Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido
The two biggest surprises for me in the seminar were how many times something I'd been shown previously came close (in apparent form) to things Mike demonstrated, in some cases had been demonstrated and described with literally identical language, but missed completely in terms of the effects generated (or only foreshadowed in a very limited way what might be possible), and how many times in the seminar we were able to experience at least an initial measure of the effects we were looking for. Now, sure, the experience was within an artfully set up and carefully controlled, learning environment (both factors a measure of just how much thought and work Mike put into preparations for the seminar). And certainly there's an immense difference between "success" under highly controlled circumstances and being able to do anything similar under more dynamic or freestyle — let alone combative — conditions.
Nevertheless, it was very encouraging to discover that what we learned in the seminar could make a difference in our practice, right away. Something as "simple" and purely mechanical as into which area of my foot I direct my weight makes a difference. So what if something like that's the most rudimentary precursor to actual internal skills? It's effective, it's simple enough that beginners can comprehend and integrate the concept to technique and, quite frankly, that one tidbit alone would have for me been worth the price of admission.
And there was so much more.
I will say most definitely that the past five years of our training guided by Amdur Sensei, with his particular focus on vectors of movement and his plan that our training eventually move into investigation of internal skills based on that foundation, have provided a distinct advantage in starting this study. But I think anyone with a creditable background in traditional arts is going to see things on exposure to internal skills provoking a response of, "Oh!" Not in the sense of, "Oh, now I know exactly all about that!" but rather along the lines of, "Oh, so that's what that was about!" It's a starting point.
Our dojo tends to operate on the principle of, "More is better, and too much is not enough." We're never satisfied. So I'm interested if something adds even so little as a consistent 5% improvement in the effectiveness of a technique. From a going-in position of moderate skepticism, I'm more than willing now to concede that acquisition and incorporation of internal skills has the potential to increase the effectiveness of techniques very substantially, perhaps hugely beyond a happy 5%, to a degree probably limited only by the dedication of the student over an extended period of time and his access to quality, knowledgeable instruction ("close" clearly doesn't count in this area of study).
Based on more than 30 years exposure to a fairly wide segment of martial arts in the United States, I think there's only a very small percentage chance that most of the people saying "We already have that" with respect to internal skills really have anything at all to speak of. And — in consequence of that attitude — there's virtually a 100% chance they're never going to get it. But, again, so what? People train for a lot of difference reasons, and if whatever they have is good enough for them at the moment, great. Researchers like Mike are offering an avenue of study and training that has the potential to transform one's practice, even one's physical well being.
I'm grateful for the opportunity.