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Old 09-23-2009, 08:41 AM   #1
jxa127
Dojo: Itten Dojo -- Mechanicsburg, PA
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"Hidden in Plain Sight" -- Misogi, breath, and Chinese IS connection?

Ellis,

I finished HIPS last night. It's truly your best martial arts book.

I'm confused a bit about the last chapter and the connection between Ueshiba's misogi/breath (and kotodama?) training, which you state helped him become so powerful, and Chinese internal strength training, which seems to be at the root of "aiki" power. You provide some history of Ueshiba's breath training and state that it may have a connection to Chinese practices, but regardless of the source, it seems to have been a very important aspect of O Sensei's training.

However, the internal strength stuff we're practicing, based on Mike Sigman's instructions, doesn't seem to cover much of the breath training, at least not like O Sensei did it. So this leads to a few questions:

1) Is there a connection between O Sensei's misogi/breath training and Chinese internal strength training?

2) Is the breath training a necessary component to developing power or aiki (or both) like O Sensei had?

3) For Dan and Mike as well as Ellis: do current internal strength training methods incorporate breath training or misogi like O Sensei did?

4) Is it even possible to recreate the breath training that O Sensei did in this day and age, outside of Japan, and without O Sensei's religious background ?

Thanks,

-Drew

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-Drew Ames
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Old 09-23-2009, 10:58 AM   #2
jss
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" -- Misogi, breath, and Chinese IS connection?

Quote:
Drew Ames wrote: View Post
4) Is it even possible to recreate the breath training that O Sensei did in this day and age, outside of Japan, and without O Sensei's religious background ?
For all its religious purposes: perhaps not. I really don't know. (And don't care, to be honest.)
For all its physical purposes: yes. It's a physical exercise like any other. But it might be wiser to figure out what O-sensei was training through these exercises and then find someone to teach you similar ones. I mean, is your focus on the means or on the goal?

Last edited by jss : 09-23-2009 at 11:03 AM.
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Old 09-23-2009, 11:50 AM   #3
DH
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" -- Misogi, breath, and Chinese IS connection?

When did Ueshiba first show up with power?
Who and what was he training that produced it?
Of those he was training with at that time__________who do we know displayed similar or even greater skill and power?

If, as has been suggested, he got his power or even a signficant percentage from Misogi?
Who and what was he training that produced it?
Of those he was training with at that time__________who do we know displayed similar or even greater skill and power?

I left out the ICMA; as he stated, his son stated, his followers stated, his biographers stated, and his researchers stated; he never did them.
There are adherents of both methods DR and those who do Misogi still alive and practicing today. Find DR people who never did the Misogi exercises Ueshiba did and test them. Find Misogi adherents who never did Daito ryu and test them.
I'll lay odds on where your best chances are to get at the heart of Ueshiba's power.

As far as answering your questions about breath training. There is Breath training in DR there is breath training in ICMA. Were you to consider percentages- it is no where near the be all and end all of internal training. YMMV

Cheers
Dan

Last edited by DH : 09-23-2009 at 12:04 PM.
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Old 09-23-2009, 12:01 PM   #4
Fred Little
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" -- Misogi, breath, and Chinese IS connection?

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
There are adherents of both methods DR and Misogi still alive and practicing today. Find DR people who never did Shingon exercises and test them. Find Shingon people who never did Daito ryu and test them.
While there are some borrowings from Shingon (and Tendai) in the misogi practices associated with Ueshiba, those misogi practices are no more Shingon than Vodun is Catholicism.

Best,

FL

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Old 09-23-2009, 12:08 PM   #5
DH
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" -- Misogi, breath, and Chinese IS connection?

Hello Fred.
Corrected in an edit.
That said, the point still applies.
Good luck in your search Drew.
Cheers
Dan
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Old 09-23-2009, 01:32 PM   #6
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" -- Misogi, breath, and Chinese IS connection?

Didn't Sagawa dismiss breath training in relation to building higher levels of aiki...as in it would only take you so far?
Best,
Ron (have the book, haven't had time to read it yet, hoping for some peace soon to be able to read it)

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 09-23-2009, 06:10 PM   #7
eyrie
 
eyrie's Avatar
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" -- Misogi, breath, and Chinese IS connection?

Quote:
Drew Ames wrote: View Post
1) Is there a connection between O Sensei's misogi/breath training and Chinese internal strength training?
See Fred's comment.

Quote:
2) Is the breath training a necessary component to developing power or aiki (or both) like O Sensei had?
It's an adjunct to and part of the full spectrum of IS.

Quote:
3) ... do current internal strength training methods incorporate breath training or misogi like O Sensei did?
Call it qigong, kiko, pranayama, or whatever you like. There are many different forms of IS training...

Quote:
4) Is it even possible to recreate the breath training that O Sensei did in this day and age, outside of Japan, and without O Sensei's religious background ?
Recreate? Why? And why/how does religious, temporal or geogaphical dislocation factor into it? The question should be how to train, not how it could be "recreated".

Ignatius
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Old 09-23-2009, 06:41 PM   #8
jxa127
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" -- Misogi, breath, and Chinese IS connection?

Ron,

You'll really enjoy the book when you get to it!

Thanks for the responses so far, guys. The reason I asked the question is that Ellis spends several pages describing the misogi/breath training in the last chapter, and its importance to how O Sensei developed a lot of his power.

Im interested in the goal, not the process, but it seems that if it was important to O Sensei in developing his power, then maybe it should be important to us.

However, please bear in mind that I'm asking in ignorance. I spent nine years training in traditional aikido, but it did not prepare me well for dealing with internal strength issues.

Regards,

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-Drew Ames
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Old 09-23-2009, 08:09 PM   #9
Ellis Amdur
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" -- Misogi, breath, and Chinese IS connection?

A lot of your question has been answered, I think. But let me add a little more:
1. Yes, Sagawa said that breath training wasn't important, BUT - given that it is such a valuable adjunct, is it possible that he was just giving the public one answer while keeping a couple of aces as hole cards. I've heard this from several sources, BTW.
2. Yes, yes, yes, Ueshiba got is aiki - somehow - from DR - I say somehow because we have such different stories of how Takeda taught. UEshiba learned by direct instruction, by osmosis or by stealing. But it is a little thread drift to bring up - unavoidable, perhaps - because the question was about misogi/breath/Ueshiba with a soupcon of Chinese thrown in. If this was the man's daily dozen for decades, then it must have been important to him as an avenue to what he wanted to train, just as the exercises that Sagawa did are, by all reports, NOT what he learned from TAkeda. He apparently developed them himself to enhance the particular type of "aiki" he was mastering. Why would Ueshiba not be the same?
3. The misogi exercises, as I did write in the book, were derived, in part, from Chinese exercises, that the creator of Misogikai then claimed came from primeval Shinto sources. It all goes back to China. Takeda's stuff was also, ultimately derived from China - through the Itto-ryu line - I believe. NOT directly, however.
4. Why Misogi? - Each of the prominent DR guys took what they learned from Takeda and apparently ran with it in certain different directions. Add to that the fact that Ueshiba wanted to differentiate himself from DR AND he wanted to put his teachings/training in a neo-Shinto context. Even if the content was the same, the meaning/context was different. Had a recent discussion with a koryu instructor whose ryu headmaster states clearly that some of the exercises are done the same way in China. BUT they are totally different. Because in this ryu, they are associated with focusing on a Shinto Deity, and drawing in all the mythic power that surrounds that deity and putting it in the context of the ryu. Now a mechanic might say, 'well, if the gears are the same, it's the same.' But the ryu practitioner would say that in addition to the internal strength, doing the exercise this way shapes my mind/my will in a radically different way. This will always be a pitfall in trying to get Ueshiba's aikido, where some things may be necessary, and your aikido, where they, as Joep suggests, are not.
5. I wouldn't presume to prescribe on how Mike is teaching you - if breathing exercises, in a misogi style are later on the menu, for example - or should be. But I will say that from day one, there is information on the breath in Mike's teaching. Maybe similar to Ueshibas - I do not have the details of how he instructed one to breathe doing the misogi exercises.
6. One question I raised in the book is if the misogi exercises were Ueshiba's avenue to try to go "beyond" Takeda, as far as he was concerned, in the same manner as Sagawa did. OR, if they were just a maintenance set that he used to keep in "internal" shape, but not the route he followed to get in that shape. Another point - hardcore breathing exercises are strength builders. (The Mighty Atom Greenstein, for example). I've noted elsewhere that Ueshiba was "power-proud." I think that it IS possible that he got side-tracked in a certain level of raw power focus. In that sense, it may be that he only GOT what Takeda was teaching 30-40 years later. And that Shirata sensei's statement that Osensei was strongest after the war was not being a polite student - he really meant it.
7. If one is interested in the Misogi exercises, I think the best routes to follow up are in Abe Seiseki's circle and in Shirata Rinjiro's. The usual caveats (sadly) apply - how openly and deeply will you be taught? I don't know the answer to that.
Ellis Amdur

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Old 09-23-2009, 08:41 PM   #10
jxa127
Dojo: Itten Dojo -- Mechanicsburg, PA
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" -- Misogi, breath, and Chinese IS connection?

Hi Ellis,

Thanks for the detailed reply. The most interesting conundrum is to what extent O Sensei "got sidetracked" as you say developing power to complement his aiki. It makes me wonder if power and "aiki" are necessarily exclusive.

As you write starting on page 225, "The Short-Hand Version," power and aiki are not necessarily exclusive, but there's more.

Regarding your point #5, I just want to say that I wouldn't presume to understand what Mike is teaching. I haven't attended his seminars, but I'm learning from the people in my dojo who have. Add that to the fact that I'm essentially starting from scratch, and any misconception is entirely mine and not Mike's or anyone's from my dojo.

A final point on breathing and breath control: I sang a lot in high school and college -- attending district and regional chorus in high school, going to music camps, etc. Back in the late '80s Cyril Stretansky, of Susquehanna University taught a bunch of us a sophisticated way to breath when we sang.

In addition to all the normal stuff about having a good column of air and breathing from the belly rather than the chest, he had us work on expanding abs as we exhaled rather than contracting them. He had me stand behind him and squeeze his side and belly while he sang and I could not resist the force of his expansion.

This was my first exposure to the power of proper breathing.

Regards,

----
-Drew Ames
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