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Old 08-15-2007, 09:49 PM   #7
Timothy WK
Location: Chicago, IL
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 187
Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"

Ron Tisdale wrote:
My meager experience with Daito ryu leads me to believe that flowing and blending may have something to do with some forms of aiki...but I think penetrating, peircing, imobilizing and who knows what else may be more appropriate to Daito ryu.
Allen Beebe wrote: View Post
Well yeah.

From my pre-war/post-war Aikido perspective this IS blending and flowing . . .

The blade of a sharp sword is really a wedge that is so fine that it has the ability to pierce and penetrate such that it essentially blends with its target and, if handled properly, flows. All of which can have an immobilizing effect on the recipient.

Our pedagogical progression goes from an outwardly obvious piercing, penetrating, immobilizing physical expression to an outwardly appearing blending flowing expression which is facilitated by a non-outwardly appearing piercing, penetrating, immobilizing. Both expressions are built on a foundation of internal (mental/physical) organization that determines the relative quality of performance and result.
Good post. I think your comments about sword work are pretty right on. That sort of thing was what I was referring to when I said that the idea of flowing/blending in sword work is slightly different from what you get in popular Aikido. The example I was thinking of was kiri-otoshi in Itto-ryu. At first glance, it looks like you're simply overpowering your opponent's cut. But upon closer examination, it's actually rather blend-y. You're cutting down a downward moving sword.

But I (think) I know what Ron was talking about, and it's not really the same thing as what one does with a sword. Daito-Ryu physically takes a person's balance and physically locks up their body such that they can't move. Even if you want to make some sort of philosophical comparison, in the practical sense it's much different.

On the Ki/Kokyu/Aiki "trick" side of things how about:

Receiving oncoming force such that it flows cleanly through one's structure and then if one chooses blends with the force generated by the recipient and is then channeled cleanly back out again.
Yes, I believe that internal skill allows a person to receive and generate force in ways (even in flow-y/blend-y ways) that you can't without the skills... but follow me a minute.

I can see a few different ways one can blend/flow. The first is with physical momentum. This is big in popular Aikido.

The second would be... I guess you could call it mental/psychological momentum. I think you see this more with sword work, and not much in popular Aikido.

Third would be external structural flowing/blending. This would be following the weak lines of the body & form.

And the last would be internal structural flowing/blending. This would involve "feeling" where a person's structure was weak, or how they were distributing internal forces, and flowing/blending with that. For example, if my teacher feels a weakness in my structure, he can "attack" that weakness and overpower me on a "strong line". I think this sort of thing may or may not look #1 and #3, but would feel alot different.

Sword work seems to primarily involve #1 and #2, with maybe a touch of #3. Popular Aikido primarily seems to emphasize #1 & #3, with the occasional #2. But the current discussion of internal skills seems to want to emphasize #4.

So I guess I'm wondering if the current discussion is exaggerating the emphasis of internal skill in defining "Aiki". My own exposure to DR seems to suggest that "Aiki" is more like #1 & #2, and that the internal aspects simply underpin it all.

But at this point I don't want to sound like I'm taking a step backwards and saying that internal skill is unimportant. I certainly believe some measure of internal skill is necessary for high level Aiki. I guess I'm just wondering if the popular Aikido understanding is really "wrong", or if it's just incomplete.

--Timothy Kleinert
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