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Old 06-24-2008, 11:29 PM   #7
Gernot Hassenpflug
Dojo: Aunkai, Tokyo
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 319
Japan
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Re: Aikido™ and Aiki…do. Where are we at?

Shaun Ravens has made a couple of excellent posts these last few days on misogi. I'd like to comment from my own experience, and I think it is related to the thread topic:

Assumption: I've seen and trained the commonly-taught misogi under Abe Seiseki shihan and his deshi, and pretty much the same thing physically under direction of both the of the Italian Aikikai and the British Aikido Federation. So I think I'm talking about the mainstream-taught and commonly-known misogi here. Therefore I merely ask the readers to refer to Aikiweb threads discussing misogi for a general overview.

Falsifiability: if there are other misogi I don't know about, or methods to do them that I don't know about, I'm prepared to reconsider my statements below.

Statements:
  • 1. I do not think---at this stage---that misogi were or are the first stage of penetrating to the heart of aikido. I think that they are too indirect and can only deliver real results once the first stage has been passed. I think this has become clear from past posts that some people have developed very rapidly using misogi practice once they had broken through a certain barrier. I think that barrier is a purely physical one (regardless of what mental development might also be associated with the practice of aikido and misogi).
  • 2. I further think that stage one is more in the stance and posture used in training---for example, Abe shihan had us stand with arms and legs straightened---and more direct, but not direct enough. In particular, I think the vertical axis should be emphasized more, so that greater benefits can accrue to be used in the standard posture, and later in the practice of the misogi exercises where the hands are held horizontally or lower. Otherwise, I doubt that proper development of the connections of the arms to the back via the shoulders will take place in ordinary students who are forced to work in poor postural circumstances for many hours a day and have perhaps one or two hours a day maximum to devote to martial arts practice. Perhaps, on the other hand, it was sufficient in the past, and perhaps even now sufficient for those who do professionally spend many hours each day practicing and/or teaching the art.
  • 3. Additionally, I speculate that such direct teaching was expected to have been manifested in the student before their joining in aikido practice, since originally students needed to have gained experience, which implies certain body development, in other arts. If the bodily basis is the same at a low level, then they will thus have the necessary foundation and can use the misogi and breathing exercises, perhaps something special in aikido, to advance to a much higher level.
Any comments most welcome.

Best regards,
Gernot Hassenpflug
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