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Old 03-02-2013, 12:13 PM   #1
Dan Richards
 
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Up on your toes: cleaning the gutters

I've been working on a "kit" of tools that allow for body/energy transformation. The kit is purposely simple, and at places where it's not, or unclear, I'm retooling and boiling down to just the essentials.

I've established "skin is structure." The simple idea that the skin of the body is the same as the skin on a drum. Tune it up, and it will align not only the body, but also any techniques executed.

"Creating the disc" establishes the outer hip circle and the inner sacral circle - which, together, form the disc. The core is contained in the inner part of the disc. And I'll write more on that later.

This next tool in the kit allows for drainage of any held energies - especially in the lower torso, pelvis, and legs. It's very simple, and we're taking the tip from babies as they progress from first putting their feet on a surface and then learning to walk.

The movement is simply to spend time "up on your toes" - with emphasis on the big toe. Even a few minutes a few times a day will produce a marked difference in a short time. This will release and decouple physical, mental, and emotional energies, and allow for a more "well oiled" machine that can be moved from the core. This is literally "cleaning the gutters" so that held energy is removed, and new energy can flow freely.

Erick Mead scouted an excellent video of a baby putting its toes on the ground, as it begins in the initial stages of aligning itself with upright standing and motion.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py8Bcfo7z0g

Aikido movements begin with irimi. And the big toe holds the key to entering the door.

Comments and feedback appreciated. Cheers...

Last edited by Dan Richards : 03-02-2013 at 12:17 PM.

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Old 03-02-2013, 01:36 PM   #2
Dan Richards
 
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Up on the Toes: video

I made a quick video on the concept of using standing on the toes as an important tool in clearing energy in the body. I show in the video how I can stand on my toes - I think I do it statically for about three minutes, but am up on my toes the entire video. And point out that if you can't stand on your toes for at least a few minutes, then that's an indication of blocked and held energy - especially in the lower body.

Can you stand on your toes for one, two, three or more minutes?

There's a direct relationship between the big toe and the irimi movements in aikido. And it's important that we have clean, fresh energy moving through our bodies.

This, again, is part of some research I'm putting together, and comments are appreciated. Cheers...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrFuf-eKVxA

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Old 03-02-2013, 02:32 PM   #3
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Up on the Toes: video

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
I made a quick video on the concept of using standing on the toes as an important tool in clearing energy in the body. I show in the video how I can stand on my toes - I think I do it statically for about three minutes, but am up on my toes the entire video. And point out that if you can't stand on your toes for at least a few minutes, then that's an indication of blocked and held energy - especially in the lower body.

Can you stand on your toes for one, two, three or more minutes?

There's a direct relationship between the big toe and the irimi movements in aikido. And it's important that we have clean, fresh energy moving through our bodies.

This, again, is part of some research I'm putting together, and comments are appreciated. Cheers...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrFuf-eKVxA
Interesting ideas, Dan, thank you for sharing them! I don't have much to contribute beyond the idea that I've perceived a connection between being on the balls/toes of the feet and the ability to spring into action (ie-having a kind of potent and mobile base).
I have duck-flat feet so "blindly" dropping repeated loads of weight into the arch and heel start to hurt my feet and knees after a short while. As a consequence, I tend to stand forward on my feet in most things I do; it's where I feel the most comfortable...and a lot of that comes from playing soccer on astroturf where loads played havoc on my feet knees and hips (I could barely walk up a flight of stairs right after game days and I was an otherwise athletic 18 year old).
On the other hand, I've perceived a need for balancing this tendancy of mine so lately I've been really trying to focus on how my heels are connected, and how they apply to dropping my weight into the ground (even if it's still by way of the balls/toes of the foot.
Whatever the case is, as it relates to internals, I've been finding it very interesting to consider how I'm using my feet and looking for a way of balancing the latent tensions throughout my body. The practice of standing still in some form (such as standing forward on the feet) is an interesting way of seeing how your body settles around the tension. Since I'm trying to feel around in my body I'm using this kind of thing to help me map things out right now. My understanding of internals is essenially nil, but it's interesting to try and play around with it.
Thanks again.
Take care,
Matt

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Old 03-02-2013, 03:06 PM   #4
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Up on the Toes: video

...quick question: what are your thoughts on the difference between this practice being done in motion compared with being static?

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Old 03-02-2013, 03:44 PM   #5
Dan Richards
 
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Re: Up on the Toes: video

Hey Matthew, thanks for your comments. On your question; well, the "static" stances will allow not only observation of tensions, but also facilitate their release. We could call that aspect static/standing/passive/yin. The idea is you want to stand there and ideally do nothing. But as we stand on our toes, we can discover that not only are we not doing nothing, there is, in fact, a lot going on. A lot of movement, jerking, pulling, tugging, holding, twitching. There's a veritable clusterfuck going on - and we're just trying to stand there.

The standing on the toes we start to discover where the gunk is in the gutter. And by not only observing that, but by practicing it, we release the gunk from the gutters.

Moving on the toes is the complementary aspect; moving/active/stepping/entering/yang. The moving shows us - mostly importantly - not where we're stuck, where the gunk is - but how much freer we are. And how we're actively putting energy through the move opened channels. And it can also show us where our movements are inefficient.

So, in the standing aspect, we notice more gunk. In moving aspect, we notice the freer energy. And then, just as there's yin in yang and yang in yin - active in passive and passive in active - we'll start to notice the freer energy in the standing positions, and the gunk in the moving.

I really consider this to work on a few levels. The first is just like a house that hasn't had the gutters cleaned in years. So, we can find some different stuff in there, some of it even pretty big - like tennis balls and big sticks. Just like our bodies. But the good thing is that is that stuff not only easy to see, it's easy to remove. And, man, do the drains feel better and move more smoothly afterwards. We'll call that the BIG CLEAN.

And then the other part I'd just call regular maintenance. A few minutes of standing and a few minutes of walking around on the toes - a few times a week - is enough to keep the gutters clean and clear. And it's enough to keep your body and the energy more aligned, integrated, refreshed, and renewed.

And that can translate into every area of our lives. Martial arts studies, walking, sitting, standing, lifting, sex, nutrition, health, safety, concentration, work ... And not only are the results quick and powerful in the immediate, the implications on down the road as we age are self-evident.

Last edited by Dan Richards : 03-02-2013 at 03:46 PM.

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Old 03-02-2013, 06:51 PM   #6
David Orange
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Re: Up on your toes: cleaning the gutters

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Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Erick Mead scouted an excellent video of a baby putting its toes on the ground, as it begins in the initial stages of aligning itself with upright standing and motion.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py8Bcfo7z0g
What's the point of that video?

The baby is being held above the ground and the parents are over involved in what the baby does.

I don't think this reflex has any direct relation to the root of internal power.

However, there is another infant standing reflex that is stimulated by the baby's full weight on both feet on the floor. That reflex activates both legs and hips and spine/neck/head to align with gravity.

And in that reflex, the heel on the floor is a major element.

Everyone in aikido is well familiar with standing on the balls of the feet, which is what you appear to be doing in your video. When you say "standing on your toes," I'm thinking the heels are up off the floor as far as they can go. Can you stand three minutes that way?

What most people in aikido miss relative to IS is indeed, the heels on the ground.

I haven't even looked at Morihei Ueshiba doing a standing push test, to see if his heels are off the ground. Where do you guess they are?

Until I argued this out with Rob John, I never thought of any importance in the heels on the floor. We do everything in aikido on the balls of our feet.

But how are you going to develop full range power if you don't even use the whole foot?

If you don't understand the heel of the foot, you can only do "one end" of aikido.

I think you need to rethink this one. Look at Morihei again and let me know.

Thanks.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:46 PM   #7
Dan Richards
 
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Re: Up on your toes: cleaning the gutters

Hey David, these are alignment exercises. Like getting a car up on the racks and aligning and balancing the tires. This has a lot less to do with telling people how to drive their car, and more just knowing that regardless of how they drive, the car performs optimally when the parts are aligned and each allowed to perform their contribution to the total operation of the car. At that point, the will of the driver becomes more immediate, as the car itself - the technology - becomes more transparent.

And we all know the benefits of keeping a car properly maintained. Not only in terms of performance and enjoyment, but also cost-of-operation and longevity. Same with our bodies.

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Old 03-02-2013, 08:53 PM   #8
Dan Richards
 
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Re: Up on your toes: cleaning the gutters

David, where's your article? "Aikido Comes From Toddler Movement" I can't find it. Would like to read it.

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Old 03-02-2013, 09:46 PM   #9
hughrbeyer
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Re: Up on your toes: cleaning the gutters

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We do everything in aikido on the balls of our feet.
Yeah?

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Old 03-03-2013, 07:16 AM   #10
David Orange
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Re: Up on your toes: cleaning the gutters

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Yeah?
Not to speak for everyone, but I was always taught to stay up on the balls of the feet, even when walking. Everything was about movement, except that I learned to be completely still until the attack. And even in standing still, we stood on the balls of our feet. Finding the stability of the whole foot was never addressed. I only made those connections after arguing with Rob John.

David

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Old 03-03-2013, 07:27 AM   #11
David Orange
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Re: Up on your toes: cleaning the gutters

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David, where's your article? "Aikido Comes From Toddler Movement" I can't find it. Would like to read it.
That was on the aikido journal site.

It describes the "other" infant reflex I mentioned, which uses the whole foot and illustrates the actual spontaneous response to gravity that I think lies at the deepest root of aikido technique.

In other words, the "Heaven-Earth-Man" balance is first a matter of standing straight between heaven and earth. In growing up, people are conditioned not to stand up straight and they find it rather difficult to really "stand up straight" because they don't understand the various muscular and connective tissue tensions they have developed inside their torso.

When we go back to the infant standing reflex (not the walking reflex), we see why it is easily simple for the body to stand very nicely erect between heaven and earth. So that reflex is fundamentally human and it's also fundamental for aikido, tai chi, xing yi and bagua.

You can understand much more about the primary reflexes and their place in adult reflexes if you read Moshe Feldenkrais' book "Body and Mature Behavior".

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:08 PM   #12
hughrbeyer
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Re: Up on your toes: cleaning the gutters

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David Orange wrote: View Post
Not to speak for everyone, but I was always taught to stay up on the balls of the feet, even when walking. Everything was about movement, except that I learned to be completely still until the attack. And even in standing still, we stood on the balls of our feet. Finding the stability of the whole foot was never addressed. I only made those connections after arguing with Rob John.

David
Huh. Interesting. I haven't encountered this before, but maybe I was just asleep that day.

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Old 03-03-2013, 12:12 PM   #13
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Re: Up on your toes: cleaning the gutters

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Huh. Interesting. I haven't encountered this before, but maybe I was just asleep that day.
Well, I have no idea what is taught in ASU. I just know that was what I was always taught, heavily drilled on. We were also taught to keep a bent-kneed stance at all times but after living in Japan, I came to believe that such a habit actually damages the nerves and reflexes. It was one of my earlier teachers who taught that way.

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:54 PM   #14
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Re: Up on the Toes: video

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
.... I show in the video how I can stand on my toes - I think I do it statically for about three minutes, but am up on my toes the entire video. And point out that if you can't stand on your toes for at least a few minutes, then that's an indication of blocked and held energy - especially in the lower body.

Can you stand on your toes for one, two, three or more minutes?
Here's me thinking how impossible I find it to stand on my toes for even one second! I'm no female ballet dancer.
Then I watched your video : oh you mean on the balls of your feet!
Right.
:|
Seriously : why didn't you say so?
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Old 03-03-2013, 02:17 PM   #15
Dan Richards
 
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Re: Up on your toes: cleaning the gutters

Michael, that's a good point. I'm wanting clarity here. So anything that people are pointing out helps me. I'm not focusing on the balls of the feet. In fact, you can stand on the balls of your feet with your toes completely off the ground. And that's not what we're wanting to do here. The weight is focused on the big toe. That puts the weight even more forward.

It's also not standing on the balls of the feet while just floating the heels off the floor, either.

But, yes, it's not "up on the toes" - not "on point" like a ballerina. Perhaps "up on tiptoes" might be more clear. And that does engage a different part of the ball, than when our heals are closer to, or on, the ground.

Found some info here that was interesting.
http://www.unews.utah.edu/old/p/012710-3.html

Tiptoe
http://www.fitsugar.com/Fit-Tip-Walk...iptoes-1615347

I'll tweak this. Thanks.

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Old 03-03-2013, 03:47 PM   #16
hughrbeyer
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Re: Up on your toes: cleaning the gutters

David, I haven't encountered moving on the balls of the feet in the ASU, but not in the Aikikai or Tomiki either. I have heard about keeping a lower stance with bent knees.

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Old 03-03-2013, 06:10 PM   #17
graham christian
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Re: Up on your toes: cleaning the gutters

Hi Dan. Just did the exercise and studied what was happening. I personally found it no problem to do for three minutes but did notice many things whilst doing it.

Reminded me actually of working off of a ladder where standing on the ball of your feet is the modus operandi.

Also I could notice how things can start to tighten, things can start to twitch etc. etc.

I ended up doing some experiments....bending the knees outwards to see the difference, bending one knee forward to see the difference etc.

I could also see that no different to any exercise that doing more over a period of time would improve the ability and experience. My conclusions were maybe different in some ways to yours and maybe the same in other ways.

Firstly it reminded me of other similar exercises for other parts of the body and what the purpose of those exercises are. The purpose of those is to learn to relax those parts which tense up and as you say where Ki or energy locks up. So yes, to clear the gutters. No different when you think about it to the different postures of yoga.

Secondly I found that the big toe is bigger than the others for a reason as it is used more. However the purpose of toes must not be forgotten for the simplicity of their purpose is that of assisting balance in movement. So it depends how you are moving as to which toes are brought more into play as assiststants. I found standing static was more centred and calm when all toes were equally in use and then even more comfortable when it felt like none of them were even being used.

For those who haven't exercised in that way or had not so much call to do so in their daily lives then it's also to remember that there are tendons etc. involved and for them getting the tendons used to stretching in such a way would take some time too irrespective of blocked energy.

Finally when you relate it to Aikido and irimi as a personal thing I disagree. But that's another story ha, ha.

Anyway, they are my thoughts.

Peace.G.
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