Shaun Ravens wrote:
[In Re Misogi: Snipping to highlight] There is a real basis for this practice, one rooted in a physical science and training directly related to our aikido training. Simply it is used to develop "Kokyu" or breath power. Kokyu is made up of two Kanji, "Ko" - meaning to breath out, and Kyu" - to breath in.
Although Kokyu is more or less translated as "breath power", it's more than that. It's part breath (an important part) and part a skill of forming paths to the ground (or paths from the weight in downward cases, but that's another story). Many of the demonstrations O-Sensei did, like the jo trick, like taking a steady push to his head while seated, like taking a push from a student's head into his stomach, etc., etc., are actually demonstrations of Kokyu as well. The literal meaning is not always what the idiomatic meaning is, in many languages.
The "rowing exercise" is probably a great basic exercise to focus on, but let me add a thought or two, if I may. Again there is the breathing part, but it is essentially a qigong that affects the body as a whole (think of it as pressurizing and de-pressurizing the skin of a football with the intent of strengthening the skin). The more readily accessible part of the "rowing", despite any comments about speed, is in how the oar is moved. A good practice toward correct rowing would be to take a 10-pound brick and put it on a table in front of you at about stomach height. As you push the brick forward with your hands, actually let the movement of the dantien forward be the power actually pushing the brick (maybe think of your dantien being where your hands are). As you pull the brick, think of an imaginary string from the brick to your obi and pull the brick with your obi. That's how to correctly work with a brick and also with the single oar in the back of the fishing boats the Japanese used.
In other words, I liked your post, but I felt like the focus was too much on the breath, which is not all Kokyu is about. But I really appreciate your laying out those eight steps. Good information.