Alex Megann wrote:
Mike's mention of "standing" intrigues me - I have only limited experience of the Chinese arts, but Kanetsuka Sensei went through a phase about fifteen years ago, when he had come through the worst of his serious bout with cancer, of doing some exercises which I've never seen elsewhere in Aikido. One I think of (in my ignorance of its real name) as "holding the circle": standing with the arms out at chest height, fingertips touching and palms facing the body, and the heels held a little off the floor. He also taught an exercise he always refers to as being Chinese in origin - swinging the arms from shoulder level down to a little behind the hips, while letting the heels rise a little with each swing. At that time he would have us do both of these for twenty minutes or more.
Standing-post exercises are thought of by a lot of westerners and even a lot of Asians as some sort of Chinese ritual which is superfluous to actual practice. Or they think it's a mind-calming "meditation" where you "get in touch" with yourself and the universe. It's actually necessary training if you're ever going to get anywhere with ki/kokyu things. The problem is that you have to know how to do it... just copying somebody's posture won't do you much good, although it *will* build your ki somewhat, despite yourself.
However, there is martial standing practice and there is standing for "health". In the health-type standing you simply relax, but it's important that you understand how to shift your source of power to your hara (and that derives its power from both the ground and your weight). The idea is that standing develops your ki, which is true because it does, and if your ki is strong then the acupuncture circuits through your body get better ki flow and therefore you can improve your health (and if you have cancer worries, that's why you do standing exercises). Martial standing and qigongs are a little more sophisticated and even though they may look exactly the same as a health standing-exercise, they are a lot more involved. In health standings, the mind is deliberately shut down to allow the cerebral cortex or whatever to strengthen; in martial standings, deliberate kokyu extensions are held, so the mind can be said to be "focused" as opposed to "empty".
The things your teacher led you through were for health, but they can also develop some ki. Bear in mind that ki and strength are inextricably intertwined and so anyone who simply lifts weights (or works out in a dojo) will have more ki than someone who does no exercise... i.e., don't think of ki as apart from normal life. However, deliberately cultivated and conditioned ki can do some odd things... and that's the level we're talking about in these discussions about Shioda, Tohei, O-Sensei, etc.