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Old 02-12-2008, 07:42 AM   #58
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Ai symbol Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

I want to echo Mike's remark.

I attended his seminar this weekend and found it quite worth-while, even having already a beginner's level practice in Wu Taiji and various forms of bagua. Some of the exercises he taught us I had seen in the context of Wu Taiji and could adapt myself to quickly, but in those cases, it was using skills from taiji, and not anything I had ever been shown in practicing a mix of kempo, judo, and aikido with bits of Daito-ryu waza thrown in (which is what I did for the first part of my martial career). The idea of using peng jin (groundpath) was totally alien to me when I started bagua and taiji.

Even knowing a little bit of neijia (and I unconsciously muscle things a lot because I am so big and my center is pretty high up off the ground), there was a lot to see and learn from, especially how Mike stores energy and releases it from the lower back. That skill ("bend bow and shoot arrow") is something I have not had any practice at, and some of the drills he taught Saturday gave me a lot to think about.

I would be quite surprised if even 1 out of a 1,000 people practicing aikido or modern jujutsu derived from aikido can exhibit the power release ability (e.g. pole shaking or shoulder strikes) that Mike was easily able to show -- while keeping completely balanced. [And I am not claiming that taiji in general has better pedagogy for this, either. Given that over a million people practice taiji, I would say 1 in 10,000 for taiji...]

When you encounter skilled people such as Mike, regardless of your background there is always something to learn. Sometimes, things of great value. The real trick is in integrating these lessons into one's daily practice. I think people who are off on their own as opposed to part of a dojo have a slight advantage in that regard, because while they don't have a lot of bodies to work with, they also don't get corralled back into the old way of doing things due to external factors -- if they do, they only have themselves to blame.

Also, with teachers of martial arts, it might be difficult to adapt on another level -- when switching modes to a new way of generating force (vs isolated musculature or isometric tension), you might for a while actually get worse at what you teach, and lose the confidence of your students. But, you have to look past that for the longer-term goal of your development. That is probably a downside of being a teacher in an existing organization, where you still have to pay lip-service to the powers that be if you want to go-along to get-along and advance, be recognized for your contributions, etc.

Mark Raugas
http://www.innerdharma.org
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