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Old 01-08-2011, 09:35 AM   #1
Mike Sigman
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Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

I admit to a personal favorable bias toward Ikeda Sensei, but I'll try to keep that out of the way and see if there's an interest in discussing some of the demonstrations that he does as he attempts to restore the interest in ki/kokyu skills in Aikido. I made the below-styled post on the "uke collusion" thread, but the general principle applies to most of the demonstrations that I've seen (on videos) Ikeda Sensei do. If anyone is interested in dissecting various demonstrations until the principle is very clear, this thread would be a good vehicle for dissection or for debating various points of view:

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
Well, I didn't see the demo (is there a vid, BTW?), but the basics are fairly simple (much simpler if you've done all this before; not so simple if you're not used to connecting your body to your middle, but give it a try).

To over-simplify the setup, imagine that each of your arms have a big block of (non-cold) ice frozen around each one and your left arm (and ice block) is resting on a shoulder-level table on your left side and your right arm (and ice block) is resting on a shoulder-level table on your right side. IF your arm is extended and held in such a way that moving your middle is connected to the ice blocks, you can make the ice-blocks slide on the table without having to use the local arm/shoulder muscles. If there is a slackness (say a loose shoulder joint) between your middle and the ice-block, your middle will have no control over the ice-block on that side, right?

So what happened was that you didn't understand the principle, so you didn't really know what was expected of you. Uke (the loose one) didn't understand the idea, so he was providing a poor connection for you and thus you couldn't control his center with your center. And naturally there are angles in which it is easy to move uke (usually toward his back "gate" between the legs or the front gate) and angles in which it is almost impossible to move uke (like if you try to off-balance him in the direction of his supporting foot).

So Ikeda's demonstration sounds pretty valid and kokyu-correct to me, but if you and uke don't really understand how to do it then it can be frustrating. I've heard that Ikeda Sensei often says something indicating to "make one" with uke or "tension to uke", etc..... this is what it means. There has to be a solid connection between you and uke or you can't control his center with the movement (or intention) coming from your center. Also, it's easier to move an uke when he has a firm two-handed grip on you; a one-handed or just a solid connection where arms touch will naturally limit your control angles.
FWIW

Mike Sigman
 
Old 01-08-2011, 11:07 AM   #2
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

While I am not sure of Ikeda Sensei would want us discussing and dissecting him personally, having been on the receiving end of his technique many times, I too have a favorable bias.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
 
Old 01-08-2011, 11:33 AM   #3
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
While I am not sure of Ikeda Sensei would want us discussing and dissecting him personally, having been on the receiving end of his technique many times, I too have a favorable bias.
I just meant discussing some of the throws and examples he's doing. Not him personally. My point is that the principles are common and since Ikeda is, IMO, the most skilled in terms of jin/kokyu usage that is currently giving demonstrations and trying to explain (plus he's on videos), his demonstrations might be good examples to discuss kokyu. There are also videos of Saotome, Ushiro, and others, but since Ikeda has the clearest material (again, IMO), that would be the most favorable to discuss. OTOH, if people don't want to discuss how techniques are done, that's fine with me, also, but I don't think anyone owns the basic principles of kokyu/jin.

FWIW

Mike Sigman
 
Old 01-08-2011, 02:36 PM   #4
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

Principles are excellent to discuss. It always helps me get my head around them so that I can apply them better. Not good but better.

I would agree that from what I have experiences, Ikeda Sensei is one of the best examples of applied principles with a sincere desire to transmit them the others.

When I started training directly with him he would often say "Understand?" and of course I didn't even see it let alone understand it. But over time I saw a little more, understood a little more, and eventually could apply a little more (only a little more).

What I heard Ikeda Sensei say a lot was "unity". Musubi, to connect and join centers.

Not sure how that translates to chinese internal terms.

Thoughts?

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
 
Old 01-08-2011, 03:36 PM   #5
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
What I heard Ikeda Sensei say a lot was "unity". Musubi, to connect and join centers.

Not sure how that translates to chinese internal terms.

Thoughts?
There's no difference between the principles of "internal strength" in Chinese and Japanese martial arts anymore than there's a difference between the principles of swimming in China and Japan. There may be some stylistic flairs in swimming and I.S., and of course different levels of ability and understanding, but the theories are immutable. When you hear someone indicate that they think there's a difference, all they're telling you is how much they know (not much).

Notice that I used an example of an ice-block in the first post and I said to extend the arms, etc., so that there was a solid connect between the ice-block and your center. A solid connection between your center and someone else's center (or an object's center) makes you both into a "unit". That is "unity"

There are two ways to form a solid connection: one is 'through the bones' and the other is through the connection of the body. The ideal connection also always includes a connection from your center to the ground so that the stability of the ground is where you source your forces.

If a partner pushes, grab-pushes, or strikes you and you allow that push/strike to go through your bones to your center and on freely to the ground, you and your partner become one object and your middle can control the consolidated 'unit'. If there is not a solid connection, obviously you cannot reach your control through to their center (or head, or wherever.

If a partner pulls you in some manner (or you pull slightly when he grabs you), you can make a connection from your center to his/hers through the 'connection' of the body (you must keep a slight connection at all times).

That's unity. However, it's like learning to "control with the hara"... if you don't know how to control with a good connection/unity via your hara and you just try to use arms, etc., you'll miss the target and you won't really be using good kokyu.

If you look at some of Ikeda Sensei's demonstrations, you'll see that he makes sure that he has a good connection. Sometimes the connection can be a little iffy and solid in such a narrow direction that the availability of controls is limited. That's when an overly-cooperative Uke can pay off, but the theory should be pretty obvious: make a unit connection; move the combined unit with your middle. That's what Ikeda Sensei keeps saying (he's said it for years, from what I've heard), although granted some of these things are subtle enough that you need someone to show you the first steps in a careful and expanded way.

FWIW

Mike Sigman
 
Old 01-08-2011, 04:18 PM   #6
Dan Rubin
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

Here's a short article on this subject that Ikeda Sensei wrote several years ago:

http://www.bujindesign.com/training_tips/ittaika.html
 
Old 01-08-2011, 05:36 PM   #7
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

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Dan Rubin wrote: View Post
Here's a short article on this subject that Ikeda Sensei wrote several years ago:
Thank you for the resource.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
 
Old 01-08-2011, 05:47 PM   #8
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
If you look at some of Ikeda Sensei's demonstrations, you'll see that he makes sure that he has a good connection. Sometimes the connection can be a little iffy and solid in such a narrow direction that the availability of controls is limited. That's when an overly-cooperative Uke can pay off, but the theory should be pretty obvious: make a unit connection; move the combined unit with your middle. That's what Ikeda Sensei keeps saying (he's said it for years, from what I've heard), although granted some of these things are subtle enough that you need someone to show you the first steps in a careful and expanded way.
I am grateful that I have had Ikeda Sensei himself show me these first steps (along with my own Phong Sensei and several others) because I never would have seen them just by watching demonstrations. I am simply not that bright or observant.

The only time any of the instructors I have had used anything near a cooperative uke was in instruction trying to get us to see/feel these subtle connections and extensions. Many would get frustrated if you did not give an honest and genuine effort.

There was always connection (maintaining your alignment and structure while taking their balance) and turning their center with your center. These seem to be pretty basic instructions in Aikido, but I seldom see them mindfully practiced and applied.

Thoughts?

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
 
Old 01-08-2011, 05:52 PM   #9
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

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Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
There was always connection (maintaining your alignment and structure while taking their balance) and turning their center with your center. These seem to be pretty basic instructions in Aikido, but I seldom see them mindfully practiced and applied.
There's a great difference between "making a connection" and doing it with kokyu; there a great difference between "alignment and structure" and using kokyu. Ikeda Sensei uses kokyu, but since it's a way of rearranging the body with mind-intent it can't really be seen. So most people copying the appearance and thinking "structure", etc., will usually do it wrongly. A lot of it needs to be learned by feel.

Mike Sigman
 
Old 01-09-2011, 04:45 AM   #10
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

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A lot of it needs to be learned by feel.
Perhaps we each define our personal felt experience differently making any discussion of it difficult or impossible.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
 
Old 01-09-2011, 06:34 AM   #11
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

Over my past four years in Aikido I have had the pleasure of learning from Ikeda Sensei both in several seminars and 3 summer camps. He is an excellent teacher and practioner. He is trying hard to simplify and teach what he has learned. He wants to take us from just technique to flowing with Uke.
I am trying hard to take it in and trying to learn to use the principles in my Aikido and I can say it is coming along nicely but it is going to take a long time to master. He has spent a lifetime developing his understanding and technique which is why he is so very good. I have been very impressed with his desire to share his knowledge and his humility in teaching. You have such a good time learning from him and during his seminars we seem to always be laughing at our imperfect attempts to implement what he is sharing with us. He makes learning Aikido fun and interesting and makes you want to push yourself harder and perfect your Aikido.
What he is teaching is very solid and his ability to unbalance you and control you can is amazing and he can gently lay you to the floor as softly as a child or crash you down in a instant. I have had him often do the former and in a moment of temporary insanity I asked him to show me the latter. I once asked him to demonstrate on me a little of the energy he could create on the street to defend himself if necessary. He smiled and knowing I could take it he used a "wee bit of his true power" and looking up at him from the floor my first thought was " I have GOT to learn to do that!!"

Doc Sexton

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will"
Gandhi
 
Old 01-09-2011, 07:58 AM   #12
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

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Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
Perhaps we each define our personal felt experience differently making any discussion of it difficult or impossible.
I disagree. There is usually a difficulty in coming to terms between someone knows and someone who doesn't really know (or only has incomplete skills), but if two people really know, the descriptions can be straightened out in short order. If someone *really* knows, they can explain things simply.

"Groundpath" has always been an expedient descriptor which people who have some basic jin skills understand and agree with (generally) quite quickly. Invariably, people who have no idea of jin/kokyu skills get distracted or crack jokes about "groundpath", telling everyone who knows that they don't know.

A number of people have floated to me the idea that they "know" but that they just can't describe how to do things. I disagree. People who know how to do these things can hammer out a baseline set of terms very quickly. For instance Rob and Dan had no problem utilizing "groundpath" (a few years back) even though that wasn't a term native to what they were doing.

What I'm trying to do is not allow the conversation to follow the lines of some of the "Aikido" conversations in which everyone insists that there is no fixed definition of Aikido and thus anything they choose to do is bona fide "Aikido", thereby making it so that it's impossible for there to be such a thing a wrong Aikido. Internal strength you can know definitively and show definitively (levels and gradations are there, of course).

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Last edited by Mike Sigman : 01-09-2011 at 08:12 AM.
 
Old 01-09-2011, 08:12 AM   #13
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

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Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
I disagree.
Of course you don't.
Perhaps that is the point.

Last edited by SeiserL : 01-09-2011 at 08:14 AM.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
 
Old 01-09-2011, 08:14 AM   #14
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

Quote:
Randy Sexton wrote: View Post
I once asked him to demonstrate on me a little of the energy he could create on the street to defend himself if necessary. He smiled and knowing I could take it he used a "wee bit of his true power" and looking up at him from the floor my first thought was " I have GOT to learn to do that!!"
My experience exactly! LOL

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
 
Old 01-09-2011, 10:15 AM   #15
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

Ikeda sensei has a whole list of pointers which he refers to often.
"Make unity" is one.

"This works" "this doesn't " is another , notice that usually when he says this , his posture does not change. What is is that he switches on / off without changing things overtly? If you feel the demo, it's a shift between a lack of solidity (doen not work) vs solid coupling of forces in which you can feel the push of your grab being met somewhere. It's a demo for feeling it; as Uke you should be giving a clean steady force so you can feel how it gets changed

"Shift your insides" to move your partner; once you are connected via kokyu you are relying on your mind directed sense of how the forces collide , the skill is to be able to harness that ability to change the sum of pushes (balance!) into a direction of your choice. It is not an imaginary thing; your body has to do stuff to make it happen. There's a logic to the shift; the forces are best handled from your middle , not from the extremities, or the connection is broken and so on.

One thing is sure; you should not be pretending to feel things as Uke or Nage; It's not about imagining the other guy moving, and the uke imagining he's being moved. It's a physical thing; you should feel it. Aikido ukemi doest require you to use your biceps or triceps in isolation when doing a roll; as Nage you have to be able to move in a similarly connected fashion, keeping the "path to the ground" , using it to move your uke,

Alfonso Adriasola
 
Old 01-09-2011, 12:36 PM   #16
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

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Alfonso Adriasola wrote: View Post
"This works" "this doesn't " is another , notice that usually when he says this , his posture does not change. What is is that he switches on / off without changing things overtly?
Watch his hips and his wrist very carefully. His posture does change. It's just so small that you might miss it unless you were looking at the right spot at the exact moment it happens...

Ikeda sensei is absolutely fascinating. Hopefully when I have trained much longer I will be able to describe what is going on in those exercises. They are among my favorite things to work on in the dojo.
 
Old 01-09-2011, 12:51 PM   #17
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

yes, there is movement; and it is small. And it can be expressed in the wrists and in the hips; but at the most basic version , those are not necessary.

to grasp the exercise you need to focus through that connection with uke. If uke is pushing allow the push through you to the floor , if uke is static you can either remove the slack by adjusting forward or backwards. In a sense you are now a solid mass of flesh and bones bridged. You dont need to "control" every aspect of that mass if you're relaxedly taking that force into you. From your trunk alone you can try moving the whole set (one at a time) by first off balancing uke. All of this doesn't look like much going on, especially if your uke is not giving you a steady force to work with. your waist can bend and unbend your legs can bend and unbend, you can use your trunk to turn left and right up to a point. But if you engage your arms, use your shoulder muscles and so on, that connection you are relying on, as a way to get your legs and core strength out to your limbs , gets broken.

Alfonso Adriasola
 
Old 01-09-2011, 01:37 PM   #18
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

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Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
Watch his hips and his wrist very carefully. His posture does change.
Yes agreed. The hips and the wrist are connected. He would talk about turning them like a screw until you take the slack out.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
 
Old 01-09-2011, 03:53 PM   #19
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

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Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
Hopefully when I have trained much longer I will be able to describe what is going on in those exercises.
I have a personal perspective that many people drag out the process of learning these types of skills because they take the view that it takes a "long time" or "many years" to learn these types of skills. It often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even the most exotic of these manipulations is a skill that can be learned once it is explained and the approach to grasping the skill is outlined. I suggest that people watch these demonstrations and understand that it is a skill that doesn't take forever to learn and think to themselves, "I can do that... show me how and I'll practice and equal your ability in that trick in less than a year". Be positive. It's also very true, in my opinion.

FWIW

Mike Sigman
 
Old 01-09-2011, 04:28 PM   #20
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

I think the reason it seems like these skills take 'forever' to learn is that most of us don't spend our full work time on them, as Ikeda Sensei has. If I practiced aikido 40+ hours a week, I'd be much better in a hurry! I think Mike is absolutely right - the most exotic technique or blending can be mastered by anybody who puts in the effort.

I have been learning from Ikeda Sensei for 15+ years now. Whenever I have the chance to take ukemi for him I attack hard with the thought, 'you're not getting me so easily this time, buddy,' in my head. Of course, he always does. I find I learn the most from him when I attack with the most sincerity.

And now, off to the dojo.....
 
Old 01-09-2011, 05:09 PM   #21
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

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Whenever I have the chance to take ukemi for him I attack hard with the thought, 'you're not getting me so easily this time, buddy,' in my head. Of course, he always does. I find I learn the most from him when I attack with the most sincerity.
I think if it was me I'd give a reasonable attack (it's only a demonstration for others to learn from and their learning is the most important thing), but my mind would be focuses very firmly on how Ikeda Sensei (or some other knowledgeable teacher) felt, how our forces interacted, and so on. As I progressed through my quest for finding out what internal-strength was, I always set my own goals based on the 'feel' of the best (and most widely acknowledged by other experts) expert I could find. That feel is critical to understanding what is going on... but then, too, so is some straightforward practical information on how-to's.

2 cents.

Mike Sigman
 
Old 01-09-2011, 06:48 PM   #22
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

Quote:
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I think the reason it seems like these skills take 'forever' to learn is that most of us don't spend our full work time on them, as Ikeda Sensei has. If I practiced aikido 40+ hours a week, I'd be much better in a hurry! I think Mike is absolutely right - the most exotic technique or blending can be mastered by anybody who puts in the effort.

I have been learning from Ikeda Sensei for 15+ years now. Whenever I have the chance to take ukemi for him I attack hard with the thought, 'you're not getting me so easily this time, buddy,' in my head. Of course, he always does. I find I learn the most from him when I attack with the most sincerity.

And now, off to the dojo.....
Garth,
Sure... to be Shihan level, it takes every day practice for years. But to understand what is going on and do it in the controlled environment of practice, it should not take so long. The teaching methodology just hasn't been there.

Some of it is language barrier. Ikeda Sensei will say "make tight" but he isn't tight at all. He'll say "pull" and he isn't pulling, and "push" and he isn't pushing... not in terms of the set of associations we have in our bodies with those terms.

One of my friends who actually speaks Japanese and is advanced enough to have something of a handle on what is going on, told me that he got to hear Ikeda Sensei explaining what he was doing in Japanese to a Japanese woman attending the seminar. He told me that Ikeda Sensei's explanation was so much more clear and precise in Japanese than it was in English.

I understand most of what Ikeda Sense is doing. He will point out three steps in what he is doing. He is trying to be helpful. But often, I happen to know that inside those three steps are several other elements which are crucial elements in accomplishing what he just did. If you don't know that, you could be doing exactly what Ikeda Sensei had told you to do and still be wondering why your stuff wasn't working.

If you train with someone like Mike S or Dan H, just as an example, the level of detail in the explanation is so far and away more complete compared to what we routinely have gotten in Aikido that one starts to wonder how anyone actually got any good at all training the way we have.

Only two things are required for pretty much everyone to be able to do what our teachers are doing. First, is teachers who understand what the "big guys" are doing. Mostly we don't have that. Second, they have to be able to explain it to others. Unfortunately that is a smaller subset still.

Training the way most of us have trained over the years and hoping to end up with the skills these folks have would be like the fifty million monkeys typing Shakespeare... might actually happen, but the operative concept is that the other four hundred ninety ninety million were typing gibberish. With decent explanation virtually any student on the mat at one of Ikeda Sensei's seminars could do any single thing he showed all weekend. With a real newbie it might take a half hour to get him to do a given technique or exercise and he certainly wouldn't be able to generalize off that success to apply the principle in other contexts. That does take years of practice. But what these teachers are doing is not magic and it can be taught and explained to pretty much anyone.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 01-09-2011, 08:45 PM   #23
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

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I have a personal perspective that many people drag out the process of learning these types of skills because they take the view that it takes a "long time" or "many years" to learn these types of skills. It often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Thanks Mike. No I don't plan for it to take me an eternity to learn as I already have a bit of a grasp on this sort of stuff. It's not far different from riding and training horses. But I think it will take a good bit longer than the 20 months I have been training in order to really be able to effectively use it. This sort of thing fascinates me so I am more than happy to spend an hour or two working on it in the dojo anytime sensei decides to do so. Luckily for me Garth Jones is my sensei and he does give this a fair bit of exploration in our classes.
 
Old 01-09-2011, 08:47 PM   #24
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Garth,
Sure... to be Shihan level, it takes every day practice for years. But to understand what is going on and do it in the controlled environment of practice, it should not take so long. The teaching methodology just hasn't been there.
Somehow I just deleted a reply to this post, George, so if I seem a bit terse, it's not because of you.

The problem with Aikido is that the internal skills of ki/kokyu happen to be an intrinsic part of the art. So, as Ushiro Sensei was fond of saying, no kokyu no Aikido. However, having kokyu skills is not Aikido. Someone like Ikeda Sensei has both some degree of kokyu skills and a good deal of Aikido skills, but I'd argue that basic kokyu skills can be had in a reasonable amount of time, not many years away.
Quote:
I understand most of what Ikeda Sense is doing.
In that case, you should be the one doing the explaining, George. Not me.
Quote:
If you train with someone like Mike S or Dan H, just as an example, the level of detail in the explanation is so far and away more complete compared to what we routinely have gotten in Aikido that one starts to wonder how anyone actually got any good at all training the way we have.
Well, I think a lot of the ki-related skills are just getting going and it's a fluid state. The only real worry I have is that a lot of people are going to be teaching "The Real Internal Strength" (tm) in the next few years. While it will be interesting for me as an outsider to watch, I'd urge everyone to be cautious because these skills are a lot more complex than most people realize at the moment and if you screw up you can not only get your cover blown pretty quickly, you can also do something much worse... lead a number of trusting students down the wrong road. So, I urge people to be careful, ask questions, and think hard.
Quote:
But what these teachers are doing is not magic and it can be taught and explained to pretty much anyone.
True, but Ikeda Sensei is only one of a number of teachers who will attempt to teach internal strength skills in the future and each teacher will have his own level of understanding and his own approach to teaching. At whatever level he's attempted to teach these things, Ikeda Sensei hasn't been fully successful in teaching what he knows so that should be a signal while these things *can* be taught, it can be difficult to do.

FWIW

Mike Sigman
 
Old 01-09-2011, 08:55 PM   #25
Mike Sigman
Location: Durango, CO
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Re: Ikeda Sensei Demos of Ki

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
No I don't plan for it to take me an eternity to learn as I already have a bit of a grasp on this sort of stuff. It's not far different from riding and training horses.
Then explain how I broke my collarbone a couple of years ago because I was dumb enough to try to re-rig my pancho behind my saddle while riding a skittish horse.
Quote:
Luckily for me Garth Jones is my sensei and he does give this a fair bit of exploration in our classes.
Well, then I think that Garth, and George L. and Lynn Seiser and all the teachers who understand these things should be openly breaking the internet trail on how to do these sorts of things. Think how helpful it would be to lay out how-to's for the people trying to get started on these intrinsic (to Aikido) skills.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Last edited by akiy : 01-10-2011 at 09:55 AM. Reason: Fixed quote tag
 

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