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Old 02-11-2013, 04:30 PM   #1
Dan Richards
 
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Tuning the "skin" video

This is a quick, informal video to go beyond just what I can write. And also to formulate these ideas more concretely.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGt0AqFd0j8

I've got some notes on this concept at http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22306

Feedback appreciated. Cheers...

Dan Richards - Aiki Research

"Budo must always reflect its surroundings. If it isn't newer and stronger, it isn't valid." - Shoji Nishio
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Old 02-11-2013, 05:11 PM   #2
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Re: Tuning the "skin" video

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
This is a quick, informal video to go beyond just what I can write. And also to formulate these ideas more concretely.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGt0AqFd0j8

I've got some notes on this concept at http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22306

Feedback appreciated. Cheers...
I couldn't see the video.

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Old 02-11-2013, 05:20 PM   #3
Dan Richards
 
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Re: Tuning the "skin" video

Ah, must have been waiting to publish. Try it now, Chris. Thanks

Dan Richards - Aiki Research

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Old 02-11-2013, 05:23 PM   #4
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Re: Tuning the "skin" video

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Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Ah, must have been waiting to publish. Try it now, Chris. Thanks
Nope, says it's a private video.

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Old 02-11-2013, 05:39 PM   #5
Dan Richards
 
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Re: Tuning the "skin" video

LOL. Hey, thanks for spottin' me. Try it now.

Dan Richards - Aiki Research

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Old 02-11-2013, 11:21 PM   #6
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Re: Tuning the "skin" video

Yeah, I was able to watch it.

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Old 02-12-2013, 09:29 AM   #7
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Re: Tuning the "skin" video

Dan, I *really* appreciate that you have had the courage to make a video of something you are working on. With few exceptions, this step has been enough to unman nearly everyone else involved in the internal training discussion. I understand their concern. I am of several minds on the things I am interested in routinely, and would not relish having a video record of me demonstrating a partial understanding of something floating around the internet forever. That said, there is value in sharing how you are getting somewhere. Being willing to show something unfinished speaks to the quality of your character.

Last edited by bkedelen : 02-12-2013 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:54 AM   #8
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Re: Tuning the "skin" video

Hi Dan - I couldn't listen to the audio for some reason, but a few comments on what I saw. Structurally, I like the starting point you've chosen as it does help to enable the stretch of the skin and emphasize the rooting of the feet and lengthening of the spine. However, I think there's points where you're breaking the connection of hands/middle/feet - which will have the effect of disrupting the skin stretch. Since I couldn't hear the audio, not sure where you're bringing breath or air into the equation, but that along with posture certainly help the initial stretching. When you have those things all triggered together, you get into the "one part moves, all parts move" gambit and can better self-check that you don't have any wrinkles in the skin drum

Nice starting point of discussion, though.
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Old 02-12-2013, 11:16 AM   #9
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Re: Tuning the "skin" video

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Benjamin Edelen wrote: View Post
Dan, I *really* appreciate that you have had the courage to make a video of something you are working on.
I second this.

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Old 02-12-2013, 06:09 PM   #10
Dan Richards
 
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Re: Tuning the "skin" video

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
Hi Dan - I couldn't listen to the audio for some reason, but a few comments on what I saw. Structurally, I like the starting point you've chosen as it does help to enable the stretch of the skin and emphasize the rooting of the feet and lengthening of the spine.
Excellent! And thanks, Budd. So, even without hearing what I was talking about; you got it! Just the idea - the mental imagery of The Skin as Structure. That's all I wanted to get across. I wasn't trying to show how to "play" the drum or "move" the drum - just to introduce the idea that tuning the skin will inherently create the structure.. And my attention was on quite a few things at once. And it's good that you were able to see all the "typos," so to speak. The errors. There's a number of them in there, and I wanted to leave them there - because if people can spot where the skin is "tuned" and where it's not, then we can immediately spot where the structure is integrated and where it's not. And if you can do that looking at me, and sense it, then you can do it with your own skin your own structure.

And that gives us all I was looking for. A starting point. : )

Dan Richards - Aiki Research

"Budo must always reflect its surroundings. If it isn't newer and stronger, it isn't valid." - Shoji Nishio
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:58 PM   #11
Dan Richards
 
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Re: Tuning the "skin" video

Benjamin, thanks so much for your words, and your contribution to this creation, as it gives us all something to work with. I like your term "partial understanding," because it's really relative. Even Ueshiba has loads of videos available that show him at various levels of "partial understanding."

And my video wasn't a "work," per se. It was me throwing out some sketchwork and having the desire to create a starting point from which something can be created. And that "something" is a way for us to discover a language in which to work, create, play, share, and grow.

We have to understand something about "power." The average teenager today - with access to the internet and a credit card - has more power available to them than all the kings and queens of civilizations past. We have far more power available to us than the founders of aikido did. And, in fact, it is our very power that will empower them even more.

M. Ueshiba learned, and was taught, in an age of largely one-to-one communication. Then the age of one-to-many came about over time, and largely through media. His son, K. Ueshiba, and Tohei were largely responsible for the one-to-many model and the growth of Aikikai and Ki Society, respectively, as well as the founding of "branch" schools by other direct students.

We have entered an age of many-to-many communication. A new level of "structure." And, as such, we are discovering that the very institutions, hierarchies, and power structures that were once effective, trusted, and supportive - are becoming irrelevant. The pyramids of power - by their own design - are collapsing under their own weight.

To be honest here, I started training at NY Aikikai under Yamada many years ago. And I've got to say that for many years after, I didn't like him. I didn't like the "power structure." But Yamada's really been receptive to the "turning of the tide." He's started his own organization. He's also speaking out on things such as belts and dan grades, politics, and how the internal structure of aikido - where it was once supportive - can not longer support aikido. Aikido has grown, and by definition, now requires a structure that allows for more freedom, more autonomy - more power.

Which sort of gets us back to "skin as structure." M. Ueshiba was the architect. K. Ueshiba was the engineer. The direct students were the builders who constructed the building. And we have reached a phase not only in aikido - but in our civilization - where the scaffolding is being removed. Interestingly enough, if you want to look at power, look at what Stanley Pranin has done. He has, as an historian, nearly single-handedly exposed and dismantled the old power structure - for all of us to see. It's not that there was anything wrong with the "old" power structure at the time. But we are all moving to a new level. He's also been responsible for bringing more aikidoka together than anyone else.

In the new many-to-many model, Stanley Pranin is the Toto in the Wizard of Oz, who pulls the curtain away, to expose, not a powerful being who rules through fear, deception, and smoke and mirrors - but a simple man - with his own frailties, imperfections, and "partial understandings." Stanely Pranin has pulled the curtain back to show us ourselves.

And believe me. Ueshiba wanted us to see that. Because, even today, Ueshiba has a greater understanding.

Aikido to me is not a "path" but a process to greater understanding. And, by design, will always contain segments of "partial understanding." Perfect understanding, while we get glimpses of it, will ever remain a blueprint rather than a final destination. Aikido, like enlightenment, and even love, is not a destination, but an ongoing process. In fact, if we take away words such as "way" and "path" and install process - it's makes for something more a live, more dynamic, more - eternal. And the definite article, "the," doesn't really serve us. "The way to harmony with the spirit" may have had some cache at some point, but it doesn't really have the same impact as it once may have.

I've also seen a high-level shihan comment that what Ueshiba meant by his practice was, "You're relationship with God." I could go for something like "A process towards harmony with spirit." Ueshiba was clearly "in process." Nothing more. Just like the rest of us.

Anyone who says, "I got it." Doesn't have it. They are the Wizard of Oz.

But if someone says, "I have a partial understanding, and I want to explore and create more - and that together, we can all make something greater." Therein lies a child. Ueshiba became a great man - precisely because he remained a child. Look at him. The guy was like a kid in a candy shop.

Thank you again, Benjamin, for taking something simple and incomplete and throwing it back to me so that we can play together. Tag. You're it. : )

Dan Richards - Aiki Research

"Budo must always reflect its surroundings. If it isn't newer and stronger, it isn't valid." - Shoji Nishio
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:17 PM   #12
Dan Richards
 
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Re: Tuning the "skin" video

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
I second this.
Honestly, Chris, to tell you the truth. You're the one who inspired it - by doing the exact same thing. In fact, I just noticed in my video I started it with,"I want to start somewhere."

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” - Martin Luther King Jr.

Last edited by Dan Richards : 02-12-2013 at 08:21 PM.

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"Budo must always reflect its surroundings. If it isn't newer and stronger, it isn't valid." - Shoji Nishio
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Old 02-13-2013, 11:24 AM   #13
Mert Gambito
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Re: Tuning the "skin" video

Hi Dan,

So far, what you described seems to fall largely in line with how Mike Sigman describes "suit". Would you say that the way you're training now, with a few nomenclature preferences (e.g. tuning the [drum] skin vs. removing wrinkles and pinches from the suit), embodies all of Mike's IP/IS fundamentals? For example, Budd mentioned breath, and Mike uses breath to change the suit (e.g. open the yin surface of the body), which moves the body; and do you use the "drum" in a similar way?

When I think of your drumskin metaphor, I think of tympani: intent to draw the skin and create six directions (the tympani skin stretches in six directions, despite representing a flat [i.e. four-direction] plane) = the foot pedals; input from a training partner = the mallets (and fingers, when tuning to a given pitch); proper opening of the body (tested by a training partner applying a force) = a drum that is in tune with itself (tested using force applied by the percussionist's mallets or fingers); the tweaks to physical posture and use of intent to soften, unify and remove slack = the hand-turned tuning rods (hands are often used in IP/IS training to assist the mind in directing intent); the ability to "listen" to one's body to make the proper adjustments = the percussionist's ability to listen to the drum, as a whole, and make proper adjustments to keep the drum tuned to itself at the desired pitch.

Often, when doing exercises that open the body or practicing waza using motion in stillness (i.e. with little or no outward movements), I'll take a few moments to listen to my body to feel if it fully resonates. If there's a part that feels stiff or stuck (e.g. shoulders, lower back, kua, upper legs), I've found that using intent to restore that part's resonant qualities (if I had to describe the internal alchemy in percussion terms, I'd say getting the body to achieve a quality of bell or cymbal bronze infused with the elastic qualities of drumskin that's alive vs. dried), vs. trying to generically relax it (which I found sometimes resulted in the "dead" quality you mentioned), gets my body to be "sound" again.

Last edited by Mert Gambito : 02-13-2013 at 11:27 AM.

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Old 02-13-2013, 02:17 PM   #14
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Re: Tuning the "skin" video

I'd like to see you condense it a little, take out the pauses, take out the big multicoloured stool thing, wear a tighter shirt without a gap, and take off the plastic shoe things that are an affront to humanity.
Apart from that : it was fine.
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:20 AM   #15
Dan Richards
 
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Re: Tuning the "skin" video

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Mert Gambito wrote: View Post
Hi Dan,

So far, what you described seems to fall largely in line with how Mike Sigman describes "suit". Would you say that the way you're training now, with a few nomenclature preferences (e.g. tuning the [drum] skin vs. removing wrinkles and pinches from the suit), embodies all of Mike's IP/IS fundamentals? For example, Budd mentioned breath, and Mike uses breath to change the suit (e.g. open the yin surface of the body), which moves the body; and do you use the "drum" in a similar way?
Hey Mert, I've trained with Mike, and he's great. The nomenclatures I'm working on actually come from audio engineering and music - which is an area I've gone pretty far down the rabbit hole in. There are some nomenclatures that Mike seems to have in common with Mantak Chia, who's books were a huge source of learning for me early on. So, to me when I hear "suit" it doesn't sound too far from "shirt." I'm not taking anything anyway from these men, they're huge in the internal world. But at the same time, I've come upon what I feel are more streamlined ways of looking at what we're doing, and wanting to do. It's my version of translating and working with acoustic energy.

I think there are a number of things when Chinese try to transfer, not only their culture, but ther nomenclature into English. And vice-versa from English to Chinese... and back and forth.

An example would be the idea of "rooting." If you look at Chia's idea of of the 9 points on the feet and being rooted, and the imagery of a tree, we should have a sense that we're rooted in the ground. That doesn't work for me with my understanding of energy as an audio engineer. And I've had long conversations with Pierre Sprey about this. And it's interesting to hear Dan Messisco talking about some of the same things. I just ran into Dan recently on the net, and what he's talking about agrees with my own findings.

There's what people do, and then there's their idea about how to teach that to others. I feel a lot of Mike's and Chia's nomenclature can be not only simplified, but re-engineered with many less parts.

One thing that Mike's done for me, is he gave a big permission slip by simplifying a lot of the quite flowery Chinese concepts by boiling them down. Like his idea of the ground path - and he doesn't care how you get it, because once you establish it, then things can grow from there. As some who grew up devouring Chia's work, what Mike offered was a huge breath of fresh air.

In my deep geekery and esoteric explorations into audio, my conversations with Pierre Sprey were a turning point for me. Along with Pierre going quite deep into audio, he also happens to have designed jet planes for the Pentagon. He was one of their "whiz kids." So, in my thinking about someone who would have insights into concepts like power, energy, motion - he wouldn't be the worst brain to pick. He also confirmed a lot of what I'd been working on. Even said that what I was doing was "science."

As I design the nomenclature to produce mental imagery, I'll be working more with decoupling, tuning, resonance, skin, draining, energy, vibration, tone, windings,...

For example, I agree with Messisco's idea that we don't have to connect, because we're already connected. I also won't use, and don't even particularly like the idea of suit, pressure, ground path, etc.. It's fine if it works for someone else, but I'm designing something new.

All this really just comes down to topologies. I'm working on other topologies that can allow for not only a more simple form of transmission, but also effective pedagogical methods for sharing through many-to-many communications.

I've only recently shared the idea of Skin IS Structure. And gotten the OK from enough people I respect that it's sound. The next thing I'm going to do is introduce the ideas of resonance and decoupling.

Thanks for your, and everyone's feedback. Cheers...

Last edited by Dan Richards : 02-14-2013 at 07:22 AM.

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Old 02-14-2013, 08:30 AM   #16
Dan Richards
 
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Re: Tuning the "skin" video

From one of Chia's Iron Shit book on developing the "chi belt":
Quote:
Inhale, pull up the left side of the anus and let the energy of the left kidney expand out to the left side of the waist...
And this kind of stuff goes on and on for miles. One of the things I do know about mastery, is that once you've got a good handle on something, you can often just make shit up. It certainly worked for the Taoist masters. That was kind of their job. Stringing people along. Mainstream media does a good enough job of that these days.

The pen is mightier than the sword. Even Ueshiba figured that out. He had, in his later life, Seiseki Abe as his shodo teacher. Those older Taoist masters from centuries past - even in their full power - didn't have as much power as many kids have today in their pinky finger.

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