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Old 03-14-2007, 01:49 PM   #1
tedehara
 
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O Sensei's Kokyu Practice

I had always heard of Morihei Ueshiba's breath powers (kokyu ryoku), however I never heard of him doing breathing exercises. I read where he had both a strong chant and kiai. I also read where he practiced kotodama. Between the chanting and kotodama, I figured that he was able to get plenty of breath training. This year I not only discovered that the founder did breathing exercise, but also one type of breathing exercise he practiced.

In January I attended the winter workshop at the St. Louis Ki Society. Mark Rubbert Sensei, lead the workshop. One of the practices done in this New Year's workshop was water misogi. One of the things that he taught was what he called his "emergency ki breathing" exercise.

He had used this quick method of ki breathing to help revive a participant in a river misogi who was losing color in her face. He had gotten this method from Koichi Tohei's book Ki in Daily Life. It was listed as "2. The Ki Breathing Method 2" (pg. 67, 1984 edition). It is also given as "2 The Breathing Method used in Aikido" in his previous book Aikido in Daily Life (pg 33, 1966 edition).

When Rubbert Sensei was in Japan, he asked K. Tohei about ki breathing method 2. K. Tohei replied that he didn't do this method anymore. It was what the founder had practiced.

Now that I have reviewed the instructions for this method, I can see that they vary from what K. Tohei usually recommends. As Rubbert Sensei noted, it uses tensing and relaxing of the muscles that is common with yoga and progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) exercises. Since this breathing exercise has usually been ignored in the Ki Society, I wanted to pass this information on to those who are interested in the founder and his training practices.

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Old 03-14-2007, 03:06 PM   #2
Mike Hamer
 
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Re: O Sensei's Kokyu Practice

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote: View Post
One of the things that he taught was what he called his "emergency ki breathing" exercise.
Want to explain what this is exactly?

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Old 03-14-2007, 03:27 PM   #3
Ron Tisdale
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Re: O Sensei's Kokyu Practice

Ted, thank you for broaching such an interesting topic. Would you feel ok posting a description here? I'm afraid I don't have a copy of that book (but I'm strongly considering remedying that).

Best,
Ron

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Old 03-14-2007, 04:29 PM   #4
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In this breathing method I was taught to incline my body forward and "breathe out one more breath" after I had finished exhaling from my mouth. And, likewise I was told to tilt my head back and take "one more inhalation" into my abdomen once I had finished inhaling through my nose. I trained fervently exactly as I was taught. But it is not possible to exhale when there is nothing left to breathe out. This is the same for inhaling and makes for an extremely uncomfortable state. In spite of this I forced myself to sit in "seiza" and train in this fashion for 1 hour every night before going to bed reminding myself that the great people who had come before me had struggled with this pain and discomfort.

to be continued ...

Tohei goes on for a couple paragraphs about joining the army and not being able to do this breathing method while marching. So, he came up with a new breathing method. I'll post that one next.

After giving it some thought I came up with a new approach. Instead of leaning forward and straining out a final breath, I would look straight ahead, keep my mouth open and count off 4 steps while keeping my body still and relaxed. Then I would close my mouth and begin inhaling through my nose. When the inhalation was completed I would then also count off 4 steps. Even if it is not perceptible to your senses, by doing this, one's breath continues on infinitesimally throughout this relaxing and comfortable breathing cycle. Up to this point the breathing method had been a torment because each breath would come to a stop due to tension that would enter the body following each inhalation and exhalation. Correctly done the breathing method can be carried out pleasantly even while marching if one doesn't allow the breath to stop ("Teishi" in Japanese) but rather allows it to become infinitely calm (Seishi)

... skip a few paragraphs ...

Unfortunately the Misogi breathing method that is being carried out at present differs from the one left behind by Masakane Inoue. In light of this, I have termed the breathing method that I teach and which corresponds with the laws of the Universe as "Ki breathing".

Gotta run ... hope that helps. Check out Sigman's post here on AikiWeb because he posted about this section, too. Somewhere.

Last edited by akiy : 03-14-2007 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 03-14-2007, 06:33 PM   #5
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Re: O Sensei's Kokyu Practice

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Tohei goes on for a couple paragraphs about joining the army and not being able to do this breathing method while marching. So, he came up with a new breathing method.
Haven't got the book to hand but we practice this breathing method here. If you're interested in these things then I would definitely recommend finding out about O Sensei's misogi exercise called 'the rites of spring' as preserved by Hikitsuchi Sensei. Many of O Sensei's breathing/kokyu exercises are contained within it along with his kotodama practice. Notably it contains the rowing exercise which he appeared to consider fundamental to his aikido. This exercise is one of those taught in the ki society from the early stages of training. As it is in Iwama Ryu aikido and elsewhere (notably Hikitsuchi of course), so two 10th Dans and O Sensei's longest continuous student (Saito) definitely seemed to think it vital to aikido practice.

Interestingly where we train we tend to practice some of these exercises deliberately after a period of hard aerobic training where we're out of breath, it's extremely hard to do but very worthwhile. I've also noticed that at kendo keiko my sensei often makes us do lots of fast okuriashi practice followed by men cuts with loud kiai so that we can 'learn to focus on our breathing because it helps learn ki ken tai ichi' in other words, basically the same exercise in terms of aerobic changing to deep controlled breathing in a short space of time.

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Mike Haft

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Old 03-14-2007, 06:45 PM   #6
tedehara
 
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Re: O Sensei's Kokyu Practice

The reason I gave the edition dates of the two titles is because the "completely revised edition" of Ki in Daily Life (2001 edition) has revised this particuliar exercise out of it. In 2. Ki Breathing Method II, K. Tohei writes about misogi breathing created by Masakane Inoue. The ki breathing method 2 that I'm writing about is only in the older edition of Ki in Daily Life with the yellow cover. This is what happens when things get ignored.

The quotes that Mark is giving is from the 2001 edition.

Will reply with other stuff later.

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Old 03-14-2007, 06:47 PM   #7
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Re: O Sensei's Kokyu Practice

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote: View Post
The ki breathing method 2 that I'm writing about is only in the older edition of Ki in Daily Life with the yellow cover.
Purely for the sake of clarity, this is also the edition that I own and is also the exercise I was referring to.

Regards

Mike

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Old 03-14-2007, 07:53 PM   #8
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Re: O Sensei's Kokyu Practice

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote: View Post
The reason I gave the edition dates of the two titles is because the "completely revised edition" of Ki in Daily Life (2001 edition) has revised this particuliar exercise out of it. In 2. Ki Breathing Method II, K. Tohei writes about misogi breathing created by Masakane Inoue. The ki breathing method 2 that I'm writing about is only in the older edition of Ki in Daily Life with the yellow cover. This is what happens when things get ignored.

The quotes that Mark is giving is from the 2001 edition.

Will reply with other stuff later.
I didn't know that they were different. Yes, my edition is the newer one. If I had known it was different, I wouldn't have gotten it. Now I guess I'll have to get the older version.

Thanks for the clarification,
Mark
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Old 03-15-2007, 01:29 PM   #9
Ron Tisdale
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Re: O Sensei's Kokyu Practice

Thanks to all of you for continuing this...I read anything else y'all have to add...

Best,
Ron

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Old 03-15-2007, 01:50 PM   #10
tedehara
 
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Re: O Sensei's Kokyu Practice

From "Aikido in Daily Life" by Koichi Tohei pg.33 copyright 1966 ISBN 0870402218
Quote:
Koichi Tohei wrote:
2. The Breathing Method Used in Aikido
As pre-practice training in aikido we frequently use a breathing method that calls for inhaling and exhaling through the nose.
  1. Stand with your legs open about a half step. In this breathing method you may either open or close your eyes. Spread your fingers, and let your arms hang naturally, (fig.2a).
  2. Breathe in as if you were drawing in the ki of the universal, close the fingers of both hands in order beginning with the little fingers. As you inhale, rise up on your toes. Inhalation should take about five seconds, (fig. 2b).
  3. When you have taken in sufficient breath, lower your fists as if you were about to fall on them, tense the single spot in the lower abdomen, and lower your heels, (fig. 2c). In this case it is not as if your ki were sinking into the spot in the lower abdomen. It is rather that you are concentrating all of your body's strength there. This will cause you too feel strength surging all through your body. Remain fixed in this position for about five seconds.
  4. Keeping your mouth closed, begin exhaling through your nose as if you were driving out all of your body's strength. Simultaneously, open the fingers of both hands in order, and when they are open turn them palms down as if you were pressing on the surface of the earth. Swing both hands in the directions shown by the dotted lines in fig. 2d. When you have finished exhaing, tense the single spot in the lower abdomen, and return you hands to the position in which they seem to be pressing downward. This process should take a total of about ten seconds.
  5. When you have completely exhaled immediately open your fingers, face them outward, and return to the position in fig 2a to begin inhaling again.
Though this breathing method falls short of the misogi method in deep spiritual and bodily unification and in the propagation of real srength, its advantage lies in the brief time it takes under daily circumstances. Five or six times is enough to do it, and because it takes only twenty seconds to go through one exercise, a whole set only requres from one and one half to two minutes.

We have a reason for saying that you should tense the single spot in the lower abdomen when you do this breathing exercise. When you are shocked, extremely tired, or angry it is difficult to sink you spirit into the single spot in the lower abdomen, because, we say, under such conditions we cannot locate that sopt. This breathing method is very effective in such cases. If you tense your lower abdomen without breath practice your blood will rush upward, and you will find it still harder to find the single spot, whereas if you do both, your strength will concentrate in the single spot in the lower abdomen. Once you have unified completely your body and spirit and relaxed you will be able to collect ki in the single spot. When you are tired this method will quickly restore your strength by helping you reunite the sundered spirit and body to give birth to new strength. Even when you are not tired and about to begin some task, practice this breathing method, and it will give you a sense of security to begin and show what real strength you have.
  • Fig. 2 a shows K. Tohei standing with feet about shoulder length apart with arms out at waist and fingers splayed out.
  • Fig 2 b shows him on his toes, hands closed to fists with inside arm facing front. Chest and shoulders have risen from inhalation.
  • Fig. 2 c shows him with feet on floor, chest and shoulders down. Hands in fists with arrows drawn down along arms, showing direction of focus.
  • Fig. 2 d Shows him with fingers splayed out and palms facing the ground. Directional arrows show a circular swing to the center. There is no stepping or change in position in all four poses.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 03-15-2007, 03:34 PM   #11
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Re: O Sensei's Kokyu Practice

Thanks Ted!
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Old 03-15-2007, 03:54 PM   #12
Ron Tisdale
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Re: O Sensei's Kokyu Practice

You guys are great! Thanks! I'll print this off tomorrow and work on it over the weekend.

Best,
Ron

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Old 04-05-2007, 05:39 PM   #13
Alfonso
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Re: O Sensei's Kokyu Practice

Is there any chance you could post a scan of the figures that accompany this description?

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 04-05-2007, 06:03 PM   #14
tedehara
 
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Re: O Sensei's Kokyu Practice

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Alfonso Adriasola wrote: View Post
Is there any chance you could post a scan of the figures that accompany this description?
That would be a violation of copyright. Something that Jun might find exciting, but I don't. Besides, these books are selling for cheap on the net and used book stores.

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Old 04-05-2007, 10:09 PM   #15
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Re: O Sensei's Kokyu Practice

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Ted Ehara wrote: View Post
That would be a violation of copyright. Something that Jun might find exciting, but I don't. Besides, these books are selling for cheap on the net and used book stores.
Actually, the use of the illustrations is no less fair use under the copyright law than the quoted excerpts that refer to them. Having said that, people should be paid for their efforts, and everything makes better sense in complete context.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 05-05-2007, 03:52 PM   #16
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: O Sensei's Kokyu Practice

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
Actually, the use of the illustrations is no less fair use under the copyright law than the quoted excerpts that refer to them. Having said that, people should be paid for their efforts, and everything makes better sense in complete context.
Yes, thank you. Please buy the book and support arts and artists for the future.
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Old 05-06-2007, 11:55 AM   #17
Alfonso
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Re: O Sensei's Kokyu Practice

Buying a used book doesn't help the author though... and the piece in question was taken out of the current new book.

In any case there's enough pointers for me to find a used copy, one day. I wonder what prompted the excision.

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