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Old 05-09-2011, 11:07 AM   #13
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,220
United Kingdom
Re: Kodo Horikawa's aiki

Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
There are some mechanical things you can do to help, extending your hands down and out to raise your hands rather than simply raising them in a normal arc, but that's avoiding the real work I'm afraid. You have to condition your body to be able to support itself against forces without the use of the major muscles. The only way to do this is to do things with light enough pressure that those major muscles aren't activated. Over time the connections become strong enough to provide support without those major muscles. The only way to get that base conditioning is to start as light as possible. Anything that causes the major muscles to kick in means that those "other muscles" aren't getting conditioned, which means you'll never avoid using them in some form or another.
Hi Jason,

I think your point above is very important and has to be grasped by anyone wanting to move their practice onto a different level.

I am of the mind that many who practice with uke fully resisting will impede their process as they will almost certainlly engage the major muscles. I agree the light pressure approach allows for the sensitivity required to know when the major muscles kick in. Once the conditioning is in place, then higher stess testing is possible as the conditioned body will relax and only use what is minimally neccessary to moved the opponent.

For instance, hold your hand out in front of you and have someone push on it. If you relax your shoulders as completely as possible what tpyically happens is that your shoulder will kind of collapse back. If you force your shoulder to not collapse, the rest of the shoulder will engage pretty quickly. If you do the same thing with just a small amount of force you can suppot it, but without the shoulder collapsing and without the major muscles kicking in to support it. If you do that for a little while you'll find that the shoulder becomes capable of supporting more force while retaining that same relaxed strength as it had when you were being pushed on with little to no force. Every joint in the body can be conditioned in a similarly, but the major ones that seem to often get in the way are the shoulders/chest, lower back and pelvis area.
This seems to me to be pretty close to one of Tohei's ki development exercises

Getting under someone without dropping your center just means that you are directing force at them, lower than their center of gravity. Imagine a steel pole buried in the ground. Since the pole doesn't flex or give in any way, you could say that it is an extension of the ground. With enough of the above you would get to a point that by keeping yoru body relaxed you are like that pole, a conduit to the ground and when you move your forces are originating from the ground so that everythign you put out is always lower than the other person.
I like that visualization, I will play with that one if I may.

I offer the clip below as an exercise for anyone to try as I think it relates well to the thread OP

Recently I found I could describe some of this to my class in a different way than I had before. And I offer it as an opportunity for you to try out and let me know what you experience from your perspective. Let me say though, I have only done this with my own students and have not tested it out on an outsider like you describe in your post above.

I have uke hold my wrists and push them towards my body, trapping them at the top of leg groin area ( a groundpath is established of course). Then I imagine this - My arms are like two ropes and have no strength of their own. My one point/hara/dantien call it what you will is like a balloon that has pressure inside it. The pressure from the uke on the outside is eqaul to the pressure from the hara on the inside, there is equilibrium and my hands are 'trapped' between the two opposing forces. Then and this is where the interesting stuff starts, I mentally increase the pressure/ki from the inside, so the balloon starts to get bigger and bigger. At all times I feel my hands and arms are like innocent bystanders, as they remain squashed between uke and the internal pressure of the balloon. As a connection has already been made with uke at the start, I never fail to move uke backwards with surprising ease.

Similar to the exercise you describe ( I've seen it on vid). But maybe with the difference of my weird way of thinking.

I love this stuff, it is what keeps me going and looking for more effective ways of doing things.

It is good that there are people honestly searching for things that others don't believe exist or dont want to believe or can't be bothered to put the time in to discover. In reallity though if it works it works. How we describe it will be subjective and hopefully some will manage to objectify what is realy going on.


Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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