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Old 11-19-2009, 02:30 PM   #1
Ellis Amdur
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Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

In Internal Martial Arts, Issue #6 (out of print - I don't know how to purchase today, in case anyone asks)
Tetsutaka Sugawara: Aikido and Taiji by Jayson Chung

Quote:
On a subtler level, as Sugawara (TS) performed some techniques, I noticed that his mid-section appeared more mobile than customarily seen among Aikido practitioners. In Aikido, upper body movements generally are driven by the twisting of hips and, to a lesser extent, wasit and the folding or unfolding of the hip joints, which is matched by an overall closing or opening along the spine.
In some of TS' movements, however, a more pronounced use of the waist was evident. For example, in a kokyu nage throw directed to the rear, a subtle vertical rolling of the midsection led the sweeping movements of the arms.
In seated kokyu tanden ho, TS' midsection rolled to the side and forward . . . .he showed how their pourpose was to direct his power in particular directions. He said that Aikidoists need much more tanden training. . . . "Lots of times," he said, "we use too much arm, not enough tanden."
. . . .he said Aikido movements could be more circular. In many Aikido students' technique, he explained, only the stepping is circular."
. . . .Modern martial arts are too stiff, TS feels, and, unfortunately, Aikido is not an exception. As an example, many Aikido teachers focus on the use of the hand as a blade (tegatana), but TS feesl this is too limitiing. "We should use all our surface in training, not only this edge," he said. "If the hand is hard, the palm is tight, you cannot feel anything."
. . . . Aikidoists tend to use a very strong, hard grip to grab their partner. This kind of grip deadens one's sensitivity and makes it difficult to detect partner's changes and vary one's movements accordingly.

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Old 11-19-2009, 03:29 PM   #2
ChrisMoses
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

I was just going over his book "Aikido and Chinese Martial Arts, Vol1" the other night. Some interesting stuff in there. Of particular note is that the book was written in 1995 or so and made many of the same observations about Aikido practice as we have seen in the last few years on AW.

There's also a portion in a chapter written by Lijuan Xing on the Chinese arts where he states that (paraphrasing) after about 6 years of training, the author plateaued in his Kung Fu training, and it was only after beginning rigorous 'strength training' for several hours every day that he was able to begin to understand the true nature of Kung Fu. When I first read that, in 97 or so, it seemed like an odd statement. I now wonder if "strength training" was very poorly translated and really meant something along the lines of tanren or bodySKILL training.

Some videos of the author here.

Last edited by ChrisMoses : 11-19-2009 at 03:31 PM.

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Old 11-20-2009, 11:17 AM   #3
ChrisMoses
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

Hmm, no one's biting eh?

Here's the actual quote I paraphrased yesterday:

Quote:
The most fundamental factor of a fist is its inner strength. Excellent strength can counteract the weaknesses in fist skills. Splendid fist techniques without enough strength does not pose a real threat, just like a child beating on an adult. Undertaking movement exercises but abandoning strength training lacks an essential element within traditional Chinese martial arts.

My own experience bears out the same opinion. Seven years after my initiation in martial arts, I found it difficult to improve my skills further. So I returned to a strength building program of two to three hours a day. I did not get a deep and correct understanding of Chinese martial arts until I had spent five years in such training.
Again, that was in a chapter written by Lujian Xing.

In a later chapter written by Sugawara (in a section headed "Points to be reconsidered in Aikido") we see:

Quote:
Aikido may not survive in the future if it is only practiced to maintain good health. Under present conditions, it cannot satisfy the demands of martial art lovers. It may be time to reflect on aikido.

Speaking of my experiences, I would like to tell you that I have found aikido all the more interesting because I can make numerous techniques by combining it with Chinese martial arts.

Chris Moses
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Old 11-20-2009, 01:17 PM   #4
Lan Powers
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

Validation of sorts to the premise of "what is missing". (Not that any more is needed, now)
Thanks gentlemen

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
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Old 11-20-2009, 03:45 PM   #5
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

Well, one other point. I remember Sugawara when he was pure Iwama Style, back in the seventies. I'm told he's utterly transformed himself, through TSKSR and his other studies.
Given this new interest in internal strength development, Sugawara may be worth a visit, rather than just a youtube perusal, by folks in aikido who are working to learn this - to see how Sugawara has progressed in his own studies and what he has to offer you.

I've not seen him in well over thirty years, and I don't know what he's done with his aikido.
I can say that, even though he has politically severed himself from the mainline of TSKSR, he is truly brilliant in the art - and senior members of the mainline have told me so.

Best
Ellis Amdur

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Old 11-20-2009, 03:52 PM   #6
Tim Fong
 
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

In that book, Lujian Xing shows a white crane standing qigong practice.

Tim
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Old 11-21-2009, 09:30 PM   #7
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
In Internal Martial Arts, Issue #6 (out of print - I don't know how to purchase today, in case anyone asks)
Tetsutaka Sugawara: Aikido and Taiji by Jayson Chung . . .Modern martial arts are too stiff, TS feels, and, unfortunately, Aikido is not an exception. As an example, many Aikido teachers focus on the use of the hand as a blade (tegatana), but TS feesl this is too limitiing. "We should use all our surface in training, not only this edge," he said. "If the hand is hard, the palm is tight, you cannot feel anything."
Interesting discussion. I have a copy of TS' second volume on Aikido and Chinese Martial Arts - Weapons training. Some very nice concepts there.

I selected the above quote from Ellis' original post because it stood out to me. Of course I cannot know in detail what expression of tegatana TS was referring to in his article, but I disagree on the premise that the use of tegatana is inherently limiting due to the hand being "hard".

Tegatana study and application is a core of Tomiki's Aikido and it is quite well developed to become a primary point of sensitivity that one uses to detect and effect subtle movements and changes in an attacker's mental and physical state. Well-developed tegatana skills allow one to detect these changes at any point of contact with ones partner or attacker and exploit these changes as needed.

I will agree with TS however that one cannot see tegatana as merely the outer edge of the handblade. All aspects of the surface must be used. This skill is important in developing "tekubi okoshi", which is seen by some as a point of initial development in understanding a particular expression of aiki that Ueshiba is known to have used in the 1930s. This is that skill to direct the force of a grab or push directly back into the centre of the attacker along his straightened arm and nullify his force, collapse or project him. The option one uses depends much on control of the tanden, spine and the ability to soften or harden sections of ones tegatana accordingly imho.

In my own practice I have found that tegatana allows me to sense the motion of my partner/attacker quote quickly and in conjunction with proper tai sabaki I am able to exploit motion and execute kuzushi in a very powerful but relaxed manner, constantly receiving new input as the dynamics of the attack changes, so contrary to TS' view it is not limiting at all imho.

Just a few thoughts.

Best
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 11-22-2009, 12:23 PM   #8
grondahl
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

Here´s a video of Sugawara teaching in Stockholm.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCnwe3VpS20
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Old 11-22-2009, 01:29 PM   #9
AsimHanif
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

Sugawara Sensei is very soft yet powerful in his aikido, imho. I've only had limited exposure to him but I really enjoy his practice and find it conducive to where I want to go in my own practice. He is VERY unyeilding in his Katori...very precise and uncompromising.
TS comes to the US annually and I certainly look forward to training with him again.
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Old 11-22-2009, 04:53 PM   #10
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

Larry - don't know if you are having a little fun at everyone's expense (ala HIPS) - because I recall it was Tomiki sensei who postulated (I cannot remember the exact wording) - "The whole body as a sword"). I take this to mean that although, form him, tegatana is a good starting point, training device, any point of the body can manifest "IT"
If I am correct, then Tomiki sensei's tegatana was not a rigid entity. Whether this is true for others in the Shodokan - maybe is an important question.

Best
Ellis Amdur

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Old 11-23-2009, 08:33 PM   #11
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Larry - don't know if you are having a little fun at everyone's expense (ala HIPS) - because I recall it was Tomiki sensei who postulated (I cannot remember the exact wording) - "The whole body as a sword"). I take this to mean that although, form him, tegatana is a good starting point, training device, any point of the body can manifest "IT"
If I am correct, then Tomiki sensei's tegatana was not a rigid entity. Whether this is true for others in the Shodokan - maybe is an important question.

Best
Ellis Amdur
Quite correct Ellis.

I didn't plan on having fun at anyone's expense. But now that you mention HIPS it may be seen that way. My apologies. My comment was more a result of some seminars Shishida held earlier this year where he showed a lot of the applications of tegatana and how they related to Aiki in a historical context.

The more I practice Shodokan the more I realise the concept of the whole body being used as a sword and manifesting the focal points of power at any point of the body (needs a lot of practice though). However I can understand that this is not a pervasive concept and have seen quite rigid tegatana use over the years as well.

Interesting stuff. Always something to work on imho.

Best
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 11-25-2009, 07:37 AM   #12
davidafindlay
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Larry - don't know if you are having a little fun at everyone's expense (ala HIPS) - because I recall it was Tomiki sensei who postulated (I cannot remember the exact wording) - "The whole body as a sword"). I take this to mean that although, form him, tegatana is a good starting point, training device, any point of the body can manifest "IT"
How about another take on it - one perhaps less metaphorical…

IIRC Shodokan hombu dojo lore has Tomiki remembered as saying "there is one technique" and indicating to "tegatana" (handblade) ie the forearm to the tip of little finger. Lets say tegatana means this physical section, not the whole body. Could Tomiki be referring to hiriki - ie referring to the place where kokyu "enters" the arm - at the elbow - and everything from there down is a basic / fundamental manifestation of kokyu?

Further food for thought from:
http://aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15198
The expression "Kokyu wo ire" means "show sprit" use in 37 passages in the 147 techniques. Based on examination of these 37 passages, this expression refers to the usage of the hand blade(s) in order to break balance, and it is the same as the skill of aiki, which is, in Daito-ryu, the skill of breaking an opponent's balance in a flash by straining hand(s).
IMO the shodokan kihon kozo at the beginning of every class (a set of nine exercises) are to essentially train the use of tegatana (/hiriki) - not that they're really advertised as such - amongst other stuff perhaps like timing etc. Two exercises are specifically called hiriki-no-yosei.

I do wonder what "straining" hands might be in Japanese though... maybe furishibori ie to muster (strength) ... ie marshal kokyu/jin in the body?

Edit: If "tegatana" became Tomiki's parlance for "hiriki" (kokyu), then a natural progression would be for "the whole body to be a sword"... though I think this might be getting a bit tenuous.

Thoughts?

Cheers,
Dave

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Old 11-28-2009, 07:12 AM   #13
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

Quote:
Dave Findlay wrote: View Post
I do wonder what "straining" hands might be in Japanese though... maybe furishibori ie to muster (strength) ... ie marshal kokyu/jin in the body?
Good stuff Dave.

I asked Shishida about this the last time I saw him (since he wrote that article you quoted). The English translation is not so good, but the "straining hands" concept is part of a concept called "tekubi okoshi" or "hands rising". It is seen in Judo as well as Aikido through the use of tegatana. The idea is to break the balance of the attacker at the instant of contact.

Quote:
Warning: What follows is my limited understanding of what was shown and in no way represents what Shishida may mean were he to answer himself.
In this case he showed it through a double wrist grab, the concept being to relax the arms and body in such a way as to allow its force to travel down ones arm through the body to the ground and then back up through the same path. At the point where the return force reaches the wrist the fingers are splayed, and tegatana is extended upward along the attacker's arms towards his shoulders. This causes his arms to lock out which connects to his shoulders and his spine, raising his whole body.

The trick to this is the timing of when to splay the fingers and extend into ones partner. There is also the aspect of relaxing and coordinating the whole body so that the rebound force is not lost or does not dissipate somewhere in ones own muscular structure.The force that is extended can be amplified within the body coming from the legs, waist and tanden through the spine and into the arms.

He also showed the reverse effect which through total relaxation projected downwards through tegatana disrupts balance downwards on contact, collapsing the attacker down upon himself or drawing him in towards your feet..

A few months later I read what Ellis said about Aikiage and Aikisage in HIPS and got an "aha" moment. I also found a thread on Aikiweb here - http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16734 that has some interesting info on that side of things.

Finally, there is a clip of Nariyama Shihan that to me shows a bit of the concept as well. It is here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1QAv0FIQyE. The one Shishida showed however used a lot less body movement.

Just my 2 cents.

LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 11-28-2009, 07:21 AM   #14
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

Vitu Vizuri Sana....

Good Stuff.

B,
R

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Old 11-28-2009, 08:35 AM   #15
davidafindlay
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote: View Post
Finally, there is a clip of Nariyama Shihan that to me shows a bit of the concept as well. It is here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1QAv0FIQyE. The one Shishida showed however used a lot less body movement.
I know the clip well (I was behind the camera )

IMHO that first waza is pretty gross manifestation of bouncing uke. Its setting up intent to reflect uke straight back and up. Its an application of what should be hiriki/kokyu IMO. The "reverse" downwards thing is essentially the same, I'm pretty sure.

So are you saying you actually took this waza from Shishida? What did it feel like?

Cheers,
D

Yeah, sorry, forgot to reference Shishida's name on the quote

Dave Findlay
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Old 11-28-2009, 08:43 AM   #16
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote: View Post
The trick to this is the timing of when to splay the fingers and extend into ones partner. There is also the aspect of relaxing and coordinating the whole body so that the rebound force is not lost or does not dissipate somewhere in ones own muscular structure.The force that is extended can be amplified within the body coming from the legs, waist and tanden through the spine and into the arms.
Hi Larry

I'm interested - IIRC when Nariyama has been asked about kokyu his response has been "its all timing". I've often wondered where this perspective came from, and my own thoughts were pretty much along the same lines as you describe up there.

So as to your point about the "timing" - is that something that Shishida / whoever has explained and you're passing it along, or is it a discovery you've made by yourself and explaining as such?

Many thanks,
D

Dave Findlay
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Old 11-29-2009, 01:53 PM   #17
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

Quote:
Dave Findlay wrote: View Post
So are you saying you actually took this waza from Shishida? What did it feel like?
It felt like I was given a small electric shock on contact with Shishida's wrist. Just before my grip locked onto his wrist everything from my palm to my spine locked up with an upward force that caused my head to whiplash a bit (in fact this happened to other folks in the seminar and gave some a headache). During that time my balance was "floated" upward as I had to go on my toes to maintain any balance. His wrist fundamentally became my central point of balance with me unable to let go even when I tried.

When he did the opposite and relaxed his arm I basically had my structure taken out from under me and dropped towards the mat. And I still couldn't let go.

It was a very interesting feeling of not being in control of anything. I grabbed him a few times to try to map out what was happening to me. That was 8 months ago and I'm still analyzing the data.

Quote:
So as to your point about the "timing" - is that something that Shishida / whoever has explained and you're passing it along, or is it a discovery you've made by yourself and explaining as such?
A bit of both. He did show the timing, only once, from shotei awase, but did not explain it too much. He did the wrist grab version on me a few times so each time I tried to focus on different aspects of what happened to my body. I was able to link the two by drawing on my own research on this and was able to repeat most of the effect a few months later after lots of practice and relaxation. There is more but I am not sure enough about exactly what that is to post it publicly at this point. I don't want to bring Shishida's teaching into question from my own lack of knowledge and experience.

Still working on it. Hopefully it will make sense one day.

Hope that helps though.

LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 11-29-2009 at 01:56 PM.

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Old 11-29-2009, 02:13 PM   #18
davidafindlay
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Re: Tanden Usage in Aikido - re Tetsutaka Sugawara

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote: View Post
It felt like I was given a small electric shock on contact with Shishida's wrist. Just before my grip locked onto his wrist everything from my palm to my spine locked up with an upward force that caused my head to whiplash a bit (in fact this happened to other folks in the seminar and gave some a headache). During that time my balance was "floated" upward as I had to go on my toes to maintain any balance. His wrist fundamentally became my central point of balance with me unable to let go even when I tried.

When he did the opposite and relaxed his arm I basically had my structure taken out from under me and dropped towards the mat. And I still couldn't let go.
Wow! Thanks for posting - I do appreciate it. Sounds very daito ryu... interesting. Gosh, I'm going to have to think about that myself

Thanks,
Dave

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