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Old 12-14-2006, 01:34 PM   #58
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,568
Re: How to teach and train relaxation

Thank you, Mike. Great post.
Mike Sigman wrote:
Let's look at how "relaxation" applies in relation to some of what people would perceive for the goal of "correct Aikido". "Relax" changes quite a bit in meaning when you have different ideas of what correct Aikido really is:

(1.) Standing there and relaxedly "grounding" the push would be something that the Ki Society or I or Akuzawa or Rob or Dan or Ushiro, etc., would approve of as a training response. Erick, if I read his posts aright, would disapprove because any resistance is "Not Aikido". Note that to be relaxed and "ground" the incoming push requires something beyond the normal vagueness of "relax". It requires knowing how to let the lower-body accept the load-bearing responsibility of the incoming force, etc.
You have me correctly. Basically, my objection flows from the premise that you do what you train to do. If you do not want to do it -- do not train to do it.
Mike Sigman wrote:
(2.) If Nage turns with the push, leading Uke off-balance and into a throw (say, Sayu Nage), this would fit into the idea of Aikido for many people, the rotational aspects would make Erick happy, not ...
Not entirely, especially if Nage's response is (quite often) to take a mere turn and make it a pull, ie. -- to shift the center against a lateral load in tension. Pulling is just as bad as pushing. Again do not train to do what you do not want to do.
Mike Sigman wrote:
(3.) If Nage turns with the push, as in example #2 above, but he maintains his "grounding" throughout the technique, he is on his way to Aikido which uses "Ki".
Alleluia. Amen.
Mike Sigman wrote:
If the active use of some ki-power/kokyu involves the shoulders, it is wrong, BTW... the use of kokyu forces is rare enough, but of the people who use some kokyu force, far too many of those add shoulder power to the usage, thus making the force not true kokyu. Here the idea of "relax" has to do with several complex issues, as is obvious.
Say on, brother!
Mike Sigman wrote:
(4.) If Nage is trained well enough, he can do like O-Sensei did ... Nage accepts the incoming force, yielding quickly but very minutely before coming back up under the incoming force.
With the caveat as to the nature of of the forces applied. Yes. Force creates centered movement vice resistance.
Mike Sigman wrote:
(5.) We can take example #4 and instead of Nage "accepting" the push of Uke with the initial yielding, we imagine that Nage feels Uke's forces and directions on contact and, without moving, simply adds combining forces that result in Uke dropping himself to the ground as he applies force to Nage. This is the highest level.
Amen and Amen except as to the "without moving" part. To apply force requires some movement. Aikido applies force, but not resistant force. If the force is perpendicular to the input, it is not resistance. If there is an oppositional component of the meeting force, then it is partially resistant. By changing the quantity of perpendicular force impinging on the input, or shifting movement from one perpendicular plane of action to another -- one can guide the input anywhere.

The real difference of our approach to understanding this for training purposes comes back to the conception of the relationship between will and movement.

If it is approached from the standpoint of manipulating the input so as "not to move" there is a will to resist movement, and thus an impediment to the immediate communication of the state of the input, by partially reducing its signal with any oppositional component of force .

If the will is to move as moved, then there is no internal resistance negating or cancelling out a portion of the input attacking movement by opposing it. It is more sensitive because the whole signal is received rather than the resisted portion being cancelled.

The necessary movement simply becomes radically smaller and smaller as input sensitivity grows higher with training. Eventually it becomes "virtual movement." The distinction between this and "no movement" approached from the "not to move" paradigm is very important.

The virtual movement state is supercritical -- highyl unstable, which I think Mike recognizes. It cannot be maintained for any arbitrary period of time, which I think O Sensei's videos offered to illustrate some of these "not moving" issues, do demonstrate.

The quantity of movement achieved is equivalent from both approaches but the vector orientations at this virtual zero are precisely reversed. That matters -- even at a zero quantity of movement -- because it is not a stable zero. It is a very, very unstable zero that requires energy to achieve from either direction, and any loss of energy (or undue additional input) will cause you to depart.

The question is which way is "downhill." What orientation does the fall away from the supercritical state take? If you train from being moved to "virtual movement" your default (stability basin) on reducing energy in departing from the supercritical zero regime is back to "being moved." If you train from "not moving" toward "not moved" your stability basin in reducing energy from the supercritical virtual/no movement area is toward resisting the movement. The one causes sensitivity to remain, the other causes sensitivity to lessen.

Let me illustrate briefly what I am beginning to see as the form of "correct relaxation" from a mechanical viewpoint. There is one simple mechanical device that almost instantly communicates changed load conditions to the whole body of the structure, (i.e. -- by moving that structure, and creating and propagating internal rotations (and moments) in its articulating sub-elements.) It is the hanging chain. In pure compression it is the catenary arch.

An arch of tangent spheres has no cohesion or bending resistance at all to stop an immediate collapse under gravity (i.e. -- it is utterly relaxed) but it has one, and only one, stable shape under its own weight where it will stand erect -- where the the line of force runs exactly through the points of contact between the spheres. That is to say, where it is "correctly relaxed."

Viewed at different scales the curve may appear more flat or more pointed, but it is the always same precise shape -- always.
Kokyu is like finding the key that fits neatly into that very narrow lock at different scales of action.

All the necessary stability adjustments in the model are tangential rotations of the joints between the spheres. All components of force tangent to the spheres at the point of contact are thus perfectly perpendicular (juji) to the only stable line of force.

Actively maintain this shape in adapting to different scales of load, and you form the correct shape of kokyu expression for that load condition. It may appear relatively flatter (tegatana "hand blade") or more pointed in shape (hiji-riki or "elbow power"), depending on the load it is responding to.

Actively disrupt this shape across the joints in four places and the body is a mechanism that is unliftable by upward pushing or where the center of mass is unreachable by pulling or pushing.

This is overly simplistic as there are other slight variations in shape that depart from the catenary (at the supports for other defined loads), but the identical line of force principle holds throughout the center portions of all of these curves of whatever shape.

When uke grabs my wrist, or I meet his munetsuki on the fly, he and I form now a single chain. If I adopt the shape of the chain in that configuration -- everything that happens in that chain is communicated to every other part of the chain. If I achieve and maintain the proper shape between us, any internal joint rotations that I create now propagate to reach him, and his reach me. Those internal rotations, having an angular momentum, can be propagated to manipulate and create other and grosser rotations in other componets of the chain to concentrate (snapping the whip) or diminish perceived forces -- but that is another topic.

Lastly, the dynamic aspect of this is the question I asked David Knowlton elsewhere about the fall of one end of a folded chain.

With one end supported, the free tip falls from the same hook, with an aceleration greater than gravity. The accleration occurs becasue of the compounding of angular momentum with mass transfer (irimi), and decreasing inertial radius (as the free portion of chain shortens) (tenkan) causes the angular velocity at the end of the chain's fall to become mathematically infinite, or to be limited only by the harmonic length of the chain, or the speed of sound in air (snapping whip) whichever comes first.

The linked chain of wrist, arms, shoulder, spine and hips cannot achive that degree of compounded momentum, but they can achieve a very great deal of it by the same mechanism, and they can act in two perpendicular component planes and three dimensions, without ever opposing the input force at all.


Erick Mead
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