Re: Kokyu development for Aiki in Aikido
I think my ability to continue this discussion is waning. You are asking me to put body mechanics into words that I have yet to fully understand in my own body. The best I can do is this, I don’t suppose it’ll satisfy either Joep or Ignatius. As a warning, I don’t consider myself especially skilled in these exercises, and I’m not at all satisfied in my own abilities.
Rowing exercise: I consider it is going well when I stay balanced, back straight (as in head over hips), movement generated from the legs, always keeping at least part of my weight on each foot. Arms relaxed but controlled (not floppy and following a clearly defined path but without the feeling that the arm muscles are generating the motion). Feeling that the hands are being pushed out and brought in by the center directly. A bit of a snap at both the out and in, with the feeling of the energy going passed the hands on the out and into the hips on the in. Less of a snap and more of a bounce when I do it slowly.
Kokyu-ho: Ability to receive a push with tensing my arms or shoulders. Sometimes I’ll try this while keeping extension (which I find difficult as I have trouble with my shoulders tensing) and sometimes I’ll let my hand come back to my torso or thighs, in which case the feeling is similar to the “in” from the rowing exercise. Then try to work the connection through ukes hands to either lock up his arms (easy with stiff beginners, I don’t really manage it with more skilled ukes) or break up his posture by getting inside his push and raising his elbows. On the uke side, I try to push from my center without tensing the arms or shoulders (some similarity to the out of the rowing exercise, also similarity to tsuki with a bokken).
Relaxed: From a physical standpoint, removal of tension from the muscles.
Integrated: The whole body working as a whole. The opposite would be say grabbing and pulling with one arm mostly using one bicep.
Power: The ability to develop a force in the physics sense, allowing you to either negate an incoming force (as in receiving a push) or to accelerate an immobile object (as in pushing someone over or throwing them).
I never said straightness and groundedness were the same thing, just that I considered them two of Claude’s strengths posture wise. I’ll admit that my judgment of his groundedness has more to do with the many times he has thrown me and not so much that specific video. But to me, I see it in all his movements. Joep, if your going to critique my teacher, I’d like a counter-example. I’d also like to know what your experience is, what knowledge are you basing your judgement on.
As for Harvey Konigsberg, I don’t know if there are any public video clips out there with less cooperative ukes. But I will say this, I’ve trained with him and once I grab him I spend the rest of the time trying to regain my center, making it pretty hard to put together much resistance. On more than one occasion I have seen him teach where he asks his ukes to let go and strike him if they can. They often don’t manage the let go part, never mind making contact with the strike.
As for why I think the shoulders should stay relaxed. Pure empiricism, my techniques work better and are successful with more resistant ukes when they are relaxed. I don’t claim to have figured out the mechanics. When they are tight I tend to get disrupted and my center thrown off too easily. I get locked up, true both as uke and nage.