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Old 02-18-2005, 12:14 PM   #3
Mike Sigman
Location: Durango, CO
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 4,123
Re: Functional Ki Skills

Rob Liberti wrote:
Gleason sensei often talks about how we set up initial tension and then release it while we are using our body's weight. This kind of sets up a more dynamic approach to using your middle without tension while doing waza. That is a fairly big difference in the way it seems that he does aikido and the way many others do (in that I never feel them set that initial tension up - because they are so busy blending and almost avoiding my push into their center when I grab them).
Bear in mind that I don't know Gleason Sensei or what he knows, so it's hard for me to comment intelligently on your description. Moving the middle is one thing.... connecting it to the hands at all times is another matter, as is coordinating that connection. That's what the practice is all about. Connecting the body can be thought of as having two things to worry about: a "push" using your middle can be said to more or less be transmitted from the middle by the "bones" (not totally true, but close enough for what I want to say); a "pull" using your middle can be thought of more or less as going through the skin, fascia, etc., along the outside of the body to the hara. Let's think of that outter return path as being sort of like a "suit", maybe like a Spiderman suit. You can practice by moving in the aikido exercises (notice how many of them involve large circular movements of the arms, which keeps the "suit" more or less extended and wrinkle-free). The Aikido warmup exercises are terrific for practicing this, when done slowly.

Some Chinese use standing postures to strengthen the connection of their "bones" and also to strengthen the connection power of their "suit". For instance, one old exercise to strengthen the suit's ability to convey down power from the middle to the palms was to put an inflated goat's bladder in a tub of water and stand for long periods letting the body's weight sink the bladder somewhat. There are a lot of tricks for strengthening the body to tie the middle with the rest of the body. Heck, think about the wrist exercises just about every dojo does. Think of the Sankyo one, which is said to "bring ki to the wrists and hands". The way it does that is for you to relax and allow the twist you are doing to your hand to wind all the way along the "suit" of your arm until you can feel it sort of twisting at your kidney area. And so on..... what I'm trying to get at is that I'm uncomfortable with the word "tension" except in a "stretched" sense. You have to be relaxed and develop these things over time. The "bone"/frame strengthening can be done very well with standing, too, but there are a lot of variations.
Also, if you grab my wrist, and I stay relaxed yet inflated (for lack of a better term) and keep my wrist up and fnigers down and walk in a direction that is just slightly going past your front you will be lifted up by just maintaining your grab (and having to walk backwards in the same way you suggested to maintain that grab). I'm not sure how that drill exactly fits into "weight underside" or is that extend ki?! That's the problem, I can do some of these things, but I can't map a term onto the experience so the terms say a bit meaningless to me!
I'm not sure I can exactly picture what you're trying to say with that example you used, Rob. Your hands, arms, shoulders, whatever should always be connected to your middle at all times and you should relaxedly always be in a position to take a moderate force from the front or the rear or either side or downward at anytime.... while at the same time you should be able to generate a push or pull in any direction. Just to reinforce that thought, imagine this: I am standing in front of you holding your lapels, the backs of my fists against your chest through the gi. With no movement of my body I can will different forces to my hands so that you feel a push (at any angle) or a pull (at any angle) or a lift or a downweighting. That's how much my hands must be connected to my middle and how much the mind is involved.

A second point needs to be made that the middle is in the hands at all times during movement, not just statically. If I do let's say "Sayu Undo", but without moving my feet (to simplify). The arms go through a circle and wind up elbows-down like I'm dropping someone in a throw. If you think about that circle as you're doing it, the arms are pushed up, pushed horizontally, and then weighted down. The power of the middle must be moving the arms through every increment of the circle at all times. Learning to move like this takes a while. Making this sort of movement instinctive means applying yourself to all of your daily movements. Cooperative practice is a fine tool as long as you're analyzing each portion of your movement to be sure the middle is powering the direction of your body and the movment of your arms. Competing or too rough practice, IMO, will simply hinder development of these skills.

And hey..... we haven't even mentioned the tricky points and Ki stuff yet, have we???

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