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Old 09-24-2007, 06:59 PM   #1
MM
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Article by Mike Sigman

It's over at Aikido Journal. I can't reply there, so I'll post and reply here.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=3821

Was a great article, Mike, but it seemed too short. For a second, I thought you were going to tell what the exercises were and then, ugh, the article ended. Is there a follow up?

Mark
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Old 09-25-2007, 07:37 PM   #2
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

Given that "the exercise tools are sitting right there already and all that’s missing is correct training in how to use those tools", especially since no one is explicitly saying "how to" and most plebes are expected to figure it out themselves…. the first question I had was HOW???... particularly, in regards to "first they should gain the full powers of Aikido".

Mike, myself and a few others have discussed this very issue before. The question is not what these exercises are, but how to do them correctly. I think Mike has sufficiently addressed the beginning principles of "how to" address the "needed changes" to "supplement" one's training in the article - vis a vis learning how to initiate the primary up/down forces from the ground and weight respectively using the lower body (i.e. the feet, legs and lower torso), and using the upper body, arms and hands merely to convey the forces.

I agree with Mike's point regarding the efficacy and self-defense portions of Aikido. I think the focus on Aikido technique as means to such ends is a distraction from the "form" as A method of practicing the functional aspects of AIKI. IOW, the solo-exercises (i.e. "warmups") of Aikido as tanren-ho, Aikido waza as tanren-ho, Aikido as tanren-ho. I believe this is the "do" in Aiki-do.

Form follows function. Function dictates form. Aikido techniques are merely expressions of functional ki, just as forms/kata/hyung/xing are respective expressions of functional ki within each art. Whether someone knows that, and knows how to, is quite another issue. As Mike says... "many people still don’t spot the functional use of ki in Aikido because their minds seem to register only the physical technique...".

The problem, as I see it, is that people are generally loathed to change. As Organizational Change Management literature seems to indicate, paradigm shifts of significant magnitude is essential as the first step towards change. Having the will to change on its own is insufficient. Without a significant paradigm shift to first create a strong motivational impetus to change, many will fail - no matter how strong they believe their will power to be. Just ask anyone how hard it is to quit smoking or drinking....

Ignatius
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Old 09-26-2007, 05:04 AM   #3
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

Nice article Mike.

This bit:

"Koichi Tohei proposed an approach which is a great first-attempt for us to study. In my opinion, Tohei's general thesis of relaxation is very similar to Ueshiba Sensei's approach, although perhaps it deviates by being slightly more "soft" than the practices Ueshiba used for himself. Now, I have to admit that I never fully appreciated Tohei's attempted teaching method until I had acquired some skills and had attempted to acquire others; my views of his approach have matured over time. The only problem I have with Tohei's approach is that he appears, in my opinion, to attempt to explain how to do something while at the same time trying not to give away too much. Plus he tries to focus on many aspects of ki using some of the ancient ki-beliefs and some modern self-help schools."

I more or less agree with except for the 'not trying to give too much away' part, I think that if you took only a cursory look at it, read some books and watched some vids, went to a few seminars, maybe even trained regularly in a dojo for a year or so that's what you might think. Extensive study would suggest otherwise. IME.

Which is, by the way the only real problem I've ever had with what you've written over the years if you wanted to know Everything else I've always more or less agreed with.

Mike

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Old 09-26-2007, 05:28 AM   #4
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

It's a slippery slope. Most folks seem quick to jump to the conclusion of 1) I don't need to do that OR 2) We already do that. I think the best thing that can happen is that people meet up and feel in person what other folks are talking about.
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Old 09-26-2007, 10:03 AM   #5
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
It's a slippery slope. Most folks seem quick to jump to the conclusion of 1) I don't need to do that OR 2) We already do that. I think the best thing that can happen is that people meet up and feel in person what other folks are talking about.
I agree But I've seen the 'we already do that' mindset before off of the internet, guys telling me (or more commonly my teacher but it's been happening to more and more in recent years) they already do what I'm talking about and then being quite surprised to find they actually don't, and, more to the point, can't figure out how I made them fall down or why it hurt quite so much, or why they couldn't stop what I was doing.

So I like to think that that's not what I'm doing when talking about it on the web. But hey, could be wrong...

Mike

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Old 09-26-2007, 10:40 AM   #6
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

Quote:
Mike Haft wrote: View Post
do what I'm talking about and then being quite surprised to find they ... <snip> ... can't figure out how I made them fall down or why it hurt quite so much, or why they couldn't stop what I was doing.
Cool. Hopefully, I'll get to experience this in person someday . . . I love having people toss me around without being able to stop them or knowing how they did it.
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Old 09-26-2007, 11:03 AM   #7
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

Quote:
Mike Haft wrote: View Post
I agree But I've seen the 'we already do that' mindset before off of the internet, guys telling me (or more commonly my teacher but it's been happening to more and more in recent years) they already do what I'm talking about and then being quite surprised to find they actually don't, and, more to the point, can't figure out how I made them fall down or why it hurt quite so much, or why they couldn't stop what I was doing.
I'm sure that Mike S's experiences have led him to write what he does, and your ecxperiences illustrate what what he says is valid and important to those in aikido.

Students of Tohei, benefit from a teaching methodology that, as incomplete as Mike S thinks it is, is probably the most effective way that we have in aikido to achieve the mind body co-ordination required to perform the 'Ki Tricks' and therefore 'better' aikido as performed by Ueshiba, Tohei and many others. Sure we could go 'outside' of aikido to find them, Mike S has documented many good sources in other asian arts. Personally, I haven't exhausted exploring what I'm still getting from my own teacher, to go wandering off yet.

Quote:
. But hey, could be wrong...

Mike
We could all be wrong Mike, but don't let it stop us!

regards,

Mark

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Old 09-26-2007, 11:47 AM   #8
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

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Mark Freeman wrote: View Post
Sure we could go 'outside' of aikido to find them,
That's usually what's annoyed me. I find it difficult to figure out why you would want to, surely if you have to go 'outside' then it was never aikido in the first place.... we are talking after all about the very essence of the art. Aren't we?

In any case, I've never been a member of the Ki Society and we've always done things differently than them anyway so my experience of ki-aikido isn't necessarily the same as that of your average ki soc member. But I really do think that Tohei's methodologies are very mis-understood outside of ki-aikido circles (and even inside too I'd bet) but I reckon he had 'it' and I reckon his way of teaching 'it' works just fine, though the beginner levels look quite basic perhaps to someone with Mike's experience, hence the reason I'd bet he's not seen all that much of the higher levels....

In any case all the discussion of internal skills lately is not really a new discussion. The things pointed out as the failings of aikido by various people were pointed out more than 35 years ago by Koichi Tohei, his attempts to make internal skills taught more widely and more prevalently lead to his leaving the aikikai, so not even the politics of it is new, and it still stirs up unpleasantness when these issues are discussed. So on that note I think I'll go and get some real work done...

Mike

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Old 09-26-2007, 11:50 AM   #9
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

The part about doing sit-ups differently piqued my interest a bit. Along that line I experimented a little while walking up the stairs at work. Normally I put my foot on the next stair above and "push," as in a "squat" type exercise to staighten my leg and give me the lift. This time I stepped up by placing my foot on the next stair and "pulled" my knee back to straighten my leg to give me the same lift. Same result but a very different feeling.
Nice food-for-thought article Mike.
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Old 09-27-2007, 01:34 AM   #10
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

So, if I want to get a taste of "high-quality" ki-aikido in europe, where should I go?

There is a Ki Society-instructor by the name of Yoshigasaki that does seminars in Sweden, anyone trained with him?
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Old 09-27-2007, 04:21 AM   #11
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

Quote:
Peter Gröndahl wrote: View Post
So, if I want to get a taste of "high-quality" ki-aikido in europe, where should I go?

There is a Ki Society-instructor by the name of Yoshigasaki that does seminars in Sweden, anyone trained with him?
Yoshigasaki was the head of the ki-soc in Europe, but he's left the Ki Soc now. Never trained with him. I only really know about ki aikido in the UK, PM me about that if you like.

Mike

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Old 10-02-2007, 05:30 PM   #12
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

There is some issue with demonstrations between teacher and willing long-time students being called "archival data" of "actual applications". I mean, they are demos for pete's sake.

As far as Tohei's shortcomings the author opines about, I look at what Tohei has done, his own accomplishments in aikido and martial arts as well as his students' accomplishments. If Tohei believed in the "ancient ki belief", then Tohei is an endorsement for these types of beliefs.

A secret of internal strength?:
"Let your weight from the crotch area BE in his hands."
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Old 10-02-2007, 06:02 PM   #13
Aran Bright
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

Quote:
Peter Gröndahl wrote: View Post
So, if I want to get a taste of "high-quality" ki-aikido in europe, where should I go?

There is a Ki Society-instructor by the name of Yoshigasaki that does seminars in Sweden, anyone trained with him?
My advice is get on a train, bus, airplane and get over there, IF he is who I think he is he is one of Tohei's top student's, or at least was.

http://brisbaneaikido.com

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Old 10-02-2007, 06:26 PM   #14
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

Furthermore, I would like to recommend training with Koretoshi Maruyama Sensei, he regularly travels the world to teach seminars in many countries and has a very pleasant, friendly manner of teaching with a large ki component to his training.

Also he teaches many exercises to help to gain a feeling for ki and solo exercises so that you can practice at home. Plus it's usually a load of laughs.

http://brisbaneaikido.com

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Old 10-02-2007, 07:17 PM   #15
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

A quick FYI to let everyone know that Mike posted Part II over on Aikido Journal. Interesting stuff.

Mike, if you are reading this thread can you comment about #3 in your list of tips for breathing:

"3. The mouth should not be used for exhales."

Why should the mouth not be used for exhales? What specifically are the disadvantages to exhaling through the mouth?

Take care,

Mark J.
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Old 10-03-2007, 06:26 AM   #16
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

Mike,
One other quick question. In your blog you commented about doing the breathing exercises either standing or in seiza. How about doing the breathing drills while laying down? Comments positive or negative are appreciated. Thanks.

Mark J.
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Old 10-03-2007, 07:05 AM   #17
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

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Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
Mike, myself and a few others have discussed this very issue before. The question is not what these exercises are, but how to do them correctly.
Well, given that there are about a hundred or so exercises, are you saying that all of them are useful? There are exercises from Ki society, Yoshinkan, Tomiki, etc. All different. Did Ueshiba do all of them? There are some that Ueshiba did that aren't done now. What were those? I think the "what" is still relevant.

As for how to? I still think that takes hands-on experience and trying to describe it online is not very productive for the beginner. Someone who has already had hands-on, it might reinforce or remind some of what/how to do.

IMO,
Mark
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Old 10-04-2007, 01:30 AM   #18
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

Well, as Mike said in the article(s), the variations are based on the same basic principles, and could be viewed more as a "this is how I prefer to do it" than a hard and fast rule of how (as in, in "what" way) it should be done.

So, yes, to an extent, the "what" can be somewhat relevant... e.g. it could be sanchin kata or some other qigong if you preferred. But without the "how to", I think, progress and development would be somewhat limited, no?

Ignatius
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Old 10-04-2007, 06:11 AM   #19
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

I think the "how" is going to be determined by who gives you the entry into these skills (meaning who allows you to explicitly feel - in them and yourself, what's going on - followed by being able to "honestly" reproduce it). There's a million variations of the same exercise, that should, no doubt, be trying to train the same skills. Just like people think about techniques, styles, etc., folks also have their own dogma about "how" to best train these things (assuming that people genuinely *are* training them, rather than just talking about it).

But at least it's refreshing to see the dialogue move past "do these things exist?" and now crossing more into "what's the best way to train them?" . . .

The answer to that, I suspect, is people continuing to meet up, get together and honestly try things out. Though I'm hoping that, at some point, the debt that's owed to folks that have more "feet in the doorway", so to speak, that have been adamant about sharing and encouraging others to go feel these things - my hope is that their contributions are not forgotten or downplayed.

My suspicion, though, is that there will continue to be people talking about it, people saying they "already do it" and others saying why it's "not important" or downplaying its relevance to what they "do" - for some time to come - and the only way to know for certain is to get hands on.

Last edited by Budd : 10-04-2007 at 06:15 AM.
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Old 10-04-2007, 07:15 AM   #20
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
My suspicion, though, is that there will continue to be people talking about it, people saying they "already do it" and others saying why it's "not important" or downplaying its relevance to what they "do" - for some time to come - and the only way to know for certain is to get hands on.
The call to excellence is a tough call. Moreover, to set a path that requires, or better yet...demands..so much solo training is more than most folks can manage.
In truth, most people are not in Budo for their personal best. For the absolute perfection of personal skills. They are in it for a pastime, and an affiliation with some known teacher or organization. IMO most folks would willingly choose to learn lessor skills in a supportive, organized and recognized environment with other less skilled people -over excellence gained quietly, unrecognized, and with the only reward being results. Results are simply not the goal of most people.That much is obvious.
A good "snapshot" what many now call "budo" and why they are in it is in the attached picture below. Everyone's happy, happy, come join the fun.

I'm not as hopeful for any widespread change in anything to do with modern, established, Budo. I honestly think this old way of training Budo that some of us had caught on to and have been doing for years is only going to lead to its own conundrum. It may lead to real results or to many little dead ends with small cells of "teachers" working their asses off doing solo training to gain and maintain skill levels, being surrounded by... uhm..er, students.. NOT doing the work and coming back to "say" they train this way too. How will that be any different from what they use to do? It won't be.
Just as all these thousands of modern practitioners have served to ruin the reputation of effective Aikido, the same, lame, half hearted attempts will go on ruin the reputation of this kind of work as well.
No one can do the work for you.
Our understanding is in our own hands.
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Old 10-04-2007, 07:51 AM   #21
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

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Dan Harden wrote: View Post
I'm not as hopeful for any widespread change in anything to do with modern, established, Budo.
My opinion based on my own bias is that modern, established Budo can serve as an excellent gateway into developing your own personal practice. You need to have paid some dues in formal instruction somewhere to get a baseline (there's probably going to be holes to fill in, depending on where and/or under whom you've trained), but at some point you become responsible for your own training and you've got to do the work/research in order to continue to improve. A good "organized" budo setting allows for this.

For me, being exposed to new things and getting schooled by others is much preferred to being thought of as a "teacher". As was mentioned, some are in this gig to belong to something (may not necessarily be a bad thing on its own as long as it isn't the only reason). I think there are others that primarily look for the "fix" that being in charge gives them. You see them in the work world, in church/volunteer group settings and, unfortunately, on the mat. Continuous testing and striving to improve may be difficult for folks like this, because the starting point is an admission that there's always still a great deal to learn - no matter how good they become.

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
I honestly think this old way of training Budo that some of us had caught on to and have been doing for years is only going to lead to its own conundrum. It may lead to real results or to many little dead ends with small cells of "teachers" working their asses off doing solo training to gain and maintain skill levels, being surrounded by... uhm..er, students.. NOT doing the work and coming back to "say" they train this way too. How will that be any different from what they use to do? It won't be.
My cynical side agrees with you without any reservation. My optimistic side thinks that the great thing about modern times is the available avenues of information/access to the dedicated "seeker". Even though it takes a great deal of time/effort to filter through the muck to get to some of the good stuff, it's still out there for the folks that are dedicated to honest results and are willing to do the work to get to them (which includes getting to work in person with the right people). As you mentioned, excellence then becomes something of a solitary pursuit requiring an immense sense of personal responsibility and ownership. Having a solid dojo "family" behind you on this road does really help, though . .
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Old 10-04-2007, 08:32 AM   #22
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
My opinion based on my own bias is that modern, established Budo can serve as an excellent gateway into developing your own personal practice. You need to have paid some dues in formal instruction somewhere to get a baseline (there's probably going to be holes to fill in, depending on where and/or under whom you've trained), but at some point you become responsible for your own training and you've got to do the work/research in order to continue to improve. A good "organized" budo setting allows for this.
Well, I agree with that. That wasn't my point. I don't think that many -not all- who will go down this road will stay with more traditional forms of Budo. The pursuit is more of a personal thing and I think one thing will lead to another- a personal expression
And traditional Budo has its own requirements and goals and training method. So they have their own hands full imparting whatever it is they each have to offer. How much tme will each teacher/student relationship have to train?

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
For me, being exposed to new things and getting schooled by others is much preferred to being thought of as a "teacher". As was mentioned, some are in this gig to belong to something (may not necessarily be a bad thing on its own as long as it isn't the only reason). I think there are others that primarily look for the "fix" that being in charge gives them. You see them in the work world, in church/volunteer group settings and, unfortunately, on the mat. Continuous testing and striving to improve may be difficult for folks like this, because the starting point is an admission that there's always still a great deal to learn - no matter how good they become.
Well you already know my opnion on these points. It's why I won't teach. I'm not good at it, and I don't have any interest in doing so. Your view of the need for people to get a fix by being in charge is unfortunately true for many,again not all...but man O' man..why do we see it so often?

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
My cynical side agrees with you without any reservation. My optimistic side thinks that the great thing about modern times is the available avenues of information/access to the dedicated "seeker". Even though it takes a great deal of time/effort to filter through the muck to get to some of the good stuff, it's still out there for the folks that are dedicated to honest results and are willing to do the work to get to them (which includes getting to work in person with the right people). As you mentioned, excellence then becomes something of a solitary pursuit requiring an immense sense of personal responsibility and ownership. Having a solid dojo "family" behind you on this road does really help, though . .
Well I still think its so individualized that it simply will always end up a personal thing. In the fullness of time, you will see people here and there, who trained with someone, did the work, and "got it," and they will spin off their own groups who will want to train with them but many won't do the work. Maybe one or two will, and they will spin off...and so on, and so on.
I can't see any groups going down that road-it's too time consuming. You can't get together a couple hours twice a week and get it. But that's the long road. See what I mean?
You said Dojo support?
You would have to be a little self absorbed and have a "job/family support" structure to allow that much solo time-not the dojo.
Anyway...hope to see ya soon.

Last edited by DH : 10-04-2007 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 10-04-2007, 09:35 AM   #23
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

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I can't see any groups going down that road-it's too time consuming. You can't get together a couple hours twice a week and get it. But that's the long road. See what I mean?
Yep, but heck, even if only one or two people get it in a given dojo/group, that's still more potential for transmission/continuity than if it gets lost completely. Especially, if it's better understood within the overall group that these things are real and require enormous effort to obtain (as well as ability, intelligence, creativity, etc.) and are not automatically gained with rank/licensing.

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
You said Dojo support?
You would have to be a little self absorbed and have a "job/family support" structure to allow that much solo time-not the dojo.
Well, yah! Call me selfish, crazy, obtuse, whatever, but I think the goal is to have it all . . . and eat cake, too. Sometimes some things suffer when you have to concentrate on other things, but that's life, I suppose . . . . . . keep on keeping on towards the top of the mountain.

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Anyway...hope to see ya soon.
Ditto!
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Old 10-04-2007, 09:56 AM   #24
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

I don't know who you guys are talking about. I train 24-7.
And it still aint enough.
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Old 10-04-2007, 10:39 AM   #25
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Re: Article by Mike Sigman

There's never enough time. Which is why "how" one trains seems to be so important.
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Mike Sigman seminar in Pajala Emil Enbuska Seminars 1 06-14-2006 02:42 AM


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