Any way: Learn the kata/shapes/waza, do some aiki exercises, then add what you `feel` to one of your waza and experiment.
Yes, I am definitely in the camp of "you need a vessel in which to pour water." I think this is complicated because I am currently of the mind that some of the aikido curriculum has been distorted over the years as external "fixes" have been applied to the gaps created by not practicing internal training. While not wanting to throw out the baby with the bathwater, I think it fair to be cautious evaluating the kata to make sure it is what we should be doing (in order to prevent un-learning it later).
Here's my take. I've visited Jon, who is working on these things and has hosted them. What is being done as he is adapting it seems to me perfectly valid, though approaching it from a perspective probably alien to the way most aikido praxis has evolved (and in which evolution there is much to criticize, in truth).
I think the "shaping" observation in both comments is common ground. If I were to make a observation these two approaches are on either end of a bell curve -- one where -- ideally the "shape" is confined within the body and its resulting internal stress profiles -- and the other using the dynamic "shape" (of those same shape stress profiles ) but deployed into motion.
From a teaching standpoint, I will say it takes a very long time to get people attuned to their internal structural state. They are simply too unconscious of it -- and have been basically since they learned to walk without thinking. This stuff requires as much consciousness in adapting your structural responses as it did when learning to walk (and I find the two are more related than not, actually.)
Where the evolved praxis in aikido fell down (heh), it seems to me, is that the dynamics took two endpoints and took shortcuts and failed to follow the true "shapes" of the dynamic outside the body -- which is the same "shape" as the internal stress flowing into the body. If the shape outside the body is correc then when that movement resolves into internal stress - and the natural reversals of that stress (inyo ho) then occur inside the body as that happens. Then they flow out as movement again. Aiki Taiso are full of this.
Water assumes the same shape as the bowl -- but without the bowl it is a hopelessly formless mess. Freeze the water -- and it will keep the shape even without the bowl -- but at the price of its fluidity. Swirl the bowl and water develops the typical spiral movement and a torsional stress profile that then overcomes gravity and rises up the bowl's edges, (and also drops in the center).
The dynamic vortex has internal stresses that hold it in a stable and coherent structural form like the waterspout -- and it resolves its external movements and energies in a reverse flow (many people are not aware of this bit of physics (see e.g. -- vortex tube
) -- The waterspout has a rising external spiral and a descending internal spiral (90 degrees out of phase -- i.e. - 十字 juji
) which balances and gives it both its coherent structure and its inherent power to disrupt anything that comes within its influence. (It is the same structural stress path as a torsional shear in the body, FWIW). The water merely swirling in the bowl lacks this fully circulating balanced and opposed stress/flow but shows its basic dynamic (rising outside, falling in the center).
The awareness of this "shape"
and its reversals occurring ("intent" -- or nen
念 (attention, feeling, sense)) is common to BOTH schools of thought, FWIW. I think it perhaps more than providential that a cognate to this 念 nen
-- is 捻 (nen
= twist, torque) (used in 捻転 (nenten
= twisting, torsion). I shrink from concluding this is necessarily some sort of okuden
wordplay - but the point suggests itself.
True aiki -- it seems to me -- is that "shape" -- whether the static stress form as the in-yo
poles shift places within the body -- or the dynamic movement form as they flow out of it (and then again reverse within the body of the unprepared adversary). Train that true "shape" externally, and one can become aware of that "shape" as its stresses resolve and reverse in the body. This is what started me down this road in my training.
A fair bit of what is being sought in the approach beginning internally is disclosed in this way through CORRECT shape in movement. Too much in what is trained now more generally is not correct
in these terms of "shape." I have not enough exposure to the internal modes of training (past what Jon has kindly shown) to say how much more the internal approach can cover and that the other may not. One weakness I will fully admit is that what I've done requires close observation of developing stress and resulting movement simultaneously -- and lots of people have problems with those just taken one at a time.
I think both perspectives are necessary. Kokyu tanden ho remains in the evolved curriculum to refocus on the isolated stress perspective. Much that is being pursued in the internal approach appears to add immense value and expansion to this aspect -- and may be employed even without departing traditional forms -- and may actually bring the forms back to what they should be.