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Old 03-24-2017, 09:01 PM   #1
tkeppers
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Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Sensei is doing a blog post series on basic aikido principles. This one talks about unbendable arm. It was a really difficult concept for me to get at first - mostly because it's as much mental as it is physical. I started taking tai chi after doing aikido for 2.5 years, and knowing about unbendable arm from aikido really helped my tai chi practice also.
https://spiritualgravity.wordpress.c...nbendable-arm/
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:41 AM   #2
sorokod
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

In what sense is "Unbendable Arm" a principle as opposed to, say, a party trick?

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Old 04-23-2017, 08:22 AM   #3
asiawide
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
In what sense is "Unbendable Arm" a principle as opposed to, say, a party trick?
It's a strong posture. So some people use it like a sword. (ex. te-katana) And you'll see many techniques end with the arm shape looks like the unbendable arm. Btw, one of the reason why it is 'unbendable' is most people only use localized arm or shoulder power to bend it.

I think another hidden(?) purpose of it is to learn how to negate incoming energy like taichi guys do

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDfT0Ut0Q4o
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Old 04-23-2017, 08:55 AM   #4
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Unbendable arm, what crossfitters get it in 3 min. aikidoka need 3 years.
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Old 04-23-2017, 11:03 AM   #5
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

We teach the unbendable arm to every new student joining us in order to help them with their mae ukemi. The unbendable arm portion takes about five minutes, while the ukemi takes a lifetime.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 04-23-2017, 12:53 PM   #6
sorokod
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
We teach the unbendable arm to every new student joining us in order to help them with their mae ukemi. The unbendable arm portion takes about five minutes, while the ukemi takes a lifetime.
During my Judo days we did every which way ukemi, there was no need for unbendable arms. Didn't take a lifteme either.

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Old 04-23-2017, 03:34 PM   #7
Michael Hackett
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Hi David,

Just to be clear, we consider the unbendable arm valuable for forward rolls and that's why we teach it at the start. I don't know much about judo ukemi, but my view of ukemi in aikido is the same as my view of aikido waza - it is never perfect and can always be improved upon. Maybe "lifetime" is an exaggeration, but it sure appears that way.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 04-23-2017, 03:41 PM   #8
sorokod
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Quote:
Jaemin Yu wrote: View Post
It's a strong posture. So some people use it like a sword. (ex. te-katana) And you'll see many techniques end with the arm shape looks like the unbendable arm. Btw, one of the reason why it is 'unbendable' is most people only use localized arm or shoulder power to bend it.

I think another hidden(?) purpose of it is to learn how to negate incoming energy like taichi guys do

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDfT0Ut0Q4o
How does the OP's linked blog and embedded video relates to your post?

Last edited by sorokod : 04-23-2017 at 03:56 PM.

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Old 04-23-2017, 03:55 PM   #9
sorokod
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
Hi David,

Just to be clear, we consider the unbendable arm valuable for forward rolls and that's why we teach it at the start. I don't know much about judo ukemi, but my view of ukemi in aikido is the same as my view of aikido waza - it is never perfect and can always be improved upon. Maybe "lifetime" is an exaggeration, but it sure appears that way.
Hi Michael, as far as I know, Aikido ukemi wasn't developed by the founder but with minimal modifications imported by various teachers from Judo. Here is the first google hit on my search on Judo ukemi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKE7WS8N3Kw

Do you do something different?

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Old 04-23-2017, 04:39 PM   #10
Currawong
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

It struck me the other day, being a follower of the "Aiki" or "Internal Power" practices and also someone who trained initially at a dojo where we practiced unbendable arm at first, that Aiki/IP could be described as "unbendable body" -- an extension of the basic practice. The same concept applies, in that the aim is to use the strength of internal connections, rather than muscular power. As much as it may be considered a party trick, when extended to the whole body while doing waza, it definitely works.

Please join us in our Aikido online (text) chat: https://discord.gg/pPYTFh2
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Old 04-23-2017, 04:50 PM   #11
sorokod
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Quote:
Amos Barnett wrote: View Post
It struck me the other day, being a follower of the "Aiki" or "Internal Power" practices and also someone who trained initially at a dojo where we practiced unbendable arm at first, that Aiki/IP could be described as "unbendable body" -- an extension of the basic practice. The same concept applies, in that the aim is to use the strength of internal connections, rather than muscular power. As much as it may be considered a party trick, when extended to the whole body while doing waza, it definitely works.
Hi Amos

I have been on these forums for a while and to my recollection it is quite rare for followers of the "Aiki" or "Internal Power" to agree on anything that in some way pins down their practice. On the discussions I followed, I have never seen Aiki/IP described as "unbendable body".

Alternatively there is Demetrio's video in post #4.

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Old 04-23-2017, 05:41 PM   #12
rugwithlegs
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Ok, it is a party trick. And Demetrio's comment is valid too - my understanding is Tohei developed this as a quickly learned example of how the mind can affect the body for more power in movement. This exercise was created as part of a shortcut, compared to O Sensei's teaching style. The imagery helps take antagonistic muscles out of the posture and helps with some alignment issues.

I do take it a bit further and lean in the outstretched hand from in front, and make the point that proper alignment goes down to the feet.

Having "got it" once in a stress free environment, eventually this becomes something like shomenate in motion and with proper timing and that takes practice to become a default alignment.Shodokan and Yoshinkan seem to do very similar things in a slightly different way.
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Old 04-23-2017, 05:54 PM   #13
sorokod
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Quote:
John Hillson wrote: View Post
Ok, it is a party trick. And Demetrio's comment is valid too - my understanding is Tohei developed this as a quickly learned example of how the mind can affect the body for more power in movement. This exercise was created as part of a shortcut, compared to O Sensei's teaching style. The imagery helps take antagonistic muscles out of the posture and helps with some alignment issues.

I do take it a bit further and lean in the outstretched hand from in front, and make the point that proper alignment goes down to the feet.

Having "got it" once in a stress free environment, eventually this becomes something like shomenate in motion and with proper timing and that takes practice to become a default alignment.Shodokan and Yoshinkan seem to do very similar things in a slightly different way.
Not a principle then.

Tohei had principals and whether you agree or disagree with them, they are principals. They are principals in the sense that one can validate or correct their (Aikido) activity vis a vis a principle : did I kept my weight underside - not so much, will work on that.

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Old 04-23-2017, 05:57 PM   #14
PeterR
 
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
During my Judo days we did every which way ukemi, there was no need for unbendable arms. Didn't take a lifteme either.
I'll jump on the bandwagon. I just don't get the "it takes a lifetime" for choose your isolated concept/principle/technique. Sure there is always room for improvement and perfection is elusive but it really does not take much to understand most. It gets easier to pick up new stuff with more experience but I am far happier talking months even weeks rather than years. Frankly it sounds more like self-congratulation rather than reality.

With respect to the unbendable arm (this should be minutes rather than years) what differentiates principle from a party trick is when you use it as part of your technique. The story was that I was already Shodan before I was shown the unbendable arm while visiting a Ki society dojo in Canada. Jaimin mentioned te-katana and yes that was exactly what I knew it as - just didn't know it. We (as in Shodokan stylists) see it in the the-katana dousa and the show-te awase (pushing practice) done every session and we do those with an implicit understanding how they apply to the execution of technique. There is no question that it is a principle.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:24 PM   #15
Michael Hackett
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Hi David,

Yes, we do ukemi differently when it comes to forward rolls. Most of the video showed breakfalls, which we do as well. Somewhat like our forward rolls was the ukemi for tomoe nage. Uke flies forward over the top of Nage and places his arm down to begin a roll. That is the place for the concept of unbendable arm. At the end of the video, they showed how not to roll, with a strong emphasis on how the feet were striking the landing surface. I have to agree with that. But, they also were doing forward rolls by placing the arm on the same side as their leading foot to begin to roll. Again, that appears to be like the unbendable arm.

Is unbendable arm a party trick? I suppose it could be considered that, but we find it valuable to help teaching the forward rolling portion of ukemi techniques and it is a part of test requirements for kyudansha testing in the Aikido Association of America, our parent organization. Of course AAA has a historical relationship with Tohei Sensei. Our founder, Toyoda Fumio Shihan, was a Tohei student in his early days at Hombu Dojo and maybe that's why we still have it as part of our junior test requirements.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:41 PM   #16
sorokod
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Thank you for clarifying this Michael. Can you share a link to a video that demonstrates the kind of forward rolls you do?

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Old 04-23-2017, 07:33 PM   #17
rugwithlegs
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
Not a principle then.

Tohei had principals and whether you agree or disagree with them, they are principals. They are principals in the sense that one can validate or correct their (Aikido) activity vis a vis a principle : did I kept my weight underside - not so much, will work on that.
Not disagreeing with Tohei, and I meant no disrespect though I admit I was flippant.

Ultimately I feel some Iwama Kihon, and the basics in tegatana in Shodokan, and exercises in Yoshinkan like Hiriki no Yosei all kinda point in the same direction. The principle is mind and body coordinated, and alignment, and removal of extraneous muscle. So, eventually it would be part of "extend Ki" and the sensation of "weight underside" can lead concretely to shoulders lowering and biceps loosening.

It is very much a fundamental signpost to get people in the right direction and a piece of a principle but, reading Tohei's writing, it wasn't supposed to be a technique or a whole thing in and of itself. This was introducing mind and body coordination to a single isolated joint. It was meant to be something anyone could pick up, experiment with and realize in a couple of minutes.

Unbendable arm to technique is a little like turning a key is to driving IMO. No way to avoid it, absolutely essential no matter how you obtain it, but still not necessarily driving.
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Old 04-23-2017, 07:58 PM   #18
Currawong
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
Hi Amos

I have been on these forums for a while and to my recollection it is quite rare for followers of the "Aiki" or "Internal Power" to agree on anything that in some way pins down their practice. On the discussions I followed, I have never seen Aiki/IP described as "unbendable body".
It's entirely my own thought. I am new to the whole IP thing and am trying to make sense of it in terms that I am already familiar with. It is most interesting to me that some aspects of it exist to a degree in some styles of Aikido. I definitely felt this for the brief time I practiced with a Renshinkai group.

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Old 04-23-2017, 09:13 PM   #19
Michael Hackett
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Hi David,

Here is a quick YouTube video I found that shows the forward roll as I described. I don't know the instructor, his dojo, or even his organization, but it is very similar to what we do in AAA aikido. It is important that the leading arm be unbendable as the person goes forward. A collapsing lead arm is the formula for a broken collar bone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coBaGhZ3siI

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 04-23-2017, 10:36 PM   #20
asiawide
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Quote:
Amos Barnett wrote: View Post
It's entirely my own thought. I am new to the whole IP thing and am trying to make sense of it in terms that I am already familiar with. It is most interesting to me that some aspects of it exist to a degree in some styles of Aikido. I definitely felt this for the brief time I practiced with a Renshinkai group.
Unbendable body also make sense but it requires constant intention to be so. And the intention is the key I guess. But it's big no-no to be so in dojo since it can easily irritate nage(or his ego).
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Old 04-24-2017, 04:31 AM   #21
grondahl
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
Hi David,

Here is a quick YouTube video I found that shows the forward roll as I described. I don't know the instructor, his dojo, or even his organization, but it is very similar to what we do in AAA aikido. It is important that the leading arm be unbendable as the person goes forward. A collapsing lead arm is the formula for a broken collar bone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coBaGhZ3siI
No, improper body alignment is the formula for a broken collar bone. If your body movement is correct, there is no need for a arm at all during the roll.
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Old 04-24-2017, 08:02 AM   #22
phitruong
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

unbendable arm would be more interesting if you can do it in drunken monkey kungfu pose. although, you have to get a monkey drunk first, which will get the PETA (people who eat tasty animal) up on their petard.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 04-24-2017, 10:50 AM   #23
rugwithlegs
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

I guess part of my resistance to calling the Unbendable Arm exercise as a principle in and of itself is after training for 12 years in Aikikai, I moved to a town with only a Ki Aikido offshoot dojo (they had started with Tohei and broke ties).

I was happy to join in, but I had to wear a white belt for 18 months and was never graded even for basic ranks. I had not been shown the specific Unbendable arm demo nor practiced it. As I had not, I was regularly told my Aikido was not principle-based as theirs was, or contained no Ki. There were regular discussions on what a prat the second Doshu was, and how Aikikai was the enemy. All I had to do to advance in rank was insult my former teacher, and I declined. I did learn the method though.

For any Ki People though, Tohei was a remarkable innovator and someone I respect. He was always developing his teaching methods and refining them. The doors seem to have been closed when I was just out of diapers, and I've not see a clip for the last multiple decades of his life. Did he continue to refine his teaching methods?
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Old 04-24-2017, 06:20 PM   #24
barron
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Talking Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Journal of International Life Information Science Vol. 34 (2016) No. 1 International Journal of Information Science and Technology journal p. 7-14

Muscle coordination in "arm not to break"
Koji Takasu 1) , Hiroyuki Miyasaka 2) , Yutaka Tomita 1) , Satoshi Honda 1)

1) Keio University Graduate School of Science and Technology 2) Department of Fundamental Science and Engineering 2) Fujita Health University, Fujita Memorial Nanaguri Institute

Release date 20160801

There is a way of using the body called "arm not to break" in Aikido. In this research, to understand the difference between force and spirit, the myoelectric potential was measured when externally applied elbow flexion load. As a result, the myoelectric potential of the triceps brachii muscle that the subject exercises when extending the arms is significantly smaller for "arm not to break" than when using force, and the myoelectric potential at the front of the deltoid muscle is significant . This is presumed to be the reason why subjects self-observe their own psychological state against external forces acting on the arms in the "arm not to break" is a reason for feeling easy.

Andrew Barron
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Old 04-24-2017, 07:14 PM   #25
shuckser
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Re: Aikido Principles: Unbendable Arm

Frankly, I think a more important, yet often neglected point of study is the bendable leg.
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