Re: Training "Aiki" with Dan Harden
I'd like to add to what Ellis' said concerning Kuroda Tetsuzan.
I had dinner with him last summer in Tokyo and we discussed body dynamics for about 4 hours. The topic of solo kata came up as we have 8 of these as part of our Joden Mokuroku in Takamura ha Shindo Yoshin ryu. Similar to Ellis's previous description, Kuroda sensei indicated that the solo exercises he teaches were not an original part of the Shishin Takuma ryu curriculum...that everything needed to develop the internal skills necessary to master Shishin Takuma ryu were contained in the paired kata. Although he didn't specifically describe his invention of these solo kata as a "short cut", he did give me the impression that these kata had a specific purpose associated with reinforcing and isolating movements already extant in the Takuma ryu paired kata.
(FWIW, I possess an advanced level Shinshin Takuma ryu jujutsu mokuroku in my collection of densho. It is from a different branch than that practiced by Kuroda sensei. I cannot find any mention of any solo kata or similar practice on this densho.)
Those who have felt Kuroda sensei's jujutsu waza in person will confirm that he is definitely employing an extremely sophisticated form of internal strength and body control consistent with that pursued in other Japanese and Chinese arts frequently identified as "internal".
All too often people in budo become rather myopic, forgetting there are many ways to train and many ways to access certain universally applicable skills. Just because one type of training provides you with a specific result doesn't mean similar skills are not achieveable by someone else thru a different pedagogy. Budo training can speak to each of us in very specific ways. Every once in a while an individual comes along with a unique set of keys to unlock skills we desire. The question is, can we be open minded enough to recognize these keys if they appear to be something we have already rejected or seem totally different than what we have come to expect?
Toby Threadgill / TSYR