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Old 03-03-2013, 10:16 AM   #1
Mert Gambito
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Re: The Empty Body

Graham, et al;

The discussion of anatomy primarily comes up in online discussions about IP/IS training methodologies (e.g. Dan Harden, Mike Sigman) because people keep trying to dissect things from armchairs hither and thither. The methodologies don't focus on these details. If fact, Dan gets frustrated that people want to digest everything in Anatomy Trains, for example, to better understand what inside the body does the work (and in any methodology discussed in this thread or elsewhere, of course the bones, muscles, fascia, etc. are technically in play) when the work is fundamentally about intent leading energy which manifests various qualities in the body that translate into superlative leverage, cancellation of incoming force, etc.

Dan has repeatedly said during workshops that Tohei's model is a fine baseline for aiki development that fits within a more comprehensive schema of training methods within and descended from Daito-ryu. In fact, I recall watching a YouTube video in which a Daito-ryu instructor says he thinks of his body as . . . an "empty shell" when executing certain techniques.

Mert
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:02 PM   #2
graham christian
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Re: The Empty Body

Quote:
Mert Gambito wrote: View Post
Graham, et al;

The discussion of anatomy primarily comes up in online discussions about IP/IS training methodologies (e.g. Dan Harden, Mike Sigman) because people keep trying to dissect things from armchairs hither and thither. The methodologies don't focus on these details. If fact, Dan gets frustrated that people want to digest everything in Anatomy Trains, for example, to better understand what inside the body does the work (and in any methodology discussed in this thread or elsewhere, of course the bones, muscles, fascia, etc. are technically in play) when the work is fundamentally about intent leading energy which manifests various qualities in the body that translate into superlative leverage, cancellation of incoming force, etc.

Dan has repeatedly said during workshops that Tohei's model is a fine baseline for aiki development that fits within a more comprehensive schema of training methods within and descended from Daito-ryu. In fact, I recall watching a YouTube video in which a Daito-ryu instructor says he thinks of his body as . . . an "empty shell" when executing certain techniques.
Thanks for the clarification. I do not agree with such statements which try to equate Tohei's methods with daito ryu methods.

Tohei's for example is nothing to do with such methods and come from shin shin toitsu.

However, glad to hear some have also mentioned experiencing what I point out in this thread.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:04 PM   #3
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Re: The Empty Body

Surely Tohei's methods don't come from Shin Shin Toitsu. Tohei created Shin Shin Toitsu.

So where do you think Tohei's methods came from? Ueshiba? He made them up? Elsewhere?

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:35 PM   #4
graham christian
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Re: The Empty Body

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Surely Tohei's methods don't come from Shin Shin Toitsu. Tohei created Shin Shin Toitsu.

So where do you think Tohei's methods came from? Ueshiba? He made them up? Elsewhere?
Hugh, they come from shin shin toitsu. He studied shin shin toitsu before he saw how it fitted with Aikido and what Ueshiba was saying. Then he introduced those principles into his Aikido as he thought that would be a better way to transmit it, especially to westerners.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:39 PM   #5
graham christian
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Re: The Empty Body

As an additive Hugh the correct term would be shin shin toitsu do. Japanese Yoga.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-03-2013, 01:39 PM   #6
Mert Gambito
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Re: The Empty Body

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote:
I do not agree with such statements which try to equate Tohei's methods with daito ryu methods.

Tohei's for example is nothing to do with such methods and come from shin shin toitsu.
It's established that solo training to develop aiki has been done in Daito-ryu (by Sagawa and others) and aikido (by Ueshiba [who was an exemplary Daito-ryu practitioner] and Tohei in particular). So, isn't it reasonable to say that if Tohei was devoted to aikido, and Ueshiba (if not his son so much) seemed to acknowledge the approach and value of what Tohei was doing, then Tohei was combining the Daito-ryu-based approach he learned from Ueshiba with shin shin toitsu methods? Did Tohei ever expressly disavow the influence of Ueshiba's teachings regarding solo methods for developing the use of aiki/ki?

Mert
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Old 03-03-2013, 02:26 PM   #7
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Re: The Empty Body

Quote:
Mert Gambito wrote: View Post
It's established that solo training to develop aiki has been done in Daito-ryu (by Sagawa and others) and aikido (by Ueshiba [who was an exemplary Daito-ryu practitioner] and Tohei in particular). So, isn't it reasonable to say that if Tohei was devoted to aikido, and Ueshiba (if not his son so much) seemed to acknowledge the approach and value of what Tohei was doing, then Tohei was combining the Daito-ryu-based approach he learned from Ueshiba with shin shin toitsu methods? Did Tohei ever expressly disavow the influence of Ueshiba's teachings regarding solo methods for developing the use of aiki/ki?
I wouldn't say so. In fact I would say quite the opposite. Without others you cannot develop.

Once again I think it is just something given too much significance and no perspective. This alone leads to such statements as you give above.

There is solo and there is joint or with others. They are interdependent. In fact in anything you do you will find there is sequence, one follows the other.

Every serious practitioner and indeed every athlete or anyone practices solo as well as with others.

As Aikido is an art in which action is 'with others' ie: opponents, then I think that puts the balance back into such statements.

As I said, Tihei practiced shin shin toitsu, a solo practice. Ueshiba studied Omoto, a solo practice. All great past masters studied some such be it zazen or whatever. Many solo practices and that's not including when you get stuck and go away trying to work it out....yet another solo practice.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-03-2013, 04:53 PM   #8
graham christian
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Re: The Empty Body

So to add to the above both Tohei and Ueshiba did solo practices. Ueshiba - Omoto and the Kotodama and Tohei -shin shin toitsu do.

So both did deep spiritual solo practices which shaped their Aikido.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-03-2013, 11:26 PM   #9
Mert Gambito
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Re: Tohei, Solo Practice, and Internal Training

Naturally, paired training is inherent: whether strictly regarding waza/kata, and/or to test the qualities of aiki/ki development.

In any case, history clearly shows that Ueshiba and Tohei's solo practice was heavily, perhaps primarily influenced by the spiritual practices you outlined, Graham. But given that aikido directly derives from Daito-ryu, that art's influence on aikido's solo and paired training methods cannot be discounted any more than the debt owed to the latter's technical syllabus.

The key point is that using the spirit/mind to lead ki in accordance with in and yo is common to multiple training methodologies expressly targeted at developing ability to use aiki in Daito-ryu and aikido, and the primary, common goal today is to improve one's self and have a positive influence on others through such practice. Tohei's time in Hawaii has had lasting, strong effects here. I'm comfortable with what I've said above, given that those folks who've I've trained with who've followed both the IP/IS methodologies as well as Tohei's agree they are symbiotic.

There's my 2 pence for the sake of promoting ai/harmony regarding this topic.

Mert
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Old 03-04-2013, 02:25 AM   #10
graham christian
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Re: Tohei, Solo Practice, and Internal Training

Thank you for your reflections Mert.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-04-2013, 03:49 AM   #11
Alex Megann
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Re: The Empty Body

Quote:
Mert Gambito wrote: View Post
It's established that solo training to develop aiki has been done in Daito-ryu (by Sagawa and others) and aikido (by Ueshiba [who was an exemplary Daito-ryu practitioner] and Tohei in particular). So, isn't it reasonable to say that if Tohei was devoted to aikido, and Ueshiba (if not his son so much) seemed to acknowledge the approach and value of what Tohei was doing, then Tohei was combining the Daito-ryu-based approach he learned from Ueshiba with shin shin toitsu methods? Did Tohei ever expressly disavow the influence of Ueshiba's teachings regarding solo methods for developing the use of aiki/ki?
Koichi Tohei got a lot of his training methods from the Tempukai, and invented the rest as a result of being challenged in Hawaii, as Yoshimitsu Yamada recounts here. He didn't "get them" from ShinShin Toitsu, though - they were ShinShin Toitsu!

The consensus seems to be that he took rather little of his training methods from O-Sensei.

Alex
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:55 AM   #12
Dan Richards
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Re: Tohei, Solo Practice, and Internal Training

Mert, these are some great points.

I've been cooking for a long time. Pretty seriously. Here recently I wanted to make rice pudding, and realized I didn't know how. I can usually throw things together, and they come out great. This was a different story. I started with some eggs, milk, rice, sugar, vanilla...came out like crap.

My model for rice pudding was what I experienced in NYC at Jewish Delis.

I did something I don't often do, and looked up some recipes. People had all sorts of things... even the kitchen sink. I did run into one comment on a forum that basically said, "You've got to understand the process, and allow the rice and milk to really hang out and get to know each other - and become something else."

So, I simplified things. Just low heat, rice and milk. Then after things were nice and thick, I added sugar. I nailed it on the third try. And what I "nailed" was the experience and the texture of eating rice pudding from a Jewish deli.

The point is, all I needed was the intention to match or exceed the texture I'd already experienced. And in this case that "model" that particularly impressed me was from eating rice pudding in a particular deli in '82.

The point being, to relate this to internal training, is that all these parts - muscles, tendons, fascia, etc. have not only nothing to do with anything, they serve as a huge distraction.

Power is intrinsic. We don't "get" power. It's already present. And it's not Japanese or Chinese or concealed in language or kanji or some historical "esoteric writings." Power is living. It's right here, right now. And it will clearly show itself on the surface. Even Nishio would say, "You already know this, I'm just reminding you."

I'm totally fine with a few different parts to learn to understand something... low, middle, high - height, width, depth - inside, outside - above, below. But past that, once we start dissecting, and getting lost in, not only moving static parts, but moving processes - it becomes an exercise in navel-gazing and tail chasing - and adding when we should be subtracting. We always have to come back to, and keep in mind, the whole and our original intention and purpose.

Have you ever noticed the difference between products that are designed by good designers, and products that are designed by programmers? There's a huge difference. Programmers get lost in the parts and what they can do. Designers approach something from the end-users experience. Good designs are always powerful, simple, elegant.

If you look too deeply into the well - you fall in.

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Old 03-04-2013, 10:59 AM   #13
Mert Gambito
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Re: The Empty Body

Quote:
Alex Megann wrote: View Post
Koichi Tohei got a lot of his training methods from the Tempukai, and invented the rest as a result of being challenged in Hawaii, as Yoshimitsu Yamada recounts here. He didn't "get them" from ShinShin Toitsu, though - they were ShinShin Toitsu!

The consensus seems to be that he took rather little of his training methods from O-Sensei.
Folks, I'm not an aikidoka (outside of IP/IS training), but have an interest in what's common to Daito-ryu and the arts descended from it more than I care about the differences between them.

Mitori-geiko: the great historical differentiator in traditional budo teaching. Clearly all of Sokaku Takeda's best students were proficient in it, as were the best of Ueshiba's, in particular Tohei. All of these standouts operated within a similar technical syllabus and gleaned and/or developed solo training methods compatible with it. This is the bigger picture. Daito-ryu is in many ways unlike preceding/contemporary bujutsu/budo. In turn, aikido, as a whole, is a bit different in flavor from, though clearly technically indebted to the various Daito-ryu(ha), as a whole. Neither Takeda nor Ueshiba insisted on their students following a rigid syllabus. Evolution and personal interpretation that still hold true to the central principles of the system, i.e. those principles that support these arts' eponymous skill -- aiki -- were clearly lauded by both men: e.g. the regard in which Ueshiba held Tohei's understanding and interpretation of aikido.

There are precious few people alive who've had the honor and opportunity to train with both Ueshiba and Tohei. My understanding is that at least two still reside in Hawaii, and one has already weighed in, saying that what Dan Harden is doing is in line with the aiki of Ueshiba. While I don't know this gentleman's specific take regarding what Dan is teaching relative to what Tohei expressed regarding aiki, if Ueshiba felt Tohei was on track regarding aiki, and people of the Tohei lineage here feel that IP/IS methodology (Dan's per se) is compatible with what Tohei taught, then all these data points support a clear relationship between the various methodologies, allowing for differences in flavor that would've been acceptable to Takeda and Ueshiba.

Mert
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Old 03-04-2013, 11:19 AM   #14
Keith Larman
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Re: The Empty Body

Quote:
Mert Gambito wrote: View Post
...and people of the Tohei lineage here feel that IP/IS methodology (Dan's per se) is compatible with what Tohei taught, then all these data points support a clear relationship between the various methodologies, allowing for differences in flavor that would've been acceptable to Takeda and Ueshiba.
Just fwiw, I'm in a lineage descending directly from Tohei. Very focused on his ki tests, exercises, etc. And I just finished up yet another seminar with Dan. I (and 2 others I spoke with afterwards) saw little that was in conflict with what we do. Just expansion / elucidation / clarification of the concepts. So agreed completely. Your mileage may vary, however.

Carry on.

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Old 03-04-2013, 11:28 AM   #15
Chris Li
 
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Re: The Empty Body

Quote:
Alex Megann wrote: View Post
Koichi Tohei got a lot of his training methods from the Tempukai, and invented the rest as a result of being challenged in Hawaii, as Yoshimitsu Yamada recounts here. He didn't "get them" from ShinShin Toitsu, though - they were ShinShin Toitsu!

The consensus seems to be that he took rather little of his training methods from O-Sensei.

Alex
Koichi Tohei, Morihei Ueshiba, Kodo Horikawa, Yukiyoshi Sagawa, etc. all demonstrated what were essentially very similiar things. Where are the Tempukai guys demonstrating those things?

Tohei later claimed to have learned little from Ueshiba - but I wonder if that was true, or it was just part of the dance of hurt feelings that went back and forth among the involved parties.

It was my impression that the Tempukai provided the framework through which Tohei understood (as much as he did) Ueshiba's "stuff", not that it provided the "stuff" itself, but opinions will certainly vary.

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-04-2013, 11:35 AM   #16
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Re: The Empty Body

Quote:
Alex Megann wrote: View Post
Koichi Tohei got a lot of his training methods from the Tempukai, and invented the rest as a result of being challenged in Hawaii, as Yoshimitsu Yamada recounts here. He didn't "get them" from ShinShin Toitsu, though - they were ShinShin Toitsu!

The consensus seems to be that he took rather little of his training methods from O-Sensei.

Alex
I'm not sure how much of that I buy. I think he got a better, clearer understanding of what Ueshiba was trying to teach from the Tempukai, but I don't know that I agree that he got his methods from there. There are videos and pictures of Ueshiba doing things that became part of Tohei's taiso. We also have examples of some of Sagawa's exercises that are the same as some of Tohei's. Then there are the solo exercises of some of the other early students. Once you have some exposure you see a common theme in a lot of these exercises and the instructions/visualizations that go along with them.
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Old 03-04-2013, 11:38 AM   #17
Mert Gambito
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Re: Tohei, Solo Practice, and Internal Training

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The point being, to relate this to internal training, is that all these parts - muscles, tendons, fascia, etc. have not only nothing to do with anything, they serve as a huge distraction. . . .

Good designs are always powerful, simple, elegant.
In a quiet room, if one places his/her ear a centimeter away from a Zildjian "K" cymbal, which exemplifies your definition of "good design" (it may be the quintessential example of industrial design) and lightly taps the cymbal with a marimba mallet: it's one of the most exquisite musical experiences anyone can have. People don't tend to get lost in discussions about metallurgy, forging, and the complex interweaving of overtones and various frequencies. It has to be heard, period, to fully understand the quality of the design (the bronze is beautiful to the eye and touch as well). Similarly, it's nice to noodle on the craftsmanship needed to buiild an Aston Martin, but isn't experiencing, appreciating and "knowing" the car much better accomplished by driving one through its full range of gears? It has to be seen, heard, smelled, tasted (in multiple connotations) . . . felt.

That's why I feel fortunate to live in Hawaii, where we have the rare opportunity to get first-hand accounts from those who've felt Ueshiba's and Tohei's aiki, and who are still available to vet any pretenders to those levels and qualities of martial ability who care to let their wares be sampled.

Last edited by Mert Gambito : 03-04-2013 at 11:51 AM.

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Old 03-04-2013, 11:50 AM   #18
Mert Gambito
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Re: Tohei, Solo Practice, and Internal Training

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Thank you for your reflections Mert.
You're welcome, Graham. I sincerely believe, several years from now, there will be a greater appreciation outside of the Tohei aikido lineages for what Tohei taught through the critical mass of understanding and ability that is slowly but steadily being approached within the IP/IS crowd.

Mert
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Old 03-04-2013, 12:20 PM   #19
Marc Abrams
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Re: The Empty Body

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Mert Gambito wrote: View Post

There are precious few people alive who've had the honor and opportunity to train with both Ueshiba and Tohei. My understanding is that at least two still reside in Hawaii, and one has already weighed in, saying that what Dan Harden is doing is in line with the aiki of Ueshiba. While I don't know this gentleman's specific take regarding what Dan is teaching relative to what Tohei expressed regarding aiki, if Ueshiba felt Tohei was on track regarding aiki, and people of the Tohei lineage here feel that IP/IS methodology (Dan's per se) is compatible with what Tohei taught, then all these data points support a clear relationship between the various methodologies, allowing for differences in flavor that would've been acceptable to Takeda and Ueshiba.
Mert:

I have been studying with a gentleman who fits that bill since 1988 (Imaizumi Sensei). It is beyond comical when people who have no real history or affiliation with Tohei Sensei, or O'Sensei begin to tell us what these two men did, said, or meant. These same people also seem to have an affinity for talking about what Dan Harden does or does not do without ever having met him, let alone trained with him. I simply ignore the "white noise" from those who claim things that is obviously beyond what they should ever claim, and continue to train with Imaizumi Sensei and Dan Harden. Like you, reality speaks a lot louder than the chatter in some people's posts.

Regards,

Marc Abrams
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Old 03-04-2013, 12:30 PM   #20
Dan Richards
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Re: Tohei, Solo Practice, and Internal Training

Yes, Mert, there are those who have felt, and experienced, and know the difference between the "K's" and the "A's." And I mean real "K's" - meaning "Constantinople," not the new ones with the big K decal on them.

Have people "felt" Ueshiba or Tohei, or any one of their "K" students? Because they both had "K" students and "A" students. Shoji Nishio was not only a "K" student of both Ueshiba and Tohei, but many of the top artists of the 20th century - including Yasuhiro Konishi, Shigenori Sano, and Takaji Shimizu.

It's surprising as the curtain comes up, and the propaganda machine breaks down, how many shihan and high-dan-ranked aikidoka, are, in fact, "A."

There are "K's" out there. But you've gotta listen, and, like you said - have tasted it, felt it, experienced it - to know the difference.

Last edited by Dan Richards : 03-04-2013 at 12:38 PM.

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Old 03-04-2013, 12:34 PM   #21
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Re: Tohei, Solo Practice, and Internal Training

In rereading my post up above I said "Just expansion ...". In retrospect I suppose someone could read that as minimizing it. Not at all intended. It was great fun, challenging, elucidating, and like most good training each little discovery, each little new skill, each new "eye opener" gives rise to a whole new set of things to wonder about.

And then I rewatched videos of Tohei, Ueshiba, etc. (thanks Stan!) this morning. There's that cool stuff in various places, amounts and "styles".

I do find it interesting that a couple of folk from our group didn't see any real conflicts or inconsistencies but were just excited to have a whole new toolbox of stuff to try and a whole lot of new stuff to work on. It's kind of like suddenly getting a chance to relive a joyful process. Others I know from some other lineages (in my experience, at least) sometimes seem to find it harder to accept. That doesn't mean it's harder to do, or easier to do for anyone, just that the comfort of the"fit" seems to vary a bit from group to group. And then there's those who have it all figured out already so it doesn't really matter what you put in front of them. Because they've long ago figured it out. And maybe they're right... Can't say... I just follow my own perceptions. So I keep going...

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Old 03-04-2013, 12:43 PM   #22
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Re: The Empty Body

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Mert Gambito wrote: View Post
Mitori-geiko: the great historical differentiator in traditional budo teaching.
Good point, Mert. And there's an article... http://blog.aikidojournal.com/2010/1...by-nev-sagiba/

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Old 03-04-2013, 01:48 PM   #23
Mert Gambito
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Re: The Empty Body

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Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Good point, Mert. And there's an article... http://blog.aikidojournal.com/2010/1...by-nev-sagiba/
I'm just glad we now have proven, clear training methodologies that take centuries-old excellent metaphors for modeling/mapping the skills to the body, and doing the work necessary to develop them, and help make sense of them to the everyman, vs. to only the highly talented like Ueshiba and Tohei.

Do you ever visit Hawaii? If so, you should come out when Dan Harden's here and compare notes. Personally, I'd enjoying participating in the comparing, and talking music with you (Dan's a musician as well).

Last edited by Mert Gambito : 03-04-2013 at 02:03 PM.

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Old 03-04-2013, 02:35 PM   #24
Mert Gambito
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Re: The Empty Body

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It is beyond comical when people who have no real history or affiliation with Tohei Sensei, or O'Sensei begin to tell us what these two men did, said, or meant. These same people also seem to have an affinity for talking about what Dan Harden does or does not do without ever having met him, let alone trained with him. I simply ignore the "white noise" from those who claim things that is obviously beyond what they should ever claim, and continue to train with Imaizumi Sensei and Dan Harden. Like you, reality speaks a lot louder than the chatter in some people's posts.
Thanks Marc. It really does come down to that. The facts and anecdotes clearly point to the same thing, and you've got a great window in which to do the work.

I think, say in half a decade from now, it'll be a lot easier for IP/IS folks to take just about anyone who's passionate about aikido's martial aspects, assuming that person is half-interested in participating in the process, and map his/her current approach to the art; to Ueshiba's, Tohei's, et al's (pick proven aiki exponent of choice) methods and philosophies; to the IP/IS interpretations and logical roadmap for training in a manner that positively influences that person's approach to the art. If someone is a spiritual person, and seeks to further that aspect of himself/herself through training, then the clarity of the IP/IS approach, if anything, removes clutter that gets in the way of this aspect of "the way".

Then, add another half decade further out, and it won't be about IP/IS as distinct from aikido anymore in the corners of the art where IP/IS has long proved its validity -- whether during encounters when those seeking to experience the art graciously accept invitations to do so, or when they try to kick the door in.

Last edited by Mert Gambito : 03-04-2013 at 02:42 PM.

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Old 03-05-2013, 01:21 AM   #25
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Re: The Empty Body

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Mert Gambito wrote: View Post
There are precious few people alive who've had the honor and opportunity to train with both Ueshiba and Tohei.
Endo Seishiro did.
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