Okie Dokie so I am approaching my one year mark in training ( august) and I keep hearing all about how I need to move with my center. My teachers are working very hard to teach this to me but I seem to not be getting it. So I am looking for other ways to learn how to connect with my partner, move with my center, and extend key past my hand. One problem I believe I have is I have good energy everywhere else in my body but from my shoulders to my hands I am like a hot spaghetti noodle. I have absolutely no energy from my shoulders to my hands... It is a phenomena that none of us can seem to figure out. Relax the shoulder... check... extend energy through my fingertips and past them... nope. My hand remain bright white on the palms HA. I open my hands up for tenhohenko... and I am just a trying like hell to get that energy through to my hands but nope not happening. I have asked several people outside my Aikido training circle and it seems to baffle them. The look at my technique and then scratch their heads. One person had to check to see if my arms were dead. LOL. It is almost as if I do not even have arms. If I could just connect my arms to my center that would be great.
So the question to you guys is... How did that little epiphany happen for you? What was it that finally clicked inside you and made that extension of energy finally make sense for you? Is there a such thing as energy blockage? I know I am not going to get this overnight and might take 4 years or so to figure this out... but I am not even making a tiny bit of progress with my hands. ( I know i shouldn't be moving with my hands and thus that is where moving from center comes into play. ) I am trying to do a slight amount of shikko stuff and also trying to do things that require me to lower my hamni stance. I am by no means discouraged or heartbroken that I haven't figured this out yet. I am a very determined person and that is why I am asking others for what they think.
Was looking at some clips I found on youtube by Doug Wedell wich then gave me the idea to ask on the forums here about how others found their center.
Do not kid yourself, connecting the arms to the spine is not a little epiphany, and it would take you probably months of daily practice of specifically this aspect when you know physically the thing your body is trying to accomplish and frequent correction/guidance from a qualified teacher to actually get it - that was my experience. It is the most difficult thing I've ever learned about how to use my body
It is probably the hardest part of the body to connect, precisely because we condition in bad habits there so frequently throughout our entire lives which need to be unlearned and replaced in all movements with an entirely different understanding of how to use them.
That said, about the most useful pointer I can offer is that, in a way, the shoulders operate like your hips and the arms operate like a set of legs. If there is something your hips/legs are doing that your shoulders/arms are not, investigate that and try to equalize their function. If the hip gets power by extending, the shoulder gets power by extending. If the legs aren't turning into floppy jello that causes you to fall in a puddle of bones and skin to the ground during practice, then your arms shouldn't be doing this either. In essence, if you were strong enough to flip the problems upside down so that you stood on your arms and contacted people with your legs, your aikido would still be similar. This principle also works for the pelvis/tailbone and the ribcage/neck. On the flip side, if your understanding of the top half of your body is lacking, probably so is your understanding of the bottom half - do always use the problems and strengths of either one to offer insights onto the things you need to work on on the other half. If they have to be used in fundamentally different ways, you're doing something wrong. Without a teacher who can point the way, that may be your singular most useful piece of training strategy.
You are a bridge between another person and the ground, so any point of failure in this bridge makes the whole bridge useless. Explore those things, play with the spine and how it bridges them. Try pushing against heavy or immovable things and feel where you feel localized stress, and try to distribute that stress over the entire chain, not by completely relaxing and taking the joint out of the bridge, and not by stiffening up the part like an immovable statue, but by making the joint move in complete and utter unison of direction and goal with the other joints of your body. Those are two ways to cause an "energy blockage": 1) by going limp or collapsing away from the force to bleed it off in another direction, or 2) letting the joint go rigid as an overcorrection to the flip-side problem of going limp or collapsing, so that the action of the joint fighting its own active movement absorbs any kinetic energy. Work on erasing those in every major joint of your body, not just your shoulders and arms, but doing that in your upper body will be harder than anything else.
But still, given all of that, there is no "center". Every part of your body is connected as one giant center, every part of you is the center. So you must be everywhere in your body at once.