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Old 09-09-2009, 07:10 PM   #1
George S. Ledyard
 
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The Body Has a Mind of Its Own

This book, by Sandra and Mathew Blakeslee, is a fascinating exploration of how the human brain uses multiple mapping systems to organize the body, its space, anyone and anything in its space, and so on.

Ever wonder how you can pick up a bokken and simply know exactly where its tip is, just by "feel"? Or how, if you grab someone's wrist, you can actually visualize where all their other limbs are with your eyes closed?

For many years I heard my teacher, Saotome Sensei, when describing the connection between two partners, "It's on the surface..." all the while gently running his hand along the surface of your arm. He would then proceed to simply rest his hand on your arm or shoulder and your balance would break. No discernible change in pressure at the point of contact was felt, your body just started moving. Sensei would then start talking about "auras". For years I had no idea what he was talking about. Even when, after a quarter century of training, I could begin to duplicate the results, I still didn't have any idea why what I was doing actually worked.

This book explains why much of what seems magical about "aiki" can be explained in terms of "body mapping". It has much to say about how and why practice actually produces improvement in performance, also how too much practice can actually create a mapping disorder which degrades high level performance.

Personally, I look at daily practice differently after reading this book. The need to start slow and get the "feel" of a movement, a connection, a technique before doing a lot of repetitions incorrectly has been powerfully driven home.

Anyway, I think that any teacher of the art of Aikido can find all sorts of fascinating areas for exploration in this book. It is very much non-technical with lots of descriptions of research done by people in a variety of fields all of which touch on body mapping. I would really recommend this one, especially to instructors, but really anyone who is involved in a practice of some sort which involves the body. It gives new meaning to mind - body connection.

For this title go to:
Aikido Eastside Bookstore

(Original blog post may be found here.)
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Old 09-10-2009, 09:20 AM   #2
raul rodrigo
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Re: The Body Has a Mind of Its Own

Actually, George, I was just recently wondering about that bokken example of yours. In fact, I do know by feel exactly how long my bokken is, and in a kata, I can intentionally miss someone by an inch or two. I have no idea why I can do that. I bought an Iwama style bokken last month. I picked it up and I knew it was three inches longer than my other bokken. And in fact, it is. But I knew it without a tape measure. How did that happen? What is body mapping with a ken?
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Old 09-10-2009, 09:04 PM   #3
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: The Body Has a Mind of Its Own

Quote:
Raul Rodrigo wrote: View Post
Actually, George, I was just recently wondering about that bokken example of yours. In fact, I do know by feel exactly how long my bokken is, and in a kata, I can intentionally miss someone by an inch or two. I have no idea why I can do that. I bought an Iwama style bokken last month. I picked it up and I knew it was three inches longer than my other bokken. And in fact, it is. But I knew it without a tape measure. How did that happen? What is body mapping with a ken?
It's really amazing when you realize what your brain is really doing... I can pick up a weapon, just as you did, and know just from feel where the tip is. While a beginner might be able to do that plus or minus an inch or two, I know within a half an inch. Practice effects ones ability to do this mapping more precisely. I don't accidentally smack my partner just because I picked up a new weapon.

That's an astounding thing! The brain virtually instantly incorporates the bokken into your body map the moment you pick it up. This happens when you grab someone as well. They become part of your body mapping system and you, theirs. Physical tension seems to interfere with this which explains party why muscling people doesn't work so well. Anyway, there's a lot of interest in this book which has implications for what we do and how we train to do it.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 09-10-2009, 10:22 PM   #4
raul rodrigo
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Re: The Body Has a Mind of Its Own

So in the example you gave of Saotome shihan, he instantly incorporates you into his body map via the contact, "owns" you, so to speak, and therefore he can do what he wants? Because two bodies are now one body?
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Old 09-11-2009, 04:48 AM   #5
dps
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Re: The Body Has a Mind of Its Own

Interview with authors of "The Body Has a Mind of Its Own."

Radio show "Coast to Coast AM"
Host: Ian Punnett

Guests: Sandra Blakeslee, Matthew Blakeslee

Third and fourth generation science writers, Sandra Blakeslee and her son Matthew, discussed their new book The Body Has a Mind of Its Own, which explores the breakthrough technology of body mapping.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3jeN...eature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFceI...eature=related

David
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Old 09-11-2009, 05:06 AM   #6
dps
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Re: The Body Has a Mind of Its Own

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
Interview with authors of "The Body Has a Mind of Its Own."

Radio show "Coast to Coast AM"
Host: Ian Punnett

Guests: Sandra Blakeslee, Matthew Blakeslee

Third and fourth generation science writers, Sandra Blakeslee and her son Matthew, discussed their new book The Body Has a Mind of Its Own, which explores the breakthrough technology of body mapping.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3jeN...eature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFceI...eature=related

David
Part 3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_sKe...m =PL&index=2

There is a total of 12 parts on youtube.
David

Last edited by dps : 09-11-2009 at 05:16 AM.
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Old 09-11-2009, 09:47 AM   #7
raul rodrigo
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Re: The Body Has a Mind of Its Own

From BodyMap.org:

The body map is one's self-representation in one's own brain. If the body map is accurate, movement is good. If the body map is inaccurate or inadequate, movement is inefficient and injury-producing. In Body Mapping, one learns to gain access to one's own body map through self-observation and self-inquiry.

The student carefully corrects his or her own body map by assimilating accurate information provided by kinesthetic experience, the mirror, models, books, pictures, and teachers. One thereby learns to recognize the source of inefficient or harmful movement and how to replace it with movement that is efficient, elegant, direct, and powerful based on the truth about one's structure, function, and size.

Body Mapping was discovered by William Conable, professor of cello at the Ohio State University School of Music. Conable inferred the body map from the congruence of students' movement in playing with their reports of their notions of their own structures. He observed that students move according to how they think they're structured rather than according to how they are actually structured. When the students' movement in playing becomes based on the students' direct perception of their actual structure, it becomes efficient, expressive, and appropriate for making music. Conable's observations are currently being confirmed by discoveries in neurophysiology concerning the locations, functions, and coordination of body maps in movement.

Body Mapping is the conscious correcting and refining of one's body map to produce efficient, graceful, coordinated, effective movement.
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Old 09-11-2009, 10:36 AM   #8
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: The Body Has a Mind of Its Own

Quote:
Raul Rodrigo wrote: View Post
So in the example you gave of Saotome shihan, he instantly incorporates you into his body map via the contact, "owns" you, so to speak, and therefore he can do what he wants? Because two bodies are now one body?
Its not that simple.... you as the attacker are doing the same thing. When I grab you, or even put my "target acquisition system" on you to strike, I am also incorporating you in my mapping system. Aiki incorporates various ways in which that gets manipulated. But yes, I think this is the origin of the phrase "ittai-ka" or single-body which the Founder talked about.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 09-12-2009, 10:15 AM   #9
raul rodrigo
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Re: The Body Has a Mind of Its Own

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Its not that simple.... you as the attacker are doing the same thing. When I grab you, or even put my "target acquisition system" on you to strike, I am also incorporating you in my mapping system. Aiki incorporates various ways in which that gets manipulated. But yes, I think this is the origin of the phrase "ittai-ka" or single-body which the Founder talked about.
But isn't the attacker doing something fundamentally different--ie, not trying to "join" with me, so therefore not aiki? In fact, if the shomen-uchi is made with intent even at a slow speed, then its purpose is to make my one body into two parts--to split me right down the middle. Or am i missing something?

best,

R
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Old 09-12-2009, 01:46 PM   #10
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: The Body Has a Mind of Its Own

Quote:
Raul Rodrigo wrote: View Post
But isn't the attacker doing something fundamentally different--ie, not trying to "join" with me, so therefore not aiki? In fact, if the shomen-uchi is made with intent even at a slow speed, then its purpose is to make my one body into two parts--to split me right down the middle. Or am i missing something?

best,

R
Raul,
No, this isn't quite on target... The point of bringing up this book and the topic of body mapping was that it has broad implications for motor learning and how we train. This isn't something unique to "aiki", it's how everyone's brain works and how it organizes your motor skills and a bunch of other stuff as well.

The reason I brought up "aiki" was that various really high level teachers from a number of arts, not just Aikido, have been able to do things to me that I couldn't really understand. I can now do things myself that I really couldn't explain, I could just do them. The topic of "body mapping" allowed me to see the "why" of these things. It really doesn't help at all with the "how".

And finally, it is a total misunderstanding of what is "aiki" to think that one can't use "aiki" in an attack. "Aiki" is value neutral. It could be used for evil purpose, it can be used to attack, it has no connotation of non-violence, or peacefulness in and of itself. If two warriors trained in "aiki" were to fight they would each be using these principles and the one who was best at it would win. But this is an entirely separate issue from a discussion of body mapping as a neurological process.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 09-12-2009, 07:53 PM   #11
raul rodrigo
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Re: The Body Has a Mind of Its Own

Thanks for the clarification, George.
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Old 09-12-2009, 09:00 PM   #12
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Re: The Body Has a Mind of Its Own

Thanks sounds like something I need to add to my reading list.
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