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Old 04-13-2007, 09:26 AM   #124
Ecosamurai
 
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Re: The internal 'how to' thread... let's hope

It's a long post and I was gonna reply yesterday but have only just now found the time. But seeing as you went to the trouble of writing it I'll take the time to reply.

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
Yes, I think you're being very optimistic. If it were prevalent in Aikido these discussions wouldn't exist.
You said that before in your first response to me Trouble with me is I like to be a glass half full kinda guy.

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
There may be slightly different approaches to getting higher levels of this skill, but I think it's pretty obviously one skill that Asian arts hold in highest regard as being the physical manifestation of Ki. I don't see any reasonable way to interpret the stories of Ueshiba's seemingly effortless power as a different skill. Ellis Amdur has posted video of Ueshiba doing fajin. More than one video isn't really necessary, is it?
I think it's obviously one skill too, when I see Chen Xiao Wang and others doing stuff I see the same stuff as I see when Tohei or Ueshiba does it. Same stuff but in different settings. As I've said before, pour this skill into a Daito Ryu cup get Daito Ryu, into Aikido get Aikido. But once you know what you're looking for you can see it quite easily, so no, more videos aren't necessary.

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
He could do it, or not. Secrecy is the norm, and when it comes to large organizations like Aikikai or Kodokan dedicated to worldwide spread of an art, the idea of sharing this sort of stuff and openly teaching it has an enormous host of problems, not least of which is that many people high in an organization don't necessarily know anything about it, even if they did it's difficult and might slow the adoption of an art (how many people with jobs and families, particularly in the West, will work on standing practice and other seemingly pointless exercises in lieu of something that seems more immediate?), etc. All these issues have been touched on before.
Agreed. I think Tohei made the attempt to keep the internal skills as a part of the main stream but he left and pretty much took the tools he was using with him.

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
Again I recall my Okinawan karate days, doing Sanchin while being pushed from various angles, being hit with bamboo, and I thought it was silly. How was I supposed to keep from being pushed? What was the point of being hit? My teachers didn't know, but they were copying the procedure. Had I stayed with it and earned a high rank, how would I react to the idea that I didn't really understand anything about the nature of Sanchin kata? I would hope I would react with an open mind, but the more people have invested in an art the more resistant they are to such an idea. Objectively, it would be the height of arrogance for me to proclaim that there could be anything to Sanchin that I didn't know about, just because I had invested many years in practice. Meanwhile the reality is if I performed Sanchin for some gnarled old Okinawan geezer who happened to know some of the real deal, he could see in two seconds that I have absolutely nothing of the real art, whether I can fight or not. What if he were honest and told me I have nothing? How you handle that prospect I think is a real test of martial character and ego.
Well I agree with that completely. Now try to look at it from this perspective. You do actually know something of the real art (the extent of which we'll leave aside for now but we'll assume you're not as good at it as the Okinawan) and the gnarled old Okinawan teacher is displeased by the others in your dojo who quite clearly haven't got a clue what he is really doing, and aren't paying attention to what you are really doing. The gnarled old Okinawan teacher can be a little bit condescending and has a tendancy to be quite grouchy. He proceeds to tell the other members of the dojo in no uncertain terms that they just don't get it, that they aren't practicing real Sanchin, eventually his irritation approaches the line where it's not totally indistinguishable from haughtiness and verbal abuse of the other students. He isn't telling you personally off, but these other guys are your friends and you've learned a lot from them, even if they aren't doing Sanchin in the same way you are. You've sweated together, bled together and trained together for years. The Okinawan teacher stops being someone you want to listen to and you find yourself wanting to defend your friends, even if it means that you might not get the opportunity to learn to do Sanchin the way he does it.

Amongst other things, Koichi Tohei said:

"Even a one-inch worm has a half-inch spirit. Every man respects his own ego. Do not, therefore, slight anyone, nor hurt his self-respect. Treat a man with respect, and he will respect you. Make light of him, and he will make light of you. Respect his personality and listen to his views, and he will gladly follow you"

One of my favourite quotes from Tohei, I think.

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
The reason that Chinese internal artists are being discussed is simply because the people doing the discussing have actually met them and know that they have real skills. I don't know who in Aikido does. Again it's probably easier to pinpoint in various Chinese lineages because they are small and the knowledge is passed from family member to family member for generations and to select favored students, but as soon as you get a large organization together you get the same scenario. As a percentage, the number of people who are highly skilled in this area vs. the number who do taiji worldwide is tiny, just like in Aikido. It takes more of a Western mentality to try to codify this stuff, analyze it, strip it of decorative ki-based explanations and try to figure out how it's really done so that people with a life can get a handle on it. The only Asian guy I know of who tries to do that at all is Akuzawa. I'm sure there are others, but openly teaching this stuff is not the norm by far. You say this stuff is more widely known in Aikido, but when I asked you to name names of people you would recommend as examples of having a high level of the real goods, you couldn't vouch for anybody. That's a contradiction. How do you expect to advance in this area if you don't know who to see to get more how-to information?
The reason I stopped short of actually recommending anyone was because I simply didn't think it would be appropriate to throw out names of people I haven't personally trained with, or if I jhave trained with them I was never their uke so wouldn't have 'felt' what they were doing. The only one I could personally vouch for would be my own teacher. I've only seen his level of ability in one other guy and that was when I was dragged along by a friend to some CMA workshop in London. I wasn't particularly interested in going because, well I just wasn't. When I got there the rather diminutive old Chinese guy asked me to push on his chest, I felt what he was like, just as others around here have felt what Mike is like or Dan is like etc. Big deal I said to myself, my aikido teacher can do that. Turns out I was wrong at it was actually a big deal after all. I was rather naive at the time. I don't even remember the guys name sadly, it was about 6 or 7 years ago. Apparently he was some rather well respect Chinese master who had come over from Hong Kong if I'm not mistaken, though I may very well be.

Also, I'm not sure about getting rid of the "decorative ki-based explanations", once you've got a grip on the basics they can actually be hugely informative. I would agree that they're not necessarily too great for total beginners though. 'ok now just extend ki. Wadddaya mean how? You just do ok....'

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
Does it really matter that one guy who knows this stuff may be in Aikido, another from Xingyi, etc?
Not in the slightest bit. I've never thought it should anyway.

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
What if we take the position that Ueshiba didn't know as much as Chen Xiao Wang does. If it were possible for them to have met, would Ueshiba have rejected the knowledge on how to manifest ki even more? Pretty unlikely, IMO. Ueshiba clearly traveled far and wide to learn what he did, and obviously Takeda was a rather big influence. If a Daito-Ryu master were to offer to show you shortcuts to get closer to Ueshiba's ostensible level, would you reject it on the basis of it not being Aikido (as if you're in a position to judge)?
Hell no I wouldn't reject it.

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
The whole argument is silly from every angle. The worst outcome I suppose is if you were to actually surpass Ueshiba's level of internal skill. Darn. Then you could debate yourself into a coma about whether you should call it Aikido. It's up to you, but I don't intend to reject any pearls cast before me, regardless of their source.
What if they didn't look like pearls at first and required closer inspection, for all you know someone could've thrown dog mess in your direction. Would you sit there picking through it just to be sure? I wouldn't if it was flung at me in a contemptuous fashion, might do if it was placed kindly and sincerely before me.

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
For example, here's a 94 year old Bagua practitioner apparently discussing such things with family members:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZdtM5p6ZkA

Yes, he is going to be in UFC 75 "Geezer Throwdown", in the open weight class wheelchair division. Sorry, had to throw one out for the 12 year olds in the audience. In the last bit in particular he seems to be explaining how he receives force and uses the ground to return it. To the uneducated eye it may look like nonsense and they'll move on. But he is showing how he can take balance as soon as he is grabbed, and there is virtually no visible outward movement. That's not a necessary condition, but it makes the point. I can't do that, though I know of people who can. Unless you feel yourself what he's doing, you're not sure why anybody would lose his balance from grabbing him when you don't see him do anything. It's all the same general skill. Could Ueshiba take someone's balance as soon as they touched him? I think so, if you believe the stories. And why not, since there are people you can go see, like CXW, who can easily show you this in person. Are there 57 totally different ways to do this? Very doubtful, it's one general skillset, the level is just a matter of the degree of skill and body integration.
I agree with all the above. Not sure about the UFC geezer throwdown though. Maybe that's just cos I find it a bit funny when Americans use the word geezer or bloke Can't help it I'm a Londoner.

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
In general I hesitate to post videos of any sort, because like with words people will see what they want to see, and the most likely response will be either be "it's crap", or "I can do that, just not as well", which misses the point and whitewashes the difference in skill levels that exist, as if anyone with a golf club is Tiger Woods.
I agree, but the "I can do that, just not as well" isn't exactly a total whitewash is it? What if you actually can do that but not as well? What are you supposed to say then? Especially as you can't say to the guy in the video 'thank you very much could you show me more?'
In either case it's just not possible to address in a media like discussion forums. We're all just basically hypothesizing here.

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
If I were fortunate enough to witness such a demo it would show me immediately that he has knowledge I'm looking for, regardless of how good he is or was compared to others. If I could be introduced and ask him to show me some things, because I know that I'm looking to understand how certain things are achieved, even if he's a somewhat secretive guy I may end up learning things despite his secretiveness. Or he may see that I comprehend the value of what he's doing and show more. Meanwhile I'm looking for important details, comparing how he does things to other people, etc. You have to keep experiencing the spectrum of skills to start piecing together how the higher skill levels are achieved.
I agree.

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
If people don't care, or don't want to look around, or think they will get much just by doing more of what they already do it just won't happen. And importantly, the only reason people like Mike, Dan, Rob, and others care to even do this is that they *have* experienced people whose skills are way beyond what you think can be done. Since you can't rattle off a list of names at that level to recommend, it's clear you have not experienced a truly high level of it or there would be no hesitation.
That's a straw-man argument. I've already mentioned why I didn't recommend people in this post. Not wishing to publish a list of name-drops does not mean in any way I haven't experienced a truly high level of it. In fact it is so completely illogical to say that that I'm surprised you mentioned it at all. Everything else you've said thus far seems to make a great deal of sense to me until this point.

Also your logic of saying that the reason Dan, Mike, Rob and others teach and talk about this stuff is that they *have* experienced it is totally at odds with your point about how these things being commonly kept secret by those in the know. Ok, well not totally at odds because you're probably referring to asian guys keeping it secret and they're (Dan, Mike etc) not asian. But what of the (non oriental) people who are not Dan, Mike, Rob etc.. who do have this skill and simply have never had any desire to promote themselves because they are quite content to just keep doing what they do with their fairly small group of students? Because they don't particularly wish to meddle in the politics of it all? When would you ever hear about them?

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
There's a reason why those on the "there's more to it than you think" side make such a fuss about it. If you experience what someone like a CXW can do, you would know what the fuss is about, and like many others, you would report back to the forum that there's a whole lot more to it than you ever imagined. And then all the other people who hadn't had that experience would be debating with you, saying that everything you say sounds just like what they already do or their teacher does, and you'd see there's no way to explain it to them. And you'd fall back on the same thing everyone else does: you have to go check it out.
So, you mean that if I experienced someone like CXW and decided to start telling people about it, they would do all those things. Hmmm, so when I stated that in the vid Ellis posted about CXW receiving kotegaeshi that my teacher does that very same thing I was responding in the manner you just predicted. Ok I can see why you would think that, but it seems like I can only be considered to have seen and felt 'the real stuff' if I go to train with someone who is not my aikido teacher. I then have to come back here and rave about how great this guy who isn't my instructor is before people will believe I've felt 'the real stuff'.

Sorry don't like your logic, it's horribly circular and serves only to reinforce your original assumption of 'This stuff isn't in aikido, therefore someone who claims to have felt it in aikido is wrong'

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
Which brings me back to my first post in this thread, the inevitability of "you have to go look". If I had CXW's knowledge I could easily rattle of page after page of specific how-to's, but even though you started a how-to thread, I haven't seen those pages from you. I know, I know, you don't claim a high level and I certainly don't, but for one thing my musings on the little I know, right or wrong, I could explain in great detail. As the great physicist Richard Feynman said, if we can't explain something so that even a layman understands it, it means we don't know it.
Well, you're quite right, I don't claim a high level of skill, just like you don't. I believe I've mentioned why I titled the thread as I did before now. But I'll repeat it again for you and anyone else. It's called the how-to thread not because I personally intend to use it to hand down internal skill wisdom carved in stone at the beginning of time. But because it directs the conversation in a useful manner, we're not debating here whether Ueshiba had these skills, we're not debating if they are important in aikido we've assumed that both these are true, we're not debating the difference between Daito Ryu aiki and Aikido aiki, and we're not debating whther these skills will help you in the UFC. I think that thus far we've probably succeeded in keeping things fairly well on topic with minimal personal attacks and insults. I never said i was going to rattle of lists of great masters I've trained with, detailed descriptions of the skills. The idea was to encourage sensible discussion. For others to contribute if they felt it appropriate to. You said you can describe what you know in great detail. Well, go on then. Why not do so? Apparently I've tried and failed. Perhaps you should try too I know I'd read it with interest, I genuinely would.

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
The other thing is that I can name names of at least some people who have real ability in case you want to verify if we're talking about the same things. One thing that becomes more and more obvious as you learn more about it is how complicated it is, and how difficult to get the details and get them right. Anyone who expresses the notion that this stuff is *more* common than thought immediately shows he hasn't seen anything all that great.
Again I think that's a straw-man argument. Even if it isn't it just boils down to me being a bit optimistic and you not being so optimistic, and has nothing whatsoever to do with my experience of training with people who have these skills. Your logic in suggesting that this is so is patently false and says to me that you're working from the assumpiton I already mentioned 'this stuff is not in aikido, therefore anyone who says it is is wrong' rather than trying to get at the truth of the matter.

Assume if you will for a moment that my own teacher is as good at this stuff as CXW. It's just an assumption nto a claim I am making and I want to make that VERY clear because people will say later that I said he was when they choose to attack me and tell me I don't know what I'm talking about. It's an ASSUMPTION. So working from that assumption, I see vids of CXW and go, cool looks like the stuff we do. People then start raving about it (rightly so by the way because it is incredible stuff) and while they are raving away I say yeah, we do that stuff too. Not cos I think we do, but because we actually do (remember this is an assumption we're working from), people immediately dismiss me as knowing nothing because if I really knew something I would surely agree with them that it is amazing stuff (never mind the fact that I actually do agree with them, but they ignore that in favour of dismissing me) and that, wait for it... I can't possibly be right because I do it in aikido, and aikido doesn't do this stuff. Therefore I must be wrong.

I say it is more common than people give it credit, because from where I'm sitting it seems to be that is the case. All my sempai do it. My teacher does it. I do it. Others I've met also do it and all to a varying level of skill, we do it to a varying level of skill because it's really quite complicated stuff and it's very subtle and very difficult to get the details right, y'know, basically what you said.

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
Even if we say for argument's sake that a low level of things is more common in Aikido than thought, how does that meaningfully help one get to a high level? It doesn't.
Nope it doesn't. But does that mean it's not worth saying occasionally and challenging peoples assumptions about what is and isn't 'in aikido'? Y'know, a bit like the way others have been doing, except argued from the point of view of an optimist rather than a pessimist who quickly dismisses aikido as being devoid of these things. I know which one I'd rather be

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
Only dealing with high level people has any chance of getting you to a high level. All I can say is that this is a much bigger puzzle than you're giving it credit for, though whether you believe that is of course up to you.
Actually I think you've made some assumptions about what I think, perhaps an assumption along the lines of 'this stuff isn't in aikido, therefore anyone who says it is is wrong'. I personally think it is a huge puzzle, it certainly puzzles me a great deal.

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Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
With that I'm going to leave well enough alone, I simply don't have time to keep up on daily discussions. Good luck in your training, and if all you want is already available to you, more power to you, you're a lucky man. Otherwise, you have to get out and meet people; all the discussion in the world is unfortunately pretty futile as a substitute.
Amen to that.

Regards

Mike

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