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Old 04-12-2008, 07:38 AM   #51
Budd
 
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

Thanks for the detailed description, Mark (sings, "I gotta be mmeeee" -- nope, no idea what you're talking about ) . .

One thing, though . . if you're focusing on the wrist BEING the dantien -- isn't that "connecting to the center"? Would it maybe be worthwhile to look at just that piece? (hence the topic of the thread) Do you have to also be doing the pushout/pulling in, six directions, alongside it to achieve the "budo body"?

(and folks, I'm bugging Mark cause he's my boy and I haven't seen/spoken to him in a while - so he gets all my grief at once *lucky you, Mr. Murray* -- but I'm curious, too, what other folks do to physically train to "connect the center" -- do you not care? is it only one piece? can it only be explained by PHD's in physics?)

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Old 04-12-2008, 08:17 AM   #52
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
Thanks for the detailed description, Mark (sings, "I gotta be mmeeee" -- nope, no idea what you're talking about ) . .

One thing, though . . if you're focusing on the wrist BEING the dantien -- isn't that "connecting to the center"? Would it maybe be worthwhile to look at just that piece? (hence the topic of the thread) Do you have to also be doing the pushout/pulling in, six directions, alongside it to achieve the "budo body"?
Hmmm ... just focusing on the wrist being the dantien? I don't really know. I think maybe, if you're intent is focused such that you are using a whole body approach to the wrist being the dantien, it'd probably work. It's that mind moving the body thing. For me, I have trouble with that darn shoulder socket. So, what has helped me has been focusing on the 6 direction thing at the same time.

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
(and folks, I'm bugging Mark cause he's my boy and I haven't seen/spoken to him in a while - so he gets all my grief at once *lucky you, Mr. Murray* -- but I'm curious, too, what other folks do to physically train to "connect the center" -- do you not care? is it only one piece? can it only be explained by PHD's in physics?)
Heh, no grief here. Just trying to put down in electrons what I do in training. As hard as some of this stuff is, I find it's harder to put down in writing what I'm doing.

And I've found that I can do the below exercise one time and be completely ungrounded/movable and yet do the same thing again and be grounded/unmovable. Weird. I think there are minute adjustments being made that I'm just not really understanding still that allows things within my body to work properly. There really is a level of intent here that you just have to have for this stuff to work. And unfortunately, no amount of Internet/words/video will give it to you. I've changed how I do shiko quite a few times now and each time the exercise has gotten harder, not easier.

Exercise:
Focus intent/energy on pushing out through the arms at the same time as I'm letting intent/energy come back through the arms. Stretching the spine as if a hook is in my head and I'm being pulled upwards while at the same time, intent/energy is going downwards into the ground.
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Old 04-12-2008, 09:57 AM   #53
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
I've found that I can do the below exercise one time and be completely ungrounded/movable and yet do the same thing again and be grounded/unmovable. Weird.
If this is your description of the shizentai chest push exercise. I can totally relate! Although once I nail it and go back gleefully to "do it again" and then get pushed over relatively easily, "Weird" is not the phrase I usually utter!!

~ Allen Beebe
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Old 04-12-2008, 10:10 AM   #54
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

It is amazing to me, and a seemingly un-ending source of frustration, how one can go, "Pop," "Pop," "Pop," and then a resounding "Splat." As if one's mind and body had nothing to do with, and no knowledge of, or clue about, the successes that came before.

Sometimes it feels as though one were groping in the dark and comes across "the thing" can reach back to confirm, "Yes, there it is." and then lose track of it and go right back to groping in the dark again. One can only hope that they are closer to the "area in question" than they were the last time they groped.

This is pretty much a description of my entire career.

Although when my sensei was alive, in his presence I felt like things were nailed down almost iron clad. When I would leave his presence that confidence (and to a good degree the results) would go away. He died in 1993 so you can imagine how I've felt since then . . . boo hoo!

~ Allen Beebe
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Old 04-12-2008, 10:20 AM   #55
John Matsushima
 
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
I think I echo both you and Ron in that I'm just a beginner at this stuff. If Chris uses any ground at all, I'm pretty much stuck. But, if we work with, say 10 pounds of force from muscle, it helps a lot. Especially in moving exercises. And I should restate that I don't "move" Chris. When things work, I move and Chris just sort of moves with me. I really have to unfocus my attention on trying to do *something* to Chris. I have to just be *me* and be the best I can at that. Sound familiar?
Hello Mark, I think that you're on to something when you say that when things work, the uke just sort of moves with you. This has been my way of thinking. I don't focus on doing anything to the uke. I found that when you focus on connecting and attempting to control the uke's center, it just results in failure or struggle because uke is trying to do the same thing. Uke provides any connection needed with his attack. I create a form in changing myself, and uke is left with two options, keep attacking and lose his balance until he hits the floor, or cease his attack and his balance will return.
On a different note, you mentioned in your last post that you are having trouble making stuff work on a consistent basis with regard to your intent. I still have trouble with this too. This is excellent practice for developing the spirit, I think. I'm sure I could make a leap to another level if i could just stop "trying" to do techniques. I worked with one sensei at a Man Sei Do dojo, who had a really great exercise for that. He would stand in front of me and grab me as in katate dori, and then i would proceed to move in different ways as how Mike Sigman described concerning taking out the slack. The thing was when i began to move, he could instantly feel my intention and say "No, you have ego; No, you have power in your shoulder, No, you're not moving with your center, No, No No. It was almost funny because i was so suprised at how he could read me. And the moments when I did move him with correct body, mind and spirit, it was like i wasn't doing anything at all, just moving. I started to think to myself "I got it!" NO! Sensei chimed in. ha ha ha.

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Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
Hi John:

Well, "connecting to Uke's center" means making his center a part of your center. His attack therefore becomes a part of you and what you control. If his center is not under your control (and there are a number of ways to control his center, from crude to very refined), then you are dealing with a loose cannon...
Hello Mike, thank you for your drawing and your comments. I am familiar with the concepts you described, but I have found that uke can be moved in any direction, not only in the direction in which the stool does not have legs. Uke can also lose his balance by toppling over one of the legs; for example if uke's center is completely shifted over his rear leg, and he maintains the connection as I move past him, he falls backward. I agree with just about everything you said up until the last part. I used to think the way you described, but found out that control is just an illusion. Uke unbalances himself through his attack. His attack is an attempt to manipulate, control, or destroy my center. Someone once told me when i first started Aikido, that it was a was an art of manipulating one's opponent. I was offended by that, but now i can understand that point of view. When we describe Aikido in terms of connecting to and controlling uke's center, it sounds like exactly that - manipulation. So, now Aikido is now broken down to a struggle for control. It is hard enough to control one's self, much less another. Aiki is not about joining with the attacker (why would I want to join with evil, anyway?), it is about proper alignment within one's self, mind, body, and spirit, and finally with the universe. So, as the uke increases his strength in his attack, he distances himself from his center; the stronger his attack, the more vulnerable/ off balance he becomes. Here we have a connection, but only one center. The rest results in how i described above; i move freely, uke either keeps attacking and fails (completely loses his balance) or he returns to a peaceful state in harmony with the universe.
Technically what i am describing, i think is 95% identical to what you described and demonstrated in your drawing. The difference is mainly in perception and intention. And so far what I have learned is that the actions we do, and the way we live our lives are determined 10% by the decisions we make, and 90% by what's in our hearts.

I'm sorry for making this too long. I usually try to keep it short, but thanks for reading and for everyone's comments.

John つかれた!

-John Matsushima

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Old 04-12-2008, 06:17 PM   #56
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Training center

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
Since we're on the subject of connecting to uke's center and what that could specifically mean. How are people specifically training themselves to be able to do that?
I would say that you need to develop your own center (tanden) before being able to connect to that of your partner.
One of the best exercises I know for training one's center is bokken suburi - basic chudangiri. Start with your bokken in chudankamae, in front of your center, raise it to jodankamae, over your head, and cut down to chudankamae. Again and again...
You can do it slowly, too. Very slowly, so that it takes several minutes to go through one chudangiri.

Sword art training also helps in connecting with the partner's center. Start from both persons meeting at chudankamae. Whatever you do from there, such exercises will increase your awareness of your partner's center - as will, actually, any aikido technique.

In the aikido techniques, grip attacks are better than strikes, when you want to learn to get in touch with your partner's center, simply because you have closer contact in those.
Suwarikokyuho is a particularly rewarding exercise.

Stefan Stenudd
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Old 04-12-2008, 06:50 PM   #57
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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John Matsushima wrote: View Post
He would stand in front of me and grab me as in katate dori, and then i would proceed to move in different ways as how Mike Sigman described concerning taking out the slack. The thing was when i began to move, he could instantly feel my intention and say "No, you have ego; No, you have power in your shoulder, No, you're not moving with your center, No, No No. It was almost funny because i was so suprised at how he could read me. And the moments when I did move him with correct body, mind and spirit, it was like i wasn't doing anything at all, just moving. I started to think to myself "I got it!" NO! Sensei chimed in. ha ha ha.
Hi John:

Actually, I simply laid out the idea of what "connecting to someone's center" means. If you are connected, you don't need to move, if you have ki/kokyu skills, but I was only trying to answer your question about the importance of "connecting" in general terms.
Quote:
Hello Mike, thank you for your drawing and your comments. I am familiar with the concepts you described, but I have found that uke can be moved in any direction, not only in the direction in which the stool does not have legs. Uke can also lose his balance by toppling over one of the legs; for example if uke's center is completely shifted over his rear leg, and he maintains the connection as I move past him, he falls backward.
Well, yes, of course that's true.
Quote:
I agree with just about everything you said up until the last part. I used to think the way you described, but found out that control is just an illusion. Uke unbalances himself through his attack. His attack is an attempt to manipulate, control, or destroy my center. Someone once told me when i first started Aikido, that it was a was an art of manipulating one's opponent. I was offended by that, but now i can understand that point of view. When we describe Aikido in terms of connecting to and controlling uke's center, it sounds like exactly that - manipulation. So, now Aikido is now broken down to a struggle for control. It is hard enough to control one's self, much less another. Aiki is not about joining with the attacker (why would I want to join with evil, anyway?), it is about proper alignment within one's self, mind, body, and spirit, and finally with the universe. So, as the uke increases his strength in his attack, he distances himself from his center; the stronger his attack, the more vulnerable/ off balance he becomes. Here we have a connection, but only one center. The rest results in how i described above; i move freely, uke either keeps attacking and fails (completely loses his balance) or he returns to a peaceful state in harmony with the universe.
Technically what i am describing, i think is 95% identical to what you described and demonstrated in your drawing. The difference is mainly in perception and intention. And so far what I have learned is that the actions we do, and the way we live our lives are determined 10% by the decisions we make, and 90% by what's in our hearts.
Well, John, obviously we see it differently. If you don't control Uke's center through some attachment, you don't control his balance. You should be able to lightly touch someone and without moving take his balance. But the road there is through learning how to connect to his center. You asked what was the importance of "Ambiguous: Connecting to Center" and I was simply telling you why.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 04-12-2008, 08:08 PM   #58
G DiPierro
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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John Matsushima wrote: View Post
Hello Mark, I think that you're on to something when you say that when things work, the uke just sort of moves with you. This has been my way of thinking. I don't focus on doing anything to the uke.
This is true, but not because you are not doing anything. That would be like just randomly picking a stock and then when it goes up saying, "See, there's really no art to it at all. When you pick it right it just goes up without any effort." In fact, it just feels effortless, but actually requires a lot of effort to be effective in a real situation.

Quote:
I found that when you focus on connecting and attempting to control the uke's center, it just results in failure or struggle because uke is trying to do the same thing.
Perhaps your lack of success is the result of a lack of skill rather than the fact that what you are trying to do is not possible.

Quote:
Uke provides any connection needed with his attack.
Maybe in the typical aikido dojo with its overcooperative ukemi this is true. The real world is somewhat different.

Quote:
I create a form in changing myself, and uke is left with two options, keep attacking and lose his balance until he hits the floor, or cease his attack and his balance will return.
What about the third option: the attacker is simply better than you and succeeds in the attack?

Quote:
He would stand in front of me and grab me as in katate dori, and then i would proceed to move in different ways as how Mike Sigman described concerning taking out the slack. The thing was when i began to move, he could instantly feel my intention and say "No, you have ego; No, you have power in your shoulder, No, you're not moving with your center, No, No No. It was almost funny because i was so suprised at how he could read me. And the moments when I did move him with correct body, mind and spirit, it was like i wasn't doing anything at all, just moving. I started to think to myself "I got it!" NO! Sensei chimed in. ha ha ha.
Well that's the right idea, but again if your partner can feel what you are doing and block it then you are aren't good enough, at least not relative to that opponent. So then the question is how to get better at what you call "moving with correct body, mind and spirit." Do you have a method for training this?

Quote:
I used to think the way you described, but found out that control is just an illusion. Uke unbalances himself through his attack. His attack is an attempt to manipulate, control, or destroy my center.
And what if it is successful? Would you say then that "defeat is just an illusion," "injuries are just an illusion," "death is just an illusion," etc.?

Quote:
So, as the uke increases his strength in his attack, he distances himself from his center; the stronger his attack, the more vulnerable/ off balance he becomes.
This is a very common viewpoint in aikido but it is one that is totally divorced from reality. There is no correlation between the power of an attack and its level of balance. A very powerful attack be also be very balanced. The only martial artists I have ever heard suggest otherwise are aikidoka. In most other arts, a significant aspect of training is precisely in how to be both powerful and balanced (in both attack and defense).

Last edited by G DiPierro : 04-12-2008 at 08:11 PM.
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Old 04-13-2008, 02:08 AM   #59
John Matsushima
 
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
This is true, but not because you are not doing anything. That would be like just randomly picking a stock and then when it goes up saying, "See, there's really no art to it at all. When you pick it right it just goes up without any effort." In fact, it just feels effortless, but actually requires a lot of effort to be effective in a real situation.
Well, you are right to say that I am doing something, but the point is that I'm not trying to do something to the uke. Concerning effort, how much effort does a rock or the water exert when you trip/slip on it and fall on your face because you were so focused on something else? Was the rock trying to make you fall? This is the principle I'm describing. Yes, you do your best to pick the stocks, but you don't make them rise by doing so. In katate dori tenkan, it is not physically possible for uke to not move if I just turn in the opposite direction. Of course, one must move correctly, like correctly choosing a stock, that doesn't take a lot of effort. Also, the principle of using minimum effort is not unique to Aikido. And, it doesn't mean uke is overcooperative. Techniques in which one cal throw an opponent with 2 or 3 times one's own strength with minimum effort have been described in Judo as well.

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Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
Perhaps your lack of success is the result of a lack of skill rather than the fact that what you are trying to do is not possible.
Exactly my point. The reason I am not able to "control" uke's center is because of my lack of skill in the ability to control. In a battle for control, the one with the most strength, speed, power and skill will win. I cannot depend on that. If I spend all my time mastering my the ability to control,then the uke may beat me with strength, speed and power. That is why I think the idea of controlling uke's center is flawed.

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Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
Maybe in the typical aikido dojo with its overcooperative ukemi this is true. The real world is somewhat different.
Well, in the real world, I think someone who really wants to punch my face will follow it whether I move to the left, right, up, or down. If I run away, he's still coming after it, if I put my hand up to block, he's still coming after it. There's your connection.

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Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
What about the third option: the attacker is simply better than you and succeeds in the attack?
Failure is not an option.

Quote:
Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
Well that's the right idea, but again if your partner can feel what you are doing and block it then you are aren't good enough, at least not relative to that opponent. So then the question is how to get better at what you call "moving with correct body, mind and spirit." Do you have a method for training this?
The method I described is exactly that. Whenever my sensei could feel what I was doing, then I was stopped. The concept I described about not doing anything to uke is very important for this. You're exactly right, anytime the uke can feel, or otherwise sense anytime of maniputation, he will resist, in the real world. The concept of "Aikido is non-resistance" describes exactly this. Any form of resistance, manipulation, or control can be felt, and in turn countered.

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Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
And what if it is successful? Would you say then that "defeat is just an illusion," "injuries are just an illusion," "death is just an illusion," etc.?
What I mean by that is that you cannot really control anyone. You cannot control thier heart, mind, or spirit. I don't know of any martial art which can control anyone regardless of the person's strength or skill. Every control technique can be countered. What if its succesful? What is successful control? No matter what happens, the uke will continue to fight, to resist, until you kill him. Where is the control?

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Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
This is a very common viewpoint in aikido but it is one that is totally divorced from reality. There is no correlation between the power of an attack and its level of balance. A very powerful attack be also be very balanced. The only martial artists I have ever heard suggest otherwise are aikidoka. In most other arts, a significant aspect of training is precisely in how to be both powerful and balanced (in both attack and defense).
No correlation between the power of an attack and its level of balance? NO correlation??? Wouldn't you agree that an object which is moving has less stability that one which is not moving? In order to attack me, you must move; in order to add power, you must shift your center. Do you have more control over your car when you are driving at 100mph or at 5mph? In the real world, one does not decide his own stability. Physics does.
Aikido does have its problems when it comes to "real-world" applications. The reasons for this include faulty training methods, the failure of the transmission of the art, and there are many others I believe. However, the reason I don't believe that Aikido is totally divorced from reality is because its techniques come from jujutsu, and principles very close to Judo, both of which have proven very effective.

Thank you for your comments.

John

-John Matsushima

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http://onecorneroftheplanetinjapan.blogspot.jp/
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Old 04-13-2008, 03:03 AM   #60
G DiPierro
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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John Matsushima wrote: View Post
In katate dori tenkan, it is not physically possible for uke to not move if I just turn in the opposite direction. Of course, one must move correctly, like correctly choosing a stock, that doesn't take a lot of effort.
I think I could prove you wrong, as could almost anyone who trains realisiticly. This type of movement (katatedori tenkan) is something that many people in aikido think would work the way it is normally taught but most people familiar with realistic resistance training know is almost totally based on cooperative ukemi.

Quote:
Exactly my point. The reason I am not able to "control" uke's center is because of my lack of skill in the ability to control. In a battle for control, the one with the most strength, speed, power and skill will win. I cannot depend on that. If I spend all my time mastering my the ability to control,then the uke may beat me with strength, speed and power. That is why I think the idea of controlling uke's center is flawed.
Sure, but that's true of any martial arts strategy or technique. Just because the opponent can beat you by being better than you doesn't mean that your technique is inherently flawed or not worth training. All training does is to increase your chances of success; it is not a guarantee. There is no magic silver bullet technique or art that is so powerful that it negates all advantages of skill, speed, power, etc.

Quote:
Well, in the real world, I think someone who really wants to punch my face will follow it whether I move to the left, right, up, or down. If I run away, he's still coming after it, if I put my hand up to block, he's still coming after it. There's your connection.
But how does the attacker following the movement of your face give you a connection to his center? This is the crux of this entire thread, isn't it?

Quote:
Failure is not an option.
No, but it is often a reality.

Quote:
You're exactly right, anytime the uke can feel, or otherwise sense anytime of maniputation, he will resist, in the real world. The concept of "Aikido is non-resistance" describes exactly this. Any form of resistance, manipulation, or control can be felt, and in turn countered.
Right. So again the question is how to do you move in a way that cannot be felt, resisted, or countered? In fact, it can be done, but it happens to be quite difficult to do (especially on a trained opponent) and requires a great deal of training. It is not simply a matter of "doing nothing."

Quote:
What I mean by that is that you cannot really control anyone. You cannot control thier heart, mind, or spirit. I don't know of any martial art which can control anyone regardless of the person's strength or skill. Every control technique can be countered. What if its succesful? What is successful control? No matter what happens, the uke will continue to fight, to resist, until you kill him. Where is the control?
I would say that in a martial context "success" is whatever is good enough to achieve your goals, whether they be simple self-preservation or something more ambitious.

Quote:
No correlation between the power of an attack and its level of balance? NO correlation??? Wouldn't you agree that an object which is moving has less stability that one which is not moving? In order to attack me, you must move; in order to add power, you must shift your center. Do you have more control over your car when you are driving at 100mph or at 5mph? In the real world, one does not decide his own stability. Physics does.
Is it difficult to attack both powerfully and stably? Sure, that is why people in other arts spend time training in how to do it. But to assume that an attack that is powerful will also be off-balance is dangerously out of touch with reality. Yet I have encountered many, many people in aikido who believe this. I can't tell you how many times I have been training with people who could not successfully handle an attack of minimal power ask me to attack more powerfully so that it would be easier for them to do the technique! I don't know what kind of fantasy world they are living in where increasing the speed, power, and intensity of an attack would somehow make it easier to deal with (actually, I do -- I have trained in aikido dojos!). Virtually anyone with any kind of realistic training would tell you that it makes it exponentially more difficult.

Quote:
Aikido does have its problems when it comes to "real-world" applications. The reasons for this include faulty training methods, the failure of the transmission of the art, and there are many others I believe. However, the reason I don't believe that Aikido is totally divorced from reality is because its techniques come from jujutsu, and principles very close to Judo, both of which have proven very effective.
I would agree with this. The problem with aikido is not the art, but the way it is taught and trained.

Quote:
Thank you for your comments.
You're welcome. Thanks for the response.

Last edited by G DiPierro : 04-13-2008 at 03:10 AM.
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Old 04-13-2008, 06:18 AM   #61
John Matsushima
 
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
But how does the attacker following the movement of your face give you a connection to his center? This is the crux of this entire thread, isn't it?
To answer your question, I don't need a connection to uke's center. Through his attack, he connects to me. I move either before, during, or after his attack, affecting his movement, thus affecting him.

It may sound as if I've oversimplified it here, but I'm not trying to give lessons here. I'm just trying to express the principles and technical aspects necessary to support my beliefs. This does not mean that its not deeper then that. Maybe you think that I'm saying that I just flick my wrists and BULLSHIDO! uke goes flying! That would be nice but it doesn't work for me.

Perhaps I've gotten off a little bit of a tangent, so allow me to refocus.
My point in this thread is that the teaching and practicing of "connecting to the center" is incorrect. The teaching of it is often too ambiguous, and its principle is faulty. While other concepts and principles concerning the center are valid, this one is not. The reasons are that which I have already stated.

-John Matsushima

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Old 04-13-2008, 09:23 AM   #62
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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John Matsushima wrote: View Post
I'm just trying to express the principles and technical aspects necessary to support my beliefs. ...
My point in this thread is that the teaching and practicing of "connecting to the center" is incorrect. The teaching of it is often too ambiguous, and its principle is faulty. While other concepts and principles concerning the center are valid, this one is not.
Let me offer something less ambiguous and much more precise. I have attached an image of an arch -- made of tangent spheres. It is simplified, but usefully so. Coulomb used this to derive the form of catenary arch (an inverted hanging chain). But the point for aikido is easily seen.

In this form the line of thrust of the weight of the spheres passes precisely through both the center of each sphere, AND precisely through the center of the connection between them. If the line of thrust passes any where else it is off-center, and then it forms a moment, and the sphere rotates. Since there is no friction between them, the spheres are free to roll -- and the arch collapses.

In aikido the equivalent to the spheres are the segments of the limbs. There is ACTIVE friction (muscular action) at the joints, but this has to be disposed to isolate eccentric loads by resistance at the joint. A spiral wave (the in-yo, kokyu form) will find -- by its nature -- any plane around the joint that lacks resistance and follow that axis -- taking the loads outside of his structure, and thus collapsing it. Conversely, if one follows that same spiral line to hold the line of thrust within the structure at the physical limits of the joints muscular "friction" -- it results in a pin.

Of course, since we are free to shift loads to one or the other leg of our structural arch as the loads on our bodies change , it is necessary to destabilize, not merely a peripheral connection, but the the keystone of the arch, the center at the top. Thus we pass that wave of instability through the opponent's structure to his center -- and follow it by immediately realigning everything on OUR side of that instability so that we are again connected from center to center to center -- and ultimately to HIS center -- and then he has no stability with which to resist wherever I choose to move and he is so connected that he cannot NOT move when I do.
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Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 04-13-2008, 09:45 AM   #63
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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To answer your question, I don't need a connection to uke's center. Through his attack, he connects to me. I move either before, during, or after his attack, affecting his movement, thus affecting him.
If you allow him to, he will certainly connect to you, but he will do so by connecting his fist to your face. If he is good, he might also connect his center to your face through his fist. So how do you stop him from connecting in this way? One way is to first connect to his center and then control his movement. This is not the only possible way to deal with such an attack, but it is the way that should be used in aikido and other aiki arts. Of course, not everyone in aikido actually knows how to do it.

Quote:
My point in this thread is that the teaching and practicing of "connecting to the center" is incorrect. The teaching of it is often too ambiguous, and its principle is faulty. While other concepts and principles concerning the center are valid, this one is not. The reasons are that which I have already stated.
I'd agree that the teaching of this concept in aikido leaves a great deal to be desired. However, the principle itself is quite sound.

Last edited by G DiPierro : 04-13-2008 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 04-13-2008, 10:40 AM   #64
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

Not an expert. Center of gravity seems to make the most sense. That is, if your efforts are to displace position and direction of the opponent.
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Old 04-13-2008, 03:09 PM   #65
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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To answer your question, I don't need a connection to uke's center. Through his attack, he connects to me. I move either before, during, or after his attack, affecting his movement, thus affecting him.
But we're not looking for any kind of affect over uke. We're looking for one in which we're in control. Any time I want to have complete control over an attacker, not just some part of that attacker, I have to control the center of their power. I do this by considering how I'm connected to that center. This principle is pretty sound I think.
The issue I think you have more cause to criticize is in how the teaching of this is accomplished. My experience is limited, but I disagree with you as it has applied to that experience. If I'm just pressing on nage's arm and not connecting to their center, they rotate around my force and prepare to strike me. When I am applying pressure to their center, they can't do this as easily. For me the concept has been pretty thoroughly demonstrated. Again, I'm far from an expert, but I do know what it means to try and overpower someone bigger than you and the only way to do that is by considering your connection to their center. You might consider it in different terms, but what's happening is still the same...as I understand it anyway.

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Old 04-13-2008, 05:03 PM   #66
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Breathing

I forgot to mention one important way of developing one's center: breathing.
Exercising deep belly breathing is a very effective way of developing the center.

It is also an ingredient in connecting to the partner's center. Advanced martial artists pay attention to the breathing of the opponent. They also work on influencing the opponent with their own breathing. But that is not so easy.

Stefan Stenudd
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Old 04-14-2008, 10:16 AM   #67
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
If you allow him to, he will certainly connect to you, but he will do so by connecting his fist to your face. If he is good, he might also connect his center to your face through his fist. So how do you stop him from connecting in this way? One way is to first connect to his center and then control his movement.
1) I could step off the line of attack and enter while having my forward arm extended in the direction of his face.
2) I could irimi behind him.
3) I could tenkan in front of him while making contact with the inside of his arm and drop down as he falls into his forward right quarter (a forward sumi otoshi). Now, in the real world, I know that people don't leave their arm out hanging for me, so I won't do a complete tenkan. This done at the same time of the strike will at least get me off the line of attack. Having made contact with is arm, if he fights me or pulls back, it tightens the connection to my hands, if he does nothing with that hand but decides to attack with the other hand, he will miss me as I drop down, with his other arm.

These are but a few options of how I can not get hit while not "controlling the center". These options show what can be done without control over uke.

I would like to open this next question up to everyone. Is the principle of connecting to uke's center in Aikido a universal one? I mean, is it something that is applied in all Aikido techniques?

Something else that I have pondered is that the principle of controlling the uke's center doesn't seem to vibe into Aikido as a "do" as well. Off the mat, in daily life, is this the Aiki way, to connect and control other's centers, hearts, and minds? I don't think so. Rather, it is to open one's own heart, mind, and center, accept others' attacks, and change one's own direction (tenkan). When you get into an argument with someone, is control the way, or acceptance? When you drive, do you avoid accidents by controlling others, or by controlling yourself?

John

-John Matsushima

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Old 04-14-2008, 10:45 AM   #68
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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John Matsushima wrote: View Post
1)
I would like to open this next question up to everyone. Is the principle of connecting to uke's center in Aikido a universal one? I mean, is it something that is applied in all Aikido techniques?
It depends on what "kind" of Aikido one is learning/doing. Some Aikido is just jujitsu technique, while on the other end of the spectrum, some address very deep dynamics - including everything being done from center/connection (part of musubi.)

Quote:
Something else that I have pondered is that the principle of controlling the uke's center doesn't seem to vibe into Aikido as a "do" as well. Off the mat, in daily life, is this the Aiki way, to connect and control other's centers, hearts, and minds? I don't think so. Rather, it is to open one's own heart, mind, and center, accept others' attacks, and change one's own direction (tenkan). When you get into an argument with someone, is control the way, or acceptance? When you drive, do you avoid accidents by controlling others, or by controlling yourself?

John
One of the most subtle aspects of Aiki involves Allowing someone to do exactly what they "want to" and understanding how strategically, positionally, energetically, and technically, how to Allow them to lose their center (if appropriate), not be "doing something to them" but by "being With them." This is a much deeper Aikido, on the mat and in life.

Larry Novick
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Old 04-14-2008, 04:16 PM   #69
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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John Matsushima wrote: View Post
When you get into an argument with someone, is control the way, or acceptance? When you drive, do you avoid accidents by controlling others, or by controlling yourself?

John
In my opinion it's both. The power of persuasion is a form of control, but it usually relies upon some level of acceptance of the other person too. The persuasive arguer accepts some aspects of the other person's position in order to change other aspects of it.
Control is an elusive concept here I think. Certainly in the sense that we're trying to prevent uke from harming us, we're controling their actions. But they still have free will to change their own course of action however they can, whenever they can. This is where acceptance comes in. Whether it's arguing or "fighting" it is crucial to accept the natural strengths of the other person's position.

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Old 04-14-2008, 04:22 PM   #70
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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John Matsushima wrote: View Post
These are but a few options of how I can not get hit while not "controlling the center". These options show what can be done without control over uke.
But aren't you still controlling uke? In each of those cases you're applying pressure to uke and uke's center. It's just choosing to apply control at a different time (after the attack).

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Old 04-14-2008, 04:39 PM   #71
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

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John Matsushima wrote: View Post
1) I could step off the line of attack and enter while having my forward arm extended in the direction of his face.
OK, so you enter with your arm towards his face. What happens next? If you have no control over his center, he can still continue to attack.

Quote:
2) I could irimi behind him.
OK, so now you are behind him. Great. Next he turns around and strikes again, or hits you with an elbow as he turns.

Quote:
3) I could tenkan in front of him while making contact with the inside of his arm and drop down as he falls into his forward right quarter (a forward sumi otoshi).
Why would he fall forward if you have no control over his center? He wouldn't.

Quote:
Now, in the real world, I know that people don't leave their arm out hanging for me, so I won't do a complete tenkan. This done at the same time of the strike will at least get me off the line of attack. Having made contact with is arm, if he fights me or pulls back, it tightens the connection to my hands, if he does nothing with that hand but decides to attack with the other hand, he will miss me as I drop down, with his other arm.
Sounds to me like your strategy pretty much comes down to evasion. That's fine, but it's not aiki, nor is it aikido. As I said, there are many possible ways to respond to a strike. You can take any strategy you want. However, the fact that you choose not use aiki does not invalidate aiki as a martial principle.

Quote:
These are but a few options of how I can not get hit while not "controlling the center". These options show what can be done without control over uke.
You could also step off the line and punch him in the kidney. This would be the type of strategy that many martial arts take, and it too can be effective without controlling the attacker's center.

Quote:
Something else that I have pondered is that the principle of controlling the uke's center doesn't seem to vibe into Aikido as a "do" as well. Off the mat, in daily life, is this the Aiki way, to connect and control other's centers, hearts, and minds? I don't think so. Rather, it is to open one's own heart, mind, and center, accept others' attacks, and change one's own direction (tenkan). When you get into an argument with someone, is control the way, or acceptance? When you drive, do you avoid accidents by controlling others, or by controlling yourself?
I'm not going to say your philosophy of conflict is wrong and mine is right. If you are not interested in training in the control of other people's movement for philosophical reasons then I respect your choice. However, I think that you will find that if you try to implement that philosophy in a martial context against any kind of resistance (meaning on people other than the overcooperative ukes in the typical aikido dojo) then you are basically going to be doing a marital art that consists only of techniques of evasion and disengagement.

Last edited by G DiPierro : 04-14-2008 at 04:42 PM.
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Old 04-14-2008, 05:32 PM   #72
eyrie
 
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

Quote:
G DiPierro wrote:
you are basically going to be doing a marital art that consists only of techniques of evasion and disengagement.
(Sorry, had to laugh at this one...)

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote:
Is the principle of connecting to uke's center in Aikido a universal one? I mean, is it something that is applied in all Aikido techniques?
It is a core principle.. if that's what you mean...

Quote:
Something else that I have pondered is that the principle of controlling the uke's center doesn't seem to vibe into Aikido as a "do" as well. Off the mat, in daily life, is this the Aiki way, to connect and control other's centers, hearts, and minds? I don't think so. Rather, it is to open one's own heart, mind, and center, accept others' attacks, and change one's own direction (tenkan). When you get into an argument with someone, is control the way, or acceptance? When you drive, do you avoid accidents by controlling others, or by controlling yourself?
I think "control" doesn't quite convey the appropriate intent. It's more like "manipulation", in the sense of "influencing", which is perhaps more in line with the spiritual ideal.

Ignatius
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Old 04-15-2008, 04:02 PM   #73
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

Mr Matsushida,

With all due respect, martial arts of various traditions employ unique technical phraseology/language to represent defining characteristics or principles to its practitioners. Sometimes these even take the form of esoteric poetry, prose or mythological tales. To imply that aikido's use of something so simply stated as "connecting to the center" is somehow useless or inferior to other similar idiomatic conventions employed in aikido demonstrates that this particular phrase just doesn't speak to you personally. How do you reconcile the fact that it speaks very effectively to other very experienced aikidoka besides you?

Do you recognize these phrases? Are they similarly problematic for you?

Keep your one-point.
Relax completely.
Keep weight underside.
Extend Ki.

Sometimes idiomatic constructions are created for the purpose of speaking to those initiated into a particular experience or understanding. If such a phrase doesn't speak to you there could be numerous reasons why, none of which relate to such a phrases value to the greater aikido community.

FWIW...In Nihon koryu such idiomatic constructions are often much more cryptic than those employed in modern budo, The exact same concept/principle exists in the various Yoshin ryu jujutsu schools identified in the mokuroku simply as "musubi"

Toby Threadgill / Menkyo Kaiden
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Old 04-15-2008, 07:16 PM   #74
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

Hello Mr. Threadgill,

Quote:
Toby Threadgill wrote: View Post
With all due respect, martial arts of various traditions employ unique technical phraseology/language to represent defining characteristics or principles to its practitioners. Sometimes these even take the form of esoteric poetry, prose or mythological tales. To imply that aikido's use of something so simply stated as "connecting to the center" is somehow useless or inferior to other similar idiomatic conventions employed in aikido demonstrates that this particular phrase just doesn't speak to you personally. How do you reconcile the fact that it speaks very effectively to other very experienced aikidoka besides you?
I understand the need for this type of language at times. I find O'sensei's poetry very useful to me for understanding the philosophy, and direction of Aikido. I also understand esoteric sounding concepts such as "be like the moon on the reflecting water" can be useful as well. But O'Sensei's poetry (that I can understand) and suigetsu, point to valid concepts, while this one does not.

I am aware of the fact that many experienced Aikidoka believe and use this concept. But I am also aware that even more experienced Aikidoka just don't seem to get it. In an effort to "connect to the center", I have found many to be overly aggresive, using bad posture while focusing too much on how to make uke unbalance, and confusing it with other terms, such as "suigetsu". I am guessing that maybe some in their experience may first find the correct technique and then give it the name "connecting to the center". which explains why it seems to be valid. Is it only applicable to those who are experienced and already able to accomplish some of the technical points in Aikido? What about the inexperienced ? It seems that to tell beginner to do ikkyo, or tenkan by connecting to uke's center is very confusing to them. It would be more beneficial, I think, to teach proper ashi, tai sabaki, posture, etc. Also, while the term is used widely in the West, I am not aware of this term being used in exactly this way in the Japanese language, (to the best of my knowledge and ability) which leads me to consider that perhaps it is something lost in translation. How do you account for the fact that if this concept is correct, why does it mean so many different things to different experienced Aikidoka? I don't believe in "Aikido is whatever it means to me". I am not saying that just because it hasn't worked for me doesn't mean that it isn't valid. I feel that I have deeply thought this through and when I attempted to make sense of it philosophically, spiritually, and technically, it just doesn't seem to work. I can understand how others migh grasp this concept, though. In practice, for example, by taking the slack out of a grab and positioning myself correctly, I can physically feel a connection to uke, and feel the weight behind his attack, direction of pressure and even intention. While I maintain that pressure and that feeling I move, and uke moves. I don't believe this to be a connection to uke's center, however. The difference lies in my intention, and in most cases, the application.

Quote:
Toby Threadgill wrote: View Post
Do you recognize these phrases? Are they similarly problematic for you?

Keep your one-point.
Relax completely.
Keep weight underside.
Extend Ki.
The above phrases, while I find them to be problematic due to their own level of ambiguity do seem to at least correlate to valid concepts in Aikido. But actually, I do find other phrases very problematic such as "Blending" and "Kokyu", which I look forward to discussing in another thread.

Quote:
Toby Threadgill wrote: View Post
FWIW...In Nihon koryu such idiomatic constructions are often much more cryptic than those employed in modern budo, The exact same concept/principle exists in the various Yoshin ryu jujutsu schools identified in the mokuroku simply as "musubi"
I am not familiar which any Japanese classical arts enough to be able to discuss them intelligently with you. In Aikido, the use of the word "musubi", doesn't necessarily mean connecting to uke's center. I mean, for example, in a grab, I have been taught in Japanese how to take out the slack and create "musubi points", but the focus was on different parts of uke, not on the center. Also, in a spiritual sense, I have heard musubi emphasized in techniques, such as in the "Ki no musubi" bokuto kata, but in referred more to timing. Depending on the kanji, musubi could also mean creation.

I find the concept of "connecting to the center" not only invalid in itself, but it creates problems in what to do after that in approaching how to interact with uke. I think it is becomes problematic when one's effort and energy is directed toward finding, connecting to, and controlling uke's center while an attack is being made, especially in a randori situation.

-John Matsushima

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Old 04-15-2008, 11:53 PM   #75
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Re: Ambiguous: "Connecting to the center"

I've pretty much stayed out of this once after it became clear to me that you really weren't asking a question, but I am compelled to point to the opening sentence of your first post, "I think one of the biggest problems in Aikido is its ambiguity."

My rhetorical question is if the ambiguity resides in aikido or yourself.

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