Dojo: Aikido Institute of America, Seidokan Aikido
Join Date: Apr 2005
Re: Internal Power/Strength (IS/IP) in relation to non-human contact
I read through some of these threads and I often wonder about one thing. If we instead said "there are ways to learn to use your entire body cohesively and fluidly to both generate and absorb a maximal amount of power and leverage possible given the constraints of the person's size and developmental level", wouldn't most say "hey, that sounds like a good thing"? I mean, really, most of us know already that there are almost always more efficient ways to do things. Just look out at the world of fitness today. Most have moved away from things like "all day cardio" and "isolated muscle group weight machines" in to concepts of comprehensive fitness, functional fitness, heck, even something as trendy as Pilates? All these things begin to accept that strength, power, etc. is actually quite complex involving a lot more than local muscle groups. Look at the old Ranch hand who can toss bales of hay like they're nothing. My wife trains our dogs in herding sheep and cattle and every time I go up to the ranch and help out with the feeding I'm astounded watching a thin woman at that ranch who must be pushing 60 pick up those bales like they're nothing. I struggle and I"m not an insignificant guy. She's just been doing it, well, forever so she learned to do it very, very well, using her entire body, using leverage, using all sorts of things. All without developing large arms, gigantic shoulders, or anything else. I could probably out lift her on any machine in a gym. But there is no question in my mind that she could toss more hay around way longer than me. And not pay a price for it the next day, unlike me.
So here you have an example of a person developing a specific skill set, a specific type of conditioning, all suited to the task at hand. Is it so hard to believe that one can also develop similar skills for the task we're engaged in? Or that there are specific ways to develop that those self-same physical abilities and attributes through specific, targeted exercise and practice that help develop it quicker than though sporadic, often mindless 2-3 hours a week practice in the dojo (before we all head out for beers)? Yeah, I think some of those old timers developed their skills partly through osmosis, but also because guys like Ueshiba were freaking maniacs, training for many hours daily, constantly working, constantly developing. We want those abilities? Put in the work. Is it so hard to believe that there might be things one could do to develop those things specifically?
I've said it before, but I think what we have to day is a *lot* of people who have bought in to the philosophy and in to the outer appearance of these arts. Yes, timing, blending, all sorts of stuff is really important. And some folk can do amazing things with superb timing, balance, blending, etc. But what if as you work towards that perfection on those skills you also developed a targeted physicality of that ranch hand working all day for years. But targeted towards grappling. And moving an unwilling opponent. That task that few are able to practice for 8 hours daily for 10 years.
People talk about 10,000 hours for mastery. What people often don't talk about is that those 10,000 hours take a *lot* of time daily if you expect to get there before you retire. If you consider an 8 hour work day, 5 days a week, how long for 10,000 hours? Well, in one year that's 2080 hours. So at that rate you have about 5 years. What if you cut the hours in half -- 4 hours a day. 9 years. What if it's 1 hour a day? 38 years. Let's say you have a student coming twice a week to 2 hours each time. That's 4 hours a week. 208 hours a year. 48 years to get to 10,000 hours.
But what if you do an hour of exercises each day. Plus you try very hard to focus on particular ways of moving and interacting with the world (lifting, pushing, moving, etc.) Let's say you can get 2 hours a day of developmental work. Plus get in 6 hours a week at the dojo practicing (serious student). That's 20 hours a week. Now we have 1040 hours a year. 9.5 years to mastery.
Anyway, I'm just thinking out loud. There is a serious message here about training, time and focus. It's not like people are talking about a silver bullet that magically transforms someone in one day. It still takes work. It still takes hours. It still takes focus. But maybe the discussion shouldn't be about whether one believes or not, whether one "buys" in to the idea. Maybe we should instead talk about "how do you work to condition your body for your art?" And then ask if those who work hard on specific exercises to condition themselves are able to do things above and beyond those who do not? And whether they improve faster? And whether they find those body skills "fill in some blanks" in techniques making some things seem so obvious.
Obviously I have made up my own mind. And since we're talking about videos, etc. back to my rancher friend. Looking at her then looking at me the smart money would be on me to be able to move the hay better, longer, further, and faster. And most of us have met people who can do these sorts of things in some area. I can sit and polish a sword on a rock for hours on end, something that would leave most horrible sore, stiff, and with hands that would cease to work for a few days. But I doubt you'd know that just looking at me. Over the years of doing it hours on end I learned to relax and allow my entire body to move the sword. I don't "grasp" the sword so much as it is firmly in my hand but I don't really feel any tension. Hard to explain. When I started it was difficult and painful. And I was younger and healthier all those years ago. Now it's easier than ever. And I'm older, weaker, and have all sorts of injuries. But I can go longer. And better. And more accurately.
Isn't that what we're working towards?
Sorry if this is tangential. Just something that's been rattling in my empty skull and this thread brought it out.