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Old 12-02-2011, 01:34 AM   #1
renshin
 
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Ai symbol Ballet and internal structure

Hi guys,

I've been reading a lot of the threads on internal strength / structure during the last years and find it very interesting. Hopefully, I will have the chance to go to one of Dan's seminars in the near future to get some real points to work on.

To the point: From I was 7 until the age of 15, I studied classical ballet. For all of those years, we did basic excercises to strengthen the body and to create good posture and balance. Obviously, this came in handy when I started Aikido just after quitting ballet.

Now, when looking at some of the Aunkai and other methods of establishing structure in the body, it strikes me how similar this approach is to the basics of ballet. Stretching the spine. Lowering the center. Extending the arms while being grounded etc. Seems it has some similarities.

Here's an example of a basic drill:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpj5w-ZFFE0

Just found it cool, and it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this.

Yours friendly,

K. Sandven

Blog: My Life In Budo

Aikido Tenshinshoden Katori Shinto Ryu Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu Roppokai
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Old 12-02-2011, 08:27 AM   #2
jzimba
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Hi,

I've have had the opportunity to work with a few ballet people. One thing I notice abut them is a sort of forwardness and upward orientation. It's almost like you could slide a piece of paper underneath the feet.

I could be wrong, but I'd hesitate to say this is in accordance with 6-harmonies, etc. Also, the abdominal muscles are lifted and sort of scooped in. The mythology of the "core" at work.

Not that all ballet training is antithetical--I'm talking ore about long-time dedicated dancers. This may also be an artifact of particular schools of ballet etc.

Also, the turning out of the legs (aduction?" is done in conjunction with the stabilizing of the sacrum. Perhaps just easing off and softening from the extreme perfection of the ballet posture would yield better results.

Anyone?

Joel
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:33 AM   #3
scott.swank
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

I imagine that Kristina Varjan sensei would have some insight on this topic. She discusses her ballet background in the interview in Biran, below.

http://www.aikidoofabq.com/Aikido_of...na_Sensei.html

http://www.birankai.org/biran/2010_1/
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:08 AM   #4
DH
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Quote:
Kristoffer Sandven wrote: View Post
Hi guys,

I've been reading a lot of the threads on internal strength / structure during the last years and find it very interesting. Hopefully, I will have the chance to go to one of Dan's seminars in the near future to get some real points to work on.

To the point: From I was 7 until the age of 15, I studied classical ballet. For all of those years, we did basic excercises to strengthen the body and to create good posture and balance. Obviously, this came in handy when I started Aikido just after quitting ballet.

Now, when looking at some of the Aunkai and other methods of establishing structure in the body, it strikes me how similar this approach is to the basics of ballet. Stretching the spine. Lowering the center. Extending the arms while being grounded etc. Seems it has some similarities.

Here's an example of a basic drill:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpj5w-ZFFE0
Just found it cool, and it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this.
Hello Mr. Sandven
I would say the comparisons, are only on the very most basic..as in first hour of a seminar...level.
Otherwise no, not really. If all this was just posture, stretching and balance...I would be a fool for having spent decades developing myself, and Ballet people would be dangerous!!
Neither of which are of course, true!
Well...it might be difficult to say no to anything a ballerina would ask...at least for me!

Dan
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:53 AM   #5
renshin
 
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Hi Mr. Harden (no need for using last name in my case, btw )

I was thinking more about the building of a frame and structure from all those exercises, but then again, I might have been as fascinated by the ballerina(s) as you are

Kristoffer

PS. Sent you some emails - did you get them?

Yours friendly,

K. Sandven

Blog: My Life In Budo

Aikido Tenshinshoden Katori Shinto Ryu Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu Roppokai
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Old 12-02-2011, 01:14 PM   #6
DH
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Quote:
Kristoffer Sandven wrote: View Post
Hi Mr. Harden (no need for using last name in my case, btw )

I was thinking more about the building of a frame and structure from all those exercises, but then again, I might have been as fascinated by the ballerina(s) as you are

Kristoffer

PS. Sent you some emails - did you get them?
Kristoffer
I will have to check. Please be kind. I get inundated with emails from all over.

Well different people call it different things. I call the skeleton Frame and the tissue. muscles fascia and skin- structure.
In my line of work you have steel frames, wood frames, etc. and the whole thing...walls roofs, cross wall, shear walls, tie in too make a structure.
So in this case I see some of the postural work as frame. The real work is beyond that and it is actuated, organized, and used differently than external dancing.
I default to last names if I don't know someone or I am invited to do otherwise. You may call me Dan as well.
All the best
Dan
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Old 12-02-2011, 01:55 PM   #7
Lee Salzman
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Quote:
Kristoffer Sandven wrote: View Post
Hi guys,

I've been reading a lot of the threads on internal strength / structure during the last years and find it very interesting. Hopefully, I will have the chance to go to one of Dan's seminars in the near future to get some real points to work on.

To the point: From I was 7 until the age of 15, I studied classical ballet. For all of those years, we did basic excercises to strengthen the body and to create good posture and balance. Obviously, this came in handy when I started Aikido just after quitting ballet.

Now, when looking at some of the Aunkai and other methods of establishing structure in the body, it strikes me how similar this approach is to the basics of ballet. Stretching the spine. Lowering the center. Extending the arms while being grounded etc. Seems it has some similarities.

Here's an example of a basic drill:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpj5w-ZFFE0

Just found it cool, and it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this.
The question is just, as martial artists, is posture or balance really that much of an advantage if you need to hit, move, react, etc.? I think from a martial perspective, the goal is channeling force, rather than remaining stable, i.e. how many angels can really dance on the head of a pin? Well, that pin is your fist, and those angels are the rest of your body. Now, just make them all dance so the pin goes the right way! Or well, now each part of your body is its own pin, and relative to it, everything else is angels. Okay, so take the angels out of it, and let us just say how many pins can dance on pins? It's pins on pins all the way down. So even something as simple as the force of your wrist extending into your fist is extending into your forearm is extending into your upper arm is extending into your shoulder blade is extending into your neck and your rib cage is extending into your spine is... And this is all regardless of how they are positioned in space, the angels must dance regardless...

So, it's not balance, it is channeling force, throughout the body, any place, any time, any direction, that's the ground floor. What's above that, I'm still waiting on the elevator. The Aunkai stuff, though, based on my brief exposure to it, seems to be getting at something alike that. Now if ballet taught you all that, then I am taking up ballet...
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Old 12-02-2011, 02:25 PM   #8
bob_stra
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

It depends on your perspective.

Is a fire truck the same thing as a Ferrari? I mean, they both have engines, wheels, and transport people around, so...

PS: I like ballet too, but contemporary is more fun to watch and contact improv seems more fun to do. Of course, ballet chicks are hotter
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Old 12-02-2011, 02:32 PM   #9
Lee Salzman
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Oops, misread...

Last edited by Lee Salzman : 12-02-2011 at 02:44 PM. Reason: misinterpretation
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Old 12-02-2011, 02:46 PM   #10
bob_stra
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

No, it's my bad. My rascally response was to the original question, not your follow up comments.
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Old 12-02-2011, 03:13 PM   #11
renshin
 
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Quote:
Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
The question is just, as martial artists, is posture or balance really that much of an advantage if you need to hit, move, react, etc.? I think from a martial perspective, the goal is channeling force, rather than remaining stable, i.e. how many angels can really dance on the head of a pin? Well, that pin is your fist, and those angels are the rest of your body. Now, just make them all dance so the pin goes the right way! Or well, now each part of your body is its own pin, and relative to it, everything else is angels. Okay, so take the angels out of it, and let us just say how many pins can dance on pins? It's pins on pins all the way down. So even something as simple as the force of your wrist extending into your fist is extending into your forearm is extending into your upper arm is extending into your shoulder blade is extending into your neck and your rib cage is extending into your spine is... And this is all regardless of how they are positioned in space, the angels must dance regardless...
LOL

Quote:
Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
So, it's not balance, it is channeling force, throughout the body, any place, any time, any direction, that's the ground floor. What's above that, I'm still waiting on the elevator. The Aunkai stuff, though, based on my brief exposure to it, seems to be getting at something alike that. Now if ballet taught you all that, then I am taking up ballet...
I'm not saying ballet will teach you all that. Of course not. And the goal is of course completely different. However, there might be some stuff in the body being trained by doing ballet that can be utilized if you start working on the IS. At least I wanted to explore the possibility. Obviously, there is no magic blue pill in this, so I'm looking forward to getting the hang of these Aunkai drills

Anyway, the was just mentioned as a not-so-serious thing. I always find it interesting to look at different things and see how they intersect.

Yours friendly,

K. Sandven

Blog: My Life In Budo

Aikido Tenshinshoden Katori Shinto Ryu Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu Roppokai
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Old 12-02-2011, 03:16 PM   #12
renshin
 
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Quote:
Bob Strahinjevich wrote: View Post
It depends on your perspective.

Is a fire truck the same thing as a Ferrari? I mean, they both have engines, wheels, and transport people around, so...

PS: I like ballet too, but contemporary is more fun to watch and contact improv seems more fun to do. Of course, ballet chicks are hotter
Hehe - of course they are

Another reason I started this thread was that my body actually felt some of the same things that I remember from my ballet training when I was trying out the Aunkai Tenchijin and other exercises. And I found that interesting.

Yours friendly,

K. Sandven

Blog: My Life In Budo

Aikido Tenshinshoden Katori Shinto Ryu Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu Roppokai
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Old 12-02-2011, 03:22 PM   #13
Dave de Vos
 
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

What about the story that comes up every once in while of O Sensei awarding 10th dan to a dancer that never trained in aikido or any other martial art?

I've seen a couple of references to it here on aikiweb.

Last edited by Dave de Vos : 12-02-2011 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:27 PM   #14
Lee Salzman
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Quote:
Kristoffer Sandven wrote: View Post
LOL

I'm not saying ballet will teach you all that. Of course not. And the goal is of course completely different. However, there might be some stuff in the body being trained by doing ballet that can be utilized if you start working on the IS. At least I wanted to explore the possibility. Obviously, there is no magic blue pill in this, so I'm looking forward to getting the hang of these Aunkai drills

Anyway, the was just mentioned as a not-so-serious thing. I always find it interesting to look at different things and see how they intersect.
Well, I know in one case it went in reverse, for one of my teachers. A dance troupe had actually contracted him to work with them, and they were quite taken with him. I think he said a couple of the longer performers had trouble with holding patterns of tension throughout their bodies, whereas some of the more mid-range performers did quite well on issues concerning relaxation. They had at least a body awareness that was a bit above the norm to start out with, which enabled them to get some things a bit more quickly, but were lacking in that actual feeling of force driving end to end through the body, IIRC.

So, yeah, identify the feeling, strengthen it over the long term, and impart it in everything you do; the exercises are there to help you get a hang of the feeling, rather than you getting a hang of the exercises. So if you got a taste of the idea from somewhere else, great, expand on it and work from there.
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Old 12-02-2011, 08:57 PM   #15
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

My wife was one of the top ballet dancers in the 1970's and 1980's. A couple years ago, we decided to do social dancing together.

It was one of the most difficult things I've ever done. First was the absurdity of being expected to lead a woman who partnered with Baryshnikov.

And second, I simply couldn't figure out the "line" in the dance. I'd keep trying to figure out how to sweep her leg or throw her. She'd get frustrated with me and I'd reply, "How do you know the right position if you aren't trying to knock each other over?"

Ellis Amdur

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Old 12-03-2011, 12:57 AM   #16
Janet Rosen
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
=she'd get frustrated with me and I'd reply, "How do you know the right position if you aren't trying to knock each other over?"
Ellis, it's important to distinguish between martial arts and marital arts!

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 12-03-2011, 06:40 AM   #17
David Orange
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Quote:
Kristoffer Sandven wrote: View Post
Now, when looking at some of the Aunkai and other methods of establishing structure in the body, it strikes me how similar this approach is to the basics of ballet. Stretching the spine. Lowering the center. Extending the arms while being grounded etc. Seems it has some similarities.
I think immediately of aunkai's ashi age training, which requires the upper body, cross and arms to remain motionless while the leg is raised straight forward, straight backward and in various arcs. Some aunkai folks bring the leg up very high while remaining motionless above the waist. And some people kick fast and high and hard without moving in the upper body. And this is sort of like ballet. Also the slow squats are somewhat similar to plies.

I did a good bit of work with some local dancers about 25 years ago and experienced a lot of ballet basics. Let no one lecture Mikhail Baryshnikov on leg strength.

However, I do think the ballet development is rather unnatural and even in some ways anti-natural. Aunkai is also somewhat "unnatural" but I don't think it (or any of the bona fide IS development methods) is "anti-natural". So I think that some of ballet is bad for human life and also would dis-serve martial effectiveness.

I think you'd have to not only "unlearn" a lot of ballet conventions but would very necessarily have to un-condition much of the body from ballet conditioning; though a lot of the connectedness would probably be correct, the connections from head to foot and hand might be unsuitable for martial application. It's more than just changing the outward form, as I used to believe. The inner connections must be specific for ki movement and the support of force--incoming as well as outgoing.

FWIW

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

www.davidorangejr.com
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:01 AM   #18
David Orange
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Quote:
Kristoffer Sandven wrote: View Post
However, there might be some stuff in the body being trained by doing ballet that can be utilized if you start working on the IS. At least I wanted to explore the possibility. Obviously, there is no magic blue pill in this, so I'm looking forward to getting the hang of these Aunkai drills
I think the most important thing the ballet training will provide is the mental ability to really examine what you're really doing with your body on a refined level.

If you can apply the same degree of body awareness (ki) and mental attention to what's happening with the body when you practice the aunkai methods, you can probably make quick progress. You just have to be sure you're paying attention to what Ark considers important in those exercises. Otherwise, you could be doing the outer form so that it looks correct while you totally miss the internal intent. There's a great tape of the solo exercises available from the aunkai website.

But, of course, the best thing is to get direct experience with Ark (where aunkai exercises are concerned). You might find the practice relatively easy with your background.

Dan's method is less extreme in the forms and postures, so it might not satisfy the same enjoyment of stylized movement, but it will take you to the essence of the energy work and will also require deep awareness of and attention to the internal connections.

The thing about the ballet conditioning is that it produces that specific condition, which may prevent proper martial expression. Ideally, a person could be conditioned to take on any form and physical organization to suit the purpose of any moment, but we are mostly too specifically conditioned in one thing to be able to match the specific and subtle conditions required for other things....

Best to you.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

www.davidorangejr.com
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Old 12-03-2011, 09:05 AM   #19
graham christian
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Hi Kristoffer.
I am currently teaching a ballet teacher. As with all disciplines they develope a body to suit the activity. They have their methods and disparities within their field as anywhere else.

As far as internal as per I/S or I/P goes then she has never done such. As far as centering goes then the use as in Aikido was all new to her and fascinating. The principles in Aikido were mainly all new to her but of course some she could relate to.

The major attraction for her was to become more stable in herself.

Just some added information for you.

Regards.G.
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Old 12-04-2011, 03:10 AM   #20
renshin
 
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Thank you all for your replies I've read your posts for a long time and am really happy to get your views.

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
I think immediately of aunkai's ashi age training, which requires the upper body, cross and arms to remain motionless while the leg is raised straight forward, straight backward and in various arcs. Some aunkai folks bring the leg up very high while remaining motionless above the waist. And some people kick fast and high and hard without moving in the upper body. And this is sort of like ballet. Also the slow squats are somewhat similar to plies.

I did a good bit of work with some local dancers about 25 years ago and experienced a lot of ballet basics. Let no one lecture Mikhail Baryshnikov on leg strength.
Hehe - no.. I met Rudolf_Nureyev once - impressive to say the least...! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_Nureyev

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
However, I do think the ballet development is rather unnatural and even in some ways anti-natural. Aunkai is also somewhat "unnatural" but I don't think it (or any of the bona fide IS development methods) is "anti-natural". So I think that some of ballet is bad for human life and also would dis-serve martial effectiveness.

I think you'd have to not only "unlearn" a lot of ballet conventions but would very necessarily have to un-condition much of the body from ballet conditioning; though a lot of the connectedness would probably be correct, the connections from head to foot and hand might be unsuitable for martial application. It's more than just changing the outward form, as I used to believe. The inner connections must be specific for ki movement and the support of force--incoming as well as outgoing.
That makes sense. Interesting to see where it is the same and where it's not at all.

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
I think the most important thing the ballet training will provide is the mental ability to really examine what you're really doing with your body on a refined level.

If you can apply the same degree of body awareness (ki) and mental attention to what's happening with the body when you practice the aunkai methods, you can probably make quick progress. You just have to be sure you're paying attention to what Ark considers important in those exercises. Otherwise, you could be doing the outer form so that it looks correct while you totally miss the internal intent. There's a great tape of the solo exercises available from the aunkai website.
Received the 3 DVDs from Aunkai last week, and started to work on the exercises. That's when I felt the connection (!) to previous body experience. The DVDs are very focused on the physical aspect of the exercises (as far as I can see), but I'm trying to be aware of the finer points of his explanations. Tencijin can be done quite easily if you don't keep the spine vertical or the tension constant (just doing the moves). If you do, it is a LOT heavier on the structure (which is part of the point, I guess).

I definitely agree that the body awareness is probably the most important. I've had a lot of help from that (and early exposure to regular, detailed physical exercise) when learning Aikido and Kenjutsu.

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post

Dan's method is less extreme in the forms and postures, so it might not satisfy the same enjoyment of stylized movement, but it will take you to the essence of the energy work and will also require deep awareness of and attention to the internal connections.
I'm not looking for the stylized movements per se. I'm after the effect, not the drills themselves if you know what I mean.

As I don't know Dan's exercises, I decided to give Aunkai's a go. The question is: Will they be helpful in understanding / doing what Dan is doing, or is it a different approach altogether?

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
The thing about the ballet conditioning is that it produces that specific condition, which may prevent proper martial expression. Ideally, a person could be conditioned to take on any form and physical organization to suit the purpose of any moment, but we are mostly too specifically conditioned in one thing to be able to match the specific and subtle conditions required for other things....
Luckily, I stopped ballet before it was too conditioned in my body (at 15), so I guess the things I have to unlearn today is more from Aikido than anything else

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
I am currently teaching a ballet teacher. As with all disciplines they develope a body to suit the activity. They have their methods and disparities within their field as anywhere else.
Definitely. There are several schools of ballet (French, British, Danish, Russian etc).

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
As far as internal as per I/S or I/P goes then she has never done such. As far as centering goes then the use as in Aikido was all new to her and fascinating. The principles in Aikido were mainly all new to her but of course some she could relate to.

The major attraction for her was to become more stable in herself.
Interesting observations, Graham.

Still, I guess you'll have some feel of the center / axis to perform this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3UvK34CIm4

I managed to do double turns like that at one point, but three...!

Kristoffer

Yours friendly,

K. Sandven

Blog: My Life In Budo

Aikido Tenshinshoden Katori Shinto Ryu Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu Roppokai
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Old 12-05-2011, 09:02 AM   #21
jzimba
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

While we're on the subject of dance. I have met a few (out of dozens or hundreds) of Argentine tango dancers, who popped me up on my toes and controlled me similarly to, but not exactly like Dan and only a few other people have done.

yet another pursuit which could benefit from the codified instruction of judo or ballet.

J
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Old 12-05-2011, 09:46 AM   #22
Janet Rosen
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Quote:
Joel Zimba wrote: View Post
While we're on the subject of dance. I have met a few (out of dozens or hundreds) of Argentine tango dancers, who popped me up on my toes and controlled me similarly to, but not exactly like Dan and only a few other people have done.

yet another pursuit which could benefit from the codified instruction of judo or ballet.

J
A friend who danced, including tango, for many years before taking up aikido has mentioned that tango is unique among the dance forms she has done in having a low in the body focus similar to aikido.

Janet Rosen
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Old 12-05-2011, 10:24 AM   #23
phitruong
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Ellis, it's important to distinguish between martial arts and marital arts!
there is a different?

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 12-05-2011, 10:26 AM   #24
phitruong
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
A friend who danced, including tango, for many years before taking up aikido has mentioned that tango is unique among the dance forms she has done in having a low in the body focus similar to aikido.
in aikido, you don't see folks doing flicking kick between the legs. when i do tango, i have to fight the guy protective urge.

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Old 12-05-2011, 11:40 AM   #25
Janet Rosen
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Re: Ballet and internal structure

(on distinguishing between marital and martial arts)
Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
there is a different?
Well there is the way I do them, but if YMMV I don't want the details....

Janet Rosen
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