Re: Up on your toes: cleaning the gutters
Hi Dan. Just did the exercise and studied what was happening. I personally found it no problem to do for three minutes but did notice many things whilst doing it.
Reminded me actually of working off of a ladder where standing on the ball of your feet is the modus operandi.
Also I could notice how things can start to tighten, things can start to twitch etc. etc.
I ended up doing some experiments....bending the knees outwards to see the difference, bending one knee forward to see the difference etc.
I could also see that no different to any exercise that doing more over a period of time would improve the ability and experience. My conclusions were maybe different in some ways to yours and maybe the same in other ways.
Firstly it reminded me of other similar exercises for other parts of the body and what the purpose of those exercises are. The purpose of those is to learn to relax those parts which tense up and as you say where Ki or energy locks up. So yes, to clear the gutters. No different when you think about it to the different postures of yoga.
Secondly I found that the big toe is bigger than the others for a reason as it is used more. However the purpose of toes must not be forgotten for the simplicity of their purpose is that of assisting balance in movement. So it depends how you are moving as to which toes are brought more into play as assiststants. I found standing static was more centred and calm when all toes were equally in use and then even more comfortable when it felt like none of them were even being used.
For those who haven't exercised in that way or had not so much call to do so in their daily lives then it's also to remember that there are tendons etc. involved and for them getting the tendons used to stretching in such a way would take some time too irrespective of blocked energy.
Finally when you relate it to Aikido and irimi as a personal thing I disagree. But that's another story ha, ha.
Anyway, they are my thoughts.