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Old 01-14-2007, 06:55 PM   #1
eyrie
 
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Baseline skillset

From the Stealing Techniques thread... http://aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11621

Notes: Topic devolved to side discussion about what constitutes a baseline skillset for (western) Aikido to move forward with, and how a comparative analysis of ethnocentrically-related MAs might be a start in that direction.

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
On a side note, I posted a comparison of 2 videos the other day on QiJing which I think is worth mulling over. It's a brief look at a small part of the overall skills included in the ki/kokyu area (by no means is it meant to represent all there is). The first video is of Ueshiba showing a few bits of bouncing Uke's away using kokyu and ki (he's over 80 years old, so his level is not up for discussion. Period). The second video is someone skilled in Yiquan (I-chuan) doing some of the same things. These are Asia-wide demonstrations of the same power and you'll find them in Ueshiba, Yiquan, Taiji, Japanese sword experts, Xingyi, you name it. Understanding that these skills are common to Asian arts is a big step forward:

Ueshiba Sensei demo:
http://www.neijia.com/UeshibaKokyu.wmv

Master Sum demo:
http://homepage.mac.com/thewayofyiqu...Theater24.html

Ignatius
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:15 PM   #2
Mike Sigman
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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.

Mike
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Old 01-15-2007, 03:42 AM   #3
eyrie
 
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Re: Baseline skillset

I see what you mean by "baseline"... you're not giving the farm away just yet...

So, essentially, what this "baseline" is, is a way to train and condition the body in preparation for martial use? And that such core body skills are applicable to a broad spectrum of East/South East Asian martial arts? The "master-key" so to speak...?

I have some questions, related to a different "layer", but I'll let the thread develop a bit first...

Ignatius
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Old 01-15-2007, 05:41 AM   #4
Mark Freeman
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Re: Baseline skillset

I completely agree with Mike's post above, and would like to add that while this explanation covers the baseline skills, the 'added extra' that is mentioned and is seen in the clips provided, is in the manipulation of the attacker/uke's ki/intent. This is done before skin touches skin.
Uke's push eminates from the mind, the body provides the 'vehicle' for this to happen. It is this intent that is 'accepted' and 'returned back to' through the medium of the completely co-ordinated mind/ body. In effect the pusher is confronted by their own ki/mind and this at the higher levels is where the seemingly effortless 'bounce' comes from.
Ueshiba, Tohei, Sum and many others have the completely co-ordinated mind body that is the basis for this to happen. When the body is completely relaxed, then the mind is free to manipulate the ki/mind of the incoming attack. If the attackers mind is lead then the body must follow, it doesn''t have alot of choice.
If Aikido practice does not have practice of these co-ordination skills built in, then reaching these higher levels is going to be erratic at best.

regards,

Mark

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Old 01-15-2007, 06:40 AM   #5
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Re: Baseline skillset

There is a difference to me in the two video's. In Ueshiba's video, the movements are familiar to me, and I have experienced being unable to push your lift someone. In the second video. The uke seems to just hop away with the slightest movement, sometimes even where there is no contact.

I have never been in the presence of a man that can throw me without touching me, or knock me 6 feet back with a flinch of his leg. So I am skeptical and unable to comment on it.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 01-15-2007, 08:56 AM   #6
Mike Sigman
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Re: Baseline skillset

Quote:
Don Magee wrote:
There is a difference to me in the two video's. In Ueshiba's video, the movements are familiar to me, and I have experienced being unable to push your lift someone. In the second video. The uke seems to just hop away with the slightest movement, sometimes even where there is no contact.

I have never been in the presence of a man that can throw me without touching me, or knock me 6 feet back with a flinch of his leg. So I am skeptical and unable to comment on it.
Well, I was going to talk about that and I was waiting for an entre'.... so thanks, Don.

First of all, look at the Uke's in the Ueshiba video and watch how many of them are taking a dive or responding to hand gestures, too-light movements, etc. If you show that video clip to an experienced outsider, he's going to make a rude noise. Usually someone either makes a disparaging remark or they "believe completely because it's Ueshiba". In the actual chest and thigh bounces by Ueshiba (all I'm interested in, in this clip), I watch how Ueshiba does it, how much effort he uses and I factor in how much, if any, uke appears to be over-acting. I watch Ueshiba's hips, his head, and his feet. Regardless of Uke I can judge fairly closely, IMO, Ueshiba's power. It's OK... moderate... about what I would expect from someone that used to be very powerful but his now well into his 80's.

Sum is a Hong Kong guy and Hong Kong and southern Chinese uke's have an annoying habit of over-hopping to slight pushes. Sometimes they do it prematurely (they have that same teacher-student relationship and want to be 'respectful' to the teacher). So I watch Sum and his uke together at first in order to quickly judge whether it's all acting or if Sum has some real power, I immediately see that Sum has some real power, but the full extent of it I can't get an accurate feel for except in a couple of the demo's because of Uke's over-acting and because Uke is pushing stiffly and maintaining that stiffness so that Sum can utilize that stiffness during the bounce (Ueshiba's Uke will do that too, if you watch).

So anyway, I see Sum as being fairly powerful.... in that particular setup. If you tangle with someone like Sum, it will feel like you have run into an unstoppable metal robot because of the type of power he has built up through breathing, standing, movement exercises, etc. It's very weird when you encounter one of these guys... they're like nothing you've ever felt before.

That being said, I'll tell you a few of my other personal thoughts about Sum's abilities. These guys like to practice that particular type of "bounce away" over and over. They get very skilled at it... it's sort of a set-up. Then again, to be fair, one of the problems in Aikido is that it is full of set-ups as well and to a neophyte who doesn't understand all the proscribed attacks, behaviour, and responses, Aikido "effectiveness" appears to be much more than it is, often.

So we've got Sum using a very clever set of mechanics (and yeah, Ignatius, I'm not going to say what they are on a public forum), but in some ways he's like a martial artist that also does body-building (if you'll allow me to loosely say that these kinds of strength/skill development are akin to "body building", because it's an apt analogy). If the martial artist spends most of his time building his strength and doesn't do enough training in techniques, all that strength doesn't do him much good. This, unfortunately, has been the case with too many yiquan people... they have this enormous power, but they can't use it well (most of them), so yiquan has never become famous as a truly effective martial art (I could tell stories).

So from my view, I really like Yiquan as a body-training methodology. Anyone could use aspects of Yiquan-type systemic training and get pretty powerful (if they do it right.... same problem in yiquan in that the top guys don't want to *really* tell the full training secrets).

So all that being said, I agree Don... the show is distorted by the too-willing uke's. But from experience I'd say that you'd probably be a little shocked at how strongly they can knock you backward through the air.

Great point. Thanks for bringing it up.

Mike
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:05 AM   #7
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Re: Baseline skillset

Thanks for the discussion guys (Mike). Just wanted you to know I am following the thread with interest. I appreciate the candor and reality check that you run throughout the post Mike, it keeps things real.
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:14 AM   #8
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Baseline skillset

My understanding of ki testing.

Maruyami Sensei (student of Tohei Sensei and founder of Kokikai Aikido) explained this to us countless times...at every camp and seminar we spent a lot of time developing correct feeling as both the tester and testee.

The whole concept is to develop correct feeling....learning to feel and trust you center. When the tester pushes, it is not to push the testee over. It is to help him develop his center...hence the pushing is not backwards ...but more down and back...towards the the collar bone and sternum. When the tester sees that the testee is not moving...then the testor increases pressure...not with the idea of pushing the testee over but to help them really trust their center. The testers hand is cupped and the tester stands along side the testee using the hand between them to test. The emphasis is never on who can push who over....if the testee loses their balance...the process starts over with both people working toward the goal of developing correct feeling.

Mary
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:34 AM   #9
Mike Sigman
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Re: Baseline skillset

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
Thanks for the discussion guys (Mike). Just wanted you to know I am following the thread with interest. I appreciate the candor and reality check that you run throughout the post Mike, it keeps things real.
Well, I don't want to be the only noise-maker on the thread. One thing that helps about a lot of these discussions, from my perspective, is that it often forces me to think how to say something, which means that I have mull over exactly what's happening. I.e., it helps me clarify for *myself* and makes me critically analyse, looking for all the places where I may be bullshitting myself.

This kind of strength can be unusually strong (depending on how well-rounded you have developed it and how good your training has been) and it is the basis for a surprising number of variations and permutations that you'd never think about until you're shown. It is the "jewel" of martial arts, to that extent. It allows really powerful hitting, throwing, taking of blows (you have to experience this, but it's almost magical), your strength increases extraordinarily (mainly because you wind up blending in the fascial structures into your muscular strength), and so on. Doing the practice winds up massaging the skin, the internal organs, etc., so your health and appearance are affected. It's a real benefit to life.

On the other hand, while it will make you stronger for a given amount of muscle and conditioning, it's more like 5 or 10 % stronger, not like superman. The real part of the "strength" aspect is in the clever way of automatically accessing the ground or gravity for power... the kokyu/jin. The combined kokyu/jin and body/fascia additives are pretty good. If the overall benefits weren't so good, though, and it all boiled down to just strength, I'd have a real question about devoting all this time for a strength that I could mostly replicate at Gold's Gym.

Trust me... I'm not kidding... the overall benefits are worth the effort. The trick is to find a way to get there without having to grovel all over Asia for bits and pieces of how to do it. If you can learn a fairly straight-forward and well-rounded approach to these skills, it is more than worth it. If all you can get is bits and pieces, don't spend that much time at it... go to the gym.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 01-15-2007, 10:17 AM   #10
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Baseline skillset

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
So we've got Sum using a very clever set of mechanics (and yeah, Ignatius, I'm not going to say what they are on a public forum) ...
Ahh. Mechanics. The subject of any number of textbooks. Nothing secret about them. Ueshiba said that "... budo is the life of loving protection and is the source of the activities of science." He urged his students to change the paradigm of teaching and learning into an open one, like science, as he said, putting all his "secret" techniques right out there in the omote forms.

What then is the purpose of touting "baseline" skills in an aikido forum where you are never willing to discuss and speak plainly what you actually mean? If one cannot actually "know" but from feel, then what is the risk?

Budo is risk-taking. There is a risk that, in talking about something, it may not be understood. It is a risk that in speaking so obscurely one might be ignored as having no real "point" to obscure. It is a risk that, saying something, it may be critically examined. It is a risk that it might be challenged.

By what physical mechanism then, you do you say that Master Sum is transmitting the dantien/hara movements that we see in the video?

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 01-15-2007, 10:27 AM   #11
Lee Salzman
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Re: Baseline skillset

Just having an external set of things that you make people do as a lithmus test isn't really much help in moving anything forward, unless your only concern is validating to yourself that someone can do X, Y, and Z. You open yourself up to the possibility that X, Y, and Z are done, but not in the way you supposed they would be. There be giants out there, who don't need more than "normal" strength to fling people away, resist a push, or eat punch and break the other guy's wrist. If your goal is just make it easy to hand out (or not) belts, okay...

If the goal is transmission, it is far more important that you are transmitting the correct internal feeling. In yiquan, this is done sometimes by having the student do an exercise that is designed for no other purpose than to easily feel an internal state that is either extremely similar or the same as an internal feeling he needs to eventually cultivate on his own. So rather than the teacher being empowered to say, "Nope, that didn't look right", the student is empowered to say, "Nope, that didn't FEEL right."

Even still, those sorts of exercises are merely ways of showing what you need to develop, not ways of developing it. Example: To introduce person A to front-back contradictory tensions, person A stands in the all-round post, but with hands overlapping, and person B pushes or pulls on A's hands or back of his neck, while A tries to not let any part of him move or collapse. Now once A succeeds in this exercises, he doesn't go off repeating the exercise over and over, nor treat it as a test where he goes off and does random things meanwhile hoping he will improve for next time he is tested. He knows now what tensions he needs to seek internally and reinforce all over his body in his pile standing when his intent says 'forward' or 'backward'. But even that is worthless without a basic methodology to go with it, showing the student how to strengthen and tune in on what he felt.
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Old 01-15-2007, 10:37 AM   #12
Mike Sigman
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Re: Baseline skillset

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
By what physical mechanism then, you do you say that Master Sum is transmitting the dantien/hara movements that we see in the video?
This is a thread about baseline skills, Erick. The mechanisms Master Sum are using are above that baseline and they involve conditioning the body in unusual ways (in comparison with current western sports physiology) and coordinating a couple of odd approaches. What he does will naturally conform to the laws of physics, just as all card-tricks do.... but like all card-tricks unless you know the secret you're not going to be able to replicate it very well. If you look in post #6, I said, "So we've got Sum using a very clever set of mechanics (and yeah, Ignatius, I'm not going to say what they are on a public forum)".

So Sum is using some clever mechanical and physiological tricks... on top of the baseline skills. Ueshiba is using a little bit of one himself that is on top of the baseline skills (Sum is using it, too).

I've delineated what I think would be a good starting point for a must-have skill level in all Aikido dojo's. If you want to make a side topic and try and guess what the secondary skills are, make a go at it... I'll tell you if you're right, but I'm not going to get into a comprehensive side-issue.

Other than that, I don't want to get into another argument about gyrational movement.... certainly Tohei and Ueshiba are not using gyrational movement when they do a static display of this sort of power. Even in the simple bouncing they're using, the mechanics are more adequately described by elastic potentials and vector forces (although the tricks I mentioned get too complex for that simple model).

Why not just stick to baseline skills of static and simple-movement descriptions of kokyu/ki skills for use in Aikido dojos?

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 01-15-2007, 10:44 AM   #13
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Re: Baseline skillset

Quote:
Lee Salzman wrote:
Even still, those sorts of exercises are merely ways of showing what you need to develop, not ways of developing it. Example: To introduce person A to front-back contradictory tensions,
Good post, Lee. The point of the thread doesn't go that far. From Ueshiba's writing he used some degree of contradictory training, but we're not really trying to do more than describe a baseline of jin and ki development in this thread. The sub-point I'd make is that while you're describing a particular approach within Yiquan, people in yiquan actually have a variety of ways that they teach some of the skills, yet, for the most part, all of them can bounce someone away, regardless of the individual approaches. The same sort of bouncing can be done in Xingyi, Taiji, Shaolin, etc., etc., and they all would have different ways of describing and teaching how to do elementary bouncing, whether contradictory training is explicitly mentioned or not. The main point I'm making is that we probably should stick to just the baseline skills and if we do go into some of the secondary skills, we all need to think exactly what is going on physically and try to avoid the jargon associated with the individual approaches we use.

Best,

Mike
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Old 01-15-2007, 10:56 AM   #14
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Baseline skillset

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
This is a thread about baseline skills, Erick. The mechanisms Master Sum are using are above that baseline...
Why not just stick to baseline skills of static and simple-movement descriptions of kokyu/ki skills for use in Aikido dojos?
I do that -- in the dojo -- except of course that they are intended even at the baseline to be dynamic, and not static. But, this is not the dojo -- the mat is entirely conceptual. And I did not post the video or commence the discussion that begged the question.
Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I don't want to get into another argument about gyrational movement.... certainly Tohei and Ueshiba are not using gyrational movement when they do a static display of this sort of power.
Then neither will I, other than to say, of course, that you are wrong about that ...

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 01-15-2007, 11:00 AM   #15
Lee Salzman
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Re: Baseline skillset

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
The sub-point I'd make is that while you're describing a particular approach within Yiquan, people in yiquan actually have a variety of ways that they teach some of the skills, yet, for the most part, all of them can bounce someone away, regardless of the individual approaches. The same sort of bouncing can be done in Xingyi, Taiji, Shaolin, etc., etc., and they all would have different ways of describing and teaching how to do elementary bouncing, whether contradictory training is explicitly mentioned or not. The main point I'm making is that we probably should stick to just the baseline skills and if we do go into some of the secondary skills, we all need to think exactly what is going on physically and try to avoid the jargon associated with the individual approaches we use.

Best,

Mike
I make no apologies for trying to think in terms of examples, rather than abstract terms. My point is that without setting up an example, a discussion domain, there's really no point in discussing it at all.

How can you discuss things students should be feeling or doing with certain feelings without approaching it from a particular interpretation? You can't. We have here an intuitive/subjective concept, which we have to put into words? What words, though?

The WHOLE point of yiquan was giving a set of words AND practices for discussing what students should be feeling, that can be linked to specific things that can be practiced. Otherwise yiquan would still be xingyiquan. So if I'm going to pick a jargon bias, I'll pick yiquan,, rather than sticking to loaded, abstract terms which no one can relate to.
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Old 01-15-2007, 11:11 AM   #16
Mike Sigman
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Re: Baseline skillset

Quote:
Lee Salzman wrote:
The WHOLE point of yiquan was giving a set of words AND practices for discussing what students should be feeling, that can be linked to specific things that can be practiced. Otherwise yiquan would still be xingyiquan. So if I'm going to pick a jargon bias, I'll pick yiquan,, rather than sticking to loaded, abstract terms which no one can relate to.
I understand that, Lee. I was just saying that even in Yiquan the jargon and "what to feel" will vary from teacher to teacher, so we need to be very careful if we get into secondary skills. I have a copy of some notes taken by a student (English speaking) of Han Xing Yuen... the metaphors are different than a number of the others I see in Yiquan. Yet, I think we could analyse what is really happening down to a common set of terms.

If we could do that for secondary skills, we could probably do it easily for the baseline skills. The problem gets back to the old "try to describe how to ride a bicycle" example. It's not that hard to ride a bicycle, but describing the "feelings" in writing in an adequate way in order to teach someone how to ride a bicycle is difficult. I'm just trying to keep everything as simple as I can.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 01-15-2007, 11:26 AM   #17
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Re: Baseline skillset

I agree that a lot of O'Sensei's guys bail out in some of them but perhaps it might have something to do with how hard they are going to get hit or hit the ground if they don't pre-empt. I think during the Hell dojo days they probably develop a set of skills to keep from getting injured. I believe Saotome commented once that he was thrown so hard he broke his shoulder. Self-preservation. ONe of the uke's from Japan for my instructor says he bails because sensei is dangerous. If he doesn't, he risk getting injured.

Mike, is the bounce a form of grounding? Directing the energy to ground and then sending it back through the center?
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Old 01-15-2007, 11:31 AM   #18
Lee Salzman
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Re: Baseline skillset

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
If we could do that for secondary skills, we could probably do it easily for the baseline skills. The problem gets back to the old "try to describe how to ride a bicycle" example. It's not that hard to ride a bicycle, but describing the "feelings" in writing in an adequate way in order to teach someone how to ride a bicycle is difficult. I'm just trying to keep everything as simple as I can.
I can count maybe one or two of Newton's laws that are really needed to work with the yiquan stuff - equal and opposite reaction, and F=MA. Does it really get any simpler?
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Old 01-15-2007, 11:59 AM   #19
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Re: Baseline skillset

An observation I have held for some time is that the arm position and vectors appear to be similar to the tetrahedron shape used in the geodesic dome concept-a strong structure for dissipating energy. This appears to ground the forces in my observation. Maybe Bucky was on to something.
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Old 01-15-2007, 12:20 PM   #20
Mike Sigman
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Re: Baseline skillset

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
Mike, is the bounce a form of grounding? Directing the energy to ground and then sending it back through the center?
Hi John:

Well, in an ideal and simple world, that's sort of true of the most common learning case. Someone pushes you and you let that push go unimpeded (as much as possible) through you to the back leg. That would be simple grounding. If you keep their push lined up with the ground while you go backward and down a couple of inches (to allow you to "store" in the leg, waist, and hopefully tanden joints) and then you return directly into their push (their push will actually add to yours if you keep them lined up with the ground).... that would be the simple case, which unfortunately morphs into something else as you begin to add more power factors. As speed and skill pick up, these bounces actually analyse out to be something a lot more complex.

The short answer is "yes", but with some big caveats because neither Ueshiba nor Sum is doing exactly that simple case, although they are generally conforming to the baseline. The baseline skill requires some manipulation of the angles of forces from the ground and middle (instead of the shoulder) and the baseline skills require some investiture in allowing the the body to "connect" from top to bottom so that it is not just the use of joints for the store and release of the potential energy.

Most of this sounds pretty simple, but there is a complex bugaboo that has to be considered. Let's say you stand in a right hanmi with your right forearm horizontally in front of you for uke to push on in order to test your rooting ability (of course in Aikido technique you'd never conflict like this; this is only about developing the "ki strength"). Essentially you allow uke's push to imaginarily be like he was pushing against your hara/tanden/dantien... i.e., you hold the push like there is a solid connection straight from the hara to the forearm, although in reality the forces go up the torso, out the shoulder, etc. If you stay fairly relaxed and keep the push at a light level, the body will automatically acquire/recruit the muscles it needs up the torso and out the shoulder and arm. If you force it, you're going to simply pit your normal use of the muscular system against the push. It's this recruitment of strength when you shift the angle of force acceptance that becomes interesting... and it's a major part of the whole "ki" thing. Someone who has trained their body to accept and deal with forces in this manner, as opposed to just using the normal muscular responses, will develop a very different "feel" and attendant skills... particularly when they learn to move with this set of altered body-force parameters. This is the baseline area we're talking about on the thread.

So to just say it's grounding and returning the push might lead some people into thinking this is something simple they're getting into. It's not. And so when you've changed the basic way the body moves and coordinates and *then* you add the secondary tricks, it's a pretty different animal. But why else would O-Sensei have made such a big deal out of it in his douka; why else would Tohei have made this the banner-skill of the Ki Society; why else would Abe and others still only give sparse information about the training methods? It's a more important skillset than most people realize at first glance.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 01-15-2007, 01:01 PM   #21
Mike Sigman
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Re: Baseline skillset

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
An observation I have held for some time is that the arm position and vectors appear to be similar to the tetrahedron shape used in the geodesic dome concept-a strong structure for dissipating energy. This appears to ground the forces in my observation. Maybe Bucky was on to something.
That's a great observation and I've heard a number of people suggest that relationship where the body is a tensegrity structure.

If you want to look at it like that, it's not a bad example and *none* of the simple models of how this stuff works are very complete anyway. So why not use it in this discussion of baseline skills? Maybe it will lead somewhere.

The essence of a geodesic dome or a "tensegrity" structure is that it represents a number of forces that balance such that all forces involved are satisfied. There is actually a saying in Tai Chi about the body being balanced in all directions (same as our 6-directions comments) so that if a force attempts to offset a body in this kind of balance, it will automatically (take that with a grain of salt... it's a trained response) move to rebalance in all directions and throw the opponent. I.e., the opponent throws himself in his attempt to disrupt a stable tensegrity structure.

A geodesic dome is more or less spherical, which makes its ability to satisfy all forces reasonably straightforward. There are tensions across the various structural members and the panels holding the structural members together. If you start pulling out panels and struts from the overall spherical structure, you have to compensate by adjusting your tensions... i.e., the number of forces, the directions of the forces, and the magnitude of the forces.

A human figure can be thought of as a set of struts (the bones in the skeletal structure) that is cohesive if you allow the "tensions" or the "connectivity" in conjunction with the muscles to hold everything together as a whole. Most views of the body as a structure look at the skeleton and muscles as the main elements of the structure, but if you change the perspective so that it is the skeleton, muscles, AND the fascial layers that comprise the structure, you have a more complete picture. Then when you factor in the idea that the body is capable of micro-adjustments that can change the direction and magnitude of forces within the structure, you're closer to seeing what's going on.

In the two videos, both Ueshiba and Sum are taking incoming forces against a tensegrity structure, with a focus of the forces going to the base of the structure. Sum is younger and fitter and has worked more on the structure (and a couple of very cute mechanical tricks that augment his reaction)... you can see that there is more "tension" and coherence to his structure, which greatly increases his ability to bounce his uke away.

BTW.... think how much easier it is to do a forward roll with a nice tensegrity structure, rather than just strong muscles or worse, a semi-limp body.

How's that?

Best.

Mike
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Old 01-15-2007, 02:10 PM   #22
aikidoc
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Re: Baseline skillset

Thanks. I always hated the concept of circle, triange and square in the sense the forces are thought of as one-dimensional. That's why I prefer to think of things as sphere, tetrahedron and box. That way the forces can somewhat be viewed multi-dimensionally. They also have to be thought of dynamically in the sense that a static tetrahedron is only strong to a point, but a moving tetrahedron can adjust its dynamics in response to varying forces. I agree, the tensegrity concept has some potential, even if as a way of logically discussing the concepts.

I think the dynamic element has to be there in the sense the human tensegrity unit has a lot of weaknesses. As such, points of unbalancing are easily exploited. An adapting tensegrity on the other hand has the potential to be stronger if the sensitivity of the practitioner is such that adjustments can be made.

Last edited by aikidoc : 01-15-2007 at 02:13 PM.
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Old 01-15-2007, 02:29 PM   #23
Mike Sigman
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Re: Baseline skillset

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
a moving tetrahedron can adjust its dynamics in response to varying forces. I agree, the tensegrity concept has some potential, even if as a way of logically discussing the concepts.

I think the dynamic element has to be there in the sense the human tensegrity unit has a lot of weaknesses. As such, points of unbalancing are easily exploited. An adapting tensegrity on the other hand has the potential to be stronger if the sensitivity of the practitioner is such that adjustments can be made.
Well, try this experiment:

Stand in a balanced and relaxed right-foot-forward stance, facing forward. Have someone push with a few pounds of force against the right side of the ribcage, toward the direction the left foot is in, pushing slightly downard, but almost horizontal. Relax the lumbar-spine muscles and the knees. Let the left foot and leg try to take 100% responsibility for the force. OK then let the person walk around behind you and slowly push on the back side of the left-half of the ribcage, toward the direction of the front foot. Try to relax and let the front foot/leg take full responsibility for the push. Have then go around and push lightly and slowly a number of times until you don't have to move a hair in order to change which foot is accepting the push.

As you get more and more used to it, you can dispense with the partner and mentally change the "path to the ground" as you will it. With more practice, you can ground a push from any side. After a lot of practice, the potential to ground almost any incoming force is instantaneous. ((If you add the ability to bring weight wherever and whenever you want it instantaneously, you are effective "extending ki" at all times)).

OK, so my point is that if we look at a human as a tensegrity structure as having the ability to almost instantly manipulate forces within the structure by use of the "mind", there's less need for the "moving" part you mentioned. Adjustments, both offensive and defensive, are made by the mind-body skill.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 01-15-2007, 02:45 PM   #24
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Baseline skillset

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
That's why I prefer to think of things as sphere, tetrahedron and box. That way the forces can somewhat be viewed multi-dimensionally.
Ueshiba spoke of "a limited sphere of strength" outside of which no opposition is possible. There is reason to believe he may have been speaking at a micro-level as well as a macro-level.
Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
I think the dynamic element has to be there in the sense the human tensegrity unit has a lot of weaknesses. As such, points of unbalancing are easily exploited. An adapting tensegrity on the other hand has the potential to be stronger if the sensitivity of the practitioner is such that adjustments can be made.
The questions of "what adjustment" and "what sensation triggers adjustment" are key.

For an alternative model of adaptive static equilibrium try "Colulomb's Memoir on Statics." Jacques Heyman, tr.

The principles are graphically illustrated by an inverted chain of spheres on the cover of the 1998 edition. See here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/1860...15#reader-link

The adaptive signal for that model is any force differential outside the center of the articulating joint.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 01-15-2007, 03:04 PM   #25
aikidoc
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Re: Baseline skillset

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Well, try this experiment:
OK, so my point is that if we look at a human as a tensegrity structure as having the ability to almost instantly manipulate forces within the structure by use of the "mind", there's less need for the "moving" part you mentioned. Adjustments, both offensive and defensive, are made by the mind-body skill.

FWIW

Mike
By dynamic, I meant that the movement can be subtle-almost imperceptible-sometimes with just a simple movement of the hip or wrist.

The mind aspect of it is interesting. I guess what I question there is if you think it or redirect it mentally how do you keep from having your body respond somewhat-even if it is almost imperceptible? Where the mind goes the body follows kind of thing.

When I have my students do such things, we start with bigger movements and then keep making them smaller and eventually it almost looks like a blip.
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