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Old 03-16-2007, 10:17 AM   #1
Ecosamurai
 
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Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

Hello all

I've decided to post this thread here in this forum despite it being of direct relevance to aikido and only about aikido. I've done this because I suspect it may take on a lot of stuff from outside aikido. I'll leave it to Jun to decide where to put it, but I'd ask him to wait a week or two and see how it shapes up before moving it.

We've heard a huge amout recently about Chinese martial art internal principles, MMA training methodologies and how all of this is either 'missing' from aikido or that aikido would benefit from having it added, regardless of whether it was there in the first place or not.

I'll start with this:

From:- Book of Ki: co-ordinating Mind and Body in Daily Life
By:- Koichi Tohei
ISBN 0-87040-379-6 published 1976

Page 89-90

Tohei Sensei, referring to his return to Hawaii:
"After 10 to 15 years had passed, however, I was shocked at what had happened. Most people only practiced aikido techniques and forgot Ki Development. In Japan when Master Morihei Ueshiba was alive, he always talked about Ki, so everyone thought about Ki. But after his death, people not only became unable to understand Ki but also ceased using the word. Techniques became incorrect and if a strong man held most students, they could not move him. If it were left as it was Master Ueshiba's aikido would become merely formal techniques. I suggested establishing Ki classes at Aikido Headquarters."
.......later he writes
"My request was not granted, but I was granted permission to start Ki classes outside of Aikido Headquarters"

That was the birth of the Ki Society.

Of all the exercises practiced by the Ki Soc and those whose organisations are derived from these teachings, perhaps the most well known and also the most misunderstood is the unbendable arm.

Sorry to drag you into this again Ellis but in another thread you mentioned Tomiki doing the unbendable arm (though he didn't call it that obviously) with some judoka. Also corrected my misinterperetation of what you said later in another thread. Anyway, suffice to say, unbendable arm when done properly should be not just unbendable but immovable to anyone except its owner basically what Tomiki did to those Judoka. At a beginning level it is about people learning not to rely on physical power in order to prevent someone bending their elbow. At the higher levels it involves having people try to bend your wrist and fingers. Not only that but your arm should not move (well not much) when tested. Beginners often find that they can keep their elbow or even their wrist from being moved/bent but that their arm flies all over the place in response to the testers application of force. Later this should not happen.

I've often, during a demo I've had to give found that new guys (in one such demo it was a bunch of judo and ju jitsu guys) really try to bend the arm as hard as they possibly can. In order to do this they sometimes place my wrist/hand on their shoulder and place both hands on my bicep so that they can apply more of their body wieght. This of course does nothing to improve their chances. If I am coordinated and extending ki and have proper weight-underside then all they actually suceed in doing is pulling my (rather bony) hand or wrist harder and harder into their own shoulder/collar bone etc.. They find this position strangely uncomfortable after a while and stop doing this

Koichi Tohei often said: "No unbendable arm, no aikido". Whilst his teaching methodology differs from the way the Founder taught aikido, he was nonetheless a careful observer of his teacher. He is often misconstrued as being dismissive of the Founder in an interview he gave to aikidojournal where he says (paraphrasing): 'All he ever taught me really was to relax'. When you consider what it is that Tohei Sensei has spent his life doing I cannot think of higher praise for his aikido teacher than saying that.

There are many other such exercise within the Ki Society derived training syllabus, all aimed at developing 'internal power'. I noted that in this thread:
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12062
Chris Moses mentioned that he thought that Ki Soc 'tests' didn't actually teach you how to do these things but rather assesed how well you'd developed these skills without actually explaining how to do them. With the greatest of respect I don't think this is true. I think that that says more to me about the way you as an individual learn than anything else. I know because I was the same. Whilst constantly being told to 'use weight underside' I would be screaming in my mind 'BUT HOW???? YOU HAVEN'T TOLD ME HOW!' I later figured out that they had and that I just hadn't noticed because I was a product of an education system where things were spoon-fed to me more often than not rather than a place which encouraged me to look for things on my own. I'm not saying that things were the same for you Chris but your comments struck a chord with me and sounded awfully familiar. I have however seen too many people able to do these things having had no other instruction except in the usual Ki Society derived format to believe the methods to be ineffective, though I'll admit that they may not suit everyones style of learning.

I personally would hope this thread promotes careful consideration of the aforementioned 'internal skills' so much debated of late, and also that Tohei devloped them in the context of aikido training and in accordance with aikido waza AND the ascetic practices he saw his teacher doing on a regular basis.

I do not believe external principles and training methods need to be bolted on to aikido to make it the art that the founder practiced and intended us to have, I do believe that people like Dan and Mike have valuable insights into training methods and practices which may be different to regular aikido practices, and methods but may be aimed at acheiving the same ends. I noted for example on page 72 of the above mentioned book there is a picture and description of an exercise that Mike Sigman has described elsewhere around here (afraid i can't find it just now, sorry), though Mike was talking about it in a different context and as an exercise used in Chinese internal training IIRC (again, sorry I can't seem to find it). I also note that much of what has been described by Mike Sigman in concerns to developing pathways involves exercise similar to Tohei style ones, but usually (based on film footage cited and descriptions he has given) involving different aims and emphasis, I notice that the knees in the CMA stuff tend to be bent more and the feet further apart.

I would hope that people will share their thoughts here pleasantly and respectfully. I have a feeling we're all talking about the same stuff really, lets try to make this a productve discussion.

Respectfully

Mike Haft

PS - I shall mention this thread to my teacher and I hope he may participate, he has far more experience and ability with regards to this stuff than I do.

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
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Old 03-16-2007, 10:52 PM   #2
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

I know very little on the rules of making the elbow bend and I believe Ki does exist. However, (I have nothing but respect for these people) I just wanted to say it is fairly simple to lock your elbow. If you want to bend it just strike the inside of the elbow while pulling the arm. (You dont have to strike too hard)
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Old 03-17-2007, 04:13 AM   #3
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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I know very little on the rules of making the elbow bend and I believe Ki does exist. However, (I have nothing but respect for these people) I just wanted to say it is fairly simple to lock your elbow. If you want to bend it just strike the inside of the elbow while pulling the arm. (You dont have to strike too hard)
Sorry but that doesn't work if you are doing unbendable arm correctly. As I said, it's a misunderstood exercise, at no time should your elbow ever be 'locked'. Striking it doesn't help in the slightest (except perhaps for beginners).

Mike

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Old 03-17-2007, 11:41 AM   #4
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

Quote:
Mike Haft wrote:
Whilst constantly being told to 'use weight underside' I would be screaming in my mind 'BUT HOW???? YOU HAVEN'T TOLD ME HOW!' I later figured out that they had and that I just hadn't noticed because I was a product of an education system where things were spoon-fed to me more often than not rather than a place which encouraged me to look for things on my own.
Before I stepped outside of aikido, I would have been sympathetic to that view. But the first place I looked outside, I was seriously forced to reconsider: the method of transmission is as important, if not more important, than the content. I was just overwhelmed by how another martial skill set was systematically approaching teaching, it was:

1) student gets initial exercise which, regardless of how he interprets it, so long as he does what looks to be correct, then he has felt certain bodily sensations the teacher himself feels when doing it

2) student gets further exercises where he can, without limit and without supervision, refine those sensations/qualities and expand them over all the body and its movement, according to a set of objective criteria

3) student gets even further exercises by which he can immediately verify to himself his progression in wiring those qualities into the body

So from day 1, the student has felt what he needs to cultivate, he is given a way to cultivate it, and he is shown how to verify that he has done it correctly. The student just has to put in a ton of self-study and refinement after that. Labels as to what the concepts are are avoided in instruction: just feel it, practice it, do it.

Contrasted to being given an explanation of what he should feel - if he's lucky getting to feel what his teacher is doing from the outside - and then always second-guessing himself, "Hmm, maybe what I did felt sort of like that", for years on end, and chasing after abstract linguistic constructs which no one can seem to authoritatively define.

If it's going to be a long journey, how far can you go if you can't even take the first significant step as soon as possible? And if you're not even quite sure where you're supposed to be going?

Even if something can possibly achieve a desired result, you have to ask: how well, and for how many?

Last edited by Lee Salzman : 03-17-2007 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 03-17-2007, 11:54 AM   #5
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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If it's going to be a long journey, how far can you go if you can't even take the first significant step as soon as possible? And if you're not even quite sure where you're supposed to be going?

Even if something can possibly achieve a desired result, you have to ask: how well, and for how many?
As for how well and how many. In any large group/organization there will be varying levels of excellence. Statistically speaking if you choose to categorize people as being either good or bad, then 50% of people will be bad.

If you re-read what I said then you'll notice that I just wasn't noticing that people were telling me the things that you said they need to be told.
i.e.: "student gets initial exercise which, regardless of how he interprets it, so long as he does what looks to be correct, then he has felt certain bodily sensations the teacher himself feels when doing it"
I simply didn't properly interpret these things, but that says more about me than the methodology, and like I said, I have seen too many people able to do these things who have had only a Ki Soc derived background to accept that the methodology doesn't work. How can it not work when everyone I've met who has more than a few years experience can do it?

Mike

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Old 03-17-2007, 01:27 PM   #6
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

I really should read things more carefully. "Regardless of how he interprets it". DOH. Would you please be kind enough to give me an example of what you mean? I have a feeling I know what you're talking about but it's St Patrick's Day and Guinness is good for you after all Suffice to say I'll answer while recovering from the hangover.

Mike

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Old 03-17-2007, 02:13 PM   #7
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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Mike Haft wrote: View Post
I really should read things more carefully. "Regardless of how he interprets it". DOH. Would you please be kind enough to give me an example of what you mean? I have a feeling I know what you're talking about but it's St Patrick's Day and Guinness is good for you after all Suffice to say I'll answer while recovering from the hangover.

Mike
i.e. Someone submerses his hand in boiling water, then pulls it out quickly. You can be reasonably sure, barring some strange neurological disorders, that he felt pain, because he pulled his hand out. That was the external criteria you were looking for, to verify that he felt pain, regardless of whether pain for him feels way different than it feels for you. You never explained pain to him, but now he knows what it feels like, to him, and can build off of it. So you're basically reducing things down to the point where someone can't possibly be screwing up the subjective/"internal" aspects, so long as the objective/"external" are present.

It's nothing terribly profound, just I found it interesting how much the model of transmission was being emphasized and taught as much as the content.

Last edited by Lee Salzman : 03-17-2007 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 03-17-2007, 04:06 PM   #8
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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As for how well and how many. In any large group/organization there will be varying levels of excellence. Statistically speaking if you choose to categorize people as being either good or bad, then 50% of people will be bad.

If you re-read what I said then you'll notice that I just wasn't noticing that people were telling me the things that you said they need to be told.
i.e.: "student gets initial exercise which, regardless of how he interprets it, so long as he does what looks to be correct, then he has felt certain bodily sensations the teacher himself feels when doing it"
I simply didn't properly interpret these things, but that says more about me than the methodology, and like I said, I have seen too many people able to do these things who have had only a Ki Soc derived background to accept that the methodology doesn't work. How can it not work when everyone I've met who has more than a few years experience can do it?

Mike
Mike,

Let's take the "unbendable" arm trick. Supposedly, in a few years, most can do it, right? Now, let's take Tomiki's "unmovable" arm trick. If the people who were working on exercises that enabled them to do "unbendable" arm, then it follows that they should be able to do the "unmovable" arm -- provided that the exercises do train internal skills. How many people do you know that can hold their arm out in front of them and have someone push on their wrist from a 90 degree angle, with all their strength, and their arm will remain unmovable?

If the ki exercises were the same as the internal exercises, then people should be able to do both. After all, they can grasp and do the unbendable arm thing, why would it not follow that they should be able to do the unmovable arm thing?

Mark
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Old 03-17-2007, 06:00 PM   #9
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Mike,

Let's take the "unbendable" arm trick. Supposedly, in a few years, most can do it, right? Now, let's take Tomiki's "unmovable" arm trick. If the people who were working on exercises that enabled them to do "unbendable" arm, then it follows that they should be able to do the "unmovable" arm -- provided that the exercises do train internal skills. How many people do you know that can hold their arm out in front of them and have someone push on their wrist from a 90 degree angle, with all their strength, and their arm will remain unmovable?

If the ki exercises were the same as the internal exercises, then people should be able to do both. After all, they can grasp and do the unbendable arm thing, why would it not follow that they should be able to do the unmovable arm thing?

Mark
I have yet to meet someone who, when 'correctly' (which is the key word here) performs the unbendable arm 'trick' is not also able to stop people moving their arm whilst pushing it from a 90 degree angle and/or suddenly reversing their applied force in order to do so. But since you raise the point I will try it next week at training and tell you what I find (I haven't tried it in that way for a while so I hesitate to answer confidently at present).

Regards

Mike

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
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Old 03-18-2007, 04:53 AM   #10
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
So you're basically reducing things down to the point where someone can't possibly be screwing up the subjective/"internal" aspects, so long as the objective/"external" are present.

It's nothing terribly profound, just I found it interesting how much the model of transmission was being emphasized and taught as much as the content.
I think that transmitting the model is important too, otherwise the methods for acquiring these skills risks being lost. Do you not think however that the student has also got to do some of the work? In other words, they have to 'find' this skill with the aid of a teacher rather than sit in a big black chair and have Neo plug it in to the back of their head?

Mike

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Old 03-18-2007, 09:40 AM   #11
Lee Salzman
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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Mike Haft wrote: View Post
I think that transmitting the model is important too, otherwise the methods for acquiring these skills risks being lost. Do you not think however that the student has also got to do some of the work? In other words, they have to 'find' this skill with the aid of a teacher rather than sit in a big black chair and have Neo plug it in to the back of their head?

Mike
I was never expected or needed to use any great amount of intellectual reasoning to find skill. Intuitive reasoning at most. I was just shown what I need to train, no more. What I was and am expected to do, though, is the repetitive daily work of training into my body what I was shown. Just by showing me what I need to train, the teacher hasn't done any real work for me. He can't train this stuff into my body for me. I've still got years of work ahead of me, mostly by myself.

It's just, instead of spending 5+ years trying to figure out even what I'm supposed to be working on, before I can devote another 5 years to actually training it into the body, I can just go straight to training it into the body. This is especially important because the subject matter is formless: just mimicking what the teacher appears to be doing externally would never teach what's going on, especially because most of the time you can't even see it. So there is a great emphasis on verifiable transmission, to make sure you're actually getting everything.
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Old 03-19-2007, 05:46 AM   #12
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
This is especially important because the subject matter is formless: just mimicking what the teacher appears to be doing externally would never teach what's going on, especially because most of the time you can't even see it. So there is a great emphasis on verifiable transmission, to make sure you're actually getting everything.
I agree with the above. The subject matter is formless. that is why you need a good teacher to explain what you are supposed to be doing. As to the 'ki tests' they have two purposes not one. The first as you discussed is to assess and verify transmission of these skills. The second and most important IMHO is to help the student develop them in the first instance.

The tester at all times is helping the student to find their centre, he is giving them external feedback to help them understand what they are supposed to be doing. One reason people often 'fail' a ki test is that they see it as a test, something they need to pass or fail and this encourages the state of mind that causes them to resist and fight back. Once you learn that the tester is giving you a present, giving you ki to learn with and to understand what you are supposed to be doing with that formless aspect you described, things tend to get easier.

A part of the problem I have as the teacher is that when giving these 'tests' (which are actually just me helping them find and use their centre) people often see me as being their assessor, because I'm the guy out in the front of the class doing the teaching. I've found that the people who seem to have figured out that I'm not trying to pass or fail them when I do this stuff are the ones who see me less as 'sensei' and more as 'Mike'.

Regards

Mike Haft

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Old 03-19-2007, 02:08 PM   #13
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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Let's take the "unbendable" arm trick. Supposedly, in a few years, most can do it, right?
Hi Mark,

I've never seen "unbendable" arm as a 'trick', just a mind/body state that is essential for the doing of aikido.

The term 'unbendable' itself does not correctly describe the end state that is being trained for. It is true that if someone is testing my arm using strength, then what 'they' feel is that my arm is un- bendable, but I can choose to bend it as I wish, therefore it is only 'unbendable' to them.

As for teaching it, I usually can get beginners to 'get it' within minutes. The hard part is to maintain this state under ever increasing dynamically stressfull scenarios, this does seem to take a long time to achieve.

I've not seen the Tomiki unmoveable arm demo, and have not tried it, I look forward to Mike's report back. It seems to go against everything that I (as an aikidoka) would naturally want to do, i.e. when being pushed at right angles at the wrist, I'd want to turn on the spot, not stay stationary.

regards,

Mark

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Old 03-20-2007, 12:38 AM   #14
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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Mark Freeman wrote: View Post
The term 'unbendable' itself does not correctly describe the end state that is being trained for. It is true that if someone is testing my arm using strength, then what 'they' feel is that my arm is un- bendable, but I can choose to bend it as I wish, therefore it is only 'unbendable' to them.
One should not only be able to keep it unbendable under pressure from a partner but bend it and straighten it without them being able to stop you. This should be done without tensing the arm muscles at all. If one has this type of energized flexibility, one has what is needed to execute technique without either clashing or collapsing which is what many folks do.

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Old 03-20-2007, 12:42 AM   #15
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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Mark Freeman wrote: View Post
I've not seen the Tomiki unmoveable arm demo, and have not tried it, I look forward to Mike's report back. It seems to go against everything that I (as an aikidoka) would naturally want to do, i.e. when being pushed at right angles at the wrist, I'd want to turn on the spot, not stay stationary.
This is a demonstration of proper energetics not waza. It is the energy that one has when one presents ones hand in training for the partner to grab. There should be structure there, not just a hand hanging out in the air. That is a demonstration of that structure.

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Old 03-20-2007, 03:32 AM   #16
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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Hi Mark,

I've never seen "unbendable" arm as a 'trick', just a mind/body state that is essential for the doing of aikido.

The term 'unbendable' itself does not correctly describe the end state that is being trained for. It is true that if someone is testing my arm using strength, then what 'they' feel is that my arm is un- bendable, but I can choose to bend it as I wish, therefore it is only 'unbendable' to them.

As for teaching it, I usually can get beginners to 'get it' within minutes. The hard part is to maintain this state under ever increasing dynamically stressfull scenarios, this does seem to take a long time to achieve.

I've not seen the Tomiki unmoveable arm demo, and have not tried it, I look forward to Mike's report back. It seems to go against everything that I (as an aikidoka) would naturally want to do, i.e. when being pushed at right angles at the wrist, I'd want to turn on the spot, not stay stationary.

regards,

Mark
I don't know about the Tomiki thing, but the 'unbendable arm' exercise you describe is easy for beginners because it is a trick. The action being attempted by the bender is largely being thwarted by the mechanics of the setup. In order to apply a force that will truly test the bendability of the arm, one would need to apply a force down through the elbow and simultaneously up and towards the bendee's body with the shoulder, while making sure the bendee was fixed to the ground in a horizontal plane. There is only so much pulling downward on the elbow the bender can do without also dropping his/her own weight, and hence his/her shoulder - the primary action required to bend the arm is self-limiting. Also, in order to bend the arm, the bendee's wrist, and hence the bender, is going to need to close the distance to the bendee's torso, which is being thwarted by the fact that the bender is stuck in his/her own feet at a fixed distance from the bendee, bracing to pull down and trying ineffectually to drop his/her weight.

By contrast, imagine a machine, in which the person whose arm bendability is to be tested is limited from moving in the horizontal plane by a fixed steel ring circling the middle of their ribcage - not clamped, just limited from moving more than a half inch. Now, to test their arm bendability, we'll set up two bars. One will be positioned inside the elbow set to move radially downward and toward their waist using the position of their shoulder as the rough pivot point. The other will be underneath their forearm, set to pivot roughly radially to the other bar, toward the bendee's head/torso. Each bar will be fitted with a pneumatic piston capable of exerting 5000 pounds per square inch. Do you still think any human that ever lived would be able to demonstrate "unbendable arm"?

Last edited by Kevin Wilbanks : 03-20-2007 at 03:36 AM.
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Old 03-20-2007, 03:44 AM   #17
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
One should not only be able to keep it unbendable under pressure from a partner but bend it and straighten it without them being able to stop you. This should be done without tensing the arm muscles at all. If one has this type of energized flexibility, one has what is needed to execute technique without either clashing or collapsing which is what many folks do.
It is flatly impossible to straighten or bend the arm "without tensing the arm muscles at all". Tensing the arm muscles is what makes the arm bend or straighten. This is not only true with someone providing resistance but also when one is floating freely in a non-gravity environment. The arm does not voluntarily bend without the application of muscular tension on one side of the joint sufficient to overcome the resistance to bending, no matter how small that resistance is.
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Old 03-20-2007, 04:16 AM   #18
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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Mark Freeman wrote: View Post
I've not seen the Tomiki unmoveable arm demo, and have not tried it, I look forward to Mike's report back. It seems to go against everything that I (as an aikidoka) would naturally want to do, i.e. when being pushed at right angles at the wrist, I'd want to turn on the spot, not stay stationary.
Well. It wiggled and it wobbled but it pretty much stayed put. The tester was someone who outweighs me by about one third. While it wasn't stationary nor solid as a rock it was, hmmm, well rather difficult to move as opposed to totally immovable.

I suspect this is for a few reasons. One I'm not a solidly built guy so there is slack in my tendons. I found that when the force was applied from one given direction I could handle it, it was the changes in direction that caused the wobbles. I suspect this was force being loaded into my arm and onto the tendons which then released said force when the tester changed direction.

The second reason is. I'm not really that good at this type of stuff.# and need more practice.

Regards

Mike

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
-Martin Luther King Jr
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Old 03-20-2007, 04:19 AM   #19
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
One should not only be able to keep it unbendable under pressure from a partner but bend it and straighten it without them being able to stop you. This should be done without tensing the arm muscles at all. If one has this type of energized flexibility, one has what is needed to execute technique without either clashing or collapsing which is what many folks do.
I agree but not with the tensing part seeing as some muscles do actually have to flex in order for the arm to move. Koretoshi Maruyama Sensei teaches that you should consider what your triceps are doing in all of this. Makes sense really as if you rely on your biceps you'll be bending your own arm for them. In any case doing this exercise correctly should mean that your arm is free to move and extend as and when you like it. But not when the tester does (unless they are better at this stuff than you are in which case things start getting..... interesting).

Mike

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Old 03-20-2007, 04:25 AM   #20
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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I don't know about the Tomiki thing, but the 'unbendable arm' exercise you describe is easy for beginners because it is a trick.
If by trick you mean that it is learning to use your body in a situation where it interacts with other peoples bodies directed by their intention. Yeah it's a trick. Nobody says its magic. Next you'll be asking me if I weigh the same while performing the 'weight underside trick' as I do when I'm not doing it. Of course I way the same. Nobody is suggesting that this violates the laws of physics, only that this stuff enables you to learn and visualize the proper use of your own body for correctly applying aikido techniques. If you want to tie wieghts to arms and have levels and pullies etc.. well duh. Of course my arm will bend, this was never the point of the exercise in the first place though.

Despite this I wouldn't dismiss it as a trick. It is a valuable learning tool. "No unbendable arm. No aikido"

Regards

Mike

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
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Old 03-20-2007, 04:31 AM   #21
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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It is flatly impossible to straighten or bend the arm "without tensing the arm muscles at all". Tensing the arm muscles is what makes the arm bend or straighten. This is not only true with someone providing resistance but also when one is floating freely in a non-gravity environment. The arm does not voluntarily bend without the application of muscular tension on one side of the joint sufficient to overcome the resistance to bending, no matter how small that resistance is.
Speaking as a professional scientist I'd say that there is too much science here and not enough thought. The use of the word 'tense' in a scientific context is one thing, when using it to distinguish between relaxed and tensed in most (non scientist) peoples everyday lives it seems reasonable to work with language more easily understood by most people. If you want me to I can technobabble this stuff for you and relate it to points of anatomy, physiology etc etc. However this will likely not help you or anyone else improve your performance of this exercise.

Remember, I doubt anyone would claim that these are supernatural powers and if they do they're probably a bit strange in my book. Arguing over point so scientific technical language isn't particularly helpful either.

Speaking of science. I have to go and do some or the boss will wonder what I'm being paid for. Back in a few weeks.

Regards

Mike

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Old 03-20-2007, 07:33 AM   #22
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

Hi Mike, I've enjoyed these posts...hope you'll be back soon...

Best,
Ron

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Old 03-20-2007, 08:43 AM   #23
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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Mike Haft wrote: View Post
I agree but not with the tensing part seeing as some muscles do actually have to flex in order for the arm to move.
Ok, yes to this and to Kevin. It's true that muscles are doing "something". But it isn't at all what people usually are doing and it's a relaxed rather than tense movement. What I should have said is that one should be able to allow the arm to bend and then straighten it pretty much at will with a third person placing his hands on your biceps triceps and your forearm. That third person shouldn't feel any muscles firing. It's the difference between extension and what most people do which is pushing.

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Old 03-20-2007, 08:56 AM   #24
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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It is flatly impossible to straighten or bend the arm "without tensing the arm muscles at all". Tensing the arm muscles is what makes the arm bend or straighten. This is not only true with someone providing resistance but also when one is floating freely in a non-gravity environment. The arm does not voluntarily bend without the application of muscular tension on one side of the joint sufficient to overcome the resistance to bending, no matter how small that resistance is.
What I should have said is that there is no "discernible" tension. As I described in my earlier post, I can do this with a third person touching my upper and lower arm and they don't feel the muscles firing. I am not trying to upset anyone's notion of correct science, I haven't got the anatomy training to tell you what I am doing. What I am saying is that a) I can do it and do so all the time when I teach folks, so plenty of people experience it and b) the reason that I show this when I teach is that this skill, however minor, is crucial to doing any technique with "aiki". If you can't do it or don't understand it properly, your Aikido remains largely physical and strength based ie ineffective.

The whole unbendable arm demo is supposed to be showing the proper energetic state of the arms which is right in the state between pushing and pulling (or collapsing). Most of the folks who do it as beginners don't understand how to flex it, their unbendable arm is too rigid and isn't really what I am talking about nor is it what Tohei Sensei was demonstrating.

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Old 03-20-2007, 12:36 PM   #25
Mark Freeman
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Re: Ki, Aiki, Aikido. The 'internal stuff' that never left Aikido

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Kevin Wilbanks wrote: View Post
By contrast, imagine a machine, in which the person whose arm bendability is to be tested is limited from moving in the horizontal plane by a fixed steel ring circling the middle of their ribcage - not clamped, just limited from moving more than a half inch. Now, to test their arm bendability, we'll set up two bars. One will be positioned inside the elbow set to move radially downward and toward their waist using the position of their shoulder as the rough pivot point. The other will be underneath their forearm, set to pivot roughly radially to the other bar, toward the bendee's head/torso. Each bar will be fitted with a pneumatic piston capable of exerting 5000 pounds per square inch. Do you still think any human that ever lived would be able to demonstrate "unbendable arm"?
No!

George's post's expanded on my own of what this unbendable arm 'thing' is and why it is neccessary for the correct practice of aikido. It's only a training tool to achieve a desired mind/body state. I'm not keen on the term 'unbendable' or 'trick' and your mechanical uke would no doubt prove your hypothesis. But what does that prove in itself?

regards,

Mark

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