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Old 10-04-2013, 08:00 AM   #126
jonreading
 
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
I think there is a danger in equating IP with alignment and structure. It is neither in the sense one normally thinks about them, and it is especially not alignment, nor trying to structure the bones of the skeleton. You're not trying to, as we might usually think, "get behind" or "take" force - so please let no one take away the idea that internal power is this, because it is not, and that has already caused much debate on this forum among people who may not appreciate this particular viewpoint.

I made this mistake early on and only started making real progress once I dropped this misconception for good. I had to even give up certain activities like weight lifting (by my own choice) that only served to reinforce this pattern on a subconscious level and prevented me from being able to manifest the ideas despite much effort.

There is a certain form of "structure" that arises from a body that is supported in all directions, but definitely don't think of taking stuff to the ground or making paths or anything like that. There is no one direction or path. You are going from your dantien/hara/tanden/whatever-you-prefer-to-call-it out to everywhere (that includes everywhere in yourself, not just everywhere outside of yourself - "aiki in me before aiki in thee") and it is this that puts you on the floating bridge of heaven, not trying to align joints or make a structure with the bones. Again, forget about ground paths or lines or connecting to someone's center or anything that takes you out of neutral and gives your directionality a bias. If someone comes into contact with your surface, there's no need for you to connect with them, because you were already connected with everything. The ground is not special in this sense - it's just something contacting you, and it is no more privileged than anything else, the end.

Like the surface of inflated balloon, there is a tautness and lack of slack that comes from everywhere on the surface, so everywhere you touch the balloon you feel the integrity of that pressure. But if you were to put a hole in the balloon anywhere, anywhere at all, this nice tautness is gone, the balloon is now a deflated piece of rubber. One little gap in your all-sided support, and your profoundly neutral body is for crap, it is no longer profoundly neutral.

That is in one sense why this is so hard to do, and why it is so hard at first to really understand what the fuss is about - because most likely one has nothing, nothing at all, and doesn't realize it, so one can't feel any absence of the ability. Only when you start to get a little bit of it somewhere, does the daunting task of building that impenetrable surface start to dawn on you... That is, again, the grand irony of it. Someone may think he has something initially, only because, really, he just has nothing and is blissfully unaware.

There are certain conceptions of structure that are certainly powerful and are yet different from this, and they're scattered all over Asian martial arts, but they are not the kind of neutral body that you need as the basis of aiki, so don't make the mistake of conflating them and presenting this idea, like has been presented elsewhere, that they're all the same or somehow equally interchangeable.

Just clarifying...
Yes. We have started thinking more about suspension. This imagery seems to help us understand "alignment" but from the standpoint not of compression, but extension (suspension).

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Old 10-04-2013, 08:29 AM   #127
Cady Goldfield
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Yes. We have started thinking more about suspension. This imagery seems to help us understand "alignment" but from the standpoint not of compression, but extension (suspension).
Suspension and extension that works the length of the spine, from the top of the skull on down.
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Old 10-04-2013, 11:51 AM   #128
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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FWIW, there are threads in this forum where people have explained some of Dan's exercises in good detail and this was while he was still a participating member here. It doesn't matter what you provide, some people will always hold out their hand and demand more.
Yes. People have done a good job in the past, and in this thread, describing key aspects of the methodology. But there's still not much value without hands-on. As one of those older threads admonishes:

Quote:
This particular work needs to be taught in detail, questions answered as a students intuition kicks in, and language to [b]e definitive, both in metaphor and in anatomical detail. . . . We are no longer doing the koryu family style one to one model in small settings in the village where you absorbed it.
So, it took daily immersion over the course of a good part of a lifetime historically to keep the knowledge alive and transferred from one generation to another in Asia. And even with the more progressive teaching models available today, too much gets lost due to mis-interpretation without hands-on to properly tune descriptions of metaphor and anatomical detail to the student, at any given point in time in his/her development. This thread, and its predecessors, provide more than an admirable intellectual entry point. The rest requires bowing in, showing up in person. Y'know: the same way any version of aikido is best transmitted.

Oh, and "here" in my previous post meant "Hawaii", not AikiWeb -- though Mike, as discussed earlier, has been forthcoming on this forum regarding exercises people can try.

Mert
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Old 10-04-2013, 12:45 PM   #129
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Hey, guys, your're not supposed to be sharing this stuff. You know, people gotta make their money...

Seriously, I openly work in what I can when I teach and train. I try to explain on-line but find it remarkably difficult, especially when I've got someone on the other end saying "that's what I already do". Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, I have no way of knowing. And then the conversation usually degrades in to stupid arguments. So I save it the mat mostly and just have general conversations on-line. Those who wish to do different stuff, cool, fine with me. Those who say they're doing the same stuff, okay, great, best wishes.

I'm usually reminded of the admonition that the truth doesn't require anyone's acceptance to be the truth. Mine or anyone else's.

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Old 10-04-2013, 12:46 PM   #130
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
I think there is a danger in equating IP with alignment and structure....[lots more good stuff]
Good post here. It also offers some insight into what O-Sensei was trying to show when he did goofy things like having someone push on his head, hip, or knee. As Lee said--every point is supported. It doesn't matter where you touch, you get the same result. It really is right there in front of us.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 10-04-2013, 01:03 PM   #131
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Seriously, I openly work in what I can when I teach and train. I try to explain on-line but find it remarkably difficult, especially when I've got someone on the other end saying "that's what I already do". Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, I have no way of knowing. And then the conversation usually degrades in to stupid arguments. So I save it the mat mostly and just have general conversations on-line. Those who wish to do different stuff, cool, fine with me. Those who say they're doing the same stuff, okay, great, best wishes.
Worth repeating - that mirrors my experiences, and it's a good summary of why I don't usually talk about anything technical, conventional or not, in this medium (although I'm certainly free to do so, if I choose!).

Best,

Chris

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Old 10-04-2013, 02:00 PM   #132
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Worth repeating - that mirrors my experiences, and it's a good summary of why I don't usually talk about anything technical, conventional or not, in this medium (although I'm certainly free to do so, if I choose!).
Chris
Yes, online forums are limited in what they can achieve. Just try teaching shoho-nage on this forum, and that's just one of our basic waza. Of course, with aiki it is so much the harder. But I think we can get ideas, directions, things to try.

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Old 10-04-2013, 02:03 PM   #133
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Re: The Way of Aiki

So, I wonder, can we get some agreement that Aikido is The Way of Aiki and not something else? For me it is, and everything I now try to do is done with that in mind.

I am not saying I know what I am doing exactly, but it has given me new direction that has led me to good places and has given me enough to explore for a good few more years.

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Old 10-04-2013, 03:04 PM   #134
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
So, I wonder, can we get some agreement that Aikido is The Way of Aiki and not something else? For me it is, and everything I now try to do is done with that in mind.

I am not saying I know what I am doing exactly, but it has given me new direction that has led me to good places and has given me enough to explore for a good few more years.
It certainly is - for me - "The Way of Aiki "

Once I thought could be interpreted as "the way to look for aiki", now I prefer to think of it as "the way to express aiki".

Best,
Bernd
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Old 10-04-2013, 04:50 PM   #135
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Lee Salzman wrote:
I think there is a danger in equating IP with alignment and structure....[lots more good stuff]



Good post here. It also offers some insight into what O-Sensei was trying to show when he did goofy things like having someone push on his head, hip, or knee. As Lee said--every point is supported. It doesn't matter where you touch, you get the same result. It really is right there in front of us.
Again I will clarify that nowhere was it stated that structure is IP/aiki. I'm not sure where Lee got the idea of that.

Aligning the joints is the FIRST STEP toward manipulating structure, and thus is the FIRST STEP toward developing IP skills and an aiki body. Nothing more, nothing less.
There was plenty of "good stuff" in Lee's post, but it is way beyond the processing point for what someone without prior internal training is ready to read about. What I offered was for beginners and individuals with no or little exposure to this kind of training, as a baseline starting point. Others here are discussing internal training amongst themselves, at the levels they're at. Let's try to keep the two separate so that there aren't heaping layers of confusion for those just learning about this stuff.
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Old 10-04-2013, 05:37 PM   #136
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Talking Re: The Way of Aiki

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Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
Again I will clarify that nowhere was it stated that structure is IP/aiki. I'm not sure where Lee got the idea of that.

Aligning the joints is the FIRST STEP toward manipulating structure, and thus is the FIRST STEP toward developing IP skills and an aiki body. Nothing more, nothing less.
There was plenty of "good stuff" in Lee's post, but it is way beyond the processing point for what someone without prior internal training is ready to read about. What I offered was for beginners and individuals with no or little exposure to this kind of training, as a baseline starting point. Others here are discussing internal training amongst themselves, at the levels they're at. Let's try to keep the two separate so that there aren't heaping layers of confusion for those just learning about this stuff.
Cady,

Perhaps Lee's just trying to caution against folks defaulting to conventional notions of alignment, whether those notions are old hat (e.g. balancing books on their heads) or more recently en vogue (e.g. looking up rolfers on Craigslist), and therefore missing the mark from the get-go.

Also, as context for readers, proper alignment as Cady's described it is especially emphasized in I Liq Chuan (Sam Chin spent several minutes helping me stand in a manner that notably reduced pain when moving intent through the lower-body meridians).

I have no doubt that the need for clarification on this topic would be moot if the conversation was happening hands-on in person.

Last edited by Mert Gambito : 10-04-2013 at 05:41 PM.

Mert
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Old 10-04-2013, 06:57 PM   #137
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Mert,
Yes, I'm sure that was Lee's intent, but my eyes didn't see it the first couple of read-throughs.

Without hands-on, there is no way to use familiar terms in such a way that they convey entirely different and alien concepts. I

IME, all good internal training will work alignment as part of the basic training drills, though it may not be specifically mentioned or pointed out. Some systems parse out every element and factor for the student to become aware of and consciously employ through individual drills; others incorporate several different concepts into one exercise from the get-go, alignment automatically being one of them as a component part of working the 6-directions energies.

Interesting to note, though, that as important as alignment is to a clear path for power, you can compensate for a compromised alignment by bringing into play other internal body connections that exploit dynamic tension.
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Old 10-04-2013, 07:11 PM   #138
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Bernd Lehnen wrote: View Post
It certainly is - for me - "The Way of Aiki "

Once I thought could be interpreted as "the way to look for aiki", now I prefer to think of it as "the way to express aiki".

Best,
Bernd
There are many other ways to express aiki, so if you look at it that way, then Aikido would be only "a way to express aiki."

I'd say that it's more "the way to transcendence, through the practice and refinement of aiki." Aiki as The Way (to Enlightenment). So, "The Way of Aiki."
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Old 10-04-2013, 07:26 PM   #139
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Yeah, definitely don't get too hung up on structure or suspension or push tests other than some specific table stakes you need to build some bank in before you can do other things. Of course, how you do them may also define or limit the other things you can then do later, blah blah blah.

I'll say it again - there's basically how you train yourself to manage the effect of gravity pulling you down and the ground pushing you up in yourself and anyone that touches you, there's how you condition your body to be connected from the insides and convey not only the ground/gravity powers but move as a single unit with softness and solidity as needed, then there's how you strengthen the combination and expression and of all of those things into single points or movements - which gets sometimes into the seemingly esoteric stuffs but is actually fairly practical, but requires that sufficient time is spent doing the basic antecedents (which virtually none of us do).

Easy, now go train with people either doing it or ignore it or make up your own silliness.
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Old 10-04-2013, 07:28 PM   #140
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
There are many other ways to express aiki, so if you look at it that way, then Aikido would be only "a way to express aiki."
Or, if it is The Way of Aiki, then any method of expressing aiki would be Aikido. I would be OK with that.

Now for me - if I define The Way of Aiki, it would be 'to control your opponent's energy'. Of course, you need to get your own house in order (structure, coordination, timing, and the means to deliver power etc.), then learn to disrupt your opponent's house etc. Also, calling your opponent uke doesn't help, as uke means receive and I don't want him to receive - I want him to begin to resist - because I want to learn to deal with that... In fact, to turn the nail completely on its head, I would say that in this 'environment, I, as tori, the shite, the doer, become uke. And thus it is that the uke skills we have learned can become very useful. Now, tori uses his 'ukemi' skill to receive the opponent's movement/attack with craft and he 'adjusts' it with sleight of hand to his advantage.

...(sorry if I used - his, which could also = her )

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Old 10-04-2013, 08:43 PM   #141
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
Gerardo,
Earlier, I mentioned that working on structure is Step One in developing IP, and is a precursor to making an aiki body. The first step of that process is learning how to align the joints so that you are not using dedicated muscle to hold your structure together, and so that force can easily be transferred in a clean "path" from point-of-contact to the ground, and back.
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Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
Again I will clarify that nowhere was it stated that structure is IP/aiki. I'm not sure where Lee got the idea of that.

Aligning the joints is the FIRST STEP toward manipulating structure, and thus is the FIRST STEP toward developing IP skills and an aiki body. Nothing more, nothing less.
There was plenty of "good stuff" in Lee's post, but it is way beyond the processing point for what someone without prior internal training is ready to read about. What I offered was for beginners and individuals with no or little exposure to this kind of training, as a baseline starting point. Others here are discussing internal training amongst themselves, at the levels they're at. Let's try to keep the two separate so that there aren't heaping layers of confusion for those just learning about this stuff.
I was trying to be all subtle and indirect and sh*t in my prior post, but screw that. Yeah, when you said "first step" of IP, seems Lee and I interpreted that to mean it's one of the IP skills. You've clarified you didn't mean that, which is fine, but since at least two of us read it the same way a clarification was in order.

As for others, I don't know what background they have (hint: it's not all the same) so I don't know what's confusing and what's not. Good structure is all very well and good to work on but you don't need anything special to work on it--yoga, taiji, or Alexander Technique will all do just fine. As far as I'm concerned, what Lee's talking about is the alpha and the omega of IP/aiki--that is, until you've started on it you haven't started your journey, and you'll be working on it as long as you're pursuing aiki at all. So talking about structure and alignment is misleading in its own way--almost anybody can read it and say, "Oh yeah, I work on that too--what's the big deal?" Whereas pulling silk/six directions/roppo kamae is the heart of the matter.

(Well, almost. Really, in my current understanding, in-yo ho is the heart of the matter. But you can't get there without six-directions.)

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:58 PM   #142
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Some internal systems have alignment-structure building skills inherent in the foundational 6-directional training drills, so students learn it automatically while they are working the 6 directional energies. But usually they are walked through the process of spine extension ("suspended from the ceiling by a hook in your skull...") and joint alignment first, even if the word "alignment" is never used. Tenchijin is one of those versions. Other systems have parsed out every single aspect and factor and feel, and created a specific exercise for each of them, so that students can become aware of each discrete state and feeling. Then they are combined to create the spherical (all-directions) "force field" and begin to learn how to manipulate it as a whole. I Liq Chuan's developmental drills are an example of that approach.

Last edited by Cady Goldfield : 10-04-2013 at 10:01 PM.
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Old 10-05-2013, 02:04 AM   #143
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
I was trying to be all subtle and indirect and sh*t in my prior post, but screw that. Yeah, when you said "first step" of IP, seems Lee and I interpreted that to mean it's one of the IP skills. You've clarified you didn't mean that, which is fine, but since at least two of us read it the same way a clarification was in order.

As for others, I don't know what background they have (hint: it's not all the same) so I don't know what's confusing and what's not. Good structure is all very well and good to work on but you don't need anything special to work on it--yoga, taiji, or Alexander Technique will all do just fine. As far as I'm concerned, what Lee's talking about is the alpha and the omega of IP/aiki--that is, until you've started on it you haven't started your journey, and you'll be working on it as long as you're pursuing aiki at all. So talking about structure and alignment is misleading in its own way--almost anybody can read it and say, "Oh yeah, I work on that too--what's the big deal?" Whereas pulling silk/six directions/roppo kamae is the heart of the matter.

(Well, almost. Really, in my current understanding, in-yo ho is the heart of the matter. But you can't get there without six-directions.)
And how much time did we spend learning any structure with Dan in the beginning? Almost zero. Unless you were a complete and utter mess, he basically never said much about it. What did he start us on immediately? Pulling silk/six directions. What will we probably be working on forever? That.

I had a previous background in training the idea of structure from yiquan. It did zip for me, nada, with regards to this material. I had to dump it on the cutting room floor. It was a sacred cow for me, but I had to slaughter it. So that is part of why I don't like the implication that structure is a starting point or somehow prepatory material for this. IME, it's not.
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Old 10-05-2013, 03:19 AM   #144
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
There are many other ways to express aiki, so if you look at it that way, then Aikido would be only "a way to express aiki."

I'd say that it's more "the way to transcendence, through the practice and refinement of aiki." Aiki as The Way (to Enlightenment). So, "The Way of Aiki."
Cady, you hit the mark.

Dan Harden wrote in the above mentioned post about Ueshiba's aikido:

"That said, it was never the peacnick model of avoiding power and running away from force. His constant admonitions were of possessing power as a killing force and then having to forge ones soul to manage it's use and that practice and hone that control. An old saying goes "If I raise my hand. I withdraw my temper. If i raise my temper, I withdraw my hand."
There is a conundrum to Aikido and really many high level arts, that can feed us for the rest of our lives."

That's in a way "transcending" and a place where certainly many more of us would want to go, if it only were an easier path to follow.

Best,
Bernd
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Old 10-05-2013, 08:36 AM   #145
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
And how much time did we spend learning any structure with Dan in the beginning? Almost zero. Unless you were a complete and utter mess, he basically never said much about it. What did he start us on immediately? Pulling silk/six directions. What will we probably be working on forever? That.

I had a previous background in training the idea of structure from yiquan. It did zip for me, nada, with regards to this material. I had to dump it on the cutting room floor. It was a sacred cow for me, but I had to slaughter it. So that is part of why I don't like the implication that structure is a starting point or somehow prepatory material for this. IME, it's not.
Hi Lee,
Go back and look at what I said previously - that some approaches work alignment into other process training, and may not mention it at all... but it is inherently in the excercises being done. When you work the 6 directions, you are drawing in and extending out -- complementary dynamic tensions of In and Yo -- and that is creating your alignment.

I have been training in IP/aiki for 15 years now, and the first 7-8 years there was no descriptive terminology at all, except for a few intuitive ones. It was all "by feel, by touch." The old-school way of transmission. But the work we did had certain inherent qualities that inculcated "the feel." The next 2 years, we benefited from the introduction of more descriptive vocabulary and a growing body of individual exercises, which parsed out the 6 directions, and pointed to the roles of the spine, kwas, tanden and meimon. That's when talk about "structure" also was introduced. In most recent years, I have been working on breaking down and understanding every aspect of what is creating the power and connection that I am able to manifest, and I have found the parse-out approach to be very helpful in that pursuit. It is also helping me to fill in some gaps in skill and to further refine those that I attained in my earlier years of training.

Anyway, I don't want to dwell on one aspect of a larger picture. Just want to clarify that whether you are aware of it or not, you are incorporating all of the necessary aspects into your training, or you would not be able to progress in your development of IP, and aiki.

Hey, it's all good. It's really refreshing to see deeper discussions of internal training on the 'net, where 10 years ago, the majority was still contesting the insistence of a few lonely voices that this stuff is real!
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Old 10-05-2013, 10:29 AM   #146
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
And how much time did we spend learning any structure with Dan in the beginning? Almost zero. Unless you were a complete and utter mess, he basically never said much about it. What did he start us on immediately? Pulling silk/six directions. What will we probably be working on forever? That.
I agree with Lee that pulling silk/six directions has been the primary beginning emphasis with Dan's approach. Other things drop in as you go.

I am also inline with Keith and Chris

Gary
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Old 10-05-2013, 10:32 AM   #147
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Working the 6 directions pulls (and pushes) you into alignment. It's inherent in the exercise, as I said before. You just aren't thinking about it, because you're working those 6 directions. You can put yourself out of alignment intentionally if you want, and can use the cross-body tensions to maintain your structure to some extent, but again, the exercise is not just "one thing."

Last edited by Cady Goldfield : 10-05-2013 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 10-05-2013, 02:53 PM   #148
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Actually, my experience is similar to Cady's here... Much of my solo practice right now is focused on pole standing, and I can feel that as soon as I start pulling 6 directions it pulls my body into alignment. But presumably that's because I have a clue what alignment is supposed to feel like. It's interesting that Cady's group has a more detailed way of learning alignment. It would be interesting to hear what all is in there.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 10-05-2013, 03:24 PM   #149
Mert Gambito
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Some punch-list items for baseline standing practice to open the body common across multiple methodologies:
  • Suspended crown of head as a component of opening the body upward (intent drawing upward beyond the physical confines of the body) -- complemented by . . .
  • Letting the hara/dantien settle (intent drawing downward beyond the physical confines of the body), establishes fundamental up-and-down / yin-and-yang opening of the body -- further complemented by . . .
  • Opening the body using intent in opposite directions along the two remaining axes (i.e. six directions) -- and in the process being sure to . . .
  • Keep juncture points throughout the body (e.g. underside of chin, armpits, arch between the legs, spaces between fingers) open and radiused, vs. closed and pinched -- while maintaining . . .
  • Shoulders relaxed and integral to the torso -- which helps ensure . . .
  • Hands connected to the ground/feet via and filled from the center (intent drawing into and beyond the hands).
Again, the internet is a poor medium for transmitting the details of this topic, and the English language in particular is poorly suited to conveying the nuances within those details. With those limitations in mind, if someone simply says the above is "how to stand in six directions", while someone else observes "based on the punch list, arcane notions of alignment and structure are integral to standing in six directions", then down comes the "APPROVED" hanko in either case.

But, like Hugh said, you have to know what it's supposed to feel like, and that takes us back to hands-on to initially, and ongoing, refine that understanding.

Mert
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Old 10-05-2013, 05:06 PM   #150
Cady Goldfield
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 877
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Hugh,
Check out post #88229 in this old thread from elsewhere on the 'net. The writer addresses a number of questions and statements made by other posters regarding alignment, structure, and unifying the body, and he nails what I'm trying to articulate. Really, it is not so very different an approach from what you are learning now, if I'm not mistaken.

http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/u...r=88227&page=3
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