Dojo: AIA, Los Angeles, CA
Join Date: Apr 2005
Re: Musings on a Hawaii IP Seminar
Then why not get back to discussing what might really be going on?
Please feel free to tear me apart...
I've been to seminars with Mike Sigman, a bunch with Dan, finally got to train a bit with Howard Popkin, and Toby Threadgill I consider a friend who is a veritably fountain of knowledge. And I've had time with top students of various other folk including Chin, Ark, Ikeda, and others.
Now I'm giving those names to say what I've done (and my origins are BJJ years ago, Judo as well, dabbling in various striking arts, and then finally settling in Seidokan (Rod Kobayashi) many moons ago. Everything that follows is my take. Nothing is meant to be representative of what any individual named person teaches and I'm sure I'm screwing up tons of it.
So here's my take on a small detail...
What I find is an amazing amount of overlap. And some really powerful people with deeply expanded toolboxes. What I also find is insights in to how to greatly improve my Aikido. Be it dramatically increased stability or vastly more power to move and do things in that relaxed way my sensei were always telling me to have. What I mean is more explanation about what it means to "extend ki". What might be happening in the body, not just from the outside but from the inside. Not just the external "look" but from the internal manipulation making it happen.
For me a good example is unbendable arm. Now consider the normal version of the exercise. Maybe you keep your hand relaxed or maybe you do the "morning glory" hand shape (a la Yoshinkan). Make sure the shoulder is down in side the shoulder socket. Stable and attached to your body properly (which is what most any good sensei will tell you anyway). This allows proper connection to the structures of your entire body and keeps you from "isolating" your arm from the rest of you. Sink it down. Now extend the arm with the hand out a la Yoshinkan, but really try to feel the connection running from your little finger down your forearm (as you bend your elbow slightly rotating the "flower" that is your hand forward and to the sky), through your elbow, and in to your torso itself. Done correctly you can even feel things pulling down in the side of your torso (connection). Now think about an opposing energy extending forward along the top of the arm, through your shoulder, through your bicep, and also meeting at the little finger and extending forward and up. And test unbendable arm again. See if you can feel the test actually pulling on the connection deep in to your torso *rather* that just pulling on your tricep. So the idea is to use *all* that tissue to "absorb" the energy of the test, redirect it, or whatever mental trick you need to use.
Now if you can do this and feel "stronger", think about a connected body working similarly. Instead of doing a movement like a sayu with your "arm" over someone, how about your arm is in the exact same position but they feel like your entire body is on their chest. And when they try to "push back" they don't feel either a disconnect arm or they don't feel a rock hard structure, but they feel a heavier, stronger thing that doesn't appear to have a center (because it is distributed throughout the body and can be changed by how the "insides move" (isn't that one of Ikeda's favorite statements?).
I find it increasingly possible to "put my weight in my hands". Even during techniques, in motion, and frankly it's becoming almost reflexive. Yes, I have a lot of work to do still, but I find I can put on things with power even with my arms extended in ways that were never before possible. Because I feel the connection in my body developing stronger and faster with the exercises I've been taught. And because of the changed perspective of some of the details of what's going on.
No, it wasn't "just do this". It was "Okay, let's develop the sensitivity and the connections. Now do this everyday for 6 months and we'll meet again." Rinse, lather and repeat.
WRT to all the other stuff in this thread, like I said before I get the skepticism. I had it too. I'm not saying anyone's mind would be changed, but I'll also say I've seen very few walk away from a good in person encounter thinking their time was wasted. WRT to stories about who was manhandled by whom, yeah, those kind of things always beg clarification. I know some take it very seriously and get upset to hear those things. But I also know I've seen guys who were quite capable walk out with a changed mind themselves but not always wanting to go "public" with the discussion. Hell, I have seniors in my organization looking at me sideways rather often. And since I find myself often on the outs with a variety of folk, well, I've become rather resigned to being true to myself and knowing me talking about this stuff here may not be doing me any favors with *some* folk in my own organization. So be it. So I also get the hesitation. I spent a lot of years "going outside" but keeping it totally quiet. But... Life's too short. At least for me.
So carry on. And fire away. Hopefully I can answer any questions about the simple exercise I outlined. And while I'm sure many are saying "hey, that's what I already do", well, that may be the case. However, I've seen a whole lot of people over the years saying that who change what they say after they get on the mat with some folk who do it really, really well. And you find there is a factor of magnitude involved...
All that said... Happy holidays, all. I respect all of you guys on both sides. Might I suggest a few deep cleansing breaths, let it go, and move on? And let's talk about what we can productively discuss in a limited forum like this.