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Old 02-02-2010, 07:40 AM   #97
Location: Rotterdam
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 459
Re: Kokyu development for Aiki in Aikido

Jonathan Olson wrote: View Post
You are asking me to put body mechanics into words that I have yet to fully understand in my own body. The best I can do is this, I don't suppose it'll satisfy either Joep or Ignatius.
There's something interesting happening here. You're posting under the assumption that if you put caveats in your post, you'll be cut some slack. I'm posting under the assumption that everything that's posted is open for discussion. I think we're both correct in our assumptions, but if we continue for too long in this way, we'll find the quality of discussion going downhill quite quickly. You'll be doing the best job you can to find the right words, only to find me critiquing everything you say. Result: we both lose.
So instead of mostly commenting on what you write, I'll focus more on adding my view on things.

Rowing exercise: I consider it is going well when I stay balanced, back straight (as in head over hips), movement generated from the legs, always keeping at least part of my weight on each foot. Arms relaxed but controlled (not floppy and following a clearly defined path but without the feeling that the arm muscles are generating the motion). Feeling that the hands are being pushed out and brought in by the center directly. A bit of a snap at both the out and in, with the feeling of the energy going passed the hands on the out and into the hips on the in. Less of a snap and more of a bounce when I do it slowly.
Something that has worked for me is not moving my arms at all, but just doing the weight shift. That way you're sure the only power that's being generated is coming from the legs and the only thing you have to worry about is how to get that power to the hands. When that's in order, one can start moving the arms.
I haven't been working on the snapping yet. Am building up to it, but at the moment it results in too much involvement of the muscles in my arms and shoulder.

Kokyu-ho: Ability to receive a push with tensing my arms or shoulders. Sometimes I'll try this while keeping extension (which I find difficult as I have trouble with my shoulders tensing) and sometimes I'll let my hand come back to my torso or thighs, in which case the feeling is similar to the "in" from the rowing exercise. Then try to work the connection through ukes hands to either lock up his arms (easy with stiff beginners, I don't really manage it with more skilled ukes) or break up his posture by getting inside his push and raising his elbows. On the uke side, I try to push from my center without tensing the arms or shoulders (some similarity to the out of the rowing exercise, also similarity to tsuki with a bokken).
What do you feel when you receive a push without tension in arms or shoulders? I'm happy with myself if I don't feel any tension anywhere in my body and I do feel more weight resting on my lower legs. (When standing up, I'd feel more weight resting on my feet.)
IMO, stage one for kokyu-ho would be to gound uke's push and then to come up and forward by unbending the legs without introducing any tension in the body. (Feeling the leg muscles do some work is unavoidable, of course.)
Stage two would be not to ground uke's push dead-on, but at an angle, so that he pushes himself away. (This will not work if uke realizes in time you're messing with the angles, btw. But that's not a big issue: it just means that it won't work when uke has more skill than you and is not allowing you to have it work.)

I never said straightness and groundedness were the same thing, just that I considered them two of Claude's strengths posture wise.
By straightness you mean head over hips, right?
I wasn't trying to imply you thought those two as the same thing. I linked the two together: straight back means relaxed lower back, which improves ones groundedness.

Joep, if your going to critique my teacher, I'd like a counter-example. I'd also like to know what your experience is, what knowledge are you basing your judgement on.
Re: the counter-example: you want a video from someone who I'd consider as someone with a relaxed lower back and little to no isolated arm movement? I can't think of one at the moment. Perhaps I can find one of an older O-Sensei doing bokken suburi, but that would be somewhat a cheap move, as videos of O-Sensei are part of the definition of Aikido.
Secondly, wouldn't it be better if I just explained why I think these things are important? See the rest of my post for this.
Thirdly, why ask for my experience? Discussing the two points I raised and seeing if I have anything meaningful to say about them seems to me more productive.
Finally, I don't think I can provide any worthwhile verifiable information on my experience or knowledge. I've practiced Aikido for about 7 years, my grade is Shodan. I've been to one Akuzawa seminar and two of Mike Sigman's. And I've been practicing Taikiken for about three years now. So what does that tell you? (I'm truly curious.)

As for why I think the shoulders should stay relaxed. Pure empiricism, my techniques work better and are successful with more resistant ukes when they are relaxed. I don't claim to have figured out the mechanics. When they are tight I tend to get disrupted and my center thrown off too easily. I get locked up, true both as uke and nage.
Tension in the shoulder creates an easy lever for the other guy to manipulate your upper body. If you can relax your whole body and let the power pass to the ground (grounding a push) or come up from the ground (pushing) through your body, there is no easy lever for the other guy to manipulate you with. Either there is no lever (you're 'stronger' than he is) or your whole body is the lever (he's 'stronger' than you are).
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