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Old 05-10-2002, 08:17 AM   #1
ian
 
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Tori Fune

What is the point of the rowing excercise? Although I can understand the idea of hip stability, why would you pull your hands in a straight line directly back to your hips (which would surely bring an attacker directly into you). Pretty much everything I do in aikido I have my hands in front of my centre, but generally extending away from my body.

Also, why are there two different versions (one where you just push your arms forward, another where you swing them forwards). Is there any benefit of tori fune over e.g. just extending forwards or back (or eight directions)??

Ian
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Old 05-10-2002, 09:19 AM   #2
andrew
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I read something about this on the old aikido society of memphis website in their (quite funny) FAQ. That was one of the serious bits, mind, and it was answered with a quote from Tamura Shihan. Written by a guy called Jim Baker (and when I searched for it I made the confusing mistake of putting "Jim Bakker" into the search engine....) who adds here, occasionally.

http://www.aikido_memphis.homestead.com/faq.html

I don't think you're supposed to be pulling your hands back so much as pulling your hips back and letting your hands follow. In other words, it helps you increase your hip movement without moving youur feet. Here's what it says at that link, anyhow...

---------------------------------------------
Q: Why do we do that hand wringing thing at the end of warm ups?
Hold on tight, bunkies; things are going to get rough. I'm going to quote Tamura Shihan's answer:

"Furitama is important because every class I followed with O Sensei he did it. Consequently, his pupils, including myself and you, must do it to find our its meaning for ourselves. What O Sensei said, for instance, was `You are standing with one foot put on the rock of the sky, the other foot on the rock of the earth'. This means you are standing in the center of the universe, You receive the ki from the sky and the ki from the earth at the point of unification (where the hands come together, left on top) and you move your hands because it is the mixing point. And that is where the energy takes life."
Tamura Shihan then goes into a comparison with sex which I've left out. No, really.

---------------------------------------------

I know that's not quite the rowing exercise, but anytime I've done the rowing exercise we finished with what's described above.

andrew
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Old 05-10-2002, 09:59 AM   #3
Edward
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Funakogi undo as we call it at our dojo is an exercice taken from shinto practice. Some exercices do not have a direct relation to aikido, but could help improve your ki, stability, or establish a link between heaven and earth, which seems an important theme for Osensei (he used to mention very often ten-chi with the aikidoka as the link in between).

Moreover, this pulling exercice is very useful to break uke's balance to the front before you can use such techniques as tenchinage or others. Curiously, we used to do a similar exercice in judo but at the chest level for exactly the same purpose.
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Old 05-10-2002, 12:24 PM   #4
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Torifune no gyo

greetings to all!

The following information was taught to me directly by Seiseki Abe Sensei, 10th dan at his Osaka dojo. O-Sensei would spend about 1/3 of every month at Abe Sensei's home and teach aikido in the Osaka dojo that Abe Sensei built for him (next to his home). For those who aren't familiar with him, Abe Sensei was also O-Sensei's calligraphy teacher, and thus had a unique Master-Student, Student-Master relationship.

Torifune no gyo is one of the eight "gyo" (literally - austere training methods) or practices of Misogi-no-Gyo (austere training methods/practices of Misogi), as taught by O-Sensei. Many people use misogi as a spiritual practice. Although there is this aspect, it is only part of the picture. The actual reason is not a mystical practice by any means. There is a real basis for this practice, one rooted in a physical science and training directly related to our aikido training. Simply it is used to develop "Kokyu" or breath power. Kokyu is made up of two Kanji, "Ko" - meaning to breath out, and Kyu" - to breath in. There is also an advanced "bugei" aspect having to do with "hiding" ones breath from one's opponent. However, this is an advanced level of this training accomplished after years of companion breathing exercises.

They eight Misogi are:

1. Misogi-no-gyo (purification and breath training with cold water)

2. Torifune-no-gyo (rowing exercise to "actively" train the breath during movement)

3. furitama-no-gyo (shaking hands in front of hara to passively train the breath while in standing meditation)

4. Norito-no-gyo (chanting of long prayers to further train the breath)

5. Otakebi-no-gyo (Lifting the hands over the head, and body up on the toes, bringing hands back down to below the tanden while shouting "eee-aaaay" and forcing all the breath from the body, again, breath training.

6. Okorobi-no-gyo (two different practices using tegatana "two-fingered sword" cutting, shouting "eee-aaaay" and forcing all the breath from the body, for breath training.

7. Chinkon Kishin-no-gyo (seated meditation, with specific hand postures, hand gestures, and specific meditative visualizations)

8. Shokuji-no-gyo (specific dietary measures designed to exstinguish the body's physical power and change the blood from acidic (typical) to alkaline [to promote proper breathing, and correct mind/attitude/heart - kokoro-e])

With specific regards to Torifune, there are three different components or movements. Each are to be followed by furitama, thus creating a pattern of "active/passive" breath training.

In the first movement, While moving the hips forward, the emphasis is on moving the hands forward very quickly (fingers active with "ki" and pointed down to the ground, wrists are bent - note the rotation of the forearm from the ready position to the forward position) while exhaling (kiai) with the compound vowel sound "Eeee-Aaaay". As the hips move back, the wrists follow (soft movement) with the vowel sound "ho". This 2-part sequence of forwards and backwards should be repeated upwards of twenty times. This is the male aspect, or "giving ki" exercise or "Irimi/Kokyu-ho" (triangle/square) based techniques.
You should notice that you are breathing hard as you change to furitama-no-gyo exercise.

The second Torifune exercise reverses the emphasis, starting with a forward hip movement, a soft hand movement and kiai with "ho" followed by the return of the hips, quick hand movement, while exhaling (kiai) with the compound vowel sound "Eeee-Aaaay". Then furitama-no-gyo. This is female, or "accepting ki" exercise or "tenkan/Kokyu-ho" or (circle/square) based techniques.

The third exercise changes the hand movements from ones that are hip level to ones that are chest level. Starting with palms up (at your sides and chest level) begin with the forward hip movement, moving the hands forward very quickly, turning the palms down to the ground, and exhaling (kiai) using the pronounciation of "saaaaaah" This is followed by returning the hands to their original position, again moving the hands backward very quickly, this time exhaling (kiai) using the pronounciation "Eeee-Aaaay." Again, the emphasis is on both, moving the hands forward very quickly and back just as quickly. However, it is important to note that you should try this exercise in one breath, pushing all of your breath out as you move forward and back until you can not kiai any longer. This is the male/female or female/male aspect, for giving/receiving or receiving/giving "ki" exercise or "Irimi/Kokyu-ho" (triangle/square) or "tenkan/Kokyu-ho" (circle/square) based techniques. This is followed again by furitama-no-gyo.

Generally, furitama-no-gyo is practiced to warm the body up before Misogi-no-gyo. Then after misogi, the above routine is followed. This is a daily practice, and should be done four times a day (early morning, late morning, early afternoon, and late afternoon, but not at night).

If anyone is interested in more information, please feel free to contact me directly.

Shaun Ravens - NY Aikido Center
Member, Aikido Doshinokai

Last edited by Misogi-no-Gyo : 05-14-2002 at 08:28 AM.

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Old 05-14-2002, 07:04 AM   #5
ian
 
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Many thanks for these two posts - comprehensive and informative! I have started chi gung, which I found benefitted my aikido and though I suspected tori fune may have been for ki, nobody ever seemed to be explicit about its use. I'm indebted to you both,

Ian
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Old 05-14-2002, 09:58 AM   #6
Bruce Baker
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Rowing verses using oars.

I wonder how many people who start the Rowing exercise in Aikido actually have rowed, or pulled a big oar, more than twelve feet to propell a water craft?

It isn't the easiest thing to do. In fact, it takes more than just muscle to pull, or push an oar, depending on if you are standing, sitting, facing forward, or astern.

Many of the empty, imagined, movements I see in practice are quite comical from the standpoint that no matter how serious people try to be in the application of force, their stance, balance, muscle movement can not sustain more than a few minutes of rowing resistence in a real oar pulling situation. Perhaps this is why O'Sensei would stess this exercise as building ones strength, ki from this exercise.

If something with constant resistence, with force enough to knock you off your feet, can be met with proper stance, and opposing movement of speed with strength, then we begin to realize the practical application of static rowing exercise.

My point being, we should probably give a little push to each person to see if they have stability while exercising? An old trick, but quite an effective training tool in using rooting to attain a firm base.

If you have a friend with a rowboat, try rowing forward or backward for five to ten minutes ... it will definitely enlighten you as to the beginnings of out static exercise, verses the real thing. In fact, if you apply the same techniques in rowing, although the rythym will be different, you will find your exercise less strenuous, and you will be able to row for longer periods of time.

If you have friends with bigger boats and they have larger oars ... are you gonna get your eyes opened trying to row a twenty foot boat!

Then there are the rowing machines in the exercise rooms ... if nothing else, you will learn to use your entire body to row.

Use your entire body?

Sounds like an Aikido principle, doesn't it?
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Old 05-16-2002, 02:33 PM   #7
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When is rowing not Rowing

Bruce,

Very insightful post.

Quote:
I wonder how many people who start the Rowing exercise in Aikido actually have rowed, or pulled a big oar, more than twelve feet to propel a water craft?
I believe that visualizing the tree types of rowing evident in the "ToriFune" undo (exercise) is beneficial to understanding the emphasis of either forward, or backward (te-sabaki) hand movements in relation to the (tai-sabaki) body movement.

However, having actual rowing experience is not at all necessary for practicing Torifune-no-gyo. Actually rowing may in fact get in the way of improving your aikido in two ways.

The first being that you may build up too much upper body strength. My experience has been that the bigger the shoulders, arms and chest of an opponent, the easier it is to drop them, and the more difficult time they have trying to lose their physical power and access kokyu power as the root of their aikido techniques.

The second way is that it is very easy to actually disturb your breathing when physically "over" training your body - hence the implementation of the "passive" FuriTama component to balance out this part of Misogi.

That being said, rowing is a great exercise, and if done correctly - i.e., with breathing - can dramatically improve one's ability to relax and find kokyu power by releasing one's physical power.

Abe Sensei said to me. "The secret of aikido, actually all budo, is to do everything with the proper breathing..." Well, that's not all he said the secret was...


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Old 06-09-2003, 06:01 PM   #8
Alfonso
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sorry for the dumb question.. but i've been wondering if I got this wrong?

torifune kiai - where do you inhale, where do you exhale?

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 06-10-2003, 01:10 AM   #9
Bronson
 
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In Seidokan funakogi undo (as we also call it) is an integral part of many of our techniques as a balance breaker. It teaches us to initiate movement with the hips and follow with the hands.

Oh and yes Bruce we do get the occasional push to test our stability while doing this and other exercises.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 06-10-2003, 02:45 AM   #10
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Quote:
Alfonso Adriasola (Alfonso) wrote:
sorry for the dumb question.. but i've been wondering if I got this wrong?

torifune kiai - where do you inhale, where do you exhale?
Alfonso,

Actually, this is a very good question that you have asked. The answer is very long, but basically, you have to learn the best way, as these exercises are about "learning" (teaching yourself) how (and when) to breathe. You can start off by taking a breath in, and with each forward and backward motion let a bit of your breath come out as you make the kiai. Then when you are towards the end of exhaling the full breath, you can take another breath in. This is only one method of training, and there are several others that should also be investigated during the first two movements. Although there is a conscious intent to control your breath, the actual end result should be very natural way, as if you are singing two long lines in a song - first breath in, sing one line, then breathe in again and sing the next line.

The Teacher is the one who guides the students in this method. As the students improve, the exercise is extended to allow the student to keep reaching for a new goal.

As for the third round of tori-fune, it is all about breathing completely all of the way out, and expelling every last bit of breath your body can stand to push out. Please be very careful with this training method.

Keep up the training, and come back with any more questions - that is the real purpose of the gyo.

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Old 06-10-2003, 11:27 AM   #11
Alfonso
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Thank you for the information. this helps a lot in my present muddle.

Until a year ago or so I was purely learning Aikido by doing. I tried , counter to my usual approach, to avoid intelectualizing, reading or otherwise getting too much theory in my head. I made a comment about a year ago in class, which got me a strange look in that regards from sensei. ..nothing wrong with reading..

So now, I find myself trying to tie back so much information with all these exercises which I've "done". Well, I'm still sorting it out.

thanks again.

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 06-11-2003, 12:48 AM   #12
PhilJ
 
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Quote:
Bronson Diffin (Bronson) wrote:
In Seidokan funakogi undo (as we also call it) is an integral part of many of our techniques as a balance breaker. It teaches us to initiate movement with the hips and follow with the hands.

Oh and yes Bruce we do get the occasional push to test our stability while doing this and other exercises.

Bronson
Yep, that's how I was taught. I use it as an exercise in practicing moving the one-point rather than leading with the upper body. It's also a helpful exercise to employ before randori.

Ian, the drop back is more for learning how to use your hips to draw uke closer to you. If you use that motion coupled with getting off the line, you have some great technique (Use this big-time for ryotemochi sasoikomi [makiotoshi], for instance -- ikkyu or nikkyu exam technique in Seidokan).

In that light, don't overlook the first half for the same reason. There is tremendous benefit to learning how to use your body to extend in front of you with your one-point.

Phillip Johnson
Enso Aikido Dojo, Burnsville, MN
An Aikido Bukou Dojo
http://www.aikidobukou.com
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Old 06-11-2003, 03:53 AM   #13
George S. Ledyard
 
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Torifune

I only have two small things to add to Shaun's excellent description (there were some things in there I hadn't heard before. I want to check them out with some folks who do some different styles to see if they have these elements in common).

First, in the strictly physical sense the action of shifting the weight forward in this exercise is actually one half of a "centered" walking motion. I call it the "power walk" when I do workshops for non-aikido folks. The shifting of the weight forward allows you to set up a solid one point base with the forward foot so that you can move the back foot into the forward position, then you shift forward again and repeat the process. This is actually how we move in aikido if we are connected to the earth and have power even when we are moving. This is the first step to getting your body to do a technique, not your arms.

Second, if you get the proper motion down in this exercise, a partner can grab both your wrists and try to provide resistence. You should be able to stay relaxed yet have tremendous power in the movement. You can actually lift the person off his feet with the extension and totally break their balance on the draw. Also, Mary Heiny Sensei once told me that the extension movement should be done explosively with the energy of a strike. One of the things I have done when teaching the exercise is to have someone hold a focus mitt on their chest and the students do the exercise and actually hit the mitt with the back of the wrist on the extension. The effect is amazing in that, with a completely relaxed movement, you can knock someone back several feet. Anyway, these were basically things you could do to check whether your "rowing" exercise was really coming from your hara or not.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 06-11-2003, 07:19 AM   #14
Alec Corper
 
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Aside from the Ki building aspect and the moving of center, which have been excellently covered by ravens and Ledyard sensei, there is an interseting exercise which I am sure many are familiar with. Begin with the arms extended, have you partner grasp your wrists and them move your hips backwards until your arms and your partners arms are properly connected. At this point continue back, sinking slightly, and your partners whole weight should be moved with virtually no effort. Then reverse the process, let your partner hold your wrists at your hips and begin to move your center forwards, exhaling as you go. As you reach almost full extension and your knee is almost above your toes allow your arms to continue forwards, maintaining the energy of your center's momentum. At this point your partner will be really moving. This is very similar to how some Chi Kung exercises move into applications within Chen style Tai Chi. As is the case with all Aikido the true difficulty lies in transferring this practise into your henka waza.

regards, Alec

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Old 06-11-2003, 11:04 AM   #15
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Quote:
Alec Corper wrote:
This is very similar to how some Chi Kung exercises move into applications within Chen style Tai Chi.
Alec,

could you please provide a reference to those Tai Chi exersises. One of my friends from the dojo does Chen style and we have been comparing techniques recently. He would be very interested to hear this.

Thanks a lot.
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Old 06-12-2003, 03:27 AM   #16
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Re: Torifune

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:

Also, Mary Heiny Sensei once told me that the extension movement should be done explosively with the energy of a strike.
I would absolutely concur with this statement. Both the forward and reverse movements are very relaxed, and very explosive. When you can get a good grasp of this, you can then proceed to understanding the third movement, which is explosive in both directions. However, I want to stress that there is a relationship between the forward and backward movements here, in that like a sign wave, with no beginning and no ending, there is a connection. In essence I mean that it is really one movement that is based upon a connection between the breath and the rotation of the wrists. Moving towards actual application, this is when one develops the Ryu/Circle/Nagare/ techniques that we see many practice, yet seem so ineffective.

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Old 06-12-2003, 09:14 AM   #17
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Taras,

The comparison is best found in the relationship between ward off and roll back power transfers and in the first 2movements of the Chen style short form. Also the Silk Reeling exercises detail rotations of knee and shoulder which, if performed with roll back and ward off, are very similar to torifune. Actually IMHO all Tai Chi projections make use of the same principle as Torifune, and the energies are cross transferable.

regards, Alec

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Old 06-12-2003, 04:55 PM   #18
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Re: Tori Fune

QUOTE="Ian Dodkins (ian)"]What is the point of the rowing excercise? Although I can understand the idea of hip stability, why would you pull your hands in a straight line directly back to your hips (which would surely bring an attacker directly into you). Pretty much everything I do in aikido I have my hands in front of my centre, but generally extending away from my body.

...

Ian[/quote]
Well, at least the way Koichi Tohei Sensei has been teaching the rowing exercise for some time, you do not pull your hands straight back to your hips. That would be considered incorrect. Instead your hands simply drop down to the side of your legs (with a heaviness in the tips of the fingers) and then rise straight up to your hips as the hips start to shift forward. when the hips stop going forward the hands extend out straight but with downward angle. This extension can be very swift/explosive, but it should also be without tension. Hands float at full extension with the shoulders opening as the hips shift back and then the cylce continues.

If I was standing in a boat seems like it would go forward, thrust starting with my legs. :-)

We test this motion in aikido by having someone grab both wrists strongly and brace themselves to try to stop/resist your movements the best they can as you try to row as relaxed as possible starting from any point. Do it well and you remove their balance.

It's a fundamental part of a number of our kokyunages so there can be a really important point to doing it and learning it correctly.



Craig
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Old 06-12-2003, 05:20 PM   #19
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Ki Symbol Re: When is rowing not Rowing

Quote:
Shaun Ravens (Misogi-no-Gyo) wrote:
That being said, rowing is a great exercise, and if done correctly - i.e., with breathing - can dramatically improve one's ability to relax and find kokyu power by releasing one's physical power.

Abe Sensei said to me. "The secret of aikido, actually all budo, is to do everything with the proper breathing..." Well, that's not all he said the secret was...

This is not meant to argue, I am just genuinely curious about this view at appears to be a bit 180 from my training. While we certainly have breathing exercises, when it comes to movement Koichi Tohei Sensei's attitude to this seems to be to disagree and we don't teach any special breathing practice with the rowing exercise. A natural relaxed breathing is expected. He has said that tying a specific breathing pattern to movement is a weakness that can be exploited by an opponent. I have no trouble relaxing and tossing someone around who tries to stop me from the doing the rowing movement and I have never done it with anything other than natural breathing rhythm not tied to the movement itself.

what does proper breathing mean here ?

does it mean specific inhalation and exhalations at certain points in movement or something else.

best regards,

Craig
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Old 06-12-2003, 09:24 PM   #20
Misogi-no-Gyo
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Re: Re: When is rowing not Rowing

Quote:
Craig Hocker (kironin) wrote:
This is not meant to argue, I am just genuinely curious about this view at appears to be a bit 180 from my training. While we certainly have breathing exercises, when it comes to movement Koichi Tohei Sensei's attitude to this seems to be to disagree and we don't teach any special breathing practice with the rowing exercise. A natural relaxed breathing is expected. He has said that tying a specific breathing pattern to movement is a weakness that can be exploited by an opponent. I have no trouble relaxing and tossing someone around who tries to stop me from the doing the rowing movement and I have never done it with anything other than natural breathing rhythm not tied to the movement itself.
I could say a lot here, ...on second thought, given your good intentions, and sincere question, I won't. I will say that this is the difference between "KI" & "KOKYU" It is like heads and tails on a coin in that:

1. You can't separate the two and still have any value.

2. They are made of the same thing. However, they are clearly not the same.

and

3. The actual point where one meets the other could be argued by philosophers until the end of time.

However, this material is best discussed in person, and on the mat with practical examples.
Quote:
what does proper breathing mean here ?


Actually, with regards to the section of my post that you quoted, I was talking about "rowing" as in a boat that is in the water. I was not speaking of Torifune-no-Gyo. However, most "oarsmen" have very developed upper bodies, and these are the easiest body types to defeat because 99% of the time they will rely on strength and the other 1% of the time you can force them to go back to using their power, and then you have them right where you wanted them in the first place.
Quote:
does it mean specific inhalation and exhalations at certain points in movement or something else.


All "do" are different expressions of Breath control. For example, the breathing one discovers in calligraphy is the same that is in aikido. However, it is the pause in breathing (not simply "stopping") that is significant, and takes a lifetime of dedication and struggle to move towards mastery. Misogi was O-Sensei's path. Aikido was a form of Misogi. The unification of body and mind comes from breath control. This can be traced back through all forms of martial arts - back through China, and back to India and the studies of the Yogis. Movement without understanding the breathing that is behind it is simply movement, empty and nothing more. One who has movement (even unified movement) as the only tool in his toolbox, may easily be overtaken by one who has an intermediate level of understanding Kokyu. This can be found right in the pages of Kojiki - the source of O-Sensei's Aikido.

Relaxation & letting go of physical power + unification and alignment of the chakras are only the first steps to take. My only question to you would be, once you have achieved that, where do you go from there with your training?

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Old 06-13-2003, 12:53 PM   #21
Fred Little
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Old 06-13-2003, 01:00 PM   #22
akiy
 
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Ah -- so that's why it's called the "ro-ing exercise"...

-- Jun

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