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Old 08-14-2006, 04:28 PM   #19
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,618
Re: Rhythm/Speed/Musubi - How they work

George S. Ledyard wrote:
I definitely think you and I are on the same page here...
Ki musubi is about reaching out with ones attention and "touching" the opponent. He, of course is doing the same thing and the coming together of the two attentions creates musubi. In an objective, scientific sense one can always talk about "timing" because one is looking at an interaction from outside. But that isn't what O-Sensei was talking about, I think. When he talked about these issues he was talking about how we experience them subjectively.
There are all sorts of analogies. A rigid rod moves linearly as much on one end as on the other , and is incapable of moving seprately from the other -- thus musubi -- which observaiton underlies the partner jo practice that we in ASU are familiar with. Non-linearly e.g. -- rotation -- the connection is not so clear from the movement itself, but the connection is undeniable all the same. If you oscillate it around the center just right, like the pencil trick when you were a kid, it can even appera to be flexible and rubbery, But that's a trick of perception. Musubi is not a rigid rod, either. But the trick of conscious perception may be onto something worthwhile

In real live conflict we are talking about complex energy states -- kinetic, biochemical, electromuscular. I brought up the issue of symmetry-breaking and chaotic rhythm illustrated in the dripping faucet. In this case, I am working through what I do not believe to be analogy, but of actual physically demonstrable connection between the energy states of two people in musubi and lack fo such connection between the energy states of people as to whom musubi does not exist.

Studies on the chaotic dynamics of signals in the brain have shown that wave-like synchrony and coherence exist at significant physical scales. The phased wave packets observable through EEG appear to be non-local in nature, having, in essence, field-like properties encompassing the central nervous system as a whole. These wave packets propagate on the order of nearly 30 inches of space at velocities of 60 ft/s, and are capable of fundamental changes of state within 5 ms. The study found no upper limit to the spatial progation of thes wave forms within the neural system. They are not readily explainable by means of neural network models. The rate of change of the wave state exceeds the typical firing rate of individual neurons by nearly an order of magnitude. (~40-60 Hz, or 25-50 ms per synaptic discharge) See

That is not as spooky as it sounds; tsunamis travel are giant waves (inches high) travelling faster than airliners, but the individual water particles that oscillate as they pass do not approach within two orders of magnitude of that velocity. They travel thousands of miles from their origins, barely perceptible, until amplified by external conditions.

These wave states show up also in the neural system as a whole (and by extension in the neuromuscular kinesthetic sensory system also), and are believed to function on the stochastic (chaotic) background "noise" of the nervous system as a whole via chaotic atttactor models.

If you like this chaos stuff -- you know what I mean. If you don't -- I will boil it down shortly.

Studies on improving postural sway in balance-impaired patients involving stochastic resonance (random noise vibrations) attempted to amplify balancing signals with vibrational noise below the consciously perceptible limit. The success of these experiemnts indicated that similar chaotic, stochastic amplification processes exists in the neuromuscular system as well and that the neuromuscular system can make use of subsensory inputs.
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Doing this completely shifts how one experiences time. Things start to slow down, much like how you see things when you've had an accident and you can see every detail of an interaction which actually took a couple seconds. It comes impossible for the opponent to move separately from you, to create that gap that gets him ahead of you in order to strike some opening. No matter how fast he comes, you feel like there's plenty of time to move, no feeling of having to hurry. Total relaxation of the mind and body is essential for this to happen, mental tension will make this impossible to do.
If we posit the wave-like propagation of neuromuscular activity as thee studies suggest, at speeds exceeding the firing rate of neurons, upon contact uke and nage form one system of neuromuscular wave packet propagation. Neuromuscular informaiton below the perceptible limit is capable of provoking useful feedback -- as in the postural studies.

And what is kuzushi but the inverse of good posture.

If nage is tense or intent on a particular action, he provokes a neuromuscular cascade. He is inputting signal that, by definition, since it is a conscious act or intent, is above the perceptible limit and thus drowns out his own chaotic noise background. It is that "random" background (it is not really random, but chaotic, not the same thing at all) that provides stochastic resonance amplification of faint neuromuscular signals from uke at the moment of contact. Almost literally like a 5 ms or so modem handshake connection.

Even preparatory intent will send signals at or even just below the perceptible limit that will interfere with the stochastic amplification the body's background neural noise is capable of employing to utilize the subsensory inputs from uke.

Since we are capable of using neuromuscular signals below the perceptible limit to provoke feedback for postural balance, they ought to be avaiable for utilization to the now integrated uke/nage sytem. In chaotic systems terms, the combined uke/nage system has now two attractors uke's wave state or nage's wave state. More overt signal may increase the amplitude of the interaction, but only the noisy chaotic subsensory inputs determine whether the combined system is, literally, centered on uke or nage.

Since it is the subsensory signal that is driving the chaotic system, if we remain relaxed, we are not creating our own overt "signal" to drown out the internal background noise that amplifies the neuromuscular signals uke is contributing to that immediate connection.

If we can enter the conneciton without generating "signal" of our own, and train to act as innately as possible upon those subsensory cues at the moment of contact, we are most clearly engaged in ki musubi and are working in aiki.

I can imagine some experimental observation of paired EMG's to see if demonstrable coherence is acheived between the two neuromuscular systems when some trained participants are able to report musubi in their interaction. I need to talk to a neurologist acquaintance of mine and see if this is worth trying some time.
George S. Ledyard wrote:
People talk about getting kuzushi instantly at the moment of contact but this is very difficult, if not impossible if one hasn't established musubi before the movement ever started. ... When you start to be able to see this, you realize that the folks who can't place their attention "inside" your attack and connect with your center, are always a bit late in their response. Normally I find that I can hit them at will or at lest, they can't take my center on the moment of contact and they end up in danger of being reversed.
Huygens Law says that for wave propagation through an arbitrarily sized opening, say a door or window, it does not matter where in the space or room beyond that aperture the signal is actually being generated. The signal, to the observer on this side, comes entirely from the door. Thus, almost instantly upon contact, and through that very narrow aperture, I have all the signal of uke's neuromuscular state that I need for my neuromuscular system to adapt -- unless I am drowning it out with too much signal of my own.
George S. Ledyard wrote:
I have a variety of ways to get people to project their attention. One that works well for students of all experience levels is to give the students shinai. One student will start in seigan and then move through all of the various kamae in sequence (order doesn't matter). The other will look for the mental opening that would allow him to attack. ...
Anyway, the visualization of already being inside the attack with your mind is very powerful. You definitely start to experience things differently and many of the principles that O-Sensei talked about start to make sense. At least that has been my experience and I can see it making a marked difference in my students.
The purpose for these modes of thinking, is to provoke ways of approaching the material that are fresh, applicable and accessible. I suspect mine may fail on the latter point somewhat. But this line of thinking gives some concrete foundation to what may too often be seen as airy spookiness.

And musubi is not that at all -- it is exceedingly concrete. Ledyard Sensei's musubi is about as concrete as I have fetlt, in every sense of that expression ... His instruction in a seminar last year provoked this line of thinking for me, particualry on figuring out how to understand and access the subsensory aspects of musubi. He repeatedly was catching me out doing things subconsciously, PRECISELY THE SAME THINGS that I catch my students doing at a more rudimentary level. That was a watershed for me on this topic. Clearly, I had some inkling of something I was doing wrong, although not consciously so, and thus was subconsciously disposed to perceive that same error in my students -- and this is the important point -- most clearly when I was PERFORMING UKE FOR THEM.

The thinking on neuromuscular coherence underlying musubi has made me also start thinking about kokyu principles and the mechanism by which the (I hesitate to say "forces" because that gets us into a too-linear model -- structural dynamics is better) structural dynamics at play -- both within nage to produce the kokyu, and within uke to produce the kuzushi as well as in the musubi conenciton between them.

I'll discuss a little of my current interest in this area later, although I am not as far along in looking these issues yet as I have gotten on trying to suss out the musubi thing.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 08-14-2006 at 04:41 PM.


Erick Mead
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