Mike Haft wrote:
One thing that interests me is that the misogi Tohei did at the Ichikukai (spelling?) basically seemed to involve making one so physically exhausted that you had no choice but to do the technique in a coordinated 'internal' way with relaxed power. Your muscles simply wouldn't listen to you otherwise. I can recall my teacher seeing one of my sempai being too physical during randori practice, his solution was to make my sempai do a handstand against a wall and from that position do 20 pressups, after this of course the guy couldn't use his arms properly and so his kokyunage improved.
Could it possible be that the internal skills displayed by the prewar uchideshi such as Tomiki simply be due to the severity of the training at 'Hell's Dojo'? I recall hearing a story of one deshi in the Kobukan being able to push an iron nail into a lump of wood using only his thumb. Could that be it or a part of it? Could it be that Ueshiba never actually explicitly taught internal skills at all but they were fostered by the severity of the early Kobukan training environment? Perhaps aided by hints and tips and the careful observation of his students?
That's an interesting question, Mike.
Specifically with regard to prolonged nikkyo as one indication of training severity . . . back on 11-26 in the "Non-Compliant Ukemi" thread, Ellis Amdur wrote:
"I believe that Ueshiba, pre-war,taught in a way that ukemi itself was a means of learning internal skills (Shioda describes Inoue continuing nikkyo long after he and Shirata were frantically tapping - I think this was all about teaching the redirection of forces through the body)."
Exhaustion as a training tool in Chinese martial arts and karate . . . often it's justified in terms of "forging spirit," but the student also needs to learn to move more efficiently, use proper alignment, breathe . . . just to endure and persevere.
Today we're a lot more verbal and explicative in trying to reverse-engineer these internal body skills . . . which suits a "modern" learning style, and helps guide practice and motivate . . . but is no substitute for hands-on feeling and diligent solo practice. During the Kobukan era, it seems like Ueshiba Morihei was simply teaching in the same manner he learned (from Takeda and others), by doing.
Just some thoughts.