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Old 10-23-2012, 12:04 AM   #91
Erick Mead
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,619
Re: More on Aikido and the Floating Bridge of Heaven

David Orange wrote: View Post
No, Erick, not a reflex and not uncontrolled. I'm talking about a wave of energy that doesn't feel physical to the attacker. It feels beyond physical.

What you're describing is the sense you get when you do it the way you do.

That's not the sense you get when you do it right.

I'll be looking forward to your vid with straight legs and arms.

The table leg glue still has to set up. I understand your point. And when the table recovers or a I find a better vantage (my wife does not allow any MA in the house -- can't imagine why... and we just had our last Iaijutsu seminar in the old dojo and are moving shop this week -- so probably be next week before I can I have our new space to accommodate you -- my partners have not yet banned MA in the office -- but let's not mention the table, shall we?)

I have gotten away from this sort of thing, mainly because most people don't work through things this way-- I am aware of this -- but you expressed interest in a true understanding -- and regardless of our disagreement about whether I have an understanding related to yours or not -- I will tell you where the development of my understanding puts me.

However -- it is not "beyond physical" -- I can SEE it -- I can see what I am talking about in your video (each of them, actually). I can stop video motion with clicks that freeze at 12-15 frames per sec of video -- about half the frame rate. Close to two frames at a click. If you will bear with me, I can explain both the nature of the action and your (accurate) perception of it -- consistent both with what I see you doing and what I know I am doing -- and what I now see that all the aiki-taiso train for .

There are reflexes and there are reflexes. For instance, the reflex when I pop my hand in uke's visual field, right in front of this face. The "base" parts of the visual centers of the brain interpret this as an extremely high closure rate and fire motor neurons to cause the head and structure to move reflexively to avoid a presumed impact. Done right -- uke's structure is falling all over itself to be somewhere else. This visual reflex can be habituated downward and reduced to almost nothing -- boxers and other close-striking arts do this all the time.

It can also be habituated upward -- and triggered -- not directed exactly -- but potentiated and released.

That is still a neural path going to the visual reflex center of the brain (sup. colliculus), processed for a bit, then a signal down the spine to motor neurons to move, bypassing the visual awareness center in the visual cortex (awareness). More or less, the visual awareness and the motor reflexes get the signal at roughly the same time -- so you are aware of moving just as about the same time as you are aware of the visual disturbance that caused the reflex to occur. Your perceive almost no gap in the stimulus and the response -- but there is in fact a lag from the stimulus to the action -- you are just not aware of it..

This takes about 50-100 ms (avg. ~75 ms =0.075)sec from stimulus to action (latency). For comparison, well-trained voluntary visual-motor skills have a latency of more than 100 ms (0.1) sec from stimulus to action, nearly twice as slow. Fit but untrained people punch with a latency of about 300 ms. The fastest punch measured of an English boxer and one of Bruce Lee's students clocks in at just about 100 ms from signal, close to the voluntary motor speed limit.

Withdrawal reflex arcs (snatching a hand back from a hot object) are spinal reflexes which do not involve the brain at all -- other than the eventual awareness of what just happened. This is one of what are called "polysynaptic" reflexes, as they involve more than one . They typically involve just three nerve cells -- the sensory neuron, a relay neuron and the motor neuron, which is two synapses (the slow parts of the nervous system). They tend to be on the "slow" side of the true spinal reflexes around that 75 ms mark.

So -- for a trained person -- the order of event, action and perception is:

Stimulus = 0
Polysynaptic reflex = 75ms
Awareness of stimulus = 75ms
Awareness of reflex = 150ms

A monosynaptic reflex, though, is something else (two nerves, one sensory, one motor, one synapse, the land of Mordor , where... never mind...) . These are the tendon reflexes and the stretch reflexes -- which respectively contract or relax a muscle group in response to possibly structurally dangerous loads.

A monosynaptic latency is on the order of 20-45 ms -- call it 30 ms =0.03s, twice as fast as, or even better, as the visual or pain flinch reflexes. Your conscious awareness latency is more on the order of the visual flinch awareness, (75 ms). d

Stimulus = 0
Monosynaptic reflex = 30ms [IN]
[No real awareness of structural stress stimulus]
Awareness of reflex = 75ms
Recovery phase of reflex = 50 -100 ms [YO]
Voluntary reaction to reflex 175 ms

This is the sequence that is disturbing to the conscious mind -- because we do not -- without training -- consciously sense or recognize the structural stimulus that causes the reflex. Or we feel it but we do not know at all how to interpret it. It is occurring at a level way below the conscious mind. If you learn how to deploy it -- to put it in Kevin Leavitt's preferred OODA terms-- this is WAAAAY inside his loop... And this is why I feel that puzzling this out -- in my view -- is a necessary component -- what is happening -- is just out of view and we need some way to get at it .

We know something happened -- we know we did something in response. By the time we voluntarily react -- in-yo action has already got hold done its thing and passed on. And so, by the time you have decided what to do about the stimulus -- even if you DID perceive it -- your body has already acted, and so whatever you decided to -- it was already wrong -- overcome by events.

Then you become aware that it was wrong and your brain is now countermanding -- and you still have no fricking clue what is really going on. Sensorimotor whipsaw. You are trying to act and your responses are -- quite literally -- just beyond the edge of your perception and control.

AND add spice to this sauce -- the nature of the tendon and stretch reflexes at issue does another thing -- if the reflex relaxes one muscle group it triggers the interneuron going to the antagonist muscle on the opposite side of the limbs, (quad vs. hamstring) making it contract -- If the reflex contracts a muscle group -- it blocks the interneuron to the antagonist , locking it out and preventing it from contracting

--And by blocking the antagonist muscle group it deeply confounds any voluntary response.

The result being that the limbs actuate in one direction, and one direction only -- but then they recover when the reflex action subsides. In-yo. The muscle power usually sapped by the constant resistance action of the opposed muscle group is very suddenly gone. AND, ... with the extension-limiting effect of the opposed musculature removed -- the limbs, do not merely flex or extend, they actually lengthen (or shorten -- the reflexes go both ways, and with force suddenly, and by suddenly I mean closer to 30ms sudden than 100 ms.

The actions of unleashing the extension/retraction are actually torsional, not in a plane -- because muscle insertions on the bones are not lined up in a plane with the bone -- they spiral around the line of the limb just so slightly like leaves or vines grow spirally around a stem. Prove this to yourself.. place your hands palm up, fingertips against the wall, arms at full extension and put your feet as close to the wall as you can without falling backwards. Now, try to turn your hands palm down, and then palm out. You will fall back with only a much slighter rotation, and I doubt you can get even to palm down..

Any training which focuses on two things should facilitate using this to advantage: 1) it needs to train in working through the natural spiral forms of the resulting reflexive actions -- and avoid the push-pull levered action of most voluntary movement; and 2) it needs to grasp the innate cycle of reflex/recovery (furitama/funetori) which can both drive this cascade in our own bodies to protect our structure, and provoke it in others to destroy theirs. I see this in Aikido, in Taichi and other CMA, in Ark's work and some others, and I see it in what you showed in your video.

Training in the large sweeping forms of aiki-taiso, habituates the trained body to the condition that will exist and that it must learn to modulate when it finally "catches-up" to what it already did. It will never be able to direct the action directly. But with enough training the voluntary motor "lag" is effectively shortened -- because the patterns of movement for this type of action are very typical. It cannot be driven like voluntary movement -- but it can be potentiated by training and when triggered it can be "surfed," if you will -- like a feed-forward control system. And like your knee-tap reflex you can learn to overmodulate to preemptively suppress or temper it - but not in reaction -- that's too late.

Other aiki taiso habituate the sudden torsional stresses that most effectively trigger them. Others train vibrations. The triggers for these reflexes are also responsive to vibrations -- particularly for hyper-destructive resonant frequencies (furitama). Vibrations induce other interesting things with the smooth muscle fascia, which clench into a fixed position after a few cycles -- as any one who has raked a yard can attest. And are also particularly responsive to oxytocin -- the "love" hormone -- but not adrenaline. But that is beyond the topic of the particular action at issue and its perception -- which is what we were talking about..


Erick Mead
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