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Old 11-29-2006, 05:17 PM   #26
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: opening the joints

Hi, I got left behind in all the posts here (time zone difference), so in response to Mike's point about yin and yang, and Alfonso's question, perhaps yes, it is nothing more than "unbending the kinks" and connecting pieces together. I'm confused by Mike's comment about the wrong path here, since for example IIRC Akuzawa and Rob mention that the exercises get more and more painful as you get better, partly because one gets better at stretching/compressing the joints. I'd love to hear whether this bodily extension is required or not in order to learn some basics, but can then be done away with, or whether it is an indivisible part of the whole package and doesn't get thrown out later after it as served some or other purpose. Clearly, I don't want to fixate on the wrong things, nor tell other juniors about them if they'll put them on the wrong track.
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Old 11-29-2006, 05:23 PM   #27
Mike Sigman
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Re: opening the joints

Quote:
Gernot Hassenpflug wrote:
I'm confused by Mike's comment about the wrong path here, since for example IIRC Akuzawa and Rob mention that the exercises get more and more painful as you get better, partly because one gets better at stretching/compressing the joints. I'd love to hear whether this bodily extension is required or not in order to learn some basics, but can then be done away with, or whether it is an indivisible part of the whole package and doesn't get thrown out later after it as served some or other purpose.
Hi Gernot: You're into part of the divisions between the "internal" and the "external" training methods. Of course there's no black and white division between the two (there are gradations and levels), but I personally believe more toward the "soft" side of training. Either way, there is some "extension", but one way is more deliberate, saying "this is enough" and the other say says it's more complex, softer, etc. Part of the point of these conversations, in my mind, is to point out that no one can come up and say "here's the only way to internal strength". There are a number of approaches and you're beginning to touch upon them.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 11-29-2006, 11:23 PM   #28
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: opening the joints

Point taken. Akuzawa, according to Rob, chose what he does as a starter method (as you say, there are many approaches) for going from zero to somewhere in the vicinity of understanding some basic body connections. As people training under him start to get in touch with their bodies, lot's of phenomena crop up, and these are all interesting, but not something to dwell on. The same, I would think, goes for aikido, in that the publicly available misogi exercises are good, if one knows how to do them at a given level, but what one achieves is never an end-goal since the topic is so enormously complex.
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Old 11-30-2006, 12:10 PM   #29
Michael McCaslin
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Re: opening the joints

I thought I would chime in with another beginner's perspective, in hopes that it will either a. be correct, and therefore helpful to others or b. be incorrect, and therefore be helpful to me (assuming someone chimes in to offer a correction):

I think both "extending" and "opening the joints" speak to connection. We want our tanden to be the "engine." In order to transmit the power from the tanden to whatever we are acting on, we have to arrange our body into a frame. Other than the tanden and legs, the muscles that are used are not providing power, they are holding the frame alignment in place.

If the frame is not shaped correctly, it will buckle under the load. Opening the joints means arranging the skeleton in a way that will allow it to cleanly transmit the force without buckling.

Tensing the major muscles will also induce buckling, although the mechanism is less obvious. Remember that force will always flow through the "stiffest" path. It's possible that tense muscles lead to less than ideal paths for the force, paths which pass through the muscles rather than the bones. Also, tension in the biceps, for example, will tend to move the frame into a less efficient shape. We want to send the force along our bones. Muscles that act perpendicular to the bones must be relatively relaxed for this to happen.

While forcefully extending the joints may be a good workout for the tendons, I believe it is possible to extend beyond the "ideal" for force transmission, leading to a loss in power. I don't know enough to speculate on the merits of this as a training tool, but it's likely that a very forceful extension might be a hindrance in actual application.

From a practical standpoint, a joint that is fully extended is also close to being hyperextended, which is a risk. You don't want to present an opponent with 99% of an armbar.

Michael
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Old 11-30-2006, 12:37 PM   #30
Ron Tisdale
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Re: opening the joints

Quote:
From a practical standpoint, a joint that is fully extended is also close to being hyperextended, which is a risk. You don't want to present an opponent with 99% of an armbar.
Huh, good point. Done that...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 11-30-2006, 10:46 PM   #31
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: opening the joints

Are you saying you shouldn't just extend the joint without "ki"? :-)
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Old 12-01-2006, 01:56 PM   #32
Erick Mead
 
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Re: opening the joints

I was asked to look at this "opening the joints" model in the course of another discussion on the learning of natural movement in aikido. Working toward a mechanical interpretation of some aikido principles, I have placed what Gernot describes as the "opening of joints" and extension in all directions in the context of a catenary (hanging chain) force profile.

I have also discussed some other thoughts on the issues of ki/kokyu training, aikido principles and and the mechanics of it all.
It is here for those who care to look:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpo...&postcount=317

The shape of one half of a catenary or inverted catenary arch is basically that of tegatana. The involute of a catenary is a tractrix, which has basically the shape of two tegatana meeting in shomenuchi. Both can be seen here :

http://mathworld.wolfram.com/CatenaryInvolute.html

One would know if a catenary profile is achieved by the sense of equal linear forces (compression/tension) along the the limb running across the joint and evenly distributed radially around the joint, This would mean that the line of thrust or tension is running within the middle-third of the arm's cross-section. If it runs closer to the surface there would be a sense of differential across the joint on one side or the other (a hinging pressure) that one could "open" to even out and put the line of force back into the center of the limb.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 12-01-2006, 06:11 PM   #33
Cady Goldfield
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Re: opening the joints

Interesting, but why don't you just DO? In Asia, you'd get smacked upside the head for thinking in class. We Westerners are so into analyzing everything instead of just learning to walk the walk.
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Old 12-01-2006, 10:16 PM   #34
Erick Mead
 
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Re: opening the joints

Quote:
Cady Goldfield wrote:
Interesting, but why don't you just DO? In Asia, you'd get smacked upside the head for thinking in class. We Westerners are so into analyzing everything instead of just learning to walk the walk.
Looking around, I'd say I am not in Asia. I don't need my ticket punched. The assumption that the place where development began is the place where development is continuing to occur is romantic, but false -- among other false but romantic assumptions. A good read on these points from the "Western Aikido" discussion:

http://www.eurotas.org/Articles/AikidoTHP.pdf

Having said, and accepting the need for chastening unwarranted romanticism, I still give mythic statements of knowledge, metaphysics and psychology a lot of credit. They condense a lot of complex information into powerful mnemonic and recursive imagery.

That is as true of O Sensei's Doka and kotodama mandala as it is of Chinese traditional knowledge. That kind of mythic information doesn't bound itself into a well understood box -- it points beyond itself without boundaries. That's why it has appeal to us. Like juji -- the cross shape - (or spirals) the arms can reach to infinity without altering the essential shape.

Westerners excel, not merely by thinking outside the box. Ask Jim Lovell, or Gene Kranz. Hell, we don't even make boxes -- we break most of the one's we're given. Maybe it's bad, maybe it's good, but it's who we are.

I categorically reject the categorical rejection of working through the concepts. O Sensei didn't. Musashi didn't. Sun Tzu didn't. I couldn't move a comma in their work, but I doubt that any of them intended it to be repeated by rote, rather than explored and considered from novel perspectives.

If I just accept categories handed to Mike or Dan or Cady or Gernot, and then handed on to me, without challenging them and making their concepts deal or fail in terms of other categories or applications -- I am not doing budo and I am not true to my own heritage, either.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 12-04-2006, 03:44 PM   #35
Michael McCaslin
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Re: opening the joints

Erick,

Even as I am typing this, I don't know why... I guess it's because you wouldn't be taking the time to prepare these detailed mathematical descriptions if you didn't have a love and appreciation for this stuff, and I respect that. I don't want these skills to disappear, and I'm working on learning and sharing them with others.

I actually waded through most of your stuff. It reads like you were one of the only people to get an A in your kinematics class. On the surface, that's a complement. But it's also a problem-- I bet there weren't many other guys (or gals) who got A's in kinematics and dynamics. Of the ones who did, a vanishingly small percentage of them could be considered martial arts enthusiasts with knowledge worth sharing.

There are several people on this board with skills which have been independently verified. They have martial knowledge worth sharing. While they are different people with different backgrounds, they have hashed out an informal language for talking about these things. The language is built around a metaphor that helps a lot of us newbies develop a conceptual model of how this stuff works. For the more advanced, they have a framework that allows them to transmit information about the finer points. I've been following the conversation for a year or two, and while the model has evolved it hasn't broken down. At this point, I feel safe saying the model is good enough for people to use to communicate their ideas about how to really "do" aikido the way the great masters did.

You have spent a great deal of time and energy trying to explain your model. It's complex. It uses a language that only a small percentage of the population understands. I have an engineering degree. I (think I) get what you are trying to say with your model. As a consultant, I also understand that no one will use it. In order to talk about these things in your terms, people would have to learn a lot of kinematics and math, spending time that would be better spent training. And that assumes the math is within their reach. If I recall correctly, Takeda didn't write. Maybe not writing or reading freed up a lot of training time!

I freely admit that I don't know how to do these things. I'm working on it, but I am very much a beginner. I mine the forums for new information daily, and increasingly you're the guy screaming (metaphorically speaking) at people in a language they don't understand. You may well know what these guys are talking about, but as long as you insist on forcing your model on them no meaningful dialogue can take place. They won't receive information from you, and you won't receive information from them.

It looks like you are dismissing a lot of what is being openly discussed as basics, and claiming that real aikido is comprised of that plus much more. I think basics is too imprecise a term. They aren't basics, they are the fundamentals. Their study appears to be limitless. I think the "much more" is like the trees that hide the forest. Techniques and strategy are easy to understand. What is hard is developing a body that has the fundamentals so deeply ingrained that the techniques create themselves and the strategy happens spontaneously. But this is the goal that every master has plainly stated.

I've been doing martial arts a long time, now. It's only recently that I have learned how much time I wasted looking at the trees. There are lots of them and some of them are really interesting. They also can be a major distraction. The fundamentals make any technique work. Technique without the fundamentals is empty. There is too much empty technique out there, and I've invested years in empty practice. I think this is one reason Ueshiba pared the techniques from Daito Ryu down to a relatively small number. He was active in solo training until he passed away. He never stopped developing the fundamentals. I believe he intended the kata practice to be paired training that would be at least as effective as the solo work. He didn't have partners to practice on his own level with. Paired kata gives us the opportunity to force skill evolution to occur. Unfortunately, it looks like most of us missed this.

Personally, I think kokyu is not a basic condition which assists in the performance of the technique. It *is* the technique. It's the root. It's not something you can ever say "I understand that and I can do it" because it can always be developed more. Maybe you know that, in which case I'd appreciate it if you'd find a way to express your ideas in the prevailing model, so that I (and others) can wrap my head around it.

It's also possible that you've overlooked something, trivialized the fundamentals, and gotten lost down the rabbit hole of technique exploration. That, to me, is jujutsu in today's world. No martial art advocates force against force (at an advanced level), and to say that evasion and leading are what makes aikido unique misses the point.

If only there were some kind of forum, where people could meet and talk about these things, in a common language that most people undestand. Oh wait, there is! Welcome (back) to aikiweb. If you agree to talk about these things in the terms others have, there can be a meaningful exchange of information. As a bonus, you might find your frustration level decreases.

I guess this is a good place to apologize for sounding smug, or appointing myself some kind of ambassador for the discussions here. Worse, I admit to not having any skill! Still, it's my opinion that the first step to talking about this stuff is agreeing to a framework. No one says the prevailing model is perfect, but at this point I don't think it can be disputed that it allows effective communication about these skills to take place. Of course, it's only an opinion and it's offered with the best of intentions (and one selfish motive, to not see pages of people talking past each other in the middle of productive threads).

Take care.

Michael
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Old 12-04-2006, 04:01 PM   #36
Michael McCaslin
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Re: opening the joints

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Quote:
From a practical standpoint, a joint that is fully extended is also close to being hyperextended, which is a risk. You don't want to present an opponent with 99% of an armbar.


Huh, good point. Done that...
Ron,

I can't wait to progress from "keep doing" to "have done." I'm a slow learner, I'm afraid. There's one person in the dojo who doesn't hesitate to snap them on, so it's been educational.

Quote:
Gernot Hassenpflug wrote:
Are you saying you shouldn't just extend the joint without "ki"? :-)
Gernot,

I'm not sure you were directing this question at me, but I wish I knew enough to answer it!

I know there are things we can do with our muscles that inhibit the flow of ki. I also know we use muscles to extend. What I am not as sure of is that too much extension will inhibit ki. It seems that it could. It also seems that it would develop the tendons and muscles, so it may not be wasted training. In my own experimenting, if I extend too much I feel a structural change in shape that isn't "right." It's a nice stretch, though. In my daily practice I try to avoid doing anything that doesn't have a certain feel to it, so I try to avoid extending too much. Not having a teacher, I may be too conservative in my approach. I am always trying to avoid burning in bad movement patterns. This may cause me to progress more slowly than I otherwise would, or (shudder) not at all.

Michael

Last edited by Michael McCaslin : 12-04-2006 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 12-04-2006, 05:27 PM   #37
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: opening the joints

Hello Michael, much appreciate your effort in writing here. Mike Sigman earlier pointed out the "external" and "internal" training method distinction, and I would say that - from the limited exposure I have had - that the earlier students get away from trying to do things with muscles the better: not because the muscles will not in fact be used, but because our usual understanding of "usage" is not correct for (dare I say) Asian martial arts premised on the use of jin/kokyu/ki. I'm getting a clue that there's a "point of no return" where a flip in thinking occurs and one's body use simply becomes different and never goes back to what it was before. So in that sense, anything one does before that "flip" using muscles explicity, most likely (I think) burns in bad patterns. As Abe sensei and many other teachers say, first use ki, then work on the (very different) "power" and (very different) "speed". Minoru Akuzawa, whose exercises are decidedly physical, also advocates this approach, in my experience.
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Old 12-04-2006, 06:53 PM   #38
eyrie
 
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Re: opening the joints

Damn fine post (#35), Michael....

Ignatius
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Old 12-04-2006, 08:45 PM   #39
Mike Sigman
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Re: opening the joints

Quote:
Gernot Hassenpflug wrote:
......I would say that - from the limited exposure I have had - that the earlier students get away from trying to do things with muscles the better: not because the muscles will not in fact be used, but because our usual understanding of "usage" is not correct for (dare I say) Asian martial arts premised on the use of jin/kokyu/ki. I'm getting a clue that there's a "point of no return" where a flip in thinking occurs and one's body use simply becomes different and never goes back to what it was before. So in that sense, anything one does before that "flip" using muscles explicity, most likely (I think) burns in bad patterns. As Abe sensei and many other teachers say, first use ki, then work on the (very different) "power" and (very different) "speed". Minoru Akuzawa, whose exercises are decidedly physical, also advocates this approach, in my experience.
I think this is a very important point, Gernot. There are the cool parts of using the kokyu/jin forces. And there is the very powerful strengthening of the body "structure" by tying it together (although, bear in mind that there are different ideas of how this is done). But those things are only part of the whole picture and my worry, just like you said above, is that people will go for these baubles thinking they have the whole. There's more to it than that. First of all, the "muscle" issue has to do with the points of tying the body together, but not merely with just "structure" and "tension exercises". Muscle has to be foregone while you work on this new kind of strength, even though it means leaving yourself weaker for a while.


Secondly, and probably the big giveaway if someone is worrying whether they have the "full process", is the use of the dantien to control the whole body. And I mean control it. Not assist every now and then. If you go the route of muscle and some jin skills, you'll automatically limit forever your forward progress. When Tohei and so many others talk about "relax", they mean it, but it's a complex understanding of "relax" and what you have to do while you're "relaxed".

FWIW

Mike
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Old 12-04-2006, 10:31 PM   #40
Erick Mead
 
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Re: opening the joints

Quote:
Michael McCaslin wrote:
Even as I am typing this, I don't know why... I guess it's because you wouldn't be taking the time to prepare these detailed mathematical descriptions if you didn't have a love and appreciation for this stuff, and I respect that.
Fair enough. I'll leave the manual on the desk tonight.
Quote:
Michael McCaslin wrote:
....skills ...martial knowledge worth sharing. .... hashed out an informal language for talking about these things. .... a metaphor that helps ... a conceptual model ... that allows them to transmit information about the finer points.
Doubtless. Chinese traditional knwledge has been passed on in just this essential way for thousands of years. But then, the West also went to the Moon first. We have adopted and adapted aikido to a greater degree than even in the place of its birth -- apparently as its founder intended, if Saotome and some others are to be believed. So, there is something to the Western approach that bears dwelling upon more deeply in its own terms when it comes to aikido.
Quote:
Michael McCaslin wrote:
If I recall correctly, Takeda didn't write. Maybe not writing or reading freed up a lot of training time!
Not generally a point advocated by O Sensei, or any proponent of the deeper concepts, in either tradition -- East or West. Even the system advocated by these gentlemen, and as much as I enjoy the sparring, I respect what they are doing, requires ultimately a willingness to embrace that tradition of depth,subtlety and complexity on its own terms. And that system at its heart, like that of the West, also requires confronting what is neither familiar or comfortable.

The mind leads the body. I think there is truly no disagreemnt on that point here. Training also provokes the mind. It too must be attended or it will do mischief. O Sensei had his kotodama, mandalas, and other means to encompass the complex activity of his mind provoked by his training. Taking the time to work through his efforts there is worhtwhile activity, arcane though they may seem. And your training provokes that activity also, or else you wouldn't be here. You will find need to attend to it, and look for your own version of things like mandalas and other means to encompass the play of knowledge in your head. My training has. I do not work through these concepts out of choice, but necessity.

And truly, having some significant background in both systems of knowledge, neither is less complex than the other, they are just structured and oriented differently in how they comprehend how "knowing" and "doing" relate to one another. I find the two systems of thinking more complementary than exclusive of one another, but maybe that's just me.
Quote:
Michael McCaslin wrote:
At this point, I feel safe saying the model is good enough for people to use to communicate their ideas about how to really "do" aikido the way the great masters did.
And that is where I respectfully leave the train, because that contention is, quite simply, not proven. The fact is that O Sensei knew a great deal about these concepts. He indisputably used them to demonstrate again and again that in budo it is utterly pointless to contend in strength. Having got their attention by these means and shown the reason why contention in strength (subtle or overt) was not the answer, he then offered to teach people aikido -- and notably -- did not teach these things for the purposes that they seeem to be offered here. I have pointed this out from his own history and statements. That set of facts cannot be got around. But why would he not teach them?

Someone out there is stronger. Very likely sooner than later, strong as anyone may become in these skills of kokyu/jin and relying on their application in the way discussed here, you will find yourself gravely weakened and still under threat. This revelation, spoken of in a deeply personal manner by my first teacher, very much informs all my practice and all my thinking on these points.

The manner in which these kokyu skills are being offered here emphasize things and lead in directions that are quite away from the aikido described by O Sensei, taught by him, from all accounts and in the tiny unfolding package of aikido first given to me. It still opens further, everytime I step on the mat or lend my attention to the thought of doing so.
Quote:
Michael McCaslin wrote:
Techniques and strategy are easy to understand.
Would that it were so.
Quote:
Michael McCaslin wrote:
What is hard is developing a body that has the fundamentals so deeply ingrained that the techniques create themselves and the strategy happens spontaneously. ...
.... kokyu is not a basic condition which assists in the performance of the technique. It *is* the technique. It's the root.
... Maybe you know that, in which case I'd appreciate it if you'd find a way to express your ideas in the prevailing model, so that I (and others) can wrap my head around it. No martial art advocates force against force (at an advanced level), and to say that evasion and leading are what makes aikido unique misses the point.
In whch case, I have failed to communicate indeed. Kokyu is a much broader tool of effective work (pneg-jin or qi gong for Mike) than its uses in aikido. Aikido also has a much broader field of action than kokyu skills. I have used aikido to more and greater effect in legal practice than in any physical confrontation.

When I do it properly, I do not evade, I do not lead. Aikido is fundamentally ukewaza. I receive what is offered, and in the spirit with which it is given. This is what my first teacher taught me, from my beginning and until quite lately now. How I receive it matters very much, but fundamentally I must receive it completely

What is advocated by some here in regard to kokyu is a facility, like flexibility developed in yoga. It is a facility in not being affected, in holding, dissipating and counterpoising offensive action against you. Daito ryu (and other arts) have developed a remarkable suite of tactics from the intensive development of that facililty. The threshold questions of rooting, grounding and neutralizing that have so absorbed discussion among us, are among the applications of this kokyu power. But hidden power is still power and power is that which does what those who possess it desire to do.

Aikido is not senjutsu -- tactics. It is, still less, mere facility in movement or intergration of body. It incoporates those things, but to say that you then have aikido is truly to have the trees for the forest. Aikido is heiho -- a strategic paradigm that commands all those other things toward a certain purpose and approach to the conflict.

Kokyu application in what I understand as aikido distingushes it from what is spoken of here. I do not exercise power, because I do not do that which I desire in the midst of conflict. I do not stop my enemy or render his action ineffectual. I do what the enemy very much desire desires, and I very much give his desire effect -- but with a twist.

It is a curious thing that most people are utterly unprepared to get just what they always thought they wanted. The conception of aikido my teachers have given of the "skills" and whole-body movement ensures that when my attacker seeks to take a part of me -- he in fact gets the whole of me -- and nothing less.
Quote:
Michael McCaslin wrote:
If you agree to talk about these things in the terms others have, there can be a meaningful exchange of information. As a bonus, you might find your frustration level decreases.
Nah, when I get mad I get real quiet. It's the Irish.
"I come not to bring peace but a sword.... my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." The pair of paradoxical Gospel verses I am called to live up to.

Terms set assumptions before they communicate anything. Unspoken assumptions are dangerous, and ultimately it is more unfriendly to be surprised by them later than to challenge them up front.
Quote:
Michael McCaslin wrote:
To not see pages of people talking past each other in the middle of productive threads.
And as you can see, there is some major questioning on those assumptions, or at least, dire need to ensure we clarify or make them expressly clear . That is the cause of much of the "talking past" and it is worthwhile, even so, if you take it in those terms.

The terminology used has suggested things (stopping, "not moving", rooting, grounding, resisting) that are departing the topic of the thread, but more so, moving away from, rather than reaching deeper into aikido, as I have been taught it, and as it has come to make sense to me physically, intuitively and in my own inchoate intellectual way.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 12-04-2006, 11:19 PM   #41
Erick Mead
 
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Re: opening the joints

Quote:
Cady Goldfield wrote:
Interesting, but why don't you just DO? In Asia, you'd get smacked upside the head for thinking in class. We Westerners are so into analyzing everything instead of just learning to walk the walk.
Bunbu ichi.
Quote:
O Sensei wrote:
The virtues of training in the Two Ways
Both of the Sword and of the Pen
Has brought realization in the body and in the soul.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 12-05-2006, 04:12 AM   #42
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
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Re: opening the joints

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Kokyu application in what I understand as aikido distingushes it from what is spoken of here. I do not exercise power, because I do not do that which I desire in the midst of conflict. I do not stop my enemy or render his action ineffectual. I do what the enemy very much desire desires, and I very much give his desire effect -- but with a twist.
It is a curious thing that most people are utterly unprepared to get just what they always thought they wanted. The conception of aikido my teachers have given of the "skills" and whole-body movement ensures that when my attacker seeks to take a part of me -- he in fact gets the whole of me -- and nothing less.
Good posts Erick ( and Michael for #35 which prompted Ericks reply)

I particularly like the section I quoted above and have nowt to add apart from bravo!

These forums are interesting and frustrating in equal measure. They provide an arena to discuss our art, an art which can only be understood by literally years of practice with a good teacher.

I find the concept of 'truely' learning any skills from text a big problem. The best that can happen is an awareness that they exist ( or some say they exist ). The only place to 'get' any of the skills that are being endlessly discussed here, is hands on with someone who both has them and has the ability to teach them. If you read something and try it out, without someone to correct you should you get it wrong, then this maybe worse than not doing it at all.

I 'know' I have some relative level of 'internal'/ki/kokyu skills, but I would hesitate to to try and put them into text, as on the mat I demonstrate and explain as best as I can, and some people immediately start to practice something else at least there I can intervene and put them back on track

I'm off to another thread to put my oar in over there.....

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 12-05-2006, 06:59 AM   #43
Mike Sigman
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Re: opening the joints

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
O Sensei wrote:
The virtues of training in the Two Ways
Both of the Sword and of the Pen
Has brought realization in the body and in the soul.
So what do you interpret that to mean, Erick?

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 12-05-2006, 10:35 AM   #44
Mike Sigman
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Re: opening the joints

OK, let me prime the pump a little bit. Japanese calligraphy is based on Chinese calligraphy. The relationship of qi/jin to Chinese calligraphy is the same as ki/kokyu is to Japanese calligraphy. The same can be said of the sword arts. Same thing for Aikido.

From:
http://www.page.sannet.ne.jp/shun-q/INTERVIEW-E.html

4、INFLUENCE OF AIKIDO ON CALLIGRAPHY

What influence did practicing both misogi and aikido eventually have on your calligraphy?

The three converged into one for me. Aikido, for example, is ultimately not really about twisting wrists, causing pain, or throwing people; it is about cultivating "ki," which is something distinctly different from these things. The same is true of calligraphy. There are five or ten thousand characters we can brush in learning about form and line, but ultimately we are pursuing something beyond these, and that something is none other than "ki".So calligraphy and aikido became the exact same pursuit for me and I began to practice both as hard as I could.

 

You once remarked that "the essence of calligraphy lies in kokyu. (lit. breath)." Is this the same sort of kokyu we find in aikido?

The very same.

This brings to mind the question, "What exactly are we teaching when teach calligraphy?" We teach form and how to draw the characters, of course, but I think if we are unable to teach a certain "something more," then the life will go out of calligraphy and it will no longer interest people.



Mike
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Old 12-05-2006, 10:54 AM   #45
Michael McCaslin
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Re: opening the joints

Erick,

Thanks for taking the time to consider my post, and for your reply. I've snipped out a chunk that I think highlights the difference in concepts. I think there is more common ground here than it might appear at first glance.

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:


Someone out there is stronger. Very likely sooner than later, strong as anyone may become in these skills of kokyu/jin and relying on their application in the way discussed here, you will find yourself gravely weakened and still under threat. This revelation, spoken of in a deeply personal manner by my first teacher, very much informs all my practice and all my thinking on these points.

The manner in which these kokyu skills are being offered here emphasize things and lead in directions that are quite away from the aikido described by O Sensei, taught by him, from all accounts and in the tiny unfolding package of aikido first given to me. It still opens further, everytime I step on the mat or lend my attention to the thought of doing so.

-----snip----

In whch case, I have failed to communicate indeed. Kokyu is a much broader tool of effective work (pneg-jin or qi gong for Mike) than its uses in aikido. Aikido also has a much broader field of action than kokyu skills. I have used aikido to more and greater effect in legal practice than in any physical confrontation.

When I do it properly, I do not evade, I do not lead. Aikido is fundamentally ukewaza. I receive what is offered, and in the spirit with which it is given. This is what my first teacher taught me, from my beginning and until quite lately now. How I receive it matters very much, but fundamentally I must receive it completely

What is advocated by some here in regard to kokyu is a facility, like flexibility developed in yoga. It is a facility in not being affected, in holding, dissipating and counterpoising offensive action against you. Daito ryu (and other arts) have developed a remarkable suite of tactics from the intensive development of that facililty. The threshold questions of rooting, grounding and neutralizing that have so absorbed discussion among us, are among the applications of this kokyu power. But hidden power is still power and power is that which does what those who possess it desire to do.

Aikido is not senjutsu -- tactics. It is, still less, mere facility in movement or intergration of body. It incoporates those things, but to say that you then have aikido is truly to have the trees for the forest. Aikido is heiho -- a strategic paradigm that commands all those other things toward a certain purpose and approach to the conflict.

Kokyu application in what I understand as aikido distingushes it from what is spoken of here. I do not exercise power, because I do not do that which I desire in the midst of conflict. I do not stop my enemy or render his action ineffectual. I do what the enemy very much desire desires, and I very much give his desire effect -- but with a twist.

It is a curious thing that most people are utterly unprepared to get just what they always thought they wanted. The conception of aikido my teachers have given of the "skills" and whole-body movement ensures that when my attacker seeks to take a part of me -- he in fact gets the whole of me -- and nothing less.

The terminology used has suggested things (stopping, "not moving", rooting, grounding, resisting) that are departing the topic of the thread, but more so, moving away from, rather than reaching deeper into aikido, as I have been taught it, and as it has come to make sense to me physically, intuitively and in my own inchoate intellectual way.
What you are hearing Mike, Dan, Rob and others say differs from what I am hearing. I don't think any of them advocate "standing like an immoveable mountain in combat." Yes, kokyu power can be used to resist a push. Learning to coordinate the body to be able to do this is an important skill. While this is an important skill, these kokyu demonstrations have little to do with actual application. Combat does not consist of "kokyu wrestling" where the more powerful person "wins."

Like you pointed out, the idea is to give the opponent what he wants with a twist. But how do we know what the opponent wants? In kata practice, we know because we are told. Since we know, we all get to experience blending in kata practice. But how do you know what the opponent wants in actual application? I believe that we can feel it through the body. The problem is, this sensitivity cannot be developed without first developing kokyu. Kokyu is how we "feel" the opponents intent, kokyu is how we absorb his energy, and kokyu is how we return it to him.

The problem with how aikido has been practiced for me in the past is that kokyu is not specifically developed as a definable skill. It's not pointed to and called out as the core of what we are trying to do. The thinking seems to be that if one practices enough it will come. I think the sample population is large enough by now to determine that this doesn't work. People will happily do the kata over and over, taking what the uke gives, and never learning to feel and adapt to the pressure of his incoming energy.

Spending time isolating and developing kokyu, while it is not actually "doing aikido" is the only way to build the bridge that leads from empty replication of the kata to actual free form application of aikido.

I think so many of us waste time with scripted attacks that don't require us to develop this essential skill.

You seem to be saying that kokyu is necessary but not sufficient to do aikido. I think that the "higher skills" in aikido can be restated in terms of kokyu, albeit used in a different way from the exercises we use to build the basics. As Mike Sigman might say it, "all jins are variations of the core (peng) jin."

I think Mike, Dan, et al emphasize the basic kokyu so much because chasing the other stuff before we have this piece of the puzzle is somewhat pointless. Once the basics are understood by most, it will make more sense to talk about the subtle applications.

Michael
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Old 12-05-2006, 11:58 AM   #46
Michael McCaslin
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Re: opening the joints

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I think this is a very important point, Gernot. There are the cool parts of using the kokyu/jin forces. And there is the very powerful strengthening of the body "structure" by tying it together (although, bear in mind that there are different ideas of how this is done). But those things are only part of the whole picture and my worry, just like you said above, is that people will go for these baubles thinking they have the whole. There's more to it than that. First of all, the "muscle" issue has to do with the points of tying the body together, but not merely with just "structure" and "tension exercises". Muscle has to be foregone while you work on this new kind of strength, even though it means leaving yourself weaker for a while.
Good point, Mike. I have problems with this all the time in the dojo. Every time the going gets tough, I can feel myself abandoning the "new stuff" and resorting to old fashioned force. I don't like it when it happens, but it's quite instinctive. I suppose when the "new way" of moving becomes more ingrained this will get easier.

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Secondly, and probably the big giveaway if someone is worrying whether they have the "full process", is the use of the dantien to control the whole body. And I mean control it. Not assist every now and then. If you go the route of muscle and some jin skills, you'll automatically limit forever your forward progress. When Tohei and so many others talk about "relax", they mean it, but it's a complex understanding of "relax" and what you have to do while you're "relaxed".

FWIW

Mike
The use of the dantien to control the whole body is a vexing question for me. For one thing, I don't have the control and flexibility yet to make this a reality, although I am working on it.

For another, the legs provide so much available power it's hard for me to avoid relying on them. If I understand you correctly, I should be using the legs like the arms, as transmitters rather than generators. This morning I was experimenting with using the dantien to send force down one leg, then the other while standing in a natural posture. Mainly, I wanted to cultivate moving the dantien while the hips and shoulders stay fixed. This is a struggle for me!

At any rate, I'd appreciate some clarification on the role of the legs-- in one scenario, dantien turns and force goes from there out through the arms and legs. In another, the legs move the body and the dantien controls and directs this power. Which is more correct, or is the truth a hybrid?

Michael
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Old 12-05-2006, 12:18 PM   #47
Mike Sigman
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Re: opening the joints

Quote:
Michael McCaslin wrote:
The use of the dantien to control the whole body is a vexing question for me. For one thing, I don't have the control and flexibility yet to make this a reality, although I am working on it.

For another, the legs provide so much available power it's hard for me to avoid relying on them. If I understand you correctly, I should be using the legs like the arms, as transmitters rather than generators. This morning I was experimenting with using the dantien to send force down one leg, then the other while standing in a natural posture. Mainly, I wanted to cultivate moving the dantien while the hips and shoulders stay fixed. This is a struggle for me!

At any rate, I'd appreciate some clarification on the role of the legs-- in one scenario, dantien turns and force goes from there out through the arms and legs. In another, the legs move the body and the dantien controls and directs this power. Which is more correct, or is the truth a hybrid?
Well, the real bugaboo, IMO, is that you can use *some* jin skills and still be heavily allied with muscle. This is the heart of the old scornful "Shaolin!" derision by some of the so-called "internal stylists". And this is part of why I've made a few superficial comments that probably Aikido doesn't need to go so far with its worry about "internal", since most of what I've seen appears to be from the ki/qi-kokyu/jin skills of the external arts. But it's some sort of hybrid, in reality, with Ueshiba and Tohei leaning actually closer to the "internal arts" stuff sometimes. I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.


Some of what I've seen of Ueshiba in his 80's (this may be the same thing that Ellis was recently talking about) leaves me definately in the camp that Ueshiba's skill was pretty high order and not the jin&muscle stuff that is so easy to fall into. At least that's my opinion, FWIW.


So, back to your question. Pooh.... the more I think about it, the more my enthusiasm for trying to write it wanes. Yeah, legs and waist should be the source of all the power and the upper body only transmits the power. That's the best start, even though it feels absurd at first and all of someone's "many years of skills" will evaporate for a goodly while. But it needs to be shown.

Part of my problem is that while I think this stuff has to be rammed through as a missing basic, I don't think that it's going to be productive to stray to far off of the absolute basics and how to do them... so talk about control with the middle needs to be recognized as an important topic, but it's probably way to far down the road to be timely.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 12-05-2006, 03:38 PM   #48
Michael McCaslin
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Re: opening the joints

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Part of my problem is that while I think this stuff has to be rammed through as a missing basic, I don't think that it's going to be productive to stray to far off of the absolute basics and how to do them... so talk about control with the middle needs to be recognized as an important topic, but it's probably way to far down the road to be timely.
Thanks, Mike. It's a quandry. I figure if I just keep doing my homework the time won't be totally waisted... er, wasted.

I'll be hanging a training weight in the new house soon, which should provide some quantitative information to go with the qualitative I'm getting from basic exercises. It's hard to tell subjectively if "the ground is in my hands" when doing qi gong or other exercises, but some force feedback should help.
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