Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement
I thought I'd add something here quickly, after a few days of thought: I had a chance to train VERY briefly with a man who took ukemi from O-Sensei, felt Kisshomaru Ueshiba in training, trained with Morihiro Saito for many years until his passing, and was Koichi Tohei's chief uke. From the stories I'd imagined him over 6 foot tall and 200 lbs, but no, a slight man with soft hands and arms, thinnish, and very friendly. And yes, he could do. In brief, he extended his hands (body leaning back if needed, back straight) and I could no longer feel where his strength was (i.e., his arms, shoulders, upper body were invisible tactile-wise). Fingers move first, he said, and it worked that way (he giving me feedback as I tried). The extension is much more than just sticking arms out though, but he emphasizes that for him he has to stretch out the arms, he cannot do aikido with arms that are not extended (has to do with breath power). Of course I had questions, so...when pressured up close, he would drop his body (while stretching up) without actually dropping his limbs. He does not apparently do any solo exercises, except for standing and breathing LOL. So it's all there. He also said the new Ki Society does not train like Tohei used to. He himself received extra training to show off aikido. He also said Tohei was the worst to take ukemi from, because you could not feel where his strength was coming from...suddenly BOOM and you were flying.
Well, so, the next night I trained with Minoru Akuzawa in Tokyo. Comparison: Ark does generate power form any position, not necessarily extended. I would say Ark does not feel the same, so there is a difference as far as I ma concerned, but not I think at a basic level, more at the power release level, in the choice of doing the transfer to the partner. Ark's aiki-age is not lifting practice, the upward motion is not relevant at all, according to him. The importance is a training of self-control wrt connection of elbow, hip, knee and the inner-body feeling. Thus, the extension, if you will, is not visible externally but takes place internally. I am not sure, but maybe the aikido of Tohei emphasizes one type of extension (which covers all 6 directions) with the breath prevalent, while Ark's training covers a different application of extension which is more a matter of flow/transfer of power across the body based less prevalently on breath. I cannot describe this yet though, nor do it, so maybe I am entirely wrong here. Maybe Rob or others who train with Ark can shed light on that point...