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Old 06-14-2005, 05:00 AM   #76
wendyrowe
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
the 4 major components of martial qigong training.
Are you referring to peng lu chi an or something else?

I had the good fortune a year and a half ago of meeting a local taiji teacher who is classically trained in external and internal arts and has been studying karate and taiji/qigong for over 25 years, so I've been studying with him and reading books he's recommended since that first class. It's nice to see how things tie together. Everything I learn in the internal arts has been helping me tremendously in my study of aikido and karate.

Thanks,
Wendy
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Old 06-14-2005, 07:17 AM   #77
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Wendy Rowe wrote:
Are you referring to peng lu chi an or something else?

I had the good fortune a year and a half ago of meeting a local taiji teacher who is classically trained in external and internal arts and has been studying karate and taiji/qigong for over 25 years, so I've been studying with him and reading books he's recommended since that first class. It's nice to see how things tie together. Everything I learn in the internal arts has been helping me tremendously in my study of aikido and karate.
Hi Wendy:

The 4 things are called the 4 polarities and they're mentioned earlier in the thread in relation to motion-stillness, expansions-contraction, etc.

I don't know you and I don't know your teacher, so I'm just making a very neutral remark and I mean it to be helpful for your general knowledge... it's almost impossible that someone could be doing external and internal martial arts at the same time. Doing an "internal" art means that you have totally re-trained the way that you move so that it is instinctive (which is why the starting Taiji forms are done so slowly). If it's instinctive, you can't switch back and forth. If you see my point.

Regards,

Mike

Last edited by Mike Sigman : 06-14-2005 at 07:20 AM.
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Old 06-14-2005, 08:59 AM   #78
rob_liberti
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Doing an "internal" art means that you have totally re-trained the way that you move so that it is instinctive (which is why the starting Taiji forms are done so slowly). If it's instinctive, you can't switch back and forth.
That's a very interesting idea, but I think I am a living example of some middle ground between the two extremes.

I know I can do "techniques" with good footwork coordinated with normal strength. However, I also know I can "inflate" a bit which to me kind of feels like I fix my entire posture, and maybe at some points it kind of feels like my extender muscles are engaged as fully as possible without actually extending my arms or making them tight. I feel the back of my neck "open up", some muscles in my chest that I don't consciously control thoroughly relax and kind of get out of the way, my knees bend, I feel the weight of my body more directly on feet even though I feel light like I can move very fast, and my wrists pretty much feel a heaviness similar to how I described the bottom of my feet. I can do techniques where I feel much more connected to the partner's center, and maintain that feeling by kind of sneaking my body closer to the partner as my arms retract and twist, and then sneaking my body away from my partner in the new "combined" direction we set as my arms continue to maintain the connection (keeps something floating in the uke between our centers) by extending and twisting - until "something" in my unified body movement catches a bit more tangibly and uke can't directly feel why they are being so compelled into the technique. I'm still working on relaxing some strange muscle (muscle group) on my sides right under my arm pit. I can feel that gets in the way lately. Regardless, while I think what I am typically doing is certainly not "highest level martial arts", I'd say it is typically beyond normal-strength as well, and I can generally switch back and forth a will when I'm teaching people and they make a noticeable change when they feel me doing what I would call the normal-strength way versus the more kokyu power approach. Would your opinion be that my description is "advanced normal-strength" or "novice kokyu power"? It's definitely not "normal" with respect to all of the experience I have had with others, and it is certainly not a strong as some of the aikido sensei's and Chen style Tai Chi teachers I've felt.

Wendy, when I visited your dojo, I found opening up to be very difficult for me to do - but I admit that I saw and felt your aikido sensei doing it inspirationally well. I would say that I basically couldn't do much of that at all given the constraints of that class - which I think did a wonderful job of creating the opportunity for me to work on being able to do such things just inside of normal striking range.

I think developing this kind of thing in more of a combat type setting really challenges you to take the idea of "fudoshin" immovable mind/body to a whole new realistic level. I see it a a very physical example to approach the kind of "complete self trust" required in high level aikido.

I think that visiting your dojo and developing my comfort level to be able to hold myself properly under that much pressure might be the experience I'm looking for to make the physical break-through of always being able to move in a way that is beyond what I would call normal strength.

Rob
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Old 06-14-2005, 12:23 PM   #79
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
That's a very interesting idea, but I think I am a living example of some middle ground between the two extremes.

I know I can do "techniques" with good footwork coordinated with normal strength. However, I also know I can "inflate" a bit which to me kind of feels like I fix my entire posture, and maybe at some points it kind of feels like my extender muscles are engaged as fully as possible without actually extending my arms or making them tight. I feel the back of my neck "open up", some muscles in my chest that I don't consciously control thoroughly relax and kind of get out of the way,(snip)

Would your opinion be that my description is "advanced normal-strength" or "novice kokyu power"?
Rob, it sounds more like a visitation by the Holy Ghost.

Sorry... I never pass up a one-liner if I can help it.

Practicing the way to move also involves a lot of thought, reasoning, etc. It is, as I said, a willful change in the way you move. It doesn't just "come upon you" from nowhere. For instance, in one of the last suddenly-dropped conversations with the Ki-Society guys, I tried to introduce the consideration of the physics involved. I think they want to opt for the "suddenly came upon you" scenario, but a physics evaluation is probably the best way to look at these things, IMO. Unless, of course, someone wants to argue that we're circumventing the Law of Conservation of Energy... that could be very interesting, even though the conclusion is foregone.

When you look at the physics involved, the best place to start is with the kokyu power. Take for instance the case of Tohei standing on one leg with a partner pushing on his forearm. Is that Ki? Everyone says it's a good demonstration of Ki. Could he resist the same magnitude of push if he was floating in a swimming pool? No. He needs the ground to brace against. Knowing that, we establish that there a connection (path) between Tohei's forearm and the ground, obviously. Granted, it may be a rather odd path, but the physics is now well in hand.

Applying this small portion of "internal strength" to your statement, Rob, are you suggesting that under certain stimuli your body shifts the way you have moved since the beginning of your life? Let's take it from that point and see how the discussion develops.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 06-14-2005, 03:22 PM   #80
rob_liberti
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Rob, it sounds more like a visitation by the Holy Ghost.

Sorry... I never pass up a one-liner if I can help it
One liners are okay, but they make me feel a little nervous about talking about how I "hold myself" in aikido... But seriously, it's odd to talk about it as any kind of non-physical experience/feeling to me.

Quote:
Rob, are you suggesting that under certain stimuli your body shifts the way you have moved since the beginning of your life?
I would have to say yes to that. Obviously, I don't actually remember how I moved when I was born, but I can say that before aikido:

- I wasn't holding myself such that I instantly achieved center to center "feeling" with someone the moment they grabbed me. Setting up the proper angle, and extending just a bit more than where you want to meet them, and letting them push your slightly extended wrist/arm/etc... back to where you want to be solid really helps - but at the point of actually being as "solid" as I can achieve - that was dicovered (in my case) by doing a bit of static standing against pushing, seated kokyu ho, and many sword exercises. (Note: I can do this some of the time now, but not in ANY situation yet).

- I wasn't talented enough to move such that I could set up a such a connection as described above from a strike by percussing the striking arm and using that feedback to make the connection.

- I wasn't actively making bodily corrections to maintain a specific center to center "feeling" with someone grabbing me and set a new direction for the both of us (which, along with the set up mentioned above, I think is maybe the main focus of my response to your question).

- (Also) I wasn't moving such that the entire grabbing/conecting surface of the attacker was getting equal pressure.

- I wasn't moving where I could move freely and stratigicly to their diagonals so that the grabber had to give up safety to lose the grab/connection or give up balance to maintain the grab/connection.

- I wasn't moving so much from "my current place" as opposed to kind of going out to their place and trying to move them on their terms.

- And lastly, I wasn't keeping both sides of my body equally energized when touching someone with only one of my arms before aikido.

I think the swimming pool idea makes sense. However, I do think that if you feel a connection and work towards maintaining a connection, with those 4 ki society principles in mind, you probably can just get some of it. (Although I have no idea how ki society people set up their initial connections.) Also, I think that if I tried to do what I'm doing if I were treading water in a swimming pool - it seems likely that when I tried to establish a connection, would end up dunking myself. If it were shallow enough, I could probably still throw them from that situation - but that's getting pretty far from what I have experience with!

Regardless, the point is that there is normal strength, and I can try to muscle my way through techniques using that as well as anyone. There is the technique born out of holding yourself such that you can establish and maintain a connection with a person while you set a new direction for the two of you - which is nothing like techniques using only normal strength, and I'm sure there is something way beyond what I can do. But, I wouldn't say my technique is purely "normal" strength. Since people who only use what I would call "normal" strength cannot do what I'm doing in aikido at all. But, again, I think where I am is just more of a middle ground between really having something valuable and just pushing, pulling and cranking people with "flow".

Rob
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Old 06-15-2005, 07:49 PM   #81
wendyrowe
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I don't know you and I don't know your teacher, so I'm just making a very neutral remark and I mean it to be helpful for your general knowledge...
Thanks, Mike. It's always interesting to hear different points of view.


Rob,

I'm glad our dojo and Jason DeLucia Sensei gave you an important experience -- and we're all looking forward to seeing you again -- but my taiji teacher is at a different dojo. I don't want you to get the wrong idea that I'm learning taiji & qigong from my aikido teacher. My taiji/qigong teacher used to spend pretty much all of his time teaching and training in karate, and over the years as he's progressed into his mid-50's he's moved from studying mostly karate to studying mostly taiji & qigong. He now teaches about half & half (karate to kids, taiji & qigong to adults).
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Old 06-15-2005, 09:21 PM   #82
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Wendy Rowe wrote:
Thanks, Mike. It's always interesting to hear different points of view.
Hi Wendy:

Someone just pointed me at this quick demo by Zhu Tian Cai doing a medium-to-small frame shortened Chen form:
http://www.wushan.net/taijiquan/zhu13er-web.wmv

Bearing in mind that the Yang family now publicly acknowledges that the Yang form is derived from this (they hid the movement mechanisms even more, shading toward a rigorous small-frame), you can get an idea of the flavor of difference between this type of movement and something like karate.

Mike
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Old 06-16-2005, 05:20 AM   #83
wendyrowe
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Ack... forget it. I found it in "The Essence of Aikido". John Stevens just mistranslated it because he picked the wrong words out of the possible translations (and it looks like one of them was inverted either in the original or by Stevens). On page 33 of the book is "The Eight Powers", which are also called "The Eight Powers" in Chinese, but also they're called "The Four Polarities"...

Perhaps more helpfully would be this translation from the Chinese:

Motion-Stillness
Powerful-Relaxed
Contraction-Extension
Hard-Soft
...
Thanks for the pointer; I hadn't realized when I read it that this was what you were referring to. My main text when reading the T'ai Chi Classics is Waysun Liao's translation, and although I haven't seen a reference in it to "The Four Polarities" -- maybe I missed it -- it translates the eight powers as ward off power (pong jing), push power (on jing), rollback power (lui jing), press power (ji jing), roll-pull power (tsai jing), split power (leh jing), elbow power (dzo jing) and lean forward power (kao jing). It has italicized translations from the Classics that are more verbose but seem to describe the polarities you listed above, just not as succinctly.

So it sounds like the four powers I'd asked about that are listed in several qigong training videos I've used and in books including Y.K. Chen's TAI CHI CH'UAN: ITS EFFECTS & PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS as main qigong powers/movements (peng lu chi an) correspond with four of these eight from the Classics (pong jing, lui jing, ji jing, on jing), which in turn seem to correspond with the Eight Powers you listed.

I'm looking forward to seeing the movie, but I have to wait til I get to a Windows computer since my Linux machine is unable to see that particular wmv video (let's hear it for standardization ... someday). The Yang long form as taught by T. T. Liang is what I study, incidentally.
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Old 06-16-2005, 07:45 AM   #84
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Wendy Rowe wrote:
My main text when reading the T'ai Chi Classics is Waysun Liao's translation, and although I haven't seen a reference in it to "The Four Polarities" -- maybe I missed it -- it translates the eight powers as ward off power (pong jing), push power (on jing), rollback power (lui jing), press power (ji jing), roll-pull power (tsai jing), split power (leh jing), elbow power (dzo jing) and lean forward power (kao jing).
Oh... different "8 powers". You get a lot of different things with the magic numbers of 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, etc.

The ones I was referring to are the ones that Stevens translated in relation to references made by O-Sensei and they're a standard "poem" that has to do with the development of qi power and how you exercise it.

The 8 things you're referring to are part of the so-called "13 Postures" of Taiji, although there is some discussion about what comprises the last 5. The important part of the 8 you're quoting is the peng, lu, ji, an (the other 4 are considered auxilliaries or maybe "emergency techniques" that still use the first 4 powers). Peng, lu, ji, and an are the basic directional powers of kokyu and mean basically kokyu up, toward the body, away from the body, and downward. For instance, if Tohei is standing to that people cannot lift him easily (or conversely he is applying power downward), he is demonstrating "an" power. If Tohei is resisting a push to his forearm or if he is pushing someone away, he is using "ji" power (as long as it is the correct, relaxed, solid power). And so on. Using the 4 directions of power you can describe any motion you make. E.g., to extend your arm in front and move it in a circle, to do it correctly, it will be powered with all 4 of peng, lu, ji, an. Since the middle is between the arm and the foot and because the middle, not the shoulder, directs those powers, you automatically "move from the center", etc.
Quote:
The Yang long form as taught by T. T. Liang is what I study, incidentally.
Taiji uses the same basic power that Aikido is supposed to use. In both cases, many (if not most) practitioners think the secret is in the forms and techniques, but it's actually in how you move. I agree with Tohei on that one.

Mike
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Old 06-16-2005, 08:21 AM   #85
wendyrowe
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Oh... different "8 powers". You get a lot of different things with the magic numbers of 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, etc.
And 5, don't forget lots of 5's.

Thanks again; I don't have Steven's ESSENCE OF AIKIDO, so I couldn't do the direct cross-referencing. I'll have to get ahold of a copy.
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Old 06-29-2005, 11:51 AM   #86
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

A friend of mine brought to my attention the 1st Aikido Friendship Demonstration part 1 (a DVD sold by Aikido Journal), particularly the demonstration by Kanshu Sunadomari. Essentially, Sunadomari is doing exactly what Gozo Shioda was demonstrating in the Shingi Denju DVD I mentioned in a few other threads. Shioda was doing some variations of the same kokyu control-of-center-and-kokyu-direction through the grab by uke of his gi (it had to be tight for the controls to work... it was more of a dog-and-pony show, in that regard). It's interesting to see that level of controls (it's more sophisticated than my simple description is indicating), but to see it in two early (or "earlier") students of Ueshiba makes me curious. Probably I'm missing something, but I haven't seen that level of controls in many of the more recent deshi... does anyone know of any other Ueshiba students who can use that type of mentally-controlled kokyu powers? Any DVD's? I'm bemused in seeing two "oldtimers" like Shioda and Sunadomari doing this high-level controls, given all the talk about Aikido "evolving", etc., as time went on.

Thanks for any pointers.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 06-29-2005, 12:34 PM   #87
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Both my own teacher and Robert Mustard Sensei have demo'd this technique, but I personally have no way of evaluating it from the video in terms of what you are looking for. I believe there is video on Mustard Sensei's site of him doing this techn. at the Doshinkan.

Best,
Ron

http://www.aikido.ca/burnaby/Gallery.htm has a link to the video under ...at philadelphia.

RT

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 06-29-2005 at 12:39 PM.

Ron Tisdale
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Old 06-29-2005, 12:55 PM   #88
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Both my own teacher and Robert Mustard Sensei have demo'd this technique, but I personally have no way of evaluating it from the video in terms of what you are looking for. I believe there is video on Mustard Sensei's site of him doing this techn. at the Doshinkan.
Hmmmmmm. Mustard isn't doing anything at all close to the level I was talking about, Ron. I'm just realizing that I was the one who screwed up in asking the question... if someone doesn't have experience in what I'm talking about they're not going to see it. Well duh for me. Sorry, my mistake. If you'll remember that anecdote I posted in which Chen Fa Ke allowed a well-known shuai-jiao expert to grab his wrist and the wrestler immediately couldn't move (even his feet), this is also an example of the same technique I'm talking about. Shioda was playing around with it, Sunadomari was using it (or a variant of it)... that's what I'm looking for, but it dawns on me you won't see it if you don't know it. I guess my best question is to ask for the names of the top 4 or 5 deshi from the old days that are still alive. I'm curious to see if this level permeated the earliy students of if Sunadomari and Shioda got it independently from somewhere else. If I see one more of the "older generation" displaying this skill, then it's interesting indeed.

Thanks.

Mike
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Old 06-29-2005, 03:08 PM   #89
Alfonso
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Question Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Does the clip on the 1st demo DVD at aikidojournal show the techinque you mention? The clip includes Sunadomari sensei on a multiple attacker segment of his demo.

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 06-29-2005, 03:34 PM   #90
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Alfonso Adriasola wrote:
Does the clip on the 1st demo DVD at aikidojournal show the techinque you mention? The clip includes Sunadomari sensei on a multiple attacker segment of his demo.
Hi Alfonso:

Just watch a little bit from the beginning of his demo... he starts right off by telling people how it's done, but I know from experience that what he's saying and what people perceive him to be saying are two different things. At the moment uke grabs, etc., Sunadomari has their center and the direction of it already resolved by his own center. He's actually saying that, in so many words, if you listen to the translation. It's what Chen Fa Ke did with the wrestler and what Shioda did to his students who grabbed his gi. It's a high level of kokyu manipulation. Sunadomari stops his students a couple of times right at the grab (near the beginning of the demo) and says the technique is already done.... I totally agree; the rest is almost window-dressing. It looks like the start of the technique to a lot of people, but because of the "blending" of his kokyu combining with the opponent's force, everything is already resolved.

Another thing to notice is that Sunadomari actually stops his uke a number of times to show a point. Granted, Sunadomari could easily have done the technique with a non-resistive "flow", but while he's making these points and stopping Uke, you can see that his power is appreciable. My point being that being very strong with kokyu power is the way to go... not the "I don't want to develop any strength because it's against my Aikido philosophy". Normal strength is a no-no; Kokyu strength is a must.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 06-29-2005, 04:01 PM   #91
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Alfonso Adriasola wrote:
Does the clip on the 1st demo DVD at aikidojournal show the techinque you mention? The clip includes Sunadomari sensei on a multiple attacker segment of his demo.
I didn't answer the part about whether the clip shows "the technique", Alfonso. Sunadomari only does one technique during his whole demonstration and he describes it in those first few techniques... it's called "Aiki".

What I was laughing at was that he did one of the best demonstrations in just those first few techniques that I've ever seen in Aikido, if you add in his explanations. I wonder how many thousands have seen that performance and missed that he was telling them the true heart of Aikido? I'm sure most people were more focused on watching for techniques that looked like their personal perception of good Aikido. I wonder what people like Saotome thought? Saotome, I fairly certain, knows exactly what Sunadomari was showing, but I can't imagine Saotome ever teaching that to anyone. (Er, if anyone wants to convince me otherwise, I'm more than willing to take a look and offer apologies if I'm wrong).

Mike
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Old 06-30-2005, 02:43 PM   #92
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

I guess I'll have to watch that demonstration, I've only seen the clip I mentioned.

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 07-02-2005, 09:55 PM   #93
rob_liberti
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

I think that if I were at a seminar with Saotome sensei and I could show him the video in question and ask him about it. He'd be more than happy to show me. The problem is that then he might just expect me to now be able to do it myself, as if I could possibly copy him (instantly). I find it much more helpful to ask a sempai who is a bit closer to me in ability for help/hints than someone who was already a shihan when I was born.

Rob
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Old 07-03-2005, 07:00 AM   #94
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
I think that if I were at a seminar with Saotome sensei and I could show him the video in question and ask him about it. He'd be more than happy to show me.
I would speculate and say that I disagree with you. This "whether they show you or not" topic has been a common discussion among some friends and me for many years. A Saotome-group friend of mine that has more experience than you do doesn't even think it's a discussion issue... Saotome simply doesn't show anyone some of the things he knows, in his opinion.

Secondly, I finally took the time to watch Saotome's demonstration on that friendship tape and I was a little surprised at it. The reason is that I have an impression of Saotome (bear in mind that while I've seen him demonstrate off and on during the years, I haven't really bothered to go to his workshops in recent years so a lot of my impressions are from earlier days and from knowing that Saotome gave "ki lessons" while he was still at Hombu Dojo). You can know basic ki and kokyu things without knowing the particular aspect that has surprisingly surfaced as being known by some of Ueshiba's earlier students. I would now, after watching Saotome's demonstration, take a more neutral position about his knowing exactly how this form of focused "aiki" is done. I just don't know and I don't mind retracting my earlier musing.

Thirdly, as an aside, I heard another friend of mine comment about how he gets tired of watching Saotome's "kill your opponent" approach, when the "blend with your opponent style of American Sensei X" is so much more Aikido-like. I dunno.... which is more legitimate, the pleasing Aikido a lot of Americans have come to expect or the Aikido perspective of a legitimate student of O-Sensei?

Regardless, I'm more interested in what I've now seen done/discussed by too many direct Japanese students than I am in getting off on a Saotome discussion.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 07-04-2005, 06:56 AM   #95
rob_liberti
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Well, considering that I'm also talking to people who have much more experience with Saotome sensei than I do and I'm basing my opinions off of those sempai (which I believe is the main positive aspect of an organization).. I personally find that the message of "kill your opponent" is that you need to have the mind of attack and take action and maintain position from that mind set in order to be able to receive your partner, unify, and then do something non-destructive with them. I'm well aware that many people with more experience than I have would disagree with that opinion - but I suspect they might just have have a problem with over-applying reductionist thinking or something.

Regardless, I am more interested in trying to get to where I think O-sensei, Yamaguchi sensei, Saotome sensei, etc. were trying to go, as opposed to trying to follow any particular teacher to become just like them.

Rob

Walking the spiritual path is a very subtle process; it is not something to jump into naively. There are numerous sidetracks which lead to a distorted, ego-centered version of spirituality; we can
deceive ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when instead we are strengthening our egocentricity through spiritual techniques. -Chogyam Trungpa, "Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism"
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Old 07-04-2005, 08:10 AM   #96
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
I'm well aware that many people with more experience than I have would disagree with that opinion - but I suspect they might just have have a problem with over-applying reductionist thinking or something.
Those rascals! How do you think they got it so wrong?
Quote:
There are numerous sidetracks which lead to a distorted, ego-centered version of spirituality; we can
deceive ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when instead we are strengthening our egocentricity through spiritual techniques. -Chogyam Trungpa, "Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism"
A telling point.

Mike
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Old 07-04-2005, 08:48 AM   #97
rob_liberti
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Actually, my current thinking on that is that some Western parenting practices tend to result in people getting stunted at that point in childhood when everything is very black or white. When you combine that with the Trungpa quote, it comes together nicely to form a reasonable explanation of how things can get quite distorted in the States. Highly perceptive self honestly is the only chance as I see it - like when one asks someone to think outside "the" box, do they actually consider that they are probably thinking inside a differnt box of their own.

Oh well, I like the quote an aweful lot.

Rob
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Old 07-05-2005, 06:41 AM   #98
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
Actually, my current thinking on that is that some Western parenting practices tend to result in people getting stunted at that point in childhood when everything is very black or white.
Sad, isn't it?

Speaking of "black and white" and getting back to the idea of defining "highest level martial arts". Let me see if I can frame a "black and white" example.... but instead of just labeling things, perhaps you (or others' thoughts would be welcome) can post an analysis, as you see it?

Let's take the example of suburi, bokken swinging. Suburi supposedly "develops the tanden", among other things. If someone named "X" watches a video of, say, Saito Sensei swinging the bokken, it appears fairly straightforward. You hold the bokken in a certain way and you swing it to and fro in a certain way. So X picks up a bokken and swings it, emulating Saito. Another third party, "Y", watches and compares .... and says X certainly appears to be swinging the bokken like Saito is.

So, some questions are: .... are there any results someone can expect from suburi swinging and will X achieve those results just swinging the bokken in a way that looks like Saito's swing? After all, the basic swing that X is doing will certainly enable him to cut something with a sword, so you can't fault him on doing the swing. Even if you did, he might tell you that "all roads lead to the top of the mountain" or that "his interpretation of correct bokken swinging is just as valid as yours" or that "Saito's swing was evolving his whole life and this swing done by X is just part of the "evolution" of bokken swinging. He might accuse you of thinking in boxes, etc., if you disagree with him and his opinions... heck, he might even call you a "pompous ass", god forbid!

Another person might say that it is practice that counts, suggesting that if X simply swings the bokken a lot he will arrive. "Practice is what counts"; "just practice and you will understand". Etc. Do you think it is true that ultimately X will arrive at the same bokken-swinging skills that Saito has/had by just practicing continuously?

Mike
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Old 07-05-2005, 08:20 AM   #99
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
So, some questions are: .... are there any results someone can expect from suburi swinging and will X achieve those results just swinging the bokken in a way that looks like Saito's swing? After all, the basic swing that X is doing will certainly enable him to cut something with a sword, so you can't fault him on doing the swing. Even if you did, he might tell you that "all roads lead to the top of the mountain" or that "his interpretation of correct bokken swinging is just as valid as yours" or that "Saito's swing was evolving his whole life and this swing done by X is just part of the "evolution" of bokken swinging. He might accuse you of thinking in boxes, etc., if you disagree with him and his opinions... heck, he might even call you a "pompous ass", god forbid!
Another person might say that it is practice that counts, suggesting that if X simply swings the bokken a lot he will arrive. "Practice is what counts"; "just practice and you will understand". Etc. Do you think it is true that ultimately X will arrive at the same bokken-swinging skills that Saito has/had by just practicing continuously?Mike
Hi Mike,
I would like to add my thoughts and my answers to your questions.(for whatever my thoughts/answers are worth). I have always had a problem and disagree completely with the statement - "just practice, or just swing the bokken a lot and you'll learn." So whatever bad habits you start with you will strengthen and ingrain so that will always be in your swing. No possible way can you learn to direct ki into and through the weapon. Does practice count? Yes. Good practice counts. But it's more than swinging a bokken so the bokken and you move technically perfect. I see/saw and hear/heard the same thing in playing the guitar and other instruments for that matter. Whether being taught and/or watching someone and learning that way the same thing can occur of no spirit or feeling behind the playing. And no matter how much they give for an excuse or reason no feeling or creativity ever shows in their music or playing. In classical music the main master guitarist lessons from Segovia's (guitar's #1 in classical music while he was alive) was in fact teaching them how to feel and express that feel through their playing. Musically the other spectrum exists that really sloppy playing that borders on bad and yet tremendous feeling pours out of the playing that it can almost overwhelm the listener. It is in my mind pretty similar to martial arts and Aikido in particular. We have skilled martial artists who can swing that bokken and look exactly like Saito Sensei, without ever understanding what is missing. The sayings (excuses?) will come out in your example. Like "all roads lead to the top of the mountain," yes except the view is different from each side of the road you walk on - let alone each road. "his interpretation is just as valid as yours," good than accept that my "interpretation is valid and every one else's" instead of meaning "my interpretation is right and yours is well so-so -cause it isn't my interpretation." The latter is more than likely what you'll hear.
This one though: "Saito's swing was evolving his whole life and this swing done by X is just part of the "evolution" of bokken swinging." I guess if you can see that Saito's swing evolved then don't you want to know how Saito was able to make his swing evolve? Because "just practice" is just that "just practice."
So as you may have guessed to me the answer to your last question: Do you think it is true that ultimately X will arrive at the same bokken-swinging skills that Saito has/had by just practicing continuously?
No.

Sincerely,
Gene
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Old 07-05-2005, 08:20 AM   #100
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

interesting question Mike. Reminds me of baking a cake. A world re-knowned/master cake baker can spend years on refining baking the perfect cake. A novice, in theory, can follow the same receipe, replicate the same exact conditions, and bake that same perfect cake.

So what separates the master from the novice?

I think there is much more to mastery than replicating a single cake or perfecting a sword kata. It is the ability and experience to take a brand new set of conditions and create/resolve the situation in the manner you want.
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