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Old 02-20-2006, 11:35 AM   #54
Mike Sigman
Location: Durango, CO
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 4,123
Re: Possible Ki & Kokyu Workshop

Well, I don't normally get into the post-mortems, but in this case, since I vaguely discussed this with a few of the Aikido people there (I don't have all their names in front of me, but Brent Danninger was one of them), let me toss out a couple of thoughts.

The Austin workshop was not really Aikido-specific and there were people from Taiji, Xingyi, Bagua, Aikido, karate, (and maybe a couple of other arts), but I usually don't particularly pay attention to who does what art. And that's the point of why I'm throwing in my 2 cents.... I watched objectively to see in my mind how much I would change the Austin workshop if I was going to do an Aikido-specific workshop. I dunno if I'd change too much. Not that I couldn't do a far more Aikido-specific workshop, it's just that I limited myself (this time; often workshops are quite different) to what I considered were the basic, most important things that I would have wanted someone to show me, regardless of the shiney baubles I sometimes go into. And those very important things were, in my mind, applicable to all the styles that were there. Well, wait, I did throw in one bauble, but it only took about 15 minutes.

I don't get much into styles or protocols in these kinds of workshops. In fact, I don't consider that I "teach" a workshop; I "show what I know about how to do some things" in much the same way that someone shares his knowledge at a carpentry workshop. So the workshops tend to be linear progressions that start with the assumption of zero-knowledge of qi/ki things and then develops stage by stage, building on the previous 2-person exercises, until they get very sophisticated (in relation to the starting point).

Jin/kokyu things are, in my opinion, the most difficult things to learn because they take a deliberate recoordination of the body/mind in order to source forces naturally in a way that is different from what we've practiced since childhood. In fact, since there is a contradiction with our normal mode of movement, it's the part that many people never get because they can't accept the enormity of the changeover and really make the effort. So we started with that and moved forward. Most people were able to do and understand some cute usages of jin/kokyu, being unmoveable, returning jin to the source, manipulating jin/kokyu in relation to incoming forces and putting the resultant force in empty spots, etc.

Along the way, we worked on the ki/qi things and the exercises to develop it without muscle. Of course, since this was a new topic to most people there, all we could do was establish the basics and explain how to continue developing it. The "bauble" I did just for fun, was one of the emitted qi exercises (I'm not a big fan of these things, BTW) that gives a fairly startling ability to the practitioners. But you had to be there to appreciate that one. Also, just for fun and since I use a bokken for my personal workouts, I reviewed how all the basic concepts we covered could be practiced with a bokken workout (in regard to ki and kokyu).

We ended up on Sunday doing a number of nage-uke-type standing drills of reacting to incoming forces, exploring how and where the incoming forces could be neutralized (as a lead-in to techniques, etc.) into various "empty" holes, returning of jin at various angles, etc. And despite the fact that this was not Aikido-specific, it was pretty close to what I would consider material I would want to do at an Aikido-only workshop. You can't do *everything* at one workshop, so it strikes me that you want to show what are the most important things on the first shot and we were fairly close to an ideal curriculum in my opinion. Of course, some of the attendees may have different opinions... I just was happy enough about the total curriculum that I thought I'd throw that in.

At the start of almost all workshops, I ask everyone to put their hands on my chest and push me away from them. The reason I do this is that from their push's purity of jin, the amount of shoulder usage, the feel of extra power from the dantien, etc., I can judge pretty closely what prior ability they have, if any, and I can adjust the workshop accordingly. The vast percentage of the time, there is little prior skill. If nothing else, someone *may* have a little ability to play with jin/kokyu strength, but since they still mainly use their shoulders for movement, the ability is obviously quite limited. Later in most workshops, I go back around and have everyone push me and, sure enough, their pushes are vastly improved. One of the things that tickles me is that invariably there will be a few people who, once they get the knack of how to do a few things, suddenly remember that they already do a lot of these things in their own practice.... which of course explains why they were pushing me with muscle and arms at the start of the workshop.

But it was pretty fun. I didn't go into a lot of techniques this time, nor did I do much in the way of how to hit, release great power, etc., etc. I did what I considered most important and for once I feel better that I didn't confuse the issue (as, sadly, I've done in some other cases) by injecting the bells and whistles that too many people want to focus on prematurely.

Anyway, that's *my* take on it.


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