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Old 03-02-2005, 08:43 PM   #1
Mike Sigman
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Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

Any input would be appreciated. O-Sensei demonstrated "Ki" with people pushing on his stance, on his head, on his jo, etc. I've always assumed that what he learned about "ki", etc., was what he learned from Takeda Sokaku, but I recently heard a theory that O-Sensei may have learned his techniques from Takeda, but learned the "ki" usages from other sources; once he combined the two, he felt he had the compleat martial art, harmony, etc. Has anyone else heard this type of theory or do they have substance, rumour, anecdote, etc., to indicate yay or nay either way? Thanks.

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-02-2005, 10:15 PM   #2
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

Dont know if this helps but I have vague memories of reading that O-Sensei discovered "Ki-manipulation" whilst struggling to grapple with a big sweaty sumo guy. The book didn`t elaborate on what this actually meant...perhaps other people can shed more light on this??

Lee
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Old 03-03-2005, 11:45 AM   #3
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

There are many who believe that Osensei's "demonstrations" of ki were considered to be parlor tricks. Many uchideshi claim that daily training had little resemblence to the surviving cinematography of Osensei and his feats. "Aiki" is one of the core tenants of Daito Ryu, at least as described by Kondo sensei, so if aiki was invented by Osensei he must have taught it back to Takeda sensei. That seems unlikely to me.
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Old 03-03-2005, 01:08 PM   #4
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

Quote:
Benjamin Edelen wrote:
There are many who believe that Osensei's "demonstrations" of ki were considered to be parlor tricks.
They are parlour tricks. However, they're important parlour tricks because they're being used to demonstrate the core strength that is part of bona fide Aikido. Tohei also recognized this aspect of the core strength and was smart enough to make this type of strength the basis upon which he founded his offshoot organization. I.e., there's a reason for these "parlour tricks".
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Many uchideshi claim that daily training had little resemblence to the surviving cinematography of Osensei and his feats. "Aiki" is one of the core tenants of Daito Ryu, at least as described by Kondo sensei, so if aiki was invented by Osensei he must have taught it back to Takeda sensei. That seems unlikely to me.
Well, you can practice doing things "ai ki" without necessarily using the core strength of Aikido. In fact, that's what I think most people do... external techniques of blending, etc., but without the extensive core strengths. I have to note that from all accounts, O-Sensei seems to have deliberately not shown the uchi-deshi how he trained those strengths.... he considered the knowledge important, as do most other martial artists in Asia.

My point was that it's possible for Takeda to have done "ai ki" techniques without the core strength. Personally, I don't think that's what happened... I think Takeda was knowledgeable about those things. However, someone mentioned the possibility that O-Sensei added his later knowledge of ki-strength, etc., to the aiki techniques he learned from Takeda and it's a new idea for me. I'm just feeling around to see if anyone has knowledge, gossip, etc., etc., to add to what I know.

Thanks kindly for the input.

Mike
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Old 03-03-2005, 03:16 PM   #5
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Tll, you can practice doing things "ai ki" without necessarily using the core strength of Aikido.
Mike
my understanding , mostly from discussions by people who know more than I do, is that "Aiki" is something totally different than "Ki" or "Ai Ki" as is used by Aikidoistas

I think some of the confusion in the discussion may come from equating this concept. I've read a description of the "Aiki" concept as understood in classical japanese swordsmanship (sorry I forget the details to put the link) . Under that definition "Aiki" doesn't have so much to do with "Centering" and "Kokyu" and "Ki", but it does on strategy and manipulation of an opponent , in very specific ways which are particulary practical in sword combat. This stuff is what resonates with some comments by O-Sensei as to Aiki being a way to get someone to do what you want them to.

It seems clear to me that Takeda taught "Aiki" to O Sensei and that the techniques of Aikido may have that concept in them though probably not overtly taught.

What you're talking about seems different to me. Not being a student of Aikijujutsu I can't really say if i'm misleading you though..

FWIW

Last edited by Alfonso : 03-03-2005 at 03:21 PM.

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Old 03-03-2005, 03:31 PM   #6
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

Quote:
Alfonso Adriasola wrote:
my understanding , mostly from discussions by people who know more than I do, is that "Aiki" is something totally different than "Ki" or "Ai Ki" as is used by Aikidoistas
Yes, "Ai ki" ("aiki" if you prefer) is a concept of strategy or engagement while "Ki" is something different.
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Under that definition "Aiki" doesn't have so much to do with "Centering" and "Kokyu" and "Ki", but it does on strategy and manipulation of an opponent , in very specific ways which are particulary practical in sword combat.
Well, I never said or implied that aiki and ki and centering were the same things, so I won't comment about that anymore. The idea of "aiki" is not singular to Aikido, as you've noted, and it shows up in a number of other martial arts.

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Mike
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:52 PM   #7
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

Ah, I didn't mean to imply anything about what you've stated. I was wondering if that distinction was meaningful to the question of where did O-Sensei's proposed knoweldge came from,.

I'm hoping this doesn't die out on a sideline on whether Aikido has aiki or not in it or who does

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 03-06-2005, 04:24 AM   #8
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Any input would be appreciated. O-Sensei demonstrated "Ki" with people pushing on his stance, on his head, on his jo, etc. I've always assumed that what he learned about "ki", etc., was what he learned from Takeda Sokaku, but I recently heard a theory that O-Sensei may have learned his techniques from Takeda, but learned the "ki" usages from other sources; once he combined the two, he felt he had the compleat martial art, harmony, etc. Has anyone else heard this type of theory or do they have substance, rumour, anecdote, etc., to indicate yay or nay either way? Thanks.

Mike Sigman
You can't do any of those demonstrations unless you have mind and body coordination. You achieve that by learning how to relax completely. One way you can learn that is through intense training over a long period of time. Your mind and body becomes so tired that your subconscious takes over your actions. Soon, everything you do is done in the most efficient manner. The outward sign of that psychological/physical state is a change in breathing. Once you capture that feeling, you can continue to develop it.

Another factor that most people don't realize about the founder's training is the breath exercises that are inherent in Japanese spiritual exercises. The founder was experienced in chanting and the kotodama. This all requires an expert usage of the breath. If you look at a collection of Japanese and eastern spiritual exercises, like The Book of Do-In by Michio Kushi, you'll see what I'm writing about.

This ability to relax completely was the difference between the arts of Takeda Sokaku and Morihei Ueshiba.

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Old 03-06-2005, 08:59 AM   #9
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

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Ted Ehara wrote:
You can't do any of those demonstrations unless you have mind and body coordination.
I agree, although I note for the record that a real nitpicker would take both of us to task since technically ALL motion is mind-body coordination.
Quote:
You achieve that by learning how to relax completely.
No you don't. You can only be selectively relaxed. Complete relaxation would cause you to crumple to the ground. Correct relaxation is needed, BUT if you aren't told what to do other than just "relax", you won't learn these things either. It takes a certain amount of instruction. Given the poor successes of the average westerner in the Ki Society, I'd suggest that a bit more instruction along with the relaxation would be helpful.
Quote:
One way you can learn that is through intense training over a long period of time. Your mind and body becomes so tired that your subconscious takes over your actions. Soon, everything you do is done in the most efficient manner. The outward sign of that psychological/physical state is a change in breathing. Once you capture that feeling, you can continue to develop it.
Well, there are other, more direct ways, Ted. Out of all the people I know with these kinds of skills, few of them do it the way the Ki Society espouses.
Quote:
Another factor that most people don't realize about the founder's training is the breath exercises that are inherent in Japanese spiritual exercises. The founder was experienced in chanting and the kotodama. This all requires an expert usage of the breath. If you look at a collection of Japanese and eastern spiritual exercises, like The Book of Do-In by Michio Kushi, you'll see what I'm writing about.

This ability to relax completely was the difference between the arts of Takeda Sokaku and Morihei Ueshiba.
Hmmmm. Somehow I feel like you're tying Tohei's Ki practices, which he didn't learn from O-Sensei, to what O-Sensei taught. Yet O-Sensei didn't teach any of the Uchi-deshi his training methods, as far as I've been able to find out. Can you elucidate?

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Mike
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Old 03-06-2005, 11:50 AM   #10
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I agree, although I note for the record that a real nitpicker would take both of us to task since technically ALL motion is mind-body coordination.
Well, everybody has some amount of mind-body coordination. But just as almost everyone can pitch a baseball, there is a difference between the sandlot player and a starting pitcher in the World Series.
Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
No you don't. You can only be selectively relaxed. Complete relaxation would cause you to crumple to the ground. Correct relaxation is needed, BUT if you aren't told what to do other than just "relax", you won't learn these things either. It takes a certain amount of instruction. Given the poor successes of the average westerner in the Ki Society, I'd suggest that a bit more instruction along with the relaxation would be helpful.
The phrase Relax Completely is one of the four basic principles for the Ki Society. I'm using it in that specific definition. Relax completely does not mean lying on the couch with the remote in one hand and bowl of chips on your belly, while you're yelling, "Honey, get me a beer!". This is an active form of relaxation.
Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Well, there are other, more direct ways, Ted. Out of all the people I know with these kinds of skills, few of them do it the way the Ki Society espouses.
Tessu used to have his student go through continual kendo matches. This practice could last for days. Finally the student couldn't fight or stand, yet would find the correct "place" to fight his last match. That was when Tessu would stop the match, knowing his student had learned.

At the start of intense misogi sessions, they would take your wallet and shoes, so you didn't leave during the practice. If this seems ridiculous, it was even more humorous when people would leave anyway, without wallet and shoes.

Yes, there are different ways to learn.
Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Hmmmm. Somehow I feel like you're tying Tohei's Ki practices, which he didn't learn from O-Sensei, to what O-Sensei taught. Yet O-Sensei didn't teach any of the Uchi-deshi his training methods, as far as I've been able to find out. Can you elucidate?
What Morihei Ueshiba practiced wasn't a "secret". Spiritual exercises are there for those with an interest in them. His approach though, was his own.

Michio Kushi is associated with macrobiotics. While there are Aikido teachers who practice macrobiotics, K. Tohei is not one of them. While many of the exercises are from Shinto, there is a healthy mix of Chinese and Indian practices and theory. He also throws in his own theories on ki, the universe and 42.

I am not trying to mix my metaphors. Michio Kushi is not associated with either aikido or the Ki Society. I think you'll appreciate The Book of Do-In, since you like the complexities of theory more than myself.

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Old 03-06-2005, 12:21 PM   #11
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

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Ted Ehara wrote:
Relax completely does not mean lying on the couch with the remote in one hand and bowl of chips on your belly, while you're yelling, "Honey, get me a beer!".
**Stunned disbelief. Makes note to self**
Quote:
Yes, there are different ways to learn.What Morihei Ueshiba practiced wasn't a "secret".
How do you know? If he had secrets, you wouldn't know about them, would you??? Both Abe Sensei and Tohei had to go to outside sources for the Ki information... why didn't they get it directly from O-Sensei?
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Michio Kushi is not associated with either aikido or the Ki Society. I think you'll appreciate The Book of Do-In, since you like the complexities of theory more than myself.
I only like theory if it has demonstrable practical results. My interest in the Aikido side of Ki, etc., is mainly historical, etc. My perspective, from many years of doing these things, is that there is a broad information base within a number of Asian martial arts, qigongs, quasi-religious practices, etc., on various approaches to developing "Ki" and related phenomena. You appear to view the Ki-society approach as the only way through the door and I would suggest that there are actually a number of approaches. But each to his own.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-06-2005, 12:53 PM   #12
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
...How do you know? If he had secrets, you wouldn't know about them, would you??? Both Abe Sensei and Tohei had to go to outside sources for the Ki information... why didn't they get it directly from O-Sensei?
Because the founder learned all of this instinctively. His subconscious learned and performed. His conscious self could not teach, only demonstrate. That is the traditional way to learn, through practice and observation.
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Mike Sigman wrote:
...You appear to view the Ki-society approach as the only way through the door and I would suggest that there are actually a number of approaches. But each to his own.
I know there are other ways to learn this besides through the Ki Society. However I've always been aware of this paradox that I've seen people caught in. Am I on a journey of self-discovery, or am I just re-inventing the wheel?

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Old 03-06-2005, 01:01 PM   #13
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
Because the founder learned all of this instinctively. His subconscious learned and performed. His conscious self could not teach, only demonstrate. That is the traditional way to learn, through practice and observation.
Then why did Tohei and Abe go to other teachers to get information, Ted? Why didn't they just "practice and observe" to get all from O-Sensei. Obversely, why did Abe and Tohei's teachers actively teach anything? Why didn't all those students just "relax completely" and learn all "instinctively"? I.e., your answer makes no real sense in relation to the question.
Quote:
I know there are other ways to learn this besides through the Ki Society. However I've always been aware of this paradox that I've seen people caught in. Am I on a journey of self-discovery, or am I just re-inventing the wheel?
For all the Ki and kokyu things, you're attempting to re-invent the wheel from cryptic directions, Ted. There's easier ways to do it.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 03-06-2005, 01:17 PM   #14
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
**[i]Both Abe Sensei and Tohei had to go to outside sources for the Ki information... why didn't they get it directly from O-Sensei?
Just a thought about this... I tired to think about someone looking at my Aikido at the end of my life and trying to analyse the elements and the sources. I have gotten an immense amount from Ikeda sensei, Tom Read Sensei, Mary Heiny Sensei, William Gleason Sensei, and more recently Ushiro Sensei, Kuroda Sensei and Vladimir Vasiliyev.

Very little of what I got from these teachers was new to me in that I always found that that I got from them simply helped me undretsand something which Saotome Sensei had always been teaching but which I hadn't quite gotten. I think this is very normal. My teacher has a certain way of explaining things and demonstrating them. I have found over the years that changing viewpoints by training with other teachers has been an integral part of really understanding what my own teacher had been telling me all along. So for some person in the future it would be a mistake to say thet I got such and such from Kuroda Sensei and therefore Saotome Sensei wasn't doing it or teaching it. It was integral to both teachers but oen helped me better understand what the other had been doing.

I had this same experience myself on the Aiki Cruise when I spent much of a class working with a young man. After class he introduced me to his Sensei and proceeded to tell his teacher about the insights he had gained from some ideas I had given him while we trained together. His teacher started laughing and said "but that's what I've been telling you all along". I suspect that the same thing happened with the deshi... many looked outside the boundaries of their training with O-Sensei to try to better understand what O-sensei was teaching them. That doesn't mean that what they got from oustide was something O-sensei didn't know or wasn't teaching but his way of demonstrating it wasn't the way that "clicked" for them.

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Old 03-06-2005, 01:30 PM   #15
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

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Mike Sigman wrote:
Then why did Tohei and Abe go to other teachers to get information, Ted? Why didn't they just "practice and observe" to get all from O-Sensei. Obversely, why did Abe and Tohei's teachers actively teach anything? Why didn't all those students just "relax completely" and learn all "instinctively"?
Because both K. Tohei and Abe are modern men. Although the founder is only a couple of generations removed, his psychology represents the feudal period of Japan. K. Tohei and Abe knew that modern people needed to be taught i.e. communicated with consciously. The founder tried to explain, but he used the language of his subconscious, Japanese and personal symbols. The modern Japanese who sat in those classes were lost when hearing the subconscious language of their own past.
Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I.e., your answer makes no real sense in relation to the question. For all the Ki and kokyu things, you're attempting to re-invent the wheel from cryptic directions, Ted. There's easier ways to do it.
You keep saying there are easier ways to do it. However you are unwilling to explain. Now that sounds cryptic to me.

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Old 03-06-2005, 01:54 PM   #16
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

First of all, let me say that much of the discussion of things like Ki, aiki, kokyu etc. amongst Aikido folks is often characterized by a lack of knowledge of history and unfamiliarity with other styles in the family of aiki / aiki jutsu arts. This leads people to make completely unsupported suppositions like O-Sensei discovering something about Ki and taking it back to his teacher Takeda Sensei. In a technical sense Takeda sensei was every bit the giant O-sensei was.

Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu has techniques which are every bit as soft and "aiki" as anything which exists in Aikido. One of the things about Daito Ryu is that they are more traditional in approach than Aikido is. One of the things that they have is a prohibition against showing the highest level of their technique to anyone who is not a member of the ryu. So what you see of someone like Kondo Sensei in the videos or at the Expo is what for Daito Ryu are good solid basics. He is not showing off by demonstrating the most advanced versions of his technique. This can lead to a misunderstanding on the part of Aikido people seeing Daito Ryu from the outside.

I have trained with many of the best instructors of Aikido in the world at one time or another and no one was more "aiki" in his technique than Angier Sensei, Soke of the Yanagi Ryu. Yanagi Ryu was the family style of aiki jutsu handed down through the Yoshida Clan. The senior Yoshida did train with Takeda Sensei in Daito Ryu and was actually the person who introduced O-sensei to Takeda Sensei in the first place. Angier Sensei trained under the son. There is nothing about "aiki" that we have in Aikido which isn't in Angier Sensei's technique.

I've also had the good fortune to have trained a bit with Toby Threadgill Sensei of the Takamura Ha Shindo Ryu. While I am ignorant of the details of the style's history I know it is close enough to the Yanagi Ryu in concept that Threadgill sensei trained with Angier sensei after his own teacher, Takamura Sensei, died. I found his technique to be incredibly skillful and subtle.

In some ways much of what passes for Aikido today isn't as "aiki" as it should be. There is more strength involved, more tension created than in these other classical forms of aiki training. Anyone who thinks that Aikido is the end all be all in this category or who wants to maintain that O-Sensei invented all this blending and softness hasn't been out "out of the house" enough.

I got to put my hands on Kuroda Sensei who teaches another family style of classical kenjutsu / aiki jutsu. The man could move you and you wouldn't feel it being done to you, you'd just move. He was as relaxed in his technique of anyone I've ever trained with.

O-Sensei's unique creation was his connection of these principles to a set of Spiritual concepts. His spiritual take on things was unique. His pulling together the principles from his martial a training and the concepts from his Omotokyo practice was his unique creation. In a technical sense I don't think there is anything in Aikido which the teachers of aiki jutsu don't understand or couldn't do if they chose.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 03-06-2005 at 01:59 PM.

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Old 03-06-2005, 01:58 PM   #17
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
Because both K. Tohei and Abe are modern men. Although the founder is only a couple of generations removed, his psychology represents the feudal period of Japan. K. Tohei and Abe knew that modern people needed to be taught i.e. communicated with consciously. The founder tried to explain, but he used the language of his subconscious, Japanese and personal symbols. The modern Japanese who sat in those classes were lost when hearing the subconscious language of their own past.
How do you know these things, Ted? How do you know that his explanations weren't partially the product of his getting older and perhaps infirm? Some of his uchi-deshi have said that some of O-Sensei's speech and actions reflected his getting older. For instance when he gave a 10th dan to the woman dancer, some of the rambling speeches, etc. I leave open a lot of possibilities, but I wasn't there and neither were you, I think.
Quote:
You keep saying there are easier ways to do it. However you are unwilling to explain. Now that sounds cryptic to me.
It is cryptic. I once asked a teacher I was subbing for why he didn't show his students how to correctly move the body. His reply was, "They either figure it out or they don't". All I'm saying is that there are more common-sensical approaches than "relax" and 4 unexplained statements.

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Mike
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Old 03-06-2005, 02:05 PM   #18
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
First of all, let me say that much of the discussion of things like Ki, aiki, kokyu etc. amongst Aikido folks is often characterized by a lack of knowledge of history and unfamiliarity with other styles in the family of aiki / aiki jutsu arts. This leads people to make completely unsupported suppositions like O-Sensei discovering something about Ki and taking it back to his teacher Takeda Sensei. In a technical sense Takeda sensei was every bit the giant O-sensei was.
Dammit, they were both short men and you know it.

I agree with what you're saying, but I'd add that the whole idea of "aiki" is not just relegated to a narrow spectrum of Japanese arts, but is reasonably common across a lot of Asian martial arts.
Quote:
I got to put my hands on Kuroda Sensei who teaches another family style of classical kenjutsu / aiki jutsu. The man could move you and you wouldn't feel it being done to you, you'd just move.
Just for clarification, do you mean he could move you while you were standing still or are you talking about the engagement while practicing a technique?

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Mike Sigman
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Old 03-06-2005, 02:17 PM   #19
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I once asked a teacher I was subbing for why he didn't show his students how to correctly move the body. His reply was, "They either figure it out or they don't". All I'm saying is that there are more common-sensical approaches than "relax" and 4 unexplained statements.
This ties into discussions, mostly on the Aikido Journal board we had with Goldsbury Sensei about whether O-Sensei actually "taught" Aikido or was a "teacher" in the way that we mean in the West. When someone takes the approach that the students will either get it or they won't, I don't think that they are "teaching" in the way that we usually mean it.

Tohei Sensei influenced the whole direction modern Aikido took with his principle based instruction. As simple as they seem to be today, those principles were a revelation for many students at the Aikikai Honbu dojo who were hungry for something more concrete than O-Sensei's Shinto based lectures accompanied by physical technique.

That does not mean that there aren't more ways today of describing the same principles even more completely and in way that is even more comprehensible than what Tohei Sensei delineated.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 03-06-2005, 02:31 PM   #20
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

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Mike Sigman wrote:
Dammit, they were both short men and you know it.

I agree with what you're saying, but I'd add that the whole idea of "aiki" is not just relegated to a narrow spectrum of Japanese arts, but is reasonably common across a lot of Asian martial arts. Just for clarification, do you mean he could move you while you were standing still or are you talking about the engagement while practicing a technique?

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Mike Sigman
These discussions have motivated me to put my thoughts together for my March article. I'd like to have a better working defintion of "aiki" and what it is, at least in Aikido / Aikijustu.

Anyway, both Kuroda Sensei and Angier Sensei can move you from a static position and you won't feel any increase in pressure beyond what you gave them in your own attack (in this a grab). Kuroda Sensei would call you over and have you put your hand on his arm and feel the muscle. He would execute the technique on another person and you'd never feel the muscles engage; total relaxation. He calls this "whole body movement".

I put a bear hug on Angier Sensei one time, an absolute white knuckler, and I am literally twice his mass. He popped me up in to a sankyo and I never felt the technique. I just popped up. Other people have done the same technique on me and I felt it as an irresistable force. In his case I simply popped up into the sankyo. It was amazing. That was when I knew he was the real meal deal. He did it without an ounce of tension.

These teachers totally changed my idea of what Saotome Sensei had been doing all thoise years. I felt really dumb because what I though I was supposed to be doing with my body simply turned out to be wrong. What I thought I felt Sensei doing to me when I took ukemi was wrong but like O-Sensei he didn't have a developed way of describing the mechanics of what he was doing. Both Kuroda Sensei and Angier sensei are extremely good at breaking down the technique into a set of movement principles so you can understand what is happening and why. Anyway, for me, once things clicked on a couple of the techniques that I had been trying for years and not getting, I suddenly was able to take the principles and go back through my Aikido and rework everything based on my new understanding.Sort of like a super saturated solution when it gets that tap on the glass; boom and everything changes. I compare it to the descriptions of various people's kensho experiences that you can read in certain Zen books... when the light finally went on it was "so simple" "how could I have missed it for so long", "it was there all along".

I still need to refine my technique according to these "new" insights. I still can't do this stuff the way Saotome Sensei or these other teachers can. But at least that this point I know I am using the same principles thay are using. That was a big line to cross for me.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 03-06-2005 at 02:46 PM.

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Old 03-06-2005, 04:24 PM   #21
tedehara
 
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

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Mike Sigman wrote:
How do you know these things, Ted? How do you know that his explanations weren't partially the product of his getting older and perhaps infirm? Some of his uchi-deshi have said that some of O-Sensei's speech and actions reflected his getting older. For instance when he gave a 10th dan to the woman dancer, some of the rambling speeches, etc. I leave open a lot of possibilities, but I wasn't there and neither were you, I think.
It seems that you're running around the block when you can just walk around to corner to get to your destination. If you honestly believe that O Sensei's age was a factor in his speech and action, run with that. Develop it into something functional and useful to us all.
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Mike Sigman wrote:
...All I'm saying is that there are more common-sensical approaches than "relax" and 4 unexplained statements.
I think you have described your situation nicely, but not mine.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 03-06-2005, 04:25 PM   #22
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

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George S. Ledyard wrote:
This ties into discussions, mostly on the Aikido Journal board we had with Goldsbury Sensei about whether O-Sensei actually "taught" Aikido or was a "teacher" in the way that we mean in the West. When someone takes the approach that the students will either get it or they won't, I don't think that they are "teaching" in the way that we usually mean it.
Well, another factor is that you traditionally don't give away valuable information. If a teacher knows that his heir's livelihood will depend on a martial art, etc., he'll hold back simply because he must in order to provide as the head of the family.
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Tohei Sensei influenced the whole direction modern Aikido took with his principle based instruction. As simple as they seem to be today, those principles were a revelation for many students at the Aikikai Honbu dojo who were hungry for something more concrete than O-Sensei's Shinto based lectures accompanied by physical technique.
Maybe. I don't have enough data to comment intelligently, so I won't. His principles were certainly a start, but they're not very explicative. He doesn't even mention the "intent" that is needed, but sticks to vagaries associated with the necessary "relaxation" (if you don't relax, your normal use of primary musculature will interfere with the development of these skills). If you think about it, the best way to train for Aikido, once you know how to form these body-mind relationships, is to use the simple movement exercises that are commonly done at the start of most classes. If they're done with the correct "intent", they're perfect exercises.

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Old 03-06-2005, 04:36 PM   #23
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

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George S. Ledyard wrote:
(snip examples using Kuroda and Angier Sensei's)
These teachers totally changed my idea of what Saotome Sensei had been doing all those years.
Well, what Saotome does is the same thing that Tohei, Abe, and some others do. The point is, of course, that most people are not using these skills in their Aikido (and Karate and Taijiquan and so on) and it's an important part.
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I still need to refine my technique according to these "new" insights. I still can't do this stuff the way Saotome Sensei or these other teachers can. But at least that this point I know I am using the same principles thay are using. That was a big line to cross for me.
I'd be interested in seeing what you've come up with. Generally speaking, there's a wide spectrum of possibilities and there are various levels of skills and facets to practice. Part of the point I made in another post somewhere was that the Chinese have some fairly sophisticated variations. But all in all, it's nice to see more people in the Aikido world getting the scent of these things instead of denying there's anything outside of technique. Of course, based on what you're saying, you see that these skills are intrinsic parts of the "real" techniques of Aikido (and a number of other martial arts), but at the same time they can be considered more or less "additives".... and just knowing how to use the additives doesn't make one's knowledge of Aikido any good. You have to practice the techniques, too.

My opinion, FWIW

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Old 03-08-2005, 02:53 AM   #24
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

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Mike Sigman wrote:
Of course, based on what you're saying, you see that these skills are intrinsic parts of the "real" techniques of Aikido (and a number of other martial arts), but at the same time they can be considered more or less "additives".... and just knowing how to use the additives doesn't make one's knowledge of Aikido any good. You have to practice the techniques, too.

My opinion, FWIW

Mike Sigman
It's taken me over 25 years of being on the mat five or six days a week to start getting this.While it's true that I may not be the quickest study I do think that I can safely say that you can theorize about this all you want but it's hands on training time pure and simple that prepares your mind and body to "get it". I am hoping that the folks who starting to undertsand some of this will develop a better and more complete way of describing it for their own students. I don't think it should take as long as it has. But most of us trained with little technical direction... we had to figure out a lot of it on our own. That's why I am so greatful to the teachers who have worked so hard on developing ways to teach this stuff. Even my own teachers have changed drastically. I had a sword class last year with Saotome Sensei in which he explained in detail exactly what he was doing. I had been doing those techniques with him for thirty years and never heard him explain them that way. Ikeda Sensei has also changed completely. I remember when he had one response to any question you asked him. he would look thoghtful for a second and then say "Train more". Then we went through the period during which he got very verbal and would say "just catch it" by way of explanation. I remember one student saying"catch what?". Now he has developed an incredibly detailed way of explaining what he is doing. Every piece is broken down. He shows it full speed, static, stop action, what a difference from the old days.

But all the explanation in the world won't make any difference if people aren't training. The small number of folks who are training really seriously I think are making a stab at getting what these teachers are doing at an earlier stage in their training than I figured things out but the many folks aren't training hard enough to get it even though it's being handed to them. There's simply no substitute for mat time.

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Old 03-08-2005, 04:31 AM   #25
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

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George S. Ledyard wrote:
It's taken me over 25 years of being on the mat five or six days a week to start getting this. [snipsky]
But all the explanation in the world won't make any difference if people aren't training. The small number of folks who are training really seriously I think are making a stab at getting what these teachers are doing at an earlier stage in their training than I figured things out but the many folks aren't training hard enough to get it even though it's being handed to them. There's simply no substitute for mat time.
I don't see it quite that way, although time and effort practicing is certainly a given. The point I'd make is that if you don't know how to practice or if you practice incorrectly, you either never get it or you only get a few bits and pieces. A good part of my visiting this forum, in fact, was because I suddenly got another piece of curiosity about exactly how much the Japanese knowledge of these particular skills developed... regardless of how hard they practiced... because if they weren't shown how to do these things first, the practice didn't give them enough to discover more than the rudiments. This is why I think maybe Gempin (Chen Yuan Yun or other similar names) had a temple built in his honor near Tokyo. I think he showed the Japanese some amount of the Ki and Kokyu training along with some aspects of ancient shuai jiao techniques. I also speculate (that's all we can do at this point in time) that he only showed limited amounts of information, so my curiosity has been to see what various Japanese arts contain in terms of this information (unfortunately, it still has to be felt to be confirmed, although stories help point the way to information).

My martial arts, before going into Aikido, was around 14 years of judo competition and karate, so my interest in things like being able to fight, being strong, etc., wasn't particularly a factor in the curiosity I had. I met a visiting Hombu Dojo dan in the mid-70's and felt within him a form of strength that I hadn't encountered before, so I wound up doing Aikido for more or less 8 years before I decided that few people in Aikido knew how to do more than bits and pieces of a larger puzzle. So I went to the Chinese martial arts and only studied with demonstrably skilled people who had trained on the mainland, etc.

But backing up a bit in that story, let me emphasize that because I couldn't get any information on what was obviously a core skill in "Real Aikido" (TM) I never had any illusions from the start that all the techniques and extended practice I did ever gave me claim to any real expertise in Aikido. I was a beginner and knew it, even after that number of years. The people around me who were swishing around in hakamas, worried about pecking orders, dan ranks (I have some), women's issues, quasi-religiosity, etc., were never of much interest to me and seemed to be hugely missing the point.

Worse yet, as I got to know more of how this stuff works and started always looking at the broader picture (partially why I'm spending some time on this forum), etc., I finally realized that judo came from an art that had these kinds of skills and we'd never had a clue... and karate (I studied on Okinawa) came from arts that used variants of these skills, also. My point is that with all the years of practice I've had, I missed how much I was missing. So I had to re-evaluate (and I've done it several times now) and start over. It's not something you can go back and just "add in", except for some rough elements that miss the important building blocks, IMO.

"Mat time" won't really give it to you, either. Learning how to honestly move using your center and the jin forces requires re-training the way you move over a long period of time so that this form of power is instinctive and the subconscious will carry it for you automatically. The whole body, down to the fingers, is moved and controlled in 2 related ways by the power of the middle region. If you've spent years practicing moving "the normal way", it's not an aid... it's actually a hindrance to any real success. If you think about it, you'll understand why Taiji, Xingyi, Bagua, etc., are done so very slowly for the first few years... it's to re-train the body movement before getting into techniques done with the wrong movement basics, etc.

And it's a lot more complex than I feel like writing about... that's why it's so highly valued as a prize to know and keep retricted in Asia. The fact that Tohei and Abe sensei's had to get a lot of their knowledge from someone other than O-Sensei tells you the importance of the information to those two and also to O-Sensei, I think.

Frankly, seeing the importance of this part of it, I get a little irritated with the distractions so much of Aikido (and other arts, but Aikido is the worst in terms of extraneous distractions) has allowed itself to be drawn to. It's very difficult for me to listen patiently and "respectfully" to the peripheral noise in Aikido when I know for a fact that almost all (statistically) of what everyone is doing is in fact incomplete Aikido at best, if you can see my perspective. I.e., we're all beginners. Almost none of us are the experts we thought we were. We're better off stopping and then re-starting slowly while working on correct movement for a year or so than to spend umpteen more years frustratingly trying to "add in" minor things on top of wrong basic movement, IMO. Ultimately, results count. Do we want to do things wrong but that look good and impress beginners... or do we want to do things right and impress the real experts?

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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