View Single Post
Old 03-16-2007, 10:17 AM   #1
Ecosamurai's Avatar
Dojo: Takagashira Dojo
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 557
United Kingdom
Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

Hello all

I've decided to post this thread here in this forum despite it being of direct relevance to aikido and only about aikido. I've done this because I suspect it may take on a lot of stuff from outside aikido. I'll leave it to Jun to decide where to put it, but I'd ask him to wait a week or two and see how it shapes up before moving it.

We've heard a huge amout recently about Chinese martial art internal principles, MMA training methodologies and how all of this is either 'missing' from aikido or that aikido would benefit from having it added, regardless of whether it was there in the first place or not.

I'll start with this:

From:- Book of Ki: co-ordinating Mind and Body in Daily Life
By:- Koichi Tohei
ISBN 0-87040-379-6 published 1976

Page 89-90

Tohei Sensei, referring to his return to Hawaii:
"After 10 to 15 years had passed, however, I was shocked at what had happened. Most people only practiced aikido techniques and forgot Ki Development. In Japan when Master Morihei Ueshiba was alive, he always talked about Ki, so everyone thought about Ki. But after his death, people not only became unable to understand Ki but also ceased using the word. Techniques became incorrect and if a strong man held most students, they could not move him. If it were left as it was Master Ueshiba's aikido would become merely formal techniques. I suggested establishing Ki classes at Aikido Headquarters."
.......later he writes
"My request was not granted, but I was granted permission to start Ki classes outside of Aikido Headquarters"

That was the birth of the Ki Society.

Of all the exercises practiced by the Ki Soc and those whose organisations are derived from these teachings, perhaps the most well known and also the most misunderstood is the unbendable arm.

Sorry to drag you into this again Ellis but in another thread you mentioned Tomiki doing the unbendable arm (though he didn't call it that obviously) with some judoka. Also corrected my misinterperetation of what you said later in another thread. Anyway, suffice to say, unbendable arm when done properly should be not just unbendable but immovable to anyone except its owner basically what Tomiki did to those Judoka. At a beginning level it is about people learning not to rely on physical power in order to prevent someone bending their elbow. At the higher levels it involves having people try to bend your wrist and fingers. Not only that but your arm should not move (well not much) when tested. Beginners often find that they can keep their elbow or even their wrist from being moved/bent but that their arm flies all over the place in response to the testers application of force. Later this should not happen.

I've often, during a demo I've had to give found that new guys (in one such demo it was a bunch of judo and ju jitsu guys) really try to bend the arm as hard as they possibly can. In order to do this they sometimes place my wrist/hand on their shoulder and place both hands on my bicep so that they can apply more of their body wieght. This of course does nothing to improve their chances. If I am coordinated and extending ki and have proper weight-underside then all they actually suceed in doing is pulling my (rather bony) hand or wrist harder and harder into their own shoulder/collar bone etc.. They find this position strangely uncomfortable after a while and stop doing this

Koichi Tohei often said: "No unbendable arm, no aikido". Whilst his teaching methodology differs from the way the Founder taught aikido, he was nonetheless a careful observer of his teacher. He is often misconstrued as being dismissive of the Founder in an interview he gave to aikidojournal where he says (paraphrasing): 'All he ever taught me really was to relax'. When you consider what it is that Tohei Sensei has spent his life doing I cannot think of higher praise for his aikido teacher than saying that.

There are many other such exercise within the Ki Society derived training syllabus, all aimed at developing 'internal power'. I noted that in this thread:
Chris Moses mentioned that he thought that Ki Soc 'tests' didn't actually teach you how to do these things but rather assesed how well you'd developed these skills without actually explaining how to do them. With the greatest of respect I don't think this is true. I think that that says more to me about the way you as an individual learn than anything else. I know because I was the same. Whilst constantly being told to 'use weight underside' I would be screaming in my mind 'BUT HOW???? YOU HAVEN'T TOLD ME HOW!' I later figured out that they had and that I just hadn't noticed because I was a product of an education system where things were spoon-fed to me more often than not rather than a place which encouraged me to look for things on my own. I'm not saying that things were the same for you Chris but your comments struck a chord with me and sounded awfully familiar. I have however seen too many people able to do these things having had no other instruction except in the usual Ki Society derived format to believe the methods to be ineffective, though I'll admit that they may not suit everyones style of learning.

I personally would hope this thread promotes careful consideration of the aforementioned 'internal skills' so much debated of late, and also that Tohei devloped them in the context of aikido training and in accordance with aikido waza AND the ascetic practices he saw his teacher doing on a regular basis.

I do not believe external principles and training methods need to be bolted on to aikido to make it the art that the founder practiced and intended us to have, I do believe that people like Dan and Mike have valuable insights into training methods and practices which may be different to regular aikido practices, and methods but may be aimed at acheiving the same ends. I noted for example on page 72 of the above mentioned book there is a picture and description of an exercise that Mike Sigman has described elsewhere around here (afraid i can't find it just now, sorry), though Mike was talking about it in a different context and as an exercise used in Chinese internal training IIRC (again, sorry I can't seem to find it). I also note that much of what has been described by Mike Sigman in concerns to developing pathways involves exercise similar to Tohei style ones, but usually (based on film footage cited and descriptions he has given) involving different aims and emphasis, I notice that the knees in the CMA stuff tend to be bent more and the feet further apart.

I would hope that people will share their thoughts here pleasantly and respectfully. I have a feeling we're all talking about the same stuff really, lets try to make this a productve discussion.


Mike Haft

PS - I shall mention this thread to my teacher and I hope he may participate, he has far more experience and ability with regards to this stuff than I do.

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
-Martin Luther King Jr
  Reply With Quote