it with the foot straight. its the wrong kind of 'hurt' and 'harder', as my foot naturally moves toes in when i step forward due to a knee injury in the past. it put pressure on the knee if i try to step with the foot straight, then i cant tenkan smoothly.
forgive me if i have answered my own question already. but any advice would be greatly appreciated. ive tried explaining it to my teacher and my problem with tight muscles but he doesnt seem to want to listen.
:p

ian 01-24-2006 05:12 AM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Many aikidoka have bad knees (in fact I had some knee pain from incorrect aikido). Therefore be careful!

Interestingly the heel or toe problem is also something which seems to be contraversial in tai-chi.

As per health. I changed the way I do irimi-tenkan based on my new chief instructors advice and found I had less knee problems. Just ensure that your knee is not twisted! i.e. the hip joint is ball and socket, whereas the knee joint is really only a hinger type joint. Thus your foot should always point the way your knee is pointing. There is no risk of going over on your ankle if you start practicing slowly and then (in a matter of weeks) do it fast. It is far far more stable, very quick, and does you no damage.

Do irimi tenkan very slowly and step in turning your foot the other direction. Your hips should be quite flexed by now (both knees and feet pointing inwards like one of those karate stances). You then bring your leg round behind you but NEVER over reach with the leg. i.e. the front heel should point towards the back heel.

Thus, I would agree with Mark above (i.e. the whole foot is used) and I would say to Deborah that I agree that martial arts are adapative and (not wanting to 'stand on her Sensei's toes') that if it hurts it's wrong and that I forsee knee problems!

The benefit of using the ball of foot rather than the heel for turning is that it is more difficult to misalign the knee and foot. Also, Ueshiba can be seen to raise his rear foot onto his toes in some video footage. Also, most martial artists (including boxers) would tend to emphasise the use of the ball rather than heel.

From a practical point of view I'd have to agree with Gozo Shioda (Book: Shugyo), in that the floor outside the dojo is not flat and keeping contact at all times with the floor can sometimes be difficult or a hinderance. Despite some advanced aikidoka from my past telling me to always keep contact with the floor, this is not always supported by the aikido of Ueshiba who sometimes can be seen to almost leap around an uke. I think the contact with the floor view comes more from the necessity to draw your centre (back, down or forward) once the connections with uke has been made.

roosvelt 01-24-2006 02:00 PM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Quote:

Mark Freeman wrote:


And you tell me I'm wrong..

I must remember to talk to my Sensei tomorrow and explain that what he does after 50 years in Aikido is suspect, because "he doesn't know how to turn correctly" I doubt if he'll pay much attention. :D
Which come to think of it is what I should have done with your post. :blush:

Regards
Mark


Yes, you're wrong.

Don't talk to your sensei, show him/her what you wrote and ask him/her if your understanding of his/her teaching is correct.

" We train to change direction by shifting weight from one foot to the other, lifting and turning the 'light foot' and putting it back down on the ground, shifting weight again."

It seems to me that you haven't turn your body yet.
At what point, do you turn your body in your description? Did you forget to write or you didn't when to turn your body?

Janet Rosen 01-24-2006 07:49 PM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Quote:

Deborah Bell wrote:
i have a question to add to this thread myself if thats ok.
doing irimi tenkan etc, i keep getting told off for pointing my toes in whilst doing the step forward. i can see the logic in that if done quickly one can risk going over on the ankle. however, it hurts and i find it harder doing it with the foot straight. its the wrong kind of 'hurt' and 'harder', as my foot naturally moves toes in when i step forward due to a knee injury in the past. it put pressure on the knee if i try to step with the foot straight, then i cant tenkan smoothly.

As one knee-damaged person to another: If your overall body mechanics are sound--that is, your hip, knee, foot is aligned well--then clearly you have found what works for your disability.
A student who is sufficiently motivated to find ways to safely adapt, due to a physical limitation, in order to be able to continue training seems to me like a student who merits encouragement.
Of course I'm biased on the subject :-)

Mark Freeman 01-25-2006 06:31 AM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Quote:

Roosvelt Freeman wrote:
Yes, you're wrong.

Don't talk to your sensei, show him/her what you wrote and ask him/her if your understanding of his/her teaching is correct.

" We train to change direction by shifting weight from one foot to the other, lifting and turning the 'light foot' and putting it back down on the ground, shifting weight again."

It seems to me that you haven't turn your body yet.
At what point, do you turn your body in your description? Did you forget to write or you didn't when to turn your body?

You have a long way to go, the more certain you are that you are right, the longer it's going to take you to get there :rolleyes:

Trying to describe physical movement in text is difficult, it's hard enough for students to pick up what is being demonstrated when they are sitting watching and listening.

Nothing I say will convince you, so I wont bother!

Mark
p.s. I am not going to take your sage advise as to how I should deal with this matter with my Sensei, thanks all the same :rolleyes:

roosvelt 01-25-2006 11:00 AM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Quote:

Mark Freeman wrote:

p.s. I am not going to take your sage advise as to how I should deal with this matter with my Sensei, thanks all the same :rolleyes:

Too pround to ask your own sensei for advice?

jonreading 01-25-2006 11:17 AM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
I teach new students to walk with a natural step; that is what runners refer to as a, "heel-toe pushoff." Essentially, natural walking mechanics begin with pressure on the heel, then rock to the "ball" of the foot underneath the big toe, the step is completed with pressure continuing to transfer on the big toe and eventually transferred off the foot through the big toe. I would hestitate to say that walking/running/turning on your toes is "natural," and I would support that by simply inviting you to stand on your toes for a period of time. Eventually, your calf muscles would tire and you would be inable to continue to stand on your toes. Conversely, it would not be difficult to stand on your heels for a long period of time as no muscle use (except balanceing) is required to perform the action.

Similarly, I have choosen to teach new students that the pivot should not interfere with that step, and to pivot on the heel and "grip" the floor with their toes. This is similar to some karate styles. I consider pivoting on the heel to be a basic step and very neutral in movement. It may not be the "best" choice, but then again that choice is for my students to decide for themselves.

I have noticed that when students become familar with the movement, they can incorporate pivoting on the toes. I have seen many weapons arts that include a weight distribution over the toes and pivoting on the toes. In any case, as a point of balance, the pivot should take play directly under your center of balance; a gyroscope will not stand unless its center of mass is over the pivot point.

I ultimately have choosen to use my heel to pivot in my circular movements. I made this choice because I was regulary separating and breaking my toes due to a "sticky" mat surface.

bratzo_barrena 01-25-2006 11:49 AM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
to John Reading,
John,
one should not turn on the toes, of course you'll break them, they're not strong enough, one turns on the "ball under each of the big toes". That ball is just a bone that projects down, especially when one points his toes up. This balls can easyly support the weight of your body and they become the pivot point, and dont worry, point your toes up, so you don't risk breaking them and/or getting them stuck on the mat.
standing/turning/waling on the heels makes you have a very poor balance and/or be easily to get unbalanced for another person. The balance on the these "balls" is much, much better and more difficult to brake for another person.
In the begining turning on the balls under the big toes is harder, because you're using more joints (angle) and mucles (calves) to move you body, so requieres more coordination and effort, but with practice one developes the coordination needed to do it correctly (as in any other technique, you train to coordinate your body)
Turning on the heels generates just poor balance and is just not right, we're doing aikido here, and BALANCE is one of its key principles.

Bratzo Barrena
Instructor
Aikido Goshin Dojo

MorpheusNSC 01-25-2006 11:50 AM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Just to clarify a few things that may have gotten lost in translation... First, I am definitely doing as Sensei instructs and practicing it that way, because I understand the importance of obedience to an instructor and of respecting his years of experience and expertise.

Second, when I speak of pivoting on my heels, I certainly don't mean to suggest that I lift the rest of my foot upward and loose all contact with the ground except for my heels, wheeling around like I'm on the stubs of my legs with no feet at all. I only mean that the heels are the center of the pivot.

The reasons that seems helpful to me are (a) the construction of my legs places the balls of my feet of typical allignment with the rest of the leg and body, so using them as my balancing point requires some odd contortions of my hip and knee joints; and (b) I have next-to-no mobility in my lower ankle joints, and perform most pivoting action actually with my tiba and fibula. (Don't try too hard to figure that one out. :) )

At any rate, I am continuing to practice the ball pivot, hoping that training might lead me to finding some new muscles and tendons and call into action that might end up helping out. Thanks again for all your various perspectives on this, and I must admit a little regret at the hostility that the question seems to have brought out of some.

bratzo_barrena 01-25-2006 12:01 PM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Nichola Corduan,
if for medical reasons, you find hard to turn on the balls under the big toes, is one thing. But the correct anatomical way tu turn is on these balls not the heels, for a person who has no physical limitations or problems.
If one has any physical limitation or problem that forces him/her to modify the correct way is ok, but realice that is for your especific situation.
I know that there are many different ways to do thing right, but taht doesn't mean everything is right. There are also ways to do thing wrong.
If possible practice pivoting on the balls under the big toes. That's the right way

Bratzo Barrena
Instructor
Aikido Goshin Dojo

jducusin 01-25-2006 12:04 PM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Welcome to what will hopefully be a rewarding and lifelong addiction! :D

My own understanding of the reasoning behind pivoting/performing a Tenkan movement on the balls of your feet instead of the heel is that this is the only way to consistently keep your weight predominantly forward and thus maintain proper balance and extension throughout the turn. (You'll find as you progress that a great deal of your Aikido practice will deal with exercising a means of being able to maintain your balance and rootedness even while moving or starting and stopping movement quickly.)

So this only makes sense when you place this particular movement in the context of an actual Aikido technique, which of course would be performed in response to an attack (the Tenkan is not an end in and of itself, but often forms the opening or middle of a technique leading up to another kind of movement used to subdue an attacker). If one tries to perform the pivot on their heel, they are forced (just by virtue of one's body positioning) to let their body weight rest back towards their rear (which can ultimately put you in a precarious position should your attacker try to push or pull you off balance while you are performing a Tenkan); keeping your weight primarily forward throughout the turn not only keeps you in this more balanced state but also lets you maintatin martial readiness/the ability to react quickly (ie. turn to face your attacker) in the event that he or she tries to resist your technique. There is at the very least a half-second or so of time that is lost if you have to shift your weight forward in order to react, and though it seems like just a short period of time to regain your balance and momentum, this may make the difference between you being able to react quickly enough to strike back or avoid getting pulled off balance or struck yourself.

Hope this helps!

roosvelt 01-25-2006 02:00 PM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Quote:

Nicholas Corduan wrote:


At any rate, I am continuing to practice the ball pivot, hoping that training might lead me to finding some new muscles and tendons and call into action that might end up helping out. Thanks again for all your various perspectives on this, and I must admit a little regret at the hostility that the question seems to have brought out of some.

Glad that you'll follow your sensei's instruction.

While ball pivoting, try different unweighting method, i.e. up unweighting and down unweighting. At beginning, you can
exaggerate the up-down and down-up movement to get the correct feeling.

Don't worry about the hostility between the two Mr. Freeman. Their hostility has nothing to do with your thread. They seem to enjoy poking each other's eyeballs anyway.

Mark Freeman 01-25-2006 06:00 PM

Re: VERY Basic Footwork Question
 
Quote:

Roosvelt Freeman wrote:
Glad that you'll follow your sensei's instruction.

While ball pivoting, try different unweighting method, i.e. up unweighting and down unweighting. At beginning, you can
exaggerate the up-down and down-up movement to get the correct feeling.

Don't worry about the hostility between the two Mr. Freeman. Their hostility has nothing to do with your thread. They seem to enjoy poking each other's eyeballs anyway.

I have just returned from speaking to my Sensei, and he advised me to walk away from this madness on both the heel and ball of both my feet, as naturally as possible, while I still have my eyballs intact. He also said that I should learn when I am out smarted, and retire gracefully while I still have a shred of dignity and sarcasm left. :p

To anyone who has read this thread through, I'll leave you to make up your own minds.

regards

Mark


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