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Old 02-11-2008, 04:41 PM   #51
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

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Franco Cuminato wrote: View Post
I was going to start a new thread with the title "Mike Sigman's reign of terror is over" , but I guess I'll just post here. Thanks to Mike for taking the time to teach and to Budd and the rest of the organizers for putting the event together. It was great. I find it strange that threads on the topic of "internal strength" ended up in a forum named "non-Aikido martial traditions", as if internal strength were some miscellaneous subject not really pertinent to Aikido.
It's a simple fact that the folks who have the most to say on this subject are not Aikido folks, although Mike has an Aikido background. This is one of the problems, I think. It is folks from outside our art who have the most to say on the issue. While the subject is definitely pertinent, it is much cleaner to have the discussions in which the primary source of information is from outside the art take place under this heading. That way we can skip all of the "what are your credentials in Aikido that you are telling us what we should and should not be doing?" nonsense.

The whole point of these discussions is that Aikido as an art has largely lost the exercises which develop the kind of internal power the Founder and many of the old time deshi had. Putting the discussions here lets the Aikido folks who want to know a place to share the ideas and those who don't want to know can be happy talking the art in other ways. It just leaves people less upset this way.

I am glad the seminar went well... wish I could have gone but I was teaching elsewhere the same weekend. To much I want to do and too little time to do it...

George S. Ledyard
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Old 02-11-2008, 06:46 PM   #52
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

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Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
It was fun all around. Many thanks also to Budd Yuhasz and Bob Wolfe for accomodating me and going to so much trouble.
Mike - no trouble here whatsoever. It was an absolute blast to meet you and it was a privilege to help coordinate the workshop. Thank you so much for coming in to do it.

Quote:
Robert Wolfe wrote:
My very deep thanks to Mike, and an ippon! to Budd for seminar coordination.
Sensei, thanks for your sacrifices to set the example, make sure we have such an amazing place to train and access to such quality instruction. Can't ever be said enough.

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
such important matters to one of their (relatively) new students.
Oh, I'm gonna get you for that one, Ron

Everyone else - it was a pleasure getting to see you on the mat . . .
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Old 02-11-2008, 09:46 PM   #53
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
In the context of the exercises he presented, I would be hesitant personally to even use the word "attack", or even consider them in the context of "martial". they were simply exercises to develop certain physical responses.

You could do this stuff and never even become "martial".

I think this is the challenge you face when coupling it with martial training. We immediately want to get to the martial.
It'll be interesting to hear if your ground game changes Kevin
There's some funky stuff you can do on the ground once your body has been conditioned for a year or two...
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Old 02-11-2008, 10:10 PM   #54
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
The whole point of these discussions is that Aikido as an art has largely lost the exercises which develop the kind of internal power the Founder and many of the old time deshi had. Putting the discussions here lets the Aikido folks who want to know a place to share the ideas and those who don't want to know can be happy talking the art in other ways. It just leaves people less upset this way.
Hi George:

Well, I came into Aikido looking for how to do these specific things, many years ago. If there had been a ready access to them, I would not have left and of course people in Aikido would not now also be looking outside for a source of this type of information. Q.E.D.

I feel like I tried to cover too much information at the workshop, but on the other hand, I think the "big picture" was better served by covering a number of the facets in such a way to give a flavor of how things hang together as a whole.

As Kevin L. pointed out, these are mainly training exercises. The points about Uke's importance in helping Nage learn, at first, are critical (IMO), as several people have already noted. As the skills increase, of course Nage will begin (over time... not immediately) to be more fluent with the skills and will be able to utilize them as the core of techniques, rather than just as training devices. And of course, ultimately, the blend of mind-directed Ki skills should become automatic, so that ki-no-musubi manifests itself in response to any attack.

But anyway... I'm hoping the workshop kicked a few people into focusing their gaze and practice on developing those skills. I think that going back and reading much of the writings of Aikido now will turn on a few lights and help increase the appreciation of the depth of O-Sensei's art.

Best.

Mike Sigman
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Old 02-11-2008, 10:53 PM   #55
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

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Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
I believe what Mike is referring to is that shoulder strike he does...I can now say that there is no way in H_e_double_hockey_sticks I want to EVER get hit with that.
Hi Ron:

I just wanted to point out that there is a very good chance that Shioda, if he had been closer to my weight, etc., would have done a shoulder-strike that was at least *similar*. He used a shoulder strike, but he was so diminutive (hey.... mass counts, most definitely, even when using the ki of Heaven and Earth. ) that it may not have been so obvious. Plus, he certainly wouldn't be trying to kill his Uke's, so I'd put him down as a definite maybe. Secondly, I'd note in a quote by Miyamoto Musashi that he mentioned a shoulder strike capable of knocking someone far away, as a fighting technique.

Best.

Mike
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Old 02-12-2008, 04:51 AM   #56
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
It's a simple fact that the folks who have the most to say on this subject are not Aikido folks, although Mike has an Aikido background. This is one of the problems, I think. It is folks from outside our art who have the most to say on the issue. While the subject is definitely pertinent, it is much cleaner to have the discussions in which the primary source of information is from outside the art take place under this heading. That way we can skip all of the "what are your credentials in Aikido that you are telling us what we should and should not be doing?" nonsense.

The whole point of these discussions is that Aikido as an art has largely lost the exercises which develop the kind of internal power the Founder and many of the old time deshi had. Putting the discussions here lets the Aikido folks who want to know a place to share the ideas and those who don't want to know can be happy talking the art in other ways. It just leaves people less upset this way.

I am glad the seminar went well... wish I could have gone but I was teaching elsewhere the same weekend. To much I want to do and too little time to do it...
FWIW, I agree with all of the above completely. However it does leave one area out. The folks in aikido who have made special effort to have internal strength placed squarely at the heart of the aikido that they do. Can't think of anything more irritating than being told you've lost something you haven't

Of course what then happens is that the guys from outside come along and say you're not doing this, I reply, actually yes I am and it gets assumed that I can't possibly be talking sense as, after all "aikido has lost this". Lots of arguments as a result.... so I'd be careful abut blanket statements such as aikido has declined and lost internal strength. Makes me want to re-hash the old phrase 'aikido works, yours doesn't but aikido does'.... Aikido has internal strength, yours doesn't, aikido does.

In any case, there are a few things Mike S has said lately that are really interesting so if you get a chance to go see him I imagine it'd be really worthwhile.

Just my 2pence

Mike

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
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Old 02-12-2008, 06:15 AM   #57
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

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Mike Haft wrote: View Post
FWIW, I agree with all of the above completely. However it does leave one area out. The folks in aikido who have made special effort to have internal strength placed squarely at the heart of the aikido that they do. Can't think of anything more irritating than being told you've lost something you haven't

Of course what then happens is that the guys from outside come along and say you're not doing this, I reply, actually yes I am and it gets assumed that I can't possibly be talking sense as, after all "aikido has lost this".
Well, isn't that what a lot of these conversations are for..... describing the how's and why's of doing things, establishing a baseline discussion level, etc? I know full well what you mean about some un-named outsider coming along and not realizing how great and perceptive you already are, but in my experience the real problem is far more often that some guy has self-perception disorder (SPD) about what he can really do.

During a workshop, I will have felt the movements of everyone, and pretty thoroughly, during the first 15 minutes. I pretty much know what they can do because I can feel their level of using "Earth and Heaven" for power, how well-connected their body is, and whether or how much they can actually use the dantien as an automatic control point. I won't bore you with the statistics of what I usually encounter, but I will say that during and after a workshop the number of people who have successfully done most of the exercises and who decide that "they could already do that when they got here" can be staggering. And what's so funny is that it's not just me that catches sight of it.... so do a number of the cold-eyed other attendees.

So my comment would be that this forum would be good place to lay out some basic and original commentary if someone wants to establish his status of "already knows this stuff". Go for it. And yes, the reason I'm being a little acerbic about the subject is that I find (IME) that not only can a lot of people do much less than they think they can, they also put the weight of that faulty perception on their own students and convince those students "you don't need to go anywhere outside of this dojo to get all there is".

In short, my point is that if you want to discuss about how much is already known, not known, whatever, please do it freely an openly within the Aikido community. Tell what you know; show what you know; get out and meet people and most of all, encourage your students to be aggressively collecting all that they can. All that openess will do wonders toward correcting an error that has been allowed to get out of hand in Aikido.

Best.

Mike
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Old 02-12-2008, 06:42 AM   #58
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Ai symbol Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

I want to echo Mike's remark.

I attended his seminar this weekend and found it quite worth-while, even having already a beginner's level practice in Wu Taiji and various forms of bagua. Some of the exercises he taught us I had seen in the context of Wu Taiji and could adapt myself to quickly, but in those cases, it was using skills from taiji, and not anything I had ever been shown in practicing a mix of kempo, judo, and aikido with bits of Daito-ryu waza thrown in (which is what I did for the first part of my martial career). The idea of using peng jin (groundpath) was totally alien to me when I started bagua and taiji.

Even knowing a little bit of neijia (and I unconsciously muscle things a lot because I am so big and my center is pretty high up off the ground), there was a lot to see and learn from, especially how Mike stores energy and releases it from the lower back. That skill ("bend bow and shoot arrow") is something I have not had any practice at, and some of the drills he taught Saturday gave me a lot to think about.

I would be quite surprised if even 1 out of a 1,000 people practicing aikido or modern jujutsu derived from aikido can exhibit the power release ability (e.g. pole shaking or shoulder strikes) that Mike was easily able to show -- while keeping completely balanced. [And I am not claiming that taiji in general has better pedagogy for this, either. Given that over a million people practice taiji, I would say 1 in 10,000 for taiji...]

When you encounter skilled people such as Mike, regardless of your background there is always something to learn. Sometimes, things of great value. The real trick is in integrating these lessons into one's daily practice. I think people who are off on their own as opposed to part of a dojo have a slight advantage in that regard, because while they don't have a lot of bodies to work with, they also don't get corralled back into the old way of doing things due to external factors -- if they do, they only have themselves to blame.

Also, with teachers of martial arts, it might be difficult to adapt on another level -- when switching modes to a new way of generating force (vs isolated musculature or isometric tension), you might for a while actually get worse at what you teach, and lose the confidence of your students. But, you have to look past that for the longer-term goal of your development. That is probably a downside of being a teacher in an existing organization, where you still have to pay lip-service to the powers that be if you want to go-along to get-along and advance, be recognized for your contributions, etc.

Mark Raugas
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Old 02-12-2008, 07:39 AM   #59
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

Not saying that there are not people that have these skills in AIkido. I am sure they are there. What I found interesting was how concentrated, distilled, focused, and "1,2,3 this is how you do it" Mike layed this stuff out for us.

I suppose I could have spent the rest of the year going to seminars, summer camps etc and getting blips of what he was teaches and probably not really get too far in my practice as I would have never "holistically" looked at some of the problems I am having.

Mike layed it out in a very coherent, logical way.

I don't think that our higher, proficient shihan in aikido are trying to keep it a secret, maybe they simply do not have teaching skills to transmit it efficiently or something like that??? I don't know.

What I do know is that Mike possibly has saved me a lot of time. The key is that I now have to practice and exercise what he presented, and get with people that are competent such as him from time to time to expand my understanding.

Isn' that what we are all looking for anyway?

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Old 02-12-2008, 07:48 AM   #60
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

Rob,

Yes I am excited actually more about my BJJ/grappling than I am concerning my aikido practice. My BJJ partners, as you know, tend to put alot more committed feedback, pressure, and the grounding feedback is more solid and moves around from point to point in your body.

I don't know if I will make any gains in my ability to transmit/project the way Mike was showing me anytime soon, but I am certainly trying, and even this morining working my open guard and butterfly it seemed as if uke was a little lighter/lifting if I focused on some of the things/feelings that Mike presented. It is hard to tell.

One of the challenges I had in talking with MIke was trying to really grasp conceptually/cognitively in terms of my current reference/perception system. I kept finding myself asking Mike "In grappling I do this...is it the same concept?" Or in Yoga terms, they talk about "This"?

Mike would demonstrate the difference or explain the concept again, and show me the difference.

It was sort of like trying to describe an Elephant to a man that has not concept of an elephant.

So, the only thing I know to do is to do what he said do. Keep getting with guys in the area that are doing it, and then get back with Mike to see if I can see that Elephant a little more clearer in a few months!

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Old 02-12-2008, 08:10 AM   #61
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
I don't think that our higher, proficient shihan in aikido are trying to keep it a secret, maybe they simply do not have teaching skills to transmit it efficiently or something like that???
Hi Kevin:

I agree. Some of the shihans have good skills in these things, some have only a smattering, and so forth. But it's certainly there, even if only in bits and pieces.

The main thing that happened this weekend is that a number of people got to see and work with something that many westerners considered mythical. But they got to see it, do it, feel it, consider it in terms of Aikido's tenets and principles.... so suddenly they know what it is, at least to a reasonably extent. So there's no longer this question of "does such a thing exist?". That means they can see which way to go in their own explorations instead of wasting years wondering anymore if it even exists.

Another point is that they now have enough feel and experience behind them that they'll know who, when they touch them, really has ki/kokyu skills, who just has a few rudiments that is being passed off as the Full Monty, and so forth. In other words, a lot of the confusion about which way to go will have cleared up.

In terms of techniques, it's now going to be possible to tell who simply "does good external technique" (no matter how 'subtle' those external techniques are) and who can do good technique while also using Ki skills. It will probably be both a boon to Aikido and a curse, because it's going to take some of the Santa Claus away from the idea that all shihans are equally capable or equally "have these skills". Now some people know what to look for and they're going to start doing what the informed martial artists in Asia do all the time.... go around looking for who knows what about these skills.

But you know, it's a ray of sunshine (IMO) for Aikido.

Best.

Mike
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Old 02-12-2008, 08:32 AM   #62
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

Mike wrote:

Quote:
In terms of techniques, it's now going to be possible to tell who simply "does good external technique" (no matter how 'subtle' those external techniques are) and who can do good technique while also using Ki skills.
This was the tough one for me this weekend. Trying to distingush between external technique and internal. The exercises and uke's "pressure" pretty much eliminated the ability to use external technique, to do things such as shift weight offline, irimi, establish fulcrums, pivot points etc. Once you remove these things from the equation you are left with using grounding, aiki, ki, chi or what not. Guys like me, as you felt, become befuddled when attempting to access the ground and result to what we know by using shoulder/arm strength, or torsion or leaning at the trunk to generate power. It is hard, because big guys like myself can be successful in this way, but as you demonstrated, it doesn't really generate much power in the same way.

So, the challenge is distingushing between the two types of power/advantage strategies. You can be successful with both strategies for sure, and for guys like me, it can definitely be a challenge to distingush the difference in yourself.

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Old 02-12-2008, 08:42 AM   #63
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
This was the tough one for me this weekend. Trying to distingush between external technique and internal. The exercises and uke's "pressure" pretty much eliminated the ability to use external technique, to do things such as shift weight offline, irimi, establish fulcrums, pivot points etc. Once you remove these things from the equation you are left with using grounding, aiki, ki, chi or what not. Guys like me, as you felt, become befuddled when attempting to access the ground and result to what we know by using shoulder/arm strength, or torsion or leaning at the trunk to generate power. It is hard, because big guys like myself can be successful in this way, but as you demonstrated, it doesn't really generate much power in the same way.

So, the challenge is distingushing between the two types of power/advantage strategies. You can be successful with both strategies for sure, and for guys like me, it can definitely be a challenge to distingush the difference in yourself.
Exactly. Now you see what I mean about how difficult the changeover can be, particularly for someone who has trained hard and diligently to use their body in one mode for many, many techniques. The changeover to ki and dantien can be a completely different planet.

However, the ability to use the earth, gravity, "suit", and dantien as the source of "natural" power isn't that hard to grasp academically (even though the changeover to a different mode of movement can seem to be almost impossible at first).

The point I'd make to you, Ron, and some others is..... can you now begin to see how Aikido, using this sort of power, could be dynamically effective as a martial-art in itself, rather than needing some other art to complement it? Once you begin to see the level of power that Aikido is supposed to use, rather than just simple waza, Aikido (at least in my opinion) ain't so shabby.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 02-12-2008, 09:11 AM   #64
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

Not shabby at all!

I've always been concerned about going outside for things like striking, close in grappling, etc., because you have to be careful not to adopt things whose principles actually conflict with what we are SUPPOSED to be doing in Aikido. That is why I would look at an art like Daito ryu, as opposed to modern kickboxing, for example, if I wanted to do more striking.

I am still very wary however, of fooling myself. The level of sophistication available with this material is daunting. And it is way too easy to THINK you are connecting, connected, and supporting from the ground when you are not.

Mike has said several times that the approach the Ki Society's use of seperate tracks is a good one, and I can see why, since it keeps the martial side seperate from the skills in this area. Something to definately examine.

Best,
Ron

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 02-12-2008 at 09:15 AM.

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Old 02-12-2008, 09:18 AM   #65
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

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Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Mike has said several times that the approach the Ki Society uses of seperate tracks is a good one, and I can see why, since it keeps the martial side seperate from the skills in this area. Something to definately examine.
Exactly, Ron. Tohei's systemization of Aikido waza and Ki skills turns out to not be bad at all. Of course, I'd argue that if he took as explicative an approach as I tried to do over the weekend, it would help tremendously (although we did a wider range of skills than Ki Society uses)..... but that's just my opinion about the *details*. The important part to note is that it suddenly becomes easy to see how Ki Society, ASU, Aikikai, etc., suddenly become reconciled when/if they all use the core Ki principles, whereas if all you see is waza, etc., the factions of Aikido look separate indeed.

Best.

Mike
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Old 02-12-2008, 10:21 AM   #66
Jim Sorrentino
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

Greetings All,

The seminar was excellent on all counts! Bravo to Mike Sigman, Bob Wolfe, Budd Yuhasz, and the Itten Dojo for making it work.

The comments of Kevin Leavitt and other participants brought to my mind the following passage from Stan Pranin's interview with Seishiro Endo-sensei in Aikido Journal #106. I hope others find it useful as well.

Sincerely,

Jim Sorrentino

Quote:
AJ: I understand your aikido underwent a change as you entered your 30s?

Endo: When I was 30 years old I dislocated my right shoulder. That event brought me to a turning point. Seigo Yamaguchi said to me, "You've been doing aikido for 10 years now, but now you have only your left arm to use, what are you going to do? Up to then I hadn't trained very much under Yamaguchi Sensei, but after he said that I made it a point to get to his classes as much as possible. I started to realize how much I was relying on the strength in my upper arms and body during training. I asked myself whether I could go on doing aikido like that for the rest of my life. Yamaguchi Sensei's question was just the thing to send me into a tailspin, into the next level of training that I needed to pursue. I took the opportunity to turn my approach to aikido around 180 degrees. I'm sure everybody remembers being told on at least one occasion to "take the strength out of your shoulders." Yamaguchi Sensei also talked about this - about doing aikido without relying on strength. It's more easily said than done, of course. When you try taking the strength out of your shoulders, it often happens that your ki goes with it! That's to be expected.

You might draw an analogy with learning to ski. When you follow a skilled teacher you seem to improve rapidly and to swish smoothly down the slopes. But things start to fall apart the moment you try skiing on your own with no teacher to guide you. I experienced something similar in trying to rid my aikido of strength. I could do it when Yamaguchi Sensei was around, but as soon as I went somewhere else, I found myself suddenly incapable. It was very frustrating and I'd always end up falling back on powering my way through techniques. I struggled with that problem for nearly six months.

I think it was Shinran [1173-1263, founder of the Jodoshin sect of Pure Land Buddhism] who said, "Even if what my teacher Honen tells me seems mistaken; even if it seems I am being misled, I have absolute faith in what I have been doing and so I follow my master's way, even if it leads to Hell." I thought, well, why not? If I'm going to be misled by Yamaguchi Sensei then so be it! Yamaguchi Sensei told me the same thing, "Even if you don't understand it, just take my word for it and do it. Just give it 10 years or so." So that's what I did. Rather than trying to get rid of strength and then falling back on it when the techniques didn't work, I resolved to explore the no-strength way exclusively, no matter what. But, even though I'd made up my own mind, the training environment hadn't changed. It didn't take long to realize that my training partners weren't simply going to fall for me when I tried throwing them without using strength.

I had no alternative but to say to them, "Look, I can't really do these techniques right now, but can I ask you fall anyway?" It was a highly unusual thing for a 4th dan to ask. People were a bit surprised. Anyway, that's how I began my "squishy" approach to training. I took extreme care to avoid getting frustrated, because I knew that doing so would send me right back to relying on strength. When I was taking ukemi for Yamaguchi Sensei he would murmur things under his breath like, "The more you let go of your strength, the more your ki will concentrate," and "Focus your strength in your lower abdomen." I tried to remain acutely aware of what was going on when taking ukemi, no matter what was done to me, and after a few years I began to understand what he was talking about and what he was doing. I knew I had finally found an approach to training that would work for me.

From then on I worked to intensify that feeling by doing one technique exclusively for a certain period of time. For example, I would do nothing but shomenuchi ikkyo for six months, no matter what dojo I was at. Training like that gave me a deeper understanding of each technique. It helped me realize how to approach each technique in different situations, and also how the principles from one technique could be applied to other techniques. When I'm teaching these days, I often say things like, "Look closely at yourself and feel what you're doing," or "Feel your partner and know the relationship between yourself and your partner." By self I mean both your state of mind and the physical balance of your body, as well as the relationship between the two. There's an expression, "mind, technique, and body are one" (shingitai itchi). When your mind is in disarray, your body isn't able to move efficiently and effectively. Likewise an unbalanced body can agitate your mind to the point where you will be unable to correctly understand your relationship with your partner, and this will prevent you from doing the technique you need to do. Once you've made the initial encounter (deai), shifted your body appropriately (taisabaki), and unbalanced your partner (kuzushi), it is essential to then instantly perceive what technique will naturally spring into being given the set of conditions emerging between the two of you.

O-Sensei talked about "becoming One with the Cosmos" or "being at one with Nature." One way to interpret this is that, rather than simply forcing your way through techniques according to your own one-sided will, you should perceive what techniques come into being naturally. That is, the techniques that arise naturally, given the relationship between you and your partner. We usually learn aikido by going through the techniques one by one, repeatedly practicing whatever the teacher shows us. That means we have to do that particular technique no matter what, even if it involves unnecessary effort and movements that don't arise entirely naturally. It's important to be able to monitor yourself and recognize such unnatural effort. You need to be perceptive and objective enough to say to yourself, for example, "My last technique was good, but the meeting (deai) between my partner and me is no longer working." It's important to constantly check yourself to make sure you maintain an awareness of whether or not the movements you're doing are truly natural ones.

It was only after I began training without using any strength at all that I was able to instantly change whatever technique I happened to be doing into some other technique. It makes sense, of course, that the less effort there is involved, the easier it is to switch to something else. As I was working through that concept, I also recalled that O-Sensei often used to say, "When it's like this, you do this, when it's like this other way, you do this other thing," all the while never doing the same thing twice. I thought, "Ah, I think I know what he meant by that!" With that sort of approach you never end up using excessive effort because one thing simply changes into another as needed.

Imagine a river full of stones. When the water encounters small stones it flows over them. When it encounters larger ones it flows around them. Even if you dam the river the water doesn't really stop; the potential energy is still there swirling around and building up behind the dam, trying to break through or spill over the top. Aikido is the same. It's no longer a "living" path if you limit yourself to meeting an encounter with a specific technique. It's important to be able to change and move on to something else the instant the conditions change and what you're doing ceases to have the desired effect. It's not just a matter of flowing into something different when you find yourself blocked; it's also necessary to investigate how to "store up energy." We all have possibilities we're unaware of, so we need to think about how we might draw out, amplify, and apply that latent energy.

In the "Tora no Maki," a work said to contain quintessential secrets of martial arts and strategy, it says, "What comes is met; what goes is sent on its way; what is in opposition is harmonized. Five and five is ten; two and eight is ten; one and nine is ten. In this way should things be harmonized. Distinguish appearance and reality, grasping both true intent and concealed strategies and deceptions; know unseen potentials and hidden implications. Understand that which is of the grand scheme and attend to details and particulars as necessary. When a situation of life or death is at hand, respond to the myriad changes taking place and face situations with a mind free of agitation."

This passage has provided me with vast food for thought. Those words are probably applicable not only to aikido training, but also to many other aspects of life. Certainly, we learn such things through our aikido training but, realistically speaking, most of us spend more time outside the dojo than in it, so it would be strange not to acknowledge that what we learn in the dojo extends to other aspects of life as well. It's not altogether appropriate to speak of winning and losing when talking about aikido, but the best kind of winning, I think, is when you have achieved harmony with your opponent, and both you and your opponent have felt that harmony.

In my view, the best technique is one in which neither party experiences feelings of having won or lost, but rather of having "met successfully." Such a thing does exist, even if it happens only one time in a million. Our goal in training is to make that occurrence one time in half a million, one time in a hundred thousand, and so on. Whether or not a person has faith that that one time will come, and whether or not they overlook it when it does, depends on how seriously they approach their training. I place great importance on this kind of thing. The person who maintains a diligent awareness of his or her self will realize it when that one time comes around. With that sort of awareness you can scrutinize yourself and feel your relationship to your partner. When a given technique turns out perfectly, it is perfect only at that moment; when the meeting between you and your partner is flawed it won't turn out perfectly. When that happens, you shouldn't necessarily try to avoid it but accept the imperfection and consider how to make the best of the relationship.
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Old 02-12-2008, 11:11 AM   #67
ChrisMoses
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
It was sort of like trying to describe an Elephant to a man that has not concept of an elephant.

So, the only thing I know to do is to do what he said do. Keep getting with guys in the area that are doing it, and then get back with Mike to see if I can see that Elephant a little more clearer in a few months!
Hey Kevin, this reminded me of the discussion we were having over in the sankyo-armbar thread. You made a comment that I decided to just leave alone at the time:

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Why does ikkyo work? (actually mine doesn't so well these days!)

I think ikkyo works only because uke is moving to avoid pain, or the potential of pain. This is why it does not work so well on beginners I am finding today. They don't understand the dynamic of ikkyo so they can learn soon to counteract it! However, through in atemi (pain), then it works.

Nikkyo. Nikkyo only really works, I think, if uke is moving appropriately to avoid pain.

Sankyo. If uke does not back out around his center as you drive through it, well then he gets pain.

Yonkyo. Suprisingly I don't really like the whole radial nerve pressure point thing, but concur that it is best to drive the arm back into uke's center. But what keeps uke in position for you to affect his center? Avoidance of pain.

Same with the rest.

You cannot remove the potential for pain. However, as you state, simple reliance on it is not enough. I agree. Primarily the principle is about controlling center.
I'd encourage you to think about our conversation and your above assertions possibly given some of the new stuff you've worked with at the seminar. Did the stuff Mike showed hurt or did it simply move you regardless of your intent to be moved? This is one of the really frustrating things with discussing 'aikido' online. What you described above, I wouldn't consider to be 'aiki'. It's just jujutsu kansetsu waza. Also, I'm not saying that aiki can't cause injury or pain, but the idea that aiki comes from the threat of pain shows a lack of experience with (what I consider to be) real aiki. It's my belief that most (90% or more) of folks studying Aikido in the US, have never actually felt real aiki, just good clean jujutsu. Anyway, I really hope you take my comments as just something to think about now that you might have some new information.

Chris Moses
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Old 02-12-2008, 12:54 PM   #68
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

Quote:
In the "Tora no Maki," a work said to contain quintessential secrets of martial arts and strategy, it says, "What comes is met; what goes is sent on its way; what is in opposition is harmonized. Five and five is ten; two and eight is ten; one and nine is ten. In this way should things be harmonized. Distinguish appearance and reality, grasping both true intent and concealed strategies and deceptions; know unseen potentials and hidden implications. Understand that which is of the grand scheme and attend to details and particulars as necessary. When a situation of life or death is at hand, respond to the myriad changes taking place and face situations with a mind free of agitation."
One of my favorite sayings! One of my teacher's faves as well.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
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Old 02-12-2008, 05:51 PM   #69
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

Chris,
Thanks for bring that up. Good points.

I am certainly open to a new outlook, and I still have lots to process for sure, so I would not say definitively this is my final answer. BUT.

I would still stand by my original assertion concerning the concept of pain making those things work. That is the rote techniques of jiujistu.

However I would also agree based on what Mike taught, that it is not aiki, but good jiujitsu.

We did not do much in the way of joint locks, but we did work on nikkyo a little. Mike reinforced to me that it does not work without positional dominance, moving or pain. He could ground out the technique and bounce me back. I could do the same, that is ground out the technique, although I could not bounce it back. Regardless, you were not going to get Nikkyo.

My impression is this:

You can root or access center from just about any position or technique....the technique is not what is important. the hand/arm could be in any position it does not seem to matter. So based on what I saw, i'd throw out those techniques all together when discussing the aiki part, AND I'd contend that to make those techniques work as the techniques they were designed to be, that they require either pain or the threat of pain/avoidance to make them work.

Combining the aiki(accessing power) and the jiujitsu (Positional Dominance) though and you have a much broader range of options to affect the situation.

Jiujitsu becomes much more adaptive for sure!

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Old 02-12-2008, 06:02 PM   #70
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

Another thought. I am not sure what anyone's impression is concerning "controlling center" is after this weekend. My impression is that while apart of the aiki thing, that it is incomplete when discussing aiki. There is much more to this than simply accessing uke's center and controlling it.

I think I would also put that into the category of "good jiujitsu" or "a part of aiki", but not aiki in and of itself.

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Old 02-13-2008, 07:42 AM   #71
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

Good thoughts Kevin.

I found when training with Dan, that the kind of power he displayed is what makes Aikido as jujutsu work against all kinds of stress. Putting the Aiki back in the Do, so to speak.

I re-affirmed that with Akuzawa and Rob John.

And now with Mike, though his perspectives and training differ somewhat.

Some combination of correct body structure, the ability to return uke's power along the same line of force (effectively bleeding their strength and then responding with power in the gap created), issuing even more power from the ground as needed (as with the heel bounce)...these things, to me put the Aiki back in the Do, and bring jujutsu alive. Understanding that the waza is not the important part is a HUGE step.

I hope in a review of the seminar to put together some thoughts regarding the 3 experiences, and to maybe get a jump on plotting at least my own course forward in my training.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
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Old 02-13-2008, 07:43 AM   #72
Mike Sigman
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
We did not do much in the way of joint locks, but we did work on nikkyo a little. Mike reinforced to me that it does not work without positional dominance, moving or pain. He could ground out the technique and bounce me back. I could do the same, that is ground out the technique, although I could not bounce it back. Regardless, you were not going to get Nikkyo.
Hi Kevin:

Just to clarify a little, I was only using a limited approach to nikkyo as one of the examples to teach people to bring jin/kokyu-power where they wanted, at will. We also did "unbendable arm" and a few others simply to get people used to bringing jin where they wanted it. The actual challenge strength to the body was not enough to say that we seriously attempt an attack. I.e., it was just a training thingy.

Best.

Mike
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Old 02-13-2008, 07:55 AM   #73
Mike Sigman
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

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Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
I hope in a review of the seminar to put together some thoughts regarding the 3 experiences, and to maybe get a jump on plotting at least my own course forward in my training.
Hi Ron:

BTW, I was telling some people on QiJin how impressed I was about the *speed* of the learning by the Aikidoists. It was very noticeable.

I'd like to recommend that the people at the workshop take a look at the exercises Tohei does in the video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nj_7ctIWbM

They're good exercises.... and how/why to do them should be fairly clear now.

Best.

Mike
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Old 02-13-2008, 08:07 AM   #74
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

Hey Mike, be carefull with compliments! They tend to go to my big head!

I have mixed feelings on the idea that our training has in some ways prepared us for this step. Sometimes I think so...other times I'm not as sure. Did you see how quickly I reverted to shoulder use on sumi otoshi? (I know you did!) lol

Ah well, more training...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 02-13-2008, 08:21 AM   #75
Mike Sigman
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Re: Workshop with Mike Sigman on Ki in Aikido

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Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Did you see how quickly I reverted to shoulder use on sumi otoshi? (I know you did!) lol
The important thing is that *you* can see it, Ron. Because I'm not going to be there. The worry is about guys who use their shoulders but who are convinced they don't! And hey.... I have to monitor myself constantly, too. My general rule of thumb is: "I'm sure I'm doing something wrong... what is it this time?"

Best.

Mike
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