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Old 11-20-2011, 10:30 PM   #1
RonRagusa
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 624
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Two Hundred and Seven

I'm always finding new Aikido avenues to explore. Lately I've been experimenting with the idea that Ki extension must be accompanied by a relaxed body in order to be effective. The first time I had an inkling that this may not be quite the case was during a demonstration of weight underside. The exercise has 2 ukes, one on each side of nage, grasp nage's forearms and, together, try to lift nage off the floor. I usually demonstrate this exercise two ways. First with my arms held stiffly at my sides with elbows locked. My partners are able to lift me in that position. The second iteration I relax my body, especially my arms and shoulders, and as they lift I let their force circle around, without stopping at my shoulders, and feed it back to them in the form of downward pressure. My feet stay firmly planted on the mat.

As I have continued to practice this exercise I am noticing that it's getting more difficult for them to lift me even while I remain in the stiff armed position. After checking and confirming that I hadn't added 20 or 30 pounds of stealth weight I surmised that something else must be afoot.

I then began to practice the exercise totally stiff and found that I could indeed remain rooted to the mat with ease. To make things more difficult for myself I had my partners drop their centers below mine so they could lift from underneath my center of gravity using their legs and not their back muscles. Same result. In fact the downward force I feel is more evident and active from the stiff armed position. When they try to lift me my partners are literally driven to the mat by the force of their own energy.

I'm now experimenting with katate tori. I have my partner grab my wrist and push into my shoulder. I'm noticing that I can remain immovable regardless of my physical state, be it relaxed or stiff armed. I'll continue to explore this aspect of Ki development and application and most likely will have more to post about it in the future.

(Original blog post may be found here.)
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Old 11-21-2011, 10:13 AM   #2
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
Location: london
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 2,697
England
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Re: Two Hundred and Seven

Hi Ron. I suupose it depends on what you mean by stiff. As different to tight etc. As I see it it looks like you have answered any questions by your original statement that you are practising extending Ki.

I commented on this subject once before on your blog. There are many ways of doing this exercise and all effective.

This one you describe I would say is best described as when you push or send a lot of water through a hosepipe. It it'self becomes 'hard' yet the flow is powerful. Anyones energy going against merely joins the flow.

With regards to katate tori you can use it both ways no? With this you can hold the wrist or flow through and in effect hold the elbow or indeed hold the shoulder. With these holds the uke then has to relax to move efficiently. It's all good Ki training anyway. Good luck.

Regards.G.
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Old 11-21-2011, 01:30 PM   #3
RonRagusa
Location: Massachusetts
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Re: Two Hundred and Seven

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
Hi Ron. I suupose it depends on what you mean by stiff.
Hi Graham -

Stiff as in joints locked and muscles tensed, the very antithesis of how I was taught to carry myself when doing these exercises.

Best,

Ron

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Old 11-21-2011, 02:43 PM   #4
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
Location: london
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 2,697
England
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Re: Two Hundred and Seven

I see. I was just surprised that's all. For me doing it that way was the first way I learned and then got better at doing it whilst letting the arms go to any bent position.

Doing those old Ki tests as in Ki in daily life had similar things as I recall. For instance, laying between two chairs while people can sit on your stomach and yet the whole body doesn't bend is similar I would say. The legs are straight and joints locked and the back is straight also as well as the neck being stiff also.

Unbendable arm done from such also. Putting one arm out and having one person push your hand trying to push you backwards with all their might is another example where arm is locked and tense.

I used to call this straight Ki.

I'll be interested in your katate tori and usage in techniques. After being able to use it with your own body then I think you will find you can use it with the partners body and hence use their arm or leg as a sword or jo. All interesting. Happy hunting.

Regards.G.
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Old 11-21-2011, 03:45 PM   #5
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,219
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Re: Two Hundred and Seven

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
I'm always finding new Aikido avenues to explore. Lately I've been experimenting with the idea that Ki extension must be accompanied by a relaxed body in order to be effective. The first time I had an inkling that this may not be quite the case was during a demonstration of weight underside. The exercise has 2 ukes, one on each side of nage, grasp nage's forearms and, together, try to lift nage off the floor. I usually demonstrate this exercise two ways. First with my arms held stiffly at my sides with elbows locked. My partners are able to lift me in that position. The second iteration I relax my body, especially my arms and shoulders, and as they lift I let their force circle around, without stopping at my shoulders, and feed it back to them in the form of downward pressure. My feet stay firmly planted on the mat.

As I have continued to practice this exercise I am noticing that it's getting more difficult for them to lift me even while I remain in the stiff armed position. After checking and confirming that I hadn't added 20 or 30 pounds of stealth weight I surmised that something else must be afoot.

I then began to practice the exercise totally stiff and found that I could indeed remain rooted to the mat with ease. To make things more difficult for myself I had my partners drop their centers below mine so they could lift from underneath my center of gravity using their legs and not their back muscles. Same result. In fact the downward force I feel is more evident and active from the stiff armed position. When they try to lift me my partners are literally driven to the mat by the force of their own energy.

I'm now experimenting with katate tori. I have my partner grab my wrist and push into my shoulder. I'm noticing that I can remain immovable regardless of my physical state, be it relaxed or stiff armed. I'll continue to explore this aspect of Ki development and application and most likely will have more to post about it in the future.

(Original blog post may be found here.)
Hi Ron,

interesting! at this point what do you surmise is afoot? From this far away I can't see or feel what is happening in your case, but I may hazard a guess that the mind/intent is greater than the state of the body. Your intent is overcoming the intent of the uke's, the body is secondary to the mind. You may also be more relaxed than you think, when you are playing at being stiff?? Let us know how your experimenting goes.

An interesting 'twist' on the lifting up exercise is this, when the two ukes have lifted you up into the air, start to think in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. Make no attempt to do anything else physically, just have a pure revolving thought/intent. You may be surprised by the result (the uke's certainly will).

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 11-21-2011, 03:58 PM   #6
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Re: Two Hundred and Seven

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
Unbendable arm done from such also. Putting one arm out and having one person push your hand trying to push you backwards with all their might is another example where arm is locked and tense.
Hi Graham,

the term 'unbendable' arm I have always thought is a misnaming of the mind body state that we look to achieve.

I know my unbendable arm is only unbendable to the person who is trying to bend it. It is totally bendable by me, even when they are doing all their huffing and puffing trying to bend it. It is not locked or tense, it might feel like it to them, but not to me. It goes where I choose it to go, not where they are trying to put it. If I was locked and tense, I would not be free to move.

All of these states are easy to demonstrate, as with Ron's ki exercise above. Never so easy to write about.

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 11-21-2011, 06:58 PM   #7
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
Location: london
Join Date: Oct 2010
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England
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Re: Two Hundred and Seven

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote: View Post
Hi Graham,

the term 'unbendable' arm I have always thought is a misnaming of the mind body state that we look to achieve.

I know my unbendable arm is only unbendable to the person who is trying to bend it. It is totally bendable by me, even when they are doing all their huffing and puffing trying to bend it. It is not locked or tense, it might feel like it to them, but not to me. It goes where I choose it to go, not where they are trying to put it. If I was locked and tense, I would not be free to move.

All of these states are easy to demonstrate, as with Ron's ki exercise above. Never so easy to write about.

regards,

Mark
I agree. My point was that you can lock the joints and still it will work also. That's what Ron was practising, locking joints and tensing yet still having it work.

Of course it will impede your freedom to move done this way but he is saying he had never done it this way before and was surprised it worked. I would say it's less efficient when movement is concerned and also not as fluid. As I said, I used to call it straight Ki and as such found uses for it, especially when using hand as a spear for example or even a finger come to that.

Regards.G.
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Old 11-21-2011, 09:59 PM   #8
RonRagusa
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 624
United_States
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Re: Two Hundred and Seven

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote: View Post
interesting! at this point what do you surmise is afoot? From this far away I can't see or feel what is happening in your case, but I may hazard a guess that the mind/intent is greater than the state of the body. Your intent is overcoming the intent of the uke's, the body is secondary to the mind. You may also be more relaxed than you think, when you are playing at being stiff?? Let us know how your experimenting goes.

An interesting 'twist' on the lifting up exercise is this, when the two ukes have lifted you up into the air, start to think in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. Make no attempt to do anything else physically, just have a pure revolving thought/intent. You may be surprised by the result (the uke's certainly will).

regards,

Mark
Hi Mark -

I'm thinking that the mind/body connection that gives rise to correct feeling runs much deeper than I have heretofore experienced. I can still perform the exercises "incorrectly", that is without coordination of mind and body, just using muscle to resist, and the results are always me being moved by my partner or lifted by my partners. To be honest, I'd never considered that I could maintain correct feeling in a state of physical tension. But having experienced just that has caused me to rethink just what it means to be relaxed.

When I practice the lifting exercise "relaxed" with mind and body coordinated my partners simply can't lift me. When, however, I practice the exercise in tension with mind and body coordinated they are repelled in a direction opposite to their applied force as soon as they begin to lift. The same holds true for the katate tori exercise. In relaxed mode my partner is drawn in and just stops as though encountering a barrier. In tense mode my partner is moved backward on contact. I haven't tried this with any of the other Ki development exercises we practice to strengthen correct feeling. Perhaps when you stop over on your world tour I'll have added one or two more.

I'll give the twister version of the lifting exercise a shot, sounds interesting.

Best,

Ron

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Old 11-21-2011, 10:03 PM   #9
RonRagusa
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 624
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Re: Two Hundred and Seven

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
I would say it's less efficient when movement is concerned and also not as fluid.
Hi Graham -

The kind of tension I'm talking about precludes motion. If I were able to move in that state I'd make Frankenstein's monster look like a prima ballerina on a good day.

Best,

Ron

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Old 11-22-2011, 11:55 AM   #10
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
Location: london
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 2,697
England
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Re: Two Hundred and Seven

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Hi Graham -

The kind of tension I'm talking about precludes motion. If I were able to move in that state I'd make Frankenstein's monster look like a prima ballerina on a good day.

Best,

Ron
Ha, ha. That's what I was thinking but chose to put it in a polite way.

I would even suggest that even though you are tense body wise, because of your training you are still receiving and giving back, thus it is validating your ability.

Regards.G.
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