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Old 02-19-2009, 08:12 AM   #238
David Orange
Dojo: Aozora Dojo
Location: Birmingham, AL
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,511
Re: Using ki-skills for "aiki" in Daito-Ryu

Interesting discussion. I haven't read all the scientific papers but I've looked through the last several posts and I find that this coincides with some things I've been thinking about lately.

As for using fascial contraction in martial application, I'd say that's definitely barking up the wrong tree--or maybe barking down the tree when we should be barking up.

The thing is, the fascia is all rooted in the center of the body and it is activated by the nerve plexus in the abdomen, under the diaphragm. It is mostly activated involuntarily and pre-consciously. Fight-or-flight response is the classic example and in that case, the fascia can contract rapidly and powerfully but without conscious intent. So it's not much good to think of ways to "use" that contraction, but I think the real point there is to "prevent" the fight-or-flight response from kicking in automatically without our control.

Example, you're walking down a poorly-lit sidewalk when, up ahead, you see a man emerge from shadows and bushes and start walking directly toward you. The first thing you probably feel is a "flash" of shock, followed by a tension in the stomach, whole-body tingling and a feeling of weakness in the legs. The knees want to drop. All this is mediated in the abdomen in response to the nerve signals there.

If you're aware and have some practice, you can over-ride the fight-or-flight response, keep the center of gravity tall and keep the whole body relaxed. How? Breath. To the center. Which presses on the nerve plexus and "soothes" it to some degree, allowing you to avoid the full-blown drop-into-a-crouch-and-get-ready-to-rumble-or-run reaction. Then you can intentionally time an appropriate response with a relaxed body and posture.

So I'd say that learning to make the fascia contract is the wrong idea altogether and that learning to keep it from "snapping shut" is moving along the right track.

Next, as to the sensory nature of the fascia, I think that is very important as whatever is sensed in one part of the fascia is almost instantly known throughout the entire fascial system--meaning throughout the whole body. Example, you step into a tub of hot water and tingles spread quickly through your whole body. This knowledge is not spreading through the muscles because the muscles of the foot are not continuously connected to the rest of the body. They are only connected to...the fascia...which is connected to all the rest of the fascia of the body. Of course, speaking in terms of "connective" tissue, we would also have to consider the skin's being involved in this. So we would better say "the connective tissue" in general, rather than specifically "the fascia."

Anyway, if the connective tissues can bring information into the body and transmit it wholly throughout the body, what is the other side of that? What does the fascia transmit outward from the body?

My recent idea is that while the fascia/connective tissue can bring information in and through the body, what it sends "out" from the body is "intent."

So when you think to do something, the first thing that happens is that your intent travels through the connective tissues to the part of your body you "intend" to move. That's the mind.

Once the mind travels through the connective tissues, the qi flows in right behind it and actually activates the fascia/connective tissue of the whole body to assume the shape necessary to execute the "intent." And as the qi flows through the path of the intent, it distributes muscle effort precisely where and in the amounts needed to assume the necessary shape to enact the first "intent". Thus, "Mind leads the qi and qi leads the body."

To get back to "contracting" the fascia, again, I think that the first step is "open" the whole system and since fight-or-flight pretty much totally "closes" the system, it's necessary to use the breath to over-ride the fight or flight response, stand tall and loose, and be ready to "close" very powerfully at the moment it will be of most advantage, tactically.

And that's my recent thrinking on this subject.

Thanks and best to all.


"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"
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