Thread: Defining Kokyu
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Old 07-15-2005, 09:52 PM   #20
Mike Sigman
Location: Durango, CO
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 4,123
Re: Defining Kokyu

Rupert Atkinson wrote:
I see it this way. The exercises proabably came first and someone down the line probably thought what shall we call these? - "OK - kokyu exercises" etc, so I wouldn't get too stuck in translation of meaning.
Good start. To me, this all gets tricky because of the different levels of expertise, the different "grades" of kokyu, ki, manipulation, etc. What I think came first were skills derived from farming, repetitive labor, whatever, refined over a number of generations and added to with some combination/degree of voluntary control of normally involuntary body responses.
To me, kokyu exercises compliment the techniques. They isolate certain movements and allow us to practise simple things - coordinating our bodies and getting our breathing rhythm in order. In Goju-ryu Karate they have Sanchin kata - their form of kokyu-ho, if you like, which is of course related to Karate movement - (shameless plug - in my book, I call that kind of training dynamic tension - full power slow muscle movement). And we have ours, which are softer exercises, yet, after training for some time, we become quite poweful.
I think there's a couple of things here. Roughly speaking, Kokyu power has to do with using your middle to do things and letting your extremities (or any part of your body in many cases) act as "transmitters" of that power. But the power of the middle really comes from the ground and weight (even though some of this is referred to as "ki", real "ki" is sort of a separate topic from kokyu power... except in the ki paradigm, which is why it gets sort of confusing). If you let stiff joints or isolated normal movement get between the ground or weight and the middle.... or if you let stiff joints or isolated normal movement get between the middle and the hands (say you use your shoulders for power), you lose the purity of the kokyu power. Since different people will have different levels of this "purity", gradations creep in. Karate tends to use kokyu power combined with muscular power, resulting in a more linear/less-pure form of kokyu-power. Good Aikido is more toward the relaxed, "pure" use of kokyu power. Taiji goes for an even purer form. And so on. Who's right? Who's to say. The more subtle skills involving meshing of the involuntary body with kokyu useage anywhere in your body tend to be an aspect of "soft" and "relaxed" practice. Tohei goes toward the subconscious-weighted use/development of kokyu (I honestly don't think Tohei lets out a lot of what he does for the actual ki training). It's because Tohei approaches ki/kokyu development with that "subconscious" tinge that his Aikido might be considered by some to be somewhat different from Ueshiba's Aikido, which might be considered somewhat different from Shioda's Aikido, etc., but in the big picture I see them just as slight variations of the same basic theme.

Sanchin kata, which derives from Southern White Crane and related arts (Southern Mantis, etc.), is actually a "hard style" martial qi/ki development coupled with kokyu practice. The qi development is a hard qigong, based on the body "closing"... what softer styles would consider overkill and crimping the 'purity'. There are a number of approaches to ki and to kokyu and everyone thinks theirs is the best.
I say, and I say it strongly knowing some disagree, the power developed in kokyu-ho / kokyu-nage later crosses over to technique - to me, that is its purpose.
Actually, in correct practice, you should be developing them at the same time. That's why Sanchin, for instance is done first, before the other katas. That's why you do standing, basic exercises, etc., at least a year before you're allowed to start pure Chinese martial arts. This idea that you learn the external techniques and guess the rest seems to be for the tourists.
And if done well, aiki develops. Aiki is a consequence of kokyu-ho/kokyu-nage (in Aikido), it is not a consequence of the techniques, which in the 'beginner' form, are just mechanical.
Well, I think "Aiki" is a sophisticated and almost instinctive combination of your kokyu with the forces of an opponent/uke. First you learn kokyu and ki skills, then you learn sophisticated applications and power development which allow you to do powerful "aiki", IMO.
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