Some of the more basic exercises shown by Mike Sigman looked and felt familiar from my aikido training, but Mr. Sigman's explanations and instructions were much (much!) more coherent, precise and insightful than anything I have ever been taught (and I still think I got lucky with my pretty good aikido teachers...: without them I might never even have been interested in or receptive to this stuff).
And then Mr. Sigman showed and explained many more things, some of which were way beyond what I have ever seen in Aikido.
One of the immediate effects that Mr. Sigman's instruction had on me, is that I suddenly understood (more or less clearly, of course) some of the things which very competent aikido practitioners had been doing to me, without me understanding at all how they did what they did, before.
On IHTBF: well, yeah, ITHBF. Even after extensive reading up on the subject on Aikiweb and elsewhere, things became a lot clearer to me after attending the seminar.
Perhaps the most important aspect of what I took home from the seminar, was a set of very clear and precise instructions on how to do a number of (solo as well as paired) basic exercises (including some that I was already doing in some way, but often in a hopelessly flawed way) and a general ‘feel' about how things ought to be done, if I want to make any substantial progress in aikido or whatever you want to call it.
Thanks for the review, Frank. There are a couple of interesting points about the 3 workshops I did in Europe. Bear in mind that the workshops did a traditional treatment that included how to use the dantien/hara, breathing training, movement training, etc., and that traditional approach is one that Aikido falls completely within, so there is nothing I covered that doesn't fit (ultimately) in Aikido, even though some of the topics may never have been openly discussed or approached exactly with the same training methodology that I use. The hosts at all 3 workshops were Taiji people, but the workshops had Shaolin practitioners, jujutsu practitioners, Aikido practitioners, and so on. "Qi" is universal in the Asian arts; the body skills are also universal and follow an inescapable logic.
Before the first one (only a mini-workshop, mainly for some old friends), one of the hosts read me a list of questions he had and I formulated on the spot a broad-spectrum discussion that would answer all of his questions at once. I continued developing that theme while I was in Europe, but I had my best chance to do the overview in Wadhurst because I wasn't constrained by subtleties of translation like in the other two workshops.
The interesting thing to me was using the first day to make a run from zero straight toward the ideas of utilizing an opponent's forces during and/or prior to the full engagement... but the second day was devoted to a far larger treatment of the body movement and development via breathing, qi, dantien-usage, etc., than I'd normally do. I *think* it was fairly successful, but I'm not through mulling it over.
In a sense, what I did on this trip was a broadview traditional approach to the wholistic "soft" approach to skills development. This approach is different from what I know of the various other approaches to qi/ki/jin/kokyu skills that are being currently addressed (just as each of these other approaches is different from the others, also). Generally speaking, I think the broadview approach will allow people to pick and choose what they want to focus on and will give them an opportunity to see what other approaches have and don't have to offer. As part of watching these skills develop in a number of arts, I think the broadview approach has its merits.