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Old 08-09-2013, 08:30 AM   #1
phitruong
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Re: to ki or not to ki

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Krystal Locke wrote: View Post
That sounds more like good biomechanics to me. The ability to arrange the body so that incoming force is borne by aligned skeletal structure rather than resisted by muscular contraction. Is ki just good physics?
it is. it's what the internal folks called ground path exercise. someone pushed your right shoulder. you focus on create a path between your right shoulder and your left foot, through your body, so that you only feel the pressure at the contact points: righ shoulder where the other person palm touched you and the bottom of your left foot. your body would microscopically readjust itself, if you relax enough (tohei's relax completely which is strange because if you do, you would be a wet noodle. and us guys don't like wet noodle, because it's unmanly.). now see if you can shift (using your intent/mind) the pressure to your righ foot, then back and forth between the left and right foot, then split between the two feet. also, while you are doing this, your body shouldn't move; thus, internal, right? then the next part is to see if you can reflect the push back to the pusher, again, without you physically moving your body, sort of turn your body to a mirror. sort of tilt the mirror so the light (the push) reflecting in the direction you want. this is what some internal folks called jin (mind directed force). if you have attend Ikeda sensei seminar, you heard him mentioned the term "kata" which he described as creating the shape of what you want before the contact made. it's another take on what i described above but a bit more advance. actually, Ikeda sensei created shapes within shapes, i.e. on contact he would reflect your power in multiple vectors at the same time so your body couldn't figure out how to deal with it. normally, your body/mind can deal with one or two force vectors at the same time, but more than 3, your body/mind couldn't handle it. methink, this is called fure aiki which i pronounced as furry aiki or harry aiki which happened to Moe.

also, the internal folks could put themselves into a ridiculous drunken monkey kungfu (don't know why some sick bastard would get a monkey drunk in order to learn kungfu) position that looked like they ready to fall over any time, but if you push on them, then can still do what i just described above, i.e. doesn't have to be body physically aligned to the applied force. they could do it, not optimal, but they could. and yes, i have seen it done, live, as in i was the pusher.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 08-09-2013, 12:20 PM   #2
Alex Megann
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

"Ki", or "Aiki"?

Aiki: good physics...

Ki: no idea...

Alex
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Old 08-09-2013, 01:05 PM   #3
Gerardo Torres
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

Quote:
Alex Megann wrote: View Post
"Ki", or "Aiki"?

Aiki: good physics...

Ki: no idea...

Alex
The way I see it, ki is a process that links mind and body to express power. So the expression of ki is definitely physical, but the mind is involved (which is intangible). I would say that a person with "strong ki" is one who is good at linking or co-ordinating mind and body to express power. So if I were to define ki as the effect perceived by an observer/uke, I would say: ki = power (definitely a physical process, as I believe ki balls and no-touch throws etc are all BS). Anyway, it's easy to get swayed by the long history of mystery and mysticism associated with the concept of ki in martial arts; I personally prefer to see ki as simply a concept that when constrained withing the right models it can be useful for learning and teaching certain skills.

Aiki is the union of two ki of opposing directions. Very difficult to do. Saying any of this stuff is "just physics" is almost an oversimplification as saying "eh you're just using atoms, is that all there is to it really? I already use atoms" .
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Old 08-10-2013, 07:00 PM   #4
hughrbeyer
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

Yeah, what Gerardo said. Ki's certainly physical--if you accept the mind as physical, and the mind's affect on the body as physical--and the affects of aiki are surely also physical in the same way.

But if you think of it as physical, you're likely to think of levers and muscular motion, which will never get you to aiki. "Aligned," for example, will make you think of lining up your structure to resist a push--which is totally ineffective from the martial point of view. So instead, there are all these impractical visualizations which can't really happen but which *will* get you to aiki.

The black rose does not exist. Believe, therefore, in the black rose.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 08-10-2013, 07:17 PM   #5
graham christian
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

Ki........Spiritual

Ai.......Spiritual

Ueshiba's aiki.........Spiritual.

Aiki being taught lately.....mental/physical.

Peace.G.
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Old 08-11-2013, 03:22 PM   #6
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

Maybe the sum of the whole is just greater than it's parts.

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Old 08-11-2013, 04:16 PM   #7
graham christian
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

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Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Maybe the sum of the whole is just greater than it's parts.
The sum of the whole is indeed always greater. Yet a part of a bicycle is not part of the whole of a Ferari.

Peace.G.
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:22 PM   #8
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

I'll say this. I've never personally come across a teacher who used, talked about, or whom I thought used Ki.

I have, however, laid hands on people who, when something they do is really, really good, and very, very light but feels tremendously overwhelming to receive as uke -- start laughing and say, well, I finally did that pretty good, there, huh.

They are joking of course, it wasn't "finally," these people have been at "it" for 30, 40 and a couple for 50-odd years. Of COURSE their stuff seems magical to me, practitioner getting ready to cross the 2 decade mark...

I find it interesting that the kanji character for kuzushi illustrates a mountain falling on a house.
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Old 08-12-2013, 07:27 PM   #9
hughrbeyer
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

Musing on this, I realized that I actually have heard most about ki in my training from the first group I studied with. They were a Tomiki Aikido group under Merritt Stevens. Stevens Sensei (I don't know that he ever laid claim to the title of Shihan, tho he had the rank for it) taught aikido to LEO's across Ohio and the Midwest and was seriously badass; there was no tanking, fancy throws, or ribbons in his aikido.

Yet he and his students talked about using ki to make aikido waza work properly. I don't know that he had a deep theory of ki--if he did, I never heard him talk of it--but we would hear things like, "use your ki to nail his foot to the floor," or "send his ki right back at him," or "point your finger to direct your ki."

I think in the discussions here, we have some folks who are, perhaps, excessively spiritual and mystic in their use of ki--and we have others who, perhaps in reaction, are excessively material and unwilling to give any ground to the word or the concept.

But since I was introduced to the concept in a very grounded, practical way I've never worried about it or been embarrassed by it. It has always been just part of the landscape.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:24 PM   #10
graham christian
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Musing on this, I realized that I actually have heard most about ki in my training from the first group I studied with. They were a Tomiki Aikido group under Merritt Stevens. Stevens Sensei (I don't know that he ever laid claim to the title of Shihan, tho he had the rank for it) taught aikido to LEO's across Ohio and the Midwest and was seriously badass; there was no tanking, fancy throws, or ribbons in his aikido.

Yet he and his students talked about using ki to make aikido waza work properly. I don't know that he had a deep theory of ki--if he did, I never heard him talk of it--but we would hear things like, "use your ki to nail his foot to the floor," or "send his ki right back at him," or "point your finger to direct your ki."

I think in the discussions here, we have some folks who are, perhaps, excessively spiritual and mystic in their use of ki--and we have others who, perhaps in reaction, are excessively material and unwilling to give any ground to the word or the concept.

But since I was introduced to the concept in a very grounded, practical way I've never worried about it or been embarrassed by it. It has always been just part of the landscape.
Interesting that you see it so. I find the mere mention of Ki or spiritual somewhere along the way will result in talk of ribbons or such. It always amuses me.

When it's real then it is very practical. I was taught in an environment much like you describe above and indeed teach such too. Anyone who has ever trained with me has no illusions about it's realness and practicality. In fact I would say in my way of teaching Ki is more 'solid' than physical muscle or body or biomechanics thereof.

I don't teach stepping on others toes though, either literally or metaphorically.

Peace.G.
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Old 08-12-2013, 10:29 PM   #11
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

What I have heard aikidoists call ki I would define as using visualization to achieve good physics.

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Old 08-13-2013, 07:51 AM   #12
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

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What I have heard aikidoists call ki I would define as using visualization to achieve good physics.
Using visualization as a component of training is an excellent way to enhance muscle memory which will help with internalizing the mechanics of technique execution. Ki is something else altogether. Taking the time to visualize a technique before executing it takes one out of the moment, weakening mind/body coordination which will result in one being in less than his/her most dependable and powerful state (no Ki).

The synergy of mind/body coordination (Ki extension) allows the practitioner to perform at higher levels of proficiency than would otherwise be possible in its absence. This is easily demonstrated via Ki testing by having students perform the tests both with and without a high degree of mind/body coordination. Likewise the ability to coordinate mind and body can be strengthened by using the Ki test as an exercise whereby the student is subject to gradually increased loads that require higher degrees of mind/body coordination to successfully deal with.

To answer the question posed in the OP, I'd have to say that no, Ki isn't just good physics (meaning that manifesting Ki is more than correct mechanical execution of technique).

Ron

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Old 08-13-2013, 08:46 AM   #13
phitruong
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

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Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Taking the time to visualize a technique before executing it takes one out of the moment, weakening mind/body coordination which will result in one being in less than his/her most dependable and powerful state (no Ki).
i would disagree with this. as the uke for Ikeda sensei a number of times, he had no problem of dropping me on my ass whether i wanted to not. i mentioned above about his concept of "kata". essentially, visualize the technique, be it ikkyo or kotegaeshi or shihonage or whatever, before contact made. i have followed this approach and it worked quite well. and when i said visualization, i don't mean..oh my left hand needs to do this, my right foot need to do this, and ....ooo wait my head need to turn this way..... the example that Ikeda sensei mentioned was like a cookie cutter. you use the cookie cutter to stamp the shapes of the cookie. to form the cookie cutter ahead of time (visualize) and not wait until you make cookie, then try to start getting out a sheet of metal and forming the cookie cutter. and the forming of the cookie cutter, kata, happens in fraction of a second. of course, like verything we do, this required training, lots of training. however, the visualization happens before the technique execute, actually, before contact was made.

Quote:
The synergy of mind/body coordination (Ki extension) allows the practitioner to perform at higher levels of proficiency than would otherwise be possible in its absence. This is easily demonstrated via Ki testing by having students perform the tests both with and without a high degree of mind/body coordination. Likewise the ability to coordinate mind and body can be strengthened by using the Ki test as an exercise whereby the student is subject to gradually increased loads that require higher degrees of mind/body coordination to successfully deal with.
Ron
based on your statements, would that mean ki = mind/body coordination? the mind will it, and the body execute it? want to throw something in here. the new fighter jet designed with very high degree of instability which required a fast computer to make constant minute adjustments. the new jet fighter cannot be flown manually by any pilot. since its brain (computer) and its body (jet fighter plane) are highly in sync, wouldn't that mean the new jet fighter plane has high degree of ki?

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:58 AM   #14
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

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i would disagree with this. as the uke for Ikeda sensei a number of times, he had no problem of dropping me on my ass whether i wanted to not. i mentioned above about his concept of "kata". essentially, visualize the technique, be it ikkyo or kotegaeshi or shihonage or whatever, before contact made. i have followed this approach and it worked quite well. and when i said visualization, i don't mean..oh my left hand needs to do this, my right foot need to do this, and ....ooo wait my head need to turn this way..... the example that Ikeda sensei mentioned was like a cookie cutter. you use the cookie cutter to stamp the shapes of the cookie. to form the cookie cutter ahead of time (visualize) and not wait until you make cookie, then try to start getting out a sheet of metal and forming the cookie cutter. and the forming of the cookie cutter, kata, happens in fraction of a second. of course, like verything we do, this required training, lots of training. however, the visualization happens before the technique execute, actually, before contact was made.
That might work for demonstrating an idea, but in the heat of the moment (such as during randori) when you have no idea what uke is going to do, having to visualize a technique (cookie cutter or no) will cost you valuable time. Not only that, predetermining what you are going to do in a given situation leaves you in the lurch if uke does something you aren't expecting. It just seems like a lot of extra work that costs you time. My own preference is to be in the moment trusting that my years of practice will enable me to appropriately respond no matter how uke behaves.

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
based on your statements, would that mean ki = mind/body coordination?
Ki is evidently manifest when mind and body are highly coordinated, yes.

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
the mind will it, and the body execute it?
Yes and no.

Yes, the mind must use the body to realize intent. However, with a high degree of coordination the 'mind will it, body execute it' loop operates on an unconscious level because the interval separating 'think and do' is too small to notice.

No, a highly coordinated mind and body act as a unified whole, not separate parts.

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
want to throw something in here. the new fighter jet designed with very high degree of instability which required a fast computer to make constant minute adjustments. the new jet fighter cannot be flown manually by any pilot. since its brain (computer) and its body (jet fighter plane) are highly in sync, wouldn't that mean the new jet fighter plane has high degree of ki?
Torturing the metaphor some, but looked at as a metaphor then yes.

Ron

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Old 08-13-2013, 09:59 AM   #15
KEM
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

I don't think that Ki violates any basics of physics. Exquisite timing, precision and subtle gestures which capitalize on instinctual reactions merge to create an effect which appears magical and often feels that way. Tohei Sensei was a master of precision and drawing out the body into three dimensional orientations which left it very briefly 'weightless' or nearly so. Regarding techniques such as kiatsu it can feel 'magical' I don't know how much research has been done to explore the physiological underpinnings. Much like acupuncture it is hard to study but it often works.The ability to move effectively with elegance and grace is a gift some have but most need years of experience to develop.
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Old 08-13-2013, 12:00 PM   #16
phitruong
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

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Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
That might work for demonstrating an idea, but in the heat of the moment (such as during randori) when you have no idea what uke is going to do, having to visualize a technique (cookie cutter or no) will cost you valuable time. Not only that, predetermining what you are going to do in a given situation leaves you in the lurch if uke does something you aren't expecting. It just seems like a lot of extra work that costs you time.

Ron
doesn't cost me time as all. actually, it saves me time, since i am always there before my ukes. i don't have problem doing in randori either, and our randori approach is that all ukes will try to swamp you. they aren't going to play fair and doing one-on-one with you. i don't have problem planing ahead, be in the moment, and analyzed past actions.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 08-13-2013, 02:11 PM   #17
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
doesn't cost me time as all. actually, it saves me time, since i am always there before my ukes. i don't have problem doing in randori either, and our randori approach is that all ukes will try to swamp you. they aren't going to play fair and doing one-on-one with you. i don't have problem planing ahead, be in the moment, and analyzed past actions.
Sounds a lot like you have a highly coordinated mind/body. Your think/do loop is obviously very tight and you don't have to consciously will your body to move as a separate act. Congratulations, you manifest Ki.

Different maps, different roads, different terminology... same destination.

Ron

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Old 08-13-2013, 02:32 PM   #18
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

Have to agree with Phi on this one. Sensei's technique of "pregaming" puts you ahead of the game.
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Old 08-13-2013, 02:37 PM   #19
phitruong
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

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Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Sounds a lot like you have a highly coordinated mind/body. Your think/do loop is obviously very tight and you don't have to consciously will your body to move as a separate act. Congratulations, you manifest Ki.
Ron
what i manifested is a high degree of bullshitting which related to mu-waza which is a distant cousin to ahkidyounotjutsu. you do not want me to manifest ki. with my consumption of beans, cabagge, and fermented stuffs like kimchi (blame Janet on this), you do not ever want me to manifest ki, at least, not within the same county with you.

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Old 08-13-2013, 03:54 PM   #20
Janet Rosen
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

Yep, always my fault. I behold the enemy before me ... I am already standing behind him wielding my ferments.
And on topic....I think Phi is absolutely right. My own feeling is that what I was taught in Ki Soc. lineage dojo as using or extending ki is totally congruent with what many friends in the ASU consider intent and coordination of internal structure. In practice on the mat, I find the word "intent" much better understood by newbies and so easier to manifest :-)

Last edited by Janet Rosen : 08-13-2013 at 03:58 PM.

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Old 08-13-2013, 09:02 PM   #21
hughrbeyer
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

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Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Using visualization as a component of training is an excellent way to enhance muscle memory which will help with internalizing the mechanics of technique execution. Ki is something else altogether. Taking the time to visualize a technique before executing it takes one out of the moment, weakening mind/body coordination which will result in one being in less than his/her most dependable and powerful state (no Ki).
This is why I'm uncomfortable with describing ki as "just" good structure, proper alignment, or even "skillful means." When you try to break it down to physics, you're prone to take an analytic approach--you divide it up into a collection of parts, and then try to link the parts back together by thinking.

This is the opposite of what working with ki should do--ki as a metaphor should link all the parts automatically, through feeling, rather than working at such linkage by thinking. So, yeah, in the moment you should not have to think through what you're doing.

I don't think Ikeda's approach is much different. He's just emphasizing working with the parts--just as ki tests work different aspects--so that when working in the moment you don't have to think through what you're doing.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:15 PM   #22
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
This is why I'm uncomfortable with describing ki as "just" good structure, proper alignment, or even "skillful means." When you try to break it down to physics, you're prone to take an analytic approach--you divide it up into a collection of parts, and then try to link the parts back together by thinking.

This is the opposite of what working with ki should do--ki as a metaphor should link all the parts automatically, through feeling, rather than working at such linkage by thinking. So, yeah, in the moment you should not have to think through what you're doing.

I don't think Ikeda's approach is much different. He's just emphasizing working with the parts--just as ki tests work different aspects--so that when working in the moment you don't have to think through what you're doing.
Nice analysis Hugh; especially "...ki as a metaphor should link all the parts automatically, through feeling, rather than working at such linkage by thinking." and "He's just emphasizing working with the parts--just as ki tests work different aspects--so that when working in the moment you don't have to think through what you're doing."

Ron

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Old 08-15-2013, 10:14 AM   #23
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

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Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Nice analysis Hugh; especially "...ki as a metaphor should link all the parts automatically, through feeling, rather than working at such linkage by thinking." and "He's just emphasizing working with the parts--just as ki tests work different aspects--so that when working in the moment you don't have to think through what you're doing." Ron
But that is not enough. Because "feeling" still works from conscious voluntary action/reaction. Aiki works at a reflexive level -- way ahead of ALL conscious voluntary action -- whether directed by conscious perception or rational thought -- and thus, when done properly has that "spooky" quality that is difficult to define. Ikeda demonstrates this marvelously.

You can only ever directly perceive the RESULT, but not the reflexive action itself, because it actually precedes in time -- not only your perception of it occurring, -- but also your perception of your reflexive response to it. "What just happened" arrives before your perception of what caused that response. This -- of course -- is exactly the thing of inestimable martial value we are seeking because anyone able to access effective action that proceeds in advance of perception stands, in a sense, outside any reactive dynamic depending on conscious perception. "Timing" in the sense of sente has no role -- as O Sensei himself noted:

Quote:
Interview -1957 wrote:
O Sensei: ... We adhere to the principle of absolute nonresistance, that is to say, we do not oppose the attacker. Thus, there is no opponent in Aikido. The victory in Aikido is masakatsu and agatsu; since you win over everything in accordance with the mission of heaven, you possess absolute strength.

B: Does that mean go no sen? (This term refers to a late response to an attack.)

O Sensei: Absolutely not. It is not a question of either sensen no sen or sen no sen. If I were to try to verbalize it I would say that you control your opponent without trying to control him. That is, the state of continuous victory. There isn't any question of winning over or losing to an opponent. In this sense, there is no opponent in Aikido. Even if you have an opponent, he becomes a part of you, a partner you control only.
.

That does create a training paradox -- for how does one voluntarily go about training to condition reflexive behavior that is, by definition, antecedent to voluntary motor skills. It is, as the play said: ... "a puzzlement."

It is one of the chief reasons why I think that discussions on these topics so often breaks down -- because we are discussing something fundamental that always occurs in a bit of a "black box" -- and it is precisely that irreducible quality that makes it valuable and uniquely effective.

The dynamic being used is not actually itself a trained skill -- in the sense of motor or muscle "memory" (cerebellar-mediated procedural or patterned motor actuation) -- and approached in that way, by training muscle memory to "efficiently" perform technique/waza is fundamental error at least as it regards aiki (and the IP devotees are correct here, IMO). That does not mean that these patterns are without training value however.

But there is absolutely training involved in conditioning the body to respond correctly to action initiated automatically and reflexively -- and then to pattern its trained motor actions that follow FROM the reflexive template in certain very patterned structural ways that maximize the exploitation of that system and the structural response of the human body to it.

THOSE patterns extend across all waza --- which are in a continuum. The correct continuum of action in one's own body and not requiring conscious control to actuate is represented and trained in the aiki taiso. The specifically denominated waza or techniques are simply slices of that continuum presented in a certain and essentially arbitrary circumstantial configuration when working with another body that is ALSO not under your conscious control. Actuating his body in this mode is exactly the same as actuating my own.

Training must engender a degree of trust in that kind of innate action -- correctly followed -- and following without fear or a reactive mind wherever such things lead on their own . Teaching well in this mode -- IME -- means demonstrating and encouraging that trust by showing THROUGH those more simply grasped approximations in each named waza ( each being but a miniscule segment of the total pattern) -- how they actually seamlessly blend into and over one another as anything or even everything changes They form a totalizing pattern of reflexively driven, but essentially cooperative action in response to anything that happens.

Thought and feeling are equally applicable to observing and correcting these patterns. Physics or mechanics approaches are useful if they lead to better identification of the total pattern. If such close analysis does not does not lend itself to that ultimate synthesis -- then that method is probably wrong for a given person. An opposite error is true of over-relying on feeling. ,Just as mechanical approaches can have a bias top become ineffectually procedural -- "feeling" approaches can have an illusory sense of synthesis, from a "feels right" sensibility that comes from a mere self-deceiving "ease" in action as a result of the necessarily cooperative training.

But in my experience it is invaluable to identify and provide correction in arbitrarily small deviations from the true pattern, and which are therefore more immediately digestible by the student when they can be broken down analytically, and then immediately built back into the continuum of action being trained.

Both the correct form -- and the feeling of the form -- are developed in voluntary repetitive practice, even though the use of those patterns in actual application come before any thought OR conscious feeling or perception can intervene -- much less control what ultimately occurs.

Our only real "control" lies in the realization and trust that we have successfully accessed a part of the total pattern -- and the pattern controls everything that occurs.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 08-15-2013, 10:25 AM   #24
jonreading
 
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

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Your think/do loop is obviously very tight and you don't have to consciously will your body to move as a separate act.
I have used the example before, but there is a study out there that talks about the gap between the average body reflex to hit a baseball and the time it takes for the ball to travel from the pitcher to the plate. Personally, I belive that something must exist which allows this gap to be bridged, as evidenced by Major League baseball.

"Just" makes me nervous. The foundation of aiki may be "just" good physics, but I am not sure about aiki. My first instructor used to differentiate between musubi and aiki. Musubi was a solid foundation and a connection with your partner. Aiki was more.

Saotome Sensei used to describe driving a car in analogy to aiki. In the beginning, we need to concentrate on on feet and the petals, both our hands steering the wheel, constantly checking our mirrors. Then, gearing into first on a incline... Holy s&#%. What about taking a hand off the wheel to use the turn signal... Which way does the d%#$^ thing go. Over time, we become more comfortable with the process and our body and mind start to work together and next thing you know... flipping radio stations while putting on make-up and texting the honey-do list. Not that I ever do that while driving...because that would be dangerous... and illegal...and I don't wear make-up.

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Old 08-20-2013, 12:24 AM   #25
CorkyQ
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Re: Is ki just good physics?

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Erick Mead wrote: View Post
But that is not enough. Because "feeling" still works from conscious voluntary action/reaction. Aiki works at a reflexive level -- way ahead of ALL conscious voluntary action -- whether directed by conscious perception or rational thought -- and thus, when done properly has that "spooky" quality that is difficult to define. Ikeda demonstrates this marvelously.

You can only ever directly perceive the RESULT, but not the reflexive action itself, because it actually precedes in time -- not only your perception of it occurring, -- but also your perception of your reflexive response to it. "What just happened" arrives before your perception of what caused that response. This -- of course -- is exactly the thing of inestimable martial value we are seeking because anyone able to access effective action that proceeds in advance of perception stands, in a sense, outside any reactive dynamic depending on conscious perception. "Timing" in the sense of sente has no role -- as O Sensei himself noted:

That does create a training paradox -- for how does one voluntarily go about training to condition reflexive behavior that is, by definition, antecedent to voluntary motor skills. It is, as the play said: ... "a puzzlement."

It is one of the chief reasons why I think that discussions on these topics so often breaks down -- because we are discussing something fundamental that always occurs in a bit of a "black box" -- and it is precisely that irreducible quality that makes it valuable and uniquely effective.

The dynamic being used is not actually itself a trained skill -- in the sense of motor or muscle "memory" (cerebellar-mediated procedural or patterned motor actuation) -- and approached in that way, by training muscle memory to "efficiently" perform technique/waza is fundamental error at least as it regards aiki (and the IP devotees are correct here, IMO). That does not mean that these patterns are without training value however.

But there is absolutely training involved in conditioning the body to respond correctly to action initiated automatically and reflexively -- and then to pattern its trained motor actions that follow FROM the reflexive template in certain very patterned structural ways that maximize the exploitation of that system and the structural response of the human body to it.

THOSE patterns extend across all waza --- which are in a continuum. The correct continuum of action in one's own body and not requiring conscious control to actuate is represented and trained in the aiki taiso. The specifically denominated waza or techniques are simply slices of that continuum presented in a certain and essentially arbitrary circumstantial configuration when working with another body that is ALSO not under your conscious control. Actuating his body in this mode is exactly the same as actuating my own.

Training must engender a degree of trust in that kind of innate action -- correctly followed -- and following without fear or a reactive mind wherever such things lead on their own . Teaching well in this mode -- IME -- means demonstrating and encouraging that trust by showing THROUGH those more simply grasped approximations in each named waza ( each being but a miniscule segment of the total pattern) -- how they actually seamlessly blend into and over one another as anything or even everything changes They form a totalizing pattern of reflexively driven, but essentially cooperative action in response to anything that happens.

Thought and feeling are equally applicable to observing and correcting these patterns. Physics or mechanics approaches are useful if they lead to better identification of the total pattern. If such close analysis does not does not lend itself to that ultimate synthesis -- then that method is probably wrong for a given person. An opposite error is true of over-relying on feeling. ,Just as mechanical approaches can have a bias top become ineffectually procedural -- "feeling" approaches can have an illusory sense of synthesis, from a "feels right" sensibility that comes from a mere self-deceiving "ease" in action as a result of the necessarily cooperative training.

But in my experience it is invaluable to identify and provide correction in arbitrarily small deviations from the true pattern, and which are therefore more immediately digestible by the student when they can be broken down analytically, and then immediately built back into the continuum of action being trained.

Both the correct form -- and the feeling of the form -- are developed in voluntary repetitive practice, even though the use of those patterns in actual application come before any thought OR conscious feeling or perception can intervene -- much less control what ultimately occurs.

Our only real "control" lies in the realization and trust that we have successfully accessed a part of the total pattern -- and the pattern controls everything that occurs.
In the book Aikido, 1958, K. Ueshiba, under the guidance of Morihei Ueshiba, in the section called "Basic Knowledge" are two points (out of nine) dedicated to ki flow. Even though the concepts were presented as "basic knowledge" and fundamental to the practice of Aikido, it is acknowledged by the author that they are not easy concepts to grasp or explain.

In the book, "stream of spirit" is described as a connective bond between aikido partners born of "mental activity." Its final descriptor in that section refers to it as a "state of all-is-one."

I use the word intention and if you apply it to the anecdotes used in the book to describe "stream of spirit" perhaps you will understand where I am coming from.

The second reference in "Basic Knowledge" is Extension of Power. For me this backs up my use of the word intention with the description in the first paragraph: "...the MOTION of Aikido is not merely based on physical powers, but on spiritual powers." It then goes on explaining how to produce a flow of this "power" from the centrum out through the extremities. It makes an absolute distinction (in English) between "spirit power" and "force power." It even goes on to describe a child who is incapable of lifting more than 50 pounds being able to "bewilder" someone capable of lifting 500 pounds. From this description I find it easy to infer two things; Ueshiba recognized and utilized ki as something other than muscular strength; that anyone is capable of this use of ki, not just shihan.

About ten years ago I realized that twenty years of technique-emulation based training had not worked for me, and I gave up trying to learn from technique except from how variations in ukemi would affect outcome. In "Enlightenment Through Aikido" by Kanshu Sunadomari, an early student of the Founder who started founded his own dojo in 1951 in Kumomoto, the author described being challenged by the local martial artists who then had never heard of "aikido." He describes the revelation to him through these experiences that technique would only take him so far; his remedy was to study the words of the Founder to understand the meaning from a spiritual perspective.

Using this book as inspiration, I gave up technique emulation as a learning/teaching model and focused on the nature of the energy exchange between uke and nage, but from a spiritual perspective. What I have observed and demonstrated to others is that, as the book Aikido describes, the spiritual flow between partners is essential. Many like myself have come to call this a center-to-center connection.

Extension of power, says the book, "accordingly…causes an extension of physical powers." For me this has come to be understood as a continuum of intention, ki flow, and action, in that order and always arising from the intention.

To approach aikido from a non-technique emulation practice, authentic attack energy is necessary because aikido is only applicable to attack (differentiated from aiki principles which may apply throughout one's life in many ways). In the study of attack from a spiritual perspective, my conclusions about intention have been reaffirmed, because without an intention to connect to the central core of the target in a meaningful, impactful way, no aikido will manifest, unless the "aikidoist" uses brute force to employ an aikido shaped throw (counter attacks using technique).

Once one's partner understands and can produce and maintain energy through authentic attack intention to nage's central core, one can start to see how hardwiring in the lower brain produces an instant defense response. This is great for fighting, but no so good for aikido. I can demonstrate the principles of uke/nage interchange in a hard style application of aikido, but the problem is two fold. The hard martial use of aikido principles will trigger defense mechanisms in a attacker who is not 100% committed, and in the case of the attacker following through on his attack despite the aikido counter attack, the attacker leaves the event with the feeling of being bested, thereby promoting retaliation, and perhaps an escalation of the conflict, which I feel is not the purpose of aikido.

When working with a partner who is not just "giving ukemi" but is dedicated to directing a flow of penetrative energy to one's center, it is then much easier to see where one's own lower brain has reflexively put one into fighting mode rather than a "state of all-is-one."

This is perhaps as challenging as any aikido practice can be because rather than uke giving nage "practice dummy" energy so that a prescribed aiki path can be trained, uke puts nage under pressure, thereby usually eliciting the default limbic response immediately. At this point in the conversation I like to point out that this is not an intention to stop the aikido. That would be a defense rather than an attack. I can demonstrate the difference.

This is the point where the "paradox" of aikido is revealed to be less of a paradox than a call for a paradigm shift.

The conflict is between lower brain responses, hardwired through millions of years of central nervous system evolution for a creature to survive at any expense, and our neocortex reasoning and abstract thoughts that allow us to respond from a place of higher consciousness in lieu of reflex.

Mr. Mead, I believe this is what you are getting at, but I also have found that it can be realized through rational thought.

The lower brain will fight tooth and nail against the idea that love will produce a flow of energy that will be an effective defense against physical assault. Intermediate level students in my classes will stay "stuck" as long as their intentions are defense oriented. Sometimes the defense intention will be very subtle, but as long as it is there, there will be some indication of its presence.

But as soon as they can transcend the lower brain response and enter a "state of all-is-one," which we practice by generating beneficent intention, the aikido spontaneously manifests, sometimes like things you might think of as aikido techniques, but usually in more immediate, more direct paths. In zen this is mushin, but as we are interacting with a partner, the no-mind has a "flavor" of compassion or loving kindness. The way we train to generate beneficent intention often includes mental imagery of things that induce love.

It is totally a trainable thing, and I don't think Ikeda Sensei goes around showing stuff he doesn't think anyone can do but him. We practice what he shows in our dojo, and that is all we practice. It is no mystery to us - it is definitely awe-inspiring when nage finds that state and embodies it - on both sides of the aikido - but it is not a mystery. We do it all the time - even beginners. The training becomes about shifting intention from the automatic to the conscious.

Here is a clip of one of my training partners, Rene, beginning with him working with an 11 year old after regular class about three years ago: http://youtu.be/kkOa3FRfu5k

As you can see we don't teach him how to move, we instruct from intention. Rene is not being brutal but he is being relentless with his attack intention like he would with anyone in the dojo. The kind of ukemi you see in the rest of this clip may look like normal ukemi during some parts, but in my experience, if I were to attack average aikido practitioners the way Rene and I are attacking, most would either panic and/or try to force Rene or me into a throw using a technique. I would bet that 2% will actually find aiki under this kind of pressure. It wouldn't be because either Rene or I were being defensive against the aikido, or just bad ukes - just the opposite. The energy we are giving should have us on the mat very quickly, just as you see it happening with each other, but most people have not trained to work with authentic attack intention.

The key instruction which provided the aha moment for this young student was when he took the advice to "share." Had he misunderstood the word and taken it to mean he had to give a portion of what's his to someone else, he wouldn't have been able find aiki. But he actually embodied the idea of sharing and the ki extended out of him to Rene. Because Rene kept his attack up we see him go to the ground. "Sharing" from a pure intention is beneficial to the "extendee."

Next some jiuwaza practice, at 1:30 Rene responds to my shomen attack with a technique which brings him to the ground because employing one of his old hard style techniques made him into the primary attacker. My attack took on aikido characteristics, but this just goes to show that the attack intention never let up.

Around 3:00 Rene then gets stuck because his limbic system triggers defense from my attack. You can see him start and stop because he can feel that he is automatically trying to apply force and refuses to do so as to use force just to do the throw would be meaningless in this kind of practice. Instead, he extends ki through his other hand to complete the circuit. There is no physical force there, but there is a flow of ki. This can't be faked by either one of us because we have an agreement in our dojo not to let each other get away with anything.

Practicing this way reveals the literal truth in masakatsu agatsu and makes it our operating principle, because without transcending the lower brain response, the fighting mind, to a state of higher consciousness we will see no aikido.

If you (or any other readers) live in or are visiting the Los Angeles area and would like to experience what I am talking about (or just call me on my b.s.), please feel free to contact me.
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