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Old 02-15-2005, 10:15 AM   #76
Mike Sigman
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

Quote:
Chuck Clark wrote wrote:
Most people on the discussion boards are used to trying to get any and ALL information possible as soon as possible. It seems they think there is a "given right" for them to know and that it is the obligation of those "that know" to give it all away as soon as someone asks.

Teachers want to teach and those of us wanting to know, of course, want it as quickly as we can get it. Of course there is an optimum way of transmission in these practices. Traditonal ways will give way to new traditions. Teachers also have a right to pass on what they know to whomever can receive and internalize the knowledge. They also have a right to make a living doing their art.
Hi Chuck:

The internet, with its wide access and its assistance to communication, can help in a few ways. I read for information and I wish that I'd had something like the internet years ago.... it could have saved a lot of time. In Aikido, look at some of the pointers about Ki, for instance. If you learn that Ki is a phenomenon common to most Asian arts, in one form or another, that Japan assuredly got its ideas of Ki from China (along with countless other things that were borrowed), that there are physical practices that develop Ki (not just making your mind empty and hoping for the best), etc., etc., ... just learning those things can save you a lot of time (years). Those basic pointers and other elementary steps I think everyone should have access to. As people who care for the martial arts and their progress, we should actively encourage and promote basic information so that our arts grow in numbers and skill level, IMO.

When it comes to someone thinking they can learn beyond this basic level of information on the internet, it's simply a wasted hope. You have to put in the time and you have to get hands-on information. In terms of "traditional ways" of conveying information, I think they're too slow, in many aspects, and are encumbered by the same need for many teachers to earn a living as a return for giving their time teaching.

I believe the real question is "who is a good teacher?" in relation to the important question of "who will teach me the best information that I can use in the most reasonable amount of time?". In so many arts (this is not quite as true in Aikido as in other arts, IMO) there are many teachers who really don't know much of the real core of the art they're teaching. If we provide good and useable basic information through a forum like AikiWeb, the discerning students will be able to better judge who is best able to teach them the information and skills that are their goals. Of course, like in all martial arts, Aikido has a certain amount of what I call the "Wannabelieves" and basic information about real skills is not as important... so there will always be a pool of students for everyone, it seems, and almost no one will ever be bereft of income.

So, in short, I agree with you, but my secondary comments are that putting a certain amount of base information on forums like this one serve a great good to the community by helpfully raising the base level of available information... although beyond the basic academic knowledge, the actual skills can only really be learned by hands-on in a dojo with the assistance of a knowledgeable teacher.

It is, as you say, an interesting process.

All the Best.

Mike Sigman
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Old 02-15-2005, 10:28 AM   #77
Mike Sigman
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
And I think we have a good example here...no one is giving away information that is harmful, no one is thinking these are the ultimate secrets, everyone acknowledges that a lot of this type of information must be passed on in person. Its not a matter of keeping secrets...its the inadequacy of this particular medium to give hands on instruction as to particular movements and ways to power those movements. Without the hands on, you really aren't going to get very far (in my experience). But at least we seem to be getting a common language to discuss these things.
Hi Ron:

Well, you just slipped in what I was saying to Chuck before I could post my message.
Quote:
And I have to say, the discussion has been extremely mature for the medium...Mike, how many times has this type of thing degenerated completely on rec-MA? Good job, folks! Keep it up...I wonder if people like Ellis Amdur have something to contribute here...I know he has a lot of experience in both chinese and japanese arts...maybe he can help bridge some of the gaps?
It's very easy for these conversations to deteriorate if people don't stick to the issues and if they allow personal aspects to become a part of the conversation. For instance, I may not like what someone says, or their attitude, and someone may not like what I say (in many cases, I find a blunt discussion of how to do things offends the "spiritual" people or the ego of some teacher who is rank-conscious, etc.), but as long as we both agree to discuss the factual and substantive issues, we can go forward.

If someone is wrong or is perceived to be wrong, the best thing is to factually rebutt what they say, not get into personal comments. That's what happens on RMA... let's try to keep it fairly calm here. As an aside, I have to admit that I personally will sometimes provoke someone in the hopes of eliciting some further bit of information, on the one hand, and sometimes I let my objections to ego-centricity override common decorum and I do start a few frays. Mea culpa. But hey.... we're martial artists, after all!

The most information is gained, though, with the discussion of issues and with being open in commentary and questioning. We're all in this together.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 02-15-2005, 10:29 AM   #78
tedehara
 
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
... I think I took that one step further. I actually like to make rowing a partner practice (every once and a while), where an 'uke' grabs your wrists and resists your movement a bit. If you move your middle first and then your arms it works pretty well. I can usually row a fairly strong person who is working hard to resist me. It would be fun to put someone behind me to push against my back as I rowed backward into that space - but I just thought of trying that this moment.

If someone can explain breath exercises and the reasoning behind them in a very physical way, or a mental/spiritual way I'm always willing to listen and try to learn.

Rob
When you are tested in the Ki Society for rowing, your partner holds your wrists and prevents you from moving backwards. Move your hips first by bending your back leg, then your hands. The feeling is that you're pulling from your elbows as you move back, like you're a marionette (puppet) with strings attached. Don't focus your mind on your wrists or you'll start fighting as you row backwards.

When you move forwards, your wrists are at your hips and your partner tries to prevent you from moving forward by holding. Bend your forward knee to start moving. Your hips will move first then move your arms once your partner starts moving. Your fingers are pointed down and the feeling is as if you're pushing from the back of your hands. Again, don't focus on the wrists.

When you row forwards, don't go too far. If you look down over your front knee, you should be able to see your toes. You shouldn't go any further than that. When you row forwards, your partner can test your stability by slightly pushing from behind at the small of the back. If you've over-extended yourself while rowing forwards, you'll be moved off balance.

When you are moving both forwards and backwards, your mind should be extending forwards. A good opponent can take advantage of the fact that your focus is off him. Train for forward extension.

For me, breathing exercises are just another way to learn to relax. It's a simple, physical way to calm down the body. Relax Completely is one of the four basic principles for Shin Shin Toitsu (mind and body coordination) and it is advice many aikido instructors give their students. You have to train to learn how to relax. This is one way to learn.

Last edited by tedehara : 02-15-2005 at 10:37 AM.

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Old 02-15-2005, 11:01 AM   #79
Mike Sigman
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
When you are tested in the Ki Society for rowing, your partner holds your wrists and prevents you from moving backwards. (snip rest of good post by Ted)
Let me throw in a couple of comments, but let me preface them by saying that this sort of discussion becomes enjoyable when everyone chimes in with commentary and/or question. The sharing of information (which I wish I'd had when I started Aikido) gives everyone the most food for thought, while not committing anyone to being a believer of everything that is posted. [End sermon]

In pushing on someone like in Ki Society's "ki test" of someone pushing on the forearm, the best thing to do is to relax and let the push go down the back leg. If you relax, the mind will recruit the proper body mechanisms to set up that path to the ground. It's the same path that you would use if you were generating a push, ikkyo, etc., to your partner. If someone were to pull on that same forearm, you could think of it as a path that suddenly shifts to the front leg and which goes up to the back near the shoulder of the arm being pulled. The pulled arm is like a "rope" that connects the pull to the back. So in the case of the push, the "Ki" goes to the forearm, but in the case of the pull, the "Ki" is said to go to the back and the arm simply acts as a sort of "rope". In practical terms, though, it's easiest to do as Ted says and picture a push as being the middle pushing and a pull as being sort of a string from the middle to the hands (i.e., the middle actually powers the push and pull). [I'm working my way toward a point; hang in there]

If instead of using the forearm as an example of something taking a push, let me imaginarily use my palm in front of my shoulder as an example. I can straighten my arm all the way out, palm facing forward, and someone can push the palm and not move me. Next I can disengage and put my palm halfway out... someone can push it and not move me. Lastly, I can put my hand fairly close to my shoulder; someone can push it and they can't move me. The point is that I can will the path to the ground from any position my palm is in, with a bit of practice. If that is true (and it is), then at first in your rowing practice, you should restrict yourself to movements which are almost robotic in the involvement of the movement of the hips, etc., but you can look forward to the days when your movements will involve more of the mind's control of the paths (kokyu) and your movements will begin to look just like a normal person's movements, but will be imbued with great power.

I was thinking of this fact the other day when I watched an old film of O-Sense, Tohei, and others leading a couple of visiting Americans in the rowing exercise. If someone doesn't understand that an experienced practitioner's "normal looking" movements are actually skipping years of more robotic practice, they will miss what is going on and will wind up with empty exercises, devoid of the real kokyu.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 02-15-2005, 11:53 AM   #80
James Young
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

Just as a side note here, the rowing exercise (fune kogi undo) that is practiced in Ki Society influenced dojos is a lot different than the (ama no) tori fune exercise or gyo that was originally described by Shaun. The confusion sometimes comes because tori fune is sometimes called fune kogi as well and they do look similar, but based on my experiece of doing both I realize they seem to be significantly different in both in execution and purpose.

The "Ki society style" is practiced (at least how I practiced it) in the way Ted basically described and we also did the same exercise of having a partner hold our wrists from time to time. The arms didn't get extended out too far at any time and the concentration on the exercise seemed to be on making the movements and power come from your center so that you could row even if a person was holding on to your wrists. Also notable was we did not make any of the set vowel sounds that are integral to tori fune no gyo. In contrast in tori fune we practice, although we of course do move from our center as well, we do seem to extend our arms out further, making the strong vowel sounds from your gut are always done, and the focus is more on the kokyu or breathing aspect rather than the power being generated from your center. I make this opinion of course just based on my experience of practice in one Ki Society influenced dojo and my more recent practices; others may have a different experience.
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Old 02-15-2005, 12:17 PM   #81
Mike Sigman
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

Quote:
James Young wrote:
Just as a side note here, the rowing exercise (fune kogi undo) that is practiced in Ki Society influenced dojos is a lot different than the (ama no) tori fune exercise or gyo that was originally described by Shaun. The confusion sometimes comes because tori fune is sometimes called fune kogi as well and they do look similar, but based on my experiece of doing both I realize they seem to be significantly different in both in execution and purpose.
Hi James:

There is a logic to these things that is fairly rigid. It's like if A=B and B=C then A must equal C. Once you come into a reasonable understanding of Ki and Kokyu, you begin to understand that they are not really separable, particularly in this physical usage of martial arts. In other words, unless you have an instructor that has missed something in his training, the "rowing exercises" will by default all contain the basic elements of breathing and kokyu usage. Someone doing Daito-Ryu (I've never studied it) will by default only be doing Daito-Ryu correctly if he is using Ki and Kokyu... I know this because I know that O-Sensei used Ki and Kokyu at all times in Aikido and therefore Takeda Sokaku, his teacher, did at all times and therefore all movements of correct Daito-Ryu practice, no matter the variations, must use Ki and Kokyu at all times. If you train this form of movement so that it is instinctive (pre-heaven) as you're supposed to do, then you don't just turn it on and off... you use it full time. Do the points of my argument make sense?

Regards,

Mike
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Old 02-15-2005, 12:24 PM   #82
James Young
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

Mike your argument makes sense and I agree with it in principle. I was just making the point that the focus and execution of the two approaches is different based on my experience, and even if in reality they both do share the commonalities it's just that in the Ki Society style of fune kogi that emphasis on kokyu and breathing was not made to us.

And since you made about a point about teachers that missed something, I've had teachers in the past that did techniques very well and were probably using kokyu doing them, but they never brought the point of kokyu up to us or taught it so I wonder sometimes if they really understood the principle even if they were utilizing it unconsciously.

Last edited by James Young : 02-15-2005 at 12:28 PM.
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Old 02-15-2005, 12:53 PM   #83
Mike Sigman
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

Quote:
James Young wrote:
Mike your argument makes sense and I agree with it in principle. I was just making the point that the focus and execution of the two approaches is different based on my experience, and even if in reality they both do share the commonalities it's just that in the Ki Society style of fune kogi that emphasis on kokyu and breathing was not made to us.

And since you made about a point about teachers that missed something, I've had teachers in the past that did techniques very well and were probably using kokyu doing them, but they never brought the point of kokyu up to us or taught it so I wonder sometimes if they really understood the principle even if they were utilizing it unconsciously.
Well, it's common in Aikido, as it is in many martial arts, to find that the core information about Ki is missing.

For instance, in the karate I took years ago, I look back and I realize that my instructor (on Okinawa) actually showed me a remarkable demonstration of kokyu one night when we were alone in the dojo. And the way he did Sanchin kata involved a somewhat harsh but still related version of Ki training (ultimately it is still a version related to what is done in Aikido, Taiji, etc.). Yet, most karate instructors I see today just do an external and muscular version of karate. This doesn't take away from any of these people as good human beings who are dedicated to the martial arts. All it means is that good information is hard to come by. You learn to evaluate people, after a while, and you learn from those that know and yet be friendly to those that don't. Many people are missing some information (ALL of us are missing some, no matter what we think we know), but a lot of people don't want to even think about the possibility that they have done an art for years and might be missing a basic element. So sometimes it's best to resist the urge to say anything and just move on.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 02-15-2005, 01:06 PM   #84
rob_liberti
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

My opinion was that we do the art for years to develop the skills and experience to start approaching really studing the basic elements. - Rob
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Old 02-15-2005, 01:37 PM   #85
James Young
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
My opinion was that we do the art for years to develop the skills and experience to start approaching really studing the basic elements.
I think there is something to this point. It's definitely a challenge to teach the subtle concepts of kokyu to a beginner who doesn't know how to shomenuchi ikkyo yet or whatever. That was one of the problems I realized in the Ki Society dojo I practiced in; they were trying to teach these somewhat esoteric ki concepts to a room full of beginners who probably should have been learning how to do basic techniques and footwork first. My opinion is that a person needs to have a decent level of understanding of the basics and the mechanics of techniques before they can start to integrate these kokyu concepts and refine their technique. I consider this level of integrating kokyu as a more advanced level of aikido than just doing techniques and I still feel like a beginner at times today as I try to do more and more of it.
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Old 02-15-2005, 02:48 PM   #86
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

Hi Ron,

I agree. I have been trying various ways of communicating this sort of thing on the web for a long time. I've just about given up on technical stuff being discussed in anything other than a very basic way. Hands on feeling from someone that has it and getting some understanding of how to practice it so that learning happens over the course of time is the only way. Anything else is pretty much a waste of time. Inspiration, feeling the real thing, good training methods, good feedback, and experimentation along with "realistic testing" to keep ourselves honest and personal feedback from the ones that have it is the way to learn this inner stuff.

Thanks,

Chuck Clark
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Old 02-15-2005, 03:39 PM   #87
Mike Sigman
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
My opinion was that we do the art for years to develop the skills and experience to start approaching really studying the basic elements. - Rob
Quote:
James Young wrote:
... It's definitely a challenge to teach the subtle concepts of kokyu to a beginner who doesn't know how to shomenuchi ikkyo yet or whatever. That was one of the problems I realized in the Ki Society dojo I practiced in; they were trying to teach these somewhat esoteric ki concepts to a room full of beginners who probably should have been learning how to do basic techniques and footwork first. My opinion is that a person needs to have a decent level of understanding of the basics and the mechanics of techniques before they can start to integrate these kokyu concepts and refine their technique.
Just to throw in my 2 cents on this one, I think in a lot of ways it's a hard call what to do. If I had to put my chips on a bet, I'd say that teaching kokyu correctly would be the best start. In a normal sport where the way your body coordinates isn't so radically different, I agree that "you pick up the finer points of the basics" as you put more time in.

In the case of using kokyu and ki, though, it's perhaps a different case. Because the use of movement from the center and with the body connected (literally) and with the subconscious involved in the basis of movement, it might be hard to ever get to the finer points (this is a rhetorical argument, BTW, and not meant to express anything more than an opinion). Consider a kata or a set of throws like shihonage's different directions and approaches. Suppose you've done them without really understanding the full implications of the radically different body movement in full kokyu for 20 years. One day you suddenly get the inkling that you've not really understood what "move from the center" meant and you want to begin to change over. ALL of your practiced movements of everything you know has become ingrained with "normal movement". You could be up against a wall. In Taiji (Tai Chi) there is an old saying that goes "Taiji is easy to learn... but difficult to correct". It's because of this radical difference in body movements.

Just a thought.

Mike
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Old 02-15-2005, 04:10 PM   #88
rob_liberti
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

Mike, this is the first time I've disagreed with you in a long time... I've been trying to copy my teacher for years. I'm certain that I don't move as well as he does still but I have developed my ability to fundimentally change how I approach my movement over and over again while trying to get closer and closer to how he moves. I think that is the skill set that is necessary for making a significant break-through. It's not very ego-satisfying but I'm okay with that. I'd say I have more experience tearring down habits than the average Joe. Now I have some degree of sensitivity towards what's going on in my body and in the uke's body so I can make some corrections while I practice. The problem is always finding ukes who attack in the optimal way to help develop what I'm interested in developing. I basically keep attacking my students to give them transmition of my current feeling as I develop. It's a slow and dfficult process and I'm always looking for anything to help it along.

Rob
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Old 02-15-2005, 05:20 PM   #89
Mike Sigman
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
Mike, this is the first time I've disagreed with you in a long time...
Maybe you need to start doing it more!

I've already said more or less to not take anybody's word for anything, and that includes me. One thing I've come to accept from the truly expert Chinese (and there's dang few of those, too) is the idea of "you either figure it out or you don't". I.e., we all are responsible for doing our own thinking because these things are too complex for someone to show you all the details. So I encourage you to disagree with me, Rob. I certainly don't know everything...but we can't hash these things out unless we speak freely, as we've been doing.

Mike
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Old 02-16-2005, 09:02 AM   #90
rob_liberti
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

This was a good point for me to come to, because I've been slowly but surely developing my own cirriculum for teaching basic waza in hopes of building fundimental skills and concepts in a linear way. What I'm realizing now, is that in my attempt to help my students avoid SO many of the pitfalls I fell into along my way I might be robbing them of the experience I had of constantly having to tear everything down and start over again. It is difficult for me to determine how much of that tearing down experience is optimally helpful - since I have not really gotten to where I want to get yet (and I don't know what the individual student's learning factors might be). Any opinions?

Mike, when you teach your Chinese style, do you build people straight up, or do you help them get something started, convince them to tear it down and rebuild?

Rob
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Old 02-16-2005, 09:29 AM   #91
Mike Sigman
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
Mike, when you teach your Chinese style, do you build people straight up, or do you help them get something started, convince them to tear it down and rebuild?Rob
Hi Rob:

Well, I don't have any students, per se. My interest is mainly in the practices, development, and usages of the Ki and internal strength skills and my martial interest is secondary (not that I don't do some; I just consider it secondary). I admit to doing workshops occasionally, but those are only attempts to spread "how to's" and I don't feel it puts me in the category of having bona fide students in the way you're speaking about. That being said, my personal approach is that certain basics of movement are the most important "first thing" because, as I said before, it's difficult to change things once you've started doing them wrongly.

Incidentally, in the way I view things, Ki and Kokyu are sort of separate basics of body conditioning; techniques and strategies of a martial art (like blending, never resisting, etc.) are different from the Ki and Kokyu. That's how you can have variations of Ki and Kokyu in so many very different martial arts.

Insofar as people tearing down and starting over, I've found over the years that only a very few people do that or do it adequately. What happens in most cases is that people will take some bits and try to add them to what they're doing, so ultimately they never make much of a change. In the cases of Aikdoka that I've worked with, this also seems to be also the case, in most instances. Few of these people learn how to move from the middle except partially and in focused situations.... they don't do if full time or through full movements.

Many Aikidoka have an exaggerated straightness of the back (something you don't see the Japanese do, but it's somehow become an affectation in the West) and there's an over-usage of the back-leg-brace I mentioned previously. Either or both of those factors pretty much guarantee that basic use of kokyu from the center is going to be severely hampered... but since those 2 factors are seen as primary ways to move in Aikido, most people will not relinquish them. BTW, the too-straight back... what's wrong with it... is that it entails keeping the lower back fairly rigid. If the lower lumbar region is rigid then the hara cannot move freely and therefore the hara cannot control kokyu, as it must.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts on it. And please don't take me negatively... I think these are important thoughts for someone to have if they're thinking how to acquire kokyu and ki skills and I just thought I'd share them for those that are interested.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 02-17-2005, 05:07 AM   #92
James Lavin
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Re: Breath, Aikido & Misogi

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
Thankyou Shuan, very interesting (without being wishy-washy!) I wonder if Jun would consider accepting one of Shuans submisions within the 'training' or 'spiritual' section outside the discussion board?

Also, my girlfriend has recently got into alot of alternative therapy stuff and has this weird book on folk medicine (western). It constantly goes on about making the blood more alkaline for health. If anyone is interested here are a few tips:

-eat apples, grapes etc (rather than oranges and citrus fruit which is acidic)

-eat natural honey

-absolutely the best thing is cider vinegar (you can buy it at health food stores)

P.S. only take around 2 tea-spoons of cider vinegar a day (I tried half a cup full and it made me gag).

P.P.S I didn't really notice any difference, but I didn't have the patience to try it for more than 1 week.

Ian

this would take 90 to 180 days to start a change

all good things in life take time



jim
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