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Old 04-13-2013, 12:29 PM   #26
Mert Gambito
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

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Benjamin Edelen wrote: View Post
Yes exactly. Obviously I am not arguing against internal training, as it is nearly an obsession for me. I simply don't think there is any mutual exclusivity between being physically capable outside martial arts and being physically capable inside them. That apparently touches on the persecution complex built into at least one internal training orthodoxy, so people can't agree to disagree.
Certainly there isn't pure mutual exclusivity, given there's varying crossover with non-exclusively-martial practices such as qigong, yoga and shiatsu.

"Persecution". Strong word. Time will prove out why that certain "orthodoxy" is reaching a seeming plurality of acceptance by IP/IS adherents here. In any case, meeting Dan Harden and having an engaging physical and philosophical discussion about the topic is so much more productive than doing so here.

Mert
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Old 04-13-2013, 03:51 PM   #27
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

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Benjamin Edelen wrote: View Post
Yes exactly. Obviously I am not arguing against internal training, as it is nearly an obsession for me
Color me surprised. Given your earlier posts on this thread, this is the last thing I expected to hear from you. <sincere>What internal training do you do? What are the exercises? Where does it come from?</sincere>

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Benjamin Edelen wrote: View Post
That apparently touches on the persecution complex built into at least one internal training orthodoxy, so people can't agree to disagree.
I have no idea what you're talking about here. If you can't, or are not willing to, get more specific, it's probably better not to make such a statement.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 04-13-2013, 04:05 PM   #28
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

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What are these works? Can you tell me where to find them?

That is quite a bit earlier than I understand the word neijia was used with the meaning that you all assign to it here.
I can't give you a cite. The quote was posted on here by one of the people I trust for that and it was, of course, in translation so I can't tell you what Chinese words were used.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 04-13-2013, 05:10 PM   #29
Chris Li
 
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

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Benjamin Edelen wrote: View Post
Yes exactly. Obviously I am not arguing against internal training, as it is nearly an obsession for me. I simply don't think there is any mutual exclusivity between being physically capable outside martial arts and being physically capable inside them. That apparently touches on the persecution complex built into at least one internal training orthodoxy, so people can't agree to disagree.
Isn't this kind of a straw man argument? I can't think of anybody teaching internals who would argue against being physically capable, in or out of martial arts.

OTOH, there are a lot of good reasons why you wouldn't want to do some types of conditioning for a time while working on other types of conditioning.

There are also plenty of good reasons why you would want to work on some types of conditioning over others. It's no different in sports, dance, or any other physical activity, you condition yourself to meet the goals that you're aiming at.

Best,

Chris

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Old 04-13-2013, 05:58 PM   #30
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

Watching these discussions evolve over the years is interesting. There still seem to be all sorts of IS / IP skeptics. Now, the IP community , if you can call it that, is better educated on what is understood to be the science of the whole thing (which is itself an evolving body of knowledge). It's as if we think that if we can find a scientific way of explaining what is happening for something that we already know to be true it will make it more true and the skeptics will come around.

While I do have my copy of Anatomy Trains, I didn't need it to know that this stuff is real. Ten years ago I had my hands on Kuroda Sensei while he sent my partner to the floor. The muscles in his arms where I was touching NEVER fired, period. They were totally soft.

Over the years I have trained on a number of occasions with Don Angier Sensei. I could white knuckle that man and he'd have me on the ground and I never felt a thing.

Of course I could say that my own teachers operate on this level but people would discount that because, after all, everyone's teacher is the best around...

But there are enough people who do operate on this level from the aiki community that continued skepticism just feels to me like climate change denial. It's uninteresting and runs completely counter to my own direct experience. At this point there are enough places you can get direct, in person, experience on this stuff that I have no time for folks who keep wanting to have the discussions who haven't had their hands on folks with the skills.

So far, no one has come forward who has felt any of the teachers out there on the circuit and come back saying it was all BS or that they had stopped these guys. I am waiting for that. Then maybe there's grounds for skepticism.

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Old 04-13-2013, 07:14 PM   #31
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

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But there are enough people who do operate on this level from the aiki community that continued skepticism just feels to me like climate change denial.
I don't think there is a lot of skepticism left here in terms of the value of the skills. In the case of this thread, as students like me get farther down the rabbit hole, we are asking for better explanations of things that are harder to explain, and expecting better answers for things that are hard to defend.

Like any system it can be hard to differentiate which ideas are essential elements that make a system work, and which are just opinions of the teachers that have been hitched to the system for promotional purposes. This often comes up when we start asking harder questions or when we look closely at some of the more inflammatory statements made by progenitors of the system.
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Old 04-14-2013, 02:58 AM   #32
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

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Benjamin Edelen wrote: View Post
I don't think there is a lot of skepticism left here in terms of the value of the skills. In the case of this thread, as students like me get farther down the rabbit hole, we are asking for better explanations of things that are harder to explain, and expecting better answers for things that are hard to defend.

Like any system it can be hard to differentiate which ideas are essential elements that make a system work, and which are just opinions of the teachers that have been hitched to the system for promotional purposes. This often comes up when we start asking harder questions or when we look closely at some of the more inflammatory statements made by progenitors of the system.
Hi Benjamin,
I understand what you are saying... For me, what is important is not explanations. What I look for is two things... First, can someone do it when I attack them. Then I know it's not the uke and I can feel it. Second, can they teach other people to do it. If a teacher can say to me "Do this, then do this". And I can feel the results, then I am not terribly interested in scientific explanations. I want body centered "how to" explanations. The folks I get the most out of training with can give me that. The, if someone wants to tell me how it works in terms of anatomy and muscle / motor function etc, that's interesting on some level but really doesn't help ones training all that much.
- George

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Old 04-14-2013, 10:44 AM   #33
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

I am in no way saying the information should be provided scientifically. That would be both boring and pedantic. What I am saying is that it is challenging for an educated person to hear hard tk swallow dogma from someone they earnestly wish to believe. Being told that you ought to study eastern orthodox christianity or collect cosmic rays in order to get to the next level then takes on a kind of hopeful metaphorical status. A struggle ensues when a rational person tries to walk the delicate balance between swallowing such things whole (what got Aikido and CMA into its current state in the first place) and discarding the advice of someone with abilities worth learning.

That seems to me to be the topic we are discussing when we try to peek behind the curtain after we have been initiated into internal training practices. Such a peek will always seem impertinent to the system's leaders because it may reveal that a subset of their instruction is actually proselytization.
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Old 04-14-2013, 02:50 PM   #34
Walter Martindale
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

At least a few people have said that if you can't explain something so that a child can understand what you're explaining, you don't understand it yourself well enough (it's attributed to Einstein, but I haven't confirmed that).

I don't doubt that something's going on. I've been bashed to the ground by Kawahara (late 8th dan shihan) and not known what happened, didn't feel any tension. Been put to the ground by a sensei in the Hiroshima police dojo, by Takase sensei in New Zealand, Masuda sensei from Aikikai Hombu (but in New Zealand) without feeling any muscular tension. Grabbing the late Tohei (from Chicago) sensei felt like grabbing smoke. I'm struggling with the name of the shihan in Nagoya who visits NZ frequently, but he's also biffed me around while it felt like I was holding a banana in a gi sleeve.

But what were they doing? What do you get when you cross an elephant and a rhinoceros? (elephino)
Can I do what they were doing? I don't know. Can I explain it? Not a chance. I haven't (to date) read an explanation of any of the IS info that makes sense to me. Just "IHTBF"... and "Do a seminar with Dan Harden" (love to but currently not in a position to do that)... and similar "explanations."

Walter
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Old 04-14-2013, 03:00 PM   #35
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

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Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
But what were they doing? What do you get when you cross an elephant and a rhinoceros? (elephino)
Can I do what they were doing? I don't know. Can I explain it? Not a chance. I haven't (to date) read an explanation of any of the IS info that makes sense to me. Just "IHTBF"... and "Do a seminar with Dan Harden" (love to but currently not in a position to do that)... and similar "explanations."

Walter
Dan's actually posted some very detailed explanations over the years, as some other folks - Mike, too, has posted some good information on his blog. Most of the information is actually out there from other sources anyway, and has been for years.

Like anything else, it will make more sense with a common frame of reference. If you're trying to explain Aikido to someone who's never done it then eventually you get to a point of diminishing returns - they just have to go try it out and see for themselves.

Best,

Chris

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Old 04-14-2013, 03:24 PM   #36
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

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Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
I don't doubt that something's going on. I've been bashed to the ground by Kawahara (late 8th dan shihan) and not known what happened, didn't feel any tension. Been put to the ground by a sensei in the Hiroshima police dojo, by Takase sensei in New Zealand, Masuda sensei from Aikikai Hombu (but in New Zealand) without feeling any muscular tension. Grabbing the late Tohei (from Chicago) sensei felt like grabbing smoke. I'm struggling with the name of the shihan in Nagoya who visits NZ frequently, but he's also biffed me around while it felt like I was holding a banana in a gi sleeve.
Sorry, I should have included this in my last post.

It's interesting to note the list of "mysterious teachers" above (Sawada is the one from Nagoya, and there is some interesting back story there that I won't go into) - all of who are apparently acceptable to the conventional Aikido community even though they do mysterious things with little or no explanation.

Masuda, for example, I've known for over thirty years and have translated for on many occasions, but he has never once, in the time that I've known him, given anything approaching the detail and clarity of explanation that you'd get from some of the IP folks that are criticized for their lack of explanation.

And yet - that's generally accepted in the Aikido community for a hombu shihan (I like Masuda, and this isn't about him personally - it's just a symptom of the situation).

Best,

Chris

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Old 04-15-2013, 07:08 AM   #37
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
It's interesting to note the list of "mysterious teachers" above (Sawada is the one from Nagoya, and there is some interesting back story there that I won't go into) - all of who are apparently acceptable to the conventional Aikido community even though they do mysterious things with little or no explanation.
I for one would be interested in the back story to Sawada. I gather he was a student of both Chiba and Watanabe. What do you mean by they are "apparently acceptable" to the conventional aikido community? What mysterious things? Are they relevant to the title of this thread that I inadvertently started?

Carl
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Old 04-15-2013, 11:29 AM   #38
Walter Martindale
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

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Sorry, I should have included this in my last post.

It's interesting to note the list of "mysterious teachers" above (Sawada is the one from Nagoya, and there is some interesting back story there that I won't go into) - all of who are apparently acceptable to the conventional Aikido community even though they do mysterious things with little or no explanation.

Masuda, for example, I've known for over thirty years and have translated for on many occasions, but he has never once, in the time that I've known him, given anything approaching the detail and clarity of explanation that you'd get from some of the IP folks that are criticized for their lack of explanation.

And yet - that's generally accepted in the Aikido community for a hombu shihan (I like Masuda, and this isn't about him personally - it's just a symptom of the situation).

Best,

Chris
Perhaps these folks can do what they do without calling it anything special? I rather suspect it's learned over thousands of hours of training. Just like someone who raced bicycles many years in the past can handle hills better than someone who's just as fit but didn't race bikes when younger - motor recruitment patterns (also called muscle memory) - Judo people who seem quite relaxed while their partners in practice work their tails off (I had an experience like that once - the guy I was practicing with was working SO hard and I wasn't even getting warmed up...

I don't really think that shihan have any magical powers. Many who purport to teach aikido are actually not very good at TEACHING.. Show and tell, yes, but not teaching. I don't understand why "IS" is anything different from "well developed skill and trained responses" Elite athletes "look" relaxed when they're setting world records - it's not magic, it's very well developed movement patterns, being able through intense, focused training to sense and anticipate others' actions - Gretzky or Crosby in ice hockey, Yamashita in judo, Ueshiba O-Sensei.

Anyhoo. Count me someone who's confused about the whole thing. And at my age, and with a crushed patella, I don't anticipate having the chance to figger it out...
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Old 04-15-2013, 01:56 PM   #39
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

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Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
I don't understand why "IS" is anything different from "well developed skill and trained responses" Elite athletes "look" relaxed when they're setting world records - it's not magic, it's very well developed movement patterns, being able through intense, focused training to sense and anticipate others' actions -
OK so in general, if you are doing something, practice it more and you get better. No one would take issue with that - the problem is whether or not someone is doing a particular thing or not. If not, practice won't improve that particular thing. First you have to start doing it.

If no one teaches it, then all we can do is try to imitate. Problem is, we may think we are doing a good job imitating but we are doing it totally differently. (In other words, "local muscle control" versus "global body control" that utilizes the tanden and a whole body's worth of developed connective tissue.)

At any rate my comments only apply if you think you may possibly not be doing it already. I don't know why I initially had that feeling 5 years ago, but upon investigation I became convinced.

But yes, if you are already doing it, then putting in the training time is all you need.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:06 PM   #40
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

I wish I had your confidence. The willingness to declare myself to be on the right track has successfully eluded me for many years and across many different tracks.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:13 PM   #41
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

It's more like, having become convinced I was on the WRONG track, I changed what I do. Doesn't mean it is dead on now, it is just the best course that I can see. My plan is to keep checking in and keep improving my course.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:52 PM   #42
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

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I for one would be interested in the back story to Sawada. I gather he was a student of both Chiba and Watanabe. What do you mean by they are "apparently acceptable" to the conventional aikido community? What mysterious things? Are they relevant to the title of this thread that I inadvertently started?

Carl
I meant the "mysterious things" that Walter referred to - ie, being thrown without knowing what happened.

By "apparently acceptable" I mean that I often see conventional Aikido instructors who are well known and popular in the community - but don't really give much explanation at all. That stands in stark contrast to some of the IP teachers around today.

The Sawada stuff - maybe if we go drinking sometime...

Best,

Chris

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Old 04-15-2013, 03:58 PM   #43
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

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Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
I don't understand why "IS" is anything different from "well developed skill and trained responses" Elite athletes "look" relaxed when they're setting world records - it's not magic, it's very well developed movement patterns, being able through intense, focused training to sense and anticipate others' actions - Gretzky or Crosby in ice hockey, Yamashita in judo, Ueshiba O-Sensei.
Of course it's not magic - no one, including Dan, has ever said that it is.

Forging a Japanese sword isn't magic either, but the chances that you'll be able to forge one with no knowledge of forging by imitating the movements that you see in a documentary without explanation are....vanishingly small. It's not quite as simple as just banging on a piece of steel with a hammer.

Some things are done differently than they're done in ice hockey, or in Judo, isn't that true for any physical activity?

Best,

Chris

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Old 04-16-2013, 07:40 AM   #44
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

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The Sawada stuff - maybe if we go drinking sometime...
I think I'd enjoy that. He's certainly game for a rumble isn't he?
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Old 04-16-2013, 07:55 PM   #45
Walter Martindale
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

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OK so in general, if you are doing something, practice it more and you get better. No one would take issue with that - the problem is whether or not someone is doing a particular thing or not. If not, practice won't improve that particular thing. First you have to start doing it.

If no one teaches it, then all we can do is try to imitate. Problem is, we may think we are doing a good job imitating but we are doing it totally differently. (In other words, "local muscle control" versus "global body control" that utilizes the tanden and a whole body's worth of developed connective tissue.)

At any rate my comments only apply if you think you may possibly not be doing it already. I don't know why I initially had that feeling 5 years ago, but upon investigation I became convinced.

But yes, if you are already doing it, then putting in the training time is all you need.
You get good at what you're doing whether or not it's a "good" performance - it has to be directed or "deliberate" practice - that means learning the actions that constitute "good" performance in whatever it is. If you're training a "bad" movement skill over and over again you get really good at doing that "bad" skill, which is unfortunate, and a severe waste of time. I've seen athletes with amazing physical tools struggle for years to overcome poor technical skills that were developed - extremely well developed - early in their sport career. You need to be lucky when you start, to find someone who helps you learn "good" skills so you don't have to fix them.

Training is also specific to the activity being trained. A GREAT judo athlete may not be great at gymnastics or Kempo or Kali, but they have an athletic ability that will assist them in learning the other activities, so they may become better at the new activities than someone with no former background in sports/MA. A GREAT aikido person may or may not be any good at (say) target shooting but they have a good chance to develop those skills because they know how to focus, train, relax, and so on, perhaps more than a couch potato who really likes twinkies (which are still made in Canada, BTW, I just don't know what they taste like).

I don't doubt that IS training is valid; I don't know if I have "IS," whatever it is, but if I do, whatever I have hasn't been called that. (I probably don't, fwiw). Ennyhoo. If I can get my knee working (the surgeon's office called today and postponed the consult.. Grrr.) properly again I'll see how much I can do about getting back into aikido and then perhaps will seek tutelage in IS... My curiosity is piqued.
W

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Old 04-17-2013, 10:34 AM   #46
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

Hi Walter,

If you find yourself coming across the border to the Buffalo area of the US, let me know and we can meet up informally. I can try to show you some of what's being discussed in terms of IS kinda "as it's own thing" as well as how I'm trying to express it in the movements of aikido. I agree with the general discussion in that it's a combination of building skill in using muscles a bit differently, while also conditioning the collaboration of the muscle-tendon-bone cooperative so that it builds in overall "strength". To me, the pure IS model is that it's a combination of skill/strength. Different martial arts may focus on different aspects of that skill/strength combo, but that's where sometimes it gets difficult to differentiate between internal strength, the techniques of a martial art and the ideal overlap between them.

Best Regards,
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:04 AM   #47
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

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Hi Walter,

If you find yourself coming across the border to the Buffalo area of the US,
Best Regards,
PM sent.
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:51 AM   #48
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Re: "Conventional Muscles" and Internal Power

Hi Walter, I agree 100% with that post. I guess my point was something like this:

Within one strategy of coordinating the body, there are infinite specific skillsets (different sports, activities, etc) as you mention. If there are 2 strategies of coordinating the body, then you can have sport #1 done with coordination strategy #1 or coordination strategy #2.

So, if learning a new activity within one coordination strategy can be a little bit hard. But you have much less work to do than learning an entirely new coordination strategy. In which case, you have to learn how to sit, stand, walk, reach, etc, with the new coordination. Once you have that then more fun things like martial arts are much easier.

Anyway that's a bit of thread drift I think. In terms of identifying what is "conventional" vs "internal," I don't have much more to say than my previous "combinations of local muscle action" vs "tanden-controlled body-wide tensile web" descriptions. Good luck in Buffalo!
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