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Old 07-10-2005, 12:04 AM   #126
rob_liberti
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

>Even if you did[faulted X's bokken practice], 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." [and later] If you don't know how to swing your bokken, for example, *really* using the tanden correctly

I guess I disagree with the whole idea that there can be a "highest level" to a "do" art. To me, highest level, has to mean highest so far. I think it's a matter of context. (There's the rub with absolutes in that: absolute is absolutely relative to the relative.) This all seems to be based on the premise that there is an absolute right way to swing a sword. I haven't practiced in all of the different sword schools and I have no idea if habits would be learned from drills designed to develop kokyu that would get you killed in battle or whatever; but I would imagine that might be the case - so I'm not sure if there is an absolute right way to practice swinging the sword (for all contexts). It seems like it would have to be contextual and need to be level appropriate while you continue to learn and evolve your understanding and ability. While I'm fine with the idea that some paths are just not going to the top of the mountain, the idea of that practice being either "Aikido-variations" or "not-Aikido" because some essential things are left out in that moment of training while building skills is taking things to the other extreme as I see it. If leaving out some essential things as other skills are developed with the idea of later re-integrating the things left out for the time-being from a potentially better place to do that is not "aikido" then logically doesn't it follow that no one is doing aikido unless they are doing everything perfectly? To me, that's not a "path", that's the destination. Maybe I misunderstood. I agree that no one is doing "highest level aikido" unless they are doing everything perfectly - by definition, but doesn't that imply there must exist lower level aikido too? For the example, I'm sure there are general principles that make some swings better than others, but that's as far I would go at this point.

>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. <snip> 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!

Again, I think it's a matter of context. If the person doing the faulting is significantly better at swinging the sword, understands the context of that specific drill, has the judgment to know how to tell what X is ready to hear, and so gives just the right message for the moment (in the most helpful way) I would say she is doing X a great service. Informing, discussing, disagreeing, etc. are all like swinging a sword - in that there are important subtleties associated with those actions that change how they are interpreted. Feedback is essential for learning such things. Seriously, all bickering aside - I would sincerely hope that X would speak up if she is faulted in a way that seems pompous (or seems out of context) to her - especially if X is disagreed with all the time and doesn't find those other people to be pompous (or apparently sees a very different context to that training which doesn't correspond with the specific fault mentioned). The person trying to "help" by faulting X might be totally failing at being helpful to X or herself for that matter. This is a very big problem in aikido in my opinion.

>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?

I don't think that anyone will "arrive" from any *single* drill. I'd be up for a list of drills that other's have found to be helpful.

Rob
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Old 07-10-2005, 07:56 AM   #127
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
While I'm fine with the idea that some paths are just not going to the top of the mountain, the idea of that practice being either "Aikido-variations" or "not-Aikido" because some essential things are left out in that moment of training while building skills is taking things to the other extreme as I see it.
In that case, you're leaving the door open to "all things can be Aikido", if you don't think there are basic criteria. And if there are basic criteria that must be present, then it's a given that there is such a thing as "Aikido" and "Not Aikido".

The example was simple bokken swinging. There are two basic reasons for bokken swinging: tactical training (swinging the bokken correctly so that it is combat effective due to technical correctness) and body training. To keep it simpler, I focused on the body training and asked if the guy swinging it with his arms and shoulders was doing it in an Aikido way (would O-Sensei have agreed that it was correct for Aikido or not?). If not, I would say that he is doing "not Aikido", even though he is certainly getting strong and has a useable sword chop.

There are very basic principles being used in a correct bokken swing. If you don't swing correctly you will get a stronger chop but you will not train or even "fall into" the correct way to do it. The people who somehow think that all practice will somehow wind up being correct practice and who don't consider that wrong practice usually winds up off the mark are using a strange logic. If you swing a bokken incorrectly for 20 years and it's the same basic type of movement (arms and shoulders) that you do in your regular Aikido (or Taiji or Karate, etc), you can't just "add the correct stuff in"... it's not some minor thing you just add to incorrect practice. I've mentioned that before as being a common error in thinking that I've seen many times over many years.

Using this simple example of bokken swinging, the correct way to swing a bokken (or any weapon) is not that simple to do. I recently visited an Aikido class with the idea of maybe joining just so I could add to my exercise regimen. I walked in when the instructor was leading everyone through bokken swinging and it only took a couple of seconds to see that his bokken-swinging was some sort of arm-oriented warm-up exercise. I waited and watched a couple of basic throws and could see that just as the bokken-swinging was empty, the throws were empty, too. External technique. I politely bowed out and left... and I'm sure the instructor is quite convinced that he'd doing everything just fine. If the instructor had been doing good or 'pretty good' bokken swinging, those movement basics would also have been in his techniques to some degree. There is no "absolute" correct way to do Aikido (of course there are variations), but there are indeed some basic criteria that must be present before there is the idea of variations, I think most people would agree.

Bokken swinging has some necessary criteria to be part of Aikido training; just arm swinging is "not Aikido". For all practical purposes there are "Aikido" ways to bokken-swing, Aiki-Taiso, execute techniqes, etc., and they will all have the same basic criteria present. They can have the basic criteria present and *then* have variations while still being "Aikido", but they can't not have those criteria present and still be called "Aikido" in the full sense of the word.

But if you think that all mimicries of Aikido are somehow acceptable as Aikido, we simply disagree.

I remember when I had the top Chen-stylist in the world visit once (I was hosting a seminar) and he asked me to do some of my Chen form. When he saw it, he laughed out loud and said "you are the first westerner I have seen who understands how Taiji moves. Now you should not have much problem learning real Taiji". I quit practicing all my Taiji forms that day and went back to movement basics.

In other words, I had a basic and not-too-skilled correct idea of the body movements, but everything else about my Taiji was wrong. After watching him and talking, etc., I began to realize the magnitude of my errors. You cannot go from New York to San Franciso if you find out you're on the ferry to Cuba... you gotta go back and re-start. The point being that there IS a correct and incorrect way to do Taiji, Aikido, and other good arts, and it has to do, at its core, with how you move the body. That way of moving is inextricably intertwined with an understanding of ki, kokyuu, etc., just as it is in so many other Asian martial arts. Without the basics, real experts will just look at you nod, smile, and say, "oh.... very good". Understanding when "very good" is nothing more than a kind pat on the behind is a crucial skill.

Bokken swinging is a simple example of that same idea.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 07-11-2005, 12:50 PM   #128
rob_liberti
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

I don't see it so much as I am leaving the door open to _any_ interpretation whatsoever. I would simply say that any process towards 'highest level aikido' counts as training aikido. No one is arguing that practicing the wrong thing indefinitely will not result in the desired outcome, or that there are some basic criteria that makes aikido be aikido. What the basic criteria are is always worth discussing. I have been taught you need inuri (verticality), tai-atari (full body connection), and musubi (tieing together, but can be thought of as a combination of tai-atari with kokyu). Any drill that works towards improving any single element would make my list of training aikido. There are other aspects of training aikido like zen, shin, bi (judgment, honesty, beauty) and highlighting any of them would be aikido training as well (in my book). I would further suggest that there are sub-levels within the self-coordination aspects of kokyu movement, and someone who isn't directly pushing, or pulling in general just might not yet know how to raise up the uke without directly lifting from shoulder. I wouldn't say they weren't practicing aikido while they were trying to figure it out.

Basically, any and all training done along the way towards a destination of martial action embodying aikido principles is all 'aikido in the full sense of the word' to me. In the case of swinging a bokken, doing it enough so that you are no longer able to do it from shoulder and arm muscles will help eliminate some things that we can all agree are problems with getting better - even if it is done mindlessly. No one would suggest that just swinging the bokken mindlessly would be the answer in and of itself.

From my point of view, I would say that when you were practicing Taiji before someone helped you better define real-Taiji that you were still initially practicing Taiji - just not optimally (but maybe level-appropriately for the time-being). When you discovered that you needed to go back and restart, was that the first and only time? It seems like where we primarily disagree is that this is normal in aikido. You seem to think that people normally do not go back and re-learn everything from the point of view of their current insights, and my experience is that this happens all of the time. I constantly see and feel the results of people doing just that, myself included. By going back to practicing the basic waza, we have a common baseline from which to compare our previously much more surface level understandings to our current level of progress/ability. I think all of that is aikido in the full sense of the word and I agree that none of that is "highest level aikido" unless you actually find an end to that process - which in that case wouldn't we have to call it ai ki - and then some word that means "place" or "apex" as opposed to "path"?

Well, that's my take for the moment.

Rob
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Old 07-11-2005, 01:11 PM   #129
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
I have been taught you need inuri (verticality), tai-atari (full body connection), and musubi (tieing together, but can be thought of as a combination of tai-atari with kokyu).
That's actually pretty good, as a statement, although I have to caveat that many times I hear the correct statements being parrotted without it automatically implying that someone knows what they mean or can do "it" (this is in general; not about you personally). Moving from the center takes time and focus, but the real problem is training and conditioning the "connections" from the center to the hands, legs, etc. It helps if you can just power things from the center, but a lot of times the level of skill is directly proportional to how good are the involuntary "whole-body connections" that convey the jin/kokyu to the points of application, movement, etc. FWIW.
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I wouldn't say they weren't practicing aikido while they were trying to figure it out.
I'm trying to figure out brain surgery.... would you say that makes me already a brain-surgeon??
Quote:
Basically, any and all training done along the way towards a destination of martial action embodying aikido principles is all 'aikido in the full sense of the word' to me.
You just used what I call "the magic phrase", i.e., "embodying Aikido principles". It's like the people who do BS choreography they call "Tai Chi".... they will all claim to "use Tai Chi principles". It's an easy phrase to slip off the tongue. Many people on this forum would swear that they "use Aikido principles", but in reality they don't... and I think most people here are aware of that.
Quote:
From my point of view, I would say that when you were practicing Taiji before someone helped you better define real-Taiji that you were still initially practicing Taiji - just not optimally (but maybe level-appropriately for the time-being).
I wouldn't say that. Honestly. I wasn't doing Taiji... I was mimicking it, as are most people
Quote:
When you discovered that you needed to go back and restart, was that the first and only time? It seems like where we primarily disagree is that this is normal in aikido. You seem to think that people normally do not go back and re-learn everything from the point of view of their current insights, and my experience is that this happens all of the time. I constantly see and feel the results of people doing just that, myself included.
No, I keep going back, but that's not the point I should make to you. Once again let me repeat.... the MAGNITUDE of the change is far greater than people are conceptualizing. That's why so few people can do it. Yet, if you have loyal students and a large enough peer group that is "in the same boat", it's easy to step around things and say "My Aikido/Taiji/Karate/etc., is already acceptable good so I don't need to do this." I've tried to make the point before.... it shouldn't be confused with making some beneficial change by "stopping and going back"; this is a *massive* change.

Mike
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Old 07-11-2005, 02:16 PM   #130
rob_liberti
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Mike,

When I read "I'm trying to figure out brain surgery.... would you say that makes me already a brain-surgeon??" I immediately think 'well, if you were doing something called "brain surgery PATH" then yes, you would be on the path while learning.' I'm sure you would agree that doesn't challenge my loyalty or aikido position or anything like that; it just challenges my critical thinking (which I'm pretty sure you are a great proponent of).

I agree that using _some_ aikido principles is not too difficult; and I'm certain that non-aikidoka use some aikido principles all of the time. The problem is using all the appropriate ones at once regardless of the situation. I think this is a rather slow and difficult (but fun and interesting) progression - especially when a change is massive in nature. Come to think of it, every change I have ever made that made me go back and rethink/rework everything has been a massive change to me. (Of course that's subjective.)

You did a good thing by trying to objectify some level of proficiency with your "teacher-test" idea - but you wouldn't say that someone working towards being able to blow you back 20 feet or whatever with their no-inch punch from their leg/hip power isn't doing ANYTHING until they pass the teacher-test would you? What the heck would the student-test be?

I do appreciate your body movement insights. If we have to agree to disagree on what aikido training means, then that's okay.

Rob
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Old 07-11-2005, 02:18 PM   #131
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

So how to you quantify or identify if someone is mimicking or actually doing it?

Are there vary degrees of it.? You can study from a good teacher and the first day you are mimicking or following the motions without understanding. I'd still say you are doing aikido, and doing it correctly, just not that correctly. As you progress you should get better and reach an internalization or understanding.

That said, sometimes doing Jo Kata, I really do feel like the Star Wars Kid.
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Old 07-11-2005, 02:49 PM   #132
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
You did a good thing by trying to objectify some level of proficiency with your "teacher-test" idea - but you wouldn't say that someone working towards being able to blow you back 20 feet or whatever with their no-inch punch from their leg/hip power isn't doing ANYTHING until they pass the teacher-test would you? What the heck would the student-test be?
Well, the "teacher test" is actually a good example of what I am trying to say (which is not to say I can't see and understand some of the semantic quibbles). The way the "teacher test" came about was after a workshop I did up in your neck of the woods, a number of years ago. There was a guy at the workshop who kept talking about how he was a "Xing Yi Teacher" and had "taught Xing yi for many years", etc. Afterwards, when we were all having a beer, he kept droning on about how he was a teacher, etc., and after a few beers I was desperate to get onto another subject (as were other people). So I asked him to put his palm or his fist against the right side of my chest and hit me as hard as he could *without drawing back his fist or his shoulder*. I forget exactly, but my impression was that he was only able to generate a fairly weak pulse of power and everyone watching could see that he did it by pulling his shoulder back and hitting with his shoulder.

If he had really been doing and teaching an art that used jin/kokyu that was controlled by the waist for x-number of years, he would have been able to hit me OK without using his shoulder. That simple "teacher test" (which means "test of someone who claims to be a teacher of internal arts") means that everything else he did and taught in Xingyi was wrong because if he couldn't do a simple hit with kokyu/dantien, then he wasn't practicing with kokyu/dantien ... ergo, everything else he was doing in terms of movement, power, etc., were, by logical extension, wrong. Do you see my reasoning?

The use of kokyu power, seika-no-tanden, etc., is not really a side-issue in Aikido, either. It is key (no pun). Could we quibble and say the Xingyi teacher was doing Xingyi but doing it wrong... yes, but you should also fully understand why we could just as easily and perhaps more accurately say that he was not really doing Xingyi.

Don't get me wrong, I'm well aware that I can get *too* finicky with this area of definition and I'm not a member of the "Aikido Police". I bring up this topic because it's one that every Aikido teacher (not to mention Xingyi, Taiji, karate, Bagua, etc.) should be thinking about when they agree to accept money and loyalty from people. The students of that particular "Xingyi Teacher" were not only throwing their money away, they were also patterning their movements wrong so that they would have little chance of ever learning to move correctly in the future.

I personally don't teach because of that very reasoning above. But in the real world, I don't spend a lot of time worrying about what's happening along those lines because it's going to happen regardless and it now has little effect on my pursuits. However, if I was one of today's students, it would be a valid worry. In reality I tend to ignore all of that and simply be friendly, share both ways, and stay aloof from any too-close relationships with people who call themselves "teachers" .... I'm not involved in that part and I just don't want to know much about that side of it. The tricky area is when people have been "teachers" for enough years to realize there is probably something important out there that they don't know very well... and they blow it off. You can see the implications for any students.

Anyway, though, your question about the "teacher test" was a good one... the question would be whether some such hard-and-fast criterion would be applicable to Aikido. I dunno. To some extent it does, but not in a "fa jin" sense like the "teacher test" (which is a light-hearted thing; not something to overblow).

My opinions, for what they're worth.

Mike
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Old 07-11-2005, 02:55 PM   #133
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
So how to you quantify or identify if someone is mimicking or actually doing it?

Are there vary degrees of it.? You can study from a good teacher and the first day you are mimicking or following the motions without understanding. I'd still say you are doing aikido, and doing it correctly, just not that correctly. As you progress you should get better and reach an internalization or understanding.
Yeah, it gets to be a semantics quibble. I simply say "I practice Taiji" or "I practice Aikido"... I try to avoid (literalist that I am) making a complete claim like "I do Taiji". Instead of those first-day people saying they "do Aikido", the most I'd say is "they're learning or attempting to learn Aikido". What they're doing is not yet valid Aikido. But again, let's not get too deeply into the "Aikido Police" mode. We have to realize that in the real world people will say what they want and it's not important enough to argue.
Quote:
That said, sometimes doing Jo Kata, I really do feel like the Star Wars Kid.
I thought you *were* the Star Wars Kid!

Mike
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Old 07-11-2005, 03:14 PM   #134
rob_liberti
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Fair enough. To me, "I do aikido" means what I do is a path towards "I manifest my true self which is in accord with univesal principles". I don't think you have to be at the mastery level to be a teacher, or a student-teacher, but I agree that you should be honest about where you are and let the students decide. As far as taking money, well, in my particular case, I pay the same dues as the members of my class. It all goes to rent and insurance. Anything left over goes to getting a better teacher and I don't handle any of it. I don't know how others do it, but I don't know many people making a living off of teaching aikido. I think the term starving artists applies.

Rob
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Old 07-11-2005, 03:20 PM   #135
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
Fair enough. To me, "I do aikido" means what I do is a path towards "I manifest my true self which is in accord with univesal principles". I don't think you have to be at the mastery level to be a teacher, or a student-teacher, but I agree that you should be honest about where you are and let the students decide. As far as taking money, well, in my particular case, I pay the same dues as the members of my class. It all goes to rent and insurance. Anything left over goes to getting a better teacher and I don't handle any of it. I don't know how others do it, but I don't know many people making a living off of teaching aikido. I think the term starving artists applies.
Don't get me wrong... I'm not the "Aikido Police". But a legitimate concern for students and what you're doing to them is always present and part of the responsibility of being a teacher (I mean that in general, not directed at you personally). A lot of teachers are so involved with themselves, their status, role-playing, etc., that they don't understand the importance of concern about perhaps teaching someone something wrong for a number of years. I'll never forget listening to a saddened 54-year-old describe his feelings when after years of being a dutiful student he realized that his "teacher" had never understood even the basics. It was an unusual thing to listen to.

Mike
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Old 07-11-2005, 03:43 PM   #136
wendyrowe
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
... I try to avoid (literalist that I am) making a complete claim like "I do Taiji". Instead of those first-day people saying they "do Aikido", the most I'd say is "they're learning or attempting to learn Aikido". What they're doing is not yet valid Aikido...
But Aikido isn't really something where you can ever say, "I have arrived -- this is Aikido and I know everything," is it? It doesn't have a finish line or a last page. No matter how good someone gets, isn't there always something s/he can learn to get even better? So, how should we decide where to draw the line between "learning Aikido" and "doing Aikido" and between valid and not-yet-valid Aikido? Is part of what you're describing here your criteria for what separates the learners from the doers? If so, where would you draw those lines?

Please excuse the flock of question marks. I mean them very seriously, I'm not trying to be a naysayer or troublemaker. It's just that so far, learning Aikido feels to me like the Cavafy poem "The Road to Ithaca," where it's the journey that matters rather than the destination. Of course, that may be because I'm so very, very far from the end of the journey.
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Old 07-11-2005, 04:12 PM   #137
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Wendy Rowe wrote:
But Aikido isn't really something where you can ever say, "I have arrived -- this is Aikido and I know everything," is it?
Hi Wendy:

I think my opinion was couched in the idea that there must be basic criteria that are fulfilled *at the least* before someone is doing Aikido. Until someone has fullfilled the basic criteria, there can be no legitimate "variations", "evolution", etc., as so many people try to imply as they attempt to justify the legitimacy of their own beliefs.

The idea of the bokken was not that someone practicing the bokken "has arrived and knows everything about how to swing the bokken", but more along the lines that they are at least fulfilling the basic criteria. If you remember, I was opining that someone who just swings the bokken with arms and shoulders was not doing Aikido. Someone legitimately using kokyu-power, the middle, ki-breathing, etc., that is required for "aiki" would, in my opinion, be doing Aikido bokken swinging, whether they have "arrived" or not.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 07-11-2005, 04:23 PM   #138
wendyrowe
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
...I was opining that someone who just swings the bokken with arms and shoulders was not doing Aikido. Someone legitimately using kokyu-power, the middle, ki-breathing, etc., that is required for "aiki" would, in my opinion, be doing Aikido bokken swinging...
That makes sense.

It's interesting how closely this thread is related to the "Basic Elements of Aikido" thread. Not surprising, but interesting to see how they dovetail.

For myself, I can tell when I am using kokyu power and my dantien -- at least, I think I can, so either I am or I'm fooling myself -- and if I'm working with someone I think I can feel whether that person is. But I'm not sure whether I can tell by looking at someone whether that person is or not. If the person is doing something very poorly I can tell, but if the person appears to be doing it well I don't know whether I'd be able to know for sure if it was just the appearance of Aikido or the entirety of Aikido I'm seeing. Again, though, I'm a relative novice -- do you have ways of diagnosing at a distance whether someone is really doing Aikido, or do you mean you would partner with the person so you could feel it to decide?
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Old 07-11-2005, 04:43 PM   #139
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Wendy Rowe wrote:
For myself, I can tell when I am using kokyu power and my dantien -- at least, I think I can, so either I am or I'm fooling myself -- and if I'm working with someone I think I can feel whether that person is.
I would say that if you have more than just rudimentary kokyu power on a hit-or-miss random-showing mode, you should be able to demonstrate most of Tohei's "ki tests" on demand. That's probably a good criterion for someone to judge whether they really can demonstrate kokyu, power, in my opinion.
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But I'm not sure whether I can tell by looking at someone whether that person is or not. If the person is doing something very poorly I can tell, but if the person appears to be doing it well I don't know whether I'd be able to know for sure if it was just the appearance of Aikido or the entirety of Aikido I'm seeing. Again, though, I'm a relative novice -- do you have ways of diagnosing at a distance whether someone is really doing Aikido, or do you mean you would partner with the person so you could feel it to decide?
I pretty much agree with you. I can tell when someone is NOT able to use kokyu power by the errors they make in movement. I sometimes have to watch movement for a few minutes in order to say or to hazard an intelligent guess (remember, I consider that there are gradations of ability, so often it's not only a matter of whether they use kokyu power but also at what level they use it). Often it's a matter of feel. In a workshop or dojo setting I may have people put both hands on my chest and push me at whatever strength they want... I can feel what their command of kokyu is immediately. Of course by far most people have little or no command of kokyu so usually there are not many surprises. Occasionally I hit someone with pretty good power... it's hard to judge exactly how good someone is at the upper ends, at least at my level.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 07-11-2005, 08:34 PM   #140
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I would say that if you have more than just rudimentary kokyu power on a hit-or-miss random-showing mode, you should be able to demonstrate most of Tohei's "ki tests" on demand. That's probably a good criterion for someone to judge whether they really can demonstrate kokyu, power, in my opinion.
There are some top level Aikidoists that would have no idea about any of Tohei's "ki tests" are much less perform them on demand. Perhaps this is what has been bothering me about the thread from the inception. Is your/mine view of what top level Aikido is dictated by where you/I want to go with our Aikido.

Personally I watch how an Aikidoist moves and performs his techniques to judge the level of their Aikido - I really have little time for "ki tests".

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 07-11-2005, 08:45 PM   #141
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
There are some top level Aikidoists that would have no idea about any of Tohei's "ki tests" are much less perform them on demand. Perhaps this is what has been bothering me about the thread from the inception. Is your/mine view of what top level Aikido is dictated by where you/I want to go with our Aikido.
Could you give me a few names of some "top level Aikidoists" that would have no idea about any of Tohei's ki tests? I could see Sunadomari actually do what would be considered one of the ki tests and I could actually see Shioda do some of them and I've seen Saotome do a few in the past. Granted, I too think that there are some people who are called "top level Aikidoists" that may or may not understand how to manipulate kokyu like that, but to me that's part of the discussion about why some people get information (or go after information on their own, as some have done), while others don't.
Quote:
Personally I watch how an Aikidoist moves and performs his techniques to judge the level of their Aikido - I really have little time for "ki tests".
Since a "ki test" is (for the majority of those tests) simply a kokyu demonstration, I'm not clear about why you have little time for them. Watch the Sunadomari demonstration a couple of times where S. simply stops his uke with a kokyu path while he's talking. His throws use kokyu. That's all a ki test is. Are you saying that you don't consider the usage of kokyu an essential part of Aikido?

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Mike Sigman
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Old 07-11-2005, 09:07 PM   #142
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Mike:

I am saying that the ability to perform Tohei's Ki tests are not in themselves an indication of high level Aikido and that there are a number of Aikidoists whose lineage has no connection to Tohei or his particular sideline from Aikido.

Well we have to ask the Yoshinkan people about Shioda's incorporation of Tohei's Ki tests but somehow I doubt it never having heard mention of it. Closer to my home is Shodokan Aikido founded by Kenji Tomiki - we have an exercise that one Ki society person recognized as "unliftable body" but for us there is no test or demonstration just working on body mechanics. Do the Iwama people do Tohei's Ki tests? Or Aikikai Honbu? I think its pretty much a given that if you've been kicking around for awhile that you have heard about what Ki society dojos do but really that's about it. Your premise was that the level of Aikido was determined by ones ability to do those tests - I disagree.

Kokyu - another word for timing.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 07-11-2005, 09:18 PM   #143
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

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Peter Rehse wrote:
Closer to my home is Shodokan Aikido founded by Kenji Tomiki - we have an exercise that one Ki society person recognized as "unliftable body" but for us there is no test or demonstration just working on body mechanics.
Hi Peter:

I'm not sure about the exact relationship of Tomiki's version of Aikido to the historic tradition, ki, kokyu, etc., of Ueshiba's Aikido. And I mean that quite neutrally... I have not the slightest desire to get off into a "style" discussion. What I'm saying is that I can't see the value of debating kokyu basics with you unless you can give me more of an idea that you share the same perception of top level Aikidoists to some extent. Notice that the examples I mentioned were not Tomiki-style practitioners. You see the potential disconnect in our conversation, I'm sure.

The "unliftable body" is one of those tests like the "unbendable arm" that, as I've stated before, I don't care a lot for as an example because we can be talking about two different things, both called "unliftable body". How about the straightforward example I've used before of Tohei standing on one leg while his "partner" pushes on his forearm. I don't know if you can do it or not, but how would you describe how it is done, out of curiosity?
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Kokyu - another word for timing.
Hmmmm.... is that all that kokyu means to you?

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 07-11-2005, 09:35 PM   #144
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Sorry... I left this off the other response:
Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
I am saying that the ability to perform Tohei's Ki tests are not in themselves an indication of high level Aikido and that there are a number of Aikidoists whose lineage has no connection to Tohei or his particular sideline from Aikido.
Tohei's Ki Tests are simply kokyu demonstrations. Some people say "ki demonstrations", but technically a physical demonstration of ki is "kokyu" regardless of any implications of "breath" and "timing". The point, though, is that Ueshiba also did a number of these type demonstrations of kokyu power (the stronger your ki, the stronger your kokyu, but that's a conversation for another time and place). Hopefully, all the Aikidoists you can think of have some connection to Ueshiba. What do you think Ueshiba's demonstration were meant to show, BTW?

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 07-11-2005, 10:19 PM   #145
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Actually Mike I'm not just referring to Tomiki practitioners - hence my list of other styles than Tomiki.

For us the difference between a half decent Aikidoist (I don't agree with the all or none premise either) and one of high level is how he manifests Ido-rokyo or the power of movement. I saw a great example with Kimura Shihan of Osaka Aikikai at a recent Enbu he gave at Shodokan Honbu - he was a student of Kobyashi H. and would have had very little contact with Tohei. Both Tomiki and Kobyashi H. were pretty directly connected to Ueshiba M..

To keep things simple Tomiki classed different powers

Power of Movement
Power of Focus
Breath Power
Muscle Power
and almost as a afterthought we have the more mystical Ki (I like to think of it as the greater part of the sum).

Interestingly I have found that when a Ki Society person talks about Ki they will be referring to a combination of the above which was the source of much confusion on my part. Kokyu is often referred to as a combination of the power of focus and timing but for us it is pretty much timing. Frankly speaking Tomiki wasn't too interested in the mystical side of things and probably viewed Ki tests as nothing more than parlor tricks - they sure don't have much tradition in any dojo (Tomiki or otherwise) that I have trained in here (the only Ki society dojos I visited were in the West although they do of course exist in Japan).

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 07-11-2005, 10:32 PM   #146
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

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Mike Sigman wrote:
What I'm saying is that I can't see the value of debating kokyu basics with you unless you can give me more of an idea that you share the same perception of top level Aikidoists to some extent.
That actually was my main point.

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
Is your/mine view of what top level Aikido is dictated by where you/I want to go with our Aikido.
When I see what I consider top-flight Aikidoists move - I say to myself I want to move like that. There is a dynamic power generated by these people that takes my breath away.

Relatively static demonstrations of something less tangible don't really get my blood boiling.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 07-11-2005, 10:40 PM   #147
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
I saw a great example with Kimura Shihan of Osaka Aikikai at a recent Enbu he gave at Shodokan Honbu - he was a student of Kobyashi H. and would have had very little contact with Tohei. Both Tomiki and Kobyashi H. were pretty directly connected to Ueshiba M..
HI Peter:

Although I used Tohei as an example, I only did so because there are numerous still pictures in his books that we can draw a simple example from. As I noted, Ueshiba did similar or the same demonstrations in many cases. Forget Tohei... let's just go to the fact that Ueshiba did ki (kokyu) demonstrations. That makes it difficult for you to simply dismiss them, IMO.

I recently read a post that raised an interesting speculation about Tomiki and Ueshiba, so I'm unwilling to be drawn into a discussion which assumes Tomiki-derived Aikido is precisely the same as Hombu Aikido, etc. Mainly because there are too many unknowns that I don't feel necessitate me getting into what may become a "style" discussion.
Quote:
To keep things simple Tomiki classed different powers

Power of Movement
Power of Focus
Breath Power
Muscle Power
and almost as a afterthought we have the more mystical Ki (I like to think of it as the greater part of the sum).

Interestingly I have found that when a Ki Society person talks about Ki they will be referring to a combination of the above which was the source of much confusion on my part. Kokyu is often referred to as a combination of the power of focus and timing but for us it is pretty much timing. Frankly speaking Tomiki wasn't too interested in the mystical side of things and probably viewed Ki tests as nothing more than parlor tricks - they sure don't have much tradition in any dojo (Tomiki or otherwise) that I have trained in here (the only Ki society dojos I visited were in the West although they do of course exist in Japan).
Although I realize that a lot of people indeed "mysticise" a lot of the ki aspects, I don't know that many serious martial artists who know much about ki and who buy into the mystical stuff. What I'm talking about is fairly straightforward, demonstrable and reproducible phenomena, so we seem to be at odds in our descriptions. If you take a simple example of O-Sensei having someone push their head into his stomach but not move him, or the filmed example of people pushing on O-Sensei's head and not moving him, etc., those are simple examples of kokyu-power. I read your comment about kokyu being "timing" but that goes against a number of translations and meanings that are in print. Even Shodo uses "kokyu power" and it's not "timing" they're talking about.

I don't have any problem with your list above and, if you include what "ki" actually is, it's a fairly complete list of general powers. What I'm not sure of is if you or I interpret that list the same way... but all we can do is give our opinions until we find some way to physically reconcile what we're talking about.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 07-11-2005, 10:49 PM   #148
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
When I see what I consider top-flight Aikidoists move - I say to myself I want to move like that. There is a dynamic power generated by these people that takes my breath away.

Relatively static demonstrations of something less tangible don't really get my blood boiling.
Static demonstrations are good learning tools. I tend to view movement and power as indicators as well, but there's that unfortunate tendency on my part that says all dynamic movement is subject to static analysis when viewed in increments.

Tohei's or O-Sensei's static examples of kokyu power are just that... demonstrations at a static level of a power that is used dynamically in all of Aikido movement. Shioda attempted some fairly good static and simplistic analyses on the way to explaining "dynamic movement". While I could have defeated Tohei or Ueshiba's "static" demonstrations (most people can, if they apply a little physics) I don't dismiss them as parlour tricks but see them as examples of basic power that is used in movement. I suspect Tohei, Abe, Sunadomari, et al were helped by having seen these static examples of kokyu force, but I realize you don't share my perception of this fairly common phenomenon in Asian martial arts, so I'll let it go.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 07-11-2005, 11:03 PM   #149
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

The idea for a seminar - the 'other' thread - is a good one. To me, it would be good to share: I'll show you mine if you show me yours etc. Everyone shows a 'trick' or two - for want of a better word - and then they show how such a 'trick' enhances their martial movement. Of course, if they fail to impress, there's always someone else to check out. People should approach this logically and rationally and collect and categorise stuff.

To bad it's too far for me.

(The UK used to have the Aikido Research Federation. Dunno what happened to it, but I travelled to a couple of courses expecting to LEARN SOMETHING but alas, same old stuff - no research at all. I was only a kyu grade at the time and figured that much out.)

Last edited by Rupert Atkinson : 07-11-2005 at 11:06 PM.

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Old 07-11-2005, 11:08 PM   #150
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
Mike:

I am saying that the ability to perform Tohei's Ki tests are not in themselves an indication of high level Aikido and that there are a number of Aikidoists whose lineage has no connection to Tohei or his particular sideline from Aikido.

Well we have to ask the Yoshinkan people about Shioda's incorporation of Tohei's Ki tests but somehow I doubt it never having heard mention of it.
Just for the record...even if Shioda G. did something that looked like a *ki test* it was probably never called a *ki test*. I am not saying that some of the parlour tricks that these guys did as crowd teasers weren't real and I can see how some people might want to call them *ki tests* but I know for a fact that when you ask at least one of the senior instructors at the Yoshinkan Hombu about KI he will pull out his house keys and jingle-jangle them at you.

I think I have to go with Peter on the looking at the timing and dynamic feel of the demonstration rather than some static crowd pleasers gives me a better indication of someone's ability.

Its unfortunate how some of these things that look impressive really are quite easy and how the difficult stuff looks easy <sigh>

My few yen...

--Michael

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