Gernot Hassenpflug wrote:
Mike, I hope this isn't a tangent. But most of the JMA people who've displayed skills haven't been particularly large fellows - Ueshiba was reputed to have been very strong, but Shioda doesn't come across as a weighty man, nor does Sagawa (nor Abe Seiseki or Kuroda Tetsuzan, but I am not sure how "good" they are compared to the well-known guys). Akuzawa is pretty strong in the lower body, and you've mentioned the CMA people being very big there too. Do you think this is a variation/specialist use of the body that is making a difference here, or more simply a matter of us seeing the good people when they were already old and had lost a lot of muscle mass? (maybe in Japan although one can add and use extra muscle if one has the movements correct, it wasn't needed and emphasis was on technique, particularly sword?)
I dunno, Gernot. I think a variety of factors enter here. In a lot of ways, we could say that the use of jin and ki-development is a sort of trick that gives you strength without requiring bulk and it utilizes highly efficient body-mechanics. So a person who is "not too physically big" only tells you something if you instinctively relate "strong" and "bulk", the way most of us automatically do.
The big thing is jin, in terms of a rapid advantage. If you know how to manipulate jin, even rudimentarily and with the addition of a lot of muscle, you have an advantage that the uninformed can't understand very well. This is a key point.... the reluctance to show people how to do the ki/kokyu things has to do with not giving away the edge to just anyone. Notice that Ueshiba famously didn't share how to do these things except with a very select few, and even then, I'd bet he kept a number of the skills to himself.
There are some pictures of some Chinese guys with "qi skills" that I think of. A surprising number of them are skinny (although an appreciable number can be bulky, too). The real ki skills can be thought of as necessarily tied to the type of fascia development done through breathing, beating the body, stretching (yes, that's almost definitely a part of the real Yoga tradition, Japanese dance, etc., etc.), and so on. If we make a sort of general comparison of the "fascia" as related to a piece of rawhide (the semi-translucent scraped raw hide that is stretched, for example, over the head of a drum), we can intuitively understand that for the toughest rawhide, we want a range-fed steer, not the plump, grain-fed family pet that live in the feed-yard. Fat in the tissue weakens the ki/fascia structure, so the really strong guys are almost always unusually thin, by most comparisons. It's that type of thinness that enters into the equationof what you're asking. Old age, deliberate thinness, etc., etc., is a question I often have when I'm trying to evaluate some "old master". Are they just atrophying or are they exhibiting the deliberate thinness of some of the qigong/martial practitioners who have sinews like steel?