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Old 03-05-2008, 08:29 PM   #26
Tim Fong
 
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Re: Training "Aiki" with Dan Harden

Hi Ellis,

Thanks, that was very good info. I've always liked Shioda's movements, and felt they were the best model for someone with my build.

I've been thinking about this too-- for Tohei we know about the Tempukai, and for Ueshiba we know about the misogi. But Shioda, we don't know about. I believe you on the Kodokai bit.

Here are my thoughts:
We know that before he came to aiki, Shioda had some experience in judo (3rd dan) and kendo (I can't find a rank for this). It would be really interesting to know what his judo tokui waza was. Assmuing Shioda's 3rd dan came as a result of ability (which I think is a fair inference based on that time period and his age) then he would have had to stabilize his lower body.

From kendo , Shioda could have had to stabilize his upper body (cross) as well. He could have done it either through the regular kendo training, or from supplemental work. A friend of mine who spent a lot of time with his professional kendo instructor grandfather told me an interesting tidbit. He said that the senior students practiced something that looked a lot like shintaijiku-- walking with the bo across their backs.

Then he gets to Ueshiba, and has already developed some of the pieces. I would suspect that being uke for Ueshiba would have let Shioda feel the ''connection'' in his body, as Ueshiba snapped on his techniques. Once Shioda felt it in his body (over the years), he could have worked to replicate and strengthen that feeling. If his lower body and upper body were already pretty stable, then "all" he would have had to do is develop the feeling in his spine to connect the top to the bottom.

If Ueshiba was passing the force through Shioda in a way that accessed Shioda's spine, then he definitely would have felt it there.

As to Kuroda and the lack of solo training I can believe that as well. I read something you wrote a while back about the kata +gokui of a ryuha allowing a person to ''enter into" the experiences of the founder. I've thought about that a lot lately.

It seems that learning to feel various parts of the body about which one is not normall aware is an important part of internal conditioning methods. Then the task is learning to control/strengthen them. That is a difficult thing to show another person directly. How would one measure a feeling?

However if one could ''enter into'' the experience of someone who _had_ already undergone the process, then it would seem to me, a person could ''find'' the similar feelings, and then have a language with which to interpret the feelings and integrate them into a comprehensive worldview.

Best,
Tim

Last edited by Tim Fong : 03-05-2008 at 08:31 PM.
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Old 03-10-2008, 06:46 PM   #27
Scott Harrington
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Re: Training "Aiki" with Dan Harden

Besides the training with Kodo Horikawa, Shioda also had the opportunity to take uke for Takeda Sokaku once during one of his ‘visits' to Ueshiba's dojo. This is documented in "Aikido Shugyo" by Shioda (translated by Jacques Payet and Christopher Johnston.) So Shioda Gozo had a "feel" from the progenitor of Aiki, and two top proponents to help him on the path.

While Shioda was a small man (though he trained excessively for strength during his young years), he certainly had an aura of aiki around him. Payet sensei told a story to me once regarding his years as an uchideshi at the Yoshinkan hombu and the difference between strength and aiki.

Nearing the end of his life, Shioda started to physically weaken. A heavy gust of wind pushed over a flimsy folding screen, which struck the master and knocked him down. Of course, they rushed to pick him up. But then later on the mat, he tossed his younger, bigger, stronger students with ease. Certainly something to think about.

The trouble with aiki as I see it is the method of instruction, which is a) very secret or b) very difficult to teach or c) very poorly taught.

If it is very secret, then you have to join the proper ‘club.' This may exclude some of us geographically, monetarily, etc.

If it is very difficult to teach then perhaps you need natural talent or continue to practice for a long time (a gamble as I see it) or it can only be passed on directly. I may not have the talent nor live that long, nor known the right source (which means back to it is very secret.)

If it is just poorly taught then perhaps one must reexamine how it is taught. There are language barriers, metaphors that don't cross over, preconceptions that must be dropped. But perhaps it just takes an examination of what is out there (which surprisingly is a lot) and rearranging it into a lesson plan.

Is that what the Aunkai is doing? Unfortunately priorities have twice made me miss seeing what they have. But I have felt aiki and so am on the path.

Payet sensei of the ‘rigid Yoshinkan path did some things I must admit are outstanding. And at a recent Matsuoka seminar (Aikikai linked) I too felt this elusive aiki.

While training on moving against a two-hand grasp, the person I was latched onto just wasn't getting it (I wasn't either but did get some, very little some, later.) They tried, I tried, yada yada no go.

Matsuoka sensei, with his always smiling personality, comes over and takes hold of my partner's other arm (the one I wasn't latched on to) and gently moving his own body, all of a sudden I could feel a connection directly from him going thru one arm, one body and out the other arm to me latched on tight with two hands. Impressive!

Now getting an explanation, or reproducing it - another story. Is it just you need the long background first to understand tensor differentials or can it be put into words like, "Just do this," I have yet to figure out. Any help out there?

Scott Harrington
co-author of "Aiki Toolbox: Exploring the Magic of Aikido"
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Old 03-10-2008, 10:46 PM   #28
Upyu
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Re: Training "Aiki" with Dan Harden

Quote:
Scott Harrington wrote: View Post
Besides the training with Kodo Horikawa, Shioda also had the opportunity to take uke for Takeda Sokaku once during one of his ‘visits' to Ueshiba's dojo. This is documented in "Aikido Shugyo" by Shioda (translated by Jacques Payet and Christopher Johnston.) So Shioda Gozo had a "feel" from the progenitor of Aiki, and two top proponents to help him on the path.

While Shioda was a small man (though he trained excessively for strength during his young years), he certainly had an aura of aiki around him. Payet sensei told a story to me once regarding his years as an uchideshi at the Yoshinkan hombu and the difference between strength and aiki.
<snip>
Hi Scott,

There's similar stories about Sagawa (Takeda's longest Deshi, together with him since Sagawa was 12) and how he couldn't open a can of food to save his life during his 80's, but could toss around 100kg Judo gold medalists like they were babies.

My own personal take, from being able to do a tiny fraction of some of this stuff is that their ability to generate localized muscular power declines. Which it should, since you retrain your body to generate force in a different manner.

If you ask me, you can't get it through sheer repetition of techniques. Maybe you can, but it's "a slow boat to china" as Dan once said.

Which is why most styles have supplementary solo exercises to develop these skills. Fune-kogi, furi-tama, the 10,001 variations of Qi-gong exercises in CMAs, Suburi, Shiko (sumo stomping), the list goes on and on.

Sagawa mentioned once that
a) Aiki doesn't use power
b) but you need to physically train the body a great deal/condition it if you want to use Aiki
c) Once you realize how to do it, you don't need to train as much, since it's just there.

So what does it mean?

It probably means pretty much what he said.
You train something specifically in the body, operating it (actually "it" is several different things in the body, covered in posts recently and before by Mike, myself, Dan etc) differently from local muscular power, condition it, which strengthens it.
Once conditioned a part of "it" doesn't lose effectiveness over time. The current popular theory of the month, which I subscribe to myself since I'm able to feel it, is that the fascia gets conditioned. Once it's conditioned it doesn't really go away. Combine that with the ability to direct the weight of the body from the legs, and there's a number of "weird" things you can do.
(And that's leaving out other complexities involving the manipulation of the tissue in the middle, etc etc)

A lot of the "higher" levels of Aiki are probably dependent on having an extremely conditioned network of fascia.

Sagawa would train 6 hours or more a day, doing reps numbering th e hundreds with an iron spear that weighed 15-20 lbs, even when he was 80. But when asked, he said he didn't use "Power", and that you had to start light.

Problem is you have to be shown how to train it, unless you're an extremely clever day laborer that works heavy loads for a living

Just some food for thought.
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Old 03-14-2008, 02:17 PM   #29
Thomas Campbell
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Re: Training "Aiki" with Dan Harden

Quote:
Robert John wrote: View Post
Hi Scott,

There's similar stories about Sagawa (Takeda's longest Deshi, together with him since Sagawa was 12) and how he couldn't open a can of food to save his life during his 80's, but could toss around 100kg Judo gold medalists like they were babies.

My own personal take, from being able to do a tiny fraction of some of this stuff is that their ability to generate localized muscular power declines. Which it should, since you retrain your body to generate force in a different manner.

[snip]
Rob, if you happen to read this, in your (and/or Ark's), opinion, is the loss of "localized muscular power" an inevitable result or accompaniment to training of the type Sagawa's or Aunkai's methods teach? Or, to phrase the question somewhat differently, is there an inevitable conflict between training exercises to cultivate or maintain "localized muscular power" (bodyweight or weight lifting) and the internal body skills training of Sagawa's or Aunkai's approaches? I think it would be potentially confusing to attempt training using Aunkai methods, for example, while also maintaining a weightlifting regimen (free weights or machines), and I also recall that Ark mentioned he basically only trains now using the bodyweight methods of Aunkai.

I'd be interested in your thoughts. Thanks.
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Old 03-15-2008, 04:32 AM   #30
dps
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Re: Training "Aiki" with Dan Harden

Quote:
Scott Harrington wrote: View Post

The trouble with aiki as I see it is the method of instruction, which is a) very secret or b) very difficult to teach or c) very poorly taught.
"
No, it is the method of learning, aiki is very poorly learned. People tend to over think what they are being taught.

David

Last edited by dps : 03-15-2008 at 04:34 AM.
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Old 03-15-2008, 09:36 AM   #31
Upyu
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Re: Training "Aiki" with Dan Harden

Quote:
Thomas Campbell wrote: View Post
Rob, if you happen to read this, in your (and/or Ark's), opinion, is the loss of "localized muscular power" an inevitable result or accompaniment to training of the type Sagawa's or Aunkai's methods teach? Or, to phrase the question somewhat differently, is there an inevitable conflict between training exercises to cultivate or maintain "localized muscular power" (bodyweight or weight lifting) and the internal body skills training of Sagawa's or Aunkai's approaches? I think it would be potentially confusing to attempt training using Aunkai methods, for example, while also maintaining a weightlifting regimen (free weights or machines), and I also recall that Ark mentioned he basically only trains now using the bodyweight methods of Aunkai.

I'd be interested in your thoughts. Thanks.
Training with weights is fine, once you've acquired a degree of skill. Otherwise you wouldn't see heavy weapons training emphasized with so much zest in both CMA and JMA. My own personal take is that the stone locks you seen in Shuai Jiao, or the weights in Okinawan Karate are done to strengthen certain components of the body, only after you're able to produce "jin/kokyu" and move with "jin/kokyu." If you can do these things its kind of a "duh of course" realization.

Doing a weight lifting regimen in parallel with the methods taught in the Aunkai, or most internal arts would most certainly slow down the acquisition of skill, would be the short answer
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Old 03-15-2008, 09:38 AM   #32
Upyu
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Re: Training "Aiki" with Dan Harden

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
No, it is the method of learning, aiki is very poorly learned. People tend to over think what they are being taught.

David
I'd have to agree with Scott...in general its probably very poorly taught, if taught explicitly at all in most places. Hell the chinese, with all their detailed texts etc tend to be close-vested about this stuff.
(Not that I blame them, teach another "round-eye" a hand-waving form or the next technqiue/fighting app of the month and in rolls the cheese
Can't ask for an easier job than that.
If you ask me its the opposite problem, people tend to not think hard enough about some crucial points
Most people, when their head hurts thinking about the mechanics they chalk mastery up to "timing, good positioning, leverage...its simple physics!"

Last edited by Upyu : 03-15-2008 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 03-15-2008, 01:18 PM   #33
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Training "Aiki" with Dan Harden

Quote:
Scott Harrington wrote: View Post
The trouble with aiki as I see it is the method of instruction, which is
a) very secret or

b) very difficult to teach or

c) very poorly taught.
All three could stem from one common problem -- we have not adopted a coherent Western scheme of concepts that make this knowledge accessible in native terms to our culture. Thus, the terms in which it is taught seem, by turns:

a) too easily mocked by those who do not know it, so keeping the hoi-polloi out is understandable ;

b) too mysterious and "Speerchull" for the practically-minded, who may not have the patience to wait for the teaching to take hold and

c) difficult to put into words and functional principles that have a common foundation in our language.

"The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names."

That is something we have never done in the West in adopting these concepts. We have several big toolboxes we could use to tinker with them that we are not using because we have no proper names for them.

It really is one problem in three aspects. If we properly name "Aiki," and by extension "KI," in our terminology, these problems would tend to diminish. Training would improve, generally, with more ways to get at and unbundle the material for teaching and understadning what is taught. I think I am making some headway on that, although others may disagree with me.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 03-15-2008, 04:51 PM   #34
Allen Beebe
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Re: Training "Aiki" with Dan Harden

About 37 years ago my dearly departed Dad gave me a book on Jujutsu for my birthday. This book contained pictures and instructions for performing, what in my opinion at the time were, fantastic feats. I was totally hooked on martial arts. My dad and I watched Kung Fu movies together and I checked out the one Karate and the one Kung Fu book that was available from the public library at the time. I studied every word and picture as meticulously as I possibly could and replicated every move to the best of my ability.

I had a friend at school that was as crazy about Martial Arts as I was and one day we agreed to bring our uniforms to school to show each other. I made a cool purplish/black belt from some strap that my mom had and packed it together with my bathrobe. When we got together and shared, I criticized my friend's outfit because his green belt was obviously all wrong. It was easily twice as long as it needed to be and wasn't nearly as wide as the ones I saw in the Kung Fu movies. He asked to see mine and upon viewing it suggested that we wait in the class as the other kids leave for the playground and show each other "our moves."

Our plan went off OK. (This was 37 years ago remember, teachers didn't have to be as vigilant as today.) Alone in the classroom I showed him forms that I had been practicing and shared the detailed rational that I had memorized from my books. My friend listened and watched politely and when his turn came he just asked me to punch or kick him. I was instantly sent flying into the nearby desks and chairs. My wounded pride and rising anger dictated that I re-double my efforts and experience the same embarrassing results. At that point It was painfully clear to my friend that I was all talk and no walk with regards to my Martial Arts training and experience. It was painfully clear to me that my friend could DO what I had only read about, conceptualized, self-engineered and dreamed of. He could do what I couldn't.

The difference that made the difference wasn't that he was older, wiser, or had better theoretical understanding of Martial Arts. The difference was he actually went and trained with somebody who showed him the theoretical understanding (My theoretical understanding!) in action and taught my friend how to do it.

I unfortunately lost a friend that day, but I did learn a valuable lesson. Not long afterward, I went and found someone who could do what I "understood" and who was willing to teach me to do it as well. I trained hard and found that soon I was able to do what my friend did . . . I even learned how to tie on one of those ridiculously long belts!

Epilogue: In time I wasn't entirely satisfied doing what I had initially read about. I continued to read and was captivated by stories of demur men (and at least one woman) that could perform, in my opinion, fantastic feats. I read the books, studied the pictures, explanations and instructions, sought out movies and constructed what I considered to be plausible rational explanations and theories (psychological and physical) for what I saw and tried them out . . . all the while keeping my eyes open for someone who could DO the fantastic feats and who would teach them to me . . .

. . . and so it goes . . .

~ Allen Beebe
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Old 03-15-2008, 07:12 PM   #35
Walker
 
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Re: Training "Aiki" with Dan Harden

Allen, this is why you are such a cool guy. Telling this kind of story on yourself to such a quixotic purpose is true compassion in action.
Proud to be your friend and student.

-Doug Walker
光道館・叢雲道場
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Old 03-15-2008, 09:42 PM   #36
Aikibu
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Re: Training "Aiki" with Dan Harden

Great Story Allan!

Reminds me of the time I knocked myself out with my own nunchucks when I was about 12.

In front of the entire Dojo.

"Everybody was Kung Fu Fiiiighting... Those cats were quick as liiiighting..."

William Hazen
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Old 03-16-2008, 09:40 PM   #37
statisticool
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Re: Training "Aiki" with Dan Harden

Quote:
William Hazen wrote: View Post
Reminds me of the time I knocked myself out with my own nunchucks when I was about 12.
Oh god, (almost) ditto for me. That might explain my current drain bramage.

A secret of internal strength?:
"Let your weight from the crotch area BE in his hands."
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