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Old 03-10-2010, 05:42 AM   #51
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Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Josh Phillipson wrote: View Post
How do you put aiki into a sword? How does ken become aikiken?
Reminds me of the joke: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

A: Practice.

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Old 03-10-2010, 08:05 AM   #52
aikiSteve
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Re: Sword tip movement

I was teaching a class a few months back where I had everyone move 1/4 speed on all the techniques. Aikido often appears more difficult going slow since you can't rely on the momentum of uke's speed to help move them where you want them to go. It also makes it blatantly obvious when you're using muscle or in the wrong position, etc.

I just tried this with my bokken just too compare the tip movement at a very slow speed. There was dramatically less, still extremely tiny movements, the same amount of flicker if I just hold the sword in front of me as still as I can (I'm sure my cup of coffee isn't helping this test!).

Phi mentioned stopping the blade can cause wobbling which I'm probably doing since going slow doesn't require much of a 'stop'.

Anyway, it strikes me as funny that going slow with the bokken is easier, yet going slow with Aikido is harder. Maybe harder is the wrong word, maybe frustrating is a more appropriate word.
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Old 03-10-2010, 08:41 AM   #53
aikiSteve
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Re: Sword tip movement

Another thing I was just wondering. Let's assume at some point in the future, a month? a year? multiple years? Whatever. Let's assume I figure out this little tick that I'm doing and am able to more or less stop this little sword tip movement when I do my bokken cuts.

What do you think? Does improving bokken cuts actually translate to improving Aikido techniques? Or is Aikiken just a matter of losing yourself in the motion? Letting go of world through the movements.

Personally I think it will improve my Aikido techniques however minor that may be. I won't know until I figure out what I'm doing wrong. But... I ask because if it's the latter, then you have to wonder, why does perfect sword technique matter if the end goal is to improve one's Aikido?
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Old 03-10-2010, 10:34 AM   #54
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Re: Sword tip movement

Mechanically, the bokken is a lever and your hands are the fulcrum point; that means what happens at one end is reflected at the other. In my experience when the tip of the bokken is moving inconsistently with the cut, it is because I am moving my hands inconsistently with the cut... I try to focus on my right hand acting as a fulcrum point and my left hand acting as the motivation of the cut.

As for the impact on your training, I believe weapons work is instrumental in illustrating proper technique, which directly translates to proper taijitsu - distance, timing, footwork, body position, etc.

As for your martial education, I believe weapons work also improves your wisdom and knowledge about the greater history and strategy of combat and combat system development. With greater about about the history of technique, you are more capable to discover more intimate knowledge about that technique.

Last edited by jonreading : 03-10-2010 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 03-10-2010, 12:36 PM   #55
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Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Mechanically, the bokken is a lever and your hands are the fulcrum point; that means what happens at one end is reflected at the other. In my experience when the tip of the bokken is moving inconsistently with the cut, it is because I am moving my hands inconsistently with the cut... I try to focus on my right hand acting as a fulcrum point and my left hand acting as the motivation of the cut.

As for the impact on your training, I believe weapons work is instrumental in illustrating proper technique, which directly translates to proper taijitsu - distance, timing, footwork, body position, etc.

As for your martial education, I believe weapons work also improves your wisdom and knowledge about the greater history and strategy of combat and combat system development. With greater about about the history of technique, you are more capable to discover more intimate knowledge about that technique.
Ditto the latter points.. But "lever?" I really try to get folks away from lever thinking when it comes to this stuff. Not that it is exactly wrong as stated, but I find it leads some folks in the wrong direction. When cutting what we really want is the center of action to move out along the length of the blade, like the center of action moves from my hara to my spine to my shoulders to my elbows to my wrists it should move likewise from the tsuka smoothly on out into the mono-uchi or kissaki, and then the into the target, ultimately.

It is a shifting center of rotation in a rigid object -- like the "rubber pencil" optical illusion. If the center of action is at the tsuba the kissaki will wobble basically unloaded and be very vulnerable to being shifted by very slight loads -- it is the free end of a lever and longer than the lever in your hands. -- Conversely, if the center of action is moving out the blade into the point of contact, the whole system is dynamically stabilized at contact. But of course if one "forces" the cut it is just applying a reversed leverage to it as that of holding it out -- and likewise defeating the purpose. Many people have this latter problem in cutting.

I try to have them imagine a cut like a weight on a string -- no leverage possible. In extension, I imagine holding the blade while some mischieveous kami is pulling the tip of the blade into my target, and holding that shape. It is more "tree-limb" like than static lever balance -- like the branch reaches out for more sun. In tai jutsu I try to analogize it to reach vs. grasp -- we cut by reaching not by grabbing -- and reach always exceeds grasp, as we know .

I think the more one practices to generate and modulate furitama and feel the resonance in things like tekubi furi and that same "live" vibe in performing technique, the more control you will have over that expression of what doctors call "essential tremor" which is physiological in nature, ( ~10 Hz) and can be exploited as well as controlled.

We did a drill (in an iaijtusu class) where we stood in extended seigan and maintained connection with the opponent's mono-uchi, close to the yokote -- for five minutes straight. Most of the folks there did find they had or developed a bobble or tremor knocking the other's sword periodically at the end, and this was an indication of insufficient and/or improper form of extension -- which was the point of the drill.

My partner (the class instructor) and I were perfectly still in that way, but we just kinda ended up creeping like mollasses ever so slightly deeper into each others respective sphere's of extension, until ultimately we had shifted from connecting at the front of the mono-uchi to connecting at the back, and each of us was just itching to cut first.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 03-10-2010 at 12:40 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 03-10-2010, 03:01 PM   #56
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Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Mechanically, the bokken is a lever and your hands are the fulcrum point; that means what happens at one end is reflected at the other.
.
problem with telling folks the lever approach is they ended up using their arms and wrists, i.e. localize muscles to do the cut. ingrain bad habits. you want them to use the whole body for the cut from begin to the end.
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Old 03-11-2010, 10:41 AM   #57
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Re: Sword tip movement

Let me clarify. In response to the problem presented, I posted a particular exercise that may help isolate a poor mechanic. Both Erik and Phi are correct in outlining necessary sophistication in proper sword cutting. I provided no further elaboration in my post as I saw no advantage to discussing elements that [seemingly] are a little advanced for the poster.

Sorry for the confusion...
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Old 03-11-2010, 11:38 AM   #58
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Re: Sword tip movement

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Steve Nelson wrote: View Post
Anyway, it strikes me as funny that going slow with the bokken is easier, yet going slow with Aikido is harder. Maybe harder is the wrong word, maybe frustrating is a more appropriate word.
But doing a very short piece of an aikido waza slowly would probably be really great practice, and would be similar to how bokken suburi is easier to work on slowly.

Quote:
Steve Nelson wrote: View Post
What do you think? Does improving bokken cuts actually translate to improving Aikido techniques? Or is Aikiken just a matter of losing yourself in the motion? Letting go of world through the movements.
I believe in a direct benefit to techniques. I think the suburi can let you practice getting your body "right," and that is something you can put into any waza. It's the same as taiso, like the rowing exercise. The bokken gives you nice tactile and visual feedback though, that the aikitaiso lack.
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Old 03-11-2010, 10:08 PM   #59
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Re: Sword tip movement

In my dojo, we often practice Aikido techniques while holding a sword. It demonstrates how very minor movements can have a big impact. If your body is in the correct position, you slice uke, if you're in the wrong position, you miss.

For example, put a sword in your hand while doing Shihonage. If you let your hip drop back a tiny bit more, at the end of the technique, enough to straighten your elbow pointing your center at Uke, not only does the sword cut off uke's head but shihonage suddenly requires no force on the wrist or shoulder to drop uke. Try it sometime, it's eye opening. There are plenty of others where the sword either cuts uke or misses uke. Anyway...

To me, this type of bokken work has obvious correlations to improving Aikido techniques. But that's very different than standing by yourself cutting air with a wooden stick.

I spent 15 years cutting air with a bokken before I attempted to slice a Tameshigiri mat with a live blade. I had to break all sorts of habits to actually cut it cleanly.

Tenkan is the same thing. You could practice it for years by yourself, but until you feel the 6'5" guy and his two handed grip of death all that practice will likely be thrown out of the window.

I think Aikido requires the uke/nage relationship, otherwise you're just picking fights with yourself. Wow! I think i'll pat myself on the back for that deep thought.
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Old 03-12-2010, 04:57 AM   #60
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Re: Sword tip movement

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
i believed you just hit the cat on the head with that principle. however, i am not certain whether the ki that powers the suburi is matter or energy or both? also, what sort of excitation energy level needed for proper suburi?
truth and beauty

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Old 03-12-2010, 06:30 AM   #61
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Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Steve Nelson wrote: View Post
In my dojo, we often practice Aikido techniques while holding a sword. ... For example, put a sword in your hand while doing Shihonage. If you let your hip drop back a tiny bit more, at the end of the technique, enough to straighten your elbow pointing your center at Uke, not only does the sword cut off uke's head but shihonage suddenly requires no force on the wrist or shoulder to drop uke. Try it sometime, it's eye opening.
That is one of our rote comments to students having a problem" What would you be doing if you were holding a sword while doing that?" Fixes shomenuchi ikkyo marvelously, too. "If his arm you just laid hands on were an O dachi with the blade extending out behind him past his head, how would cut his head off with his own arm?" Fixes it right up..

Quote:
Steve Nelson wrote: View Post
I spent 15 years cutting air with a bokken before I attempted to slice a Tameshigiri mat with a live blade.
Good heavens! What did the air ever do to you ?

Quote:
Steve Nelson wrote: View Post
I had to break all sorts of habits to actually cut it cleanly.I think Aikido requires the uke/nage relationship, otherwise you're just picking fights with yourself.
Concur. I spent it doing kumitachi and solo work that was basically shadowboxing kumitachi and variations, always cutting a cut. Swords properly operate in pairs -- like shears -- and work EXACTLY that way, too, even solo -- because the cutting or shearing point should always be moving continuously out to the end of the blade.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 03-12-2010, 01:10 PM   #62
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Re: Sword tip movement

Hi all.
Steve and Erick-
I still agree with the idea that bokken suburi is useful and in fact should improve execution of all aikido techniques. But I have to take issue with some of the examples/ways that idea is interpreted here. To explain:
One of my favorite descriptions of aikido is "the gentle art of people folding." It is clear that whether one means the internal or external aspects of aikido, nage must take control of uke's body, often in ways that make him shaped in specific ways. These shapes are used by nage to put force in certain directions, at certain places. If a technique is done right, then uke should indeed go to the ground with minimal effort or motion on nage's part-- because everything is lined up right.

But, let's say you are ending shihonage (as in the example) and sensei puts a sword in your hand (which will demonstrate where your forces are going). If the "blade" looks like it is cutting the upper neck, or the lower neck, or into the head, or from the base of the head to the neck, who cares! The trick being illustrated is that there is a "right" alignment of forces and body parts. It doesn't have to be the case that "right" is always in agreement with a bokken being put into your hands and the blade ends up in a magic place (shihonage is not about uke's neck for instance). For any given technique, "right" might not be cutting uke's head. Or neck. Or anywhere in particular-- those are throws and pins, and it is about uke's balance, not about cutting a head with an imaginary sword. That's my take.

Quote:
Steve Nelson wrote: View Post
I spent 15 years cutting air with a bokken before I attempted to slice a Tameshigiri mat with a live blade. I had to break all sorts of habits to actually cut it cleanly.
And I spent years doing the rowing exercise without having any idea what its real goal is or how to make it do that for me. But I can't blame the exercise-- funekogi undo works; MY funekogi undo didn't. So, maybe it all comes down to having the right teacher again?
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Old 03-12-2010, 02:12 PM   #63
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Re: Sword tip movement

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Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
And I spent years doing the rowing exercise without having any idea what its real goal is or how to make it do that for me. But I can't blame the exercise-- funekogi undo works; MY funekogi undo didn't. So, maybe it all comes down to having the right teacher again?
Bruises are probably one of the best teachers.

me: "Doctor! doctor! It hurts when he punches me in the face"
Doctor: "Don't get punched in the face"
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Old 03-12-2010, 02:15 PM   #64
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Sword tip movement

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
Steve and Erick-
... I have to take issue with some of the examples/ways that idea is interpreted here. To explain:
... If the "blade" looks like it is cutting the upper neck, or ... the head to the neck, who cares! The trick being illustrated is that there is a "right" alignment of forces and body parts. ... For any given technique, "right" might not be cutting uke's head. Or neck. Or anywhere in particular-- those are throws and pins, and it is about uke's balance, not about cutting a head with an imaginary sword.
Since I have been delving in these mechanics (in fairness, lots of doing my thinking out loud at greater length than most people have patience to endure ... ) let me make the connection a bit more concrete. A proper sword cut cuts because of a single mechanical principle.

There are several mechanical principles by which a body may be displaced, thrown or pinned. Among them -- in order of relative sophistication -- crushing, stretching, colliding, levering, and lastly shear. Aspects of each of them can be found in the others, but they are quite distinct in orientation, combination and application of action.

Only one of them is used in what we describe as aiki and it is the same mechanic as in the true cut -- shear. It is a spooky sideways cyclic, twisty thing because that principle scissors paper, severs makiwara, cracks whips, buckles columns, cuts men in half with severed cables on a flight deck, moves power through water, and flattens houses or lifts airplanes with nothing more than thin air.

So the act of imagination is not to find the sword in every canonical technique. It is grasping, intuitively, that relationship of shear that is to be applied consistently and innately and to distinguish between that mechanic and the others, which CAN ALSO be used (albeit less devastatingly or efficiently, IMO) -- but their use necessarily precludes or directly diminishes the application of the shear.

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
And I spent years doing the rowing exercise without having any idea what its real goal is or how to make it do that for me. But I can't blame the exercise-- funekogi undo works; MY funekogi undo didn't. So, maybe it all comes down to having the right teacher again?
More important, I think, the correct concrete image of what it is meant to accomplish in your body and then how that action is translated into another body -- animate or inanimate. A good teacher gives you that concrete image -- hands-on physically and/or descriptively.

I am a firm believer in concrete images as teachers -- O Sensei's Doka are very rich -- if read in that way. Funekogi is the "spirit of the demon snake" and furitama and tekubi furi are the "spirit of bees," in his terms -- coherent oscillation driving the shear through a system -- like cracking a whip, shaking out a rug -- or driving the shear point of cutting out the blade length and through the target -- you do the same in uke's body -- (and stiff or loose) it finds any point of discontinuity that naturally wants to separate -- and then you help it separate.

The body deeply fears the destructive power of a resonant shear,(positive feedback -- like the whip-crack -- and the body refuses to volunteer for whip-duty) When presented with a credible rate of change of shear at certain rhythms (hint hint hint ) -- even at low amplitude, it reacts -- reflexively -- and about ten times faster than you can think about it.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 03-12-2010, 05:27 PM   #65
Keith Larman
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Re: Sword tip movement

Or to use another explanation... You are slicing tomatoes, not chopping onions... It is a slice. So slice, don't chop.

On the rest... No comment.

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Old 03-13-2010, 12:26 AM   #66
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Re: Sword tip movement

Wow....Allot of stuff going on here...Since we have an Iaido practice that was developed specifically for Aikido (After all Aikido is the Sword. ) I would suggest that you might want to feel where there is tension in your cut..If it's coming at the end and the tip is moving then there maybe too much tension in your forearms which is affecting your "follow through". Folks that are right handed have a tendency to "jerk" the tip until they learn to relax. My 2 cents and now you guys can go back to digit gnashing over Sword Practice in Aikido.

William Hazen
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Old 03-13-2010, 12:57 PM   #67
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Re: Sword tip movement

Hi guys, Erick you are losing me a bit, but that almost goes without saying! j/k. I do think about shear a lot in terms of moving uke (isn't holding a playing card lengthwise with thumb and forefinger, and then "popping" it away an example of very simple shear?).

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
or driving the shear point of cutting out the blade length and through the target -- you do the same in uke's body -- (and stiff or loose) it finds any point of discontinuity that naturally wants to separate -- and then you help it separate.
Well it might be that I overinterpretted your ikkyo/arm-sword example, because now it sounds like you agree with me. I thought of a good way to say why I take issue with the "put a sword in your hand while doing a technique to show if it is right" school of thought: depending on how uke has been twisted, there could be 3, 5, tens, or hundreds of little sword shear examples throughout his body. They are key, and they are what give you control of uke and take away his control.. but to suggest that there is one main sword that happens to be cutting the neck when you are doing it right (or that all the little swords sum to that neck-pointed sword) seems like fantasy to me.

Quote:
William Hazen wrote: View Post
If it's coming at the end and the tip is moving then there maybe too much tension in your forearms which is affecting your "follow through". Folks that are right handed have a tendency to "jerk" the tip until they learn to relax.
Thanks! That reminds me of two things, one is Phi's comment above, and the other is more right-hand related as you noted. Sometimes, to make sure my right hand isn't doing things it shouldn't, I take away some of its influence by holding the bokken without a good grip there. I basically don't use the thumb and just loosely cup the bokken, for the right hand. (This is halfway between correct grip and left-hand-only.) Right hand can still support the bokken (put upward force) and it can still exert some sideways force (to steady it), and it can still guide the bokken back towards me in its arc, but it cannot shove the sword forward or yank it back. Just a little "check" I do to see if I am doing what I think I am doing, and then I go back to holding it less wrong!
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:57 PM   #68
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Re: Sword tip movement

Silly me was watching the bokken tip the other day and that danged thing was all over the place (never really paid much attention to it before). The harder I tried to not wobble or to 'fix' it the worse it got.

So, I says to myself, fan all this BS, and just swung with the intent to cut through the target and what do you know straight and sweet as can be!

Now I'm no sword jockey by any stretch of the imagination but I've found in a great many cases that worrying about some little detail one tends to miss the bigger picture. Getting a feel for the whole movement and developing that 'flavor' in action without thinking about pinky here, toe there always results in a 'nicer' movement than not. None of this happens by any other means than lots of practice under the watchful eye of a master and when it is 'go' time then just 'go'.

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