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Old 03-04-2008, 01:19 PM   #26
Chris Lacey
 
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

I have found this thread completely fascinating. In my experience in the last three months, one memory will stay with me. I realize you are talking about advanced technique. However, I still remember during my introduction to ikkyo, Sensei demonstrated the difference between rolling that elbow down and then rolling that elbow down using your center. We all got to feel the difference and it emphasized, early on, how the center is important to your "persuasion technique" is when inviting uke to recline on the mat.

It was (and still is) a magical feeling when you can "feel" when something clicks when practicing a teaching ...and uke is uttering an enthusiastic "whoohoo!" as they hit the mat.

My background is in fencing(Foil, Epee and Saber) and over and over and over again the focus was in technique and feel. When you parry with a foil or epee, you get to the point where you feel your opponents blade slide down yours and know exactly when to flick your wrist to throw the blade off your own and reposte . To me, the same feeling occurs in my aikido instruction. The little bell rings, and you go "AH HA! I felt that!" and you attempt to replicate that feeling.

So what is the point to this diatribe? There is no point except to remember to keep your partners center connected to yours. This is, of course, easier said than done. However, for the new and the experienced alike, looking back at what you have learned with fresh eyes can shed some light on to what you are trying to learn now.

These are just things the way I see it from my particular elevation.

Maybe I am just fortunate to have a creative and patient Sensei...or maybe I am fortunate that I have a Sensei that can explain "the how and the why" something works they way it does.

Remember "Unbendable arm?" ...Yes friends, it's magic...

Be safe and Be well.



--------
I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
--------
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Old 03-04-2008, 02:05 PM   #27
charyuop
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

I am like many in the dark about this. Ki, Chi or whatever you wanna call it is an esotherism that is far beyond my understanding. I remember the period I was doing Tai Chi. I went crazy trying to understand it, but the more I tried to "feel" it, the more it was getting depressing. Gladly I started Aikido with a Sensei that doesn't talk about Ki and I admit things get less stresssing.

Thanks to a Kotegaeshi sometime ago I started understanding what it means using the center and since then I try to do everything Sensei tells us to do keeping my elbows attached to the sides...it seems to help alot. Still tho I am puzzled when he tells me to step with my center, but hopefully someday I will get that one too.

Last week through a Nikyo I noticed how I could lower Uke to his knees, I think, acting upon his center. I was not much thinking about twisting the wrist, but more through his arm trying to move Uke the direction wanted. The thing didn't work 100% as I wanted, but I heard a switch clicking in my head...but I don't think I fully understand yet what I think I learnt from that.

I like to think that my Sensei didn't get there where he is now in 2 days. Saotome Shihan studied directly under O Sensei and had previous MA experiences and still needed some time to get where he is now. So I just walk my path patiently and one light bulb on top of my head at the time, eventually I will manage to figure out all these misteries around Aikido and start working to give a shape to my personal Aikido.
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Old 03-04-2008, 02:09 PM   #28
Timothy WK
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
How would you answer those questions?
This has been said before, but I'll repeat it here. To answer the question of what, exactly, the "center" IS and how to use it, though, we need to move towards a discussion of "internal" movement.

The "center" IS the abdomen, but more specifically, it's the muscles and other internal structures found in the abdomen and pelvic girdle.

The theory of "internal" movement that I subscribe to advocates that much of the whole "internal" thing involves utilizing the fascia (among other biomechanical processes) to augment and/or power movement.

The fascia runs throughout the entire body, both through and over/under muscle. It quite literally connects the various parts of the body via several pathways or "fascial planes".

It is possible to train and condition the body to "pull" the fasica "taunt". At that point, you can liken the body and limbs to a puppet on a string---if you pull the fascia, the rest of the body/limbs will be forced to go along with it.

Now, if you go ask a doctor or a massage therapist, they'll tell you the abdomen acts as a nexus of sorts for these "fascial planes". As such, if you "pull the fascia taunt", you can manipulate the muscles & such in the abdomen to force movement in the limbs.

Thus you can, quite literally, "move from the center", without using any muscular effort.

"Connecting" to the center refers to engaging the fascia. And once the fascia is "pulled taunt", the body will move in a more unified/cohesive manner, since, like the puppet, moving one body part will force movement in the others.

There are exercises to train & condition the body to do all this, but that's a huge discussion by itself.

--Timothy Kleinert

Aikido & Wujifa qigongs
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Old 03-04-2008, 02:11 PM   #29
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

From my limited experiences over the past several weeks this is what I am experiencing. (Like Ron, i am simply trying to "suck less" at this point)

Just some random thoughts.

1. Hara does not float in mid air by itself. It is attached to something, gravity comes down, and the ground pushes up so it exsist in between that and must consider the interaction of both of these things the structure surrounding it is important in relation to these things.

2. I have found myself being more concerned with my legs and feet and the connection to my hara and how my legs and feet move hara versus moving hara independently of them as did the visualization of the old "move hara" left me.

3. Trying to learn to relax upper body while maintaining structure without the use of engaging shoulders. This is difficult for me I can't modulate well between no structure and pushing with my shoulders to gain structure.

Anyway...my thoughts on it.

Feel free to correct!

Kevin (Trying to suck less on a daily basis) Leavitt

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Old 03-04-2008, 03:38 PM   #30
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

Chris,

Thank you. I'm glad we agree.

Matter and energy are the same. Most people are so caught up in the self, the ego that they don't understand that the tantien is a place for storage and cultivation of energy.

The energy is all around us. What is of greater importance is the use of said energy to accomplish technique, growth and spiritual connection.

As such, the cultivation and accumulation in the "hara" is only one step in the process of cycling the energy by being able to exhibit it. Thus, one must be able to do the technique and he must be able to do it against all styles and in every dimension of life.

I too, wonder where they are going to go with these assumptions.

Sincerely
Joseph

Joseph T. Oliva Arriola
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Old 03-04-2008, 04:06 PM   #31
Chris Parkerson
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

After seven years of Tai Chi, Kenpo and a bit of Hsing-i, I felt pretty good about my self (1981) and my internal art. Then I visited Al Holtman's Judo school where one of his brown belts tore my stance work apart with a series of Uchi Matas, and tai Otoshis.

I went back to the drawing board and figured out that "stringing the silk" had to be done while in motion, on one leg, and rarely with resistance until you wanted to connect a punch, push or "float" uke into kuzushi. That should only take about 1/4 second at best.
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Old 03-04-2008, 04:34 PM   #32
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

Hi Chris,

Ahhh...the issue of root and no root. In hsing-I and bagua mobility is is the mainstay. Form and formlessness, internal energy vs. muscle.

So, are you mainly an aikidoist now?

Sincerely
Joseph

Joseph T. Oliva Arriola
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Old 03-04-2008, 04:38 PM   #33
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
Allen Beebe wrote: View Post
Hi George,

I know you are looking for answers from Mike and/or Rob (and I look forward to reading their reply) but I'll throw in my two bits to see how close it lands to their answer . . . just for kicks. Please feel free to ignore.

What you described could be the outcome of any well done jujutsu. The difference is to be found in the quality of the energy that you are using when you say "my energy."

Some aspect of the quality of energy I'm referring to is that it doesn't not require a particular timing, appropriate distance, a particular physical positioning relative to uke, tactics, etc. It just is. (After being developed and learned.)

All of the above can be used in conjunction with the energy but they are not required for the energy to be present and have effect upon any uke not as well connected as nage.

Nage could also "amp up" and pretty much destroy the structure of a less well connected uke regardless of the above factors as well.
Thanks Allen,
Let's get together sometime and compare notes... I need to feel what you mean and I am not at all sure I am describing what I am doing clearly enough.
- George

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Old 03-04-2008, 04:48 PM   #34
Chris Parkerson
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

Joseph,

We can talk off line..
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Old 03-04-2008, 05:48 PM   #35
boyana
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

The "abdomen called the"hara" in Japanese,contains an important internal energy centre,the tan Den,in the middle of its lower half.
this is considered in the Orient to be the major centre of the body's
underluing energy and strenght.
It condition profaundly affects general health,vitality and longevity.
If the Hara is healthy,you wiil find a sense of strong energy here:it should seem bouncy and resilitent to the touch:not hard,excessively swollen or,on the other hand,completely soft lifeless.
The upper half of the abdominal cavity should feel reasonably soft and open.
Hardness and imentrability here is a reflection of some condition of the organs beneath,indicating stagnation or imbalances in Ki flow.
This part of the abdomen also houses the solar plexus centre,which governs issues of CONFIDENCE and EXERCISE OF WILL POWER.
Tension in this area,pracitculary in diaphrahm,also reflect pent-up emotions ,often related to those issues!

I .I had some pent-up emotions,due to some problems,and I had to work to relise some tension,with specaila sequences.

Love to all of you from Port Moresby,and here is a lots og tension
at the moment!

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Old 03-04-2008, 07:21 PM   #36
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Thanks Allen,
Let's get together sometime and compare notes... I need to feel what you mean and I am not at all sure I am describing what I am doing clearly enough.
- George
Hi George,

Sure! It is always a pleasure to see you George. I completely agree, things are always much clearer in person.

For the sake of clarity I'd like to point to the fact that my description was of one aspect of training that I have been, and continue to, work on (and hopefully improve in) and have have felt others do. I can do some stuff, which is probably why Ron Tisdale flattered me by including my name among a list of others he has felt. However, I make no claims to greatness or authority in this realm. I'm totally convinced (because it seems obvious to me) that I'm still in the minor leagues of potential development.

. . . and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep . .

Best,

Allen

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Old 03-04-2008, 07:33 PM   #37
Chris Parkerson
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

when speaking about standardizing terms I wonder if we could include terms already used by physics and possibly sports physiology. It may assist in creating measurable standards.

Center of Gravity (center) has no weight or mass. It can come out of the body as in the high jump's "Fossbery Flop". The center of gravity of the athlete is actually under the high jump bar while his body is arched over the bar.

Core strength would be closer to the Hara if you include fascia, pelvic girdle and organs.
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Old 03-04-2008, 07:40 PM   #38
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Mike, I am trying to establish some common terminology...

When I am grabbed with a simple same hand grab and I can put my power into my partner's shoulder, or his center, or ground him out so that he can't kick, or whatever by slightly changing how I align my body and how I visualize where I want the power to go, what do you call that? Rob, feel free to give me your take on it.

We were playing with this at Ikeda Sensei's seminar this weekend. I can do it and have my own way of explaining it but if there's already a terminology that exists, there's no point in my working out my own...
Hi George:

It's one of those things that's pretty difficult to comment on without having seen or felt what you're talking about, unfortunately. I would say that if you're doing it well you shouldn't even have to "align your body".

Also, bear in mind that there are finite limits to what can be done with these things. For instance, Tohei might stand there "immoveable" to the push of someone with modest skills, but he would not be "immoveable to the onslaught of the bumper of a 1955 Chevrolet truck. Having said that, I'd also say I'd need to factor your mass into any credible evaluation.

Best.

Mike
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Old 03-04-2008, 08:52 PM   #39
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
Hi George:

It's one of those things that's pretty difficult to comment on without having seen or felt what you're talking about, unfortunately. I would say that if you're doing it well you shouldn't even have to "align your body".

Also, bear in mind that there are finite limits to what can be done with these things. For instance, Tohei might stand there "immoveable" to the push of someone with modest skills, but he would not be "immoveable to the onslaught of the bumper of a 1955 Chevrolet truck. Having said that, I'd also say I'd need to factor your mass into any credible evaluation.

Best.

Mike
Well, let me use an example of the exercises Ikeda Sensei did this weekend. He had two students hold a jo, one on each end, using one hand. Ikeda Sensei then stood dead center and put his hand lightly (he did not grab it) on the jo at the center point. He then shifted his body forward and both of the jo holders moved floated up and moved, despite their efforts to stay grounded.

Ikeda Sensei then did the same thing but was able to move either one of the two students and leave the other stable. There was very little you could see that was different about how he did this when he switched from one to the other.

Now I could do this and I did it with no tension in my arms or shoulders, so I assume I was doing the same thing he did. Is this something you could describe? Or is it still something that has too many possibilities without feeling it done to do?

George S. Ledyard
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Old 03-04-2008, 09:26 PM   #40
dps
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

Quote:
Chris Lacey wrote: View Post
I realize you are talking about advanced technique
. .
Quote:
Chris Lacey wrote: View Post
My background is in fencing(Foil, Epee and Saber)
This is not an advance technique, this is a basic technique and similar if not the same as the 'lunge' in fencing (also a basic technique).

The lunge in fencing is very similar to Shomen Ate (first technique taught) in Shodokan Aikido.
It also can be seen in Ikkyo (Aikikai)

David

Last edited by dps : 03-04-2008 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 03-04-2008, 09:27 PM   #41
Upyu
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Ikeda Sensei then did the same thing but was able to move either one of the two students and leave the other stable. There was very little you could see that was different about how he did this when he switched from one to the other.

Now I could do this and I did it with no tension in my arms or shoulders, so I assume I was doing the same thing he did. Is this something you could describe? Or is it still something that has too many possibilities without feeling it done to do?
Hi George,

I have an "idea" of how I'd do it, but I'd need a jo, and two people to experiment with.
Once I get that I'll see if I can't comment on what I'd do ( assuming I can do it )

That being said,
It might make it easier if we had force diagrams using cool little stick figures showing how you manipulate the forces inside of you.

Couple of things that might need to be clarified, were the Uke standing in hanmi? or normal shoulder width stance? Were they holding the Jo relaxed, or gripping it normally (with a bit of strength, not necessarily the grip of death )
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Old 03-04-2008, 10:24 PM   #42
Mike Sigman
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Well, let me use an example of the exercises Ikeda Sensei did this weekend. He had two students hold a jo, one on each end, using one hand. Ikeda Sensei then stood dead center and put his hand lightly (he did not grab it) on the jo at the center point. He then shifted his body forward and both of the jo holders moved floated up and moved, despite their efforts to stay grounded.

Ikeda Sensei then did the same thing but was able to move either one of the two students and leave the other stable. There was very little you could see that was different about how he did this when he switched from one to the other.

Now I could do this and I did it with no tension in my arms or shoulders, so I assume I was doing the same thing he did. Is this something you could describe? Or is it still something that has too many possibilities without feeling it done to do?
I guess what keeps me from committing too much is this, George. It sounds good and is almost certainly along the right lines, at least in terms of thinking, but without hearing you put into words how you did it, my inclination is to remain neutral because I haven't felt you do it. And like I've tried to say many times, there are levels of these things. If we get to where we're just telling stories about "here's what I can do", it does little for the general conversation.

How about this. There is a "Mind and Body Kickass" video of Kuroda Sensei doing sword pairing and he ends up with two ki tricks. If you understand these things then you should be able to describe how Kuroda did those tricks. They're simply variants of the trick you described.

Best.

Mike
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Old 03-05-2008, 12:58 AM   #43
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
Robert John wrote: View Post
Hi George,

I have an "idea" of how I'd do it, but I'd need a jo, and two people to experiment with.
Once I get that I'll see if I can't comment on what I'd do ( assuming I can do it )

That being said,
It might make it easier if we had force diagrams using cool little stick figures showing how you manipulate the forces inside of you.

Couple of things that might need to be clarified, were the Uke standing in hanmi? or normal shoulder width stance? Were they holding the Jo relaxed, or gripping it normally (with a bit of strength, not necessarily the grip of death )
Hi Rob,
Ukes were in hanmi so they had the standard balance line to the side, they were holding the jo strongly (as instructed); without actively trying to counter the movement, they were instructed to center themselves and not be easy to move.

Since, as Mike pointed out, I have certain mass advantages, when I did it, I used my fingers rather than my whole hand on the jo so that there wouldn't be much of a chance that I was using my size to fake it.

- George

George S. Ledyard
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Old 03-05-2008, 09:42 AM   #44
Upyu
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Hi Rob,
Ukes were in hanmi so they had the standard balance line to the side, they were holding the jo strongly (as instructed); without actively trying to counter the movement, they were instructed to center themselves and not be easy to move.

Since, as Mike pointed out, I have certain mass advantages, when I did it, I used my fingers rather than my whole hand on the jo so that there wouldn't be much of a chance that I was using my size to fake it.

- George
Thanks George,
If anything it's going to give me a good experiment to play around with
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Old 03-08-2008, 01:23 AM   #45
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

hey folks, just wanted to say thanks for the great conversations. I've been incredibly busy these days and will try to interact a bit more in the next couple days.
Take care,
Matt

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 03-08-2008, 02:11 PM   #46
Michael Douglas
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Just reminding folks of these two good bits of advice ;
Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
Try to do everything with the lower body: the legs, hips, tanden. Hook-up/connect via the upper torso/arm but then try to do 100% of whatever you're doing with the legs/hips/middle. It will be very cumbersome and "stupid" at first, but it gradually improves and gets subtle. The upper body is relaxed and only connects the middle to whatever it is you're trying to move.
Quote:
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... Here something for your kid, tell him to not focus on the kicking leg or hips so much. Tell him to worry more about sinking his weight to the heel of the supporting leg when he kicks.
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Old 03-08-2008, 04:11 PM   #47
bkedelen
 
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

Ikeda Sensei usually explains that he puts some on some bodyweight, just enough so the uke reacts just a bit and he gets some dynamic tension. In his terminology this is "tightness". "Tightness" also includes a sense of closeness, of collapsing into your body's inner empty space toward your partner. He then talks about creating a feeling of upwelling in his own abdomen (without moving his upper body!) which results in uke becoming "light". When uke is "light" he can be moved around easily. Sensei often uses the lightness to pick up his partner's shoulder. In my experiments with Mark I have found that this produces similar results to when Mike adjusts the angle of his ground path to be more acute to his partner's push. The result of both methods seems to be that if the partner pushes harder, he pushes himself away instead of pushing nage more. The order Sensei seems to apply this this method seems to be "tightness" or "connection", then "break balance", "make light" or "putting on edges", then "wave" or "putting your weight on". He seems to pick and choose between these options when he does a technique, doing whichever he feels the current circumstances warrant, often in a couple of different combinations for one single set of four during a technique demonstration. That is part of why it is so hard to see what he does, you cannot look again to see what he did previously. At a higher level, he talks about moving the steps "inside" which almost completely eliminates the ability to observe the steps happening, and also seems to keep uke from being able to feel the application of the steps. I hope this perspective is useful.

Last edited by bkedelen : 03-08-2008 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 03-08-2008, 05:21 PM   #48
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
Haowen Chan wrote: View Post
The question that is begged (as TimWK pointed out) is "how exactly does moving my middle push my hand out". As Chris Moses said the short answer is "connection".
Holding a rope only at one end, which is a fair bit longer than your height plus your reach, and using only that hand, how do you lift the other end of the rope off the ground ?

Observe that the problem proposed is the same dimension as an opponent's reach plus height when holding your arm at the wrist.

For those who do not care for more technical explorations -- I have shielded their tender sensibilities from the burdensome physical explanation (with Jun's nifty new "spoiler" feature):
[spoiler] Answer: Using angular momentum transferring the motion of your center of mass to the end of the rope -- and off the ground it comes ("floats" is the term usually used when doing this to another person's body.) That connection is a "funicular curve" -- the shape of a cable under a load -- or in compression, an arch.) Dynamically, the shape tracks the transfer of angular momentum (equivalent to a wave), to the end of the connected segments, and then back again. Funetori undo is anexercsie in throwing the arms out like ropes with the motion of the center, and recovering them again in the same manner.

If your body is shaped for the funicular curve of the given load situation you are "connected," ie. -- all loads run close to the center of the body's segments. Conversely, if you are "disconnected" a load or load path runs at a significant radial distance from the center of a body segment(s) involved -- imparting moment (a tendency of rotation) or translation, depending on where the perpendicular component of the eccentric load is acting in relation to the respective center of mass and center of percussion of the segments or segments involved. [/spoiler]

Doing it is art -- understanding how it is done is physics.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 03-08-2008 at 05:26 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 03-09-2008, 01:55 PM   #49
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Re: Confused as usual :-)

Quote:
Robert John wrote: View Post
Lynn, I think you're a nice guy,
but...
Heheheh...sounds like you're breaking up with him.

Quote:
I think it's the kind of advice mentioned above that leads people to waste so much time.

"Keep training, you'll feel it eventually"

"Just empty your mind and relax"
I agree with the point you're making here: it's a very trusting response to simply go with what you're being presented; to not question it. On the other hand, Lynn's remarks make sense to me too. I've long noticed that when I relax and "empty my mind" that I can perceive what's going on much better. This enxtends back to when i was the smallest kid of a group of pretty big guys who loved to wrestle. When I relaxed while in a "small package" I was sometimes able to feel my way out of it. It took a bit of time, but eventually i did feel it. It's a small example, but a valid one i think. So, it's still practical advice. It just has to be applied to a larger perspective if we're going to get a larger sense of what it is we're being taught.

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Old 03-09-2008, 07:20 PM   #50
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Connecting with "Hara"

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Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
This has been said before, but I'll repeat it here. To answer the question of what, exactly, the "center" IS and how to use it, though, we need to move towards a discussion of "internal" movement.

The "center" IS the abdomen, but more specifically, it's the muscles and other internal structures found in the abdomen and pelvic girdle.

The theory of "internal" movement that I subscribe to advocates that much of the whole "internal" thing involves utilizing the fascia (among other biomechanical processes) to augment and/or power movement.

The fascia runs throughout the entire body, both through and over/under muscle. It quite literally connects the various parts of the body via several pathways or "fascial planes".

It is possible to train and condition the body to "pull" the fasica "taunt". At that point, you can liken the body and limbs to a puppet on a string---if you pull the fascia, the rest of the body/limbs will be forced to go along with it.

Now, if you go ask a doctor or a massage therapist, they'll tell you the abdomen acts as a nexus of sorts for these "fascial planes". As such, if you "pull the fascia taunt", you can manipulate the muscles & such in the abdomen to force movement in the limbs.

Thus you can, quite literally, "move from the center", without using any muscular effort.

"Connecting" to the center refers to engaging the fascia. And once the fascia is "pulled taunt", the body will move in a more unified/cohesive manner, since, like the puppet, moving one body part will force movement in the others.

There are exercises to train & condition the body to do all this, but that's a huge discussion by itself.
Well, based on what i do know of physiology, this fits with my preexisting sense of things. If I were to try and correct anything, it would be the idea that one can "literally" move without "any" muscular effort. What you're describing is using minimal muscular effort right? Most notably being used are the legs and trunk?
I still don't see how describing a connection of fascia is much different than describing a connection of ki if only because we still have to look inward to develop that sense in order to purposefully use it. The trick is taking those abstractions/words and applying them to the visceral sense. As long as we're able to maintain that strong visceral sense of things, the words seem to become meaningless. Perhaps the "problem" being described of much of Aikido is a lack of this visceral sense to ground the heady abstractions?

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