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Old 10-28-2013, 08:10 AM   #51
jonreading
 
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
I remember the thread and tend to side with the view that Tomoki understood it was a different kind of body technology and was trying to explain it according to western educational methods. I also think the people trying to denounce IP as a realm of study need to get hands on people with noted skill. The people trying to proclaim IP as the end-all to martial arts need to go to a sports combatives class and try out their stuff.
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Old 10-28-2013, 11:58 AM   #52
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
...I also think the people trying to denounce IP as a realm of study need to get hands on people with noted skill. The people trying to proclaim IP as the end-all to martial arts need to go to a sports combatives class and try out their stuff.
Exactly my (albeit low educated) thinking, too. If I remember correctly, I was told by someone that there are people who are quite good at internal integration (my words), but cannot apply it well in a combative setting; for them it's a healthful practice...but they can do "it." How can we balance ourselves, our many aspects, to suit the situations that arise, to address the "middle of now?" Application practices.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 10-28-2013, 03:32 PM   #53
Budd
 
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

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Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
Exactly my (albeit low educated) thinking, too. If I remember correctly, I was told by someone that there are people who are quite good at internal integration (my words), but cannot apply it well in a combative setting; for them it's a healthful practice...but they can do "it." How can we balance ourselves, our many aspects, to suit the situations that arise, to address the "middle of now?" Application practices.
Hi Matthew,

At the end of the day, internal strength is an unusual kind of strength that confers certain advantages on the practitioner. Depending on the skill of the practitioner and the specific application (lifting, fighting, gymnastics, calligraphy) - there may be other attributes that more than offset any advantage that internal strength can confer. One reason it's not given as much press in the Japanese arts, I'd wager, is two-fold: 1) It's assumed to be one of the skills already embedded into the practice of a particular system 2) It's not understood well enough on it's own merits to be recognized as to the value it brings when trained appropriately and partnered with other attributes in the context of a martial art.

One reason I'm challenged by (1) is that in an art like aikido - it basically assumes that you have some degree of internal strength at work in order to appropriately train the techniques (classic examples being extending your ki/jin past a person's balance point while controlling the connection points between you and another person as if you were one unit). You don't need such a thing to practice the technique, especially in non-competitive "jujutsu" type circumstances and there's enough other things going on (ukemi, ma-ai, tai sabaki) to coordinate all at once that I'm not surprised that "internal strength" principles don't get much more than lip service, especially in larger groups.

I'm pretty convinced that the "shape" of aikido (and arms-length jujutsu) techniques are a pretty ideal construct in which to practice internal strength from a body-to-body limited connection perspective (focus extending ki/jin through specific points) via your connected body into the other person's body by joining your bodies together with connection and intent-based work. As you get better at manipulating the connection in you and another, then the additional aspects of ukemi, ma-i, tai sabaki, etc. can be welcome enrichments to the container that is your martial art. I do think some degree of sparring (body/body grappling, push-hands based on jin/connection rather than awkward wrestling) would be useful as well as some practice in power releases (can be trained well in suburi if you know what you're training) would be excellent secret sauce to one's atemi in a gokui sense.

In more sports-oriented combatives, it's seemingly less important to have internal strength be a part of the equation to have functional skills because you are already adding pressure and testing them earlier on. If you look at the functional end products of internal strength - increased sensitivity and the ability to be stable and release a lot of power in seemingly unusual ways - it might not be as useful in some sports combatives where there are ways that are 1) much faster time to market in terms of usable skill 2) even mid-level internal strength skills may be worked around by someone more adept within the application rule-set at winning their game (e.g. Shaolin monk gets knocked out by trying to absorb too many punches to the head).

So to my first paragraph, regarding partnering internal strength with other attributes (point 2) into the container of a martial art requires some additional challenges and considerations beyond your internal strength skill and conditioning. What's your delivery system (e.g. aikido wrist grabs and overhead strikes) to apply your abilities? How are you measuring your internal strength and ability to apply it? (resisting a push is useful to measure some baseline accomplishment but not very practical in a fight)

My personal suspicion is that aikido as a delivery system was intended to be one of intercepting an oncoming attack through an internal strength powered entry (which in some cases would end an encounter in the sense of an unskilled attack), then if met by a skilled opponent, yielding appropriately only to re-enter again from an advantage (balance control, optimal targeting, power release opportunity), the "aiki" portion assumes your connected body is also in an advantageous position such that any effort they make to apply power to you is joined to your connected power and reapplied back against them.

So the three component pieces in an aikido sense all need to be trained. Internal strength conditioning (body rewires to move in a different way, more sensitive, more cohesive with unusual power), internal strength skill (ability to leverage internal strength advantages "on demand") and the ability to express internal strength principles via the "shape" of something recognizable as aikido. In my world, you can train all three concurrently (they won't actually come together until some discrete time has been focused on internal strength conditioning and skill) but you have to somewhat realize where one begins and the other ends (I think that's why Tohei had rankings explicitly in "ki" versus "aikido").

Anyways, as always, ymmv.
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Old 10-29-2013, 01:49 PM   #54
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

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Part of my goal is to draw out the why an aiki model is somehow different than a ki model or a kata model, or any number of designed education methodologies. I assume that as practitioners of aikido, we would, on some level, concede aikido has ki. Yet... I guess the devil is in the details.

10 years ago, I would have told you aiki comes from years of training. Then I met aikido people with years of training and many of them were nice, good martial artists, but they did not have aiki. But, 10 years ago kata was what I needed in my training.

I think a real problem for people working in aiki models is developing the right balance of training. Modern aikido has had 40 years to refine the educational curriculum to find that balance, the most recent example of a major shift being the expulsion of weapons from the curriculum. Before then, many people began their aikido training with another art under their belt. This has been one of my more vocal criticisms of aiki training - the curriculum is almost a moving target because the instructors leading the way are in this flurry of renovation to make material palatable.

I think as the aiki pioneers improve their ability to communicate and share what they are doing, the world will get smaller.
I just attended the Aiki Extensions Conference in Palo Alto (and if you have any interest in exploring applications of aikido off the mat as well as how aiki informs our practices I couldn't recommend this organization more highly). There were many long time practitioners of aikido who come from what might be called an "aiki" background who use aiki principles in many ways including martially in aikido.

The host of the event was Sofia University which was founded by Osensei's student, Robert Frager, PhD., Shihan, who I understand holds the highest rank given by Osensei to a non-Japanese student. I can't adequately convey the depth of the inquiry into aiki on every level this weekend offered to attendees. There were presentations on somatics, aikido outreach, aikido in law enforcement, and how weapons can inform aiki practice from aikidoka from around the world. Many lineages were represented, and many participants had upwards of thirty or forty years or more in aikido. I came away with many insights into my own practice and study of aiki.

Coincidentally there was some discussion along the lines of your closing notion in your entry about communication and sharing our work along these lines.

Here's a link to the organization's webpage: http://www.aiki-extensions.org/
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:48 PM   #55
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

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I just attended the Aiki Extensions Conference in Palo Alto (and if you have any interest in exploring applications of aikido off the mat as well as how aiki informs our practices I couldn't recommend this organization more highly). There were many long time practitioners of aikido who come from what might be called an "aiki" background who use aiki principles in many ways including martially in aikido.

The host of the event was Sofia University which was founded by Osensei's student, Robert Frager, PhD., Shihan, who I understand holds the highest rank given by Osensei to a non-Japanese student. I can't adequately convey the depth of the inquiry into aiki on every level this weekend offered to attendees. There were presentations on somatics, aikido outreach, aikido in law enforcement, and how weapons can inform aiki practice from aikidoka from around the world. Many lineages were represented, and many participants had upwards of thirty or forty years or more in aikido. I came away with many insights into my own practice and study of aiki.

Coincidentally there was some discussion along the lines of your closing notion in your entry about communication and sharing our work along these lines.

Here's a link to the organization's webpage: http://www.aiki-extensions.org/
That's great to hear. I think if we actually sit down in a room and hash this stuff out, we are talking details, not concepts. Part of my frustration here on Aikiweb is the gossip that confuses fact with fiction. I think many of our aiki pioneers know this and are looking to better communicate what is going on and start to separate the BS from the IS. The problem will be whether we make fools of ourselves in the meantime.

The reason I chose to title the thread was in fact to draw attention to the issue of perspective. Eventually, I think we will reach a point where we stop arguing about potato or potatoe and we realize we are talking about the same thing. Or not.

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Old 10-29-2013, 09:42 PM   #56
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
... in an art like aikido - it basically assumes that you have some degree of internal strength at work in order to appropriately train the techniques (classic examples being extending your ki/jin past a person's balance point while controlling the connection points between you and another person as if you were one unit). You don't need such a thing to practice the technique, especially in non-competitive "jujutsu" type circumstances and there's enough other things going on (ukemi, ma-ai, tai sabaki) to coordinate all at once that I'm not surprised that "internal strength" principles don't get much more than lip service, especially in larger groups.
Yes. Also, there are multiple levels of internal skill. Extend ki/fire hose is working something real and worthwhile--but it's only a first step. Moving the other person through a connection "as if you were one unit", similarly, is worthwhile--but at best, it's a second step. The challenge for us is to move beyond these lower level concepts--when O-Sensei talked about Izanagi and Izanami, or the Floating Bridge of Heaven, he was pointing to skills far in advance of these. Aikido techniques work best as the manifestation of those skills. It's seductive to reduce them to matters of timing and "getting out of the way"--but that's the challenge.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 10-29-2013, 10:05 PM   #57
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

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Yes. Also, there are multiple levels of internal skill. Extend ki/fire hose is working something real and worthwhile--but it's only a first step. Moving the other person through a connection "as if you were one unit", similarly, is worthwhile--but at best, it's a second step. The challenge for us is to move beyond these lower level concepts--when O-Sensei talked about Izanagi and Izanami, or the Floating Bridge of Heaven, he was pointing to skills far in advance of these. Aikido techniques work best as the manifestation of those skills. It's seductive to reduce them to matters of timing and "getting out of the way"--but that's the challenge.
I wouldn't call them lower-level concepts. Rather, I'd say that the "extend ki/fire hose" is a discrete tidbit that is disconnected from the greater and more sophisticated set of body wisdom that produces it. The person who is told how to imagine the fire hose, or picking up the tea tray and setting it down, etc., is only being given a small piece of a larger process, so while they may be able to do something unusual, they don't really understand what they have done. They don't understand what the underlying mechanism is.

It's not so much a first step, as a severed dead-end effect. Same with the "as if you were one unit" concept: it's also just the dog's tail, without the full process laid out. These things can be taught ad nauseum without ever showing the cohesive thread of body training that ties it all together as a method. The deeper explanatory philosophy is, of course, a whole 'nother level of understanding, but really at the outset, what the student really needs is as pragmatic, step-by-step course of training that builds a structured, connected/unified body along with the understanding of what that body is doing and how force and connection are managed.'
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Old 10-30-2013, 06:44 AM   #58
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

It really depends what a person is looking for. Just on Aikiweb we see that there are many paths. Some people are happy with their paths and others hop from path to path.

The deeper meaning for some might be connection and and for others being able to defeat everyone. And all shades of tan in-between. I think the quest starts with inner questioning about what you, the individual, is looking to develop.

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Old 10-30-2013, 07:20 AM   #59
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

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It really depends what a person is looking for. Just on Aikiweb we see that there are many paths. .
Yes but... which one is "The Path"?

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Old 10-30-2013, 07:41 AM   #60
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

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Yes but... which one is "The Path"?
There is no "The Path".

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Old 10-30-2013, 08:37 AM   #61
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

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There is no "The Path".

Ron
You sure?

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Old 10-30-2013, 09:27 AM   #62
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

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You sure?
Quite.

Ron

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Old 10-30-2013, 09:33 AM   #63
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

This thread is turning into a Zen koan.
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Old 10-30-2013, 09:36 AM   #64
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

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This thread is turning into a Zen koan.
wouldn't that involve somebody doing one-hand slapping somebody else and see if that someone else makes sound?

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Old 10-30-2013, 09:38 AM   #65
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

Where the conceptual discussion tends to go astray is with regard to outcome, rather than topic. Some people talk about topics like internal strength skills as if they were a discrete set of physical skills that are meant to enable the physical manifestation of a martial art like aikido. Others talk about the philosophy of aikido and assume the physical practice already includes everything needed to get discrete body skills.

Even within the topic of internal strength, I'd agree a lot of the discussion is around the very baseline table stakes required to have a credible conversation around how internal strength works in aikido. I've yet to see any advanced level topics - partially because no one wants to tip their hand regarding all they know and partially because there's folks out there still furiously trying to gather information regarding the "how's it work".

I still stand by my thought that the aikido techniques, for the most part, are meant to work ki/jin extensions. The spirals and windings that are mentioned tend to run along the inside paths of how the body's knit together and leveraging the strength of the legs, hips and spine moving together to transmit power out the frame via the connective tissues and muscles being conditioned to work together appropriately. There's probably already some divergence in approaches being discussed here regarding how people train to do even that much.

When you look at internal strength in martial arts contexts, it's ultimately about how much power you can generate and release (in a particular kind of way). Not to be too much of a proclaimer (well I would walk 500 miles, and IIII . . no? Fine) but I tend to view these things pretty narrowly through how they're defined well outside of aikido. Since aikido is a fairly modern creation, it's still bound by the well established "rules" of internal strength as it's already understood in the bigger, wider world.
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Old 10-30-2013, 09:42 AM   #66
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

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wouldn't that involve somebody doing one-hand slapping somebody else and see if that someone else makes sound?
Palm or backhand?

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Old 10-30-2013, 09:48 AM   #67
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

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Palm or backhand?
i believed there is a forest involved, so i would say palm.

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Old 10-30-2013, 11:38 AM   #68
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Re: It's not You, It's Me

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Even within the topic of internal strength, I'd agree a lot of the discussion is around the very baseline table stakes required to have a credible conversation around how internal strength works in aikido. I've yet to see any advanced level topics - partially because no one wants to tip their hand regarding all they know and partially because there's folks out there still furiously trying to gather information regarding the "how's it work".
Homerun. I think forums such as this are some percent WhatIf. This gives us some fantasy to conduct dialogue outside of our normal realm of knowledge. I think some fair push back is to call out when that fantasy bends the dialogue too much.

Starting from a "path" dialogue, I think it is fair to declare the destination before critiquing the path. I think it is fair to criticize the practitioner traveling a path with no destination. I think it is fair to criticize the path if it will not lead to the declared destination.

I think internal strength dialogue cause some issues because:
1. The stated destination for aiki is not the same destination as modern aikido. I think there is a contention from modern aikido that it contains aiki and therefore the path to modern aikido is inclusive of the path to aiki.
2. The path to the destination is not yet fully determined. The path for modern aikido has been around for many years with a clear record of success (or failure) for that model. The path for aiki development is not yet concrete.
3. The path for aiki training is currently using a non-standard lexicon and exercises not well understood by many practitioners. We are pontificating upon a subject about which we know little, taking offense to the observation that we know little about which we are talking... In a forum in which are granted some level of fantastical discussion.

From my perspective, modern aikido is not inclusive of aiki. I think there are individuals within organizations who may express, for better or worse, their personal aiki. I do not think an organization exists for which one may convincingly argue the majority of practitioners are expressing aiki to a level of proficiency. Even under the tutelage of an individual who expresses aiki to a level of proficiency, it is difficult to argue the majority of practitioners express aiki to a level of proficiency. For me, it is difficult to concede these two observations while continuing to argue the presence of aiki in modern aikido. So, I began looking first for individuals who could do the stuff. Then they recommended things that helped their learning process and now I am pursuing that path.

Aikido has many peaks to which we can set our gaze and strive to reach. They are not necessarily better or worse. Some require more proficiency, some less. Some are more difficult to reach, some less. But we need to set our gaze somewhere. Otherwise, we just end of squinting into the sun while one of the foursome points vaguely to a collection of trees and says, "See that tree? Your ball is just under the 2nd large branch on the right." Sure it is.

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