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Old 11-19-2006, 01:27 PM   #96
David Orange
Dojo: Aozora Dojo
Location: Birmingham, AL
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,511
Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Dan Harden wrote:
The higher levels of what your body can do are simply not natural at all. In fact they are un-natural in nature and take years to perfect.
Dan, I used to believe that about aiki. But the fact is, if something really is "un-natural" for human beings, we cannot do it at all without some kind of mechanical support. Flying is un-natural for humans. Natural for birds, but humans need a flying machine to enable us. Breathing underwater is unnatural for humans. It's natural for fish, but humans require self-contained underwater breathing apparati or compressed air tubes to send air down to us below the surface of the waves.

But anything that can be done by the human body without mechanical aid and without causing long-term damamge, but actually improving health and well-being must, by definition, be "natural".

Dan Harden wrote:
The body? Has no essential need for them and therefore no happenstance to have discovered them.
Well, how were these skills discovered, then? Were they conceived intellectually, in abstract thinking, then forced unnaturally on the body? My point is that we can only cultivate from the body things that the body is naturally capable of doing. Some of those things can be destructive, such as staying awake for days at a time or having sex with everything that moves. They are a distortion of nature. Likewise, some kinds of excessive conditioning by striking objects with the body, or certain types of breathing methods. I think you will agree that improperly done chi gung can destroy the practitioner's health. I have heard, in fact, that people who practice san chin kata tend to die younger than others. Haven't researched that, but it's always been said that improper training in internal arts can be deleterious to the health.

If you're doing a kind of training that is not destructive to the health and can be done without mechanical aids, then the most I will agree to is that it is a highly counter-intuitive cultivation of some fine skills of the body. As I've referred to wine in many posts, I'll say again that grapes sometimes ferment and produce alcohol in nature, but to produce large volumes of high-quality alcohol and keep it from spoiling, we have to go through a very careful process. Still, that does not, at any point, conflict with nature or go outside the processes of nature. It simply refines them to a very pronounced level, resulting in something not likely to be found in pure nature. Still, the grape on the vine is the source of it.

Dan Harden wrote:
Why would the body adopt them for movement in the human frame as a "natural need" in the first place, for a child-only to lose them? Did the child morph into a cucumber or a quadraped or a motor vehicle and not have the "natural need" anymore?
The body does not "adopt" the roots of aiki. They are innate. The child loses them because he loses many aspects of himself due to social conditioning. His parents always overcome his rudimentary aiki, so before he can even recognize it as a potential method, he learns that size and strength are superior and he gives up subtle methods to get bigger and stronger. And, to a large degree, he loses the ability to focus on anything except what he's told to focus on, to think about anything but what he's told to think about. But if he becomes big and strong, but has no ability to think for himself because social pressure has made him emotionally afraid, then how is he better off? In other words, the child is pressured far beyond his ability to resist, resulting in the belief that size and strength and the group opinion are more important than individual thinking and subtlety.

Dan Harden wrote:
Percentage wise, how many men can do them, even among those who have searched half their lives to find them in the first place. A child not only cannot have "discovered" these un-natural movements or body methods- by a natural process of discovery- and then lost them-they cannot have learned them in the first place.
Well, again, children do not "discover" the methods of aiki. They use them because their nervous systems contain them innately. They use them because the feel the opportunity to escape into the weak point of greater strength and they apply their whole being to the effort. What about Mikel Hamer's first illustration of the girl with the cell phone? I believe that Morihei Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei would both agree that what she did was natural aikido.

Dan Harden wrote:
It takes a greater level of concentration and mental control then they posses. And last it takes years of concentraion in interplay to develope them to a high degree with interaction.
Well, again, you're talking ultimate development--not root. If it's innate to the nervous system, but very subtle, most people will lose it because social pressure crushes their ability to perceive very fine distinctions.

Dan Harden wrote:
Followng the examples offered in the videos and descriptions- if a person thinks "leading" in front of a push or "blending" by moving and "opening your door" is something akin to what aiki is, or is anything of a high order. I wish them well in their pursuits.
Dan, I'm just not sure what it is that yo do. I don't think it's primarily aiki. What you do could be applied to any martial art, but it does not, in itself, define any of them.

What I mean about aikido is a lifetime of experience of ordinary people learning to move in harmony with others to overcome their strength and prevent the other person from dominating them.

Morihei Ueshiba began his martial arts training because he witnessed his father's being beaten by a group of people who disliked his political views. Many women began training because they didn't want to be raped. I began because I had always been small and non-atletic and had been bullied a lot by people who were stronger and more athletic.

Now let me recount some experiences. A girlfriend of mine joined the aikido class I attended for a few months. One night a guy grabbed her in a bear hug from behind. She took one step forward and bowed, sending the guy face first into the sidewalk, leaving her able to stand up and laugh at him.

A young lady trained for a few months in my class in the early eighties before moving to New York City. On two different occasions, she was "attacked" by two men at a time and in both cases, she dispatched both attackers with a single move--each time a move no one had ever taught her, but which was spontaneous to the situation and totall effective at getting rid of both guys.

A number of times, I have faced two people at once and stopped the attackers without having to fight them and without having to give up anything, including my position and my dignity. I didn't change anything for them and I didn't have to hurt any of them. In fact, in all my serious encounters since beginning martial arts, I've only had to touch someone one time.

Which brings us to another aspect of aiki--recognizing the opponent's intentions and disuading him with a single glance--as Sokaku Takeda said, "The art of aiki is to overcome the opponent mentally, at a glance, and win without fighting."

I have been very successful at that many times since beginning aikido training in 1975.

All this is to say that, along with my time in Japan as uchi deshi, I am perfectly satisfied with what I have gotten from aikido, what it has done for me, what it has done for my students and what I am able to do with it now. If I have missed anything that you have learned, it has not meant that my aikido has not worked every bit as well as I have ever hoped for. So I think you're talking about something other than aiki in these things you describe.

Not that I discount what you do. In fact, I'm still hoping to meet up with you one of these days and experience the things you are talking about. But I have had perfectly fine results from the aikido I have learned over the past 31 years and I have observe children able to do things that could easily be trained into advanced aikido if anyone recognized it in them and knew how to train it.

Hope we can get together sooner rather than later.

Best wishes.


"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"
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