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Old 01-22-2013, 05:10 AM   #17
Lee Salzman
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 397
Re: "Internal" and "External"

Michael Varin wrote: View Post
A question (and I'm not taking sides, here):

Is it possible that people who are "natural athletes" just "get it"? That somehow prior to and regardless of the "training" they have an entirely different experience of moving their body?

I am not saying that these things cannot be refined with specific training, but why are these people better at what they do than the rest of us? Is it just genetics?

I'm considered by most to be a very intelligent person. My wife, not so much (thank God she hates AikiWeb ). For the life of me, I cannot speak a foreign language. My wife picks them up like nothing.
Just get it, eh? Some of it, maybe, but at the highest levels in western athletics, even there, you need to consciously identify what you are doing and try to quantitative improve at it or else you just are going to plateau on "natural" ability, which isn't really all that natural and more a result of incidental training history. It takes a good coach to turn a gifted street athlete into a professional. Now for certain hard styles of CMA, there are at least cognates in western athletics for qualities like relaxation, explosiveness, reactiveness, and agility, that you could easily spot if you say, looked at an NFL training camp. But even for those guys, they do a lot more specific training for all of those qualities than the average aikidoka will ever think of doing, and it's impressive, but... well... it's not what is meant by internal as it applies to aikido, at least not in the majority, and isn't going to reproduce the kind of power we are really seeking.

Stop looking too deeply into the term nomenclature "internal", and rather look to what actual skills are meant to be enumerated by it, and, well, it becomes empirically discernible that those skills are A) unnatural, and B) not very common in western athletics that I have seen and C) no, little kids or "natural athletes" don't "just have it". It's way more nurture than nature - sure aptitude always plays a part - but you can't get this by the million monkeys reproducing Shakespeare method. What is it not? It is not hard structure nor linear strength nor is it simple balancing skills which as expressed in western athletics are really more closely associated with agility drills nor is it the ability to stand up straight with "good" posture. In practice, it seems that training those things in to a habitual level is even a setback, because of the one-directional/fixated nature of the power expressed there which is the polar opposite of what you need to be training into your mind/body.

To radiate soft power in all directions from all parts of the body drawn from the dantien, while moving or not - and that's just internal power, not aiki... Add on the degrees of freedom that start turning it into aiki, and, well, most of us just need to focus on getting that first internal power step to the right quantity before mucking around with high-falutin' aiki stuff.

I thought after going through some relatively intensive CMA training I had a good grounding in it, and I too thought it could be reduced to be more alike the harder/linear structure prominent in athletics - and... It took about 5 seconds of contact with someone with real skills to disavow me of that notion, that what I thought I knew was roughly the toenail of the proverbial elephant, not wrong per se, but about 0.1% of the total picture. Needed a larger drawing board before I could even go back to it. Nope, this is a much larger and more frightening beast than I had thought then.

Again, it's not that some of these concepts weren't present to some small degree in prior CMA training I had gone through - just that I did not really conceive of that extent that I needed to develop them and the tools I needed to go back and reevaluate to do that with. I had massively underestimated the values of certain things (or at least inherited the biases of my teachers),and massively overestimated the values of other things.

But if you're just stuck too much on the terms and their origins, well, you may be missing out on real skills that you could be developing. Hell, maybe you really do even know what to look for at least to qualitatively identify the internal skill set, such as it is named, but perhaps have not really run into anyone yet who can show you the right quantities?

Last edited by Lee Salzman : 01-22-2013 at 05:17 AM.
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