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Old 12-13-2006, 03:26 PM   #26
Mike Sigman
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

Quote:
Craig Hocker wrote:
It may not make some happy I say this but, Kashiwaya Sensei as much as I respect his abilities, is hampered in teaching open seminars by the requirement that he be KNK HQ's representative in North America. KNK's expectation that everyone get on the same page means those seminars are dumbed down quite a bit (IMO) when it comes to the internal aspects.
I can buy that as a probable scenario. And I'd like to see what an advanced instructor has been taught... but my comments were directed at the rank and file, more or less, and my suggestions for what might help them in terms of being more explicative about ki/kokyu skills.
Quote:
Unless you have been at smaller more informal unofficial advanced student gatherings or closed Ki Society instructor intensives, you haven't seen Kashiwaya Sensie really loosen up as a teacher and show various exercises and stuff.
I was able to feel 3 instructor-level peoples' skills at the workshop, Craig. My honest opinion was that their skills were not that high and that a clearer understanding of basics would have helped them. Bear in mind that I'm trying to be constructive and I'm not trivializing them or the Ki Society personally. In general, I was fairly positive about things.
Quote:
Did Shaner Sensei do any Q&A ?
He did some. Everytime I tried to get near him during breaks, he was getting an earful from people who were reluctant to end their conversations, so I stayed out of the way. It's my natural shyness and reluctance to be direct that got in my way.

Best.

Mike
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Old 12-13-2006, 03:47 PM   #27
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

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Christian Moses wrote:
So what would you say the distinction is between "Relax Completely" and "Total Relaxation" and how do you feel this implies active muscle tone to maintain structure? (I realize that probably comes off pretty snide, but I'm honestly curious.)
I personally don't think it is that helpful to talk in terms of "relax completely" or "total relaxation" or "dead relaxation" etc.

I think it is more useful to talk about "letting go of" or "releasing" any unnecessary muscle tension. In the sense of test mentioned by Adam, when someone lets go of your arm and there is a moment of hesitation, it indicates you had been tensing muscles unnecessarily.

Someone mentioned tension as the opposite of relaxation. In terms of individual muscle fibers contracting and releasing, okay. I think in terms doing aikido waza its not really about opposites, there are times when there is a lot of tension but the nage is "completely" relaxed in the sense that Nage has not added unnecessary tension, but there is tension.

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Old 12-13-2006, 04:02 PM   #28
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Thumbs down Re: How to teach and train relaxation

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I think the most important thing for beginners is to first get a "feel" of what the kokyu forces are and what they can do. From there they should move forward with proper waza training AND Ki training which involves clear instruction and description of exactly what is going on physically. That's my opinion. YMMV.

Regards,
Mike

Sounds good to me.

Craig

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Old 12-13-2006, 04:17 PM   #29
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote:
So what would you say the distinction is between "Relax Completely" and "Total Relaxation" and how do you feel this implies active muscle tone to maintain structure? (I realize that probably comes off pretty snide, but I'm honestly curious.)
Chris, that didn't come off snide. No worries. Actually, I don't make a distinction. Sorry, I plead guilty to a hastily written reply, that was taking into account only part of your previous comment. My distinction is between "dead" and "complete/live/total". Of course, if someone tells me to relax, I can usually assume they're not telling me to collapse and take a nap.

In the system I was brought up in, whenever the phrase "relax completely" was thrown out there, it was usually followed by an "and ...". So, "relax" wasn't the end of it. The context was usually that it was not a passive thing. It involved letting the body listen, and allow it to have potential, so that if the body (or movement) was engaged, there was no visible set-up or warning. Just full mind-body involvement. All of that wrapped up (with other ingredients), is what I might use to descibe "tone". So if I'm helping to introduce this concept to a new student, I wouldn't (usually) leave it at "relax completely".

Incidently, Mike's observation of forces getting stuck at the one-point, is spot-on with what I've recognized in my self, lately.

thanks,
Adam
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Old 12-13-2006, 04:30 PM   #30
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

Quote:
Adam Bauder wrote:
observation of forces getting stuck at the one-point, is spot-on with what I've recognized in my self, lately.
The Hara, the one-point, is the control center for the force coming from the ground, not the origin of the force. In order to move so that the power of the ground is constantly expressed throughout the movement, the one-point is needed as the control center. It is nothing more than a control center, a "nexus" of power... not the power itself.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 12-13-2006, 04:47 PM   #31
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

Quote:
Adam Bauder wrote:
Chris, that didn't come off snide. No worries. Actually, I don't make a distinction. Sorry, I plead guilty to a hastily written reply, that was taking into account only part of your previous comment. My distinction is between "dead" and "complete/live/total". Of course, if someone tells me to relax, I can usually assume they're not telling me to collapse and take a nap.
I'm pretty familiar with that paradigm, my first Aikido school was founded by Kurita Minouru, who left the Aikikai with Tohei Sensei and then decided to go it alone. We still used a lot of the teaching methodologies and principles from the Ki Society however. My problem with the "Relax Completely" phrase is that it's misleading. Often people are indeed too tense, but a certain ammount of tension is needed to perform any technique. Personally I'm much more of a fan of, "relax correctly." That phrase carries the implication that there is more to know, and that the correct movements are not based solely on relaxation, but that it does play a very real part in the process. (pet peeve...)

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Old 12-13-2006, 06:09 PM   #32
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

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Mike Sigman wrote:
The Hara, the one-point, is the control center for the force coming from the ground, not the origin of the force. In order to move so that the power of the ground is constantly expressed throughout the movement, the one-point is needed as the control center. It is nothing more than a control center, a "nexus" of power... not the power itself.
Oops... there's an exception to this general principle, but it's quite small. However, I need to be accurate and state that there are times when the Hara can actually be the source of the power, no matter how infrequent the usage.

Mike
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Old 12-13-2006, 11:15 PM   #33
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

Quote:
Craig Hocker wrote:
I personally don't think it is that helpful to talk in terms of "relax completely" or "total relaxation" or "dead relaxation" etc.

I think it is more useful to talk about "letting go of" or "releasing" any unnecessary muscle tension. In the sense of test mentioned by Adam, when someone lets go of your arm and there is a moment of hesitation, it indicates you had been tensing muscles unnecessarily.

Someone mentioned tension as the opposite of relaxation. In terms of individual muscle fibers contracting and releasing, okay. I think in terms doing aikido waza its not really about opposites, there are times when there is a lot of tension but the nage is "completely" relaxed in the sense that Nage has not added unnecessary tension, but there is tension.
Perhaps you mean somewhere between "completely tensed" and "completely relaxed"???

Ignatius
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Old 12-14-2006, 05:42 AM   #34
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

Quote:
Craig Hocker wrote:
I personally don't think it is that helpful to talk in terms of "relax completely" or "total relaxation" or "dead relaxation" etc.

I think it is more useful to talk about "letting go of" or "releasing" any unnecessary muscle tension. In the sense of test mentioned by Adam, when someone lets go of your arm and there is a moment of hesitation, it indicates you had been tensing muscles unnecessarily.

Someone mentioned tension as the opposite of relaxation. In terms of individual muscle fibers contracting and releasing, okay. I think in terms doing aikido waza its not really about opposites, there are times when there is a lot of tension but the nage is "completely" relaxed in the sense that Nage has not added unnecessary tension, but there is tension.
We train using the term "completely relax" rather than "relax completely" just to confuse the issue even more

I agree that it is most useful to think in terms of 'letting go' of unnecessary tension, for instance if in Adam's example you can allow your arm to be lifted to horizontal, and allow it to 'float' there with no effort, than if at that point it is tested for 'unbendable', providing the body remains 'completely relaxed' the arm "cannot" be bent, this of course is only possible by muscle 'tension' but only the right amount of tension.

I don't like the term 'unbendable arm', because it fails to describe the test/state accurately, it is unbendable to the tester but not the testee, the testee can choose whether to bend it or not even under quite extreme loads, as long as a completely relaxed state is maintained

Interesting thread,

regards,

Mark

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Old 12-14-2006, 07:00 AM   #35
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

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Mark Freeman wrote:
We train using the term "completely relax" rather than "relax completely" just to confuse the issue even more
You have to relax, true, but it's what you're doing while you're relaxing that is important.

Think of it like this. If you're teaching someone to cast with a fly-rod, they have to relax the arm, although of course some parts of the arm are in use and there are some other skill requirements you have to know in order to cast the line. Suppose you tried to teach fly-casting by just telling everyone, "Relax". Obviously you wouldn't get much in the way of results. Same thing with the "relax" in Aikido, Taiji, and many other "soft" martial arts.... just telling people to relax, without telling them how to do the rest is fruitless. And that is exactly, IMO, what goes wrong and why there aren't so many people with good results. Worse yet, too many of the teachers don't really know how to do these things well, so they spend a lot of time saying "relax" and "you'll get it someday" when they haven't really got it themselves.

Yours in abject cynicism.

Mike
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Old 12-14-2006, 07:14 AM   #36
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

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Mike Sigman wrote:
You have to relax, true, but it's what you're doing while you're relaxing that is important.

Think of it like this. If you're teaching someone to cast with a fly-rod, they have to relax the arm, although of course some parts of the arm are in use and there are some other skill requirements you have to know in order to cast the line. Suppose you tried to teach fly-casting by just telling everyone, "Relax". Obviously you wouldn't get much in the way of results. Same thing with the "relax" in Aikido, Taiji, and many other "soft" martial arts.... just telling people to relax, without telling them how to do the rest is fruitless. And that is exactly, IMO, what goes wrong and why there aren't so many people with good results. Worse yet, too many of the teachers don't really know how to do these things well, so they spend a lot of time saying "relax" and "you'll get it someday" when they haven't really got it themselves.

Yours in abject cynicism.

Mike
Hi Mike,

I happen to know an ex French 'Casting' champion ( they compete in these things there for want of better things to do ) And indeed it is alot more complex than it looks, relaxation is one of the building blocks, but as in aikido, weight, balance, and mental extension comes into being able to perform at the highest levels.

I'll have to take your word for too many teachers not really knowing how to do these things well, as I have so little experience of feeling that many teachers.

I do agree however, that just saying 'relax' and 'you'll get it someday' is not helpful whether you've got the skill yourself or not

regards,

Mark
p.s. Being able to cast well does not mean you'll catch any fish

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Old 12-14-2006, 07:25 AM   #37
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

I'm not a ki society aikidoka (though I have trained with them for a short time).

One thing I hate is the term 'relaxation' as it is not quite descriptive enough. There is nothing more irritating than a sensei who says 'relax, relax!' and then watching the student think, how? I think in most activities repeated training produces an efficiency of movement and energy. Yes, 'relaxation' is important at high levels, but I think you need to train for a while to even achieve it without sacrificing effectiveness. Also, relaxation can be a goal (or more, efficiency), but in the short term, for positive feedback, succesful completion of the technique is necessary.

I like teaching bokken cutting, because it is a simple exercise in which beginners evidently use their shoulders, yet after only maybe 6 weeks, they start to use their hips and lower body. I tend to say 'it feels more like yawning' than say 'relax', because this conveys the feeling of extension without excessive use of antagonistic muscles.

Last edited by ian : 12-14-2006 at 07:27 AM.

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Old 12-14-2006, 07:53 AM   #38
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
One thing I hate is the term 'relaxation' as it is not quite descriptive enough. There is nothing more irritating than a sensei who says 'relax, relax!' and then watching the student think, how? I think in most activities repeated training produces an efficiency of movement and energy. Yes, 'relaxation' is important at high levels, but I think you need to train for a while to even achieve it without sacrificing effectiveness. Also, relaxation can be a goal (or more, efficiency), but in the short term, for positive feedback, succesful completion of the technique is necessary.

I like teaching bokken cutting, because it is a simple exercise in which beginners evidently use their shoulders, yet after only maybe 6 weeks, they start to use their hips and lower body. I tend to say 'it feels more like yawning' than say 'relax', because this conveys the feeling of extension without excessive use of antagonistic muscles.
Hi Ian:

Good post. I agree. I watched the newer Ki-Society people interact with the "old hands" at the workshop I attended to see what happened on some of the movement with Ki, particularly in this area of "relax, keep th one point, don't pay attention to where the person is holding onto you", etc. That approach has some results, of course, but I've been noodling to myself about exactly what I would say if I used that general approach (I use a somewhat different approach when I'm trying to teach a beginner how to move, etc.).

The essence of Shaner Sensei's approach was in the quotes in the paragraph above. Personally, I would probably show how to form and use some basic jin in its 4 basic directions, prior to shifting to the "relax" approach above. I can't get too enthusiastic about some people thinking that Ki Society is somehow "different" or "special" in their approach because ulitmately the movement is going to be the same. The body only uses kokyu/ki in one way and it will always be formed between "The Ki of Heaven" and the "Ki of Earth".

I.e., most of these different ways of doing the correct power are simply someone's pet idea of the best way to convey how to do it. There is no substantive difference in the subject itself. Relax, yes. But there's more to it than that.

Best.

Mike
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Old 12-14-2006, 08:21 AM   #39
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

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Christian Moses wrote:
I'm pretty familiar with that paradigm, my first Aikido school was founded by Kurita Minouru, who left the Aikikai with Tohei Sensei and then decided to go it alone. We still used a lot of the teaching methodologies and principles from the Ki Society however. My problem with the "Relax Completely" phrase is that it's misleading. Often people are indeed too tense, but a certain ammount of tension is needed to perform any technique. Personally I'm much more of a fan of, "relax correctly." That phrase carries the implication that there is more to know, and that the correct movements are not based solely on relaxation, but that it does play a very real part in the process. (pet peeve...)
Personally I think thats a limitation of language more than teaching/learning practice. But seeing as all we have to use on an internet forum is words its something that usually gets picked on. When I teach people to 'relax completely' I am able to spot where they are tense, physically and more and more lately, mentally and to inform them and help them solve this.
It matters not a bit whether I say, relax completely or relax correctly if I'm standing next to them helping them to learn. In fact if I said 'relax correctly' the first question I would be asked was 'how?' or 'what was I doing that was incorrect?', saying 'relax completely' at least gives you a rough idea that it involves the whole of your body and mind.

I do of course get some people who when told to relax completely simply go limp. My usual comment when I see that is to say: "There's a difference between relaxed and limp, as many women will tell you...." usually gets a laugh if nothing else

Mike

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Old 12-14-2006, 08:28 AM   #40
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

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Mark Freeman wrote:
I happen to know an ex French 'Casting' champion ...
"Ex-French"? Is that what the E.U. are calling Englishmen these days?.... Or, leaving aside the West country, is it just those pommies from Londontown?

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 12-14-2006, 08:35 AM   #41
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

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Erick Mead wrote:
"Ex-French"? Is that what the E.U. are calling Englishmen these days?.... Or, leaving aside the West country, is it just those pommies from Londontown?
LOL whoops a slip of the quotations

Englishmen - ex French! ouch Erik that is severely below the belt ( don't start reminding us of the Norman conquests!)

just to keep our stereotypes in context and in their rightfull places - pommies are englishmen in Australia

regards,

Mark

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Old 12-14-2006, 08:37 AM   #42
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

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Mike Haft wrote:
It matters not a bit whether I say, relax completely or relax correctly if I'm standing next to them helping them to learn. In fact if I said 'relax correctly' the first question I would be asked was 'how?' or 'what was I doing that was incorrect?', saying 'relax completely' at least gives you a rough idea that it involves the whole of your body and mind.
Why not tell them where they're tense instead of using an ambibuous statement? If they ask "How?" that's a perfect opportunity to add more clairty to what's going on. If they ask if they were doing it incorrectly, tell them, "Yup, you were..." We're constantly giving each other feedback like, you're activating your biceps, you're chest is too tense, you need to relax your lower back muscles... I realize too that the way we train isn't completely in line with the Ki Society, since we pretty much reject the idea that you must relax the entire body, so this may not apply to your training paradigm.

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Old 12-14-2006, 08:42 AM   #43
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote:
Often people are indeed too tense, but a certain ammount of tension is needed to perform any technique. Personally I'm much more of a fan of, "relax correctly." That phrase carries the implication that there is more to know, and that the correct movements are not based solely on relaxation, but that it does play a very real part in the process. (pet peeve...)
I like it !
Okay, I am stealing that phrase.

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Old 12-14-2006, 08:49 AM   #44
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

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Mark Freeman wrote:
I happen to know an ex French 'Casting' champion ( they compete in these things there for want of better things to do ) And indeed it is alot more complex than it looks, relaxation is one of the building blocks, but as in aikido, weight, balance, and mental extension comes into being able to perform at the highest levels.

I'll have to take your word for too many teachers not really knowing how to do these things well, as I have so little experience of feeling that many teachers.

I do agree however, that just saying 'relax' and 'you'll get it someday' is not helpful whether you've got the skill yourself or not
Well, bear in mind that when we're speaking of fly-casting and how to teach it, we're essentially talking about one thing: getting the tied-fly on the end of the line to a certain point on the river so a fish will hopefully bite.

What happens in Aikido that so massively disrupts the training curricula is far more complex because the perceptions of what the goals are can be so different (I'll list some examples below). "Relax" can suddenly not only be vague, but it can apply to different areas of the perceived "correct Aikido technique", thus greatly compounding the discussion (making it moot, in most cases).

Take for instance the simple jin-descriptive example I gave in post #17 and let's use the position of Uke pushing on the right shoulder of a stationary Nage. Let's look at how "relaxation" applies in relation to some of what people would perceive for the goal of "correct Aikido". "Relax" changes quite a bit in meaning when you have different ideas of what correct Aikido really is:

(1.) Standing there and relaxedly "grounding" the push would be something that the Ki Society or I or Akuzawa or Rob or Dan or Ushiro, etc., would approve of as a training response. Erick, if I read his posts aright, would disapprove because any resistance is "Not Aikido". Note that to be relaxed and "ground" the incoming push requires something beyond the normal vagueness of "relax". It requires knowing how to let the lower-body accept the load-bearing responsibility of the incoming force, etc.

(2.) If Nage turns with the push, leading Uke off-balance and into a throw (say, Sayu Nage), this would fit into the idea of Aikido for many people, the rotational aspects would make Erick happy, not to mention the "playing tag" aspects, and the more relaxedly that Nage can perform the waza, the happier most instructors are. But note that being "relaxed" in this sense has nothing to do with the condition of sourcing the forces, etc., from the lower body of Nage. Other than an idea of getting rid of unnecessary tension, the word "relax" applies to two quite different actions and the word "relax" does nothing to tell a neophyte Nage anything about the "ki forces" involved.

(3.) If Nage turns with the push, as in example #2 above, but he maintains his "grounding" throughout the technique, he is on his way to Aikido which uses "Ki". He is doing what the Ki Society espouses, as a matter of fact. If he uses the ki-based stability (passive) throughout the technique AND he uses the ki-power (read "kokyu" here, although full kokyu is a bit more than this) to implement the active portions of the throw, then he is doing it far beyond what most Aikidoists do.

If the active use of some ki-power/kokyu involves the shoulders, it is wrong, BTW... the use of kokyu forces is rare enough, but of the people who use some kokyu force, far too many of those add shoulder power to the usage, thus making the force not true kokyu. Here the idea of "relax" has to do with several complex issues, as is obvious.

(4.) If Nage is trained well enough, he can do like O-Sensei did on some of the available videoclips and bounce Uke backward and upward, using the force of Uke's on push to do much of the work. In this type of response, Uke's incoming force can be represented as an arrow coming into Nage's shoulder; Nage accepts the incoming force, yielding quickly but very minutely before coming back up under the incoming force. The forces add or "blend" in such a way that the resulting forces (including Uke's force) throw Uke backward... this is "aiki" at a level far different from a mere technique that combines with Uke's technique. Nage and Uke have become one, at the moment of contact. This requires "relaxation", but it requires a lot of knowledge, too. What I'm getting at (obliquely) is the strong correlation relaxing because you know how to do something versus just "relaxing" without knowing how to do something.

(5.) We can take example #4 and instead of Nage "accepting" the push of Uke with the initial yielding, we imagine that Nage feels Uke's forces and directions on contact and, without moving, simply adds combining forces that result in Uke dropping himself to the ground as he applies force to Nage. This is the highest level. Technically and theoretically there is no one who is capable of being an enemy because you simply do not allow him to be.... you become one with him upon contact and his attack only becomes part of your Takemusu response.

FWIW

Regards,


Mike Sigman
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Old 12-14-2006, 08:55 AM   #45
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

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Mike Haft wrote:
Personally I think thats a limitation of language more than teaching/learning practice.
Relax completely, but correctly. Unbendable arm, but it can bend. "Unraisable" body, etc. Most of the caveats to these words and phrases, I would hope are introduced to a student within their first months of practice. Of course, it doesn't necesarily mean "how to" is then conveyed with an equally simple phrase.

Aren't these terms just meant to be headlines to the actual story? How often have you seen a provocative headline, that enticed you to read what it was all about? Sometimes the headlines, without punctuation, make absolutely no sense ... until you've read the whole story. Know your audience, rewrite the headline (concept) if you need to, then get to the story (instruction/training).

So, back to this thread's subject line, assuming you have chosen your favorite headline, what's your story? I know on the web you can only reveal the tip of the iceburg, but I'm anxious to hear other people's tips/tricks/training tools for relaxation.

thanks,
Adam
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Old 12-14-2006, 09:11 AM   #46
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

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Mark Freeman wrote:
just to keep our stereotypes in context and in their rightfully places - pommies are englishmen in Australia
Stereotypes are all about keeping people in their place. Mocking them is all about being firmly out of place -- and -- judging by the equally unintelligible dialects -- I thought West Countrymen WERE honorary Australians.

And I do apologize -- "Ex-french" would be "former wog."

Last edited by Erick Mead : 12-14-2006 at 09:20 AM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 12-14-2006, 09:12 AM   #47
kironin
 
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

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Christian Moses wrote:
I realize too that the way we train isn't completely in line with the Ki Society, since we pretty much reject the idea that you must relax the entire body, so this may not apply to your training paradigm.
I think unfortunately that the phrase English speakers use in Ki Society as the 2nd ki principle "Relax Completely" is too often not understood to be esentially jargon. A short pithy phrase for something much more involved. It's practically useless unless you have had a lot of training and understand what it techincally refers to. My guess is the idea was to have something short to easily remember.

The actual phrase in Japanese that Tohei Sensei uses is much longer and translates to something like "Completely release all stress from the body" with the implication that stress here means counterproductive lines of tension from ones posture and movement. Then of course you have to work on how to do that.

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Old 12-14-2006, 09:41 AM   #48
Mark Freeman
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

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Mike Sigman wrote:

(1.) Standing there and relaxedly "grounding" the push would be something that the Ki Society or I or Akuzawa or Rob or Dan or Ushiro, etc., would approve of as a training response. Erick, if I read his posts aright, would disapprove because any resistance is "Not Aikido". Note that to be relaxed and "ground" the incoming push requires something beyond the normal vagueness of "relax". It requires knowing how to let the lower-body accept the load-bearing responsibility of the incoming force, etc.

(2.) If Nage turns with the push, leading Uke off-balance and into a throw (say, Sayu Nage), this would fit into the idea of Aikido for many people, the rotational aspects would make Erick happy, not to mention the "playing tag" aspects, and the more relaxedly that Nage can perform the waza, the happier most instructors are. But note that being "relaxed" in this sense has nothing to do with the condition of sourcing the forces, etc., from the lower body of Nage. Other than an idea of getting rid of unnecessary tension, the word "relax" applies to two quite different actions and the word "relax" does nothing to tell a neophyte Nage anything about the "ki forces" involved.

(3.) If Nage turns with the push, as in example #2 above, but he maintains his "grounding" throughout the technique, he is on his way to Aikido which uses "Ki". He is doing what the Ki Society espouses, as a matter of fact. If he uses the ki-based stability (passive) throughout the technique AND he uses the ki-power (read "kokyu" here, although full kokyu is a bit more than this) to implement the active portions of the throw, then he is doing it far beyond what most Aikidoists do.

If the active use of some ki-power/kokyu involves the shoulders, it is wrong, BTW... the use of kokyu forces is rare enough, but of the people who use some kokyu force, far too many of those add shoulder power to the usage, thus making the force not true kokyu. Here the idea of "relax" has to do with several complex issues, as is obvious.

(4.) If Nage is trained well enough, he can do like O-Sensei did on some of the available videoclips and bounce Uke backward and upward, using the force of Uke's on push to do much of the work. In this type of response, Uke's incoming force can be represented as an arrow coming into Nage's shoulder; Nage accepts the incoming force, yielding quickly but very minutely before coming back up under the incoming force. The forces add or "blend" in such a way that the resulting forces (including Uke's force) throw Uke backward... this is "aiki" at a level far different from a mere technique that combines with Uke's technique. Nage and Uke have become one, at the moment of contact. This requires "relaxation", but it requires a lot of knowledge, too. What I'm getting at (obliquely) is the strong correlation relaxing because you know how to do something versus just "relaxing" without knowing how to do something.

(5.) We can take example #4 and instead of Nage "accepting" the push of Uke with the initial yielding, we imagine that Nage feels Uke's forces and directions on contact and, without moving, simply adds combining forces that result in Uke dropping himself to the ground as he applies force to Nage. This is the highest level. Technically and theoretically there is no one who is capable of being an enemy because you simply do not allow him to be.... you become one with him upon contact and his attack only becomes part of your Takemusu response.
Great post Mike, maybe the most coherent view of the different levels of 'relaxation' and how it applies to aikido that I've read here, thanks.

I wonder where readers would place themselves in this hierarchy of skills, and I do see it as a hierarchy, with #1 not being aikido ( I'm with Erick on this) just a basic steppingstone to the stability needed in later dynamic movement. Working through to #5 which although you say there is no movement I assume you mean 'physical' as there has to be manipulation of 'energy/mind/ki' to get the result.

I feel comfortable at level 3 working sometimes/occasionally at 4 ( maybe I just have too complient uke's ) And have felt 5 when really going for it with my own sensei this is only my interpretation of what is written, but I think it is a great measure of where one is at, as an individual in their own practice. I hope I am not guilty of level inflation though as I definitely don't want to be fooling myself

Levels 1 and 2 are needed, but the aikido starts at 3 and manifests itself in 4&5

am I on the right track?

regards,

Mark

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Old 12-14-2006, 09:43 AM   #49
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

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Mike Sigman wrote:
The Hara, the one-point, is the control center for the force coming from the ground, not the origin of the force. In order to move so that the power of the ground is constantly expressed throughout the movement, the one-point is needed as the control center. It is nothing more than a control center, a "nexus" of power... not the power itself.
Regards,
Mike

I don't see how that is any different than what Tohei Sensei is teaching.

First ki principle in Japanese is not "Keep one point" but actually a longer phrase "Calm and focus the mind at the One Point in the Lower Abdomen". (It's actually longer than that but I don't have my notes with me). To quote Will Reed Sensei from his 1986 book fresh out of the Ki Society HQ Aikido Instructor's school, "consider the One Point as a dynamic point of mental focus. The One Point acts like a miniature star: radiating Ki out or absorbing it in from all directions". In other words, it's placing your mental focus on the spot that would most strengthen your mind and body coordination which would allow you to use the contact with the ground more efficiently and also translates directly into the 3rd principle involving the "weight underside" idea or "floating" or what Tai Chi Chuan students would call "rooting".

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Old 12-14-2006, 09:44 AM   #50
Ron Tisdale
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Re: How to teach and train relaxation

Excellent post Mike. Thank you...
Best,
Ron

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