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Old 01-24-2011, 02:37 PM   #26
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
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Re: Breathing Practices

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
Didn't get to try that excercise just yet Marc. Knees were way to stiff and sore to sit seiza long enough to give it a try last night. I will not forget though to give it a try when they are a little more limber.
Cherie:

I can empathize with you, after having had two knees scoped! Try sitting with your legs crossed or in a straight-back chair. The purpose is to connect the breathing with your body, without voluntary muscle contractions (beyond the control of the diaphragm).

Regards,

marc abrams
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Old 01-24-2011, 02:45 PM   #27
Shadowfax
 
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Re: Breathing Practices

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Cherie:

I can empathize with you, after having had two knees scoped! Try sitting with your legs crossed or in a straight-back chair. The purpose is to connect the breathing with your body, without voluntary muscle contractions (beyond the control of the diaphragm).

Regards,

marc abrams
Thanks Marc. I had been wondering if the excercise could be done either in a chair or cross legged. Ive had knee issues for years (horse related damage) but the severe meniscus sprain in September pretty near did them in. I have good days and bad ones. Sunday was one of the bad ones. All this intense cold weatehr isn't helping matters.

I have been practicing the breathing at home without the human partner for the moment until I can get with someone to work on it with.
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Old 01-24-2011, 11:41 PM   #28
oisin bourke
 
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Re: Breathing Practices

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
well....

Just sit quietly and breath. First breath out through your nose then try through your mouth. What I notice is when I breath out through my mouth my shoulders relax down and back and my body feels relaxed I feel my center drop lower and get heavy, but when I breath out through my nose they actually rise up and forward and I feel tension in my body I feel as if I have lost connection to the earth.

At the moment I can't explain further but seems to me that One helps to make me even more grounded and centered while the other lifts me up and makes me unbalanced...

Am I anywhere near close?
I dunno

Here's my take on it though. Do with it as you will.

Two things that exhaling via the mouth helps with is:

It helps align the skull and the jawbone with the spine, helping to take tension from the upper body. Try to feel the breath as it passes through your mouth and over your tongue.

By tightening the lips, you can utilise muscles aound the mouth which feel to me to have some connection with muscles in the lower body.

This is all very tricky to get on one's own, and, following Marc's comments, one has to be careful not to tense the wrong muscles.
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Old 02-19-2011, 09:44 AM   #29
Byron Foster
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Re: Breathing Practices

Interesting thread here. A few questions about breathing.

Assuming I learn some "correct IP" breathing techniques, will my Aikido automatically and quickly get better, or are these breathing techniques and their technical manifestations something that will take years of practice to get anywhere with?

When we talk about breathing, are talking about breathing, or are we taking about consciously integrating fascia and muscle control along with posture and alignment? Is controlled breathing just the way to achieve improved total body control and the diagram pumping up and down really just secondary?

Are their different types of breathing? Do different Aikido techniques require a different breathing technique? So, do I need to find and practice a certain breathing/control technique for kokyu-dosa that will be different from the one I need for sawari-waza ikkyo or iriminage?

I think we have all seen some high level Aikido practioners perform some amazing stuff, effortlessly throwing someone twice their weight across the room, and yet they do not talk about internal power beyond the vague breath/relax/use-your-center mantra. So, if they never practiced the breathing as it is being discussed here, how did they get so good? Did they unconsciously find their way up the same mountain, learning how to control the proper lines of tension and relaxation with a brute force years of constant practice approach? So if they can get their without I.P., can I?

What is exactly the breathing/I.P. thesis? Is it:

A: To truly learn "aiki", you have to learn I.P. and practice the solo breathing exercises?

B: Much of modern Aikido is just blending and twisting a joint, and there is often no real power behind the technique. This true aiki power has been missing because the I.P/breathing component of aikido has been forgotten or not passed down.

C: After about 20 years of practice, you can get reasonable power and proficiency practicing standard aikido without paying much attention to IP/breathing as it is being discussed here. But if you did study I.P./Breathing, then maybe you can reach the same level of technical prowess in maybe 5-8 years of training.

These threads and discussions have been going on for a while, so maybe all of these questions have already been answered multiple times. I am just playing catch-up.

Thanks,
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:01 AM   #30
Keith Larman
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Re: Breathing Practices

Okay, here's my question.

Does the specialized breathing methdology itself "affect" the internal connection *or* does it simply allow for a sort of internal feedback that allows you to sense and therefore maintain the "internal connection"?

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Old 02-19-2011, 11:17 AM   #31
Mike Sigman
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Re: Breathing Practices

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Okay, here's my question.

Does the specialized breathing methdology itself "affect" the internal connection *or* does it simply allow for a sort of internal feedback that allows you to sense and therefore maintain the "internal connection"?
It "affects" the internal connection (i.e., conditions it), although of course it could be argued that there is also an unavoidable bit of feedback also. But you open a can of worms when you get into this discussion. You want to be careful that you're conditioning the right parts and not the muscular-tension parts (which is what far too many people do when they think they have discovered "breath training"). In other words there's a trick to getting hold of and conditioning the right things. Although Tohei and Ueshiba were careful to delineate this problem by insisting on very relaxed breathing practices, my personal opinion is that they would have helped a lot more people if they'd been further explicit than just saying "relax". That's pretty reminiscent of all the people who wound up doing bogus Taiji because their Chinese teachers just kept saying "relax", but didn't tell them any of the other important details.

If you want to draw power from the 'relaxed' breath training, there still has to be some way of generating power and that comes down to using the hara for controls and to having the whole-body connection getting stronger through proper exercises and the concurrent use of "kokyu" throughout the body. Kokyu, hara, ki/breath/suit, all together is not really a difficult idea to conceptually grasp, but to implement it is pretty hard because it means changing the way the body moves and breathes. Well, of course I referring to the traditional system that Ueshiba seemed to subscribe to, not other approaches.

2 cents.

Mike
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Old 02-19-2011, 09:21 PM   #32
oisin bourke
 
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Re: Breathing Practices

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
It "affects" the internal connection (i.e., conditions it), although of course it could be argued that there is also an unavoidable bit of feedback also. But you open a can of worms when you get into this discussion. You want to be careful that you're conditioning the right parts and not the muscular-tension parts (which is what far too many people do when they think they have discovered "breath training"). In other words there's a trick to getting hold of and conditioning the right things. Although Tohei and Ueshiba were careful to delineate this problem by insisting on very relaxed breathing practices, my personal opinion is that they would have helped a lot more people if they'd been further explicit than just saying "relax". That's pretty reminiscent of all the people who wound up doing bogus Taiji because their Chinese teachers just kept saying "relax", but didn't tell them any of the other important details.

If you want to draw power from the 'relaxed' breath training, there still has to be some way of generating power and that comes down to using the hara for controls and to having the whole-body connection getting stronger through proper exercises and the concurrent use of "kokyu" throughout the body. Kokyu, hara, ki/breath/suit, all together is not really a difficult idea to conceptually grasp, but to implement it is pretty hard because it means changing the way the body moves and breathes. Well, of course I referring to the traditional system that Ueshiba seemed to subscribe to, not other approaches.

2 cents.

Mike
Mike, what's your opinion on using the breath for conditioning while in seiza compared to other postures?
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Old 02-19-2011, 09:49 PM   #33
Mike Sigman
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Re: Breathing Practices

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Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
Mike, what's your opinion on using the breath for conditioning while in seiza compared to other postures?
There's a valid use of seiza and sitting for breathing techniques, but usually when someone is doing seiza or sitting, they're indicating that they're adding a deliberate mind-calming aspect to the breathing aspect. The point is that the CNS gets something from the mind-calming aspect. Seiza and sitting are usually "for health".

You can add mind-calming to a standing breathing technique.... that's generally considered to be a "for health" practice, too. If I had a personal choice, I'd always prefer the standing version because you also work the legs that way.

If you do a more purely "for martial" version, you're using prolonged 'intent' and that's not the same thing as mind-calming (obviously), but there is focus in both of them, intent or mind-calming.

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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Old 02-20-2011, 08:53 AM   #34
Marc Abrams
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Re: Breathing Practices

Oisin:

I think that we are lucky to come from traditions that place a strong emphasis on seiza and moving from seiza. The "simple" act of proper structural alignment in seiza is a great starting point. Sit in a bad seiza and monitor your breathing. Sit in good seiza a monitor your breathing.... Enormous difference. We can feel the effects that good posture in seiza has in our ability to breath. If you are in good seiza, play with messing up your breathing and having people test your stability in seiza. It is a great drill for becoming aware of how breathing conditions our structure. Adding mental intent to the breathing, along with basic movements is the next additive step that I use. Ushiro Sensei brilliantly demonstrates that when he teaches how to execute a rei with all of these aspects. You can have a person stand on your back with both of your hands in the air, out to your sides in the bowed position. Rising from seiza with a person pushing as hard as they can, directly down on your shoulders is a great exercise to integrate structure, breathing, intent and movement together.

It's a blast going back and always "relearning" these simple "basics" that are so easy to take for granted. I may be able to swing by this Oct/Nov.. Will be near Tokyo in June, but I am not sure if my wife and I will be able to sneak away for a couple of days up your way. Will let you know soon.

Regards,

Marc Abrams
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Old 02-20-2011, 11:17 AM   #35
oisin bourke
 
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Re: Breathing Practices

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Oisin:

I think that we are lucky to come from traditions that place a strong emphasis on seiza and moving from seiza. The "simple" act of proper structural alignment in seiza is a great starting point. Sit in a bad seiza and monitor your breathing. Sit in good seiza a monitor your breathing.... Enormous difference. We can feel the effects that good posture in seiza has in our ability to breath. If you are in good seiza, play with messing up your breathing and having people test your stability in seiza. It is a great drill for becoming aware of how breathing conditions our structure. Adding mental intent to the breathing, along with basic movements is the next additive step that I use. Ushiro Sensei brilliantly demonstrates that when he teaches how to execute a rei with all of these aspects. You can have a person stand on your back with both of your hands in the air, out to your sides in the bowed position. Rising from seiza with a person pushing as hard as they can, directly down on your shoulders is a great exercise to integrate structure, breathing, intent and movement together.

It's a blast going back and always "relearning" these simple "basics" that are so easy to take for granted. I may be able to swing by this Oct/Nov.. Will be near Tokyo in June, but I am not sure if my wife and I will be able to sneak away for a couple of days up your way. Will let you know soon.

Regards,

Marc Abrams
I agree with you Mark. When I first tried the breathing/pressurizing exercises mentioned earlier, I did them standing, as doing them in seiza for an extended period of time was brutal. However, seiza REALLY makes you develop the connection of the hips/lower back/inner legs/etc all the way down to the toes. It also helped me to align the head and neck and open the solar plexus/diaphragm which in turn has allowed me to to work on the shoulder/diaphragm are as one unit.

As Mike mentioned, I'm sure standing postures develop the Hara/suit connection more completely, but standing also gives one greater opportunity to cheat(that's what I did ), so for the basics, in my experience, seiza is great conditioning.

Let me know if you can make it up North. October's a lovely time of year up here. Great food!

Regards
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Old 02-20-2011, 11:21 AM   #36
oisin bourke
 
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Re: Breathing Practices

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote: View Post

If you do a more purely "for martial" version, you're using prolonged 'intent' and that's not the same thing as mind-calming (obviously), but there is focus in both of them, intent or mind-calming.

FWIW

Mike Sigman
I wonder if this "intent" or "mind calming" relates to the fact that most Martial artists also pursued non"martial" practices such as calligraphy/dance/zazen/tea ceremony etc? Are they two aspects of the same thing?
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Old 02-21-2011, 08:30 AM   #37
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Re: Breathing Practices

Quote:
Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
Mike, what's your opinion on using the breath for conditioning while in seiza compared to other postures?
Early on I found that, due to the lower body being somewhat clamped off, I could feel the pressure buildup and manipulate it much easier than when standing. So it's probably a good starting point and it's possible that's why Tohei taught his breathing methods from this position. There are things that aren't going to get worked in seiza so eventually taking that practice to standing is pretty important.
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