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Old 04-20-2005, 10:34 AM   #65
Mike Sigman
Location: Durango, CO
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 4,123
Re: Shioda, Tohei, and Ki Things

Getting back to the idea of developing Kokyu power, I thought of the below-styled thought attributed to Tada Shihan. I also note that Tohei's instructions for ki and kokyu seem pretty vague, but added to Tohei's cloudiness was a similar obscure comment in "Aikido Shugyo" about just training and it will happen. Here's the Tada comment via Peter :
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Inaba was greatly influenced by Yamaguchi, who never divorced kokyuu training from aikido training in general. Tada Shihan, on the other hand, practised a whole load of standing exercises, which he called "Ki no Renma" and insisted that kokyuu power could come only via very intensive training. As I intimated in a previous post, Tada supplemented his aikido trainig at the Hombu with training outside.
But notice below that Inaba Sensei is fairly pragmatic in his suggestions:
Inaba Sensei wrote:
However, even if you grasp timing, if you don't focus your power or energy you cannot do anything. In the human body the area to focus power is the lower abdomen (kafuku tanden).

Power focused here is defensive power; power going out is offensive power.

How can you put forth offensive power? The first thing you have to do is to focus the power in your center. Offensive power will naturally flow if you focus your power in the center. That is forceful power (iryoku). It is a condition of focused energy that becomes center energy..... Try to use the energy in the lower abdomen. You can call this energy focused "ki" energy. If you don't have center energy, you are bluffing. Really, you have to develop this energy. The energy will flow naturally if you can focus it in the lower abdomen. If you understand this point, you will understand how to develop your body and mind and how you should train.....Drop your focus to your lower abdomen. If you do that, you'll find your center point and you will produce center energy. If your center is not developed, you won't have ki energy available to project through your fingers.

If you take excess energy from the upper body and train the lower body as in sumo wrestling, and if you train the energy of the lower abdomen, you will develop your center energy. You use that power wherever necessary.

Even though you focus the energy in your lower abdomen, you will not be able to move the energy to the area where you need it right away. You have to think about how you are going to move it. ......At the same moment you meet your opponent, you focus on your abdomen (hara) and project your ki where you need it. The result will be that you will shut down your opponent's power. I understand that as the power of "aiki."
I just wanted to point out that it's not a hopeless or obscure task to develop kokyu skills, despite the traditionally voiced obscurities. O-Sensei talked obscurely about the "gods" being involved. Some people talk obscurely about "just relax". Others offer rituals. And so on. From the descriptions, it all sounds like they're doing different things or that they have special approaches that are somehow different, but at heart the steps of all the "different approaches" are the same. I like Inaba's very direct words, in this regard.

Like the development of any skill, you start out with simple steps and go forward (Inaba has some good recommendations involving Sumo, etc., but that's not much of an option to westerners). At first there's not much there (hence a lot of people miss something without immediate and obvious results), but after a while it blossoms into something extraordinary... and within reach of some of the manipulation skills that Shioda, Tohei, and others show.

Notice above in Inaba's comments which were translated at first as "power", but then shifted to "energy". Granted, after a while this skill seems unique and powerful and mysterious enough to perhaps warrant the use of the word "energy", but "power" is an adequate-enough term to start out with. Inaba goes on to recommend:

If you take excess energy from the upper body and train the lower body as in sumo wrestling, and if you train the energy of the lower abdomen, you will develop your center energy. You use that power wherever necessary.

That comment just above pretty much sums up what is probably the best approach and the most accurate comment of what ultimately happens, in the main (there are a number of other things that get involved, but this is the important part). In all kokyu training the basic idea is that the strength of the lower body is transmitted through the relaxed upper body and the "hara" or "Tanden" area is the control point. The trick is that the upper body must be very relaxed so that the mind learns how to handle this new way of movement and to assign "paths" by recruiting lots of small muscles (and the "ki", but that's a complexity we don't need for this suggestion of how to start on the road to this skill)... i.e., you want to avoid use of the strong upper-body primary musculature so the body-mind can re-train. Inaba Sensei suggests something like Sumo, but the idea is to train in a way that uses the lower body and not the upper body... in *all* your movements. So naturally this form of movement "with the center" is something you need to do full time in order to effect the most rapid transition to true "center-powered" movement. Also, if this power is truly to be powerful, you need to strengthen the legs and hips (suwari-waza, anyone?) and you need to learn to let the power flow up not only from the legs but from the ground on which the legs rest. You don't lift anything when you use this kind of power, you push things upward with the ground.

Anyway, that's the best place to start if you're like I was when I joined Aikido and wondered what the first step should be in order to develop this odd sort of power. Go back and re-learn your movements so that every bit of the power your upper body expresses is powered by the lower body. Pretend that your shoulders have been moved from where they are to just below the shoulderblades... i.e., to operate these new shoulders you'll have to use your middle and back rather than your current shoulder muscles. It feels weird and not very productive at first... but isn't that true of most attempts to learn a new skill?


Mike Sigman
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