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Old 01-14-2007, 09:15 PM   #2
Mike Sigman
Location: Durango, CO
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 4,123
Re: Baseline skillset

Oh, I didn't see that you'd initiated the new thread until just now, Ignatius.

OK, let me try to say something about baseline skills, using the two video clips of O-Sensei and Master Sum.

Let me start off using the Ki Society approach as an example. The Ki Society uses static "Ki Tests" and "Movement with Ki". That's perfect as a baseline starting point. Bearing in mind that both static and moving skills can have a wide range of achievement levels, let's just say that what Ueshiba and Sum are doing with the bounce-demo's is really sort of a glorified static example.

For instance, Tohei shows examples where someone pushes against him (let's just say someone is pushing against his chest) and he doesn't move. Essentially what Tohei is doing is "letting Uke's push be taken by his center." In reality, Tohei is not stopping that push with his center, but with the ground and the friction of his footsoles, because if Tohei didn't have the resistance from the ground, the push would move him backward.

So I could draw a line from the point on Tohei's chest where he is being pushed, down through his middle, and then down to his back leg (I'm simplifying; work with me).

While Tohei is letting the push be held with that ground going through him to Uke's hand, he can keep that solidity there while he retreats down slightly onto his back let without breaking the solidity of the ground. Then he can extent upward along that path between the ground and uke's hand. It is only a slight movement, but going down that path (without losing it!) and back up, directly replying into Uke's push... that is the essence of what both Ueshiba and Sum are doing, when you cut to the chase.

The baseline skill would be to simply be able to stand and let Uke's push go to the ground.... anything above that is an increase away from the baseline skill. Receiving and pushing along the path from the ground, for instance would be a first step above the baseline skill of just holding the push. Ueshiba added something in addition to that and Sum added even more factors.... but they based the "bounces" from the baseline skill. I know what Sum used (because I have the experience to see what he's doing) and I know a different method that is arguably (it's a moot point) more powerful in a certain respect... but it is still just an add-on to the baseline skill that is being taught in the Ki Society training. See how all of these things are just variations of the same thing?

My comment, BTW, to Ki Society people is ..... you've got a viably good start; now go further. Figure out what Sum is doing.

In terms of movement skills, you have to take the unusual power of letting the ground (or weight) go through you and make it a part of all of your movements. I like the Ki Society approach to a large extent (although I have a few quibbles that are, of course, just personal opinion). But wait a minute.... all that means is that if you start with the static skills, everything builds from that. And that's true. There's your baseline starting point.

O-Sensei's and Tohei's approach to imbuing their bodies' movement with the static power... everywhere in the body and at all times... was to relax and work with allowing that power (the "ki") develop. The relaxation is critical (this is why doing weight training or other muscular-effort exercises on the side is simply counter-productive). My personal opinion is that the "relax" approach is generally one of the best ones.... except it helps to understand what is really going on, in order to make even greater progress, in my opinion.

So that would be my comment on baseline skills.... start with static practices (I'll comment on specific ones if someone wants to discuss certain ones) and then begin to imbue via the relaxation approach into movements.

What about "standing" exercises, Akuzawa's approach, etc.? I haven't met Ark or Rob, but technically what they're doing is or can be part of a way of conditioning the same things. Used wrongly, both "standing" practices and Akuzawa's approach can lead to increased strength, but not quite the correct strength. Same as the idea that yes, you can do exactly the same looking Aikido techniques using muscle and using the correct skillset, but even though they look the same they are quite different "inside".

My 2 cents.

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