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Old 03-30-2007, 08:39 AM   #29
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Ki-Aikido or Taiji - effectiveness in developing Qi?

A big issue is that many, if not most folks, have not had the experience of training with anyone who has these skills in a very developed way. So they simply don't know what Robert is talking about.

Years ago, Saotome Sensei, who is about 135 lbs., was doing some jo nage at a demo. His uke was a young guy fresh out of college who had played football there. He was literally twice Sensei's size and absolutely in peak condition. Sensei at one point made an error and dropped the jo.... we were always told to attack and hold nothing back in that kind of situation so my friend charged Sensei with the intention of grabbing him and breaking his balance. A former teammate of my friend was watching and later said that Sensei saw the uke coming and simply went into hanmi whereupon my friend simply bounced off him and fell down.

What allows Vladimir Vasiliev to hit you with strike that looks like nothing and put you in the ground? Or Ushiro Kenji to change the stability of your structure by how he touches you with his attention? What allows someone like Kuroda Sensei or Angier Sensei to drop you and you don't feel them doing anything? I am over 300 lbs and these guys, less than half my size, can do this.

The first step in trying to raise the quality level in Aikido is to have people see and preferably feel what internal power feels like. Most aikido one sees around is basically based on efficient movement principles and application of force against weak lines of the body. I could stop technique done in that manner even before I started doing any training that wound be construed as "internal".

It's not that these skills are absent within the Aikido community, it's that the small number who have some level of this skill are very small and as much of the discussion on the forum has pointed out, even the ones who do have something haven't figured out how to pass it on. That's why someone like Ikeda Sensei, who is Saotome Sensei's top student, is so excited about training with Ushiro Kenji Sensei. Ushiro Sensei has a systematic way of explaining and teaching these principles. Ushiro Sensei has allowed Ikeda Sensei and some of the others training with Saotome Sensei to start understanding just what it's been that Sensei had that we couldn't quite figure out. Saotome Sensei simply didn't have a vocabulary to describe it.

There are varying aspects of these skills as well. There is the aspect of how one uses ones attention (or ki, or whatever) to effect the opponent / partner. Ushiro Sensei's teaching focuses on this a great deal. I felt it for years from saotome sensei but didn't quite get what he was doing.
There is the aspect of neutralizing the opponent / partner's power on contact, which would be something that Yamaguichi Sensei used to focus on. You can really see this with teachers like Endo Sensei or Kuroda Sensei, or even with the top Systema guys. The there is the aspect of power release. Saotome Sensei has this more than any Aikido teacher in the States I have seen although Ikeda Sensei is close and getting better. But generally, this would be the aspect that I think is least developed in the Aikido folks I have seen and even the guys in Aikido who are the best at it haven't developed the skills to the limit. Some of the old guys had it, I haven't see it passed on to their students. Whereas you can see it in the top Chinese practitioners. I have felt it myself in my short exposure to what Mike Sigman teaches and it's quite extraordinary. I think it is this aspect especially that requires the kind of solo practice that Dan, Rob and Mike have been talking about.

This is why it is so important to get out and see what is out there (and why some teachers may not want you to). Most folks simply have no experience of what really high skill is. You can see this in these discussions when folks start talking at cross purposes because they simply aren't talking about the same things.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 03-30-2007 at 08:42 AM.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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