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Old 01-25-2011, 10:48 AM   #88
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

I think that many folks still don't quite understand what this training is all about. This isn't anything that interferes with anything an Aikido practitioner or instructor is currently doing. It's just a way to do it better. It's trans style. You can do your Aikido techniques with any outer form you want... but the content will be much greater.

Also, everyone needs to realize that, in these discussions, we are getting to listen to a couple of total type-A, super perfectionist personalities who have taken this subset of skills to an extremely high degree. I think a lot of folks get intimidated by the tone of these discussions which often sound like, if I don't take this work up to some super high level I am a failure as a human being. That's like saying that your Aikido isn't worth doing unless you can be an 8th Dan.

I have done only a bit of this training, most of it second hand, a bit directly with these guys... certainly not every day. Usually a few times a week as exercises in isolation and the rest is simply within the context of my normal practice. Even the little bit I have done has transformed my Aikido. Even a little of this work helps a lot. Then if you find you want to take it out to some amazing degree, like anything else, that will take a lot of focus and work.

And the debates between some of the folks who are teaching this stuff? For most of us, I think it is entirely irrelevant. Worrying about who is better and which one of these folks one should train with? Well, for most of us, that's like worrying whether I should train with the guy who won the Gold Medal or the Silver Medal at the Olympics when I am ranked 150th in the world...

I put my efforts behind the guy who is moist supportive of my work and even who it's most fun training with because content wise these guys all have the goods. Folks can make their own decisions about that.

This is not mysterious work... it's no where near as esoteric as some stuff you'd see in Systema for instance. It's a retooling of your understanding of how your body works. It's a reprogramming of how ones body deals with force. It's fascinating because for most of us, the various connections that are possible within the body were simply below the radar. The teacher gives you some relatively simple instructions, mostly just visualization on some level, and suddenly you do feel a connection between your thumb on your right side and your left heel (I probably have that wrong but you get the idea). It's really, really cool stuff...

I think these discussions get way to heavy sometimes and scare people off. They think that a new approach negates what they have been doing, rather than simply enhancing it, and the whole thing sounds heavy and serious, when in fact, it is really quite fun and exciting. Sure, it takes some work. Yes, you get more effect if you put up with the burn longer when you are holding your arms up. But on the whole, it's really interesting and healthy. I find that most of it is more mentally exhausting than physically so. It takes a lot of concentration, at least at the beginning. But it's really great stuff. And especially for those folks out there who have always been sort of second class citizens because they simply didn't have the plain physical strength to deal with the big bruisers, this stuff is the cat's meow.

It's not a question of why would you seek internal power or internal skills as an Aikido practitioner. It's why wouldn't you want to? It's great stuff, fascinating, can keep you interested for years, will make you aware of your body on a level you never thought possible, and it only makes whatever kind of Aikido you want to do better. Seems like a no brainer to me... Pay no attention to all the rest of the yadda yadda yadda... it's of no import.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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