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Old 07-19-2011, 10:53 PM   #1
JW
 
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Why move from the center?

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Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
So instead of just blindly talking about "moving with your center", shouldn't some of the questioning/commentary be around the question of "why is moving from the middle an advantage"?
Most martial arts have seniors who talk about doing this. If they can do something awesome, they say "because I use this" and indicate the hara area. Why would that make any sense?

Some people use the hips to do something, others mean something else. Why would not using your arms or shoulders be an advantage?

My answer forthcoming but I didn't want to contribute to thread derailment so I wanted to start this first.
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Old 07-19-2011, 11:03 PM   #2
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Re: Why move from the center?

I'll start the ball rolling with a very simplistic answer. It's because there is more of it there to use, and it's where your centre of gravity is.

Taken as a whole, the bundle of muscles around your abdominal area are incredibly heavy and powerful. Why would you waste your time using the little muscles of your arms and legs without using the big ones around your centre? You can then use your arms and legs to channel the force that is being generated by the bigger and stronger muscles around your centre. This is why training methods that focus on core strength are becoming so popular in sport these days.

I'm sure there will be plenty of answers that talk about connection to the universe etc. and I am not denying the validity of all that as well. I will, however, defer to those with a better understanding of it than myself.
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Old 07-19-2011, 11:19 PM   #3
JW
 
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Re: Why move from the center?

Robin, good point about strong muscles near the middle.

My physics answer below. I know there are real physics folks on here, so I look forward to that.

The center of mass of an object is important. By exploring this descriptive feature, we can start to understand the importance of moving "from the center."

We can consider a zero-G scenerio for clarity, or we can talk about life on earth, which involves the considerations from the zero-G scenerio, plus issues having to do with balance in gravity. To keep the post length down, let's skip zero-G and get to the good stuff!

When an force is applied to an object, we can say 2 things happen. To predict/understand what happens, decompose the incoming force into 2 perpendicular vectors-- one is directly toward the object's center of mass (CoM) and one is thus exactly tangential to it.
[note I am talking about rigid objects. softness needs additional consideration]

One thing that happens is translation of the center of mass (depends on how much force is directly in line with the CoM). The second thing is rotation due to torque about the CoM (depends on magnitude of that tangential vector).

If I want to do something with my body, each muscle I use actually applies force to my body. Yes, the joint I tried to flex or extend will act as I intended-- but there will be a side effect. Lets say I flex my biceps to lift a coffee cup, and everything else is relaxed. Meaning I didn't move from my center. The cup will go up. What else will happen? My shoulder will be pulled slightly in a direction pretty much toward the elbow and cup. Depending on if I was reaching for a cup by my waist or a cup on a shelf above my head, my CoM may move to the side (translation). Almost certainly, there will be a torque about my center of mass. Both of these 2 side effects will have importance to me, in terms of not spilling my coffee as I fall over.

We have some software built in to take care of these issues-- they are called "Anticipatory Postural Adjustments" (APA), and they are learned. These corrections (pre-corrections?) allow a person to not move from their center, and still have a coffee to drink. I may pull using one of my obliques for instance, on the side opposite the coffee cup. The torque will be counteracted. Some hip action will stop the translation. So, both problems are counteracted.
In other words, I suck at getting coffee so I do more work than I need to, and things work out ok. Except that it was much harder than it needed to be (not just in terms of caloric output, but in terms of coordination skill and timing needs). And... it was much slower than it could have been. I still get the coffee, but in martial arts, a hundred milliseconds of lag on each thing I want to do can matter.

Torque depends on distance from center of mass (moment arm). This is getting long. But I hope it is clear what I am getting at-- there is a need for martial artists to move in a way that includes the whole body as a functional unit, rather than a bunch of parts that each need correction when you want to use one part.

Beyond this-- I have only talked about coordination. You don't need tanren-driven exercises for this, you just need skill practice. The reason is that we can make do with the muscles that are commonly used. I think "changing the body" has to do with saying "ok I am committed to moving a new way, let me develop some physical tools that are optimized for this type of being, instead of relying on this old body as it is."
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Old 07-20-2011, 02:20 AM   #4
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Re: Why move from the center?

When you move from the center your posture remains strong. It is much harder to throw you off balance. And when you must apply force it has the best focus/strength.
In addition it requires less energy, giving you more endurance.
To achieve this you will have to learn to use your body differently....
Techniques in Aikido help you to change.

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 07-20-2011, 07:17 AM   #5
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Re: Why move from the center?

Because it takes you out of your thinking brain into the instinctual part of you that your survival depends upon.
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Old 07-20-2011, 08:32 AM   #6
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Re: Why move from the center?

Efficiency, strength and balance.
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Old 07-20-2011, 09:18 AM   #7
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Re: Why move from the center?

One of several reasons is that you can't use the "Qi of Earth" if you route it up through your shoulder. You can't use the "Qi of Man" very well if you don't use the central control, but that's a complicated discussion and assumes a lot of background. The "Qi of Heaven".... well, that's an interesting thought with some ramifications.

2 cents.

Mike
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Old 07-20-2011, 09:25 AM   #8
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Re: Why move from the center?

There are a couple of reasons for this that aren't directly related to "results," i.e. they aren't strictly for the purpose of making technique effective.

First, students tend to use their upper body muscles to make techniques happen at first. By scolding them to move from their center - props to a teacher who can simply stand there unaffected by a young student who uses his or her muscles to make this point - you encourage them to think about using their body in a different way, to learn how to accomplish things without activating those outer muscles.

Second, we all know that the hara is where ki is collected and concentrated. Obviously we have all given up on Aikido practice as any way to build internal strength. But pretending for a moment that there is supposed to be a component of collecting and concentrating ki in the center, perhaps paired practice of generally spiral techniques can do that if you learn how to work from your center.

As far as effective technique goes, I've got two more thoughts for your consideration:

One, that regardless of whatever advantages you get by engaging core muscles and keeping your posture balanced, "moving from the center" also means that you are able to transfer power smoothly from one extent of your body to the other. In particular, from your feet and legs to your partner.

Second, regarding the OP's question about, why not just use the arm muscles? In a nutshell, you relay way too much information to your partner about what you are doing, while stopping the flow of information back into your nervous system. To use the arm muscles (actually, this is mostly the "outer" or "upper" arm muscles - from the forefinger to the bicep to the shoulder), you create tension that uke can feel. A lesser-trained uke will tense up and become more difficult to move. A better-trained uke will relax as you tense up, and disappear like smoke in your grasp. (So train with me if you want to feel the former.)
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Old 07-20-2011, 08:53 PM   #9
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Re: Why move from the center?

What everyone else said reiterated....
Our centre is the main power centre of the body(its got all the mass and the big muscle groups) and the primary connecter to the infinite power of the ground (via the ground reaction force) to the rest of the kinetic chain (linkages out to the point of power transfer). Like the handle of the whip it generates and passes on the power out through the linkages of the body in hopefully a co-ordinated way.

<disclaimer: big generalisation ahead> For traditional martial, that comes from a society where deductive science isn't available as a tool for explaining phenonema and a cultural belief in the 'hara', Move from the centre is a nice translation that works well with the many pedagogies of aikido, it spares the complexity of detail (cause there is enough of that in the busy work of the feet and hands from the kihon) yet can get the basic idea across.

dan

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Old 07-22-2011, 07:43 AM   #10
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Re: Why move from the center?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
One of several reasons is that you can't use the "Qi of Earth" if you route it up through your shoulder. You can't use the "Qi of Man" very well if you don't use the central control, but that's a complicated discussion and assumes a lot of background. The "Qi of Heaven".... well, that's an interesting thought with some ramifications.

2 cents.

Mike
Mike while we have had disucssions related to ten chi jin before on aikiweb, and I think I know what the ki of heaven (breath power and resultant conditioning?) is and the ki of earth (ground path controlled by the middle?), I don't remember hearing what the ki of man is. Is it the combination of both?

Any good places to look for information on that?
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Old 07-22-2011, 11:35 AM   #11
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Re: Why move from the center?

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Hunter Lonsberry wrote: View Post
Mike while we have had disucssions related to ten chi jin before on aikiweb, and I think I know what the ki of heaven (breath power and resultant conditioning?) is and the ki of earth (ground path controlled by the middle?), I don't remember hearing what the ki of man is. Is it the combination of both?

Any good places to look for information on that?
Well, without getting into the lengthy description (it's germane to this thread in a way, but off-topic to the specific discussion), let me point out that the Ten Chi Jin concept is core to internal strength in terms of the original "theory" (cosmology?). As part of that cosmology, the use of the hara/dantien/center got its inception in the literature. Of course the literature shouldn't be looked at as a description of some vague, quasi-religious maunderings... a lot of the descriptions, while sounding religious, were actually discussions of the body in relation to internal strength, in my opinion. In those days the function of the body and the function of the universe were considered to mirror each other.

Best,

Mike Sigman
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Old 07-22-2011, 02:50 PM   #12
JW
 
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Re: Why move from the center?

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Hunter Lonsberry wrote: View Post
I think I know what the ki of heaven (breath power and resultant conditioning?) is and the ki of earth (ground path controlled by the middle?), I don't remember hearing what the ki of man is. Is it the combination of both?
I'm surprised to hear it parsed that way. I hope I would be corrected if I am wrong but here's how I thought it meant:

Ki of heaven is "what heaven insists on" in other words, all masses move down with a force proportional to their mass.
Ki of earth is "what earth insists on" in other words, all force applied to the earth will be instantly and exactly matched.
Ki of man is that which is controlled by the intent. We use breath exercises to condition it, and some breath pressure to utilize it, but ultimately it links the body together and responds to intent. It's characteristic of being both fully distributed in the body and centrally linked allows it to be useful in "bridging heaven and earth through man."
What do you all think?
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Old 07-22-2011, 03:27 PM   #13
Mike Sigman
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Re: Why move from the center?

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Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
I'm surprised to hear it parsed that way. I hope I would be corrected if I am wrong but here's how I thought it meant:

Ki of heaven is "what heaven insists on" in other words, all masses move down with a force proportional to their mass.
Ki of earth is "what earth insists on" in other words, all force applied to the earth will be instantly and exactly matched.
Ki of man is that which is controlled by the intent. We use breath exercises to condition it, and some breath pressure to utilize it, but ultimately it links the body together and responds to intent. It's characteristic of being both fully distributed in the body and centrally linked allows it to be useful in "bridging heaven and earth through man."
What do you all think?
Close, but no cigar, is what I think, Jonathan. It's very easy to hear some of the terms related to internal strength and think we understand them, but as the classics point out, if you're off by an inch you will end up missing by a mile. There are a few terms that I've been watching (on various forums) develop in a direction that is way off-target in recent years and I'm waiting to see how it all goes. Generally what happens is that people wind up in a cul de sac from which there is no easy return because they've invested so much in changing their movements into a new, but wrong interpretation. So with the Ten Chi Jin idea, which is a very basic concept, I think it's important that people are clear on what it means and why.

2 cents.

Mike
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Old 07-22-2011, 03:41 PM   #14
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Re: Why move from the center?

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Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
I think it's important that people are clear on what it means and why.

2 cents.

Mike
so what does it mean then mike?
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Old 07-22-2011, 04:03 PM   #15
JW
 
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Re: Why move from the center?

Can I have one hint? Maybe, which parts are no cigar?
Thanks..
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Old 07-22-2011, 04:43 PM   #16
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Re: Why move from the center?

Why move from the center?

Conservation of energy.

Minimum effort, maximum results.

dps

Last edited by dps : 07-22-2011 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 07-22-2011, 06:11 PM   #17
graham christian
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Re: Why move from the center?

Because it's natural.
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Old 07-22-2011, 07:37 PM   #18
JW
 
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Re: Why move from the center?

I'm pretty sure on most people the quads and gluts are really strong, perhaps the strongest locomotory muscles. So although I think muscles near the center of mass are well-poised to bring the ground's upward push to where you want it, I am going to say I don't think they are especially "strong."
So I guess I don't like the "strong muscles" answer. I think the middle is important mostly by virtue of position, not strength. (Though you can find good strength there even before training)

Some questions..
David, why would moving from the center make your movements efficient? Lifting a coffee cup using the biceps is pretty efficient. Unless you were talking about the postural disruptions I mentioned.

Graham, why would anyone have to learn it if it is natural?

Mike, unless you (or anyone else) have some reason for saying my explanation of ki of ten, chi, jin is wrong, I think it is right. Ten means the downward push of gravity, chi means the grf, and jin means the aspect of your body that is controlled by intent. (Though it wasn't clear if this basic breakdown is what was "close but no cigar.")

I think that by connecting those three things (2 aspects of universal intent and your own intent), you will be in a special state. What I feel as my "center" when I try to "move from my center" is a percept that did not exist for me before, back when I didn't exercise with consideration about "heaven and earth."
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Old 07-22-2011, 07:58 PM   #19
graham christian
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Re: Why move from the center?

[/quote] Graham, why would anyone have to learn it if it is natural?[quote]

Jonathan.
Simply put? Because we have forgotten how to be natural.
We've become 'normal'

Too much thinking. Thinking makes you move from the head. The stress of thinking and worry makes you tight and thus awkward in movement.

Thus you may understand the where the sayings to do with the mind in the stomach or abdomen or hara etc come from.

Put your mind in centre and already you will feel better and your head freer. Have your mind in stillness in centre and it feels silly to move from anywhere else. It feels too natural.

Regards.G.
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:07 PM   #20
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Re: Why move from the center?

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
I'm pretty sure on most people the quads and gluts are really strong, perhaps the strongest locomotory muscles. So although I think muscles near the center of mass are well-poised to bring the ground's upward push to where you want it, I am going to say I don't think they are especially "strong."
So I guess I don't like the "strong muscles" answer. I think the middle is important mostly by virtue of position, not strength. (Though you can find good strength there even before training)

Some questions..
David, why would moving from the center make your movements efficient? Lifting a coffee cup using the biceps is pretty efficient. Unless you were talking about the postural disruptions I mentioned.

Graham, why would anyone have to learn it if it is natural?

Mike, unless you (or anyone else) have some reason for saying my explanation of ki of ten, chi, jin is wrong, I think it is right. Ten means the downward push of gravity, chi means the grf, and jin means the aspect of your body that is controlled by intent. (Though it wasn't clear if this basic breakdown is what was "close but no cigar.")

I think that by connecting those three things (2 aspects of universal intent and your own intent), you will be in a special state. What I feel as my "center" when I try to "move from my center" is a percept that did not exist for me before, back when I didn't exercise with consideration about "heaven and earth."
Well, you also stated Heaven ki is gravity.
How is heaven Ki ...as gravity...going to help you much?
By leaning on and over the guy in free fall?
Is earth ki then as simple as standing up and extending your legs to push up?
Of course not. It's more complex, sophisticated and nuanced than that.
You might ask yourself ..
Where does heaven ki reside...in you?
Where does earth ki reside...in you?
In order to be manipulated by man?
How and where would that connection in-between work if it was as simple as forces outside of you where up is up and down is down?

Last edited by DH : 07-22-2011 at 10:16 PM.
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:22 PM   #21
Lee Salzman
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Re: Why move from the center?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
Close, but no cigar, is what I think, Jonathan. It's very easy to hear some of the terms related to internal strength and think we understand them, but as the classics point out, if you're off by an inch you will end up missing by a mile. There are a few terms that I've been watching (on various forums) develop in a direction that is way off-target in recent years and I'm waiting to see how it all goes. Generally what happens is that people wind up in a cul de sac from which there is no easy return because they've invested so much in changing their movements into a new, but wrong interpretation. So with the Ten Chi Jin idea, which is a very basic concept, I think it's important that people are clear on what it means and why.

2 cents.

Mike
Mike, then, please, just come out and give an actual simple-stupid definition of what tenchijin is if you are of the belief that people are using the term wrong, need to be informed, and if it is central to your points. That's not meant to be a passive-aggressive swipe, I just mean that this discussion won't go anywhere good unless the exact reasons for your disagreement are pointed out.
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Old 07-23-2011, 01:35 AM   #22
JW
 
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Re: Why move from the center?

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Well, you also stated Heaven ki is gravity.
How is heaven Ki ...as gravity...going to help you much?
By leaning on and over the guy in free fall?
Is earth ki then as simple as standing up and extending your legs to push up?
Of course not. It's more complex, sophisticated and nuanced than that.
Hi Dan, yes I certainly wouldn't want to downplay the nuance/sophistication. One of my favorite references for the connection between the final, nuanced in-body application and the initial, simple, "dumb" natural source of the power in question (gravity in this case) is from you:

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
I do weapons. In one practice a fellow told me I was using too much muscle and cutting through him. You can imagine the look on my face. I simply said "No I'm not." he argued and decided to prove a point. He said "Cut" (in a prescribed fixed pattern at a point in kata, so your sword stops in the air) and when our swords met he pulled his sword away expecting me to pitch forward or my sword to go forward as he moved his resisting force out of the way. When he did that my sword just stayed in space.
...
Now I took over and said lets do it again. Now when he pulled away and I just stood there, I said "Okay, now slowly walk back in with your bokken connecting. When he did, his bokken and his body started to collapse under the weight emanating from me, when he backed off...I stood there...when he came back in slowly...collapse under the weight. Confused he just stared at it. Giving a little sarcasm back for the insult I said "It's called moving from da center.
My point.. just that the usefulness of gravity or ground for a martial artist goes beyond simple "normal" things like leaning on someone or lifting a car hood. How? By having these 2 universal intents plugged into a unified body, as in the quote here. Since it is the will of gravity combined with your will, it is like you can mentally control a little piece of gravity. It ends up being your center that you feel as being used because you are using your whole body.. that spot is your whole body, functionally. If you mentally control your weight and your GRF-- then you are "willing" your center of mass into places where it doesn't appear to be (and lo and behold, you get an effect on the other guy).

Using your center, right?

Anyway the more I type the more the words lose focus. If I keep typing, it will get to the point where even if I am right on in my understanding, it might sound like BS. Frustrating. OK good night all!
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Old 07-23-2011, 09:30 PM   #23
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Re: Why move from the center?

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
Most martial arts have seniors who talk about doing this. If they can do something awesome, they say "because I use this" and indicate the hara area. Why would that make any sense?

Some people use the hips to do something, others mean something else. Why would not using your arms or shoulders be an advantage?

My answer forthcoming but I didn't want to contribute to thread derailment so I wanted to start this first.
The Japanese were usually small statured people and had to learn to utlilise all of their body in a concentrated effort to be able to perform efficiently and effectively, especially in the martial arts field.
You will be very limited if you use the western concept of power, which is the top half of your body and brute force and strength. This can easily be stopped by a smaller person if they know how. If, on the other hand, you utilise the eastern method of power and strength, which is coming from the legs and hips, you will display incredible power and strength above what you should normally possess. There is of course a technique involved which takes time to master. Your legs hips and centre must move with your arms and hands aligned with your belly button. until you can get this all working in unison you will be easily stopped and probably prone to giving up. Do not give up, keep trying for this is the secret of amazing power with ease.
Paul
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I started my Aikido journey in the 70's, and I am still loving it.
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Old 07-24-2011, 12:29 AM   #24
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Re: Why move from the center?

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Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
Mike, then, please, just come out and give an actual simple-stupid definition of what tenchijin is if you are of the belief that people are using the term wrong, need to be informed, and if it is central to your points. That's not meant to be a passive-aggressive swipe, I just mean that this discussion won't go anywhere good unless the exact reasons for your disagreement are pointed out.
Lee, I'm away on a trip with my usual too-small laptop so I'll have to defer until I get home to a keyboard that doesn't seem to cause me to correct every other letter.

Best.

Mike
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Old 07-24-2011, 05:09 PM   #25
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Re: Why move from the center?

Hi Paul, if your answer can be summed up as "use your whole body and you will be stronger," then I can get behind that a bit. (Although, check out some of the other posts here regarding how there are different ways to do this.) But for my own practice, I am interested in aiki rather than being stronger.

Regarding hips.. I used to think highly of using hips to do things. I thought it was more "right" than using the shoulders. I've even been explicitly taught that.
Now, I see it differently. Who called the hips the "shoulders of the lower body?" Great point. And sounds like Lee's comments about Armsly and Legsly.
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