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Old 01-24-2011, 11:54 AM   #26
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Why are you searching for internal strength? Why is it missing from your Aikido training? Why are you going outside your art to find it? When I read the threads about this training it makes me wonder what you are lacking that you have to go find it.
Once when I was joined in the conversation I was told I don't have it because one of my students doesn't have it. If you asked me about that student I would agree. His heart was not in it. Aikido training lets your inner strength out. You don't have to go to an expert to find it.
Aikido training for me is a whole practice…the development of correct feeling is just part of the process in becoming what Aikido is molding me into. Are you missing the point in your impatience to be the strongest person alive?
Mary
Well, I think the point varies based on individual values. On some level I agree you don't have to go to an expert to find out how to use what you already have. It does make a difference though. For the same reason we might go outside ourselves to train in Aikido might we go outside our Aikido to train in other versions of it, or other practices which fit well with it. The question to my mind is always one of individual purpose. It might not have much to do with anything missing so much as with recognizing complimentary sets of skills.
Speaking as someone who really tends to avoid power, I can see why people might be very concerned with developing "internal power." With that comes a degree of empowerment and healthfulness which can lend itself to a variety of life experiences. Some folks are probably more drawn to the power at the expense of other important subtleties, so I also think the questions you posed are important. I knew a lot of people growing up who typified that behavior, and I would agree with the idea that power, even lasting forms of it, is...fleeting; situational. As such I don't put much faith in it...on the whole, anyway. I've always tended toward concepts like "inner strength" because they helped me remain flexible in an often inflexible world. Still, i think "IP" is an important thing to consider because its usefulness is so widely applicable.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 01-24-2011, 12:10 PM   #27
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Stability, power generation, and stress on the body.
I don't think these are very relevant for the average aikido practitioner during practice. The implied health benefits, however... OTOH, one could also argue that similar health benefits are easier to gain in the gym.

Quote:
Not to mention the interesting effects that start to happen when interacting with a partner.
They don't really just happen out of themselves, do they?

Last edited by jss : 01-24-2011 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 01-24-2011, 12:19 PM   #28
Dave de Vos
 
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

I don't feel that aikido is lacking. My aikido is surely lacking, but I am just a beginner, so I don't worry about that. I just admire the skill of my sempai and sensei and I hope that some day I will be as skillful as they are.

But I'd like my solo training to be effective in conditioning my body for aikido. From different sources I understand that muscle training would not do my aikido much good, so I've just been doing the warming up and stretching exercises we do at the beginning of a class.

Then I read about IS here on AikiWeb and my curiosity was aroused. From further reading, I understand that it is not a martial art in itself. It's a way of conditioning the body, like weight training, yoga or Ki exercises. But IS conditioning could be more effective for aikido than other conditioning exercises.

I just want to find out for myself if IS exercises are indeed what I am looking for.

Last edited by Dave de Vos : 01-24-2011 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 01-24-2011, 12:19 PM   #29
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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Joep Schuurkes wrote: View Post
I don't think these are very relevant for the average aikido practitioner during practice.
Really? Stability doesn't matter in your practice? Ability to absorb/channel mechanical stress isn't important to you? Okay...

Katherine
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Old 01-24-2011, 12:29 PM   #30
Chris Li
 
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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Joep Schuurkes wrote: View Post
I don't think these are very relevant for the average aikido practitioner during practice. The implied health benefits, however... OTOH, one could also argue that similar health benefits are easier to gain in the gym.
Stability isn't important during practice? I think that most Aikido people really underestimate how unstable they are, and how much stress it puts on their body.

The "better in the gym" argument is, for me, a pointless argument. It would be better for my flexibility to do ballet - but I don't do ballet.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-24-2011, 12:57 PM   #31
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
Really? Stability doesn't matter in your practice? Ability to absorb/channel mechanical stress isn't important to you? Okay...
Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Stability isn't important during practice?
That's not what I said. I did suggest however that to the average hobby Aikido practicioner the superior stability, power generation and stress channeling/absorption one can gain through internal training aren't of that much use. Of much more use is what happens when you can redirect forces with little to no overt movement.

Quote:
I think that most Aikido people really underestimate how unstable they are, and how much stress it puts on their body.

The "better in the gym" argument is, for me, a pointless argument. It would be better for my flexibility to do ballet - but I don't do ballet.
Fair enough.
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Old 01-24-2011, 01:01 PM   #32
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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Joep Schuurkes wrote: View Post
That's not what I said. I did suggest however that to the average hobby Aikido practicioner the superior stability, power generation and stress channeling/absorption one can gain through internal training aren't of that much use. Of much more use is what happens when you can redirect forces with little to no overt movement.
Except you don't get one without the other. At least as I understand it, the stable platform is the literal foundation for everything else that internal training does.

FWIW, I agree with Christopher that most people aren't as stable as they think.

Katherine
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Old 01-24-2011, 01:26 PM   #33
Chris Li
 
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
Except you don't get one without the other. At least as I understand it, the stable platform is the literal foundation for everything else that internal training does.
I agree . Anyway, both would rate pretty highly for me!

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-24-2011, 01:43 PM   #34
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

I don't know if "searching" applies to me, maybe pursuing? Basically, I really, really like aikido. Perhaps because it continues to astound (and frustrate) me. And I'm willing to go to great lengths to continue to be astounded (and frustrated). I just really like it. I was curious (I enjoy being curious) about all this IS stuff. I was recently fortunate enough to be able to experience a tiny taste of it and I was astounded. And for me, it is just highly enjoyable to pursue the astounding. Just me.

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Old 01-24-2011, 01:47 PM   #35
Diana Frese
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

This is a long thread, a great thread, and a lot of posts today, so I feel like jumping in now, but will re read all the posts. It is worth it.

I like the topic of balance, and of other arts, because this is how it happened for me. I will have to re read the difference between inner strength and internal strength, however.

Other black belts entered the area, and in practicing with them, I found I needed to work on balance because the speed of the practice left me feeling as if I wasn't keeping up.

I already had exercises for balance in the classes I taught but found I needed more.

I ended up in a cultural exchange with a neighbor I met at the Y where I was teaching, he was trying out Aikido which his teacher of Shotokan karate had also taught and thus he had heard about it and was curious.

At first I thought the Shotokan kata (in this case Bassai, "storming a fortress" ) he showed us looked rather fierce and when he offered to teach some karate at a backyard practice one of my students was hosting, I made some polite comment but didn't think I would be interested in one of the "striking arts'

Anyway, too long of a story for now, except to say, I ended up a gofer for his carpentry company after taking Shotokan from some of his friends and their teacher, since it looked to be what I needed to improve my balance.

Then he agreed to teach locally. This was about thirty years ago, but at the time when anyone asked me, I said, well Joe Namath the football player took ballet to improve his football....so?

To make a long story short, often you find out what you need and in previously unexpected places. And you get things you didn't expect, like nineteen beautiful kata (no I haven't tried them all but I have seen most of them performed)

Since my friend and I eventually got married and I'm planning on training again will let you know, as Aikido for sure and maybe Shotokan too.

I guess the point of my post is, if you look around you can find what you need. This will infuriate some, especially those who believe it is important to be goal oriented, but it has worked for me.

Maybe I was indeed goal oriented because I knew what I lacked in terms of training. Yes I have missed training with Aikido, and Karate friends for years, but after non martial arts injuries job concerns various family obligations etc etc. it is probably time to train again, and thanks to all who have been encouraging me to re start.
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Old 01-24-2011, 03:11 PM   #36
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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Stephen Trinkle wrote: View Post
I don't know if "searching" applies to me, maybe pursuing? Basically, I really, really like aikido. Perhaps because it continues to astound (and frustrate) me. And I'm willing to go to great lengths to continue to be astounded (and frustrated). I just really like it. I was curious (I enjoy being curious) about all this IS stuff. I was recently fortunate enough to be able to experience a tiny taste of it and I was astounded. And for me, it is just highly enjoyable to pursue the astounding. Just me.
Hi Steve,

Glad we could help 'astound' you - keep hanging around and we will see how much more we can contribute to your further 'astounding'

Best
Greg
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Old 01-24-2011, 03:34 PM   #37
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

Wow...off I went to spend time with my grandson and lots of replies.
Ineteresting thoughts all....
To Shadowfax...it doesn't bother me.
To Chris: I needed to learn about self defense not internal strength.

To Mark:
I like the distictions between inner and internal.
Since those (Sumo and Judo) are contests, they will never happen for me. I will just continue to trust that my development of correct feeling is going as it should be.
I think there is plenty of internal strength development going on inside some Aikido dojos...You are welcome to visit ours.
Mary
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Old 01-24-2011, 03:36 PM   #38
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Why are you searching for internal strength? Why is it missing from your Aikido training? Why are you going outside your art to find it? When I read the threads about this training it makes me wonder what you are lacking that you have to go find it.
Once when I was joined in the conversation I was told I don't have it because one of my students doesn't have it. If you asked me about that student I would agree. His heart was not in it. Aikido training lets your inner strength out. You don't have to go to an expert to find it.
Aikido training for me is a whole practice…the development of correct feeling is just part of the process in becoming what Aikido is molding me into. Are you missing the point in your impatience to be the strongest person alive?
Mary
Because after 10 years of hard serious training there are folks that I cannot impose my will upon. Maybe IT/IP/IS/aiki is the missing factor. Maybe the pursuit is a pipe dream but the american way is to pursue the dream. The other options don't readily present themselves and doing nothing is not an option. For me the power to dominate must precede the enablement of the spiritual development of how best to use the power. Perhaps binging order to chaos is impossible but I want to do it anyway.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 01-24-2011, 03:39 PM   #39
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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Robert M Watson Jr wrote: View Post
Because after 10 years of hard serious training there are folks that I cannot impose my will upon.
Perhaps the desire to impose your will is the problem?

Katherine
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Old 01-24-2011, 03:44 PM   #40
Chris Li
 
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Wow...off I went to spend time with my grandson and lots of replies.
Ineteresting thoughts all....
To Shadowfax...it doesn't bother me.
To Chris: I needed to learn about self defense not internal strength.

To Mark:
I like the distictions between inner and internal.
Since those (Sumo and Judo) are contests, they will never happen for me. I will just continue to trust that my development of correct feeling is going as it should be.
I think there is plenty of internal strength development going on inside some Aikido dojos...You are welcome to visit ours.
Mary
Why would you think that they are incompatible? Anyway, I suspect that what you are talking about as internal strength development and what most of others are talking about as internal strength development are quite different.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-24-2011, 04:04 PM   #41
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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David Orange wrote: View Post
But aren't you guys in Tohei style? As far as I know, mainline aikido (aikikai) does not consider Tohei styl "real aikido" . Tohei added a lot of material that Ueshiba didn't include and aikikai took out a lot of what Ueshiba had.
Hi David -

Mary and I trace our lineage back to Tohei thru Maruyama Shuji sensei. I don't know what the Aikikai considers real Aikido and, to be truthful, I don't care. We learned Ki development as an integral part of our Aikido from Maruyama sensei and, though we are now organizationally independent, continue to teach it to our students.

Understand though, training to become relaxed and strong (correct feeling) is only a part of Aikido for us. We don't train solely to become the strongest people on the planet. We also don't judge people who choose to emphasize internal strength development as the core of their practice. Our view is that people are free to choose their own paths and we wish them well no matter the direction they take. We believe that Aikido should be inclusive in the extreme; a very large umbrella with room under it for the woo woos, the bone breakers and everyone in between.

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David Orange wrote: View Post
But even when you get to the supposed "mainline" aikido, you're still left to wonder how closely it relates to Morihei Ueshiba's art.
Ya know David, at the risk of being branded a heretic, I think if folks stopped trying so hard to become the next Ueshiba and concentrate on developing the Aikido that naturally emerges from their own practice they'd find that there's a lot more there than they think.

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David Orange wrote: View Post
So most places you go, it's very questionable that "the whole art" or "the real art" is even there.
Here'a a question for you: With all of Ueshiba's direct students internalizing only a portion of the teachings how do you even define "the whole art" or "the real art"?

[rampant supposition] I believe that Ueshiba really wanted Aikido to spread world wide. It's possible that he realized that if Aikido became a koryu like art that its dissemination would always remain limited and secretive. To prevent that from happening he purposely made sure that no one got the full monte as he understood it. That is to say the fracturing of Usehiba's Aikido into the convoluted tree of interpretations that exists today was planned from the outset in order to appeal to the widest possible audience. [/rampant supposition]

Best,

Ron

Last edited by RonRagusa : 01-24-2011 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 01-24-2011, 04:15 PM   #42
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

Hi Ron,

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
[rampant supposition] I believe that Ueshiba really wanted Aikido to spread world wide. It's possible that he realized that if Aikido became a koryu like art that its dissemination would always remain limited and secretive. To prevent that from happening he purposely made sure that no one got the full monte as he understood it. That is to say the fracturing of Usehiba's Aikido into the convoluted tree of interpretations that exists today was planned from the outset in order to appeal to the widest possible audience. [/rampant supposition]
You mean Morihei or Kisshomaru?

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Old 01-24-2011, 04:16 PM   #43
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Hi Ron,

You mean Morihei or Kisshomaru?
Morihei.
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Old 01-24-2011, 04:19 PM   #44
Janet Rosen
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
Perhaps the desire to impose your will is the problem?
You beat me to the answer....
I have trained in dojos where "imposing" technique on a partner was the norm ("here's how to do ikkyo when the attack isn't appropriate for it....") and it seems to me after some time that their approach really was based on muscling through no matter what.... which 1) isn't realistic for a little old lady like me and 2) isn't what I thought aikido was supposed to be about.
Rob I am NOT saying that your training is of that muscle type - but I also wonder about going in to train w/ the mindset of imposing will and wonder how that affects breathing, intent and body use versus a mindset of, say, "where does uke tell me he wants to go?" or "where can we go together?"

Janet Rosen
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Old 01-24-2011, 04:52 PM   #45
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
Perhaps the desire to impose your will is the problem?
Well, to equip your inner-self with the power to move the enemy according to your own will is the true Way of the Gods.

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Old 01-24-2011, 04:57 PM   #46
kewms
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Well, to equip your inner-self with the power to move the enemy according to your own will is the true Way of the Gods.
Maybe, but even Ueshiba didn't claim he could do it. (He claimed that he was merely manifesting the harmony of the universe.)

Katherine
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Old 01-24-2011, 05:03 PM   #47
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
To Mark:
I like the distictions between inner and internal.
Since those (Sumo and Judo) are contests, they will never happen for me. I will just continue to trust that my development of correct feeling is going as it should be.
I think there is plenty of internal strength development going on inside some Aikido dojos...You are welcome to visit ours.
Mary
Thank you, Mary. I may take you up on that offer when I'm in the area.

Mark
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Old 01-24-2011, 05:04 PM   #48
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

Being in harmony with the universe is manifested by having the power for imposing your will over the disharmoniuous enemy.

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Old 01-24-2011, 05:05 PM   #49
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

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Joep Schuurkes wrote: View Post
I did suggest however that to the average hobby Aikido practitioner the superior stability, power generation and stress channeling/absorption one can gain through internal training aren't of that much use. Of much more use is what happens when you can redirect forces with little to no overt movement.
Hi Joep,
Personally, I have come to the conclusion that everything starts with the platform. I am not saying that the emphasis needs to be on power development at the start or even that the kind of power the IP folks are talking about is necessary to be doing great Aikido. But the stable platform is simply the foundation of all technique, without it, waza is just a hollow shell with no content. It should be taught and developed from day one.

In my opinion, most of us have trained backwards. The emphasis in my training was overwhelmingly on movement and execution of whole technique. Static technique was important but overall probably wasn't more than 20% of the practice at most. For Sensei it was all about movement. And our daily training focused on whole waza the vast majority of the time. The very first technique I did after donning my brand new gi in class when I started was yokomenuchi shihonage. That's an absolutely crazymaking way to learn anything. Talented people may actually get some skills that way but it has to be the most inefficient way to do it I can think of.

My experience recently, after working with a variety of folks at the Aiki Expo, training in Daito Ryu, seeing how folks like Don Angier, Mike S, Dan H, Akuzawa, and others teach proper body mechanics, experiencing how Ikeda Sensei is trying to translate this stuff for Aikido folks, I have come to the conclusion that I should train my students quite differently.

I actually think that, at the beginning, we should do at least 50% paired static work designed for getting folks to understand connection, proper relaxation, and how to give direction to the energy of the connection without compromising ones own balance and structure and without tension. I think that another 20% should be learning and doing the various solo conditioning exercises that develop the structure to do this. And maybe 30% would be devoted to the various entries used in Aikido with the aim of being able to execute the same skills one can do in the static context from movement. I'd focus on the ability to get kuzushi from every attack we do and not worry much at all about lots of actual technique. Once people could adequately do all of the above, I would start adding waza.

Of course, I don't actually train my people this way. Why? Because I am responsible for teaching Aikido within a certain organization. This organization has a set of requirements wit recommended time in grade requirements etc. Were I to do what I am talking about, at the five year point at which everybody is supposed to have taken Shodan, my students wouldn't be able to pass the 3rd kyu test. I'd still be teaching them the component pieces of what I believe to be great Aikido. However, at the ten year mark, I think I'd have some folks that were better than I was at 20 years.

Another factor would be whether folks would be patient enough to put up with the idea that after five years or so they still would be able to do diddly martially. Folks always want to feel like they are moving towards some goal and that is difficult to see working in the manner I am suggesting. All the rapid change was at the end of the process in this manner rather than at the beginning as it was when I trained.

So, what I am actually doing is somewhat in between. I don't have the complete freedom to experiment... I do not wish to put my students completely our of kilter with the folks in the rest of the organization. Sensei expects that our people know certain things at a certain level of competency at a certain stage. But I think I may try my ideas out at some point in the future...

I think that it is important to recognize that there are more than one variation of "internal skills". The folks posting here, while undeniably extremely high level, do not represent the sum total of what is available out there. They simply represent a set of teachers who, quite generously, are open to working with people from arts not their own, and therefore offer easier access for Aikido folks.

It's a good idea to know as much about what is out there as possible and also to understand precisely what ones goals are for ones Aikido. Is Endo Sensei your idea of great Aikido? Because he does not put much emphasis on power at all. Is Chiba Sensei? Then I think internal power development would be crucial unless you are already someone with ridiculous physical power already. For me, Saotome Sensei represents the "Gold Standard". He certainly uses some subset of internal power skills to do what he does at 130 pounds but he'd be the first to admit he didn't have the kind of power O-Sensei had and that's what the IP guys are trying to convey.

I think Aikido folks should look at this stuff with a couple of consideration: a) I don't think anyone's Aikido wouldn't be improved by some work in this area b) introducing enough of this work to radically change your Aikido for the better isn't difficult; even a bit of experience can change everything you are doing for the better c) this work is trans stylistic. You can introduce this training into your routine and still execute any technique with the outer form required by whatever style you are following and finally, it is quite possible to do what i think is really fantastic Aikido without having the degree of skill in IP that is discussed here.

But "aiki" cannot be separated from internal skills. If one aspires to do Aikido that involves more than physical strength, then internal skills are required on some level. To me the baseline is can a 130 pound person do the kind of Aikido that the teacher is showing? Can a female student do it just as well as a male? Is it the kind of Aikido that can keep improving after age 50 or does it deteriorate as one loses standard physical strength with age.

For most of the Aikido out there, the answer would by no to most of those questions. For the Aikido that involves an understanding of "aiki" the answer would be yes to all of those questions. Internal skills are an important part of the "aiki" equation. I see no pint in doing what I did which was train my brains out for 25 years only to discover that there was another paradigm operating in what my teacher was doing. I think we might as well take the trouble to teach folks properly right from day one. It will be slower at the beginning but will keep people from wasting a lot of time later on.

On the other hand, if folks like the purely physical Aikido, then hit the weight room, get out the kettle bells, and build your structure to the nth degree. This is still just a series of choices folks make about what they want the end point to be in their training.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 01-24-2011, 05:06 PM   #50
kewms
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 920
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Re: Aikido training - Why are you searching for internal strength?

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Being in harmony with the universe is manifested by having the power for imposing your will over the disharmoniuous enemy.
*shrug* Maybe, but I haven't found that visualization particularly helpful.

Katherine
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