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Old 11-22-2006, 05:21 PM   #226
Mike Sigman
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
And while we're counting strawmen -- there's this one, too:
I know. Just keep doing it your way, Erick. But if there's a question in your mind and you're teaching students..........

Regards,

Mike "Seen This Before" Sigman
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Old 11-22-2006, 05:42 PM   #227
Tim Fong
 
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Erick,

Since you can read Chinese, I strongly suggest you check out 薏拳要点aka YiQuan YaoDian or "The Important Points of Yiquan" by Wang Xiangzhai. It's available in Chinese, online for free in a lot of places. I read it with the help of an electronic contextual dictionary.

I think you are pretty wrong about the difference between li (principle) and jin. I need to check with a classicist friend of mine, but I think the principle of using qi is ....jin.

As far as 力, Wang discusses the importance of jin over li. And I have heard several different kung fu instructors explain to me _in Mandarin_ that they _specifically_ wanted me to use jin over li. So it _is_ considered to be a superior usage. Wang talks about how to use and develop the 6 directional power, and how that is connected to the mental training in a kind of feedback loop (doh, there that is again).

I'm still a beginner, but doing the qigong type training has given me a new appreciation for the things I studied academically as an undergrad.

Last edited by Tim Fong : 11-22-2006 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 11-22-2006, 06:45 PM   #228
Mike Sigman
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Instead of just blowing it off, I should have at least said something, because the conversation is wider than just Erick and I. Thanks for the reminder, Tim.

"Li" refers to strength. Generally a strong person has more li than a weak person. In martial arts, "li" is considered to be the "normal strength" we all have. "Jin" is a "refined strength skill", not the normal strength. I *think* Erick supposed that the two types of strength are equivalent. If that were true, it would be pointless for Tohei or O-Sensei to demonstrate the ki things that they did. If nothing else, the "ki tests" are meant to show the difference between normal strength and "jin"... what Tohei calls "ki strength".

In the early translations of Chinese comments on "jin", many translators, because they had no personal knowledge of what "jin" could be, opted for the translation of "jin" to be "energy". Hence, a lot of talk about "the energy", etc.... or "I can feel the energy". It was harmful and misleading.

Because Tohei or O-Sensei could resist a push to the body and the pusher could feel the resistance, it could be argued that it was the same sort of "force" that could be felt with normal strength. The answer is in the postures that they took to demonstrate those forces... normal strength cannot easily duplicate most of those unusual postures. I.e., the point is that an unusual form of strength is the basis of real Aikido.

Not angular momentum.

Regards.

Mike Sigman
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Old 11-22-2006, 11:14 PM   #229
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote:
Since you can read Chinese, I strongly suggest you check out 薏拳要点aka YiQuan YaoDian or "The Important Points of Yiquan" by Wang Xiangzhai.
(Your hanzi don't come through. If you are using Big 5, try Unicode -- also avoid parentheses without a space offset)
Quote:
Tim Fong wrote:
I think you are pretty wrong about the difference between li (principle) and jin. I need to check with a classicist friend of mine, but I think the principle of using qi is ....jin.
I'll save you time: Huang Kan (son in law and successor to Chu Hsi) wrote in the Xingli daquan shu that:
Quote:
Huang Kan: wrote:
Human life is simply jing[精] (vital essence) and qi [氣]. What constitutes hair, bones, flesh and blood is jing. What constitutes breath, cold, and warmth is qi. But humans are the most numinous (ling [靈]) of the myriad things; they are not trees and rocks. Therefore their jing and their qi are full of spirit (shen [神 -- i.e.-- same as "shin" in Shinto]). The spirit of jing is called po [魄]; the spirit of qi is called hun [魂]. What enables the eyes and ears to see and hear is the po; what enables this mind to think is the hun. Together, the po and hun are the spirit of yin and yang, and yet they are full of li. Only in the hun and po is there the fullness of li [理] (moral order/principle)
(I supplied the bracketed hanzi for clarity, I won't bother with tone marks.) Mindfulness (po/hun) of inner principles is critical to proper exercise of either qi or jing, in the proper mode (yin/yang).
Quote:
Tim Fong wrote:
As far as 力, Wang discusses the importance of jin over li. And I have heard several different kung fu instructors explain to me _in Mandarin_ that they _specifically_ wanted me to use jin over li. So it _is_ considered to be a superior usage.
My statement was that there is "no principled advantage" of jin over li (strength), and there isn't. If there were, then body would always lose to mind, and that is not the case, they are deeply interdependent. They have only relative circumstantial advantages in empahsis -- that is, as they are applied in situations according the li (inner principle) of that situation. And in many wushu it is so considered that jin is superiro to li, given the principles [理]according to which they teach, or the art operates.

For instance, the application of jin as an inherently advantaged mode might cause one to try to use these "strength skills" as Mike likes to call them, to lift a car. Attention to the inner principle of the automobile would call for the use of li [力] augmented by considerations of li [理] -- in the form of a hydraulic jack. I do not think even Mike would qualify that as"jin."

The six-directions stability training as it has been explained to me, is framed around po -- "what enables the eyes and ears to see and hear." as well as hun --"what enables this mind to think." (And yes, no-mind is also a type of mind.)

Aikido is attending to unity of principle with the mind and of action with knowledge far more more than physical perceptions and reaction involved in jin and li (strength). It has a feel of being a more cerebral art than some others for this reason. Also for this reason aiki is often criticized because it operates not so much as a wushu [武朮] [J. -bu jutsu] a fighting technique -- but as bing-fa [兵法][J. hei-ho], a strategic method. It is concerned with the spiritual reaility, ling [理] according to concrete principles, li [理]

My focus on li (principle) and Mike's on jin (strength) illustrates this distinction in approach, which is not broken down over the qi/jing dichotomy, as he seems to asume, but rather in asserting against that dualism the unity of knowledge and action and of the mind and principle. This is the debate in Neoconfucian thought as to Wang Yangming and Chu Hsi respectively. This is same the disconnect that I keep finding in what Mike is speaking about and how I have come to understand aiki.

To bring this full circle to David's point, the child has not yet experinced the acculturated assumptions that sever mind from principle and knowledge from action. They act in one intent, mind and body and move together accordingly in the whole-body manner that Ledyard Sensei has been speaking about. It is highly unrefined action, but it is whole.

That wholeness is what I hear being sought in "natural movement."

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 11-22-2006, 11:33 PM   #230
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Erick,
I was using the GB character set because I am most comfortable in Simplified.

I have to settle in for finals so I'll have to let this go for now.

Thanks for your post.
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Old 11-22-2006, 11:51 PM   #231
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
"li" is considered to be the "normal strength" we all have. "Jin" is a "refined strength skill", not the normal strength. I *think* Erick supposed that the two types of strength are equivalent.
I have explained my thoughts on this point in the post to Tim.
Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
... If nothing else, the "ki tests" are meant to show the difference between normal strength and "jin"... what Tohei calls "ki strength".
Is it your position that jin cannot be applied to be resistive?

I am looking for the text Tim suggested. I find the issue of "vibration" in Yiquan very suggestive on both the mechanics and the feedback systems. It will take me sometime to get through it when I do find it.

However, I did find this in a discussion on Yao Chengguang's website giving the second step of the yiquan training regimen:
Quote:
Yao Chengguang wrote:
Shi Li - Although you have sought "jin" (resistance from exterior body) in Zhanzhuang, the very slight movement will cause total loss of the resistance. Therefore, you should seek "jin" again in shi li process. There should be mind guidance in the acts, and the main demands are: focused spirit, actual mind, small, slow and continuous movement. After having feeling of resistance, small and slow movements should change to big, quick ones, with the principle of "use the mind instead of force". In short, you should sense the inner "jin", that is, the feeling of resistance.
That seems pretty unequivocal to me on the "jin means resistance" issue, and is therefore not aiki.

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
The answer is in the postures that they took to demonstrate those forces... normal strength cannot easily duplicate most of those unusual postures. I.e., the point is that an unusual form of strength is the basis of real Aikido.

Not angular momentum.
Unusual postures?? Hmmm. Do you possibly mean postures that would alter the physical center of gyration of a limb or body?? Doing so alters eccentricity of both the reaction force and the moment potential of the structure on which the impinging force is operating, and radically alters the resultant. It is not a function of strength, though, of either kind.


Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 11-23-2006, 12:08 AM   #232
Ellis Amdur
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The fallacy of natural movement

Well, I've been reading and reading and reading. When I first read David's original essay, way back when, I found it both charming (which is praise, by the way) and an interesting take. That there is one element in adult grappling which is similar to that of babies, however - this is sutemi waza - does not make the overall assertion true.
Essentially, I think David's essay highlights the idea is that baby's are moving "naturally," because, in theory, at least, they find the best "line" to do what they want to do because they have not yet learned stereotypical movement patterns brought on by life happening to them. However, on reflection, I don't think even that is actually true, because even toddlers present with varying degrees of coordination and grace. Life happens very early - even in the womb. My two sons, born with much the same build and weight had significantly different movement signatures from birth. One had a difficult birth and that was reflected in his nervous system and physical organization from the first hour of his life outside the womb.
Other points that come to mind. Human movement is almost infinitely "plastic," because of mind. With all the idealization of animal movements, they are, in fact, locked into very limited, stereotypical, almost programmed patterns, based on survival, whereas we can train ourselves to accomplish almost anything we imagine. To a considerable extent, natural movement in the animal kingdom is elicited by stimulus: either from perception or hormonal. For example, a beaver raised in a bare concrete cell will, at a certain point, never having seen a tree, begin chewing the air and dragging none-existent logs, in a pathetic mime of what they were born to do. Mother dogs will retreive a puppy that wanders from the den for the first fourteen days after birth. From that day, the instinct "switches off," and if a puppy wanders away and is crying and freezing outside, the mother will no longer retrieve it.
Consider this - human beings have a capacity to develop movement skills for activities not found in "nature," things that, if humans hadn't thought of them, would never have occured. Dancing on point in ballet.Throwing a baseball with a true overhand rather than 3/4 pitch. Arcane sexual practices involving traffic cones. Turning a screw in a watch that can only be seen with a lense with a tiny screwdriver - a micromovement that must be trained. (NOTE: this is one of Feldenkrais' examples).
Which leads to qi/jin/kokyu. This is a refined skill that requires a tremendous amount of training, including mental imagery, attention and exquisite deliniation of the functions of the musculature, nervous system, etc. This is not "natural" - no one will accidentally come upon it, nor will such skills develop if a person merely does what comes naturally in growing up. And although missing in most aikido training today, it was almost surely a part of pre-war aikido, and perhaps some post-war as well.
Going full circle, however, what makes it "like" that of a baby is that is must become a "pseudo-instinct" - one becomes so versed in it, so trained, that the body moves and reacts without the need to consciously order the body to do so.

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 11-23-2006 at 12:13 AM. Reason: Making it a little shorter

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Old 11-23-2006, 12:45 AM   #233
Upyu
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
That seems pretty unequivocal to me on the "jin means resistance" issue, and is therefore not aiki.

<snip>

It has a feel of being a more cerebral art than some others for this reason. Also for this reason aiki is often criticized because it operates not so much as a wushu [武朮] [J. -bu jutsu] a fighting technique -- but as bing-fa [兵法][J. hei-ho], a strategic method. It is concerned with the spiritual reaility, ling [理] according to concrete principles, li [理]
Erick, if you could do "Jin" yourself, it would be an open and shut case that it's not "resistence".
The opposing tensions mentioned are only tensions held within the body for training purposes. Those tensions are not in opposition to another incoming body.
Also, the description given is more for training purposes than a final "product" of "this is what jin feels like."


Funny thing is even Abe sensei down in Kyoto who spent a lot of one on one time with Ueshiba seems to espouse stuff to his students that stand in stark contrast to what you're saying. (In that its more in line with what Mike, Dan etc have been saying in this thread as well)
Also it's kind of funny that he talks about Aikido more in the context of Bujutsu, than a strategic method.
I seem to recall Gernot saying that Abe said that once you build a "bujutsu body," everything else will follow.

Academically discussing all of this is all very interesting, but I suggest you find someone with concrete jin/kokyu skills who teaches you first how to do it. Once you have the skills, then maybe you can contribute something substantial to the thread

Last edited by Upyu : 11-23-2006 at 12:52 AM.
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Old 11-23-2006, 01:19 AM   #234
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

What about a few online vids to get from the talk to the walk?

Anyone suggest some good links for someone keen to learn?

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Old 11-23-2006, 05:32 AM   #235
DH
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

I just wanted to jump in again to clarify Erics understandably miscontrued notion of resistence. To be clear Eric. no one who can do these things is thinking much of the other guy in training. When you hear discussions of resistence, bouncing off, casting, disruption, etc, you are hearing discussions of the "affect" on the opponent apllying force on us due to the "effect" that bujutsu training -in-our bodes has on that force. Not on concentrating on the other guy. That's why blending -the afformentioned door knob leading and pulling open... is so basic a movement principle as to be insulting as a training goal to someone pursuing deeper things.
Further, at its heart, while it has become Aikido in many places...it is full speed...in the wrong direction.
,
Training
Training is mostly done at home, alone. You get together and practice what you did at home. Lets again talk about a simple basic, thought process to help you "see" why the other guy isn't involved.
Simple exercise #1
Connecting right to right-then Joining right and left.
This is one of the first things I learned in pool. I've written about it before. Stand in Hanmi right leg / right arm forward. Left leg / left arm back. You right arm is going to be facing palm out to the right. you are going to pull as if you are pulling on water to go around you on your right. (*substitue doorjamb). As you pull around you on the right you are "pulling" with a straight arm keeping the triceps slack. Pay attention to the spine; head erect, sacrum dropped spine being stretched open. You are pulling away with your spine and drawing in on the inside lines of your body. (if you do this as a single action in a pool- the resistence of the water will make you pull yourself off your own feet landing foward. That is another argument point for whole body power VS isolated movement)
As you draw-pay attention to your feet- you are pushing on the ground with your right foot, which is the grounding force giving action to the connectins in the body. *As you push on the ground with your right and drawing away with the spine you are pushing across your lower center into your hips and activating/joining your left side. And the pulling across your right is activating /feeding your upper center connection (scapulars/sternum) keeping the arms connected across from fingertip to fingertip.
Since your right lower center is now activating your left lower center and you upper center is joined- your pulling force is connected to a pushing force across your spine. you are now using the power on the right to do the opposite on the left. Allowing it to push forward with your left hand as you pull with the right. This prevents you from being pulled off your feet in a pool. The action of pulling water would be the power that is pushing the water all from a joined connected body at the center. You will feel your right axis supporting your left axis in work. And, your right axis (foot to hand, knee to elbow, hips to sternum), will be working in sync to itself while working in sync with the left (which is workng in sync to itself). It is a monster mental and physical workout. You'll be amazed at sweating.....in water. As I said though it works standing alone in a room, or standing in a door jamb.
You use imagery and gentle resistence to identify and activate those paths in you. While you are sinking on the front you're using the arch of your feet to draw in the hands while your back is opening and rising on the outside.

Testing
When you get back together you have someone pull on that right arm. If you are sinking and drawing-in while rising and opening up, while pulling with your right to push with your left the person pulling has little effect on you. You can actually use your body- which is now stable- to to push into his pull aiding him. In fact he may tell you that he is finding it hard to pull. That he feels a wierd neutral feel. This is important to understand. You are working on you-not them. Your work is on YOU on the inside, maintaining a small series of contradictory forces in you. Holding together the lower center and upper center joining the front and the back to sink and rise and pulling-in while pushing-out.

There are many exercies to do, and anyone doing them will tell you "They are changing." You feel it inside and you can train anywhere all the time. Even standing in an elevator or sitting being board in a meeting. Why....I wonder where s many famous Budoka off by themselves. Takeda was seen many times training alone, guys saw him training even while in bed. What did they know? that we lost.

Where you fall short Erik is thinking this work you see in testing is resistence training. When in fact the opposite is true its neutral training. The "effect" it has on your body to connect and empower you has a dramatic "affect" on somone trying to apply force on you.
However....the "affect" on your opponent is neither your training intent or your goal.

There are many ways to blend that have nothing at all to do with overt movement. While the terminology may not be the same (wasn't in me either) saying your center is in your hand and then actually having it there- are two very different things. It's why you hear such critism of those Aikidoka who move all over the place just to "blend" and move an opponent.

Cheers
Dan

Last edited by DH : 11-23-2006 at 05:46 AM.
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Old 11-23-2006, 05:51 AM   #236
DH
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Happy thanksgiving everyone.
I have to go peel the squash.

Dan
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Old 11-23-2006, 08:25 AM   #237
Mike Sigman
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
That seems pretty unequivocal to me on the "jin means resistance" issue, and is therefore not aiki.
"Jin" means a force-skill. Unless you're doing your Aikido with beams of mental power, you're using various forces, too. If we want to be needlessly silly, we can equate "force" to "resistance" and say that you are doing your "Aikido" with "resistance". But I think it's a pointless exercise.

I've said it before.... you confuse strategy and tactics (the Aikido) with the conditioning and usage of the body. When Tohei or Ueshiba stand and let Uke push on their "unmoveable" postures, they are NOT showing Aikido... they are showing the conditioning and usage of the body which should be used in Aikido. And it so happens that what they're showing is simple jin/qi mechanics... regardless of whether they're doing it in a static posture of if they use those powers later in the movement of Aikido.

You're trying to see everything people are telling you in some way that will fit into your self-built paradigm and it won't work. You're going to have to change, if that's possible.

Incidentally, you mis-read what that yiquan comment meant and what the "resistance" being referred to actually was. He was discussing a method of training, not a method of martial usage.

And of course, I'm sure you're aware that the "jing" (and "qi") referred to in part of your post is not the exact "jin" we're talking about here. That usage of "jing" refers to sexual essence.


FWIW

Mike Sigman
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Old 11-23-2006, 11:12 AM   #238
David Orange
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
David,
Just to play devil's advocate. They're kids of a martial artist, they probably learned from you -- subconsciously.
Mark, that's a possibility. I do sit in seiza a lot around the house. I couldn't guarantee it's not imitative.

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
But toddlers and younger? Really can't say that I've seen them in seiza. How does that fit in your theory? If toddlers aren't sitting seiza (most don't, they sit on their butt with their feet out) yet kids do, why? Why later and not sooner if it's something natural or intuitive?
Yes, I know kids do somehow begin sitting in "seiza". But my toddlers have done it. Of course, the first two were born in Japan and lived on tatami for a few years. The current toddler began sitting in a loose form of seiza early on. I've assumed it was natural, but it could be imitative.

Best to you and happy Thanksgiving!

David

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Lao Tzu

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Old 11-23-2006, 11:34 AM   #239
David Orange
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
If seiza is one of those things that is used to learn the internal arts, hence things that made Mochizuki, Ueshiba, Shioda, etc better at their art -- and kids sit seiza naturally or intuitively, why aren't they also picking up on the internal aspect of seiza, too?
Mark, I do think that seiza is key to gaining real aikido. "Sei" = "correct" and "za" = "sitting". I think it was Dave Lowry that you quoted describing the suspension of the head. He may have developed that idea after some looking into tai chi because they say very similar things. Then he could have experiemted with those feelings in seiza. Just a guess.

As to why kids don't pick up on the internal aspect of seiza, I wouldn't say that they don't, but again, they're so little and changing every day... unless you watch them really carefully, you might think they're not picking up on anything at all. And even watching carefully, you might not see that. But most of what they're doing is both internal and external because until about age two, they don't even recognize a distinction between themselves and "others".

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
Perhaps they naturally, or intuitively, know the physical aspect but not the complete internal skill?
Well, it really is true that "incompleteness" is the hallmark of being a child. I think that's the basis of people's biggest objections to my idea that aiki begins with child movement. They don't see childhood as the starting point, the root or the beginning: they mostly see it as "incompleteness," "lack" of development, etc. But they throw the baby out with the bathwater in most cases, reject all our innate responses and think that all the innate responses have to be discarded and replaced with trained reflexes.

An analogy for me would be that, if you have a piece of land, you can build a house on it. The typical martial arts training attitude is like you have to shovel out all the existing dirt from your land and have new, special dirt replace it before you can build on it. I'm saying that real, permanent martial arts are built on innate reflexes and, thus, are "first nature," human martial arts instead of "second nature," mechanistic martial arts.

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
Whole body movement such as when a toddler goes from crouching to standing and back to crouching rapidly in succession about a million times but yet couldn't really have a strong internal center. Dunno ... it's your working theory.
Well, I think they have a really strong center considering that their bodies are changing in size and coordination every day. Adults' bodies don't change that much in length or structural dynamics once they are fully grown, so you can make incremental changes against a pretty-well standardized background. But for children, the basic unit of the body is changing constantly and they have no standardized background against which to develop changes. But if they kept at that crouching to standing and back very reapidly a million times a day until they were fully grown (sounds a bit like shikko, doesn't it?) I think they would have phenomenal development.

However, I have always said that this child movement is the root and that its development must be "cultivated," meaning that someone who understands it still has to guide them. The big difference in what I'm saying is that if you're cultivating their nature, it takes less effort and modification than if you're trying to replace their nature with "second nature."

In other words, you don't leave them entirely au naturel, but develop their nature as opposed to teaching them that their nature is no good and must be replaced with something better.

Thanks.

David

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Lao Tzu

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Old 11-23-2006, 11:37 AM   #240
David Orange
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote:
I think what Rob's talking about (and what I think separates aiki from ju) is the ability to move without the act of moving registering with your opponent. This is more about how your body moves through space and what happens internally than what you do externally or where your feet go. I'd describe what you're talking about as moving without a 'wind-up', also good, but not the same.
Chris, it sounds fine to me, but all I really care about is that the sword doesn't hit me and, if you tell me you do something internal, whether the sword will hit you. But that's why I always come back to the unarmed man facing the sword. Aiki against pushes and pulls maybe be expressed in one way, but when the sword comes down (or comes forward), evasion is essential.

Best to you.

David

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

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Old 11-23-2006, 11:41 AM   #241
Mike Sigman
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

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David Orange wrote:
Mark, I do think that seiza is key to gaining real aikido. "Sei" = "correct" and "za" = "sitting". I think it was Dave Lowry that you quoted describing the suspension of the head. He may have developed that idea after some looking into tai chi because they say very similar things.
Lifting the head and dropping the butt in order to straighten the spine (or "keep a straight line between the Hui Yin and the Bai Hui") is a basic tenet of internal strength and is found in all Asian martial arts. Akuzawa's exercises include the same basic tenet, BTW. This stretching of the body in order to strengthen the connection of the whole body and to make the spine a sort of "bowstring" is found in everything from Aikido to Zen seiza. Once you become aware of that one fact, you'll see a staggering number of martial arts, statues of Buddha, you name it, that are showing this basic principle.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 11-23-2006, 12:14 PM   #242
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

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David Orange wrote:
Chris, it sounds fine to me, but all I really care about is that the sword doesn't hit me and, if you tell me you do something internal, whether the sword will hit you. But that's why I always come back to the unarmed man facing the sword. Aiki against pushes and pulls maybe be expressed in one way, but when the sword comes down (or comes forward), evasion is essential.

Best to you.

David
I'm reminded of a conversation I had with a (very good IMHO) MJER teacher and friend of mine a couple years ago that has stuck with me. We were at an iaido embukai, and were generally being underwhelmed by what we saw. This was despite watching some fairly senior folks. His comment was along the lines that too many people in iai see the moments of stillness, the postures if you will, within kata. They are able to replicate these postures to perfection, nearly every time, and yet, their waza is empty. This is because they have been studying the end result rather than the actual lesson. Where the real meat of any art lies is in the *way* that a practitioner moves from position A to position B. How does the body coordinate itself to generate power in the transition from sitting to standing? From a sheathed sword to the moment of impact? What internal lessons can we learn from the act of chiburi? So going back to your point above, merely getting from A to B, avoiding the sword, or sidestepping the tsuki does not in any way ammount to much of anything in my book, but rather all of the internal and specific events that shape HOW you avoid being cut/punched/thrown are the real meat of the art. And finally no, when the sword comes down, evasion is not essential. It may be a part of something else, but to be considered aikido/jutsu, it must be (if there at all) part of something greater, possibly only how you were able to keep from being cut/hit.

Happy Turkey Day to those who celebrate such things. Thanks for the discussion.

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Old 11-23-2006, 12:16 PM   #243
David Orange
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

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ErickMead wrote:
All dangerous things are not dangerous for the same reasons...I do not deny the points Mike raises about internal arts (even while differing on our understadnig of the precise mechanics of them), they are just not aikido in the way he describe them and their use, and the way in which the nei-jia are typically explained to function.
Erick, you and I are definitely on the same page here. I've experienced things with Chinese martial artists that I never felt anything like from any Japanese artist. The nature of what they were doing was so completely different that I can't accept the idea that they are the same. I will admit that both work from the center and that there are some commonalities, but these are two very different cultures with very different attitudes and the martial arts are expressed in completely different ways, though we can find some common qualities at various points. But the concepts are not equatable. Relatable, but not equal.

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
The ki, kokyu, jin, etc., stuff is what they really mean by "natural" movement. It's not a reliance on muscular movement; it's a return to using the strengths of ground-support and gravity (the ki of heaven and the ki of earth) as the power behind our movements, rather than just brute force.
I never knew any good aikido people who used brute force as aikido. And they moved their bodies with muscular movement, but did not effect their techniques with muscular force.

Likewise, babies cannot use muscular force but naturally go to the weak point of their "opponent's" strength, where their own power--based on ground support and gravity--is greatest. That's why it's not wrong to say, at that root level, that it's an expression of aiki for the baby even to sit down on the floor.

Best to all.

David

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

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Old 11-23-2006, 12:36 PM   #244
David Orange
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

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George S. Ledyard wrote:
My own understanding of what O-sensei meant when he said that Aikido was "natural" was that the movements and energy involved in Aikido were the movements and energy found in nature. This does not mean it is necessarily "natural" in the sense of being how we, as human beings, are born with it and some how lose it as we get older. or some such.
George, I agree with you to a large degree in that. But I do think O-Sensei did mean "natural for human beings." I used to think he meant "natural for nature but necessary for humans to learn." That's why it was such a shock for me to conceive that he really did mean "natural for humans," as well.

As others have pointed out, of course, babies do many things and react in many ways. Most of them are not aiki or aiki-like. But on occasion they do behave in accord with the principles of aiki. Sometimes the smile and hug you and sometimes they cry and give you an overhand right to the eyeball. Both aspects are completely natural. Of course, we want to cultivate the desired behaviors in our children and not cultivate the undesirable.

My whole point is that, by careful observation, we can see where aiki is naturally expressed in child movement and, therefore, where it is natural to human beings. Then the job is to locate those roots in ourselves and make sure our techniques are connected to those roots, which will always be with us, rather than to a conditioned response that will fade if the conditioning is stopped. And in teaching, it means to cultivate the natural ability inherent in people so that they do aiki that is natural to humans. But it won't develop to a high degree unless someone who understands it guides the cultivation, just as you can't get a big crop of okra without understanding how to tend it and create the best conditions for it to thrive.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
The word "natural" means somethig different to the Japanese than it does to an American. The Japanese aesthetic strove for a sense of "naturalness" which was anything but natural. It takes a high degree of training and imposition of structure in order to learn to attain that so-called "naturalness".
This is true, but the essence of that, in the Zen sense, is to allow one's true self to be expressed through that structure. So two great masters perform the same kata, but each clearly has his own way. Lower level people look like robots doing the "unnatural" movements. Masters are clearly distinct and unique individuals showing "their own" art. I think that the key is to find where that apparently unnatural structure is really a reflection of original nature as opposed to the manufactured "self" and "nature" which most people have adopted by "adulthood."

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
For O-Sensei, the movements of Aikido were the movements of the Gods.
But I think it's terribly interesting that both Zen and Tao agree, essentially, with Jesus when he says "Except you become as a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven." (Zen, "Have a mind like a baby"; Tao, "Like a newborn babe before it learns to smile, I am alone, without a place to go.")

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
I think that O-sensei saw training as allowing us to regain, in some sense, what Man did not have. It was a Divine Path for him, not something we already had naturally.
George, I think that the key word there is "regain."

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
The vast majority of what passes for Aikido out there is overly physical and dependent on muscular strength when compared to technique done using the principles of "aiki".
Agreed, although we also see a lot of people pretending to do aiki where no real energy exists, no force is exerted to be neutralized, no kiai happens, thus no aiki can reply.

No question that few (if any) have even approached the level of the old deshi. And I would be most inclined to say "if any."

Best wishes.

David

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

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Old 11-23-2006, 12:53 PM   #245
David Orange
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

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Mike Sigman wrote:
Without the basic skill involved in *correct* kokyu tanden ho, there can be no aiki. The idea that they "aid" each other falls far short.
I believe that's an overstatement, Mike, and for that reason, the statement fall short. I know of many people who have had a few lessons of aikido, far too little to develop kokyu tanden ho, and used the little they had learned to effectively defend themselves. For instance, a girl who was grabbed from behind, stepped forward, bowed and threw the attacker on his face--not with a judo-like ogoshi, but with something like Ueshiba's or Tohei's throws in randori demos. That was aiki though she had never developed kokyu or tanden.

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Tohei, BTW, encourages people to "extend ki" at all times. Problem is, he doesn't really explain how to do it. Worse yet, in relation to your own argument, "extending ki" correctly involves pure "six directions" training. Maybe Tohei doesn't really do Aikido, either?
I've pointed out somewhere before that the old aikido model was spherical extension--not six directions, but all directions simultaneously. To me, this is a very similar concept, but it seems the six-direction training allows and works through more specific methods. Still, once past basic training in that method, it would seem that the spherical extension would be the next order.

David

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Old 11-23-2006, 02:38 PM   #246
David Orange
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

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Tim Anderson wrote:
Well Erick, I think this has come down to how we each understand the terminology involved. The problem, among others, I have with David's model is that he has defined Aiki in such a way that his hypothesis cannot be disproved (this is according to him).
Terminology is at the heart of the problem of miscommunication in most cases. If you add the willful refusal to allow any kind of agreement that some people personify (not speaking of you), it becomes impossible. BTW, I didn't say my hypothesis cannot be disproven. I just said i don't know how you could disprove or prove it. I've done my best to "prove" it with numerous examples, but my definition of aiki comes direct from a judan meijin who was an early uchi deshi to Morihei Ueshiba. It's the only succinct definition I know of: aiki is the ura of kiai.

This brings on some more terminological difficulty because most people understand ura and omote only in terms of direction--in front of the body or behind the body. But Mochizuki Sensei used it to refer to the primary intent (omote) and the unavoidable weak side of that intent (ura). A front punch is the attacker's omote. The ura includes any of the hundreds of ways to exploit the weakness of that extension of force.

And babies show incredible ability to slip around our efforts to pick them up, restrain them, change their diapers or whatever else we want them to do when they don't want to do it. They don't directly confront our force (usually), but instinctively twist and turn and slip through, past our strength, to a place where we are unable, for at least a moment, to apply our strength to them.

We have many examples that they do this. What is there to disprove?

Best to you.

David

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

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 11-23-2006, 06:38 PM   #247
David Orange
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

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Erick Mead #229 wrote:
Erick, you just jumped up a whole magnitude in my esteem. Very, very interesting analysis. Please continue.

Best to you.

David

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

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Old 11-23-2006, 08:54 PM   #248
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Re: The fallacy of natural movement

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Ellis Amdur wrote:
When I first read David's original essay, way back when, I found it both charming (which is praise, by the way) and an interesting take. That there is one element in adult grappling which is similar to that of babies, however - this is sutemi waza - does not make the overall assertion true.
Ellis, thank you for all your involvement in this idea. You read the original essay on e-budo and influenced the changes I made before posting it to Aikido Journal's blog. I appreciate your comments then and since. However, sutemi is not the major aspect of similarity I find with children's movement and adult grappling, in particular aikido. If you saw the video clips I posted early in the thread, it makes it clear that I mean that children naturally show the roots of some standing aikido techniques such as sankyo and shiho nage. The first four seconds of each clip show the opening of both those techniques, respectively. And other people have supplied examples of other children doing other aiki-type movements. Sutemi, for me, is an interesting aspect, as well, but I think general "grappling" tendencies become clear as children get older. In particular, lately, my two-year-old is becoming a real grappler when we try to change his diapers. Just this morning, my wife was changing him and to prevent her fastening the velcro on his diaper, he looped his right leg over her left arm, looking just like a judo man going for sankaku jime. And awhile back, when I was going to pick him up out of his crib, he was wrapping his arm over my arm just like Mochizuki sensei would do to catch your arm under his armpit for a sutemi waza. So I think the roots of standing aiki become visible when the child is very small and this includes the roots of sutemi. But real grappling begins to appear as they get older. Then, when they've become used to playing with other children, they naturally begin freeform wrestling. And I think this is where sumo originates, and from that, judo and jujutsu. But I think it's also the origin of Greco-Roman wrestling as well. They're all human arts, all adhering to human nature.

Of course, babies demonstrate only the root. The real sophisticated art must be cultivated from that.

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
Essentially, I think David's essay highlights the idea is that baby's are moving "naturally," because, in theory, at least, they find the best "line" to do what they want to do because they have not yet learned stereotypical movement patterns brought on by life happening to them.
That and the fact that they act on what they feel: they sense the direction to move rather than "thinking" of it. They go by direct inspiration rather than abstract intellectualization.

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
However, on reflection, I don't think even that is actually true, because even toddlers present with varying degrees of coordination and grace. Life happens very early - even in the womb. My two sons, born with much the same build and weight had significantly different movement signatures from birth. One had a difficult birth and that was reflected in his nervous system and physical organization from the first hour of his life outside the womb.
That's why I've always said "all healthy children, unless they have been too physically or emotionally traumatized." I think that it does hold true for 90% of children at birth, 80% by age 1, maybe 70% by age 2 and increasingly less at older ages. But for the healthy child without significant physical or emotional trauma, I think this does hold true: children move with spontaneity and an instinctive application of their greatest strength (whole spirit, mind and body) into the weakest part of their parents' strength.

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
Other points that come to mind. Human movement is almost infinitely "plastic," because of mind. With all the idealization of animal movements, they are, in fact, locked into very limited, stereotypical, almost programmed patterns, based on survival, whereas we can train ourselves to accomplish almost anything we imagine.
Quite true. As Feldenkrais points out, baby animals can usually stand and run within minutes of birth. Others can't even open their eyes for many days after birth, but can run and play after a few weeks. Human babies are 100% dependent on caregivers for the first year, maybe 99% for the second year and only become somewhat able to care for themselves after some years. And unlike animals, the human child is learning the entire time. Learning and changing. But even in the earliest independent stage, when they learn to crawl, babies demonstrate some survival instincts and innate skills. When they fall down, they may be "hurt" and cry, but relatively very few are actually injured when they fall. And they do all kinds of crazy, weird things that put them in danger, but relatively very few are killed by that. If 50% were killed, we could say that their survival is pure chance. But the actual percentage of children killed in self-generated incidents is relatively tiny, suggesting that survival skills are a major factor. It is important, then to consider the nature of those survival skills and ask whether they can be culitvated into an art. Indeed, I believe that they can be cultivated into many different arts with widely differing characteristics, such as karate, judo and aikido.

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
Consider this - human beings have a capacity to develop movement skills for activities not found in "nature," things that, if humans hadn't thought of them, would never have occured. Dancing on point in ballet.Throwing a baseball with a true overhand rather than 3/4 pitch. Arcane sexual practices involving traffic cones. Turning a screw in a watch that can only be seen with a lense with a tiny screwdriver - a micromovement that must be trained. (NOTE: this is one of Feldenkrais' examples).
But Ellis, I think two of those examples are famous for causing chronic injuries. I think that dancing on point is a distortion of the natural tendency to go on tip-toe. Some sadistic trainer forced young women to go further onto pointe. They also forced them at great pains to do some of the extreme turn-outs of ballet that lead to lower-back and leg problems later in life. When something really is natural, it doesn't cause chronic injury.

Likewise for the baseball throw. However, that is less extreme. For a long time, I was sure that the underhand movement develops first in children because they reach up to their mothers and they reach up to grab things to pull up with. But observation showed me that the overhand move is also developed very early on. But I still think that the thrust tends to be developed earlier than the overhead strike. Babies in the earliest stage tend to hit with a straight reach, either to bop the nose or to shove the chin straight back or to one side.

The true overhead baseball pitch, rather than 3/4 overhand may not actually be the cause of the problem. It may really be parents' desire to see their ten-year-olds throwing 100 mph fast balls that causes them to blow their elbows out early. And along with this, it's now popular to put young kids through preemptive elbow surgery--not to repair any damage, but to make the elbow stronger specifically for throwing a baseball, which strikes me as the ultimate foolish departure from nature.

On the matter of turning a tiny screw with a screwdriver when the screw can only be seen with a lens, that is something that, alone, could not occur but results over decades and centuries of industrial development of metals, metal-working, optics, machining and so on. Still, the action does not in any way conflict with human nature as does standing on pointe or fourth position in ballet. If the human forearm could not rotate, that movement could never be accomplished. So in that perspective, it is still relatively natural.

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
Which leads to qi/jin/kokyu. This is a refined skill that requires a tremendous amount of training, including mental imagery, attention and exquisite deliniation of the functions of the musculature, nervous system, etc. This is not "natural" - no one will accidentally come upon it, nor will such skills develop if a person merely does what comes naturally in growing up. And although missing in most aikido training today, it was almost surely a part of pre-war aikido, and perhaps some post-war as well.
Unquestionably, ki and kokyu are integral parts of aikido. But they are not the only parts of it. They are the hallmark of refined aikido, but one can develop quite far in aiki waza with only limited development in those areas. Of course, they have to be developed to reach the full potential of the art, but that is part of the process of refinement and cultivation that takes a natural quality and makes an art of it.

On the other hand, I am still not ready to equate jin with kokyu or kokyu with "power" in itself. Ron Tisdale asked, "What do they mean by kokyu ryoku, then?" I said it's "power with kokyu", not necessarily "the power of kokyu." Otherwise, when Jigoro Kano says "Sei ryoku zen yo," we would have to be explaining "the power of sei." And while I think that there is great power in sei/tadashi, I don't think that it's right to speak of "sei power" or "tadashi power." So thinking of kokyu as integration of mind and body through the medium of the breath, kokyu ryoku is power with the mind and body coordinated through the breath. I don't think it's "power generated by coordinating mind and body through breath."

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
Going full circle, however, what makes it "like" that of a baby is that is must become a "pseudo-instinct" - one becomes so versed in it, so trained, that the body moves and reacts without the need to consciously order the body to do so.
And I have come to believe that it can be based directly on natural instinct so that it need never become "pseudo-instinct." I believe this requires deep consideration not only of the nature of the techniques and methods, but very deep consideration on the nature of the human being. I think that most martial artists are so involved in that training that they don't observe human naturalness much at all and consider it inferior to the learned material when they do.

However, I think that close observation of both the methods and of the nature of humanity yields the truth that the nature of humanity is the root of the methods.

Thanks for your insights.

David

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

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Old 11-23-2006, 09:09 PM   #249
Mike Sigman
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

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David Orange wrote:
I believe that's an overstatement, Mike, and for that reason, the statement fall short. I know of many people who have had a few lessons of aikido, far too little to develop kokyu tanden ho, and used the little they had learned to effectively defend themselves. For instance, a girl who was grabbed from behind, stepped forward, bowed and threw the attacker on his face--not with a judo-like ogoshi, but with something like Ueshiba's or Tohei's throws in randori demos. That was aiki though she had never developed kokyu or tanden.
You basically just told me that your vision of Aikido is someone applying a technique well, David.
Quote:
I've pointed out somewhere before that the old aikido model was spherical extension--not six directions, but all directions simultaneously. To me, this is a very similar concept, but it seems the six-direction training allows and works through more specific methods. Still, once past basic training in that method, it would seem that the spherical extension would be the next order.
I don't want to get off into a tangent from an otherwise basic discussion, David, but yes... "six directions" can be done and is done in "all directions", but the how's and why's are beyond this discussion. Let's just say that for training purposes, the progression normally goes 2 directions, then 4 directions, then 6 directions..... 3 planar directions which can be used to describe all directions.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 11-23-2006, 09:15 PM   #250
David Orange
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

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Christian Moses wrote:
Where the real meat of any art lies is in the *way* that a practitioner moves from position A to position B....merely getting from A to B, avoiding the sword, or sidestepping the tsuki does not in any way ammount to much of anything in my book, but rather all of the internal and specific events that shape HOW you avoid being cut/punched/thrown are the real meat of the art.
I'll accept that to the degree that you do, in fact, get out of the way of the sword. If you're not doing it right, even if you avoid the sword, you won't be able to do anything to the opponent after that. As you said, he will be able to counter attack.

If you do it right, then you will both avoid the sword and be in position with the capability to throw him and take his sword.

But if you do it all "right" and still get hit with the sword, then the meat of the art will by lying on the floor.

We learned to avoid the sword and throw, taking the sword as uke left the scene. And believe me, if you didn't do it right, uke did not fall or release the sword. Everything I say is based on experience of doing it when the people you were working with would not let you do it if they could resist you. So if they can't hit you and they can't stop you from throwing them and taking their sword, what's missing? To me, that is the essence of aikido. But without that evasion, the meat of the art will by lying on the floor. So I don't see how you can say that evasion is not essential.

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote:
Happy Turkey Day to those who celebrate such things. Thanks for the discussion.
Well, I have a lot to be thankful for and I've given a lot of thanks today, but I think we should all take a moment to Thank Jun Akiyama for providing this excellent forum in which we can all meet and pick over bones. I haven't yet forwarded a financial thanks to him, but I will and I want to encourage everyone else to support Jun with some dough and thanks and encouragement for his efforts.

Best to all.

David

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

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