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Old 11-13-2006, 12:21 AM   #1
Mike Hamer
 
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Circle Aikido: The learning of natural movement

I was over at a party a couple of days ago with a friend, and I saw something there that I will never forget. Me and this friend of mine (who has been going to Aikido latley) were conversating on the concept of ki. There were two small children in the room, a boy and a girl, both toddlers. The girl was being held and starting reaching for a cup, trying to communicate that she was thirsty. She couldn't talk, so she just kept reaching for the cup. I pointed this out to my friend and told him that the baby more than likely had the "unbendable arm" sensation going on at that very moment. This in turn led to more conversation about ki and it being natural in every human, and that baby's use ki very regularly,subconsciously, without making a conscious effort of it.
Anyway, the girl got a drink and started walking into the living room where we were. She tripped on the edge of carpet and fell down, but she just reached out her hands to absorb the impact. Anybody get what I'm trying to point out here? Here's the best part. After she got up she walked over to the couch and picked up someone's cell phone. She started jumping around just laughing and playing with the phone. The other child, the boy, ran over to her and tried
to snatch the phone from her hand. What happened next is the closest thing to a real "no hands throw" that I have ever seen. As the boy reached for the phone she started to circle around him, tenkan if you will, and the boy of course kept on reaching farther to try and grab the phone from her. The next thing I see is the boy fall flat on the ground, while the little girl simple completed her spiral motion and happily resumed playing with the cell phone. I'm serious! This is exactly how it happened! Phew, I just had to get my thoughts out on that event! Feedback please!


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Old 11-13-2006, 01:35 AM   #2
xuzen
 
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

I did the same to my nephew once (toddler age)... and I got stare from his mum. I dare not do it again.

Boon.

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Old 11-13-2006, 02:20 AM   #3
Aran Bright
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

That's a great story, now the questions is can you do it?

I have heard that many people said Osensei had a kind of childish nature. I mean this in the best possible way but there is definitely something to the idea of just moving in what ever way feels natural at the time.

Its one of the dichotomies of kata, it can make you stuck in your ways (how many people do you know like this?) but the idea, IMO, is to train those natural automatic responses. Or are they to remember them???

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Old 11-13-2006, 02:52 AM   #4
RoyK
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

David Orange wrote a similar article and posted videos of his toddler doing Aiki movements. Did you read it?

I think this is the link: http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/...pic.php?t=8827
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Old 11-13-2006, 05:44 AM   #5
markwalsh
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

IMO aikido is nature.
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Old 11-13-2006, 06:32 AM   #6
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

I had an experience in a men's toilet once too, amazing really. Anyway, as I opened the exit door slowly, towards me, I was astonished to find a hand reaching for the door knob on the other side at the same speed as I opened the door. The other guy had this bewildered look on his face as the door handle just did not occupy the space he thought it did. His hand and body kept following this door knob right up until I had to catch him to prevent him going face first into the wall by my side, as he had completely lost his footing. I used the think that this kind of leading was "ki", but now I no longer think so.
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Old 11-13-2006, 08:03 AM   #7
ian
 
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

I suppose, in terms of traditional chinese medicine, fundamentally we are born with a certain amount of ki and this either gets used up through drinking coffee and sex, or the ki flow gets interupted by poor posture, stress, poor learnt behaviour. Children do have this directed strength, and resilience, although much of it no-doubt also has to do with the different physiology (they have softer more flexible bones, lighter bodies, more body fat). Maybe we shouldn't be comparing children with adults, but comparing them with older animals of the same size. Compared to dogs of the same size, children are pretty weak. Compared to cats, they have poor reactions. Humans don't seem to have the natural defence ability animals do. Starting to waffle now, so will sign off,

Ian

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Old 11-13-2006, 08:07 AM   #8
ian
 
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

P.S. also had this discussion of natural posture. Words like 'natural' have to be used carefully because they often used to refer to two different things. For example, your natural posture is the posture you have at the moment. However through training and being more concsious of your posture it can be improved to produce a 'natural' posture, in that it is the posture which you would have if you hadn't learnt bad behviours of standing/walking. So kata (if done properly)can produce naturalness - or more appropriately, be used to loose unnaturalness.

PPS. that other thread - would agree that aikido DOES NOT come from baby movements. Aikido movements are actually very basic however (can't do difficult motor function movements in a fight) with hands generally moving up and down in front of your body as you move around - thus it just seems like a child because their motor functions are basic.

Last edited by ian : 11-13-2006 at 08:12 AM.

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Old 11-13-2006, 03:53 PM   #9
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
Roy Klein wrote:
David Orange wrote a similar article and posted videos of his toddler doing Aiki movements. Did you read it?

I think this is the link: http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/...pic.php?t=8827


woah

Thanks.

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Old 11-13-2006, 05:31 PM   #10
David Orange
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
Roy Klein wrote:
David Orange wrote a similar article and posted videos of his toddler doing Aiki movements. Did you read it?

I think this is the link: http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/...pic.php?t=8827
Roy,

Thanks for posting that!

And for Mikel, here are two video clips of my 18-month-old son doing aiki root movement. I teach that, when grabbed with a single-hand, same-side attack, you can turn either to the inside or the outside. The inside turn leads to gyaku-te seoi nage or shiho nage. The outside turn leads to sankyo (what Mochizuki Sensei called yuki chigae and Tomiki Sensei called kote mawashi). The root of the two techniques is just turning around in one direction or the other. In the first of these two clips, Ken spontaneously does the outside turn. The second clip opens when he has already made the inside turn and is moving toward gyaku-te seoi nage.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pyx8jv6TNN0

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Yxs0...elated&search=

As I said in the article Roy referenced, I have observed aiki movement in a number of children. I'm always surprised that anyone thinks aiki isn't a natural thing. I feel like Ben Franklin saying that the static spark that shocks you when you touch a door knob is the same as the lightning that crashes from the sky. He almost killed himself demonstrating this idea with his kite in a thunderstorm. I think enough people have witnessed children doing beautiful aiki that there should be no more question about where aiki originates. To me, the only question is how to find that original aiki in ourselves and cultivate it to a more powerful level.

Best wishes to all.

David

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Old 11-13-2006, 05:44 PM   #11
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

I think the moral of the story is that Aikido works on people with toddlers' sense of coordination and martial ability...

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Old 11-13-2006, 07:02 PM   #12
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
Jorgen Matsi wrote:
I think the moral of the story is that Aikido works on people with toddlers' sense of coordination and martial ability...
The moral is that nature is stronger than second nature. Everything in every human martial art comes from reflexes that a baby exhibits when he learns to stand and walk. It's all right there. Everything else is just refinement of those basic abilities.

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Old 11-13-2006, 07:07 PM   #13
raul rodrigo
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
David Orange wrote:
The moral is that nature is stronger than second nature. Everything in every human martial art comes from reflexes that a baby exhibits when he learns to stand and walk. It's all right there. Everything else is just refinement of those basic abilities.
David, assuming that this is true, what would be the consequences for the way you or I should train in aikido? Does a student who makes this premise as a foundation of his practice learn to do better aikido?

best,


R
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Old 11-13-2006, 07:38 PM   #14
Mike Hamer
 
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
David Orange wrote:
Roy,



I think enough people have witnessed children doing beautiful aiki that there should be no more question about where aiki originates.

Best wishes to all.

David

Wow! It's so weird that other people have seen this too! I think we're on to something Davey boy! Hahaha, It makes me feel good inside to think about this kind of thing. Sorry, but thats's the only way I can describe it.

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Old 11-13-2006, 08:54 PM   #15
Roman Kremianski
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Mikel: That was no fluke or coincidence! That 6th Dan girl in your story goes to my dojo!
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Old 11-14-2006, 06:33 AM   #16
Aran Bright
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Okay at first it just looked like some Aiki-nutter rolling on the grass with his toddler (which I have have to say looks like fun) but i have to admit there is definitely something to it.

From a skeptical point of view i could just say that it is only because Dad is moving in a conditioned way that makes it look like there is real technique happening and that he is actually guiding his kid around...but that was a damn good sankyo.

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Old 11-14-2006, 10:26 AM   #17
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
David Orange wrote:
Roy,

Thanks for posting that!

And for Mikel, here are two video clips of my 18-month-old son doing aiki root movement. I teach that, when grabbed with a single-hand, same-side attack, you can turn either to the inside or the outside. The inside turn leads to gyaku-te seoi nage or shiho nage. The outside turn leads to sankyo (what Mochizuki Sensei called yuki chigae and Tomiki Sensei called kote mawashi). The root of the two techniques is just turning around in one direction or the other. In the first of these two clips, Ken spontaneously does the outside turn. The second clip opens when he has already made the inside turn and is moving toward gyaku-te seoi nage.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pyx8jv6TNN0

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Yxs0...elated&search=

As I said in the article Roy referenced, I have observed aiki movement in a number of children. I'm always surprised that anyone thinks aiki isn't a natural thing. I feel like Ben Franklin saying that the static spark that shocks you when you touch a door knob is the same as the lightning that crashes from the sky. He almost killed himself demonstrating this idea with his kite in a thunderstorm. I think enough people have witnessed children doing beautiful aiki that there should be no more question about where aiki originates. To me, the only question is how to find that original aiki in ourselves and cultivate it to a more powerful level.

Best wishes to all.

David
The question becomes, do you believe that the root of 'aiki' is simply efficient body mechanics or do you believe it is a system of strategies and intents that can be manifest into a recognizable system? If you believe the root of aikido is simply efficient movement, then what separates it from any other martial art? I believe you can only trace the 'root' of aikido back to a point where it still somehow contains *distinguishing features that separate the art from other forms of combat or martial movement*. The movements of your toddler do not qualify for that in my book. You as 'uke' (and quite frankly, I think that referring to what you're doing there as uke is absurd) offer the clarity that lets us identify the root movements as aikido. The act of ukemi does not in any way indicate the art in question. I don't know how anyone can watch these videos and take them seriously.
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Old 11-14-2006, 11:14 AM   #18
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote:
The question becomes, do you believe that the root of 'aiki' is simply efficient body mechanics or do you believe it is a system of strategies and intents that can be manifest into a recognizable system? If you believe the root of aikido is simply efficient movement, then what separates it from any other martial art? I believe you can only trace the 'root' of aikido back to a point where it still somehow contains *distinguishing features that separate the art from other forms of combat or martial movement*. The movements of your toddler do not qualify for that in my book. You as 'uke' (and quite frankly, I think that referring to what you're doing there as uke is absurd) offer the clarity that lets us identify the root movements as aikido. The act of ukemi does not in any way indicate the art in question. I don't know how anyone can watch these videos and take them seriously.
I am definitely with Chris on this one. I actually do not think that most folks doing Aikido really understand much of what constitutes "aiki". Yes, relaxation (lack of tension caused by fear) is crucial to actualizing the principles of "aiki" in ones technhique but it's a pre-requisite and not "aiki" by itself.

It is true that kids move in a manner that is natural because they haven't yet had the experiences that build up layers of tension in thier minds and bodies. It's not surprising that they will manifest the movements we see in Aikido since these movements are considered fundamental movement patterns in the universe.

I actually do not think that the body mechanics of Aikido or Aikijutsu are "natural" in the sense that if we can just relax they will come naturally to us. Training in "aiki" is the process of re-programming the body and the mind to believe that tension will not make one safe. Then there are very specific elements that combine in terms of how one joins ones mind and physical movement with that of an opponent. You do not have "aiki" automatically just because you have some kids moving in a relaxed and free fashion.

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Old 11-14-2006, 06:23 PM   #19
David Orange
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote:
The question becomes, do you believe that the root of 'aiki' is simply efficient body mechanics or do you believe it is a system of strategies and intents that can be manifest into a recognizable system?
Chris,

Why make it a dichotomy? It's efficient body mechanics applied in strategic intent. Babies have the efficient movement because, as George Ledyard says, "...kids move in a manner that is natural because they haven't yet had the experiences that build up layers of tension in thier minds and bodies." And they're not doing anything other than the simplest movements that support their intent.

As I've said before, aiki is expressed when you try to divert a child from something he is interested in doing. And there is where the strategic intent comes in. He intends to do what he is doing and when obstructed by a much-larger person with much-greater strength, he instinctively moves to the position where his small size and power effectively evade and neutralize the larger size and power.

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote:
If you believe the root of aikido is simply efficient movement, then what separates it from any other martial art? I believe you can only trace the 'root' of aikido back to a point where it still somehow contains *distinguishing features that separate the art from other forms of combat or martial movement*.
Mochizuki Sensei traced back many different arts and found a commonality at the root of all of them in a mode of movement that enabled him to flow very freely from aikido to judo to karate to jujutsu and back without hesitation or distortion of his movement. I traced that commonality back a bit further and recognized that all those things are based on reflexes that are exhibited by most children as soon as they can stand and walk.'

As to what separates aikido from the other arts, it's as I said above--moving to the position and in the structure that makes the most of one's smaller size and power to neutralize and overcome a larger size and greater power. It does not conflict with the greater power, but flows into the "ura" of whatever "omote" the attacker uses to express his power.

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote:
The movements of your toddler do not qualify for that in my book.
What about the child Mikel describes in the first post of this thread? In fact, all toddlers express aiki from time to time. Usually, they stop doing this when their parents are able to overcome that after the first move or two. But if we cultivate that ability, it will grow into a reliable strategic response.

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote:
You as 'uke' (and quite frankly, I think that referring to what you're doing there as uke is absurd) offer the clarity that lets us identify the root movements as aikido.
I don't think the "ukemi" is what identifies the move as aiki. It's all in the first four seconds of the video. Stop it there and what do you have? A child is grabbed and without having been taught to do so, he enters into position for sankyo. Could you expect a better response from a beginner in a class you were teaching? That's basic aikido.

Second, as I've said before, I've been to aikido dojos where the sempai were barking "fall down faster!" because that's the way they do it. You once asked, "Why go to such a place?" Now I recall that it was a seminar run by a highly respected aikikai shihan--S. Sensei. That's the way they teach it. Why shouldn't a baby get as much cooperation as a grown man?

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote:
The act of ukemi does not in any way indicate the art in question. I don't know how anyone can watch these videos and take them seriously.
The ukemi is irrelevant. Those who take those videos seriously are paying attention to the first four seconds of each. That's where you see an untaught toddler expressing what Morihei Ueshiba meant when he said that aikido is "natural movement".

Thanks for your response, however.

David

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Old 11-14-2006, 06:43 PM   #20
David Orange
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
I am definitely with Chris on this one. I actually do not think that most folks doing Aikido really understand much of what constitutes "aiki". Yes, relaxation (lack of tension caused by fear) is crucial to actualizing the principles of "aiki" in ones technhique but it's a pre-requisite and not "aiki" by itself.
I will agree with you that most people in aikido have a very superficial idea of what aiki really is. Mochizuki Sensei defined aiki as "attacking" the ura of the attacker's omote attack. Or as I replied to Chris, it's moving to the point where the attacker is weak and your smaller size and power more than match his larger size and power.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
It's not surprising that [children] will manifest the movements we see in Aikido since these movements are considered fundamental movement patterns in the universe.
Precisely my point. I don't know why anyone finds this surprising or anything to dispute.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
I actually do not think that the body mechanics of Aikido or Aikijutsu are "natural" in the sense that if we can just relax they will come naturally to us.
Well, as I have illustrated and Mikel illustrated in the beginning of this thread, we (almost) all begin life by expressing aiki movement. It should be clear that the experiences of life and education deaden the ability to react in this spontaneously super-appropriate way and that only geniuses will be able to maintain it or regain it without extensive re-education.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Training in "aiki" is the process of re-programming the body and the mind to believe that tension will not make one safe.
I think that The Feldenkrais Method is even better at achieving that "re-programming" than aikido. But its point is not to "re-program" oneself, but to release all the erroneous reprogramming that has been crammed into us and return to the natural human modes of movement that arise from a natural relationship with our own feelings, desires and impulses. Children do have that relationship with their physical senses as well as their emotional truth of any moment. Which is why the Zen masters say we should have a mind like a baby's.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Then there are very specific elements that combine in terms of how one joins ones mind and physical movement with that of an opponent. You do not have "aiki" automatically just because you have some kids moving in a relaxed and free fashion.
Well, that very joining of the mind and movement with the opponent is the essence of child aiki and of child Zen. Toddlers are still on the heavenly side of distinguishing between "I and Thou."

One old Zen koan goes, "What is the shape of your original face?" or "What was your face before you saw a mirror?"

To the child, the whole world is his mirror and when he sees you, as far as he knows, that is himself. So he does not need to join your movement. Like Ueshiba, he is already one with it.

Best wishes,

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

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Old 11-14-2006, 07:01 PM   #21
Aran Bright
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

I'm with you on this one David.

Guess I'm going to have to check out some more Feldenkrais now

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Old 11-14-2006, 07:06 PM   #22
David Orange
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
Mikel Hamer wrote:
Wow! It's so weird that other people have seen this too! I think we're on to something Davey boy! Hahaha, It makes me feel good inside to think about this kind of thing. Sorry, but thats's the only way I can describe it.
I'm glad you have noticed this aspect of both our art and our humanity. It makes me feel very good that other people are independently noticing these things. I wish we could get more video of this kind of child movement, but I believe you have to be very discreet in trying to capture it. Self-consciousness will completely inhibit the response.

Thanks for starting this thread!

Quote:
Raul Rodrigo wrote:
David, assuming that this is true, what would be the consequences for the way you or I should train in aikido? Does a student who makes this premise as a foundation of his practice learn to do better aikido?
I think the lesson is simply to be more observant and put more value on the things that other people overlook and disregard. O-Sensei didn't get better by using more effort but by using less, focused in the appropriate way and using the whole body at once at the most appropriate place to achieve the greatest effect. And to do that, you have to have very fine perception. You can't just grossly notice that there's another person. You have to really perceive what's going on in his entire system and get with what he's doing.

And that means you must first "get with" your own system. So if you see that aiki is natural to babies, and realize that that means it's natural to human beings, then your real aikido pratice should focus on finding the real nature of what your teacher shows you on the mat.

As George Ledyard said, "...most folks doing Aikido [don't] really understand much of what constitutes "aiki"."

And to me, this is because aikido has become a "brand name product" that can only be constituted with the "seven secret herbs and spices" in the recipe of the particular "brand" of aikido one happens to study.

But I believe that the "real" aikido is literally a force of nature. Like Franklin's recognition that static electricity from a carpet is the same as lightning from a thunderhead, we need to see that aikido is not made on the mat by following a repetitious recipe, but that it is made person-to-person from the friction of human beings in relation to one another.

So whatever you study on the mat, the real understanding comes in daily life, watching people interact, and interacting with them. And respecting the value of what a child can show you will give you the finer perceptions needed to take that to a deeper level than ever.

Hope that makes sense.

Best wishes.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

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Old 11-15-2006, 12:48 AM   #23
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
I am definitely with Chris on this one. I actually do not think that most folks doing Aikido really understand much of what constitutes "aiki". ...
I actually do not think that the body mechanics of Aikido or Aikijutsu are "natural" in the sense that if we can just relax they will come naturally to us.
I think this is a more complex question actually, because what is "natural" to human beings is in part a philosophical question as much as a practical one -- since we are by "nature" highly adaptable learning creatures, and as children we learn like we breathe air -- innately. Which may be some of what David is really getting at.
Quote:
Gorge Ledyard wrote:
Training in "aiki" is the process of re-programming the body and the mind to believe that tension will not make one safe. Then there are very specific elements that combine in terms of how one joins ones mind and physical movement with that of an opponent. You do not have "aiki" automatically just because you have some kids moving in a relaxed and free fashion.
I like to analogize the problem of aiki movement to the related problem of swimming. It is instinctive for a non-swimmer thrown into water to thrash and fight against the water in an attempt to keep afloat. In fact, it is quite deadly to move in this way. It is natural for them to do this; it is not, however, a natural form of movement in water.

(On the other hand, very young infants naturally hold their breath and move without tension when placed underwater. They seem to "unlearn" this when learning to sit upright, i.e. -- to "fight" gravity, and then must (re-unlearn?, un-unlearn? ) learn to do it again as a complement to the skills of upright posture they have since acquired.)

Aiki may be like swimming in this way -- re-learned innate movement that follows the flow of the medium at every point of contact with it (and this is the important point) -- even when moving partly counter to it. In one case, it is the medium of water, in another it is the medium of physical conflict.

For most people, understanding this aspect of aiki is very hard. They lack a frame of reference in which to embrace conflict and non-conflict as coexisting in such a tightly dependent way. But understanding the related principle of movement in water is intuitively obvious -- for a swimmer who has gained the proper frame of reference.

Once this principle is learned, with practice, aiki movement, like swimming, becomes more and more effortless, and more and more intuitive, until it is just as innate as walking or running. On the other hand, it is more than just the infants' innate skills in acting without tension, since by the time of adulthood a person has a rather great and useful foundation in resistive mechanics to build upon (and to exploit in others). None of that is lost, it is merely altered and built upon.

Once this principle is learned deeply, you naturally find new ways to move (techniques) that operate on the same principle but are different in particular application. And further refinement and innovation is possible at every level of skill.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 11-15-2006 at 01:01 AM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 11-15-2006, 01:25 AM   #24
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

I partly agree with your thoughts Eric, and also David's, although my following analogy only touches the outskirts of what constitutes "ki" phenomena in a physical sense. Imagine one's body constantly buffetted by randomly-varying forces from each and every direction on each and every portion of our surface (let's leave out the soft parts like eyes, ear channels, nose, groin and so on for a start). In such an environment, it is entirely possible that many people will quickly pick up at a young age the "natural" way to let the body absorb such a force spectrum in the best possible way (i.e., to minimize injury and stress on individual parts), and also will build up requisite sinews, muscle and bone, and develop breathing and behaviour to enable existence in such a hostile environment. Learning how to move where one wishes to (to the best of one's ability), directly if one can, indirectly if not feasible with given conditions, is perhaps analogous to the idea of moving from center, with ki, etc. Negating another person's power has no analogue here, since the external forces have sources far beyond our power to negate. However, if the sources are close-by and human, they will be affected by our action/reaction, and can be negated (or turned against the them) because the human is also only using another source (ground and/or gravity) to create a force on us.

In the absence of such an environment, clearly most people never learn such a mode of movement, nor develop their bodies for it. Exercises for this development exist, as Mike Sigman, Robert John, Dan Harding and others have in several cases explicity described, and their practice is gruelling, exactly because the hostile environment I described above (or a vastly more complex superset thereof) is being mentally duplicated and simulated.
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Old 11-15-2006, 02:16 AM   #25
Mike Hamer
 
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

I want to thank all of you for teaching me so much about the different points of view on this topic I happened to stumble upon. I didn't even think I would be taken seriously, haha.

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