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Old 05-10-2013, 07:49 AM   #1
Ecosamurai
 
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Investing in loss (yielding)

I happened to be speaking with a Taichi friend of mine a little while ago and he mentioned to me that Cheng Man Ch'ing was said to have coined a phrase that you should 'invest in loss', this was with respect to learning how to yield properly or become softer in your approach, the idea being that by investing in small losses in push hands practice now you would be setting yourself up to cash in that investment in the future. In other words when someone pushes you then yield to this push (note yielding means something specific in CMA, it does not mean being so yielding you're floppy to the point of being unable to stand), in the end this sort of practice allows you to push back even harder with respect to the cycling of yin and yang. He was of course referring to push hands in this example but it put me in mind of a phrase my aikido teacher used in an interview when asked:

Quote:
As one member of the generation that knew and practiced with O-Sensei, what do you think is the most valuable gift that a teacher can give to a student?
his reply was

Quote:
Donft fight. Use ki. Donft resist. Take ukemi.
I think he might be talking about your job as uke is to 'invest in loss', that uke should be soft and yielding and thereby in practicing like this you create in yourself something for the future. When you consider that attacking and taking ukemi is 50% of aikido practice this makes sense, nage cannot apply a hard physical force to an uke who is very good at yielding, this might be a way of teaching nage that practicing in a physical matter doesn't develop them properly, just as weight training won't give you internal skills.

I'm speculating here of course, but given that traditional practice in aikido involves switching roles between uke and nage this seems like an interesting idea to explore, where would this lead you in the end if you trained in this paradigm? I suppose the risk is of course that you become overly cooperative with your partner and begin practising dishonesty, if you do that you'll hollow out the technique of all it's aiki content and end up with an empty shell of a waza that looks like aikido but isn't. Pretty sure I've seen that happen. But where would this type of training take you if you did it right, what aspects of internal skills would it develop?
I think sensitivity would be one thing it could develop, I know from my experiences in CMA that you need sensitivity for something like push hands, for example. How would you work with this in aikido? Curious to see what people think.

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Old 05-10-2013, 08:35 AM   #2
Cliff Judge
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

Honestly the first thing that comes to my mind is ju...specifically the "Yoshin" principle as i understand it. The branch of the willow tree collects snow which weights it down, until it reaches an angle where the snow sloughs off and then it SPRINGS back into place with a vigorous and smooth movement.

I think in Aikido training you would necessarily have to offer something to the attack rather than removing yourself completely from the line or blending completely. You need to learn to accept the attack rather than avoiding it so you can absorb some of the energy. Then the difficult part of learning what to do with it....I'm merely the person to speculate about that. Seems that some techniques are better for exploring this than others. As uke perhaps you can learn to take some of the energy of a technique into your body before taking the fall or the roll.

As a sidenote....Kevin Leavitt recommended this book a couple weeks ago and it was a good read: The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin. He was a student of Cheng's and makes a huge deal out of "investing in loss" among other principles that he connects between high-level chess and high-level competition push-hands.
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Old 05-10-2013, 08:41 AM   #3
Ecosamurai
 
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

Quote:
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Honestly the first thing that comes to my mind is ju...specifically the "Yoshin" principle as i understand it. The branch of the willow tree collects snow which weights it down, until it reaches an angle where the snow sloughs off and then it SPRINGS back into place with a vigorous and smooth movement.

I think in Aikido training you would necessarily have to offer something to the attack rather than removing yourself completely from the line or blending completely. You need to learn to accept the attack rather than avoiding it so you can absorb some of the energy. Then the difficult part of learning what to do with it....I'm merely the person to speculate about that. Seems that some techniques are better for exploring this than others. As uke perhaps you can learn to take some of the energy of a technique into your body before taking the fall or the roll.

As a sidenote....Kevin Leavitt recommended this book a couple weeks ago and it was a good read: The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin. He was a student of Cheng's and makes a huge deal out of "investing in loss" among other principles that he connects between high-level chess and high-level competition push-hands.
I can see why you might think of ju based on what I wrote but yielding is not quite the same IME, the yielding I'm talking about is more akin to the idea that aiki is non-dissent, accepting the attack in other words, not the idea of pulling when pushed, pushing when pulled etc. Perhaps it'd be better to phrase it as offering no opposition to the force being directed at you, rather than moving away from a force directed at you.

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Old 05-10-2013, 09:24 AM   #4
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

Where there is yin there is also yang.
If ukemi is compared to the yielding / yin aspect in push hands, what then is the yang aspect of ukemi?
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Old 05-10-2013, 11:38 AM   #5
Cliff Judge
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

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Mike Haft wrote: View Post
I can see why you might think of ju based on what I wrote but yielding is not quite the same IME, the yielding I'm talking about is more akin to the idea that aiki is non-dissent, accepting the attack in other words, not the idea of pulling when pushed, pushing when pulled etc. Perhaps it'd be better to phrase it as offering no opposition to the force being directed at you, rather than moving away from a force directed at you.
Hmm, I don't recall saying anything about pulling when pushed or pushing when pulled. I think what a willow branch does is entirely different. Did you read HIPS?

I don't think merely offering no opposition gets you to a state of investment. You need to actually absorb the energy somehow, or some of it. Then you give it back, plus perhaps some of your own. I think this is what the investment in loss thing is about.

I think this might be different than aiki, actually. I think of aiki as more of an instantaneous feeding back of the energy, but you send it back along a different line than it came in on. There is no investment, its hand-to-mouth, cash-in cash-out.
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Old 05-10-2013, 12:24 PM   #6
Howard Prior
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
...He was a student of Cheng's...
Mr. Leavitt?

Howard

Last edited by Howard Prior : 05-10-2013 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 05-10-2013, 01:21 PM   #7
Ecosamurai
 
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

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Hmm, I don't recall saying anything about pulling when pushed or pushing when pulled. I think what a willow branch does is entirely different.
You mentioned the concept of ju, pulling when pushed is a pretty much text book definition of ju as in judo, ju jitsu, which can be translated as yielding. But - and this is possibly my fault fo muddying the water - yielding in tai chi push hands is a slightly different thing, but happens to be the same word in english. At least that's what I was taught back in the day.

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Did you read HIPS?
Yes

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
I don't think merely offering no opposition gets you to a state of investment.
This is a bit of muddled thinking, the investment I referred to was one in training, investing in the early days to reap the rewards in the years to come, it was at no point some sort of 'state', offering no opposition is how Morihei Ueshiba described aiki on more than one occasion (well, non-dissent was what he said, I'm paraphrsing), please note that offering no opposition/non-dissent does not mean giving away your centre to your partner/opponent.

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
You need to actually absorb the energy somehow, or some of it. Then you give it back, plus perhaps some of your own. I think this is what the investment in loss thing is about.
Not the way I was told about it, investment in loss is nothing to do with absorbing energy and giving it back, it was about a training paradigm where you spend a lot of time focusing on non-dissent with your partner so you can shed the idea that it is necessary to win an encounter or defeat someone somehow, this does not mean giving away your centre and easily falling over when only lightly touched, it's instead about giving up the idea of fighting which is what you need to do to be able to learn to feel the power someone is applying to your body.

An example my aikido teacher gives is that if you grip my wrist hard you won't be able to feel what I'm doing to you very easily as your hard grip decreases your sensitivity to how I am directing the forces within my body and yours. If I'm doing it right you'll fall over without ever knowing what I did to you because you hard grip decreases your sensitivity, your hard grip is abut having a fighting mind and a desire to dominate me. If you instead invest in losing then you are training yourself to give up that fighting mind, once you do that you can start to feel what is happening in the interplay of energies between us.

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
I think this might be different than aiki, actually. I think of aiki as more of an instantaneous feeding back of the energy, but you send it back along a different line than it came in on. There is no investment, its hand-to-mouth, cash-in cash-out.
I never said was aiki, I'm just interested in what effects such a training paradigm might have over the long term.

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Old 05-10-2013, 01:46 PM   #8
Cliff Judge
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

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Howard Prior wrote: View Post
Mr. Leavitt?

Howard
No, the author of the book.
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Old 05-10-2013, 02:09 PM   #9
graham christian
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

Sounds much like what I do Mike. I think the best overall word to describe it would be non resistance.

Without having much experience of such things yet wanting to understand it and where it would lead then I would say to you that the first thing to recognize is that non resistance is not just for uke but just as important for nage. So it's not just about being a version of yielding but also it's 'opposite' which also comes from non resistance.

To see where it would lead I can offer a couple of others examples that you can look up rather than just mine.

For example one guy you can view on youtube came up with a term which describes well the resistant part of you, the part that opposes and he calls it the limbic system. You can test it for yourself and see how it kicks in as an almost automatic response. Then you can see what he does with non resistance rather than that and how he describes it. Kakushitoride is the name to look up there.

Actually using non resistance you would have to do in order to see what happens but it can lead to various things. For example I see many who use it to a degree but then explain how they use 'explosive' power or such like which is not non resistance and so the two are mixed by some.

I would break it down into a few categories here for you just for the sake of this thread ie: how non resistance can be used.

1) To envelope and take over completely.
2) To pierce through.
3) To lead.
4) To cut through, to open.
5) To blend with.
6) To give nothing. (active)

Thereafter you will find that when someone feels the effect they will all report differently as to what you were doing, aware of 'power' but assuming the rest usually.

For example if you used non resistance as in number 1 above then those who felt it would report how strange and soft it was yet like they were cariied by it.

If you use number four they may say how they felt completey done, ended, yet in number six they would report how they felt they were running into a brick wall.

In number 5 they may report how it felt like nothing. Plus more I might add but I think you'll get the gist.

My two pence.

Peace.G.
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Old 05-10-2013, 02:18 PM   #10
Cliff Judge
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

Mike, I am totally not trying to be dramatic here at all - I think you have every right to try to keep the thread on the topic you chose when you wrote it - but I am not nearly as interested in having the conversation you want to have as I am in the conversation I want to have, based on what your post prompted me to start thinking about.

Thanks for the food for thought!
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Old 05-10-2013, 06:37 PM   #11
Howard Prior
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
No, the author of the book.
William C.C.Chen? Cheng Man-ching died in 1975.
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Old 05-10-2013, 08:07 PM   #12
Cliff Judge
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

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William C.C.Chen? Cheng Man-ching died in 1975.
Yeah, Chen...something felt wrong there...but there was a lot of stuff about "investing in loss" in that book.
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:50 PM   #13
robin_jet_alt
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

Makes sense. It reminds me of some of the stuff Endo sensei does with ikkyo. Unfortunately I can't find any videos of it right now. Maybe someone else can help with that.
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Old 05-11-2013, 09:09 AM   #14
Howard Prior
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

Quote:
Mike Haft wrote: View Post
I happened to be speaking with a Taichi friend of mine a little while ago and he mentioned to me that Cheng Man Ch'ing was said to have coined a phrase that you should 'invest in loss', this was with respect to learning how to yield properly or become softer in your approach, the idea being that by investing in small losses in push hands practice now you would be setting yourself up to cash in that investment in the future. In other words when someone pushes you then yield to this push...
I suppose one may take the phrase in a few directions. I think the loss referred to is not "yielding" but getting pushed out. Take two equal players in a friendly round of push hands. One finds I'll say himself in a disadvantageous position. Loss is imminent. He can't figure his way out of the situation (how to yield effectively). What should he do? Win at all costs (resorting to local muscle) or stick to the principles being studied (yielding among them)? The advice is to forgo the win and invest in the principles, that is, take the loss.

But if he's sticking to the principles why does he suffer a loss? It takes time to learn to apply the principles. Once he has one wouldn't expect him to lose. Well, not unless his partner is an equal or better player and our principal finds himself in a disadvantageous position.

In short, one learns from following principle, not the win. Shorter, "invest in loss".

Quote:
How would you work with this in aikido? Curious to see what people think.
I would think that for the most part the comparable phrase in aikido would be "invest in not winning".
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Old 05-11-2013, 05:48 PM   #15
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Mike, I am totally not trying to be dramatic here at all - I think you have every right to try to keep the thread on the topic you chose when you wrote it - but I am not nearly as interested in having the conversation you want to have as I am in the conversation I want to have, based on what your post prompted me to start thinking about.

Thanks for the food for thought!
Wow. But, what if I was interested in both lines of conversation? Really...

I find it interesting that the kanji character for kuzushi illustrates a mountain falling on a house.
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Old 05-12-2013, 06:17 AM   #16
Cliff Judge
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

So what is the difference between this ICMA sense of yielding, in the context of, I guess, push-hands, and just "taking the ukemi"properly?
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Old 05-12-2013, 03:04 PM   #17
Robert Cowham
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

There are teachers who focus on the ukemi side of things - I remember visiting Takeda Yoshinobu sensei's dojo and the "endless ukemi" that occurred, particularly after the regular class. Reminds me of Bill Gleason sensei's comments:

Quote:
Practice in Kamakura centered on learning through taking a great deal of ukemi, and it was perhaps there that I began to realize the reality of hara for the first time. In later years, I learned that repetition isn’t always necessary in order to strengthen ki power.
Takeda Sensei would throw each of his students after class until they could no longer rise to their feet. I remember the feeling quite well. Regardless of how much stamina you build up, there comes a point where the physical muscles of your legs will no longer lift you up, support you, or move at all. I became able to take ukemi almost inexhaustibly, but there were times when I fell and simply couldn’t get up.
I only visited a couple of times, but the seniors in the dojo had a good feeling to their practice.
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Old 05-13-2013, 04:15 AM   #18
Lee Salzman
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
So what is the difference between this ICMA sense of yielding, in the context of, I guess, push-hands, and just "taking the ukemi"properly?
As Carsten noted, where this is yin there is also yang. When we are neutralizing, we should also entering, not before or after, but rather simultaneously. The neutralization is the entry. Irimi-tenkan.

To bring up a really tired example from the past: imagine a T-shaped peg driven into the ground that can freely swivel. Push on one arm of the T and it receives, and the other one... it issues. Yin and yang. Push on the center of the peg, and there is still... yin and yang, even at the same point of contact.

Not yin, then yang, nor yang, then yin. Yin AND yang, together.

But, if this is the "proper" way to take ukemi, count me in.

Last edited by Lee Salzman : 05-13-2013 at 04:26 AM.
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Old 05-13-2013, 05:40 AM   #19
Cliff Judge
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

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Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
As Carsten noted, where this is yin there is also yang. When we are neutralizing, we should also entering, not before or after, but rather simultaneously. The neutralization is the entry. Irimi-tenkan.

To bring up a really tired example from the past: imagine a T-shaped peg driven into the ground that can freely swivel. Push on one arm of the T and it receives, and the other one... it issues. Yin and yang. Push on the center of the peg, and there is still... yin and yang, even at the same point of contact.

Not yin, then yang, nor yang, then yin. Yin AND yang, together.

But, if this is the "proper" way to take ukemi, count me in.
That is close to what I described as Aiki a few posts above, but the OP said he wasn't talking about that. He was talking about yielding in an ICMA sense for a period of time to learn to feel what is being applied to you. Sounds like basic Aikido or paired-kata ukemi.
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:23 AM   #20
Lee Salzman
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
That is close to what I described as Aiki a few posts above, but the OP said he wasn't talking about that. He was talking about yielding in an ICMA sense for a period of time to learn to feel what is being applied to you. Sounds like basic Aikido or paired-kata ukemi.
Now the question is, is that really in an "ICMA" sense if you are merely getting out of the way? If you are just all yield, but no enter, is this not actually training in an anti-pattern that you will simply have to unlearn to actually progress? As much as internal/external are loaded terms/dichotomy, is this one-sided yielding not just a pretty obvious example of the external, of the evasive movement style of MA? While the anti-pattern of resisting a force coming in most definitely and continually needs to be worked out of one's body, that does not mean it is smart to do its direct opposite, which is just another anti-pattern. The solution found in ICMA is outside this spectrum entirely.

In the example of the T-peg, what happens, if the peg moves out of way and thus "absorbs" the push by allowing itself to be physically translated in space, not rotated on its axis, or similarly tries to store the push by allowing itself to be deformed by it... that is, it really neutral anymore? Is it then really free to express yin and yang?

I don't think it falls into the spectrum of ICMA to train in a form of giving way as a response to force-in. At the very core of ICMA practice, we need to be working from the start on giving the force-in a way on us that does not go into us, we are neither resisting the force nor being affected by it, establishing neutral. There is scarcely a MA in existence that doesn't know how to evade the power of an attack in this manner - even boxing has the rope-a-dope, neither is that the expression of yin and yang we should be seeking.
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:35 AM   #21
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Re: Investing in loss (yielding)

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Mike Haft wrote: View Post
I can see why you might think of ju based on what I wrote but yielding is not quite the same IME, the yielding I'm talking about is more akin to the idea that aiki is non-dissent, accepting the attack in other words, not the idea of pulling when pushed, pushing when pulled etc. Perhaps it'd be better to phrase it as offering no opposition to the force being directed at you, rather than moving away from a force directed at you.
But thats not uke's part?

In my opinion ukemi consists of two aspects, to give, and to take or receive force.
One, the yang aspect, is to attack, to give something nage can work with, and the yin aspect is to receive nages force like a punching bag that absorbs energy without being harmed.
Both has to occur in a mind of wu- wei (not fighting), any will to fight or to win is counterproductive.

In my role as uke, I often try to get "loaded up" by nages force, for this "load" could be used to send force back to nage, or to send me flying away from him, two sides of the same coin.
It should be possible to switch over at any time (of course not when already flying), thats a thought that is growing in my mind.
Training in this way, it doesn't matter whether you're uke or nage, its both bidirectional receiving and sending force.
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