Re: Kokyu development for Aiki in Aikido
I don't know what everybody has against old threads. Resurrection is sometimes justified.
Ignatius, the brain is not a muscle. If your going to put up a post with several anatomical elements, try to get the basics right. Personally I'd like to see a diagram of the hard, articulated muscle-like dantien. Prefereably from a reliable medical source. Anything fitting that description should show up on anatomical diagrams.
Dirk, your getting in over your head discussing kokyu-ho on a thread dominated by IS/IT discussion. These people are discussing concepts and exercises your aikido instructors have probably never heard of. Personally, I've never experienced the abilities of these internal skills guys first hand, so I reserve judgement. I'm intrigued by these guys and the discussions they’ve had here on AikiWeb, much of it seems to fit with the little I know or have felt (one thing I found interesting about Ignatius’ post is that the two solo aikido exercises I do the most often at home are the rowing exercise and bokken suburi). But all I'm familiar with is mainstream Aikikai aikido. But since that, or something similar if it’s not Aikikai, is where you're operating, here's my take on your specific issues:
Using one’s center is not a mystical breathing thing. It has more to do with where your power and your movement are developing from. Working on your posture and removing tension from your body will do more than any esoteric breathing exercises. How you breathe will affect how you hold yourself, but that also works in the other direction.
Removing tension is what is meant by relaxing. It does not mean that you don’t use your muscles. If you don’t use your muscles, you collapse into an inert mass on the tatami. Try to feel “springy” rather than brittle or stiff. Try to not contract muscles more than is needed. Your going to use your muscles, but it’s sort of the opposite of the body builder poses where all the muscles are hard and bulging.
Using one’s center has nothing to do with where it is pointed. There are many reasons in many techniques that you would be told by your instructors to keep your center facing your uke. Most of these will have to do with spacing and maintaining a dominant position and have nothing to do with kokyu-ho type strength. In rear attacks, you will have to learn to “use your center” with your uke holding you from behind. It is often specifically in a turn that you will discover whether or not you are working from you center; if you are trying to work from your extremities (arms, shoulders), it will be very hard to get a resisting uke to turn with you.
Second, it seems to me from your post that you are putting too much of your own interpretation into what your instructors are saying. I find body knowledge very hard to put into words. Words usually only help if paired with actually feeling and seeing the body skill. Then trying it yourself, to feel it in your own body, preferably with feedback from somebody qualified to tell you if you’re doing it right. If you want to able to do what your teachers are doing. Pay more attention to what they do, and a little less on what they say.