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Old 04-26-2006, 08:48 PM   #1
Mike Sigman
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Been There, Done That Attitude

(from the "Any Instructors here ever been challenged" thread)
Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
I have seen my teacher demonstrate with a large man pushing on his chest while he is sitting on a chair balanced on the rear two legs, demonstration ends when the 'uke' is thrown. I personally can do this but not as well as him (yet).
These are for us, ki development exercises, there are many many seemingly 'not possible' tests of 'strength' that are exercises in mind and body co-ordination. They are as far as I'm concerned no big deal, they are a way to practice co-ordination.
No to single you out, Mark, but your comment reminded me of something that I see a lot of. The coordination to do some of the ki tricks is really not that hard. I think most people can be taught to do some of the basic ones in a few minutes, fifteen minutes at most. At least they can do it so that they understand and feel the principles involved. The general principle of the one you're talking about (and of a lot of the ki demo's) is to source the load-bearing responsibility from the ground, whether it's through a chair, a leg, or whatever has the most direct path to the ground.

The problem with that is that a "been there, done that" attitude is easy to develop and so many people who learn to do a few basic tricks never go any further. They still move with their shoulders and not their middles because they often feel like they got the ki part.... but really they just started. The set of skills based on this "coordination" should be practiced until it becomes the instinctive way of movement. Power store-and-release should be based around this new way of movement. And so on. It shouldn't be some supplemental tricks that you can do on the side, in other words... if that's all it is, it's like someone putting on a gi and thinking they've arrived as a martial artist.

Just my 2 cents.

Mike Sigman
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Old 04-26-2006, 10:33 PM   #2
Michael O'Brien
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

Mike,

A very valid point and observation that you pulled out of "The thread that never ends, it just goes on and on my friend" ... lol

I totally agree with you in the context you brought it up (hopefully Mark will chime in here as well) and think Mark will as well. In the overall context of his message though I read it that he was using the "been there done" that ki exercise analogy to state if that was all Dan had to offer in his class it was no big deal. I don't get the feeling personally at all that this is the way that Mark views ki training.

I'm still personally really focusing right now on moving from the center all the time myself. As I'm out and about I try to focus on opening doors and things like that from my center as opposed to the old way of grab the handle and jerk. Does anyone else have any other specific ideas, exercises, etc that you would be willing to share to help in ki development, center movement, etc.

I'm fortunate in the fact that my job allows me enough freedom to get in some training exercises while I'm at work so I also occasionally bring in a bokken or jo and do some work, sit in seiza and meditate for 10-15 minutes a couple of times a night, and of course get in a healthy dose of aikiweb.

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 04-26-2006, 11:38 PM   #3
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

I think any time someone has a sense of understanding something it can obscure further understanding. From this idea I have come to really love the Socratic notion that the only thing I know is that I know nothing at all. Of course you can't take it too literally or it's logically self-defeating, but I think I have learned best when I take this idea to heart.
Take care,
Matt

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 04-27-2006, 05:28 AM   #4
Mark Freeman
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
(from the "Any Instructors here ever been challenged" thread)
No to single you out, Mark, but your comment reminded me of something that I see a lot of. The coordination to do some of the ki tricks is really not that hard. I think most people can be taught to do some of the basic ones in a few minutes, fifteen minutes at most. At least they can do it so that they understand and feel the principles involved. The general principle of the one you're talking about (and of a lot of the ki demo's) is to source the load-bearing responsibility from the ground, whether it's through a chair, a leg, or whatever has the most direct path to the ground.

The problem with that is that a "been there, done that" attitude is easy to develop and so many people who learn to do a few basic tricks never go any further. They still move with their shoulders and not their middles because they often feel like they got the ki part.... but really they just started. The set of skills based on this "coordination" should be practiced until it becomes the instinctive way of movement. Power store-and-release should be based around this new way of movement. And so on. It shouldn't be some supplemental tricks that you can do on the side, in other words... if that's all it is, it's like someone putting on a gi and thinking they've arrived as a martial artist.

Just my 2 cents.

Mike Sigman
Hi Mike,


I don't mind being singled out, it makes me feel that someone is listening

I agree with what you say about the quote above. And although I personally haven't come across the 'been there done that' merchants I'm sure they exist.
my respose to Dan was in direct relation to a challenge could you do this.... etc.
The fact that some of us do ki development exercises every time we step on the mat prompts me to say they are no big deal, they can be done to varying degrees by absolutely anyone.
I also agree that just because you can do some of the 'tricks' in no way makes you able to perform aikido movements from your centre.
This incredibly important aspect of practice takes much much longer to 'get' as I think we have discussed before.
On my way home from training last night I was talking to one of my fellow aikidoka, I said after 14 years I think I'm finally starting to get it, maybe in another 14 I will be able to say that I have got it.
That is how I feel, ki developement on it own is just that, on it's own. For me aikido without ki development is unknown it's not my world. I know it works (but not as we know it Jim).
I'm sure Dan is an honourable chap with some usefull things to teach. Personally I've got a good teacher and until I run out of things to learn from him, I'll happily keep practicing with him.

Cheers

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 04-27-2006, 05:48 AM   #5
Mark Freeman
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

Quote:
Michael O'Brien wrote:
I'm still personally really focusing right now on moving from the center all the time myself. As I'm out and about I try to focus on opening doors and things like that from my center as opposed to the old way of grab the handle and jerk. Does anyone else have any other specific ideas, exercises, etc that you would be willing to share to help in ki development, center movement, etc.
I'm really not a fan of insruction within this medium as I think it is an increadibly poor way to convey something that has to be physically understood, however, for me one of the breakthoughs in my aikido movement came when I realised that my arms were used to put my hands in a certain place in space, and very little else!
Try this: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and extend one hand out as if to shake the hand of an imaginary friend ( go on no one's looking! ) Now try to imagine that you have just come from hospital and that from the pelvis up you are in a full body cast and that your hand is fixed in that position. There are two more imaginary friends standing 90 degrees to the left and to the right of you, and you being the sociable chap that you are would like to shake hand with them. You only have two options, you can turn using your feet, changing posture by placing you feet to face each new direction, or you can swivel your hips using the knees. Either way your hand stays fixed on your centreline.
This way of moving feels odd at first but before long you can be making all sorts of shapes in the air with your hand without losing contact with your centre.

Dont forget to take off the imaginary body cast in social situations, you may get some odd looks otherwise

Hope this helps.

Cheers
Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 04-27-2006, 08:24 AM   #6
Mike Sigman
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
I'm really not a fan of insruction within this medium as I think it is an increadibly poor way to convey something that has to be physically understood, however, for me one of the breakthoughs in my aikido movement came when I realised that my arms were used to put my hands in a certain place in space, and very little else!
Hi Mark:

Well, you realize, of course, that I was only making a general comment about something yours had reminded me of... no comment about you personally.

Often I encounter people who practice doing certain things "with their center", more or less. With a strange crowd, at workshops, I'll usually start by asking everyone to put their 2 hands on my chest and push me away. I can tell as they do it who has really trained in the ability to use their middle and the ground as opposed to who uses normal strength as their standard operating mode.

Later in the workshop I'll suddenly have everyone do the same thing and voila' 90% percent of them are able to mend their ways and push with the middle and ground. But almost invariably, as they begin to do the simple things and they 'get them', a few guys will start assuring me that they do stuff like this in their class all the time or their teacher talks about it all the time, etc..... forgetting that I checked everyone out at the start of the workshop and that if they'd had any skills beyond the rudiments I'd have noted it and congratulated them.

I never say anything, but it's those people who think they're already "been there, done that" who are slitting their own throat. For the rest of us, it tends to be a "wow, there's a myriad of things we can do with these skills" start to an exciting and fun new world. I just hate to see people miss a fun trip for the wrong reasons or I wouldn't have said anything.

All the Best

Mike
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Old 04-27-2006, 09:01 AM   #7
Mark Freeman
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I never say anything, but it's those people who think they're already "been there, done that" who are slitting their own throat. For the rest of us, it tends to be a "wow, there's a myriad of things we can do with these skills" start to an exciting and fun new world. I just hate to see people miss a fun trip for the wrong reasons or I wouldn't have said anything.
Hi Mike,
it is their loss for them to find out or not at a later date. For those of us willing to use these skills as a basis for the start of a jouney, then our trip is going to be different (much different).

I am not involved in open workshops, so don't have the same experience as you of participants bringing their own 'stuff' in with them, but I have worked in corporate training and used some of the ki development exercises as 'metaphors' for discussing the model that we are looking at at that time. I am always amazed at how un co-ordinated the general population are, outside of the 'martial arts' setting. They had nothing to prove and no reason to challenge, so they just accepted what we did as a useful and a fun way of approaching the issue. Some were even inspired to start practicing themselves.

I guess you are enjoying your journey as much is I am

Cheers,
Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 04-27-2006, 09:17 AM   #8
Mike Sigman
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

Quote:
Michael O'Brien wrote:
In the overall context of his message though I read it that he was using the "been there done" that ki exercise analogy to state if that was all Dan had to offer in his class it was no big deal. I don't get the feeling personally at all that this is the way that Mark views ki training.
Hi Michael:
Well, I didn't mean to single Mark out as saying "I can already do the Ki stuff", it just reminded me of something that bothers me. There's a level of doing ki things where people can emulate certain tricks, but they never get past the point of using their arms from their shoulders. It's sort of the big barrier that few people get past... yet there is no real progress until someone gets past that point. But, as long as people begin to understand that kokyu throws, "aiki" control of kokyu powers, fa jing, throwing someone into the air without apparently movings, etc., are all down this same road, I'm happy. If you think about it, most people are still unaware of these skills, other than as rudimentary tricks, so we're making progress.
Quote:
I'm still personally really focusing right now on moving from the center all the time myself. As I'm out and about I try to focus on opening doors and things like that from my center as opposed to the old way of grab the handle and jerk. Does anyone else have any other specific ideas, exercises, etc that you would be willing to share to help in ki development, center movement, etc.
If you push something, it is your center pushing and the hand is just there as a conveyor of the push. If you pull something, it is your belt pulling and your hand is just the rope conveying the pull. If you lift your are, a teacup, or whatever, you figure how to get your direct "push from the ground" under the object and *push* it up... you never "lift" anything. When you push something down, you try to bring the weight from the crotch-area of your body to the hand or place you're trying to weight down. And I agree that you have to try to do this stuff everywhere... because it's actually a great effort to try and learn this stuff AND convince your mind "hey, this is the new way I want to move instinctively from now on".

All the Best.

Mike
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Old 04-27-2006, 11:20 AM   #9
raul rodrigo
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

There's a trick I learned from my sensei who studied a bit with Shingo Nakao. You're in seiza. A standing uke pushes with both hands on your shoulders. Somehow you have to relax and reroute his push 90 degrees so that it goes straight into the ground and you remain relaxed and upright. No leaning forward or pushing back. I can do the trick, but it doesnt really mean much of anything yet. It has yet to permeate the other parts of my waza. Its like the scent of something great, but I have not had the chance to take it any further. Some day....
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Old 04-27-2006, 11:34 AM   #10
Mike Sigman
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

Quote:
Raul Rodrigo wrote:
There's a trick I learned from my sensei who studied a bit with Shingo Nakao. You're in seiza. A standing uke pushes with both hands on your shoulders. Somehow you have to relax and reroute his push 90 degrees so that it goes straight into the ground and you remain relaxed and upright. No leaning forward or pushing back. I can do the trick, but it doesnt really mean much of anything yet. It has yet to permeate the other parts of my waza. Its like the scent of something great, but I have not had the chance to take it any further. Some day....
So let's analyse it. Instead of resisting the push with your upper-body/shoulders, you allow the "resistance" to come from where your folded legs are touching the mat. Because if you resist with your upper body, it just becomes a lever that uke is using to break the connection between your knees and the mat. So you want your "resistance" to be as low to the ground as possible (hey.... like "sink your ki"!). All you need from the upper torso is the "connection" from the push at your shoulders down to the mat... what you need to do is practice imagining that there is a direct line from uke's shoulders to where your legs meet the mat and relax any muscles/effort that is not needed to keep that relationship valid.

If you begin to understand that and use in in all motions, you begin to keep your ki sunk at all times.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 04-27-2006, 11:40 AM   #11
raul rodrigo
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

Thanks Mike for that formulation. Its better than the way I formulated it for myself. Will have to try the mental image you suggested the next time I'm on the mat. And then learning to keep my "ki sunk" at all times and in all motions should take me, oh, quite a few more years.

best,

RAUL
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Old 04-27-2006, 04:53 PM   #12
Michael O'Brien
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

Mike and Mark,

Thank you both for your input and insight; I'll definitely think and work on it more. I hadn't thought of the "body cast" analogy before and I like that one. I have focused mostly on the unbendable arm concept that we use in training and working with my center from that idea.

I love to learn and train; My sensei is telling me I really need to get a life outside of Aikido because right now my life pretty much revolves around eat, sleep, work, and Aikido (not necessarily in that order either).

I still remember how excited I was the first time I actually felt my hips engage in irimi. I didn't think it was ever going to happen for me then one day it did and I was ready to dance across the mat. Those little breakthroughs are awesome.

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 04-27-2006, 05:13 PM   #13
Jory Boling
 
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

for those of us with the "never been there, never done that" attitude, in lieu of having a live person available to teach us, what would be a good starting point in reading material? (webpage or book?)

these kinds of things were never openly discussed in my former dojo and at my current dojo, i never see/hear them being discussed.

thanks,
Jory

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Old 04-27-2006, 05:22 PM   #14
Mike Sigman
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

It's very hard to find good and complete information on these things, Jory. Sure, it's starting to change somewhat, but just think of yourself as being on the cutting edge of western Aikido.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 04-27-2006, 05:30 PM   #15
Jory Boling
 
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

thanks. until i can meet up with one of you guys or find a yamabushi, i'll keep trashing around in the dark. i'll just focus on my sempai's words: "Rirakkusu shite!"

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Old 04-27-2006, 05:58 PM   #16
Mark Freeman
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

Quote:
Michael O'Brien wrote:
Mike and Mark,

Thank you both for your input and insight; I'll definitely think and work on it more. I hadn't thought of the "body cast" analogy before and I like that one. I have focused mostly on the unbendable arm concept that we use in training and working with my center from that idea.

I love to learn and train; My sensei is telling me I really need to get a life outside of Aikido because right now my life pretty much revolves around eat, sleep, work, and Aikido (not necessarily in that order either).

I still remember how excited I was the first time I actually felt my hips engage in irimi. I didn't think it was ever going to happen for me then one day it did and I was ready to dance across the mat. Those little breakthroughs are awesome.
Believe it or not I hadn't thought of the body cast analogy before either!! But, as you had asked for any exercises to help with these movements, I made that up while I stood up next to the computer. I use any analogy I can that makes sense to me, that somehow describes the state that I feel. I come up with some really odd images, but hey it's an art I can afford to be creative. My teacher did the same for me and I found it really helpful then and still do now.
He also said don't live to practice aikido, practice aikido to live, which seems like the same advise that your sensei is offering. It's hopefully a long haul to the end of your life, aikido is a fantastic art to practice, but good balance is part of aikido practice, so good balance in life is good aikido, no?

The little breakthroughs are what keep us all going

Cheers

Mark

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Old 04-27-2006, 06:08 PM   #17
Michael O'Brien
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
I come up with some really odd images, but hey it's an art I can afford to be creative. My teacher did the same for me and I found it really helpful then and still do now.
He also said don't live to practice aikido, practice aikido to live, which seems like the same advise that your sensei is offering. It's hopefully a long haul to the end of your life, aikido is a fantastic art to practice, but good balance is part of aikido practice, so good balance in life is good aikido, no?
I know what you mean about the odd images; My Sensei also does some work each year with the Titans rookie class when they come to training camp so we come up with football analogies, baseball analogies, and then some others as well in explanations sometimes and as weird as they sound at times they just "click" and the light goes on.

You're absolutely right about practice Aikido to live, don't live to practice Aikido. I know I need to keep the proper focus; I'm just in a stage right now where I feel like a huge sponge and I'm trying to soak up all the knowledge I can.

Thanks for the advice.

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 04-27-2006, 06:21 PM   #18
Mike Sigman
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
Believe it or not I hadn't thought of the body cast analogy before either!!
Ummmmm... maybe instead of "cast", how about something like pliable rawhide?

Regards,

Mike
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Old 04-27-2006, 06:42 PM   #19
eyrie
 
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

Like a corset? Not that I wear one...

Ignatius
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Old 04-27-2006, 06:52 PM   #20
Mark Freeman
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Re: Been There, Done That Attitude

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Ummmmm... maybe instead of "cast", how about something like pliable rawhide?

Regards,

Mike
Personally I like that, a good analogy, but most of my brit students wouldn't know what it was.

Here's an off the wall image I used a while ago,- do you remember when you were a kid and used to mix cornflower and water, when the mix was just right you could pass/stir the spoon through it like it is water, but if you move the spoon quickly it goes solid instantly? well aikido is like this, your body needs to have both qualities at the same time, like water, like rock, both at the same time.
I think I confused the pants off my students at the time, but some of them were nodding as if they understood, so I continue....

Cheers.
Mark

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