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Old 05-03-2020, 08:30 AM   #26
SlowLerner
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

I think the idea of connecting their force to ground, creating a "ground path" etc is an intention and an error.

Aiki should make you free and independent from external force.

Expanding linearly in all directions from one point is my understanding of irimi.
Combining this with open close and rotate is irimi tenkan (a spiral), not stepping diagnonally in and off the line then turning.

Doing this while ignoring your partner's force is hard but without this you will be resisting or running away, using 'normal' force.

Last edited by SlowLerner : 05-03-2020 at 08:44 AM.
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Old 05-06-2020, 10:53 AM   #27
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

Takuan Soho talks about the thousand-handed goddess, armed with a multitude of weapons in constant motion. If the goddess were to let any one hand take her mind, all of the weapons would become useless.

This comment applies both to action and reaction. Aiki frees our movement to be independent of external forces. It is fundamentally a different way to guide movement than we learn in basic kata (which, by definition, is a set of predetermined movements). The hope is that somewhere along the way, we learn learn aiki organically.

If I know aiki is the union of opposite forces, then I know my movement patterns must always have opposing forces, then I know if I expand out I need to contract in... Most of our "irimi" in aikido is a push-me, pull-you physical thing. Think about tenkan, what does your offered hand do first? You either move it in to jam your partner, or you move it back to pull your partner. Sometimes we'll call the jam "expand" because it sounds better; we'll also move faster than our partner and call it nagare waza. It works because it's a principle of jujutsu, but it's not aiki.

It's an issue of ordering. If you don't know how to manage energy in your body, you cannot project it. If you do not know how to move your body with intent, then you don't know how to move your body with aiki when someone is touching you.

If you think the power of a tsunami is the wave... then you do not know how the wave was created. The earthquake in the ocean is the power, the wave is the demonstration of the power. Moving like the demonstration of power will not create the origin of power. But, we love training like the wave while we ignore training like the earthquake.

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Old 05-13-2020, 12:28 AM   #28
Craig Moore
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

Wanted to keep the conversation going and it's a bit quiet so I'll pick something. Sorry if this should be in a thread of its own, but I thought it was consistent with where this one has gone. It can become its own if the OP wants.

Union of opposite forces, unification of yin and yang....

Relatively late to the whole internal thing (last 3.5 years) and I still struggle with bipolar vs unipolar yin/yang, among 1000 other things. There is plenty written about how with the yin/yang symbol the black contains a speck of the white, the white contains a speck of the black, is the black an absence of white or the white an absence of black, or are both colours their own entity, etc. You can explore the philosophical aspects of duality for a long time. But bringing it back to physical practise, being their own entities suggests bipolar existence where two directions can be expressed, a positive and a negative. In the middle is zero. But if one is thought of as the absence of the other, it suggests a unipolar existence where you have more, or less, but not the opposite.

2 & 8 = 10, 3 & 7 = 10.... I like talking simply rather than quoting references that are still ambiguous. So if someone grabs our wrist, we can meet the force and form a connection (rather than push harder to dominate or pull to avoid). Unipolar yin/yang can be interpreted that if they increase their force, I yield some of mine to keep the contact force the same (which creates movement). Alternatively if they decrease their force, I increase mine once again to keep the contact force the same. This could be interpreted as balancing yin & yang - I provide yin to their yang and vice versa yang to their yin, relative to the contact point originally established to maintain the contact force the same.

But instead if we think of bipolar yin/yang, then we might be thinking that the unification is by us doing the opposite of them. If they push (yang), we pull (yin, bipolar, same amount but opposite direction), and vice versa.

These two examples can seem similar but are different in that the first is always feeding force into the connection point, just varying the amount. The second feeds force in or out.

But aiki is all within us, right? So we should be unifying yin/yang inside ourselves, not either side of the contact point with an opponent. Say we are projecting energy (what ever we might mean by that, including possibly intent or actual force) out of one hand and correspondingly out of the opposite foot for cross body power. The bipolar version says that energy out the foot is the opposite direction but same magnitude as the hand, and they balance each other out for a stable rest of the body in between that becomes immovable and all that, yadda yadda, and gives us [insert commonly quoted but not generally understood phrase of internal power here]. The unipolar version says positive energy in the hand should be balanced by much less in the foot, but we all know with a simple experiment that feels weird and unbalanced, so it can't mean that. Then we look further and say that the unipolar version says 'more' energy in the hand and opposite foot is balanced by 'less' energy in the other hand/foot pair, which feels better and can even lead to movement that is spiral like. But these two explanations are once again very different.

So that's four possible interpretations applied to just someone grabbing your wrist and I'm sure there are more, let alone other situations. Then when you read up on this stuff there are many more phrases that are commonly quoted but not really explained anywhere. I know everyone has different interpretations but some open and constructive discussion on trying to explain these common points would be great. So many fantastic posts from the past fizzled out just when they could've got going. Comments have been made about why that happened, lots of we do that / no you don't, and knowledgeable people who were perhaps previously bitten and being cautious about what they were saying leave the conversation or even the forum. I do have some idea and thoughts which are of course confined to the contexts I have been directly shown as well as a background of reading everything I can. But puzzles like the example above go around in my head all the time.

Last edited by Craig Moore : 05-13-2020 at 12:42 AM.
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Old 05-13-2020, 04:25 PM   #29
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

Quote:
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Relatively late to the whole internal thing (last 3.5 years) and I still struggle with bipolar vs unipolar yin/yang, among 1000 other things. There is plenty written about how with the yin/yang symbol the black contains a speck of the white, the white contains a speck of the black, is the black an absence of white or the white an absence of black, or are both colours their own entity, etc. You can explore the philosophical aspects of duality for a long time. But bringing it back to physical practise, being their own entities suggests bipolar existence where two directions can be expressed, a positive and a negative. In the middle is zero. But if one is thought of as the absence of the other, it suggests a unipolar existence where you have more, or less, but not the opposite.
Duality requires the presence of two elements, not the absence of one. The union of opposites is unambiguous here, we are talking about two elements in opposition, united. This is wholly different than a scale with one element present on the polar ends of the scale. In fact, a bipolar scale will result in never having a union of opposite forces in balance because one force will always be greater than the other, except at zero where no elements will exist.

Remember, we are trying to unify forces in balance, not present one force imbalanced.

Quote:
Craig Moore wrote: View Post
2 & 8 = 10, 3 & 7 = 10.... I like talking simply rather than quoting references that are still ambiguous. So if someone grabs our wrist, we can meet the force and form a connection (rather than push harder to dominate or pull to avoid). Unipolar yin/yang can be interpreted that if they increase their force, I yield some of mine to keep the contact force the same (which creates movement). Alternatively if they decrease their force, I increase mine once again to keep the contact force the same. This could be interpreted as balancing yin & yang - I provide yin to their yang and vice versa yang to their yin, relative to the contact point originally established to maintain the contact force the same.
The dependency of a partner in this example results in your absolute inability to freely move because you are required to respond to your partner's action. By deciding to express only one force (yin or yang) you are breaking the union of opposites. These equation diagrams are illustrated within a single entity to show that both figures reside within you (the one). Giant turtle 1 doesn't pair up with giant turtle 2 to sum an arbitrary number. In tying your action to your partner, you will never have freedom to project energy in any direction - only a direction that is in response to a partner.

Remember, we need movements in opposition, not a singular responsive movement.

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But instead if we think of bipolar yin/yang, then we might be thinking that the unification is by us doing the opposite of them. If they push (yang), we pull (yin, bipolar, same amount but opposite direction), and vice versa.
This is not aiki. This is literally, the push me/pull you of jujutsu.

Quote:
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These two examples can seem similar but are different in that the first is always feeding force into the connection point, just varying the amount. The second feeds force in or out.

But aiki is all within us, right? So we should be unifying yin/yang inside ourselves, not either side of the contact point with an opponent. Say we are projecting energy (what ever we might mean by that, including possibly intent or actual force) out of one hand and correspondingly out of the opposite foot for cross body power. The bipolar version says that energy out the foot is the opposite direction but same magnitude as the hand, and they balance each other out for a stable rest of the body in between that becomes immovable and all that, yadda yadda, and gives us [insert commonly quoted but not generally understood phrase of internal power here]. The unipolar version says positive energy in the hand should be balanced by much less in the foot, but we all know with a simple experiment that feels weird and unbalanced, so it can't mean that. Then we look further and say that the unipolar version says 'more' energy in the hand and opposite foot is balanced by 'less' energy in the other hand/foot pair, which feels better and can even lead to movement that is spiral like. But these two explanations are once again very different.
You have answered your own question... if aiki is in you, it does not require a partner... This is the problem with most aikido - if you believe you need a partner you will never cultivate aiki within you. Why? Because you do not believe that you must work within your body to make internal power through the union of your forces in opposition. "More" and "less" are not terms of equality; these are terms of inequality. Opposition in balance, not a sum of two imbalances. Spiral movement is a good methodology for managing multiple forces in opposition within your body.

There is never "more" energy in one hand and "less" in the other; there is equal energy in both hands, moving in opposing directions. Otherwise, where is the unification (your center moving everything) of opposites (forces in each hand)? Dueling, opposing, forces.

Everyone is free to move however they want. The problem is that some movement is better than others. Aiki is a different way to move than most people train. "Up, then down" is not the same as "up and down." O Sensei said some very specific things about how to train aiki, we just don't like all of them.

Hope any of that helps.

Jon Reading
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Old 05-13-2020, 04:51 PM   #30
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

https://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog...peace-harmony/

Here is a good link that talks about the numerology of the eight powers.

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Old 05-13-2020, 06:49 PM   #31
Craig Moore
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

Thanks Jon, I really appreciate your reply.

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Giant turtle 1 doesn't pair up with giant turtle 2 to sum an arbitrary number.
That cracked me up. Yes, I'm sure Giant turtle 1 and Giant turtle 2 have much more interesting things to do when they pair up.

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This is not aiki. This is literally, the push me/pull you of jujutsu.
Absolutely! But it's surprising that people in some circles still think that's what we're talking about.

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You have answered your own question... if aiki is in you, it does not require a partner...
Yep. My four (bad) examples were to show that a person can read all of Chris Li's fantastic translation articles (which I've done), read every aiki thread here and in other forums, talk to others etc, and still not be able to explain what "union of opposites" means without being completely wrong. What I haven't seen but think would go a long way to sharing a broader understanding is a succinct explanation with simple examples described. It's often said it needs to be felt (yes, I've had hands on a few times) but I still have trouble finding the right words to explain this very fundamental concept, which proves I still don't actually understand. I got that it's in you irrespective of a partner a while ago. I get the concept of tensegrity, have felt the sensation of tension in the tissues / compression in the bones, have finally after what feels like a long time begun to feel tanden as the engine (weak and inconsistent as it may be) in a way that is *so* different to what I ever felt previously as my 'centre', and train in equal and opposite intent basics both static and in movement (although it takes concentration and is still surprisingly taxing).

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
There is never "more" energy in one hand and "less" in the other; there is equal energy in both hands, moving in opposing directions. Otherwise, where is the unification (your center moving everything) of opposites (forces in each hand)?
I like that. It's clear and relates the words directly to the physical world that everyone can picture. OK, unification with the centre moving everything through connection developed across the body makes sense. So does equal energy in both hands moving in opposing directions. Just wanted to clarify if the hand's energy (whether static or in motion) moving in opposing directions to each other *relative to centre* is what makes them opposites in terms of "union of opposites"?

Last edited by Craig Moore : 05-13-2020 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 05-14-2020, 04:50 AM   #32
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

It's easy to get hung up on the numerology thing. We spend a lot of time in aikido talking about our partners, their importance to the "success" of techniques, and the avoidance of meeting force with force. With all that language out there, it is not surprising that we see an equation and think the individual numbers represent our self and our partner. Chris' blog spends some time talking about being the attraction point of opposing forces, and that is different than being one of the forces. On the giant turtle shell, we strive to be the "5" - the center between opposing forces. In the classic ying/yang, we strive to be the curved line between opposing forces. If you ask most people about ying/yang, they will describe action falling into one or the other. Put another way, ask an aikido person about a wave (nami); you will typically get a description of either being the wave, or being the undertow, rarely will someone speak about being both. Why? Because that would require moving with opposing forces... which is difficult to do.

Second, soft jujutsu is good. The basics of jujutsu bleed into aikido because they work. Part of the training system for aikido (and daito ryu) is intended to teach soft jujutsu, eventually transforming into aiki. It's just not aiki. "Eventually" learning aiki through indirect instruction stopped happening for aikido people a while back. So what are we left with? A teaching system designed to indirectly teach aiki through a mild jujutsu program... It took me years to figure this out, by the way, because everywhere I turned we described aikido as jujutsu in everything but name. There is something to asking an aikido person why she is different than daito ryu or judo or jujutsu.

Ki is difficult to wrap around, mostly because of the cultural baggage. Aiki is difficult to wrap around because aikido deliberately keeps its blurry and nebulous. Training aiki is [practically] impossible in the mainstream aikido system. You have to make yourself a compass with your body and trust the shapes and bodywork to train aiki. This is why you need someone with aiki - to help you create the compass within your body. It's not surprising - we use trainers all the time to help us manage our bodies. But once you have that knowledge you become responsible for your training. A good nutritionist can help you learn to eat better - but you are the one cooking the meals...

The power of unified force within the body exists in a variety of cultures, across many martial arts, over thousands of years. It is training at the highest levels of martial culture. In some respects, it's impractical to expect that a modern, non-military, culture would inherent the necessary physicality, mentality, and dedication to train with success. This was why we made aikido - to explore aiki in a more practical form. But, what do we do to each other for most of class? Pretend fight. Sigh...

When O Sensei makes the comment about... "ascending and descending energy, in the middle a friction is created...this is the birth of aiki..." we get some hints of timing:
Thing 1 - I need to make opposing energy, first
Thing 2 - If I make opposing energy, then I can make (give birth to) aiki

For my aiki work, I would say unification is when we use our center to manage opposing forces. It's a Thing 2. "Because of center" is maybe better than "relative to center" to think about how center interacts with opposing forces. We're an attraction point - there is work to cultivate our forces.
If I issue one hand, I return the other; both have equal power and are moved in coordination from my center (tanden/dantien). I think about this movement like a centrifuge. Imagine the lost energy when a centrifuge is out of balance; our bodies moving in rotation must have balance or we lose all kinds of energy to simply remaining stable. Our center manages the forces as they move, making changes to keep them in balance and coordinated in movement. It sounds like a lot of work because it is.

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Old 05-17-2020, 08:23 PM   #33
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

A tennis racket has a solid frame, which is in compression. This is balanced by the strings, which are flexible and in tension.
This balance is where the racket gets its strength.

When you hit a ball, the force causes the strings to go into more tension. This causes the frame to go into more compression.
So the external force actually makes the racket stronger.

It doesn't think about the ball and it's force, it is just in balance itself.

Jon, I think this is what you mean when you say the energy should go everywhere.

If you expand, bow and unbow and rotate from your one point then the forces between yourself and your partner should automatically never oppose.

I think understanding this as a concept and actually doing it with your body are separate issues. (Why I still suck)

Last edited by SlowLerner : 05-17-2020 at 08:31 PM.
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Old 05-18-2020, 02:59 PM   #34
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

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A tennis racket has a solid frame, which is in compression. This is balanced by the strings, which are flexible and in tension.
This balance is where the racket gets its strength.

When you hit a ball, the force causes the strings to go into more tension. This causes the frame to go into more compression.
So the external force actually makes the racket stronger.

It doesn't think about the ball and it's force, it is just in balance itself.

Jon, I think this is what you mean when you say the energy should go everywhere.

If you expand, bow and unbow and rotate from your one point then the forces between yourself and your partner should automatically never oppose.

I think understanding this as a concept and actually doing it with your body are separate issues. (Why I still suck)
Some things I have riddled to myself over the years...

Tennis rackets are not in balance. Compression and tension are, specifically, words of forced imbalance. A racket is strung under pressure to create a tool for converting elastic energy. There is all kinds of potential energy in racket string (go ahead and cut a racket and see what happens). Moreover, rackets have a sweet spot - an area on the racket that is most efficient for that energy transaction. Contacting a ball outside of the sweet spot results in torque that you can feel in your grip. I am not a huge fan of this example, but we have some good physics in the example... Primarily, a good example of energy transfer and energy loss, but also a good example of structure to support energy transfer. IP people are pretty familiar with exercises to straighten, stretch, and elongate fascial chains and "remove the slack." We all know vertical posture goes a long way to improving power. Why? We are working to turn our bodies into a leaf spring, a mountain echo, right? We want to accept energy, convert it, and redirect it back. But you cannot have slack in your body, just like racket string. Also, remember the frame needs to be strong enough to support the string. Why do you care about a word like "balance" as it relates to a tennis racket (other than actually swinging a weighted object, balanced for swinging)? Philosophy. Somewhere deep down we all know that to do aikido right, we need to say "ying/yang" and "balance". Ohhh, "harmony," too. Harmony is a good one. I think we sometimes let ourselves get distracted in our thought process by expectations and I am teasing a little about this because it is a problem when you are really trying to figure out how to move.

In trying to remember exactly where I said energy should go everywhere, I should be referring to the management of splitting force as it enters my body into as many directions as possible to reduce the impact of any one force. Converting those [many] forces into a stored energy in my body to redirect out is the mountain echo at its simplest.

Also, as a tedious comment... I am not a fan of "expand". It takes us back to language of inequity, not opposition. But, as long as we have that equal and opposite co-force, we can use it. Usually, when an aikido person says "expand" we are talking about some kind of entering motion:
1. a push into your partner to elicit either a yield or a push back, and now we are back to jujutsu
2. some kind of energy exercise to make yourself pretend to "be bigger"
Neither are elements of intent or aiki. I am also not convinced either is irmi. Sticking with some humor here because this is a serious issue to digest... Expand? Where? Why? Want to expand? Eat more salt. Don't like where you body is? Move. The most permissible use of expand I have heard is to specifically discuss the spongy nature of contact with a partner. In this sense, we are working through a deficiency in a particular partnership. But if I need a partner into whom I expand, and I know I don't need a partner to train intent... Then I know expanding is probably not something that affects my intent training.

Bowing makes power - this is the leaf spring of our body. Rotation splits forces - this is the universal joint that moves our body. One point is the methodology that moves the body in unison. Don't ignore intent and don't make yourself dependent on a partner.

Understanding this stuff is really important. Understanding that some of our aikido is wrong. Understanding some of our personal beliefs are wrong. Changing how you train to accommodate these realizations is critical.

Last edited by jonreading : 05-18-2020 at 03:03 PM.

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Old 05-18-2020, 07:36 PM   #35
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

That's really cool that this is still going. I didn't think this discussion would have continued.

I think the ying yang idea you mentioned Craig is interesting and reminded me of something. I did a shomenuchi ikkyo omote with my sensei many months ago and he was surprisingly shocked for some reason. He asked me if I can feel the difference. I said, no not really, but it felt like there was nothing, yet I got him entirely off balance without effort. He told me there was no resistance on either side. Oh...? A "perfect ikkyo"? I was more focused on his elbow at the time and moving everything more towards him (more in I guess) because I usually move out too far away to unbalance him. Is this the perfect balance of yin and yang in physical direction? Maybe, I don't know because I don't think it is just timing. The strange part was, there was, well, I felt nothing. Usually there is a slight pull, or push, or tension I can feel either from myself or my partner. Is that "nothing" feeling the key to aiki?

I find that generally ura techniques "go everywhere". I distinctly remembered one training partner years ago afraid of ura techniques because he felt like his body is being splattered and scraped across the floor continuously for a long time when taking ukemi. His visual description was more cringingly entertaining at the time. He also found it very dizzying when performing ura variations. Is that the direction we should ideally aim for in practice? What about omote variations with more definite directions? Where should "every where" be in that case?

Jon, curious question, do you discourage "expanding" during training? I agree that I would be imposing my intent during expansion, but I found it useful in finding the limits of the unbalancing areas when I first started. Later on, I was actively encouraged many times to "expand" into the partner to make the initial connection and keep the connection, and then redirect the energy or movement. Is that really needed to keep the connection alive? Usually I find the connection too lose and then disengages the technique to the point my partner and I are in neutral positions. Or does that mean I need a more aggressive uke....? That's actually a serious question and not intended as a joke.

Am seriously missing aikido practice, it's been more than 2 months already and never been away from practice for more than a week in the past!
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Old 05-18-2020, 11:48 PM   #36
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

Hi Jon, thank you for taking the time to reply in detail.

I apologise if I have come across as a bit of a dick. My intention was not to disagree with you, but deepen my own understanding.

I agree my useage of the term balance in terms of the racket is incorrect. What I should have said is there is a mutual opposition of forces.

If you hit the ball in the sweet spot more of the energy is returned to the ball, rather than being wasted in causing rotation and torque forces in your body.

I think I see your point with expanding. You could just physically move everything away from your one point, but would still just be pushing into your partner.

I suppose the idea is to relate the movement to one point so everything moves together.
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Old 05-19-2020, 07:51 AM   #37
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

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Hi Jon, thank you for taking the time to reply in detail.

I apologise if I have come across as a bit of a dick. My intention was not to disagree with you, but deepen my own understanding.

I agree my useage of the term balance in terms of the racket is incorrect. What I should have said is there is a mutual opposition of forces.

If you hit the ball in the sweet spot more of the energy is returned to the ball, rather than being wasted in causing rotation and torque forces in your body.

I think I see your point with expanding. You could just physically move everything away from your one point, but would still just be pushing into your partner.

I suppose the idea is to relate the movement to one point so everything moves together.
In working backwards, I don't see any of these questions as bad or inappropriate. Don't take anything I say that way. I have had many of the questions we are discussing, so don't worry. And I don't mind disagreement because it makes you think about what you are saying and how you defend it. There are useful analogies in physics that can help us understand what we are trying to accomplish. We need to recognize what parts are helpful, and what parts aren't. Throwing on an example to noodle with others is a good way to evaluate its usefulness.

Now for "expand"... Ugh. If I expand into my partner, then [because I know I need equal and opposite] then I have to expand away from my partner. I don't have a beef with this [yet], but its tough to talk about balancing forces when you use imbalancing language. Its like listening to a mechanic tell you the doohicky is out of whack... She may be right, but she should also know the language of motors.

I think we use "expand" to fix partnership issues; this is also why this instruction varies wildly from partner to partner. Space between you and your partner is bad for feeling the effects of aiki. Its hard to make aiki "work" on someone who is pretty flimsy (lack of structure). But in unwrapping this issue, we have to look more closely at:
1. The reliance on a partner to "validate" our internal work
2. The realization that our bodies are not properly prepared for structure
3. The difference between the effects of aiki, and the success of fighting

Expanding does have some value when you talk about cultivating intent. We generally try to expand our manipulation of intent into our hands and feet, and through objects. We seek to increase the tissue we can recruit to loosen and move in unison, we seek to increase the ability to sensationalize intent. So in this context, we are not talking about balancing forces, but gaining in an attribute. In this respect, I think sometimes when you hear an instructor seeking to "expand" your ki, they are confusing the energy work with a physical action.

I tend to think about irimi as a clutch. My body has power that I want to harness in a coordinated action. My entering action is what engages my partner to respond to my movement. If my partner is working with me with the intent to take ukemi - she already has decided to abdicate any space into which I move - this makes it pretty hard to test the effectiveness of my movement. This is another one of those distractions that we get to in aikido because every good aikido person knows we need to take ukemi for our partner. If I don't fall, then somehow I have disturbed the balance of the technique. We have all kinds of buzzwords here... But, why? If my partner is too loose to actually defend me from plowing her elbow through her head, why does it matter whether ikkyo works? Somewhere along the line we gave permission to uke to be utterly inept in defending herself, then critical of a technique that is dependent upon your partner being competent to defend herself. We need partners who are competent to create structure in their bodies that can be used to make movement. As it stands, our more aggressive uke do better in this task (notwithstanding over balancing).

If you partner disengages, you should be in a neutral position... because you are still managing intent inside you... I get this a lot when working out, because my partner is like, "you didn't throw me." I am not training to throw them, though. I am training to manage intent inside me, and express aiki.

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Old 05-19-2020, 01:02 PM   #38
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

With some more elaboration...

Usually, when you are talking about aiki you often get two sensations, described from both sides:
1. Nage feels very little effort (i.e. "I didn't feel anything...")
2. Uke feels overwhelmed by the movement ("I couldn't stop it from happening...")

Are we really doing nothing? Of course not. If we are really moving with aiki, we are moving some amount of our body mass and power into a single effort that is singularly overwhelming against the target of the movement. It shouldn't be surprising that I can leg press with two legs more than I can bench press with one arm. But, most of us are not familiar enough with reproducing that movement that we learn to identify success and its sensations within our body. So, we go back to doing the same things and hope lightning strikes twice.

There is a lack of specificity in what we do that I think we should question. Sure, we are hypercritical about what foot should be forward, or how uke should attack. But, more often than not, we are allowed a huge variation in our technique, excused by calling it nagare waza. Ikkyo ura is a fun example because everyone has experienced a range from gently lowering yourself to the ground because your nage is struggling with technique, to getting your arm ripped out because your nage is slinging you around like a sack of potatoes. We all know both examples are poor illustrations of ikkyo, yet we allow them [both] all the time.

If you can't train in opposing directions, how can you balance them? If you can't support your body, how can you move with aiki? If you can't move with aiki, how can you affect your partner? But, here's the rub... is training opposing forces on our 6th kyu test? Nope, but moving is. Can we be surprised that, flash-forward to ikkyo, we have students who have no aiki moving anyway they can to sling some uncooperative uke to the ground? We told these students from day 1 what we value most...

Connection is a great tool for our partner to help us to understand the body sensations that we need to learn. Your partner acts like a multimeter who allows us to check all kinds of figures to determine successful movement. Sometimes our partners are bad multimeters, sometimes we don't need partners, and sometimes our partners are useful. This is a different idea of ukemi than many people train, placing emphasis on falling.

All of this points back to the importance of learning how to manage forces with you, and direct energy (intent) to lead your movement.

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Old 05-19-2020, 07:21 PM   #39
Craig Moore
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

This discussion is fantastic and I appreciate the input from everyone, but especially how open your posts are Jon.

That's a great story Justin. Those sort of moments in training are so cool. Wouldn't it fantastic to understand and be able to replicate them? And missing practise at the dojo... Oh yeah! Home training is good and has given the opportunity to explore things in alternate ways. But I'd like to be able to do both again.

"Expand" is messy. I've heard it used in what I think are appropriate ways, as well as misunderstood ways. Expand in the six directions, training that expands and opens the joints, stretch and expand along lines of connection to change and develop the tissue, particular contexts. Then a partner gets involved and expand turns into a one sided gentle push into the partner, which is what it is, but often explained as something else.

Aiki isn't fighting. I think that's been said enough times that anyone interested and reading along gets it. Baby steps.... Learning to use aiki in fighting is a whole other level. But I'm assuming you can't get there before you can show its effect on someone else in more basic things than fighting. I then assume you can't do that before you can create it in yourself. Understanding any of what's involved in doing that has been a complex fragmented road that I still don't have a grip on. So we start at the beginning and that's difficult enough.

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Bowing makes power - this is the leaf spring of our body. Rotation splits forces - this is the universal joint that moves our body. One point is the methodology that moves the body in unison. Don't ignore intent and don't make yourself dependent on a partner.
That's a nice break down.

The day the penny dropped about bow/unbow movement being the leaf springs as you say, was another milestone for me. An easy pathway to that spongy/springy feeling we've talked about finding before with no clear guidance on how, but in a way that also opens the gate to distributing load across the body when used in conjunction with other connection and alignment training. Bow/unbow is not one sided opening and closing of a joint, and when done with balance (equal and opposite) movement with engaged intent, so much more than the most efficient / shortest path from A to B.

"Rotation splits forces - this is the universal joint that moves our body." Can I please get some clarification on that bit? When people have previously written about the engine, I've come to understand they were talking about centre/hara/dantien. With a lot of work I'm starting to get how you can drive everything else from centre and we've already covered some of that. They also talk about the centre or sometimes the waist being the universal joint between the lower half and upper half of the body. This is where some views differ, with some explanations being that power in the legs is transmitted through the centre to be expressed in the arms (typically TMCA) vs. power beginning in the centre and going out from there to both lower and upper body. Of course various systems often have examples of the use of both these ways of thinking, so once again understanding gets jumbled comparing demonstrated examples to written material. Anyway, that's comment rather than my question. Rotation splitting forces is often referenced when explaining what happens to force applied by a partner. We've all read and played with "meeting the partner's force orthogonally and following the resultant combined force vector". I'm certainly not critical of this explanation and have found it to be very useful. It's a basic argument for the benefit of circular and then spiral movement. But oops, our partner has appeared again. Is there another explanation or interpretation of this statement that comes back to internal to our bodies that doesn't concern a partner?

Last edited by Craig Moore : 05-19-2020 at 07:36 PM.
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Old 05-20-2020, 09:24 AM   #40
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

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"Rotation splits forces - this is the universal joint that moves our body." Can I please get some clarification on that bit? When people have previously written about the engine, I've come to understand they were talking about centre/hara/dantien. With a lot of work I'm starting to get how you can drive everything else from centre and we've already covered some of that. They also talk about the centre or sometimes the waist being the universal joint between the lower half and upper half of the body. This is where some views differ, with some explanations being that power in the legs is transmitted through the centre to be expressed in the arms (typically TMCA) vs. power beginning in the centre and going out from there to both lower and upper body. Of course various systems often have examples of the use of both these ways of thinking, so once again understanding gets jumbled comparing demonstrated examples to written material. Anyway, that's comment rather than my question. Rotation splitting forces is often referenced when explaining what happens to force applied by a partner. We've all read and played with "meeting the partner's force orthogonally and following the resultant combined force vector". I'm certainly not critical of this explanation and have found it to be very useful. It's a basic argument for the benefit of circular and then spiral movement. But oops, our partner has appeared again. Is there another explanation or interpretation of this statement that comes back to internal to our bodies that doesn't concern a partner?
From what I know, there are competing theories on rotation, depending on styles and IP training camps. Some of the explanations match, some don't, and most end up competing. In talking about IP at a very basic level, bowing makes power, rotation splits force. As we talk about rotation, we have a few things I like to separate:
1. When my partner puts force into me, rotation deflects, and splits the incoming force so no one vector compromises me.
2. When I rotate as I apply force, the rotation creates traction at the point of contact and this traction creates adhesion.

I like the analogy of a universal joint because UJs are tools of transference. The free rotation of a UJ allows for force to transfer through the joint. Part of the whole "soft" thing is learning to soften your body to allow free rotation to maximize transference of power from your legs, up your spine, and out your hands.

I am not a fan of "splitting the torso" language. There is a lot of talk about lower and upper body and I don't like it because it implies some kind of split in the middle. Upper dantien, lower dantien, blah blah blah - each art talks differently about this. Eventually, we have to unify our torso to move as a coordinated piece of meat that drives the appendages, and that is where I pick up. I like to think of my torso as one solid unit that can rotate within the cradle of my hip joints. When I turn my torso, I am turning my femoral heads like gears (I am not turning my waist). I think of my ball-and-socket joints as my universal joints... because that is the mechanic of a ball-and-socket joint. Spines are not meant to rotate and I take issue with so many aikido movements that move by turning the bottom half or top half of our bodies. For me, I think about my rotation taking place in my ball-and-socket joints. If I rotate my shoulder, all of my arm rotates. If I rotate my hip, all of my leg rotates. These actions make long axles of power and are made using muscles designed to rotate. When I practice my exercises, I am trying to stretch, soften, and elongate these tissue areas.

So do I care about a partner? No. In learning to move with spirals, my partner is simply a tool used to gauge success. IP is about training to make your body more powerful using the physiology of your body. My body wants to move in spiral rotation. My muscles criss-cross, my fascia criss cross, my arms have a rotation socket and my legs have a rotation socket. Remember, internal power training is committing to change the way your body moves, regardless of whether we apply it in martial arts. It just happens to be that aiki has crazy affects on someone who touches our body when we move this way. We know we should move in spirals and circles, but our aikido training is not reflective of that understanding.

[BEGIN Rant]
Everyone knows that we practice tenkan by receiving the grab, turning our wrist over (palm up), and applying an inward/down pressure into our partner to elicit that unbalancing so we pull forward and around. We all know that getting a good meaty grab on our ikkyo ura means we can use centripetal force to sling our partner around and take her balance. Lots of wrong things here, but aikido 101. Why are they wrong? Lets look at katatedori tenkan - does my wrist have a ball-and-socket joint designed to rotate? Nope. If fact, we specifically take advantage of the rotational weakness of the wrist in wrist locks. There is no strength in turning your wrist (as most of us find out someday when we work out with a hunk of meat that locks us down). What about ikkyo? Centripetal force is not rotation within you, it is you spinning around on top of the Earth. I think aikido needs to take a good look in the mirror that we are supposed to be cleaning all the time and realize most of us don't know how to move with rotation (or with circles).
[ENDRant]

I am not saying this to be argumentative. Hell, this is how I learned aikido and taught it myself for years. But we've all heard some variation of instruction in any number of techniques that speaks to this point. I probably have 4 books on my shelf right now that provide aikido instruction about meeting a partner with a "circle" movement. But holding on to that interpretation of circle movement is why your logic breaks. It was bad the as soon as it said, "meet you partner..."; it should say, "you always move with spirals..."

Also, one point to clarify (as I understand it) is that the schools of thought that pull from center still use the ground as a rebound (compounded force).

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Old 05-20-2020, 10:53 PM   #41
Craig Moore
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

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1. When my partner puts force into me, rotation deflects, and splits the incoming force so no one vector compromises me.
2. When I rotate as I apply force, the rotation creates traction at the point of contact and this traction creates adhesion.
With 2. is "traction" as in friction (with movement)? Does this relate to the sometimes quoted "creating a point of attraction", which I've not really understood before?

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I like the analogy of a universal joint because UJs are tools of transference. The free rotation of a UJ allows for force to transfer through the joint. Part of the whole "soft" thing is learning to soften your body to allow free rotation to maximize transference of power from your legs, up your spine, and out your hands.
I like the universal joint description in many ways. But the problem I've had with it is thinking of it as passive, ie. the power is coming from somewhere else. Like a universal joints in the drive shaft of an old rear wheel drive car. They allow transfer of power from the output of the gearbox into the rear differential, but they're not the engine. As we've said, this depends a bit on which IP system you are following. But I've had better progress thinking of it as an active thing with its own power source (hip flexors, psoas). As you say in the next section rotating the ball and socket joints, powering with the muscles around them which are built to do that seems to work well. When I think of power coming from the legs and *through* the hip joint I find myself pushing too much off the ground and unbalancing slightly with displacement (movement in space) of my body. If I concentrate on powering from the hip joint itself, I don't get the displacement and it's a more accurate spiral.

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Eventually, we have to unify our torso to move as a coordinated piece of meat that drives the appendages, and that is where I pick up. I like to think of my torso as one solid unit that can rotate within the cradle of my hip joints. When I turn my torso, I am turning my femoral heads like gears (I am not turning my waist).... If I rotate my shoulder, all of my arm rotates. If I rotate my hip, all of my leg rotates.
Absolutely. My reference to upper and lower body before was arms and legs, not splitting the torso. I've found upper, lower and middle tanden useful ala Aunkai but that's not splitting them by moving the waist. Some stability training starts with the "body box" and it seems multiple systems take that further to making sure movement is always not in that area. "Torso as one solid unit that can rotate within the cradle of my hip joints" is a great way to put it. Bow/unbow of the back makes that a flexible solid unit (sounds funny, I know) but flexible in a defined direction, not twisting or bending sideways. To add to the last sentence, if I rotate my hip, all of my leg rotates, but if I rotate my hips (at the femoral heads, not through the knees) with both my feet on the ground, all of my torso as a unit from the pelvic floor up rotates due to the ground and friction at my feet.

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
[BEGIN Rant]
Everyone knows that we practice tenkan by receiving the grab, turning our wrist over (palm up), and applying an inward/down pressure into our partner to elicit that unbalancing so we pull forward and around. We all know that getting a good meaty grab on our ikkyo ura means we can use centripetal force to sling our partner around and take her balance....[ENDRant]
It's an interesting exercise doing tenkan or tai no henko without *any* movement or force change at the wrist. Ah, the experience of centripetal force ikkyo ura with an uke 30kg heavier than you, expecting them to take the fall, but absorbing the 'tug' and just standing there instead. Stops you in your tracks!

Last edited by Craig Moore : 05-20-2020 at 10:59 PM.
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Old 05-21-2020, 07:58 AM   #42
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

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With 2. is "traction" as in friction (with movement)? Does this relate to the sometimes quoted "creating a point of attraction", which I've not really understood before?
No. Adhesion through rotation is in several different arts, including aikido. It's a sensory level response that prevents any single force from becoming a force that can be identified (and managed by your partner). In this case, the rotation splits out many different force vectors that hook into your partner at a shallow level (i.e. fascia). The rotation infiltrates your partner and the rotation starts to "wind" them up. Much like the way we learn to push a chain (by turning the chain until the links bind).

An attraction point is the point where we manage opposing forces (inside you), around which we have an interaction. It's confusing because it's possible to have intent, but not be able to do anything with it in a part of your body (or lose intent when you try to use it). "Attraction point" has some specific reference in different arts, so it's possible there is a context confusion.

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Old 05-21-2020, 09:51 AM   #43
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

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I like the universal joint description in many ways. But the problem I've had with it is thinking of it as passive, ie. the power is coming from somewhere else. Like a universal joints in the drive shaft of an old rear wheel drive car. They allow transfer of power from the output of the gearbox into the rear differential, but they're not the engine. As we've said, this depends a bit on which IP system you are following. But I've had better progress thinking of it as an active thing with its own power source (hip flexors, psoas). As you say in the next section rotating the ball and socket joints, powering with the muscles around them which are built to do that seems to work well. When I think of power coming from the legs and *through* the hip joint I find myself pushing too much off the ground and unbalancing slightly with displacement (movement in space) of my body. If I concentrate on powering from the hip joint itself, I don't get the displacement and it's a more accurate spiral.
We are absolutely working hard, and I think thinking about your work as active is good. You just gotta remember which does what and let them both do their jobs. In my training right now, I work very hard to keep my tools in their place; bowing makes power, rotation splits forces. It is very easier to conflate the two and then you wind up with neither a true bow, nor a rotation that transfers power. Later, these actions work in better coordination and the results become more... well, spiral in nature. Non-localized power is one of the hallmarks of aiki (i,e, indirect power transfer) - we get that by keeping our power at the long end of our body axles while our partner is contacting the other end. As soon as that rotation in our wrist stops coming from our shoulder because we want that twist to "do something..." we lose it. I think your description of the difficulty in pulling through your hip is pretty common for anyone that is working on IP and it's something I struggle with, too.

Also, I am gonna gripe about attraction point for a minute. Lots of people describe attraction point differently, many of those descriptions are confusing. First, it's not real. It's a point that we artificially focus on in our training to start to move our mind (intent) to points inside our body as a discipline. O Sensei was a Heaven/Earth/Man guy, so eventually "Man" (the entirety of our body) is the attraction point for Heaven and Earth. This is why he could say, "I am aiki!" But that's quite the jump, so we start with smaller points in our body and try to resolve the management of forces in opposition at that point. So, attraction point is gonna change in definition depending on where you are in training (this does lend some excuse to why so many different people and arts explain it differently, though). To boot, we train attraction point in aikido like teaching a kid to hit a baseball by letting Nolan Ryan throw her fastballs... "I am gonna touch your hand, now throw me instantly and don't really think about what is happening at the point of contact."

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Old 05-21-2020, 05:52 PM   #44
Craig Moore
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

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No. Adhesion through rotation is in several different arts, including aikido. It's a sensory level response that prevents any single force from becoming a force that can be identified (and managed by your partner). In this case, the rotation splits out many different force vectors that hook into your partner at a shallow level (i.e. fascia). The rotation infiltrates your partner and the rotation starts to "wind" them up. Much like the way we learn to push a chain (by turning the chain until the links bind).
I know what you're talking about now. In person I've always had the same thing described in a much different way to that, so when I've previously read about adhesion through rotation for some reason I thought it was something else.

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We are absolutely working hard, and I think thinking about your work as active is good. You just gotta remember which does what and let them both do their jobs. In my training right now, I work very hard to keep my tools in their place; bowing makes power, rotation splits forces. It is very easier to conflate the two and then you wind up with neither a true bow, nor a rotation that transfers power. Later, these actions work in better coordination and the results become more... well, spiral in nature. Non-localized power is one of the hallmarks of aiki (i,e, indirect power transfer) - we get that by keeping our power at the long end of our body axles while our partner is contacting the other end. As soon as that rotation in our wrist stops coming from our shoulder because we want that twist to "do something..." we lose it. I think your description of the difficulty in pulling through your hip is pretty common for anyone that is working on IP and it's something I struggle with, too.

Also, I am gonna gripe about attraction point for a minute. Lots of people describe attraction point differently, many of those descriptions are confusing. First, it's not real. It's a point that we artificially focus on in our training to start to move our mind (intent) to points inside our body as a discipline. O Sensei was a Heaven/Earth/Man guy, so eventually "Man" (the entirety of our body) is the attraction point for Heaven and Earth. This is why he could say, "I am aiki!" But that's quite the jump, so we start with smaller points in our body and try to resolve the management of forces in opposition at that point. So, attraction point is gonna change in definition depending on where you are in training (this does lend some excuse to why so many different people and arts explain it differently, though). To boot, we train attraction point in aikido like teaching a kid to hit a baseball by letting Nolan Ryan throw her fastballs... "I am gonna touch your hand, now throw me instantly and don't really think about what is happening at the point of contact."
Thanks, that has helped me a lot. It's also inadvertently clarified something in a post of Allen Beebe's that I wasn't sure about and a couple of other things.
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Old 05-21-2020, 07:59 PM   #45
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

I suppose the reason you manage the forces / energy within yourself is because there should be no resistance at the point of contact and therefore no feedback.

As soon as you are working with a model that feels the direction of your partners force, you are falling back into the application of external force and leverage.

If you maintain your own energy, then nage should feel little effort and uke should feel like there is power coming from a direction that cannot be sourced.
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Old 05-22-2020, 09:54 AM   #46
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Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

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I suppose the reason you manage the forces / energy within yourself is because there should be no resistance at the point of contact and therefore no feedback.

As soon as you are working with a model that feels the direction of your partners force, you are falling back into the application of external force and leverage.
I think these are good observations.

When I train IP, the exercise is managing opposing forces. In a push exercise, my partner is pushing [on my center] to deliberately make an imbalance that requires attention. Through a variety of training goals I work until I can't feel the affect of the push. In the beginning, our body [which doesn't know any better] tells us, "Wow, I can't feel anything!" In truth, the push did not change - our body is receiving the same about of feedback as before, it just doesn't know how to process the information because the training is creating new feedback that is unfamiliar to our brains. After a while, our body learns how to process that new information and we actually become more sensitive (due to the new information our body can interpret). The same process happens for my partner, just the other side of things.

As a tip off that we are not working with aiki...
Quote:
As soon as you are working with a model that feels the direction of your partners force, you are falling back into the application of external force and leverage.
Yup. It goes back to our freedom of movement. As soon as we start using unidirectional force instead of omnidirectional force, we change our conversation from the potential to go anywhere (omni directional) to the potential to go one way (unidirectional). And for the sake of conversation, waves are still usually unidirectional force (i.e. up, then down).

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If you maintain your own energy, then nage should feel little effort and uke should feel like there is power coming from a direction that cannot be sourced.
This is the general idea. Because anything that bows makes power your partner should never be able to grab the part of you that is making power (because many parts of you are making power, unified in movement).

So all those times when you could feel a tug, or get whipped around, or feel where the technique was going, or outright stop a movement. Regardless of whether you complied with the technique or not, you can guess that you probably were't working with aiki. There are exceptions, for sure. But, it's a humble pill to swallow to consider how much of our training is not "aiki".

Looking at the larger picture in this thread, one can understand the difficulty in a conversation about energy work, which would require at least the basics of knowing how to cultivate energy (aiki). Couple that with an ongoing definition of aiki that will never solidify into a training methodology.

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