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Old 03-27-2013, 01:56 PM   #1
Dan Richards
 
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IA - Internal Alignment

I've been having some exchanges with Johnny Kuo, who's an I-Liq Chuan instructor, and a student of Sam Chin. http://mindbodykungfu.com/ I've been playing with and ironing out various ways to at least get people in the door to the "internal" world, of not only martial arts, but movement, and their own bodies - and its intrinsic strength and power. Johnny lives in my area, so we're accessible to each other.

Below is an email to Johnny, that I thought I could park here for other's consideration, input, and discussion.

===============================================

The whole IMA community has been tripping over itself for a long time,
especially since the internet and forums have come out.

And an even larger aspect is all the people looking in who don't do it,
but think they might, but have no real tangible place to start unless
they go to someone like Dan Harden or Sam Chin.

Now, I agree that Dan and Sam can get people to levels I can't.
But what I can do is get people to the stage where they have good
basic alignment. And I get even do that with writing, illustrations,
and possibly some video.

Part of what I harp on is that there is - at least a certain level -
of intrinsic power in a body that is aligned statically as well as in
basic movements.

There are people out there hungry for this information, and want
to incorporate it, but are confused and don't know where to start.

Yes, Dan and Sam can work with people to build rocket engines.
But even that has to start with a body that has the basic alignments
in place.

It's like people can be taught to align themselves, so at least they
have the kind of natural power they have with a sailboat. And also
just by doing that - working with a natural level of energy - 1. They'll
be less likely to injure themselves and/others. 2. They'll sure as hell
feel a lot better. 3. Their learning of anything will take on a different
quality. 4. They'll be in much better shape - and have some of the
prerequisite programming installed when and if they want to go to
workshops with people like Dan and Sam.

This is where, what I'd call something like IA - Internal Alignment
an important step in creating a better foundation for people. Regardless
if they just want to sail, or go across the bridge and work with people
like Dan and Sam to eventually become jet-powered speed boats.

Interested in your thoughts.

Dan

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 03-27-2013, 03:50 PM   #2
Robert Cowham
Dojo: East Sheen Aikido and Kashima No Tachi
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Re: IA - Internal Alignment

Alignment is certainly important.

I have got various good pointers and food for thought from the writings of Peter Ralston in this regard, and from attending a couple of workshops with him, and from working with one of his senior students.
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Old 03-27-2013, 04:06 PM   #3
Cady Goldfield
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Re: IA - Internal Alignment

Alignment is important, the first step in internal training, but the process for developing it is not complicated -- not the kind of thing that needs an entire curriculum built up around it. Internal body method is sophisticated and nuanced, but the actual development practices are not numerous. For working the alignment there are a few simple exercises, trained solo and using the wall, and occasionally tested by a partner.

Last edited by Cady Goldfield : 03-27-2013 at 04:11 PM.
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Old 03-27-2013, 04:12 PM   #4
yugen
 
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Re: IA - Internal Alignment

getting some rolfing done, do some yoga, pilates and spend some time in a boxing gym or take a dance class will all teach basic alignment.

Ultimately though for martial arts the importance in my opinion is the system. Internal training is based on feeling and to me having a set defined terminology and training practice that everyone utilizes is the key to understanding and improving.

No matter where I go to train I Liq Chuan we're all using the same language and then its a matter of time, practice and sweat for me to adjust my feeling to the terminology and the proof of 'correctness' is my application of the art. Sam and Dan are easily accessible for anyone who's serious.

Ryan Schoelerman

I Liq Chuan Seattle
https://www.facebook.com/SeattleILC
Do not think or judge. Just observe and feel the way things are.
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Old 03-27-2013, 11:04 PM   #5
Dan Richards
 
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Re: IA - Internal Alignment

Robert, Ralston and his work entered my martial arts headspace when I started aikido. One of the first books I bought was Cheng Hsin: The Principles of Effortless Power. I've read and worked from all the material I could find written by him, and he was a major influence early on in my training in gearing my attention towards inner work that wouldn't have trained in most aikido dojos - outside of some of the Ki Aikido groups. It's interesting to hear Ralston, even not too long ago, talk about how he was frustrated by trying to take what I knows and describe it and translate it into writing.

Cady, I agree with you not only in its important, but that it's not something to have an entire curriculum built up around it. And that's exactly where I think the snag is. What's needed are let's say "a suite of tools." And I agree they're out there. But they're inside entire curriculums, and it's often difficult for people to decipher what is what.

There is no reason the idea of something like Internal Alignment can not be a discrete and identifiable and stand-alone suite of tools and that give quick verifiable results. Use it as part of an ongoing maintenance kit. And you can stop there if you like. If you want more performance, then you go to the kind of people and systems - like what AMG does for Mercedes.

The automotive industry has a huge niche market with one-stop places that do nothing but check the fluids, connections, and alignment. That's all they do, and it's a complete service. And you're good to go. Your car will drive better, you and others will be safer, the life of the car will be extended, the performance will increase, the experience will be more enjoyable...

Before people even look into getting into an echelon of higher performance, there's a more accessible step - that's available - that they can take to get them back at least to a natural level of alignment and performance.

A simple and complete suite of tools and concepts that are easy to understand, and available freely online. Something that could sit on a 10-20 website.

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 03-27-2013, 11:42 PM   #6
Dan Richards
 
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Re: IA - Internal Alignment

Quote:
Ryan Schoelerman wrote: View Post
getting some rolfing done, do some yoga, pilates and spend some time in a boxing gym or take a dance class will all teach basic alignment.
Yes, Ryan, but there we go with having people needing to enter a completely different world just for basic alignment tools. Rolfing is an effective approach for people, especially if they've been injured or traumatized. But for the average functioning person, I've seen that Rolfing can open up a bigger can of worms than is necessary. I've seen people come out of it worse than when they went in.

Yoga - even just for alignment - can be bad news. There's no guarantees, and there are a lot of people who have wound up injured and even disfigured from doing yoga. I'm not telling people not do yoga if they seriously want to study, but I would say be careful. And it's certainly not worth it, or necessary - to approach it for basic alignment. And there again, we'd be sending people into services that overhaul cars, when what they really needed was just a quick in-and-out Jiffy Lube alignment.

Boxing and dance... can work - or not. It's still a crap shoot. Depends on the teacher and approach. I've seen just as many dances with distorted posture as I have with aligned posture and movement. And we'd still be sending people into complete disciplines just for alignment.

Quote:
Ultimately though for martial arts the importance in my opinion is the system.
Yes. I totally agree. When you hear Sam Chin talk, he's totally straight forward. Simple. Pragmatic. Exactly. I agree that a system is important.

Quote:
Sam and Dan are easily accessible for anyone who's serious.
Well, yes and no. There's only so much of Sams and Dans to go around. And only so much some people - even serious ones - can travel and just through whatever hoops they need to to get there.

I agree that the truly serious people will eventually find their way. It's as if these systems themselves seek out and attract people, and vice versa. But I also know there's a huge gap for not only martial arts, but people in general - who would gladly do a few simple exercises to return them to a more fluid natural movement.

I've taken what I've been working on out into the streets and the battlefields. It's already proven. And I'm just in the process of refining the presentation so that it can be made available freely online. No need for anyone to go anywhere. All they need are their bodies and a few minutes periodically - and a little mindfulness. The results have been nearly immediate and dramatic.

BTW, I think I-Liq is exciting. With Sam Chin, there's finally someone on the levels of people like Chen Xiaowang, but who actually live in the US, speak fluent English, and have retooled their art and system for today's world. What's not to love.

I appreciate the input. That's why I'm throwing this out in a state of pliability - since the top priority is that the concepts and tools can be introduced, understood, and put into effective use by anyone on their own time.

Last edited by Dan Richards : 03-27-2013 at 11:44 PM.

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 03-28-2013, 10:02 AM   #7
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
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Re: IA - Internal Alignment

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post

Cady, I agree with you not only in its important, but that it's not something to have an entire curriculum built up around it. And that's exactly where I think the snag is. What's needed are let's say "a suite of tools." And I agree they're out there. But they're inside entire curriculums, and it's often difficult for people to decipher what is what.

There is no reason the idea of something like Internal Alignment can not be a discrete and identifiable and stand-alone suite of tools and that give quick verifiable results. Use it as part of an ongoing maintenance kit. And you can stop there if you like. If you want more performance, then you go to the kind of people and systems - like what AMG does for Mercedes.
Dan:

What Cady pointed out needs to be thought through at a deeper level by you. If our world existed as a static experience, then to simply create proper alignment is all that is necessary. The next steps involve learning how to move that aligned body in a connected manner. That is extremely difficult and requires a lot of time spent with solo practice. The next level of complication is when you are now asked to move a connected, aligned body that is being subjected to various force loads from another person.

Each of these next steps require you to essentially reprogram how you body moves and then moves when subjected to force. Whereas our bodies are structured in a manner to function at remarkable levels when properly reprogrammed, we do not naturally move and respond to forces in that reprogrammed manner. You are essentially having to continually confront the "old way" and replace it with the "new way" at so many levels. The more you do this kind of work, the more you see how much more work there is ahead of you.

In the beginning, your idea sounds alright, but will not allow you to be able to transfer a static, aligned structured into any kind of movement that reflected "internal training".

Marc Abrams
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Old 04-02-2013, 04:27 PM   #8
Dan Richards
 
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Re: IA - Internal Alignment

Marc, I'm not sure where you got the idea that I'm proposing anything that's static.There is movement in this. You can't align anything without movement. So, I'm agreeing with you.

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 04-04-2013, 07:18 AM   #9
Alex Megann
Dojo: Southampton Aikikai
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Re: IA - Internal Alignment

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Yoga - even just for alignment - can be bad news. There's no guarantees, and there are a lot of people who have wound up injured and even disfigured from doing yoga. I'm not telling people not do yoga if they seriously want to study, but I would say be careful. And it's certainly not worth it, or necessary - to approach it for basic alignment. And there again, we'd be sending people into services that overhaul cars, when what they really needed was just a quick in-and-out Jiffy Lube alignment.
That's a very broad=brush dismissal of yoga, if you don't mind me saying so.

In even my somewhat limited experience of the wider world of yoga, there is at least as much of a range of focus and competence as in aikido. I have practised with several yoga teachers, and, while I believe that the way I have been studying for the last five or six years is extremely congruent with where I am trying to take my aikido, there are some yoga traditions which take the body structure in completely the opposite direction. And that's only the (excellent) teachers that I have come across.

I would strongly recommend finding a yoga teacher with a direct and verifiable line of descent from Vanda Scaravelli. This way of training really emphasises postural strength and developing awareness of the spinal (particularly the psoas) and pelvic muscle groups, which has revolutionised my approach to posture.

Alex
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