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Old 12-05-2006, 10:54 AM   #45
Michael McCaslin
Dojo: aikijujitsu, unaffiliated
Location: New Orleans
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 35
Re: opening the joints


Thanks for taking the time to consider my post, and for your reply. I've snipped out a chunk that I think highlights the difference in concepts. I think there is more common ground here than it might appear at first glance.

Erick Mead wrote:

Someone out there is stronger. Very likely sooner than later, strong as anyone may become in these skills of kokyu/jin and relying on their application in the way discussed here, you will find yourself gravely weakened and still under threat. This revelation, spoken of in a deeply personal manner by my first teacher, very much informs all my practice and all my thinking on these points.

The manner in which these kokyu skills are being offered here emphasize things and lead in directions that are quite away from the aikido described by O Sensei, taught by him, from all accounts and in the tiny unfolding package of aikido first given to me. It still opens further, everytime I step on the mat or lend my attention to the thought of doing so.


In whch case, I have failed to communicate indeed. Kokyu is a much broader tool of effective work (pneg-jin or qi gong for Mike) than its uses in aikido. Aikido also has a much broader field of action than kokyu skills. I have used aikido to more and greater effect in legal practice than in any physical confrontation.

When I do it properly, I do not evade, I do not lead. Aikido is fundamentally ukewaza. I receive what is offered, and in the spirit with which it is given. This is what my first teacher taught me, from my beginning and until quite lately now. How I receive it matters very much, but fundamentally I must receive it completely

What is advocated by some here in regard to kokyu is a facility, like flexibility developed in yoga. It is a facility in not being affected, in holding, dissipating and counterpoising offensive action against you. Daito ryu (and other arts) have developed a remarkable suite of tactics from the intensive development of that facililty. The threshold questions of rooting, grounding and neutralizing that have so absorbed discussion among us, are among the applications of this kokyu power. But hidden power is still power and power is that which does what those who possess it desire to do.

Aikido is not senjutsu -- tactics. It is, still less, mere facility in movement or intergration of body. It incoporates those things, but to say that you then have aikido is truly to have the trees for the forest. Aikido is heiho -- a strategic paradigm that commands all those other things toward a certain purpose and approach to the conflict.

Kokyu application in what I understand as aikido distingushes it from what is spoken of here. I do not exercise power, because I do not do that which I desire in the midst of conflict. I do not stop my enemy or render his action ineffectual. I do what the enemy very much desire desires, and I very much give his desire effect -- but with a twist.

It is a curious thing that most people are utterly unprepared to get just what they always thought they wanted. The conception of aikido my teachers have given of the "skills" and whole-body movement ensures that when my attacker seeks to take a part of me -- he in fact gets the whole of me -- and nothing less.

The terminology used has suggested things (stopping, "not moving", rooting, grounding, resisting) that are departing the topic of the thread, but more so, moving away from, rather than reaching deeper into aikido, as I have been taught it, and as it has come to make sense to me physically, intuitively and in my own inchoate intellectual way.
What you are hearing Mike, Dan, Rob and others say differs from what I am hearing. I don't think any of them advocate "standing like an immoveable mountain in combat." Yes, kokyu power can be used to resist a push. Learning to coordinate the body to be able to do this is an important skill. While this is an important skill, these kokyu demonstrations have little to do with actual application. Combat does not consist of "kokyu wrestling" where the more powerful person "wins."

Like you pointed out, the idea is to give the opponent what he wants with a twist. But how do we know what the opponent wants? In kata practice, we know because we are told. Since we know, we all get to experience blending in kata practice. But how do you know what the opponent wants in actual application? I believe that we can feel it through the body. The problem is, this sensitivity cannot be developed without first developing kokyu. Kokyu is how we "feel" the opponents intent, kokyu is how we absorb his energy, and kokyu is how we return it to him.

The problem with how aikido has been practiced for me in the past is that kokyu is not specifically developed as a definable skill. It's not pointed to and called out as the core of what we are trying to do. The thinking seems to be that if one practices enough it will come. I think the sample population is large enough by now to determine that this doesn't work. People will happily do the kata over and over, taking what the uke gives, and never learning to feel and adapt to the pressure of his incoming energy.

Spending time isolating and developing kokyu, while it is not actually "doing aikido" is the only way to build the bridge that leads from empty replication of the kata to actual free form application of aikido.

I think so many of us waste time with scripted attacks that don't require us to develop this essential skill.

You seem to be saying that kokyu is necessary but not sufficient to do aikido. I think that the "higher skills" in aikido can be restated in terms of kokyu, albeit used in a different way from the exercises we use to build the basics. As Mike Sigman might say it, "all jins are variations of the core (peng) jin."

I think Mike, Dan, et al emphasize the basic kokyu so much because chasing the other stuff before we have this piece of the puzzle is somewhat pointless. Once the basics are understood by most, it will make more sense to talk about the subtle applications.

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