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Old 01-27-2014, 08:36 AM   #1
jonreading
 
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XX's and OO's from Atlanta

This weekend we wrapped up a great seminar. While I could spend time talking about what we practiced, I want to instead focus on what I learned. To those you who you attended the seminar, thank you for your participation. To those of you who want to see what all the hubbub is about, we are working to find a home for Dan Harden in Atlanta and y'all are welcome.

I titled the thread XX's and OO's because internal training resonates with me and everyone knows XX's and OO's are a symbol of affection. I titled the thread XX's and OO's because internal training is a system of opposites. I titled the thread XX's and OO's because internal training is cross-body unity, rotation and revolution. I titled the thread XX's and OO's because internal training directs axial movement and circular arcs.

Most interesting of what I learned was the sense of community I felt. I titled the thread XX's and OO's because regardless of the art from which you come, internal training is an experiment of putting power into your body and applying that power to your movement. People with different interests and different backgrounds all get on the mat and figure out what role internal power plays in their interest... and we all suck because what we think is correct is not. To quote the seminar, "just because you think it's so, does not make it so."

"A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong." Tecumseh

At some point aikido is going to be forced to separate fact from fiction to survive as a martial art. At some point aikido is going to decide whether to remain "ai ki do" and remain dependent on a fixed number of things that work within a very small window of application. Or, we can return to "aiki do" and experience 10,000 endings from one beginning within all applications. "Aiki do" gives us opportunity to work with our sister arts to discover and recover how better to learn about this thing called "aiki". We have a strong heritage that does not compete with other martial arts, it is part of other arts. We should work hand-in-hand with the other arts to see how better we can all improve our cultural heritage.

A strong statement this weekend that echoed something that I heard previously, "You should be different. You should be that guy that people touch and say, 'Wow. You're different. You've got something to share'." Some day, I want to be that guy. I happen to believe that path lies through internal power. So it is incumbent upon me to find some one with the goods and figure out how to get there from here. I also need to find a supportive community in which I can find answers along the way.

Some of you have the goods, some of you think you have the goods [but do not], some of you want the goods and some of you don't care about the goods. Own your place; be proud of where you stand. You are given a limited time to practice aikido and contribute to the culture. If internal power is not your thing, find your thing. Elevate yourself with what you do, worry less about what others do if it is not your thing. Insecurity is reflected in derogation.

This thread is in the internal section, these are my words. It may be this thread dies at one post. But, just because we don't say so, doesn't mean it isn't so. And since this thread is more serious than I normally write, let me leave you with some humor...

I saw Dan levitate off the ground. And he beat up everyone's dad. And then he parted a giant pool of blood on the mat that was left from him killing a baby seal. And Atlanta snapped our cold streak while he was in town... because Dan is global warming.

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Old 01-27-2014, 10:10 AM   #2
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Re: XX's and OO's from Atlanta

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I saw Dan levitate off the ground. And he beat up everyone's dad. And then he parted a giant pool of blood on the mat that was left from him killing a baby seal. And Atlanta snapped our cold streak while he was in town... because Dan is global warming.
Baby seal? Don't you mean a Navy Seal???
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Old 01-27-2014, 05:51 PM   #3
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Re: XX's and OO's from Atlanta

And a good time was had by all in attendance.

Thanks again for being great hosts.

Looking forward to the next time.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 01-27-2014, 06:33 PM   #4
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Re: XX's and OO's from Atlanta

Lynn, it was a pleasure as always! Looking forward to seeing you on the mat, sooner rather than later, my friend.

What I took away from the seminar was a deep sense of humbleness and a new determination to get a handle on this stuff. One of the biggest take-a-ways was that AIKIdo is an auspicious name for our art. People outside SHOULD be able to tell on contact that we feel different from other arts because we practice the way of aiki. The best part is that you can literally pursue aiki wherever you go, and whatever it is you are doing. I don't know if I will ever be as obsessed with aiki as a Dan, Gleason, or others I have seen, but there is simply no longer an excuse for failing to feel different. There is a clear proven model out there, and all it takes is focused intent. OK, off to train with some quality friends! Thanks again to everyone for coming out to train.

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The basic fundamentals, refined to perfection, are your most advanced techniques.
-Bill Koll (1923-2003)
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Old 01-29-2014, 02:10 PM   #5
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Re: XX's and OO's from Atlanta

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There is a clear proven model out there, and all it takes is focused intent. OK, off to train with some quality friends! Thanks again to everyone for coming out to train.
I would disagree that all that any model of internal strength takes is focused intent. There is a skill component of intent that needs to 1) be learned/felt 2) grown and conditioned over time. There is also a raw physical conditioning component that needs to be trained alongside the focused intent piece that works together to rewire the body to carry itself and respond to outside forces differently.
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Old 01-29-2014, 06:37 PM   #6
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Re: XX's and OO's from Atlanta

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I would disagree that all that any model of internal strength takes is focused intent. There is a skill component of intent that needs to 1) be learned/felt 2) grown and conditioned over time. There is also a raw physical conditioning component that needs to be trained alongside the focused intent piece that works together to rewire the body to carry itself and respond to outside forces differently.
Hi Budd,
I agree with what you are saying. I could have worded that much better. I guess what I meant to say is that Intent (the use of the dantien to balance opposing forces) is by far the most important piece of the puzzle. I can sit in my car and work on IP by using intent, but I agree you should probably get on a mat and do some work as well. Luckily, I am not in the same boat as some of the other poor saps in ATL who are possibly still sitting in their cars 24+ hours after our 2" winter storm... Thanks for the clarification.

Aikido South
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The basic fundamentals, refined to perfection, are your most advanced techniques.
-Bill Koll (1923-2003)
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:47 AM   #7
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Re: XX's and OO's from Atlanta

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Hi Budd,
I agree with what you are saying. I could have worded that much better. I guess what I meant to say is that Intent (the use of the dantien to balance opposing forces) is by far the most important piece of the puzzle. I can sit in my car and work on IP by using intent, but I agree you should probably get on a mat and do some work as well. Luckily, I am not in the same boat as some of the other poor saps in ATL who are possibly still sitting in their cars 24+ hours after our 2" winter storm... Thanks for the clarification.
Ugh, I heard about that mess in Atlanta and have sympathy. We get rough weather up here in Buffalo but for the most part the infrastructure is in place to handle it well.

I know there's different approaches to training internal strength and what is internal, etc. I think the dantien is very important, but initially, I'd argue it's better to learn how to articulate and slowly strengthen it while concurrently training jin (mental management of gravity and ground forces) and your body's internal connections. At some point of development you'll be able to bring them all together effectively (and it won't seem like an unnatural thing - suburi when done well, I think is a good example of where they can all fit together in a solo practice - IF the right elements are in place), but each one requires its own attention (as each is a bit "alien" from generally learned movement). Without that foundation it's like trying to effectively cut with a sword using a blunt stick and holding the wrong end with a cross-fingered grip (even practicing that in suburi would at least be . . awkward).

But that's my thought on internal strength as a set of pre-defined skills. It's not to do with how much of a push to the chest you can receive or whether you can use ki on the ground. There's some fundamental basic milestones to cross before all the tools are ready to be used effectively together.
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Old 01-30-2014, 12:07 PM   #8
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Re: XX's and OO's from Atlanta

Thanks Budd,
Yes, I'm from Alaska and I think I might have had TWO snow days the whole time I was growing up, so it is crazy to see the entire city shut down with 2".

I'm still just on the baby steps of this stuff (not even a year in), so I'm not going to comment on how to train this stuff. In my limited understanding, what you are saying jives with how we have approached the training. Mostly, we start over a lot and are constantly too tense. The static drills are at least starting to burn in somewhat to the point where we should now be moving while trying to keep the intent going. We've added in some pad work to take the more dynamic unbowing for a spin, and every once in a while we'll stumble into a decent deep-feeling strike. Nowhere near what Dan can do though. Anyway, we are definitely having a blast with this stuff!! Appreciate your comments!

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The basic fundamentals, refined to perfection, are your most advanced techniques.
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Old 01-30-2014, 05:34 PM   #9
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Re: XX's and OO's from Atlanta

Cool, Andy - I like your attitude regarding training all the time with what's available. The ones that are going to get it in time have to both dedicated and somewhat fanatical
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Old 02-03-2014, 07:58 AM   #10
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Re: XX's and OO's from Atlanta

With a little more time to digest and the opportunity to discuss some details...

First, the definition of aiki around which we are consolidating requires internal power. Internal power defined as stability derived from dueling opposing spirals (suspended tension) which creates a natural potential/kinetic movement of power. Intent is what creates the stability and power. As a first step, we are working on generating intent. These are almost wholly individual exercises with a partner simply providing feedback to the level of success the exercises is accomplishing.

In addition to this focus, we are then also working to implement this structure on contact with our partner in paired exercises. Initially, this is simply a different "feeling" but should eventually result in kuzushi on contact. This is the first step of aiki as I am now moving from unification within my body to unification that affects another body. I believe this was the instruction discussed by Kuriowa Sensei in his reference to "kihon waza" - that is, "that which should exists in all techniques."

The third focus should be the expression of waza with a partner. This expression should occur naturally and respective of your partner's response. As a comment, at this juncture uke inherits the responsibility to help manifest kata; that is, uke responds appropriately to help shape the kata.

We're going plug away for a while... We need to do some re-conditioning. Aiki is not a four-legged animal under this model. Kata is not what drives movement under this model. "Grounding" is not the method of stability under this model. These are all [more] common aikido methodologies that are not part of the model. I am not interested in debating how good they are, but we need to give them up in order to embrace the aiki model Dan shares. Guess it's time to empty the cup...

'll let you know how it turns out...

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Old 02-03-2014, 11:22 AM   #11
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Re: XX's and OO's from Atlanta

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With a little more time to digest and the opportunity to discuss some details...

First, the definition of aiki around which we are consolidating requires internal power. Internal power defined as stability derived from dueling opposing spirals (suspended tension) which creates a natural potential/kinetic movement of power. Intent is what creates the stability and power. As a first step, we are working on generating intent. These are almost wholly individual exercises with a partner simply providing feedback to the level of success the exercises is accomplishing.

In addition to this focus, we are then also working to implement this structure on contact with our partner in paired exercises. Initially, this is simply a different "feeling" but should eventually result in kuzushi on contact. This is the first step of aiki as I am now moving from unification within my body to unification that affects another body. I believe this was the instruction discussed by Kuriowa Sensei in his reference to "kihon waza" - that is, "that which should exists in all techniques."

The third focus should be the expression of waza with a partner. This expression should occur naturally and respective of your partner's response. As a comment, at this juncture uke inherits the responsibility to help manifest kata; that is, uke responds appropriately to help shape the kata.

We're going plug away for a while... We need to do some re-conditioning. Aiki is not a four-legged animal under this model. Kata is not what drives movement under this model. "Grounding" is not the method of stability under this model. These are all [more] common aikido methodologies that are not part of the model. I am not interested in debating how good they are, but we need to give them up in order to embrace the aiki model Dan shares. Guess it's time to empty the cup...

'll let you know how it turns out...
A few points of clarification based on some comments I have received...

Internal power is not aiki, but internal power is part of aiki. In my first paragraph I misspoke and implied internal power is spirals in opposition; this is a conflation of concepts. Rather, internal power is a stability around a pull and return of [many] forces in opposition (Chinese hand cuffs). Aiki is the manipulation of that stability around a point using dualing opposing spirals. Also, a very important typo; "dueling" should be "dualing" as not fighting each other but parity in movement. But that is not a word, hence the spell correction. Intent being a key component of this conflation. My conflation was more in an effort to relay the totality of importance "intent" has on internal stability training, rather than to specifically discuss some of the smaller pieces we work on.

The specific type of kuzushi we experience is not mechanical, it is sensory.

Thanks for the comments. It's tough to relate this information because in many respects, some of the concepts in internal training are close, but not, what we have previously been exposed to in aikido. My last paragraph was intended to start a small collection of points of contrast with popular aikido concepts associated with power. I am impressed and appreciative of the wealth of information that has come from looking more closely at subjects we often do not discuss in detail.

Sorry for the confusion...

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Old 02-03-2014, 01:32 PM   #12
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Re: XX's and OO's from Atlanta

Jon, I appreciate that you are trying to work within the paradigm of the model that you have been shown. I don't think you're describing things that are more advanced or different from concepts that have been identified in other martial arts' internal strength methods - all of which have a component of physical conditioning to rewire the body, intent work to utilize the new connections being formed inside and an application layer that's still somewhat removed from actual martial arts applications (i.e. fighting). As you make progress, I'll be interested in your impression of the guts of the "how's it work" parts of the discussion. I'm also respectful that some things need to stay private. Enjoy!
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Old 02-03-2014, 02:42 PM   #13
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Re: XX's and OO's from Atlanta

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Jon, I appreciate that you are trying to work within the paradigm of the model that you have been shown. I don't think you're describing things that are more advanced or different from concepts that have been identified in other martial arts' internal strength methods - all of which have a component of physical conditioning to rewire the body, intent work to utilize the new connections being formed inside and an application layer that's still somewhat removed from actual martial arts applications (i.e. fighting). As you make progress, I'll be interested in your impression of the guts of the "how's it work" parts of the discussion. I'm also respectful that some things need to stay private. Enjoy!
Love the section in bold, which seems to actually be very important conceptually. I am happy to share what I can because I perceive the friction in this whole "aiki" model debate to be largely one of lexicon and interpretation, not fact and material. Unfortunately, that is somewhat unimpressive at the moment.

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