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Old 04-08-2008, 10:25 AM   #1
John Matsushima
 
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Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

I think one of the biggest problems in Aikido is its ambiguity. One example is in the phrase "connecting to uke's center". I personally have never thought in these terms, as I think it doesn't make sense, technically, philosophically, or otherwise. Technically, there are much better ways to describe how to execute a technique using terms such as momentum, balance, speed, weight, etc. Besides, what exactly is uke's center? His center of gravity? Physical center? Spiritual center? What exactly does it mean to connect to it, and how exactly does one do that? What do you think?

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Old 04-08-2008, 10:46 AM   #2
Walker
 
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Re: Ambigous: "Connecting to the center"

Personally, I think it is an invaluable concept that is a good description of the feeling. If forced to speculate I would say that it is of a piece with the proprioceptive sense. For example what is it to say stand upright? One might say that such a concept is better explicated by a description of gravity, physics, physical mechanics within the body etc, but for practical purposes anyone who has learned to walk upright will know what standing upright is and feels like.

As far as suggestions for getting a feel perhaps one might try looking for the feeling by trying to expand their "body sense" to include other bodies with which they are in contact. Then if one finds a sensation of a physical center one might also try over time to feel if they can sense other centers that might be present in an interaction.

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Old 04-08-2008, 10:55 AM   #3
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Re: Ambigous: "Connecting to the center"

John,

I was just thinking the other day about how the meaning of this phrase has changed to me over the years, and how cool it is that the inherent ambiguity is what has allowed my interpretation to shift as my experience has shifted. Had the teaching methods to which I've been exposed been more explcit in language and meaning, my understanding would have been much more constrained.

Now, it's a valid question whether some of the interpretations I've explored have taken me hopping down a bunny trail, but to me they've all been worthwhile as part of my own development.

The present interpretation I'm exploring has very little to do directly with the physical elements of aikido waza, other than how they manifest as a result of how I connect to my partner energetically -- how I feel -- in my gut -- about my partner and their intent. So the notion of center as strictly the center of gravity would have limited me from ever exploring this.

Someone once pointed out to me that when you hear somebody say something you're not ready for, it may sound completely crazy. It's possible that such clear explainations, incomprehensible to some, could prove more confusing or frustrating.

Ambiguity in language can be a very powerful tool for communicating different things to different people based on individuals' awareness and knowledge.

Last edited by cguzik : 04-08-2008 at 11:02 AM.
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Old 04-08-2008, 11:02 AM   #4
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Re: Ambigous: "Connecting to the center"

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...Technically, there are much better ways to describe how to execute a technique using terms such as momentum, balance, speed, weight
Agreed, but this sort of misses part of the point - it's a bit like describing a painting only in terms of the frame, canvas and shapes on the canvas, it loses all the emotional message.

You get this kind of ambiguity is sports as well ("in the zone" springs to mind - what zone, where is it?) but I agree that some expansion of what exactly you're meaning/wanting should be given in purely physical terms first, then go on to the fluffy stuff (weight underside leaps to mind)
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Old 04-08-2008, 11:14 AM   #5
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Making sense at length

I find the concept of center - my own and my partner - very valuable in understanding and exploring aikido. It is cryptic at first, but it becomes more an more clear by time.

Using "mechanical" explanations is not necessarily easier to learn, since the body is a complex thing, difficult to control in detail by mental effort. When using the center, the body learns to optimize itself, without the conscious mind having to control it all.
It is actually quite an efficient way of learning.

I wrote some about the center, and how to exercise one's awareness of it, on my website:
http://www.stenudd.com/aikido/tanden.htm

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Old 04-08-2008, 12:15 PM   #6
John Matsushima
 
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Re: Ambigous: "Connecting to the center"

I don't think that one could compare "connecting to one's center" with "standing upright". Any human being who is fluent in the English language knows exactly what it means to stand upright, and to stand other things upright. But how often are the terms "using one's center, and connecting to other's center" used outside of Aikido?

I can see what some of you have said regarding the benefit of ambiguity in language. In art, it allows one to create, to fill in the emptiness and become one with the art. But, I don't think it applies in this case. The reason is that if this is such an important principle in Aikido, then it must mean the same for everyone. Otherwise, we all just make it up, and have our own principles. So, connecting to someone's center for me could mean ramming my fist into his belly. Is that Aikido?

What I have observed in dojos and on the internet is exactly that. Ambiguity has led some people down the wrong path, letting them imagine whatever it is that connecting to the center is (among other terms, like KI), while having very sloppy Aikido.

If you want to convey a though to your students, then you must be clear. If you want them to find the answer for themselves, then you can ask them questions, problems, or just not teach that aspect at all.

So, how could one convey the same idea without using the term "center", or any of the other foreign words, such as "tanden, chakra, seika no itten, etc."

This seems to be an ostentatious term, which I believe does more harm to our art then good. If Aikido is to continue into the future by passing on its most important principles, then those principles must be taught clearly and directly. Here is a good article about such terms --> http://tkdtutor.com/03School/Fraud/Ostentatious%20.htm

Mr. Stenudd, you mentioned in your post and on your website that the reason for using such a term is because the body is such a complex thing, difficult to control by mental effort. But then why is it that so many sports and physical activities such as dancing, seem to be taught much better without such terms?

Thank you for your thoughts.

-John Matsushima

My blog on Japanese culture
http://onecorneroftheplanetinjapan.blogspot.jp/
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:31 PM   #7
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Re: Ambigous: "Connecting to the center"

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote: View Post
I think one of the biggest problems in Aikido is its ambiguity. One example is in the phrase "connecting to uke's center". I personally have never thought in these terms, as I think it doesn't make sense, technically, philosophically, or otherwise. Technically, there are much better ways to describe how to execute a technique using terms such as momentum, balance, speed, weight, etc. Besides, what exactly is uke's center? His center of gravity? Physical center? Spiritual center? What exactly does it mean to connect to it, and how exactly does one do that? What do you think?
As per my personal experience, which is not very long, "center" has a great help. True Sensei could tell me to move here and there compared to Uke, he could tell me I need to lead Uke towards where he loses balance which is there...or couldn't he? Positions and movements in Aikido change according to Uke, so where I am once doesn't mean it will work all the time.
Using the center can help, well maybe for my level not 100% of the times, to identify or pinpoint a place in Uke to use as reference to co-ordinate your movements.
In other circumstances, the visualization of the center can prevent the beginner to focus solely on certain details. For example if I am doing...well trying to do a Nikkyo, trying to visualize the center and through the wrist and arm affect the center itself will prevent me from keep thinking to attack the wrist and nothing else.
In many techniques the eyes see big wide movement of one hand and the ones who don't know Aikido ignore the other hand which might be actually the one throwing. Giving the center to follow or aim to a beginner helps the beginner him/herself to avoid the same mistake. The center gives a much bigger target to focus onto, one which include the whole world of Uke. Of course it takes time to see it...that is true.
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:39 PM   #8
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Re: Ambigous: "Connecting to the center"

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John Matsushima wrote: View Post
I don't think that one could compare "connecting to one's center" with "standing upright". Any human being who is fluent in the English language knows exactly what it means to stand upright, and to stand other things upright. But how often are the terms "using one's center, and connecting to other's center" used outside of Aikido?
Just so my point. Almost everyone who learns to speak has learned to overcome the force of gravity and pulled themselves into an upright bipedal stance. Anyone who has learned to connect to one's center understands what connect to the center means. Now do we give babies complex instructions, physics explanations, lessons on mechanics to teach them to walk? No we provide a model (adults who have learned to walk) and let them keep trying until they grow strong enough and figure out how to do it.

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Old 04-08-2008, 12:57 PM   #9
Janet Rosen
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Re: Ambigous: "Connecting to the center"

I agree that the meaning changes over time as understanding deepens.
When working w/ newbies, I very often use this principle, and the words, in order to explain why they should be facing me and not at some weird 30 or 60 degree angle facing the window when they are trying to throw me....it is a starting point for getting them to consider, and maybe start feeling, the physical and energy connection between us.

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Old 04-08-2008, 02:04 PM   #10
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Re: Ambigous: "Connecting to the center"

The way I teach and do Aikido, it has to do with Kuzushi - loss of balance or structural collapse. Uke won't lose their balance without losing control of their center of gravity (and energy but that's a whole different level), and if I don't have the skills to feel into that process, i.e., kinesthetically connecting to their center not just their arms or upper body etc., Uke won't fall. Not in my style anyway.

Last edited by Aiki1 : 04-08-2008 at 02:06 PM.

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Old 04-08-2008, 02:12 PM   #11
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Ambigous: "Connecting to the center"

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John Matsushima wrote: View Post
I don't think that one could compare "connecting to one's center" with "standing upright". Any human being who is fluent in the English language knows exactly what it means to stand upright, and to stand other things upright.
Do we? Human beings do not stand upright in the way that any other creature does, saving only birds. They can't tell us how they feel about it. It is a dynamic, not a static concept. It is even now only poorly understood. It is a highly chaotic process, and sensitive to cyclic reinforcement (and disruption) (funetori, anyone?). Interestingly, slight vibrations in the soles of old people's feet makes them more stable in standing upright. This is really only duplicating what furitama provides in our kokyu undo. The more I look and the deeper I study it the more I see that everything in the art is there for a reason.

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But how often are the terms "using one's center, and connecting to other's center" used outside of Aikido?
In more than you might suppose. There are many kinds of relevant physical centers -- of gravity -- of mass -- of pressure -- of gyration -- of percussion -- of instantaneous rotation, among many others. What distinguishes all of these (and I can, at some tedious length, go on about examples of them in aikido) is that they represent the points of inflection in various dynamics -- points at which the nature of motion changes sign in some way. That is to say, centers are the tools by which the the "method" of in-yo ho is employed.

In many impact oriented art and sports, the concept of controlling the use of the "sweet spot" (related to the center of percussion) is very important in mastering the subtlies of the art - especially as they govern the direction of rebound -- reversing the sign of the motion -- in-yo ho. Tiger Woods does a magnificent job of illustrating such subtle control of this particular center, when he juggles a golf ball on the end of his club. he can only do that by connecting his perception to the center of percussion of the club face, based on the feel of each reciprocal impact. It is quite literally the "feel" of that connection -- visually mediated responses are way too slow.

Thus, for example, to use one's own center of percussion is to determine whether and in which direction, when pushed, you actually will rotate. To "connect to another's center" is to sense the disposition of this quality in the other person's structure. The means of that sensation and connection is found in furitama -- and it is a subconscious process. I can tell you when I recognize that I have it, but I can, only with tedious detail explain what it feels like to find it.

It may be done partially, as in the progressive destablizing that occurs in kokyu tanden ho (using the instantaneous centers of rotation of the limb segments, as another example). It may be done collectively and comprehensively as in a seamless kokyu-nage, or in a flowing kiri-age, suri-age, or kiri-otoshi with the sword.

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John Matsushima wrote: View Post
So, connecting to someone's center for me could mean ramming my fist into his belly. Is that Aikido?
It can be. It need not be, however.

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John Matsushima wrote: View Post
If you want to convey a though to your students, then you must be clear. If you want them to find the answer for themselves, then you can ask them questions, problems, or just not teach that aspect at all.
Amen to that.

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John Matsushima wrote: View Post
So, how could one convey the same idea without using the term "center", or any of the other foreign words, such as "tanden, chakra, seika no itten, etc."
The concept of "ki" underlies all of this. It is a valid physical concept, but it overlaps several categories of our western reductionist learning -- and so it has been disregarded or dismissed because it does not fit our more common terms of analytic convenience. We have many such schemes of analysis, however, using other terms of convenience.

There is a consistent and rigorous thread that links them in my view - a combined action|potential concept of angular momentum and its potential form of moment. I have not yet found a category of Asian thought on Ki which may not be adequately expressed in these terms. All western physics can be described purely in such terms (whether it is the most convenient for a given purpose or not), including Newtonian, and relativistic mechanics. Quantum mechanics already depends explicitly on the equivalence of mass and energy implicit in the nature of angular momentum.

I have been steadily working on these issues, but I must stress that much work on showing this with the kind of completeness that is necessary to overcome all arguments remains to be done. I should point out that I gained a strong measure of comfort in my approach to this description of Ki when I realized that it necessarily makes the term "harmony" in the name of the art a physical description, that of proper harmonic motion, not merely an affective term or philosophical aspiration.

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John Matsushima wrote: View Post
But then why is it that so many sports and physical activities such as dancing, seem to be taught much better without such terms?
Because all arts (and all sciences) resort to their experience in defining terms that are convenient to their disciplines. So in pitching baseball -- physically speaking there is no such thing as a "rising fastball" -- but there is a perspective analysis that makes the concept valid for the batter to assume and to act upon visual cues that suggest this condition of the ball when he makes his swing.

Aikido is the same so is Ballet. By the same token the same terms, which always come from a tradition of experience, do not necessarily work for everyone -- the experience of many has been different. So understanding the reality of the experience -- not merely the means to describe it -- it is the key.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 04-08-2008 at 02:23 PM.

Cordially,

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Old 04-08-2008, 04:41 PM   #12
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Re: Ambigous: "Connecting to the center"

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Chris Guzik wrote: View Post
John,

Someone once pointed out to me that when you hear somebody say something you're not ready for, it may sound completely crazy. It's possible that such clear explainations, incomprehensible to some, could prove more confusing or frustrating.

Ambiguity in language can be a very powerful tool for communicating different things to different people based on individuals' awareness and knowledge.
Some people, whether they be newbies or not, have to be taught in completely different ways. For some, techniques can be explained with physics and they catch on right away. For others, a seemingly unrelated analogy will turn the light bulb on. Some people can be spoken to all night and not understand a thing until you put your hands on them.

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Old 04-08-2008, 04:41 PM   #13
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

There are those concepts (and descriptions) which are practical and can be put into words before they are experienced, and then there are those (such as connect to the center) that only make sense after the experience.

Ambiguous before? Yes
Ambiguous after? No

Lynn Seiser PhD
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Old 04-08-2008, 05:31 PM   #14
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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John Matsushima wrote: View Post
..."connecting to uke's center:" I think it doesn't make sense, technically, philosophically, or otherwise. Technically, there are much better ways to describe how to execute a technique using terms such as momentum, balance, speed, weight, etc. Besides, what exactly is uke's center? His center of gravity? Physical center? Spiritual center? What exactly does it mean to connect to it, and how exactly does one do that? What do you think?
I think it makes sense, but I've been using the phrase enough that it's accumulated a meaning for me so maybe it's not quite the same. I think it's a lot like the phrase "wash the car:" it says nothing about the specifics of how to do it, only to do it. If nothing else is said, it's left up to the student to figure out how that's accomplished. The beauty of ambiguous phrases (in my opinion) is the evokative nature they have in making the student start to question for themselves. Someone can tell you exactly what is happening, both in terms of the physics and the biology, but that still only points to the proverbial moon.

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Old 04-08-2008, 06:04 PM   #15
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Teaching center in other arts

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote: View Post
Mr. Stenudd, you mentioned in your post and on your website that the reason for using such a term is because the body is such a complex thing, difficult to control by mental effort. But then why is it that so many sports and physical activities such as dancing, seem to be taught much better without such terms?
Well, some arts never tried teaching through terms like the center, so it is difficult to compare.
But several arts actually do. Dancing, for example. A very competent ballet teacher told me of its use in ballet, but they focus on another center: that of the solar plexus - because they want a more heightened posture. Jazz ballet might use the same center as in aikido. It is also applied to music and acting.

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Old 04-08-2008, 07:51 PM   #16
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote: View Post
I think one of the biggest problems in Aikido is its ambiguity. One example is in the phrase "connecting to uke's center". I personally have never thought in these terms, as I think it doesn't make sense, technically, philosophically, or otherwise. Technically, there are much better ways to describe how to execute a technique using terms such as momentum, balance, speed, weight, etc. Besides, what exactly is uke's center? His center of gravity? Physical center? Spiritual center? What exactly does it mean to connect to it, and how exactly does one do that? What do you think?
Have you looked at the book Center: The Power of Aikido, by Ron Meyer and Mark Reeder? The kanji on the front cover is 軸 jiku, which means, axle, shaft, picture (scroll), and is usually used in compounds. This is somewhat different from the usual idea of center, which would be 中心 chuushin in Japanese, and I have never found it useful to explain waza using the idea of jiku. In the book, Meyer and Reeder also use the concept of centredness, which is something you develop (or do not) during the whole course of your aikido training throughout your life. There is also a chapter in Stefan's new book, but Stefan refers to center as tanden (丹田), which in the Japanese dictionary I possess is the abdomen. Chuushin receives much more attention, with a far greater range of cognate meanings.

My point is that there are three separate concepts in Japanese which could be defined as center in English. For me, having to explain aikido in Japanese to Japanese students, this is far more important. On the rare occasions when I find myself talking about chuushin, I am usually thinking about the focus of the action, or waza, that is being done by two people, rather than any central feature of the person doing or receiving the waza.

However, you are right to raise the questions. I come from a background in western philosophy, where describing something like an action, whether intentional or not, is considered problematic. Thus I can see the need for sensitivity in the use of metaphors we choose to describe our own, or another's, actions.

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Old 04-08-2008, 07:56 PM   #17
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

There are certain feelings you occasionally experience while doing waza that are difficult to explain, but are very rewarding.

Everyone has had "Aiki moments" that defy verbal description. You try using terms like finding Uke's center, etc. but they are moments when everything just works and language doesn't give you the right word for it.

I think those moments are why we show up for class.
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Old 04-08-2008, 10:44 PM   #18
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

One problem is that there are many uses of "centre", both mentally and physically, both in the body (the point below the navel, the physical centre of gravity etc) and in that body's movement in relation to other centres or axes. I agree that it can be confusing if teachers don't make it clear which centre they are referring to.



I learned to ski in Japan. Ukemi did come in useful a few times until I learned to brake, but it was surprisingly easier than I'd feared, even with an amateur giving me just a few brief instructions in Japanese. I was initially a little confused by the request to "do a nosebleed" ("hanaji wo shite" 「鼻血をして」) until I realised I'd misheard "'ha' no ji wo shite" (「ハの字をして」 "make the letter ha'" -- the katakana character which resembles the shape the skis should assume when braking).

There was no confusion however, over things like "lower your centre" because the instructions seemed clear to me. My understanding of "centre" came directly from Aikido and it seemed to transfer right into skiing. As well as chūshin 中心 my teacher also used the more specific jūshin 重心 (centre of gravity) to clarify which axis point was being referred to. When I heard "move your centre to the left" ("chūshin wo hidari e ugoku" 「中心を左へ動く」), I found I could turn with surprising control. These instructions produced immediate and dramatic results, sending me soaring across the snow. I was doing "Ai-ski-do" in no time!

If only I could get such dramatic results as easily on the tatami too!

Carl
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Old 04-09-2008, 04:34 AM   #19
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Several centers

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
the usual idea of center, which would be 中心 chuushin in Japanese....
Stefan refers to center as tanden (丹田), which in the Japanese dictionary I possess is the abdomen. Chuushin receives much more attention, with a far greater range of cognate meanings.
I am far from an expert, but would it be fair to make this distinction: chuushin refers to a centered/balanced/focused mind, whereas tanden refers to the "core" of the abdominal region - the former a center of attitude, the latter a center of body?

That would also explain why chuushin has a more complex use, since things of the mind seem to get that in every human culture
Maybe it should be compared to zanshin and such, rather than to tanden or seika no itten.

I think that the use of tanden today is mainly within the field of the martial arts, possibly also Zen and other paths that combine a mental process with a physical one.
I know that when I talk with Chinese people (outside the martial arts) about it, they immediately connect it to the martial arts, and rarely have their own relation to it.

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Old 04-09-2008, 05:23 AM   #20
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Several centers

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Stefan Stenudd wrote: View Post
I am far from an expert, but would it be fair to make this distinction: chuushin refers to a centered/balanced/focused mind, whereas tanden refers to the "core" of the abdominal region - the former a center of attitude, the latter a center of body?

That would also explain why chuushin has a more complex use, since things of the mind seem to get that in every human culture
Maybe it should be compared to zanshin and such, rather than to tanden or seika no itten.

I think that the use of tanden today is mainly within the field of the martial arts, possibly also Zen and other paths that combine a mental process with a physical one.
I know that when I talk with Chinese people (outside the martial arts) about it, they immediately connect it to the martial arts, and rarely have their own relation to it.
Hello Stefan,

In the Japanese dictionary I have consulted, tanden has a much narrower meaning than chuushin. It is short for seika tanden (with SEI (SAI, heso, hozo) meaning navel. Apart from seika tanden (and seitai, hoso-o = umbilical cord), all the compounds have to do with 'attitude'. Thus, hesomagari is a cranky person, hozo wo katameru is to make up one's mind, hozo wo kamu is to regret something bitterly, and hesokuri / hesokurigane are secret savings. (Notice that all these compounds use the Japanese kun reading and not the Chinese ON reading, which suggests to me that seika tanden was borrowed more or less whole from Chinese.)

Chuushin, on the other hand, has a much wider range of meanings: center, heart, middle, focus, nucleus, core, crux, pivot, stress, emphasis, importance, priority, basis. There are many compounds and examples using these compounds. The term also means balance, as in balancing oneself on one leg (片足で立って体の中心を取る).

I am not sure that you can conclude much from these examples, except that centre is a reasonable translation of both terms, but that they have quite differing connotations in Japanese.

Best,

PAG

P A Goldsbury
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Old 04-09-2008, 07:27 AM   #21
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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I think one of the biggest problems in Aikido is its ambiguity. One example is in the phrase "connecting to uke's center". I personally have never thought in these terms, as I think it doesn't make sense, technically, philosophically, or otherwise. Technically, there are much better ways to describe how to execute a technique using terms such as momentum, balance, speed, weight, etc. Besides, what exactly is uke's center? His center of gravity? Physical center? Spiritual center? What exactly does it mean to connect to it, and how exactly does one do that? What do you think?
Part of the reason for ambiguity in Aikido is the overlapping of explanations for the different parts of Aikido.
For me it is very helpful to separate Aikido as three distinct parts; body, mind, spirit and place the explanation into one of these three parts. Uke has a physical center, mental center and spiritual center. To understand you have to distinguish whether the explanation is applying to the physical, mental or spiritual.

David
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Old 04-10-2008, 03:21 AM   #22
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

I have my own interpretation of centre, and as far as I can tell, most of the other interpretations I hear explained are different. I might be right or might be wrong, but this is one of the reasons few in Aikido really understand what they are doing. I cringe when I hear some teachers rattling on about 'centre' when it is blatantly obvious from what they do that they have not got the slightest clue. And how do I know that my idea is right or not? Where is the measuring stick? And though we might topple a static man who barely resists, why do we assume that we could do the same to someone bent on attacking us? Aikido is turning into Taichi for health.

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Old 04-10-2008, 05:54 AM   #23
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

Hi Rupert, can't fully agree with you here. Yes there's ambiguity and misuse of many terms, but I still think they're a valid teaching/training tool for two reasons.

Firstly, once they've been explained what's meant in your system, they're a useful short-cut. I'd much rather use "drop your center" as a hint than try to go into the various bits of the body that need correcting as this leads to that heinous breed of aiki-nag (no , foot here, no, other foot, this hip down etc. etc.).

Secondly, I think the concepts which they try to describe are vague (wrong word, but I'll stick with it). My body is different to yours - for you sake I really hope this is true - so what feels right for me in a given situation will be different, although they should share a common meme. Add into the mix that each uke will change it again, as will the attack and I think trying for too much precision leads to a nightmare. Codifying things does lead to errors.

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Aikido is turning into Taichi for health.
only if you remove the "joyfully try to take the other persons head off" from your training
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Old 04-10-2008, 07:08 AM   #24
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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Ian Hurst wrote: View Post
"joyfully try to take the other persons head off"
Ooh. I like that.

Sensei: NO. No No. Not like that. With JOY. Once again -- with more feeling!

Student: But, Sensei, I've already taken his head off

Sensei: Well, then he won't mind it, will he?

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 04-10-2008, 09:22 AM   #25
Budd
 
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

In some ways, it only matters how you define it within your practice group. However, if you're trying to tie it back to its historical roots, maybe there's something to looking at how connecting your hands and feet to your center/middle is historically trained in aikido, in other martial arts - and how that leads into controlling/manipulating/directing another person's center.

Or, you can just apply whatever definition makes you feel good
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