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Old 03-29-2017, 09:32 AM   #26
Budd
 
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

My experience has been that aiki taiso movements by themselves don't automatically imbue the ki/qi thingies without knowing what to train from the ground/gravity, body connections perspective (or getting the transmission directly from someone that made them one thing - I think that needs to be acknowledged as a reason the skills can be shared as well as perishable over the span of generations - someone might have gotten the goods but wouldn't or couldn't articulate them for subsequent generations). That said, those using them to build those skills - would love to hear some of the details. They are a good container for practicing connection, force issuance, force reception, breath connectivity, opening and closing the body, supporting the frame with breath and intent, etc.

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Old 03-29-2017, 11:00 AM   #27
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

For those with a little patience for reading and the ability to extrapolate data.
Why mindfulness in training can be beneficial at the level of physical ability not just for tree huggers. This

http://www.fasciaresearch.de/Schleip...lesFascial.pdf

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Old 03-29-2017, 11:54 AM   #28
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

Nice find, Alec!

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Old 03-29-2017, 12:06 PM   #29
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

From the article Alec linked:

"In fact, it
was found that many aspects of known movement practices
- like rhythmic gymnastic, modern dance, plyometrics,
gyrokinesis, chi running, yoga or martial arts, just to name
a few e contain elements which are very congruent with
the following suggestions. However, these practices have
often been inspired by an intuitive search for elegance,
pleasure and beauty, and/or they were often linked with
non-fascia related theoretical explanation concepts.
The
novel aspect of the proposed approach is therefore to
selectively develop training suggestions, which specifically
target an optimal renewal of the fascial net (rather than
e.g. muscular tissues or cardiovascular conditioning) and
which are directly linked with the above outlined specific
insights from the rapidly growing field of fascia research."

I find this very related to the discussion we've been having regarding linking ki/qi thingies/phenomenon to very physical attributes - rather than the more nebulous "well it could be anything and/or everything" that sometimes can come up.

Additionally, the next part of the article talks to "preparatory counter movement" which is very much aligned to what 'reverse breathing' aims to initiate (in addition to reverse breathing's means as a way to condition the connections themselves).

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Old 03-29-2017, 12:54 PM   #30
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
Thanks for contributing, Ron, what you describe makes sense. Where in your activities would you emphasize the balancing of ground/gravity forces (in addition to the forces brought by a training partner or training tool such as a bokken) as enablers or additives?
Hi Budd -

The way I emphasize the balancing of ground/gravity forces is that they net to zero at the point where my feet meet the ground. So I don't see the ground as contributing any energy that can be converted to power in me. The ground does provide me with a solid base from which I can generate and project power.

Gravity however, does contribute to my mass as perceived by my partner (weight underside). If my body is tense or my joints locked (resulting in a body that is less than optimally integrated) then as I attempt to execute technique my partner won't feel the full effect of my mass plus the acceleration of gravity on my mass (since tension and locked joints impede the effect of gravitational acceleration). For example, if I'm practicing tenchi nage and I lock my shoulder up at our point of contact, my partner will feel it as an arm throw that I am muscling thru. OTOH, if I am relaxed and pliable my partner feels all of my mass augmented by the acceleration due to gravity, coming to bear on him as I execute the throw. Using that same tenchi nage as an example; at the point of contact my partner will feel as though my whole body is moving thru him while we're barely making contact.

Working with forces applied by a partner are what the push/pull/lift/compress/torque exercises are all about. Those exercises, which may have begun as a means of testing mind/body coordination, have evolved to where they now enable the student to experience dealing with and managing stresses applied to various parts of the body in situations that have been stripped of the complex motions involved with technique.

We have many basic mind/body coordination exercises (as we call them) and variations on each, in our syllabus. The basic exercises emphasize helping the student ground an incoming force while remaining in a static position. The variations introduce storage and/or returning of the incoming force while in a static position or moving the body while the force continues being applied while the feet remain stationary.

I think a bit of a disclaimer is necessary here. While I've tried to explain this stuff using the terminology that appears in this thread, doing so is quite alien to me when placed alongside how I was taught and teach. I was taught to feel my way thru the exercises and make the feeling part of myself without worrying about the hows, whys and wherefores of what was going on that made everything work. So as a result you'll find my explanations something of a polyglot of terminology.

Ron

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Old 03-29-2017, 01:17 PM   #31
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Hi Budd -

The way I emphasize the balancing of ground/gravity forces is that they net to zero at the point where my feet meet the ground. So I don't see the ground as contributing any energy that can be converted to power in me. The ground does provide me with a solid base from which I can generate and project power.

Gravity however, does contribute to my mass as perceived by my partner (weight underside). If my body is tense or my joints locked (resulting in a body that is less than optimally integrated) then as I attempt to execute technique my partner won't feel the full effect of my mass plus the acceleration of gravity on my mass (since tension and locked joints impede the effect of gravitational acceleration). For example, if I'm practicing tenchi nage and I lock my shoulder up at our point of contact, my partner will feel it as an arm throw that I am muscling thru. OTOH, if I am relaxed and pliable my partner feels all of my mass augmented by the acceleration due to gravity, coming to bear on him as I execute the throw. Using that same tenchi nage as an example; at the point of contact my partner will feel as though my whole body is moving thru him while we're barely making contact.

Working with forces applied by a partner are what the push/pull/lift/compress/torque exercises are all about. Those exercises, which may have begun as a means of testing mind/body coordination, have evolved to where they now enable the student to experience dealing with and managing stresses applied to various parts of the body in situations that have been stripped of the complex motions involved with technique.

We have many basic mind/body coordination exercises (as we call them) and variations on each, in our syllabus. The basic exercises emphasize helping the student ground an incoming force while remaining in a static position. The variations introduce storage and/or returning of the incoming force while in a static position or moving the body while the force continues being applied while the feet remain stationary.

I think a bit of a disclaimer is necessary here. While I've tried to explain this stuff using the terminology that appears in this thread, doing so is quite alien to me when placed alongside how I was taught and teach. I was taught to feel my way thru the exercises and make the feeling part of myself without worrying about the hows, whys and wherefores of what was going on that made everything work. So as a result you'll find my explanations something of a polyglot of terminology.

Ron
No worries, I appreciate the care you've taken in trying to get the language to be more generic and I absolutely get that there's potentially that divide in trying to decouple the elements of one's practice vs. how they were shown and in turn how they train day to day.

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Old 03-29-2017, 01:25 PM   #32
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

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Alec Corper wrote: View Post
Hello Ron,
Would you describe just one aiki taiso done as an internal training method, what makes it other than a warm up and what aspect of body/ mind coordination is required? I ask because i also use aiki taiso as internal training, i wonder how you actually do it.
Alec
Hi Alec -

Let's use rowing motion as an example. The movements comprising rowing motion are simple and can be learned in a matter of minutes. However learning to perform the movements and learning to perform the movements with mind/body coordination are two different things.

When I first learned rowing motion I remember hearing "hips, hands, hips, hands" a lot. At first I saw it as a simple way to remember the mechanical sequence of movements. The fact that my center is located in the area of my hips and that my upper body and lower body are linked via my center didn't occur to me until much later. Consequently I performed the exercise as being primarily driven by the motion of my hips.

Over time, I began to feel the inefficiencies of moving that way. My motion felt disjointed, not at all integrated. Once I realized that my center was a connector, not a leader, I began to feel the sequence of individual movements that drive the exercise. The energy of the movement radiated from my center and my movements followed in a logical sequence that ended with my hands being thrust forward and then dragged back as I completed one cycle. In class I tell students to have their hands arrive last and leave last.

Because the movements of the exercise are so simple, once learned it's easy to just run thru it by rote and anticipate getting on to the "good stuff" of tossing people around. Often, while students are working on rowing motion I'll move around class and test them with a slight push at the small of the back as they move forward. If they don't have proper coordination of mind and body they'll invariably pitch forward, failing to properly manage the force I'm applying.

All of the aiki taiso exercises are practiced in this manner. Each one has something unique to offer in the way helping students learn to center and strengthen mind/body coordination.

Ron

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Old 03-30-2017, 07:15 AM   #33
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Hi Alec -

Let's use rowing motion as an example. The movements comprising rowing motion are simple and can be learned in a matter of minutes. However learning to perform the movements and learning to perform the movements with mind/body coordination are two different things.

When I first learned rowing motion I remember hearing "hips, hands, hips, hands" a lot. At first I saw it as a simple way to remember the mechanical sequence of movements. The fact that my center is located in the area of my hips and that my upper body and lower body are linked via my center didn't occur to me until much later. Consequently I performed the exercise as being primarily driven by the motion of my hips.

Over time, I began to feel the inefficiencies of moving that way. My motion felt disjointed, not at all integrated. Once I realized that my center was a connector, not a leader, I began to feel the sequence of individual movements that drive the exercise. The energy of the movement radiated from my center and my movements followed in a logical sequence that ended with my hands being thrust forward and then dragged back as I completed one cycle. In class I tell students to have their hands arrive last and leave last.
Ron
Hello Ron,
Thanks for the reply. I have a few comments from my own experience and learning outside of aikido which I use now and have done for quite some years.

What you describe above about torifune is a perfect example of why modern aikido in many ways has not progressed for years. In your own words you learnt it as a series of mechanical movements. This is part of the diminishing returns on the traditional model of "try to copy what you see, do what I do, " mode of instruction. I am not invested in the arguments that surround the why of this: did the teachers actually understand what they were teaching, did they hide it on purpose, is it only for those who can se it???
It is simply the fact that in many dojos people do all sorts of exercises with the belief that it adds something to their aikido without knowing what it is supposed to add or ascertaining if it does so.

Later you say, and I find it very confusing, you realised that your centre was a connector not a leader. For me it is exactly that, it is the leader of everything that happens in the body, if I really want coordination of body and mind. In training I may need my mind to make contact with my centre for a very long time, this is the really boring part for many. Eventually however, the centre leads. the next part i agree with, the hands arrive and leave after the centre, elongating the tissue and increasing the rubbery texture of the connections from tandem to limbs. this also create whip like circularity in the aiki taiso exercise of figure eight spinning when your arms and hands are apparently moving in the opposite direction to the centre.

What internal instructions do you give your feet in terms of using the ground? Do you actually transfer you weight 70/30 backwards and forwards as many schools do? What are your knees doing?

Please don't be offended by me asking these questions but whilst I fully accept that you are doing serious, sincere training, is it possible we have fundamentally different views on what internal work is? I do not dismiss other people's aikido, each to their own, this is an attempt to find the bridge.

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Old 03-30-2017, 09:11 AM   #34
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

Hi Alec -

Quote:
Alec Corper wrote: View Post
In your own words you learnt it as a series of mechanical movements.
To be fair, while I did indeed learn rowing motion as a series of mechanical movements, that's not to say I was taught the exercise that way. When I began training I didn't have much interest in ki exercises. For me they were "just" warmups so I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the explanations of the underlying concepts they were designed to illustrate. Those realizations came later.

What can I say, I was young and a whole lot smarter then than I am now.

Quote:
Alec Corper wrote: View Post
Later you say, and I find it very confusing, you realised that your centre was a connector not a leader. For me it is exactly that, it is the leader of everything that happens in the body, if I really want coordination of body and mind.
I'll try to explain. If you've ever watched beginners perform rowing motion you've probably seen some of them initiating the motion by thrusting the hips forward with the rest of the body following along later.

While the center is the source of unified movement, if it doesn't connect the upper and lower parts of the body, you get the hip thrusting movement described above. Once I felt that connection I began to see "moving from the center" in a new light.

Quote:
Alec Corper wrote: View Post
In training I may need my mind to make contact with my centre for a very long time, this is the really boring part for many.
Are you referring to your conscious mind above, as in having to think about connecting mind and body? During practice (actually interacting with one or more partners) I strive for a mind/body state that, metaphorically speaking, puts the conscious mind to sleep. There's no me, no partner(s), only the thing we become as we move together. For me, this is most evident during randori practice where the constant repetition of attacks requires that I remain in that state before, during and after the attack has been executed.

Maintaining that state is more difficult during regular waza practice where I have a tendency to self evaluate between repetitions. It's more difficult still when practicing the aiki taiso exercises. I expect this is due to the simplicity of the movements. It's easy for the mind to wander.

Quote:
Alec Corper wrote: View Post
the hands arrive and leave after the centre, elongating the tissue and increasing the rubbery texture of the connections from tandem to limbs. this also create whip like circularity in the aiki taiso exercise of figure eight spinning when your arms and hands are apparently moving in the opposite direction to the centre.
Yes.

Quote:
Alec Corper wrote: View Post
What internal instructions do you give your feet in terms of using the ground? Do you actually transfer you weight 70/30 backwards and forwards as many schools do? What are your knees doing?
Since I have experienced a lot of push/pull... testing while practicing rowing motion, I have developed and internalized what's referred to as correct feeling when performing the exercise. Consequently, I don't engage in an internal dialog around what to do. I let the feeling associated with performing the exercise correctly, guide the movement.

Quote:
Alec Corper wrote: View Post
Please don't be offended by me asking these questions but whilst I fully accept that you are doing serious, sincere training, is it possible we have fundamentally different views on what internal work is? I do not dismiss other people's aikido, each to their own, this is an attempt to find the bridge.
I welcome the questions. Questioning spurs thinking and reflection.

From what I've read in your posts on the subject, I don't think we have fundamental differences regarding what internal work is. I do think we are employing different training methodologies in order to achieve our goals. Kind of like Newton and Leibniz each pursuing the calculus using different notational schemes.

This thread, if it continues to develop along these lines, may go a long to help bridge the gap.

Ron

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Old 03-30-2017, 09:56 AM   #35
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

Quote:
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In training I may need my mind to make contact with my centre for a very long time, this is the really boring part for many.
Are you referring to your conscious mind above, as in having to think about connecting mind and body? During practice (actually interacting with one or more partners) I strive for a mind/body state that, metaphorically speaking, puts the conscious mind to sleep. There's no me, no partner(s), only the thing we become as we move together. For me, this is most evident during randori practice where the constant repetition of attacks requires that I remain in that state before, during and after the attack has been executed.

No I'm referring to aiki taiso as solo practice. i am also referring to a particular state of consciousness that is observer rather than volitional. This is also why i refer to awakening the connections. You can't use an ambitious consciousness, it gets in its own way. I understand what you mean by "correct feeling" ( I believe I do!) but I question that as a didactic method for others. If you can't do it ,your students can't feel it. If they feel it, how did you get there and how will they reproduce it. i think this strays from the original topic but my experience is that it is very difficult to learn with instructions like, "relax feel your centre, move your energy," etc. At a later stage those comments have a refernce which we often believe we share with others but actually rarely do. Some people decry precision in training methods because they were never exposed to anything other than external technical instruction. When I started seriously working with people outside of aikido about ten years ago i found i had to reexamine pretty much everything and then continue to do so, shoshin is not only a state of mind it is an activity.

Maintaining that state is more difficult during regular waza practice where I have a tendency to self evaluate between repetitions. It's more difficult still when practicing the aiki taiso exercises. I expect this is due to the simplicity of the movements. It's easy for the mind to wander.

I guess that is partly what I am pointing to. I don't think the movements are simple at all and if I can't do them solo I definitely can't do them in waza. I do sometimes use the freeze method to pressure test during the execution of technique, not during a throw or a lock but on the way or after. This is pretty hard to do with oneself but interesting if you can be honest and not make artificial adjustments.

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Old 03-30-2017, 10:50 AM   #36
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

At the end of the day, if I am going to change my training, I want it to be for a good reason, right? We all do ikkyo a little differently. Why? Because [presumably] we all feel our variation is a better for how we move. So there is some amount of burden when someone tells me why their ikkyo is better. If it is, then I might look at implementing that change in how I move, how I train that movement, and how I understand that movement affects my larger understanding of ikkyo. It's not necessarily a critique of other ikkyo's, but a priority on my ikkyo.

I think most of the internal camps are usually aligned in some sense with the basics. We are looking to create fullness in our body (i.e. no slack, aiki body, stability, etc.); we are looking to create whole body connection and awareness (one thing moves, everything moves); we are looking to generate unusual power; we are looking to create kuzushi on contact; we are looking to find movement pattern within the context of maintaining integrity. I might be missing a few things, but these at least cut across the basics of a couple different internals with which I am familiar. So when I am reading through whatever materials I read, I kinda try to put answers into one of these categories. For example, I might hear about an exercise that is designed to improve connection so I am going to be critical of the why's, what's, and how's of the exercise. I guess I am kinda echoeing Alec, here.

For example, as an early introduction to stability, we practice push resistance, right? Is that because push resistance is the exercise? Or, is that because if you have proper connection, push resistance is a positive outcome from that body training? I think there a number of aikido exercises that became the thing instead of checking if the thing is right. Is maybe "removing the slack" the exercise, and pushing a test on the relative success of our progress? If so, how do we remove slack from our body?

On a related note, we have practices that are supposed to change how our body works, right? We are supposed to develop connections, strengthen joints and connective tissues, increase whole-body power and any number of other physical changes. How long does that take? 1 year? 10 years? 20 years? How does that compare to training that remain consistent for many years in a row? I was involved in years of body conditioning for sports during which I never maintained a consistent training regime for longer than 6 months because my body reacted to the training. I got stronger, more flexible, and apply the movement to dynamic action. I was able to use heavier weights, increase my range of motion, and apply the training to dynamic movement (like hitting or running).

Why the heck would I stand like a post for 10 minutes? If you ask me to stand like a post for 10 minutes every day for a year, how would I notice the fruits of that labor? It's like a bad flash-forward scene from a Chinese martial arts movie, to see how the simple exercises pay dividends. My personal favorite is when you can only watch other monks train, but you can't train yourself...

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Old 03-30-2017, 02:02 PM   #37
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

Jon, you just listed out 2 other topics for potentially good threads. (Generally, a discussion of the logical progression in internal training and I think that can vary based on style, goals, completeness of information, etc. . . More specifically, a discussion of the benefit of training against a push, immediate goals, longer term goals, etc. If no one else does, I may start them)

I think another topic that's good - especially for Internal training for Aikido - is to do with which skills are most important to focus on first - I'd argue the ki components described by peng jin in the Chinese sense, i.e. ground force are most important, which is the basis of this thread. Especially if you buy into the idea of aikido as irimi being the go-to primary strategy of engagement (there is no tenkan without irimi). What implications does that have on the type of bodyskills that are needed for irimi (and then also informing irimi-tenkan)?

So if we think of peng-jin i.e. ground connection force (i.e. the ability to bring the solidity of ground up through you, your hands, head, shoulder, etc.). How can you initially train it in an aikido context (pushing sounds good, but translate pushing into techniques and tai sabaki)? What should you watch out for (e.g. when does good groundpath give way to a failed irimi that becomes an irimi tankan)?

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Old 03-30-2017, 02:17 PM   #38
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

Quote:
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Why the heck would I stand like a post for 10 minutes? If you ask me to stand like a post for 10 minutes every day for a year, how would I notice the fruits of that labor?...
Like I said in the other thread, I practice this way because the teachers I've studied with encourage it. Sigman though is the only one who pointed out that it is more beneficial when used to practice force vectors - ground at the very minimum, then gravity to start. I seem to be getting results, though Budd will obviously be the judge of that when he sees me again.

If my teachers tell me tomorrow to stop practicing zhan zhuang (standing pole) because it's making me suck, I would stop it.

If your teacher is not telling you to do it, then you should be fine. Don't worry about it. Good teachers often prescribe different things to different students, depending on where each person is at in his/her development.

Last edited by GovernorSilver : 03-30-2017 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 03-30-2017, 02:50 PM   #39
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

True, Paolo and some of the activities that are trained over time have implications regarding the type of development that will be done. Some skills are a lot more approachable right away - for instance, if you recall, we covered jin ground/gravity force in an evening, but it was reinforced again the next day - however the connection based work can be done in many different ways with a lot of different types of "connected" bodies as a result.

In the "ground connection" work - there's how you'll be able to bring the ground force up through your body based on your initial body development (which, if you have a lots of local muscle development, or no muscle development, or the some other suboptimal development, will be more limited than otherwise). Over time, you can build more skill in your abilities to bring the ground force up as well as engage the down force as strength additives. The body connections that most effectively transmit these external forces take longer to develop.

The model I follow stresses a very long process over time to develop the body connections to not only most optimally convey the external forces (and harmonizing with another person's force is fair game), but then also to take more advantage of the way the bone-muscle-tendon-tissues connect to use the mental management of ground-gravity forces along with the elastic and pressurized strengths of those connections to fundamentally move. These also have ramifications in terms of how you apply your martial art as well, which in aikido definitely has implications for kuzushi, atemi, using locks to control a frame vs. joint, etc.

Anyways, enjoying the discussion, I appreciate everyone's contributions.

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Old 03-30-2017, 10:08 PM   #40
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

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Alec Corper wrote: View Post
I understand what you mean by "correct feeling" ( I believe I do!) but I question that as a didactic method for others. If you can't do it ,your students can't feel it. If they feel it, how did you get there and how will they reproduce it. i think this strays from the original topic but my experience is that it is very difficult to learn with instructions like, "relax feel your centre, move your energy," etc.
You're right Alec, it does stray from the original topic. At the risk of further thread drift I'd just like to say that I can do it, I was taught to feel it and reproduce the feeling at will. I teach my students to do it and feel it as well. The teaching doesn't involve verbal instructions other than to provide useful reference points to reinforce the hands on training.

None of our internal training is done in a vacuum. All of the things I outlined in my first post in this thread form an interconnected network of tools designed for the express purpose of getting students to experience that correct feeling, internalize it, strengthen it and use it.

I'm straying too far off topic so I think I'll sit back and read along awhile.

All the best.

Ron

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Old 03-30-2017, 11:23 PM   #41
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

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At the end of the day, if I am going to change my training, I want it to be for a good reason, right? We all do ikkyo a little differently. Why? Because [presumably] we all feel our variation is a better for how we move. So there is some amount of burden when someone tells me why their ikkyo is better. If it is, then I might look at implementing that change in how I move, how I train that movement, and how I understand that movement affects my larger understanding of ikkyo. It's not necessarily a critique of other ikkyo's, but a priority on my ikkyo.

I think most of the internal camps are usually aligned in some sense with the basics. We are looking to create fullness in our body (i.e. no slack, aiki body, stability, etc.); we are looking to create whole body connection and awareness (one thing moves, everything moves); we are looking to generate unusual power; we are looking to create kuzushi on contact; we are looking to find movement pattern within the context of maintaining integrity. I might be missing a few things, but these at least cut across the basics of a couple different internals with which I am familiar. So when I am reading through whatever materials I read, I kinda try to put answers into one of these categories. For example, I might hear about an exercise that is designed to improve connection so I am going to be critical of the why's, what's, and how's of the exercise. I guess I am kinda echoeing Alec, here.

For example, as an early introduction to stability, we practice push resistance, right? Is that because push resistance is the exercise? Or, is that because if you have proper connection, push resistance is a positive outcome from that body training? I think there a number of aikido exercises that became the thing instead of checking if the thing is right. Is maybe "removing the slack" the exercise, and pushing a test on the relative success of our progress? If so, how do we remove slack from our body?

On a related note, we have practices that are supposed to change how our body works, right? We are supposed to develop connections, strengthen joints and connective tissues, increase whole-body power and any number of other physical changes. How long does that take? 1 year? 10 years? 20 years? How does that compare to training that remain consistent for many years in a row? I was involved in years of body conditioning for sports during which I never maintained a consistent training regime for longer than 6 months because my body reacted to the training. I got stronger, more flexible, and apply the movement to dynamic action. I was able to use heavier weights, increase my range of motion, and apply the training to dynamic movement (like hitting or running).

Why the heck would I stand like a post for 10 minutes? If you ask me to stand like a post for 10 minutes every day for a year, how would I notice the fruits of that labor? It's like a bad flash-forward scene from a Chinese martial arts movie, to see how the simple exercises pay dividends. My personal favorite is when you can only watch other monks train, but you can't train yourself...
I think this post is spot-on. It brings to mind a comment in an interview with Ellis Amdur:

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It is obvious however that some great teachers have independently developed more explicit individual exercises such as tanren (strengthening techniques), one of whom was Sagawa Yukiyoshi, whom I mentioned above. Kuroda Tetsuzan has developed his own set of solo exercises and he told Amdur that the reason was that none of his students was willing to dedicate the amount of time or talent required to practice kata in the way that it was practiced before, where they would have naturally acquired the skills that his solo exercises foster.
I suspect much of the issue surrounds the difference between people who took up a martial art to become it, versus most of us for whom it is something that is a part, even a very significant part, but not our whole lives. To make it more, we have to practice in a way where we are conscious of our body and how it is positioned or moving constantly, even when we are not in the dojo. That is very difficult, if not impossible for most people, as just as we lack a good development of physical internal connections, so too does our personality (or ego), causing us to lose any self-awareness we have, much of the time. I've found that spending as many spare minutes as I can -- standing waiting for the elevator, sitting at red lights, waiting for Aikido class to begin -- doing anything to be conscious of my body or even small and simple connected movements to add up to a significant difference in my development, both physically and otherwise.

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Old 03-31-2017, 02:58 AM   #42
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
At the end of the day, if I am going to change my training, I want it to be for a good reason, right? We all do ikkyo a little differently. Why? Because [presumably] we all feel our variation is a better for how we move. So there is some amount of burden when someone tells me why their ikkyo is better. If it is, then I might look at implementing that change in how I move, how I train that movement, and how I understand that movement affects my larger understanding of ikkyo. It's not necessarily a critique of other ikkyo's, but a priority on my ikkyo.

I understand why you say that people do what they do because it feels better for how we move. I see two problems. The first, if we move wrong (in a whole body sense) what feels "bette"r fits an already misaligned, poorly connected structure, and , second, I'm not even sure that we can decide if an ikkyo is "better" without understanding the conditions that call for ikkyo. Even our understanding of what working with "resistant" partners in aikido derives from a setup, the uke/ tori relationship that has been so misunderstood in aikido that what we have inherited often creates more problems than improvements. My working model of aikido is takemusu, techniques are born from spontaneous matching of body qualities and ingrained skills to the conditions of that moment. So, to me, polishing skills upon the wrong conditions is just improving fundamental mistakes. When aiki works there is no "resisting" opponent[, that may be too much of an ideal, but that is my guiding notion./I]

I think most of the internal camps are usually aligned in some sense with the basics. We are looking to create fullness in our body (i.e. no slack, aiki body, stability, etc.); we are looking to create whole body connection and awareness (one thing moves, everything moves); we are looking to generate unusual power; we are looking to create kuzushi on contact; we are looking to find movement pattern within the context of maintaining integrity. I might be missing a few things, but these at least cut across the basics of a couple different internals with which I am familiar. So when I am reading through whatever materials I read, I kinda try to put answers into one of these categories. For example, I might hear about an exercise that is designed to improve connection so I am going to be critical of the why's, what's, and how's of the exercise. I guess I am kinda echoeing Alec, here.

[I]Yes, I think we should have some agreement of the general territories and pedagogy. There will be differences and if people have been hands on with Akuzawa, Dan harden and Sam Chin they will have felt commonalities and differences. They would have also heard differences in their models. I am personally working my own hybrid and continue to test it out. I only teach it to those who have a solid base in aikido or other martial arts, but have also done field testing with guys who come from CQC background and FMA.

For example, as an early introduction to stability, we practice push resistance, right? Is that because push resistance is the exercise? Or, is that because if you have proper connection, push resistance is a positive outcome from that body training? I think there a number of aikido exercises that became the thing instead of checking if the thing is right. Is maybe "removing the slack" the exercise, and pushing a test on the relative success of our progress? If so, how do we remove slack from our body?

Spot on!. It is often said that atemi is 90% of aikido in a real encounter so people without a striking background throw a few meaningless punches at non-existent targets, and those who enter with a striking background try to graft those methods into aikido to make aikido "more effective"! With an inflated, primed body, with aiki ready to fire at any point of contact, aiki atemi more closely resembles CQC than something artistic. Once contact is made with the opponents body that contact is unbroken, the opponent cannot disengage nor create the space to defend or counter attack. In fact, at this point in time, if i switch from absorb to project mode iIneed to be aware that many aikido locks and throws become too short range with the power staying in ukes body rather than sending them away. I am not happy with that and need to be careful. Every lock is a throw or a strike, every step is a kick or a sweep.

On a related note, we have practices that are supposed to change how our body works, right? We are supposed to develop connections, strengthen joints and connective tissues, increase whole-body power and any number of other physical changes. How long does that take? 1 year? 10 years? 20 years? How does that compare to training that remain consistent for many years in a row? I was involved in years of body conditioning for sports during which I never maintained a consistent training regime for longer than 6 months because my body reacted to the training. I got stronger, more flexible, and apply the movement to dynamic action. I was able to use heavier weights, increase my range of motion, and apply the training to dynamic movement (like hitting or running).

Why the heck would I stand like a post for 10 minutes? If you ask me to stand like a post for 10 minutes every day for a year, how would I notice the fruits of that labor? It's like a bad flash-forward scene from a Chinese martial arts movie, to see how the simple exercises pay dividends. My personal favorite is when you can only watch other monks train, but you can't train yourself...
Well, it's funny that this thread was about rooting and standing. In my mind we are still there. HEM creates real awareness of dantien and the fullness feel. For me, Peng is not the upward force of the 4 jins of tai Chi but is the 6 directional sphere that fills and expands to the "tip of the tongue and the hairs on the arms" to quote an old Chinese classic. Do we generate the spirals in the legs and arms or do we awaken our "stupid" wiring and cause more power to flow through YI directed movement. Does our dantien simultaneously press down into our legs and feet to root and rise upwards to pass power back into the upper body? I'm happy to move on to others areas in these discussions, even though I'm not sure we have done this topic justice yet.

Last edited by Alec Corper : 03-31-2017 at 03:02 AM.

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Old 03-31-2017, 06:30 AM   #43
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

Agreed, Alec - I'd argue that dantien doesn't legitimately manifest until after you've gotten some degree of jin skill/development and connection conditioning/development and that the spherical sensation you're indicating is a result of the two balanced jin forces we've been talking about here meeting in the middle and producing that net combination of power that you can then legitimately directing through any part of the body (as the combination of up/down directed on all sides in any direction) IF you've trained the qi/ki connections of the body (bone-muscle-tendon-tissue).

It's almost ridiculous in its simplicity but the devil's in so many details of hands-on instruction, repeatable framework, individual willingness to be accountable for training/development, ability to course-correct the inevitable erroneous tangents that come up, talent, intelligence, physical ability (which I guess the net sum of those things is true for any physical discipline).

I'd also posit that this type of training is misleading a bit using the Western model of conditioning the body doing the same exercise. Rather than diminishing returns over time for the same drill/workload, you have the same drill testing some evolving net combination of mental/physical/training/wiring/conditioning in a seemingly innocuous series of movements that only allow the more advanced training in those movements once some of the developmental checkpoints/milestones have been addressed (see the facial network study Alec posted, it somewhat indicates that early stages are a mostly mental rewiring with minimal physical development until sufficient time, impulse and stimulus are achieved performing seemingly repetitive developmental tasks to activate the connected tissue in a way that trains the overall combination of connected tissue).

Again, good stuff. Though I think the next three perhaps separate threads might be - training the connections over time with developmental milestones and linkages back to ki/jin, the overall suite of skills that should be represented as a baseline, then eventually the application side in how it starts to influence how techniques are trained, productive randori/shiai are enabled, etc.

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Old 03-31-2017, 07:03 AM   #44
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

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Agreed, Alec - I'd argue that dantien doesn't legitimately manifest until after you've gotten some degree of jin skill/development and connection conditioning/development and that the spherical sensation you're indicating is a result of the two balanced jin forces we've been talking about here meeting in the middle and producing that net combination of power that you can then legitimately directing through any part of the body (as the combination of up/down directed on all sides in any direction) IF you've trained the qi/ki connections of the body (bone-muscle-tendon-tissue).

No argument from me, perhaps only the distinction between causing and recognising. If you can successfully stand with heaven and earth, pretty difficult, IMHO, then you have the condition in which certain sensations begin to manifest. I try to build my training upon recognising the manifestation of opposite forces everywhere. The ability to find and multiply as you say later, forms the idea of a ball with centres everywhere.

It's almost ridiculous in its simplicity but the devil's in so many details of hands-on instruction, repeatable framework, individual willingness to be accountable for training/development, ability to course-correct the inevitable erroneous tangents that come up, talent, intelligence, physical ability (which I guess the net sum of those things is true for any physical discipline).

I'd also posit that this type of training is misleading a bit using the Western model of conditioning the body doing the same exercise. Rather than diminishing returns over time for the same drill/workload, you have the same drill testing some evolving net combination of mental/physical/training/wiring/conditioning in a seemingly innocuous series of movements that only allow the more advanced training in those movements once some of the developmental checkpoints/milestones have been addressed (see the facial network study Alec posted, it somewhat indicates that early stages are a mostly mental rewiring with minimal physical development until sufficient time, impulse and stimulus are achieved performing seemingly repetitive developmental tasks to activate the connected tissue in a way that trains the overall combination of connected tissue).

I think this is where you need to be blown away a few times by someone of a very high skill level, where it is almost impossible to only ascribe what has haopened to physical skills. I distinguish between body qualities, skills applied with those qualities, and fighting skills. Moving with a connected structure with forces applied to the body at different points and then feeling that force can be grounded and dissipated or bounced back, or moved elsewhere form the basis of fa jin. We could also examine how to develop ting jin within the uke/tori relationship, a thorny problem since this model is so fundamental to aikido practice.

Again, good stuff. Though I think the next three perhaps separate threads might be - training the connections over time with developmental milestones and linkages back to ki/jin, the overall suite of skills that should be represented as a baseline, then eventually the application side in how it starts to influence how techniques are trained, productive randori/shiai are enabled, etc.
As I mentioned in response to Jon I see a more explosive kind of issuing force starts to emerge when you are holding opposing forces. i rarely hear people say this. Maybe it's my problem The peng ball (or jin) can be used for defensive purpose only but I have found that to be a far higher level of skill than most people acknowledge.

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Old 03-31-2017, 07:18 AM   #45
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

When I remember first looking into internal power, I was bombarded with a level of sophistication that I was not able to separate into usable content. It was much the same critique that I have leveraged against aikido instruction, in general. "Welcome to your second class, now let me tell you about life-giving sword." What!!? My grumpy post is more about bringing back simple questions... Why do I care about a connection with the ground? How do I know if I am grounding? Is grounding the same thing as dissipating force? Why /not? What exercises develop my sensation of a "down" force? Same questions, but what about "up"?

If I make a 165 lb. pyramid of slick rubber and place it on the ground, does it care about connection to the ground? How immovable is that object, just because of its solidity? Starting small, I think our first task is to unify the body and turn our slinky-quality loose bodies into chunks of rubber. Immovable object and all that. Solo exercises that change the body are the way to do this work and set the stage for thing 2, managing incoming force. How can we train these aspects 100% of the time? Because eventually, my goal is to 100% of the time have a connected body that can manage incoming forces.

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Old 03-31-2017, 07:27 AM   #46
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

Agreed - it's just I've seen so many people rush to try to do fajin when they don't even have basic jin, let alone a connected body by which to do the store and release without a lot of power bleeding out because of local muscle interference, tension, etc. From a foundational perspective, I think it's more productive to spend the time building good ground/gravity and basic connection, because it might be better to train the issuance of power using the in-development tissue elasticity and layering in the rest of the muscle-bone-tendon-tissues appropriately as additives (darnit, the topic of another thread, I think).

So, it's not a matter of it not being a known thing or important, but from a timeline and milestone - it legitimately requires a lot of other building blocks first. Within aikido, it's certainly a game changer, but presumably people are attracted to aikido for some of the philosophical aspects, as well as the progression of partner exercises and practices (I mean at some points, ukemi is darned fun and practical to learn) - so there's no reason those things can't be manifest as a part of good aikido practice even while the "receiving body" is being built.

Over time ukemi as falling is less paramount and more that ukemi is increasingly a higher level skill in either "nullifying a grab/technique applied on you", "reversing it by making the two bodies one connected unit that you are harmonizing with ground/gravity", "receiving the incoming force as part of the elastic storage and pressurization of the whole body connections in a way that their power is added to your own even as you're optimizing the combined power chain via ground-gravity force intent management, elastically pressurized stretch and release to return their force along with your own" and so forth and so on . . .

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Old 03-31-2017, 07:29 AM   #47
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post

I'd also posit that this type of training is misleading a bit using the Western model of conditioning the body doing the same exercise. Rather than diminishing returns over time for the same drill/workload, you have the same drill testing some evolving net combination of mental/physical/training/wiring/conditioning in a seemingly innocuous series of movements that only allow the more advanced training in those movements once some of the developmental checkpoints/milestones have been addressed (see the facial network study Alec posted, it somewhat indicates that early stages are a mostly mental rewiring with minimal physical development until sufficient time, impulse and stimulus are achieved performing seemingly repetitive developmental tasks to activate the connected tissue in a way that trains the overall combination of connected tissue).
I think this is actually a huge issue in aikido for people trying to train IP. Aikido classes are particularly structured and rote, even for the most innovative people. Many people just leave their training to the direction of the sensei. IP exercises need to be active and tailored to personal progress. In our dojo, we'll talk about things 1,2,3 as references to different focal points within exercises. Without any actual number in mind, you should be performing exercises differently after n period of time. Much like a physical workout, diminishing returns on an exercise are an indication that we need a change...for good or bad.

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Old 03-31-2017, 07:29 AM   #48
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

Jon,

That is why I said that we have not finished the standing section, Before we move on there is a lot more that can said about "making your slinky rubber into a happy bouncy ball". Think you know the answer to your own question about 100% results. You've trained with Dan. How long did it take him? Most of us started late and have some luggage to dump. Our bodies can improve with this stuff, up to a point, but I am not expecting to turn into Takeda next year.
A little anecdote; i am not very good at this stuff if i put myself next to the big guns out there, but i thought I was doing Ok. I touched hands with Sam Chin's youngest son, maybe 24 years old, solid as a rock , soft as a kitten. He handled me like a kid, much to Sam's amusement. The guy has been doing this stuff since he could crawl.So don't be too grumpy, it will only get worse ;-)

Alec

Last edited by Alec Corper : 03-31-2017 at 07:32 AM.

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Old 03-31-2017, 07:36 AM   #49
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
When I remember first looking into internal power, I was bombarded with a level of sophistication that I was not able to separate into usable content. It was much the same critique that I have leveraged against aikido instruction, in general. "Welcome to your second class, now let me tell you about life-giving sword." What!!? My grumpy post is more about bringing back simple questions... Why do I care about a connection with the ground? How do I know if I am grounding? Is grounding the same thing as dissipating force? Why /not? What exercises develop my sensation of a "down" force? Same questions, but what about "up"?

If I make a 165 lb. pyramid of slick rubber and place it on the ground, does it care about connection to the ground? How immovable is that object, just because of its solidity? Starting small, I think our first task is to unify the body and turn our slinky-quality loose bodies into chunks of rubber. Immovable object and all that. Solo exercises that change the body are the way to do this work and set the stage for thing 2, managing incoming force. How can we train these aspects 100% of the time? Because eventually, my goal is to 100% of the time have a connected body that can manage incoming forces.
Well, Jon, I agree that starting simple is ideal. I think we might be running into differences of the model approach in that people aren't all using the same terms the same way. Simply put, I'm trying to align with the basics of ground/gravity force management as described by jin - the Chinese description that's somewhat included in the concept of ki in Japanese, but if we can agree that one of the very first skills to learn is to connect to the ground in a way that you can increasingly borrow its solidity as a trained skill. Thus, while "grounding" may be the entry way and a low level (not really practical skill beyond a checkpoint), it has a purpose to get people used to sourcing power lower than they might otherwise.

But it's a good discussion - this mix of "how are we each approaching it" "what's logical as a framework" then "what's ideal to optimize it within an already solid aikido/jujutsu training approach".

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Old 03-31-2017, 11:50 AM   #50
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Re: Connection with the ground, Rooting, etc

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Jon,
A little anecdote; i am not very good at this stuff if i put myself next to the big guns out there, but i thought I was doing Ok. I touched hands with Sam Chin's youngest son, maybe 24 years old, solid as a rock , soft as a kitten. He handled me like a kid, much to Sam's amusement. The guy has been doing this stuff since he could crawl.So don't be too grumpy, it will only get worse ;-)

Alec
"Kiddie pool," is the phrase we throw around. We are in the kiddie pool. And it is eye-opening to see people use this stuff.

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