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Old 01-05-2010, 08:43 PM   #1
bernardkwan
Dojo: Aikido Doyukai Hong Kong
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Tanden Rotation

Hi -

I study Aikido and Baguazhang (Gao Style) in Hong Kong, and on Monday my Sensei (Nagai Hitoshi - who had studied with Endo Seishiro Sensei for over 20 years) asked me, now that I had been studying with him for a while, if I had begun to experience tanden rotation and then proceeded to explain how he felt it move like a gyroscope and how I should be letting it lead the movement of the hands.

This was kind of shock to me, (not the concept - I had been aware of it for a while as I used to practice Taiji and from my IMA practice ), but because I didn't expect it from my Sensei - he uses a lot of power in his techniques and although he usually talks about using the centre, and removing all muscle tension from the arms and body, I had thought that he meant all this on a superficial level, such as leading from the waist. I also don't claim to have experienced any Tanden rotation in my normal practice - AIkido, Bagua or otherwise

We also do some breathing exercises at the beginning of class but they seem rather superificial, not like some the neigong practices in CIMA and they also involve breathing out of the mouth on the exhale (which I was told was a no no). So I don't know how he managed to train his Tanden. He claims it came naturally through his Aikido training but he didn't feel it until some time after he had reached dan grade.

He also mentioned that Endo Sensei never talked about the practice in terms of Ki or the Tanden, etc but always in more practical terms. So it was not taught explicitly by Endo Sensei. I have to talk to him more to see if he had other training methods, but from our initial conversation it seems he got it almost purely from training Aikido - which was the thing that surprised me most, given all the talk on Aikiweb about solo training, etc.

But I was wondering if other people had experience of their teachers talking about this. Yes and I know some people may snipe and say that he is only mouthing off and he doesn't have it etc...

Last edited by bernardkwan : 01-05-2010 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:19 AM   #2
JW
 
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Re: Tanden Rotation

Hi Bernard-
Well I certainly don't think he is mouthing off, he has no reason to-- if his sensei didn't make him feel pressured to report this sensation then I don't see why he would be outright faking.
But you seem to be saying that by feel (compared to all your other IMA teachers), he doesn't have what they have?
So maybe he has been exposed to certain ideas and is matching up what he feels personally with what he has only read/heard about intellectually?

Sorry my post has more questions than answers (I don't recall any of my aikido teachers saying anything about tanden rotation). I personally would be surprised at internal development that comes from practicing waza alone-- if the waza were used as complex neigongs, then that would require much explicit attention in the teaching and the learning, and it sounds like he isn't saying that. I think it is easy to think what one has heard about is the same as what one is personally feeling-- sometimes the words just match up, even though they are 2 different things.
For instance, tanden rotation and gyroscopes both have "rotation" but it seems weird to me to compare the two. One is a slight twisting (direction can be up/down or side/side, much less than one full turn) that loads tension into the body, one is a free, rapid, tension-free spinning in a single direction. If I understand correctly.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:51 PM   #3
bernardkwan
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Re: Tanden Rotation

Hi Jonathan

For simplicity Sifu = CMA Sensei = Aikido

I had another talk with Sensei last night and he doesn't seem to be faking it - he does seem to be a natural. The only things he does are some simple deep breathing exercises and zen meditation (although he does visualize the microscopic orbit in meditation).

In terms of the feeling, its different from my CMA sifu - there are some movements like morotedori kokyunage (where he throws just by the internal rotation of the forearm with only a slight movement of the feet) or some katatetori techniques that I am resisiting strongly that seem internal but for the most part it seems just like a powerful "normal" aikido - i.e. similar to other high ranking Sensei whose seminars I have taken.

But I may be too influenced by what I read in transparent power and on aikiweb. There is no "jolt" of energy and my centre is not taken without my knowledge (where the next moment I am lying on my back on the ground). I confess I havent felt any of these energetic effects that people write about in my CMA either.

With my Sifu our interaction mainly comes from push hands and I am totally dominated - he is like a blanket over me. But I sense that he lets me make the mistakes where Iovercommit or leave openings rather than creating a collapse in my structure from a strong "stable position". When Sifu does fajing it feels "cleaner" but that may be because he has already compromised my structure or taking advantage of an opening without my knowledge which my Sensei does through a more obvious kuzushi. But to be fair its harder in the usual aikido kata since you know what is going to happen, so its not like free training

Another explanation may be is that my Sensei has "gong" (the power) but his sensitivity and technique are not done / refined enough /trained in a way that is completely internal. So I don't know, but wanted to share with the community anyways.

In terms of the tanden rotation - my understanding is that is very much a free spinning ball like an apple in a cup where the cup is the sacrum to quote a colleague on rum soaked fist, and its freely spinning even when you are standing stationary. Its not like the twisting of the waist which is only a partial turn.

Last edited by bernardkwan : 01-06-2010 at 09:04 PM.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:54 PM   #4
bernardkwan
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Re: Tanden Rotation

With regard to the spinning - apparently the rotating tanden is really like a spinning ball - or an apple in cup (where in the cup is your sacrum) so its not a partial rotation but something which is spinning at high speed.

I wrote something on my blog from some research I culled from the internet and my sifu if you are interested.

http://benotdefeatedbytherain.blogsp...g-dantian.html
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:09 PM   #5
bob_stra
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Re: Tanden Rotation

Quote:
Bernard Kwan wrote: View Post
In terms of the tanden rotation - my understanding is that is very much a free spinning ball like an apple in a cup where the cup is the sacrum to quote a colleague on rum soaked fist, and its freely spinning even when you are standing stationary
So...uh...how would that work, anatomically speaking?
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:16 PM   #6
bernardkwan
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Re: Tanden Rotation

Not something you can locate anatomically I believe - just like the whole Qi thing. Maybe if you cut the guy apart, the qi flows out like gas from a balloon... either you believe it or you don't I guess.

Again with the caveat that I haven't experienced it. But its meant to feel like a spinning balloon in the area 2 inchs below your navel, which gets bigger and denser the more your train. And you influence the direction using your intention. Kind of like how people move things on a computer screen just by thinking.

But the point is that when you are meant to use this to generate the power from your centre rather than muscular strength.

Last edited by bernardkwan : 01-06-2010 at 09:24 PM.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:24 PM   #7
bob_stra
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Re: Tanden Rotation

Well no Bernard, I have a good idea of what and where the dantien is...I'm just saying what you described is a physical impossibility given the model you used.

As for localization, 'swirling gas' etc...oh....I dunno. Watch the latter half of this

http://tieba.56.com/v?tn=53357

OTOH, you might be talking about micro-cosmic orbit, or 'feelings' in which case - pass

Last edited by bob_stra : 01-06-2010 at 09:27 PM.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:35 PM   #8
bernardkwan
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Re: Tanden Rotation

Hmmm. can't seem get into the link. Will try again later.

But defeinitely feelings and microscopic orbit is something different altogether...

I have been just trying to get my head around the whole thing since Monday... so I may need some refinement in my thinking so thanks for your patience. I am definitely open to being corrected where someone has a better model.
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:00 PM   #9
bob_stra
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Re: Tanden Rotation

Quote:
Bernard Kwan wrote: View Post
Hmmm. can't seem get into the link. Will try again later.
Do. It's an eye opener

Quote:
But defeinitely feelings and microscopic orbit is something different altogether...

I have been just trying to get my head around the whole thing since Monday... so I may need some refinement in my thinking so thanks for your patience. I am definitely open to being corrected where someone has a better model.
What I'm saying is - if you're positing a 'ball in a cup that spins when you're stand still' model (ie: angular momentum...or is that phrase like looking in the mirror and shouting 'Bloody Mary" three times 'round these parts?) as some kind of physical entity, then...what generates the 'spin'? How does it work?

Perhaps you mean a sensation.
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:41 PM   #10
JW
 
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Re: Tanden Rotation

Well, I'm with Bob on this one. I do believe there is a clump of tissue that can move around and coordinate forces and movements across the whole body. But of course such tissue could not spin freely.
But, in terms of sensations or visualizations, that is a different matter that I would like to hear more about.
For instance, I heard Jack Wada sensei at Aikido of San Jose talk about a river under the ground, that is continuously flowing by. There is no river of course, but as a visulaization, I think it has some value in how it would affect your ki. You are supposed to sort of patch into the flow of the river during your movements. The visualization has ramifications for low power-sourcing, connection to the ground, and the sort of never-stagnant "to/fro" or "in/out" in your intent, which is something that I associate with unobstructed ki flow (to use a bit of traditional terms).

So, the free spinning in the belly may be a visualization trick. Or it may be an interpretation of a sensation.

On the other front, regarding what your sensei does and to what degree it is "internal." You have indicated his meditative/breathing practices that are some of the types that I think can indeed have demonstrable effects. So I would not be surprised if he has some kokyu and it can be expressed particularly well in certain techniques. But I think the stuff that is the subject matter of "Transparent Power" and "Hidden in Plain Sight" are more akin to the instant blanket-like domination you desribed in your push-hands experience. (although maybe even more extreme)
At any rate it sounds like he is pretty good, so I'll train hard and hope to be like him someday!
--Jonathan Wong
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Old 01-07-2010, 12:04 AM   #11
bernardkwan
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Re: Tanden Rotation

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post

So, the free spinning in the belly may be a visualization trick. Or it may be an interpretation of a sensation.
Thanks Jonathan - I agree it may be the intepretation of a sensation. And like you I will keep training and see if anything happens in my own body. so I can describe from personal experience - but don't know when it will happen. .
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Old 01-07-2010, 07:14 AM   #12
thisisnotreal
 
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Re: Tanden Rotation

gyroscopic: in that there is a responsive, reflexive and restorative torque created when it is perturbed. Yamabiko.
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Old 01-07-2010, 11:12 AM   #13
JW
 
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Re: Tanden Rotation

Quote:
Josh Phillipson wrote: View Post
gyroscopic: in that there is a responsive, reflexive and restorative torque created when it is perturbed.
OK, agreed, but it all comes from the rapid spinning of the gyroscope!
Lots of things respond instantly and appropriately, and they don't need a freely spinning core. For instance the ground, or walls-- they always push back exactly enough to counteract what is put into them. Also a pendulum at rest has a restorative torque in response to perturbation (it pulls back to centered when you first touch it to start oscillation). Also elastic things like springs do this.. thus I feel yamabiko is a concept more related to ground reaction force, gravity-based pendulums, and soft, elastic (ju) tissues in the body. Or at least, moreso than to gyroscopes.
--JW
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