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Old 07-07-2011, 10:53 AM   #1
Mike Sigman
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Love as a driver for I.S. skills

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
And, regarding love/feelings and Graham's point of view. It occured to me that there may be very interesting ways at getting at subsets of the skills Mike is talking about. Some of these ways may use certain visualizations to accomplish certain tasks, which is no surprise (because visualizations are a creative way of directing the yi, which will direct the qi). What I am realizing though is that one can employ "emotional visualizations" as much as any spatial/physical visualization.
It's another type of visualization and it could have useful impact of the state of one's qi. I could see "love" and "acceptance" and "confidence" as emotional visualizations that may affect the torso, and certainly will help one relax and allow connection to manifest into the extremities. This is a bit of speculation here.
It is a fascinating possibility.
I think we the idea of an emotion as a driver for actual I.S. skills (demonstrable, reproducible, congruent with traditional description, etc.) is a bit of a reach. I'm no expert on Japanese religions and variations of religions, but I know that a lot of the Shinto, etc., beliefs borrowed anciently from Buddhist thought (as did many Chinese variations of religions). Emotion is usually to be abjured in favor of detachment ("no mind"), IIRC.

Of course there are virtuous "sublime states" (the Brahma Viharas): loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity, but as a rule these states apply to social convention, not to qi/ki/prana/jin/kokyu/shakti.

My point being that I don't see any (and I don't know of any) support for the idea of love being a driver of internal-strength skills.

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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Old 07-07-2011, 11:15 AM   #2
David Orange
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

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Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
I think we the idea of an emotion as a driver for actual I.S. skills (demonstrable, reproducible, congruent with traditional description, etc.) is a bit of a reach. I'm no expert on Japanese religions and variations of religions, but I know that a lot of the Shinto, etc., beliefs borrowed anciently from Buddhist thought (as did many Chinese variations of religions). Emotion is usually to be abjured in favor of detachment ("no mind"), IIRC.
Mike,

Would you speak a bit more on the concept of "heart" (xin, kokoro) in the six harmonies concept? Heart leads mind, mind leads ki, ki leads body (the three internal)?

Before you mentioned it somewhere, I never thought of "heart" as a component of the three internal harmonies. I just thought of it as a harmony between mind, ki and body, but you stated it as above.

After reading your comments and Peter Ralston's explication, I thought more about that and began to seek direct experience of xin or kokoro and, eventually I did experience that.

So can you extemporize a bit on that and the relationship of heart to love as you see it?

Thanks.

David

Last edited by David Orange : 07-07-2011 at 11:15 AM. Reason: sp

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Old 07-07-2011, 11:24 AM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

This may be a tad off-track, but it is what occurred to me in reading the end of the original thread, and seems more apt on this newer thread. It is something that came up on the mat last night.
The instructor was talking about what I consider "zanshin" but he was discussing as "ki" - the staying connected on a non-physical level with your uke after throwing. A sempai asked how one projects that kind of energy when doing more of a down than an out technique w/o driving a less experienced or fit uke really hard into the mat. The answer from the instructor was about control and sensitivity.
But my mind immediately went to the way I very often finish a throw at that down angle regardless of who uke is: with no conscious effort on my part I find myself visualizing putting one of my patients to bed, an act of tenderness - uke is off balance and I'm simply laying him down.

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Old 07-07-2011, 12:30 PM   #4
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

Hi Mike, no argument that this is a bit of a stretch. But the 2 critical parts of this idea are:
1. the emotional terminology would have applicability here not because of the emotions at all-- but because it is a form of visualization. People using these emotional visualizations may "trick" their bodies into doing things that others might reproduce using other means.
2. This whole endeavor would in terms of your frame of reference (as stated in documents like the Parameters) be a partial manifestation of things, not necessarily a way to represent or acquire the core skills.

Janet- I think your answer to the sempai's question sounds like a good one: your downward zanshin could be characterized by a spreading-out rather than a driving-into-the-ground. Not only is it potentially useful/effective in getting someone pinned, but it is nicer for them to experience during class.
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Old 07-07-2011, 12:46 PM   #5
Mike Sigman
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

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Mike,

Would you speak a bit more on the concept of "heart" (xin, kokoro) in the six harmonies concept? Heart leads mind, mind leads ki, ki leads body (the three internal)?

Before you mentioned it somewhere, I never thought of "heart" as a component of the three internal harmonies. I just thought of it as a harmony between mind, ki and body, but you stated it as above.

After reading your comments and Peter Ralston's explication, I thought more about that and began to seek direct experience of xin or kokoro and, eventually I did experience that.

So can you extemporize a bit on that and the relationship of heart to love as you see it?
Well, in the traditional sense "mind" comes from the brain, let's say, but "desire" originates from the "heart". So if I want to punch you, for example, the heart signals the desire and the desire to do the punch triggers the mind, the mind in turn sends the qi/ki where it is needed for the structural path, the qi/ki is the basis upon which the actual physical strength rides.

So you have: "Heart leads Mind, Mind leads Qi, Qi leads Strength". As you can see, the heart as a valentine or as an aspect of "love" (as in the western concept) is not entirely accurate in the Asian application.

As an indicator of "internal strength", the idea of desire, will, intent, etc., is not inaccurate. Where things get funky is that each age has its idiomatic usage of words, so "kokoro" could indicate the desire-strength, i.e., intent-strength, or jin (kokyu).... something along those lines. If a translator is unfamiliar with jin/kokyu/shakti, he is apt to translate somethink like the term "kokoro" or "shin" literally.... happens all the time, too.

Think of the term "ju" ("soft") and its idiomatic usage to denote "internal strength" in earlier times (see:
http://www.judoamerica.com/coachingc...ano-kata.shtml )

Quote:

The soft or internal arts were known popularly in China as jou-chuan, the characters for which are read in Japanese as "ju-ken," meaning "soft fist." It was common throughout that period to refer to all internal arts by this name. This may have played some role in the eventual popularity of the term jujutsu for these rough-and-tumble martial arts. Kano and others argued that there was nothing "gentle" or "soft" about Jujutsu, and that ju was hardly the over-riding principle of the arts. The arts were called "ju-arts" or jujutsu because they were based on internal methods and ki (internal energy), not because they employed no strength or force
Nowadays you have all these people arguing about "hard" versus "soft", yet they totally misunderstand the earlier and pertinent idiomatic usage. People tend to read things and think "Aha! I know what that means and now I'll go out and teach it", when in fact they're just adding to the common misery.

Whoops.... off soap-box!

Mike Sigman
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Old 07-07-2011, 01:58 PM   #6
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

So anyway, Mike, a thread with a title like this has to go into this question: if O-sensei was following this traditional "Way" where one goes beyond emotion, and if his Way is indeed that which starts with the study of what we are calling IS:
-what did he mean by "love" and why did he talk so much about it?

Now there are lots of really great words written about this even right here on this site. I am thinking of course of sources like Prof. Goldsbury's essays. So many words that I have had trouble reading all of them. So I could go back and study those. But-- can we explore that here, from IS first principles?

As a primary source, I would think of the Takemusu Aiki lectures on Aikido Journal. Love is mentioned in all of them, and people like Stanley Pranin consider these to be the most reliable representations of Ueshiba's beliefs. "Love" there seems to represent something having to do with the building up of complex things, with destruction being the opposite of love. So love sounds synonymous with the creation of (or protection/maintenance of already created) things.

Sounds like something having to do with what is called "taiji" in Chinese terminology. That is, there is "wuji," a formless void with infinite potential, and then there is the arise of yin and yang out of wuji. This state of interacting yin and yang is taiji. Destruction of any complex object or state (like life) would take us back the opposite direction-- a system of actively interacting yin and yang would fade back to undifferentiated wuji.

So by "love," he seems to be referring to a sort of low-entropy (highly ordered) state of interaction, where interacting components depend on each other.

What do you think?
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Old 07-07-2011, 03:06 PM   #7
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

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So anyway, Mike, a thread with a title like this has to go into this question: if O-sensei was following this traditional "Way" where one goes beyond emotion, and if his Way is indeed that which starts with the study of what we are calling IS:
-what did he mean by "love" and why did he talk so much about it?

Now there are lots of really great words written about this even right here on this site. I am thinking of course of sources like Prof. Goldsbury's essays. So many words that I have had trouble reading all of them. So I could go back and study those. But-- can we explore that here, from IS first principles?

As a primary source, I would think of the Takemusu Aiki lectures on Aikido Journal. Love is mentioned in all of them, and people like Stanley Pranin consider these to be the most reliable representations of Ueshiba's beliefs. "Love" there seems to represent something having to do with the building up of complex things, with destruction being the opposite of love. So love sounds synonymous with the creation of (or protection/maintenance of already created) things.

Sounds like something having to do with what is called "taiji" in Chinese terminology. That is, there is "wuji," a formless void with infinite potential, and then there is the arise of yin and yang out of wuji. This state of interacting yin and yang is taiji. Destruction of any complex object or state (like life) would take us back the opposite direction-- a system of actively interacting yin and yang would fade back to undifferentiated wuji.

So by "love," he seems to be referring to a sort of low-entropy (highly ordered) state of interaction, where interacting components depend on each other.

What do you think?
Well, from my perspective the "Way" ("Tao") and the discussion about emotions is reasonably standard fare. *Part* of what is called "self cultivation" in the idea of "following the Tao" is the cultivation of some/all aspects of internal training (hence all the ancient drawings of postures, etc., to develop the qi). So whatever the words being used inclusively in the discussion, I feel fairly safe in knowing that we're talking about the same ancient topic. As an example of getting past the terms, think of Yin-Yang, A-Un, Izanagi and Izanami, Heng-Ha, In-Yo, etc., which are contextually indicating the giveaway dichotomy of Chinese (or before) influence. As enough terms begin to overlap in the discussion, the indicators pile up.

Similarly, in our discussions about internal strength, as the indicators of the same demonstrations (or similar ones), terms like "reverse breathing", hara/dantien, qi/ki, kokyu/jin/shakti, etc., begin to accumulate, the probability of a generally recognizable discussion becomes pretty certain.

My point is that O-Sensei's discussions are built around some fairly obvious old topics, despite some shifts in the terms being used. The old topic worked just fine by itself, so my question is whether the addition of a term like "love" really implied anything significant (or significant enough for us to devote a lot of time to "love"). Did O-Sensei throw people with love or with recognizable skills/technique? Or, how about this.... how many of O-Sensei's uchideshi devoted as much time to talking about "love" as many westerners do?

When I visited AikiWeb 6 or 7 years ago, there were many "seniors" who dismissed Ueshiba's (and Tohei's, etc.) ki demonstrations as meaningless party tricks... but they could hold forth on "love" at great length. My suggestion then, as now, would be that people first get the physical skills attendant with Aikido (i.e., the "ki" skills of internal strength) and then take a look at the love aspect and what it might mean. Ueshiba had very good ki/I.S. skills and that was his way into the 'love' insight, so my thought would be that's the way to go.

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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Old 07-07-2011, 06:36 PM   #8
David Orange
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

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...my question is whether the addition of a term like "love" really implied anything significant (or significant enough for us to devote a lot of time to "love"). Did O-Sensei throw people with love or with recognizable skills/technique? Or, how about this.... how many of O-Sensei's uchideshi devoted as much time to talking about "love" as many westerners do?...
I'm thinking that in terms of skill, he was using IS. But you can use IS with a murderous spirit, can't you?

I think his big thing was a turning away from Sokaku's (and to some degree Sagawa's) mean, often taunting attitude toward people he handled. I think Morihei really realized that budo is to serve human life and, to do so, you have to turn away from mean-spiritedness.

I think it was more a matter of how you use that power than an explanation of "what" that power really was.

I never thought that "love is all you need" when it comes to someone who just wants to brain you. But just because they're stupid and want to brain you doesn't mean that (if you're able) you should brutalize them. I think the standard for budo has always been, as Mochizuki taught, to do only what's needed to stop the attacker from being able to attack you.

FWIW

David

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Old 07-07-2011, 06:43 PM   #9
Mike Sigman
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

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I'm thinking that in terms of skill, he was using IS. But you can use IS with a murderous spirit, can't you?
Of course. Hence the idea that "kokyu" is only an expression of "universal love" sort of bites the dust.
Quote:
I think his big thing was a turning away from Sokaku's (and to some degree Sagawa's) mean, often taunting attitude toward people he handled. I think Morihei really realized that budo is to serve human life and, to do so, you have to turn away from mean-spiritedness.

I think it was more a matter of how you use that power than an explanation of "what" that power really was.

I never thought that "love is all you need" when it comes to someone who just wants to brain you. But just because they're stupid and want to brain you doesn't mean that (if you're able) you should brutalize them. I think the standard for budo has always been, as Mochizuki taught, to do only what's needed to stop the attacker from being able to attack you.
I understand your points of philosophy, but in terms of practical application the way you utilize these *skills* has little to do with your personal "love" of humanity, in the short term. In the wider (and more Buddhist) social and moral context, there is a viable discussion about any power used for good, evil, love, hate, etc., of course, but again I'd urge that people get some foundational skills before they argue the morality of wearing a bra.



Mike
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Old 07-07-2011, 07:28 PM   #10
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

Mike, if you think this is too sticky a topic or too tangential to the core skill to discuss with a general audience, then that's your prerogative, nothing I can say to that. (And if Ueshiba didn't harp on it so much I would just outright agree that it wasn't anything having to do with description of the core skill, and would let it go.)

I certainly agree that it doesn't appear to be "love" as we know it in common language. But if it may have been an attempt to describe something useful, then it captures my interest, at least a little. If he was talking about body dynamics and prevention of the degradation of interaction of yin and yang per my post, that may be interesting, even if your thoughts require IS knowledge to be clear. You never know how many readers may be cultivating this skill.

Well, then again.. just reading what I wrote makes me agree that there are easier ways to follow this path that predates Ueshiba then trying to interpret some of his particular words like "love." So anyway.. keep it simple, huh?
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Old 07-07-2011, 07:39 PM   #11
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

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...in terms of practical application the way you utilize these *skills* has little to do with your personal "love" of humanity, in the short term....
Absolutely. It might actually be necessary to kill someone to stop them from attacking you. It's really love and protection of the innocent that powers budo--not "love" of some violent person. Of course, we want to love even the violent people (like Terry Dobson's story about the drunk on the train who ended up in tears when he was treated with kindness).

But if you love your own family, you have to protect them and yourself, even to the bloody, bitter end. If you let an attacker kill you because you don't believe in killing them....then you haven't helped your own family at all.

Just as Ueshiba realized that "budo is love" only after attaining incredible fighting skill, we have to learn how to destroy before we can even imagine that we can show "mercy".

Thanks.

David

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Old 07-07-2011, 08:15 PM   #12
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

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Well, then again.. just reading what I wrote makes me agree that there are easier ways to follow this path that predates Ueshiba then trying to interpret some of his particular words like "love." So anyway.. keep it simple, huh?
Exactly. Either Ueshiba was dumb or he was trying to say something that the average western expert was missing. As I indicated earlier, I think the problem is in the translation by people without his skills rather than Ueshiba. Actually.... if you go back and check it, I tried to say exactly the same thing earlier on in AikieWeb (some years back) but I ran into hate, discontent, and the occasional "banned from forum". Like "groundpath", the obvious will strike sooner or later.

Mike Sigman
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Old 07-07-2011, 08:57 PM   #13
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

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I certainly agree that it doesn't appear to be "love" as we know it in common language. But if it may have been an attempt to describe something useful, then it captures my interest, at least a little. If he was talking about body dynamics and prevention of the degradation of interaction of yin and yang per my post, that may be interesting, even if your thoughts require IS knowledge to be clear.
I think your misconception is captured here in this single paragraph. If anything at all is clear, I would argue that it's clear that O-Sensei intended to create something that was more than a fighting art. So when you try to interpret his writings in terms of effective body dynamics alone, you're missing the point. O-Sensei, I think, intended to create an art that would develop people spiritually as well as physically and martially. That's why he didn't need to create a complete martial system, complete with grappling techniques, realistic strikes, and realistic knife handling. The physical movements he retained train the spiritual outlook he wanted to cultivate.

Also, watch out for the loaded word "love." The Buddhist strives to be free of attachment, not to be free of love. In fact enlightenment should lead to compassion, which is love without attachment.

If you think about treating uke with compassion, I wonder where that gets you.
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Old 07-07-2011, 09:23 PM   #14
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

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Like "groundpath", the obvious will strike sooner or later.
...as long as someone is willing to start the conversation.

Hugh-- I agree about his desire to create/express something greater than a fighting system. But at the same time I am not convinced there is anything in his system that is not grounded in body practice. In other words it could very well be the case that every philosophical aspect of his words is a take-off of something that is done with the body.
Anyway.. ideas like this are interesting to think about and talk about, but I am happy and fully occupied working on what I am working on-- which is stuff that is both possible and efficient to talk about without getting into emotion or metaphysics. So I am not going to be going out on too many limbs with this kind of thing.
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Old 07-07-2011, 09:31 PM   #15
Mike Sigman
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

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...as long as someone is willing to start the conversation.
Yeah, or as long as someone has enough background to get into the actual mechanics of what is going on. It's easy to do a little jin and drop buzzwords (I saw a lot of this in the 80's and 90's), but when it gets down to "here's how it works", only a few can really play the game.

2 cents.

Mike Sigman
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Old 07-08-2011, 06:51 AM   #16
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

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Hugh-- I agree about his desire to create/express something greater than a fighting system. But at the same time I am not convinced there is anything in his system that is not grounded in body practice. In other words it could very well be the case that every philosophical aspect of his words is a take-off of something that is done with the body.
I agree... I don't think he had any interest in creating a fighting system of any sort. He loved aiki, being able to use his body to affect anothers in such an interesting way. As others have said, his spiritual views caused him to alter the way the aiki was applied in training, but it was still all about building those physical body skills. The way he changed the method of training it from Daito-ryu was something that he felt would allow anyone to work on building those aiki body skills without risk of injury and at their own pace. As long as you were doing that, he was happy. If you weren't doing that, if you were just going through the motions, in his own words you were "not doing aikido".
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Old 07-08-2011, 07:12 AM   #17
Mike Sigman
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

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If you think about treating uke with compassion, I wonder where that gets you.
It's a good thought and one which merits discussion sometime.... but without the basic ki/kokyu/hara skills no one is really even doing the foundation correctly so it's premature, IMO, to worry about the compassion part. If you do wrong basics but with compassion, does that make it O-Sensei's Aikido or something else? I vote that it's something else.

Mike Sigman
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Old 07-25-2011, 03:29 PM   #18
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

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Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
It's a good thought and one which merits discussion sometime.... but without the basic ki/kokyu/hara skills no one is really even doing the foundation correctly so it's premature, IMO, to worry about the compassion part. If you do wrong basics but with compassion, does that make it O-Sensei's Aikido or something else? I vote that it's something else.
Mike Sigman
It is not merely psychological or ethical , in my view.

There is a biomechanical reason to believe that genuinely felt love has martial value and contributes to the use of these skills. The smooth muscle myofascia surrounding the muscle bundles is addressed from time to time in this context.

It serves to stabilize the skeletal structure under loads. It contracts like smooth muscle rhythmically (such as the uterus -- (ubuya, anyone? -- "house of childbirth" --the comment was not an idle one by O Sensei, IMO)

It contracts in response to various stimuli -- but notably NOT adrenaline.

Histamine ( the inflammation, or injury signalling hormone) triggers it, which tends to stabilizes the body from aggravating any injuries.

It responds rhythmic movement -- and vibrations (this causes the involuntarily clenched hands from repetitive manual tasks like raking or shovelling)

More critically for this purpose it also responds strongly to oxytocin -- the "love" hormone -- but it seems to be expressed in extremis only when we see a threat to those we love,, In such cases oxytocin controls not only structural effects -- but also the deployment and management of adrenaline (HPA axis).

Oxytocin's positive feedback (the more you express, the more you can express) and ratcheting manner of contraction ( like the uterus) may explain things like the lifting of cars off children and other improbable load bearing feats, because the whole structure is being used very close to linear material failure loads (which are amazingly high compared to miniscule muscular joint leverage).

A good enough reason to train to look at an enemy and love him enough to sincerely desire to protect him from the world of hurt you are about to do to him, perhaps?

One can look at various Aiki taiso and tanren and see a manner of movement conducive to the condition of a body in such a condition -- but it is hard ot substitute the real thing in training. Like anything else if you train in a manner conducive to it -- it may be available when you need it, and if you don't, it may not...

But, in agreement with Mike-- if one does not train in those ways of moving and motivating the body's power, it will be ineffective however genuine the power that is expressed at such a time -- there will be no drive train attached to that engine -- so the basics are clearly necessary and primary for training. The mind and heart must be trained with , and not apart from, the body.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 07-25-2011, 03:48 PM   #19
hughrbeyer
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

I see two sides to "effective" training. One, get people to stop doing things that are stupid and will never work. Two, teach them what will actually work. Trick is, you can't do the second until they've let go of the first.

One teacher--Pete Trimmer Sensei, I think it was--told us to think about the hand on the back of the neck in irimi-nage as "the hand of love." Regardless of how well we were able to express that, it at least gave us something to try for other than brute strength.

Expanding on that, if in general you can face your opponent with an attitude of compassion, it gives you something to do other than get all tight and think about pounding them. And if you have some luck with that, maybe you can then go on to find some of the stuff that actually works.

So yeah, you can't afford compassion until your waza works. And maybe your waza won't work until you have compassion. :-)

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Old 07-25-2011, 04:15 PM   #20
graham christian
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
I see two sides to "effective" training. One, get people to stop doing things that are stupid and will never work. Two, teach them what will actually work. Trick is, you can't do the second until they've let go of the first.

One teacher--Pete Trimmer Sensei, I think it was--told us to think about the hand on the back of the neck in irimi-nage as "the hand of love." Regardless of how well we were able to express that, it at least gave us something to try for other than brute strength.

Expanding on that, if in general you can face your opponent with an attitude of compassion, it gives you something to do other than get all tight and think about pounding them. And if you have some luck with that, maybe you can then go on to find some of the stuff that actually works.

So yeah, you can't afford compassion until your waza works. And maybe your waza won't work until you have compassion. :-)

That and 50 c will get you a fortune cookie.
Hi Hugh.
That sounds like good advice from your teacher to me.

As far as universal love goes I have a couple of points to add. As Janet pointed out earlier in the thread you can test it on the uke after or during the throw. Keeping your Ki on them with love you will find they have a more comfortable landing than if you withdraw it or pull it away or use a negative or harsh intention.

Secondly, I would say to those who question operating from such by using an example of someone being vicious for example are missing a very important point. They are failing to know what it's like to do so. Failing to comprehend what a person doing so is seeing and thus capable of. Thus assumption rules.

Regards.G.
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Old 07-25-2011, 05:28 PM   #21
Janet Rosen
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Re: Love as a driver for I.S. skills

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
One teacher--Pete Trimmer Sensei, I think it was--told us to think about the hand on the back of the neck in irimi-nage as "the hand of love." Regardless of how well we were able to express that, it at least gave us something to try for other than brute strength.
Well now.... funny... I never liked doing the neckhold and when shown the holding uke's head version it became my default.
I jokingly call it "shampoo nage" but in truth, it reminds of my days as a spinal cord rehab nurse being the person holding the patient's head and calling out to coordinate the team transferring somebody with an unstable neck fracture: it feels to me like cradling a baby and, while offering a very good connection, also allows me a feeling of offering "loving protection" to my uke.

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