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Circles, Spirals, and Spheres
Circles, Spirals, and Spheres
by Lynn Seiser
10-13-2010
Circles, Spirals, and Spheres

Breathe in, circles
Breathe out, spirals
Spheres of awareness and action

I remember when I first started in Aikido I kept hearing things like "get off the line" (of attack) and "keep your hands on your center line". This was somewhat easy to understand because I tend to think in straight lines (despite the twists and turns my life has often taken). Then I was told there were no straight lines in Aikido.

Think circles.

circle: a closed two-dimensional plane curve at which every point
is equal distance from the center

There are several important and useful aspects about the circle; the center, the radius, and the circumference.

One of the rules of Aikido is to maintain your one point. This often implies that all movement is initiated from our hips and pelvis region. This is the technical center of our physical body. It is important that we maintain this center and move with our entire unified body behind every motion. We become the center of the circle, the center of all movement. That center must be completely relaxed.

Another rule of Aikido is to extend Ki. As we have been told many times, Ki, or energy, follows the path of focus or intention. Therefore, we need to extend the mind past the radius of the extended arm. The arm must be relaxed with the weight on the underside.

The extension continues along and through the circumference of the physical body while the Ki continues and extends along and through the circumference of the mental focus and intention. Our reach will always be somewhat longer than our grasp.

Think of a horizontal circle as you enter and blend. Think of a vertical circle as you throw.

Think spirals.

spiral: a three-dimensional path moving around a central point
continuously receding or approaching a central point, a coil

Once we have the circle we develop the spiral. We can spiral up or we can spiral down.
We can spiral out or we can spiral in.

In the third control technique, Sankyo, we can apply a horizontal circle and gain some success. If we apply the same technique but spiral upward with it we unbalance the center of our training partner making them easier to move.

In the first control technique, Ikkyo, we can apply a vertical circle forward (Omote) and take our training partner to the ground. I used to apply a horizontal circle to the rear (Ura) only to find my partner and I were going in circles. Apply a downward spiral to Ikkyo Ura and our training partners are quickly on the ground.

As we watch a figure skater, we see the spinning spiral. If they extend their arms outward, they spin slower. If they pull their arms inward, they spin faster. Likewise, the bringing of our spiral into our center, the pin becomes faster and directly at our feet. Allow the spiral to extend outward and our technique becomes a roll that our training partner can safely roll out of.

Spiral up and out to unbalance and throw. Spiral down and in to pin.

Think spheres.

sphere: a globe, a ball, a closed three dimensional plane curve
at which every point is an equal distance from the center

Another three-dimensional shape is the sphere, the ball. The sphere contains the circle and the spiral.

Initially, we may learn, or teach, the forward roll by talking about the horizontal circle. It is like being a relaxed wheel that rolls forward holding it's shape. Later we may just roll like a ball, a sphere.

Because a sphere is three-dimensional it offers many options and opportunities. If you roll a ball (a sphere) at an object coming at it, it will simply roll off to one side. This is a good example of getting off the line and blending. If you push on a ball (a sphere) it will simply accept the pressure by giving into it, transfer that pressure to the other side of the ball, and then return the energy as a bounce. A sphere moves in any direction and maintains its shape and structure.

We can also talk about our sphere of awareness and influence or action. By maintaining a sphere of awareness around us we keep our attention externally focused for any threat or opportunity. By maintaining a sphere of influence, or action, we can extend in all directions our intention, ability, and willingness to act, react, and respond appropriately and effectively.

Breathe in, circles
Breathe out, spirals
Spheres of awareness and action

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) in Tenshinkai Aikido under Sensei Dang Thong Phong at the Westminster Aikikai Dojo in Southern California. He is the co-author, with Phong Sensei, of Aikido Basics (2003), Advanced Aikido (2006), and Aikido Weapons Techniques (2006) for Tuttle Publishing. His martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders and victims of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains at Roswell Budokan
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Old 10-15-2010, 01:28 AM   #2
crbateman
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Re: Circles, Spirals, and Spheres

Good article, Lynn-san. It's often that I lose some part of a technique, but breaking down the physics of it usually puts me back on course again (even though my old body often seems to have it's own weird set of physical properties... ). Thanks for thinking and sharing.
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Old 10-15-2010, 07:07 AM   #3
niall
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Re: Circles, Spirals, and Spheres

Great article. It's nice to see clear advice that will be directly useful in the dojo for everyone.

we can make our minds so like still water, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life
w b yeats


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Old 10-15-2010, 02:28 PM   #4
SeiserL
 
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Re: Circles, Spirals, and Spheres

Quote:
Niall Matthews wrote: View Post
It's nice to see clear advice that will be directly useful in the dojo for everyone.
Thanks for reading and responding.
My definition of truth is often that which is useful.
Getting from conceptual to application is important especially because I see so much application that doesn't include the conceptual principles of Aikido.
Thanks for the kind words.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 10-15-2010, 02:32 PM   #5
SeiserL
 
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Dojo: Roswell Budokan, Kyushinkan Dojo, Aikido World Alliance
Location: Roswell, GA USA
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Re: Circles, Spirals, and Spheres

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote: View Post
It's often that I lose some part of a technique, but breaking down the physics of it usually puts me back on course again (even though my old body often seems to have it's own weird set of physical properties... ).
Thanks for reading and responding my friend.
Totally agree about the mind and body having their own set of properties.
I see more and more of the physical Aikido without the mental understanding of its underlying physics.
Besides, if I can see the path I want my uke to travel, its a much simpler task to communicate that's where I want them to go.
And you know me, I am and love simplicity.
Thanks for the continual support and encouragement.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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