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Old 10-19-2005, 11:47 AM   #26
John Matsushima
 
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Re: Kokyu explanation

I very much appreciate everyone's input. There have been many excellent suggestions on how to achieve kokyu, such as relaxing completely, closing the armpits, dropping the shoulders, allowing energy to flow from the big toe to the fingertips, and extending the fingers. I am not quite sure what does it mean to close the spine, though, if anyone could clarify that, it would be much appreciated.

I noticed that some questions were raised regarding tensions felt in kokyu, and I would like to address them now. I believe that the tensions felt are not at all intentional and that the muscles must be completely relaxed. I believe the tension comes after movement begins as is demonstrated in the following example: take two beer cans, and tie a string to one end, and then thread the string all the way through out the end of the 2nd can. Now at this point the cans are completely relaxed, but once you pull on the string (this simulates movement either toward or away from nage) the cans pull together creating a "tension" between them. By the way, make sure the beer cans are emptied before trying this....this will help with total relaxation.

While many good examples were cited on achieving kokyu, I think what I'm looking for with this thread is more along the lines of a short explanation, such as kokyu is.....

I'm still puzzled on where the term "breath" fits into all of this. Is it perhaps meant as a spiritual or philosophical reference, and not a literal one as relating to the practical application? I'm afraid that from my experience I can't agree that it means coordinating breathing with techniques, or simply kiai. I am also in disagreement with those who say it is the rotating of the arms forward. This raises the elbows, opens the armpits, and collects power in the deltoids, or upper shoulders.

I read Gozo Shioda's book, but found that he vaguely describes the meaning of kokyu. He goes into detail about center power and focused power, but not about kokyu power. Koichi Tohei does a superb job describing ki, but not kokyu.

If such a term which is so important to the application of the art is not clearly understood by so many, it is no wonder that it takes so long to learn! I don't know of any other art, where such a basic term is left so vague. Can you imagine studying music and not knowing what a "playing a chord" means?

Thank you to those who take the time to write.

Sincerely,

John Matsushima

-John Matsushima

My blog on Japanese culture
http://onecorneroftheplanetinjapan.blogspot.jp/
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Old 10-19-2005, 12:46 PM   #27
Mike Sigman
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote:
While many good examples were cited on achieving kokyu, I think what I'm looking for with this thread is more along the lines of a short explanation, such as kokyu is.....

I'm still puzzled on where the term "breath" fits into all of this. Is it perhaps meant as a spiritual or philosophical reference, and not a literal one as relating to the practical application? I'm afraid that from my experience I can't agree that it means coordinating breathing with techniques, or simply kiai.
Hi John:

"Kokyu", i.e., the "breath" part refers to the power available as you develop your physical "ki". Abe Sensei refers to "holding" your breath, which is a little inaccurate when you say that in English, but he's referring most closely to the why's and where's of it being called "kokyu" power. Frankly, you have to build up to it before you can use it.

All I'll say is that it's related to why the kanji for qi/ki is *often* best translated as "pressure". Insofar as the actual power itself, the essential power used in "kokyu", it would be called "jin" in the Chinese. The point being that you cannot really separate the terms "kokyu" and "ki"... they are part of each other, as far as functional usage is concerned. Tohei's "ki" that he shows, for example, going in and out of the arms in the wrist exercises, is actually the direction of the kokyu forces... so you can see how it gets confusing.

My recommendation is to go beyond the definitions and get someone who knows how to show you how. That in itself can be problematic, given how few people in Aikido seem to have any substantive skills in these areas.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 10-19-2005, 01:02 PM   #28
Fred Little
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Personally, I would suggest that anyone advocating held tensions during the practice and application of Aikido, etc., may be going a bit off the mark.

FWIW

Mike
Mike:

Abe Sensei's suggestion (to which Ron refers), like any verbal pointer extracted from the context of practice, is easy to misconstrue.

Similarly, I think that some of the ways in which you use the word "kokyu," outside the context of practice and feeling, are easy to misconstrue.

But quite aside from Abe Sensei's ranking, having seen and felt what he can still do at the age of 90 after walking up to the fifth floor on the stairs, I'd be hard-pressed to characterize what he was trying to get across as "a bit off the mark," although I would allow that it may be easy to misunderstand.

Best,

Fred Little
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Old 10-19-2005, 01:18 PM   #29
MaryKaye
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Re: Kokyu explanation

My dojo (Ki Society) doesn't talk about closing the armpits, but the continual admonition to have "weight underside" in arms and shoulders has exactly that effect.

I was working on this with a senior this week. When he holds me as if he's about to apply kotagaeshi, his elbows are very solidly down and his armpits closed. If I try to lift up on his arms there is relaxed but very strong resistance. It's immediately obvious by feel that when he chooses to throw me, I'm going to have to fall. If the arms are lighter and the armpits more open--the way I naturally try to do this, unfortunately--uke can center himself and stand, even against a much stronger nage.

From a novice's perspective it's really hard to tell which of the differences between styles are vocabulary and which actually reflect a different physical experience. This is something I hope to learn more about as I go along. Currently when I train in other styles of aikido I alternate between thinking "Gosh, this is just the same" and "Gosh, this is totally different" but I'm not sure either perception is at all accurate.

Mary Kaye
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Old 10-19-2005, 01:34 PM   #30
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Quote:
Fred Little wrote:
Similarly, I think that some of the ways in which you use the word "kokyu," outside the context of practice and feeling, are easy to misconstrue.
Hi Fred:

I'm open to suggestions. Why not explain about kokyu when someone asks (as John did) and explain my misconstruction substantively?
Quote:
But quite aside from Abe Sensei's ranking, having seen and felt what he can still do at the age of 90 after walking up to the fifth floor on the stairs, I'd be hard-pressed to characterize what he was trying to get across as "a bit off the mark," although I would allow that it may be easy to misunderstand.
Actually, if we're going to use quotation marks, what I said was "Abe Sensei refers to "holding" your breath, which is a little inaccurate when you say that in English" ... the operative phrase was "when you say that in English", Fred. However, I'm game to hear your explanation of what he really means and how "holding" your breath is accurate.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 10-19-2005, 02:41 PM   #31
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Hi Fred,

Good to have you join the discussion. Please feel free to correct any inaccuracies I let slip in...I try to be carefull, but always make some mistakes anyway!

Abe Sensei is astounding...at 90 years old, to climb 5 flights of stairs, and then throw everyone in a room of about 65 people half his age...

{shakes head} un-be-f'n-lievable!

And then does about an hour and a half of absolutely fanstastic calligraphy to top it off.

Best,
Ron

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Old 10-19-2005, 05:37 PM   #32
Erick Mead
 
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Ki Symbol Re: Kokyu explanation

Everyone is so focused on physical metaphors and "get your arm just so..." advice I thought a little different exploraiton may also help.

Etymology means a lot in pictographic languages, and is very helpful in sorting through the richness of meaning and relationship between concepts. This is true in Chinese, which is my background, as well as Japanese kanji.
The kanji for "KOKYU" 呼吸 mean, respectively "welcome, invite" and "sip, suck, inhale."
The connotation is potentiality, with constraint, and anticipation of filling.

"KI" 氣 , "Qi" in Chinese pinyin notation, is best understood by breaking it down into its component radicals.
In Chinese this character is composed of two characters:
"MI" 米 which means uncooked rice, in the connotation of a measured quantity.
and
"QI" 气 which means"air, gas" with a connotation of force or anger, used in description of steam, typically.

So the component characters of KI 氣 , together have a denotation of uncooked rice under steam.
The connotation is of process, involving pent up force, as with steam contained for cooking, potentiality, conversion of substance, improvement, danger that brings goodness.
The word is also used in colloquial Chinese expressions that describe a person who is angry, as in the equivalent English expression of someone who is "steamed."

This set of concepts maps quite well upon the Shinto "shikon" or four souls, as in O-Sensei's phrase adopted from Omoto "ichirei, shikon, sangen, hachiriki." "One spirit, four souls, three origins, eight powers."
Aramitama is "the powerful soul";
Nigimitama is "the harmonizing soul";
Kushimitama is "the transforming soul"
Sakimitama is "the blessing soul"
These four concepts are etymologically implicit in the character KI 氣..

An etymologically accurate metaphor for KOKYU 呼吸 can thus be the hungry man's eager sucking up a few grains of just-served rice from steaming hot bowl, but just taking just a few kernels at a time or else his lips get seriously burned.

That is why kokyu techniques have to be practiced so gently. They are very, very close to the hottest, most dangerous fundamentals of the art, where the raw stuff is cooked and made edible, and can be terrifically damaging if applied with too much vigor or too quickly.

John will please forgive me, yet again, for having to teach me this lesson as my uke . . .

Kokyu, when you know have applied it, has these four simultaneous qualities of shikon: it is fiercely dominating; it is not confrontational; it transforms his attack into yours; it ends his desire to keep attacking you.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 10-19-2005, 05:42 PM   #33
Mike Sigman
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
"KI" 氣 , "Qi" in Chinese pinyin notation, is best understood by breaking it down into its component radicals.
heh.
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Old 10-19-2005, 07:28 PM   #34
Fred Little
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Hi Fred:

I'm open to suggestions. Why not explain about kokyu when someone asks (as John did) and explain my misconstruction substantively?Actually, if we're going to use quotation marks, what I said was "Abe Sensei refers to "holding" your breath, which is a little inaccurate when you say that in English" ... the operative phrase was "when you say that in English", Fred. However, I'm game to hear your explanation of what he really means and how "holding" your breath is accurate.

Regards,

Mike
Hi Mike:

I think you touched it in passing in one of your posts and beyond saying that "hold your breath" is "really" a close approximation (a skillful means, a finger pointing at the moon) for a specific synchronization of internal muscular tension/relaxation in a specific time interval during technique, but it isn't simply or solely that, any more than "kokyu" is simply and solely breath, I'm afraid that I'm not likely to be much help here.

If you cut off the finger that points to the moon, the moon still remains as it was, people who were gazing at the finger will still gaze at the bloody stump, and nothing is gained, though a finger is lost..... except for the one person who gets it in that moment.

Which is all just fine.

Fred Little
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Old 10-19-2005, 09:56 PM   #35
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Giving mystical connotation to kokyu does nothing but confuse so the above explanations are excellent. For me, kokyu training is just getting your breathing in rhythm with your movement and the purpose is for martial movement. Swimmers, runners, and others all do it -- they train it a little, but after awhile it all becomes natural. The mistake would be for them to overly concentrate on it and give it mystical connotations. Imagine, if you would, if Lance Armstrong attributed his success to ‘over'-training his breathing. Many cyclists might suddenly start overdoing it -- though it was not the true secret (which of course would be to cycle a lot everyday).

The purpose of kokyu exercises is the get your breathing to match your physical movement. Once co-ordinated, your flow of power becomes more efficient. The obvious thing now is to add speed and power to that equation -- not just to concentrate forever on breathing co-ordination. Accordingly, I believe it to be a mistake to overly concentrate on kokyu, to the expense of speed and power training exercises. Once the breathing is in order, it is in order, and you can forget about it. You can't train it more than that. Instead you train to maintain it. I think that the mystique leads people to search for what is not there. For example, many of the points talked about above, all of which are good, would probably best be called something else, i.e., not kokyu. Lacking a name, it falls under kokyu. But kokyu is not a technique, rather it is movement-breathing co-ordination. The above explanations are technical.

What you can do is work on your power and also work on getting that power transmitted efficiently to uke -- once you have your breathing sorted. Kokyu is part of that, but is not all of it. I love to train in kokyu exercises and feel I get a lot from them that I can put into my technique; my advice is to try to put it into the techniques so that kokyu and technique merge, thus kokyu is there all the time because you are breathing in rhythm with the movement. So, I am saying that more emphasis needs to be placed on taking what you learn in kokyu and putting it in your techniques (rather than concentrating on kokyu and just hoping something might one day just happen out of the blue).

An unfit overweight beginner who concentrates on kokyu will get nowhere fast. S/he needs to get fit and healthy, stronger, and then work on getting their breathing sorted out. Sure, they can do kokyu stuff from day one but the result is they may fall for the mystique that attaches itself to martial movement. Send them on five mile daily runs for six months first.

Another mystery of kokyu is that people believe it to be the source of how the small and weak can overcome the big and strong. Not quite so; the small, strong, and co-ordinated can overcome the big, strong, and uncoordinated. Think about it.

I say the above not as a teacher, but rather as a frustrated student who has constantly been misled by many high-ranking misinformants whom I no longer trust as sources. I welcome the above ideas in posts above.

Last edited by Rupert Atkinson : 10-19-2005 at 10:01 PM.

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Old 10-19-2005, 10:03 PM   #36
PeterR
 
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Re: Kokyu explanation

I liked that Rupert - thanks. Fits in with my understanding very nicely.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 10-19-2005, 11:37 PM   #37
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Quick interjection from something I heard mentioned about how Abe Sensei teaches:

While the breath work is important, it isn't the breath itself, so much as the resulting "power".
Once you manifest it, it can be done while breathing in, breathing out, held breath etc.
I believe that's only once you manage to divorce the power generation from the actual act of breathing.

From that aspect Rupert, maybe the explanation is a little more complex than simply coordinating breath with movement? I.e. it's a training tool, not how it's actually performed.
Martial movement from a bujustu aspect, is much different when compared to the sports you mentioned, which have rythmic movement involved.

Martial movement occurs in an instant. From a practical standpoint I don't think there's time to actually coordinate the breath with the movement under duress, no matter how natural. But you can learn to automatically coordinate something else that is a result of the training w/ Kokyu. (Which like I said previously most likely can become divorced from the actual "breathing" process)
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Old 10-20-2005, 06:50 AM   #38
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Quote:
Robert John wrote:
While the breath work is important, it isn't the breath itself, so much as the resulting "power".
Once you manifest it, it can be done while breathing in, breathing out, held breath etc.
I believe that's only once you manage to divorce the power generation from the actual act of breathing.
Similarly we teach everything in the beginning with extension forward - for a crude example a student stands in hanmi, arms in front, another pushes on the arms, and the pushee should be able to keep standing without exerting a lot of effort - but once one starts to get that, the same extension (or whatever you want to call it) works in other directions and arm positions as well.

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 10-20-2005, 09:35 AM   #39
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Abe Sensei

Due to the kindness of Shaun Ravens, I was able to spend 3 days training in Iowa with Abe Sensei, who focused on using ki in technique during his time there. Most of the techniques we studied involved focusing on bringing the power from the ground using the big toe, 'clamping down' on the 'one point' with the breath, keeping our arms straight and uke's arms straight. Abe Sensei's methods seemed to me to work best with absolutely no slack in the relationship between shite and uke, at least while learning his methods. Perhaps the need for this is greatly reduced as you advance.

Some of My Own Observations

From all of the above.

Relax the shoulders as much as possible. The kokyu / ki / Aiki power seems to get stopped in shoulders if there is any tension there at all.

Close the spine. There was a marked difference in my sucsess at Abe Sensei's technique when I relaxed the shoulders in combination with closing the gap between the shoulder blades. This helped not only with Abe Sensei's technique, but with Yoshinkan waza as well.

Focus on the big toe...that's where the power seems to come from. Keep your weight centered on the ball of the foot beneath the big toe, and try to structurally align everything between there and your contact with uke.
Hello Ron, Interesting what you say about the spine, and well done on gettting to the seminar, I heard it was a great success. From my experience, Abe sensei stresses relaxing the upper body and focussing entirely on the hara. He always says there are 2 ways to do his technique: with conditioned muscles of the hara, loins and so on (no breath needed), and with the breath itself. In the latter he will demonstrate how hitting one's own hara will send the vibration straight to uke if the pathways in the body and arm are correctly lined up. If I tense my shoulder even slightly it is "no good", and same if I bend my elbow even fractionally. The spiral to and fro of the technique is much easier initially with straight extended arms. Also, the fingertips should be lined up with the partner's hara ideally, and your own, and the finger used as the center rod of the spiral should not deviate but continue extending in that line like a speartip. Regarding the tension between the partners, yes, it is easier to feel a result that way, but the technique does not seem to depend on it. Even on a relaxed partner it seems to work. And certainly, if you partner only starts to resist your movement at a later stage, that is when you apply your "bringing mind to center" and sort of snap-shot freezing your body alignment as you perform the miniscule to and fro spiral before going in the direction you wish to. I hope that makes sense against the background of the seminar. It is very important that your outstretched fingertip is connected to your center by an immovable rod, so that the arm is neither liftable nor push-downable, nor moveable to either side. Then you can move the fingertips from center.

I just want to add here my own thoughts, something I've pondered about for the last two or three years, and only found the answer to last week at Akuzawa's class in Tokyo (thanks to Mike Sigman for the continual prodding, and Robert John for the kind introduction): the problem of lower body stability in any posture, such as after tenkan, or when being held (pushed, pulled). Most people in the dojo avoided a direct answer, and only Kinoshita sensei, the dojo-cho, laughed and said first comes the hardness (as I was trying to do it) which is not good enough, and then softness, as he stood on one leg against my fruitless pushing. I became more and more engrossed in finding ways to stand straight, and learned some things, as well as picked up bad habits. Mike's talk about a suit was the critical step here. Last week's first introduction to various exercises for 6 direction strength are likely the core thing I am looking for. Central to that is upright posture and focus on the spine, and as part of the self-realization and strengthening there is quite a bit of putting the shoulder blades together, as is mentioned many times in this thread. Abe sensei does not seem to put his together emphatically, but he does drop them backwards. I think the important thing is the dropping, so that they are free to be moved in any other direction (fore-back, up-down, back-fore, side-to-side).
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Old 10-20-2005, 01:37 PM   #40
Mike Sigman
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Just to muddy up the waters a bit more, let me comment once again that "ki" and "kokyu" are inextricably intertwined. Technically, kokyu ryoku is the physical manifestation of ki. In that sense, Tohei can stand with his forearm proffered (ready for his partner to push on the forearm in order to exhibit a rooted stance) and he has "ki" to his forearm. Once the partner physically pushes against the forearm and feels the actual path of power, Tohei is exhibiting either his "ki" or his "kokyu", depending on your fancy. If Tohei stores and releases along the path through his forearm into the pushing uke, he is exhibiting kokyu ryoku, as the Japanese use the term.

The essential power of kokyu depends on (1.) paths the mind sets up and also on a (2.) body-skill/development that is done largely by breathing training and control. The major nexus of that power is in the hara area, but it also extends out to the ends of the limbs, with training. Because the real power of the kokyu paths depends so much on this training with the breath, it can rightfully be called a "breath power". From various descriptions and sources of Abe's focus, I have no doubt that he knows and has developed this basic power source of "ki" quite well. And he knows how to use it.

One of the side-effects of this kind of development is an increase in good health... and I've personally seen this happen to me and others, so when someone says that Abe Sensei exhibits unusually good health and strength even at 90 years, my inclination is to attribute a lot of it to the development and use of this training. Remember that Shioda and Ueshiba also both indicated that these studies were focused somewhat on quality of life as they got older.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 10-20-2005, 01:42 PM   #41
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Hello Gernot,

It's good to have you in this thread! I really did enjoy my time in Abe Sensei's seminar, and found him to be very open and interested in everyone getting his points. He highlighted some of the very things you mentioned, and I hope I portrayed it somewhat as spoken. Thanks for your more in depth discussion of Abe Sensei's technique.

It's good to know you got to Akuzawa's class...will you continue to train there? Please drop us a note from time to time on the training, I would be most interested. I was hoping to see him in Montana (I think that is where he will be) but there is little possibility of me getting in another road trip this fall. Family obligations and what not.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 10-23-2005, 04:20 PM   #42
Mike Sigman
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Fred Little was working with me at Abe Sensei's seminar, and as I was struggling with some of the technique, he suggested that I bring my shoulder blades together, and it seemed to make a huge difference right then. Then he reminded me about 'closing your waki'...kind of like trying to hold a couple of small nuts in my armpit without dropping them. Peter Goldsbury has also mentioned the waki, as have some others. Ellis Amdur has added the eight brocade exercises/warmups to some of his teaching I believe, and has spoken of chinese arts that focus on the power and use of the spine in different ways. These are some of the things that brought this to my attention.
Just as a side note, I'm not sure you'd want to lump the "eight brocade exercises/warmups" in with the rest of your discussion, Ron. What a lot of westerners call the "Eight Pieces of Brocade" is really more accurately called the "Eight Strands of Silk" and silk is a metaphor for the fascia and tendons that I keep referring to in the breathing and movement exercises of "qi/ki". In other words, that particular qigong is a full-blown, very complicated exercise routine that involves movement with intent, deliberate breathing, focusing of pressure, etc., in a series that covers the whole body and all the meridians. It shouldn't be confused with some "spinal" or "waki" exercise.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 10-24-2005, 12:16 PM   #43
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Hi Mike,

I certainly don't mean to confuse it as such. One of the exercises that Ellis showed us was (I don't remember the name) kind of like someone drawing a bow, and one of the effects was that it functioned to close the shoulder blades. That is what I was referring to. As far as anything else, you might want to talk to Ellis, I was only fortunate to do this over the course of a weekend, and I'm sure I missed most of what he was doing. But if you'd like to step through the sequence and discuss the intent, focus, breathing, etc., I'm all ears, as always!

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 10-24-2005, 01:05 PM   #44
Mike Sigman
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
I certainly don't mean to confuse it as such. One of the exercises that Ellis showed us was (I don't remember the name) kind of like someone drawing a bow, and one of the effects was that it functioned to close the shoulder blades. That is what I was referring to. As far as anything else, you might want to talk to Ellis, I was only fortunate to do this over the course of a weekend, and I'm sure I missed most of what he was doing. But if you'd like to step through the sequence and discuss the intent, focus, breathing, etc., I'm all ears, as always!
I couldn't begin, Ron. Using "intent" to control the movements, jin in a contradiction, pressure, and condensing the qi would be the topics and you simply have to lead into it physically over a period of time. We're sort of skirting my "Dumb Ole Chinese" or "Dumb Ole Japanese" theory.... people attribute either superficial technique/skill or low-level technique/skill to these exercises, etc., and teach them as ancient Asian lore. In reality, attributing such low level stuff is the equivalent of saying the real precursors were making a big deal out of something that is easily passed on in a weekend, a year or two, or whatever. It's sort of like saying that O-Sensei's Aikido was pretty good and if you apply yourself you can become a teacher of it in 5 years. That would be my "Dumb Ole O-Sensei" theory.... "he knew some pretty kewl stuff and I'll teach it to you because I was able to catch it in just a short while".

Mike
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Old 10-24-2005, 02:08 PM   #45
Fred Little
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Just as a side note, I'm not sure you'd want to lump the "eight brocade exercises/warmups" in with the rest of your discussion, Ron. What a lot of westerners call the "Eight Pieces of Brocade" is really more accurately called the "Eight Strands of Silk" and silk is a metaphor for the fascia and tendons that I keep referring to in the breathing and movement exercises of "qi/ki". In other words, that particular qigong is a full-blown, very complicated exercise routine that involves movement with intent, deliberate breathing, focusing of pressure, etc., in a series that covers the whole body and all the meridians. It shouldn't be confused with some "spinal" or "waki" exercise.

Regards,

Mike
Hey Mike,

The above exchange is illustrative of the problems of communication in this medium that reduce me to alternately making what may seem to be purposely cryptic comments or remarks that may seem utterly obtuse and off-point.

I don't disagree with your "should" or "shouldn't." I don't think that Ron is making the conflation that you caution against. I know I didn't conflate the two when Ron and I were working together.

At the time, it was just a specific technical point at a specific place in application of a specific technique, expressed in terms that would be understood by the person I was working with.

But it becomes very easy to conflate a couple of different pointers --which are only that -- and build up a (mis)impression of the systems from which the pointers might have been taken and the relationships between them.

Which leaves me sympathetic with your concern that they not be inappropriately conflated, capable of stating authoritatively that no such conflation was intended at the time, skeptical of any assertion that such a conflation was made by Ron at the time, and even so, seeing clearly how somebody reading the Ron's account at second or third hand might quite naturally make the conflation in the absence of the original context.

Similarly, I can tell somebody to "watch out for that falling safe" without being able to claim a detailed understanding of and ability to explain gravity without extensive study of either Newton or Einstein's mathematics.

Especially with the proprietary languages seeming to be valued more than what they communicate.

As Richard Brautigan put it in the title of one of his books, at that point, we might as well be "Shoveling Mercury with a Pitchfork."

But FWIW, if I had to do my language and culture studies over again, I'd start with the Chinese, not the Japanese.

Fred Little
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Old 10-24-2005, 04:03 PM   #46
Mike Sigman
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Quote:
Fred Little wrote:
The above exchange is illustrative of the problems of communication in this medium that reduce me to alternately making what may seem to be purposely cryptic comments or remarks that may seem utterly obtuse and off-point.

I don't disagree with your "should" or "shouldn't." I don't think that Ron is making the conflation that you caution against. I know I didn't conflate the two when Ron and I were working together.

At the time, it was just a specific technical point at a specific place in application of a specific technique, expressed in terms that would be understood by the person I was working with.
Hi Fred:

Well, I've stated it before that using exotic terms in place of functional instructions doesn't appear to be that fruitful. If the shoulder blades in certain position have definitive merits, it should be possible to discuss and analyse those merits, the physics behind, etc., without trying to justify with obscure terms. That was my indirect point. Everything I do I can give a physical explanation for, step by step. I would expect other people, all just as smart as I am, could do the same thing. Saying something "feels better" or "works better" (or similar vagaries) and then dropping in terms like "waki", "eight pieces of brocade", seems sort of pointless to me... albeit very, very "AikiWeb" sounding. If it's a "technical point", why not take a moment and explain the technical aspects of it, BTW?
Quote:
Similarly, I can tell somebody to "watch out for that falling safe" without being able to claim a detailed understanding of and ability to explain gravity without extensive study of either Newton or Einstein's mathematics.
All I can do is hope that you don't really intend to "conflate" a martial teaching with general warnings.

Just as a suggestion, Fred, and I mean it in a very respectful and well-intentioned way, why don't you discuss some of the more technical how-to's more openly on the forum? I'm quite certain that many people would benefit from your expertise.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 10-24-2005, 08:16 PM   #47
rob_liberti
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Re: Kokyu explanation

With similar respect and well meaning-ness, do we really need "caution" about such things?

If something "feels better" or "works better" (or similar vagaries) and you don't know percisely why that is so - what is the suggested alternative to posting about it and making any connection you can in hopes for additional information? It can be quite constructive. Even if the connection you try to make is hyberbolic - or just completely wrong - someone who knows a bit more will generally step in and help. They won't usually be a jerk about it either on aikiweb, so it seems safe enough to me. I say, trying to integrate as much understanding as possible is worth the "risk" of mis-conflation.

Rob
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Old 10-24-2005, 08:49 PM   #48
Fred Little
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Re: Kokyu explanation

To vastly oversimplify this, what I'm working with is quite simple: the support of the body by means of the soft white underbelly.

Just look at any four legged animal and see which muscle groups and vulnerable areas are protected from external threat as an inherent feature of the animal's anatomy.

Map those muscles onto the roughly corresponding areas of your own body.

Use them to support you when you sit, stand, or move.

The other muscle groups, corresponding to those areas of the animal that are exposed, are all about fine motor control. They CAN be (mis)used for support, and often are, which vastly decreases our ability to generate power (because we're not using the belly/inner surface portions of the musculature and fascia for support) as well as our ability to direct it (because we're using some or most of our fine motor control centers for support).

There are many systems of varying degrees of sophistication to reacquire this and other natural abilities which we have had civilized out of us.

Last edited by Fred Little : 10-24-2005 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 10-24-2005, 09:15 PM   #49
Mike Sigman
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Quote:
Fred Little wrote:
To vastly oversimplify this, what I'm working with is quite simple: the support of the body by means of the soft white underbelly.

Just look at any four legged animal and see which muscle groups and vulnerable areas are protected from external threat as an inherent feature of the animal's anatomy.

Map those muscles onto the roughly corresponding areas of your own body.

Use them to support you when you sit, stand, or move.

The other muscle groups, corresponding to those areas of the animal that are exposed, are all about fine motor control. They CAN be (mis)used for support, and often are, which vastly decreases our ability to generate power (because we're not using the belly/inner surface portions of the musculature and fascia for support) as well as our ability to direct it (because we're using some or most of our fine motor control centers for support).

There are many systems of varying degrees of sophistication to reacquire this and other natural abilities which we have had civilized out of us.
Fred, I've heard that one before. I think it misses the point of yin and yang completely and is sort of a western patchwork gestalt-guess, if you want to use obscure-but-meaningful-sounding ideas. True balance and support would, by yin and yang theory, use a balance of the "yang" musculature (the outer stuff on the limbs and the back) and "yin" muscualture (the inner stuff on the limbs, the belly stuff, etc.).

The idea is that no one would propose to use 'only yang' for anything unless they were an idiot... yet you see westerners using this pseudo-explanation that you just gave, all the time.

"Jin" is a way of explaining a "skill-strength" or a "force vector" and it is the heart of what "kokyu" means. I.e., these were not just "Dumb Ole Chinese" or "Dumb Ole Japanese" that spoke with vagaries and that's how they communicated things... "with feelings that your subtle body can interpret". These guys were masters of descriptions, measurements, etc..... it's a western misconception that they communicated via vagaries.

True, there was a lot of in-house "Masons' Guild" secret-speak, particularly in the martial arts... but I think you're vastly missing what the exactitude of "jin" is and all the related topics. "Ki" actually is an umbrella term... but its relationships all go back to the idea of "pressure" and that's why the kanji is actually accurate and not some sort of metaphor that is open to "feeling".

FWIW

Mike
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Old 10-24-2005, 10:06 PM   #50
Fred Little
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Re: Kokyu explanation

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Fred, I've heard that one before. I think it misses the point of yin and yang completely and is sort of a western patchwork gestalt-guess, if you want to use obscure-but-meaningful-sounding ideas. True balance and support would, by yin and yang theory, use a balance of the "yang" musculature (the outer stuff on the limbs and the back) and "yin" muscualture (the inner stuff on the limbs, the belly stuff, etc.).

The idea is that no one would propose to use 'only yang' for anything unless they were an idiot... yet you see westerners using this pseudo-explanation that you just gave, all the time.

"Jin" is a way of explaining a "skill-strength" or a "force vector" and it is the heart of what "kokyu" means. I.e., these were not just "Dumb Ole Chinese" or "Dumb Ole Japanese" that spoke with vagaries and that's how they communicated things... "with feelings that your subtle body can interpret". These guys were masters of descriptions, measurements, etc..... it's a western misconception that they communicated via vagaries.

True, there was a lot of in-house "Masons' Guild" secret-speak, particularly in the martial arts... but I think you're vastly missing what the exactitude of "jin" is and all the related topics. "Ki" actually is an umbrella term... but its relationships all go back to the idea of "pressure" and that's why the kanji is actually accurate and not some sort of metaphor that is open to "feeling".

FWIW

Mike
Mike --

Did you miss the first line about "vast oversimplification?"

It sounds a lot like you are simply projecting your own desire for the triumphal validation of a particular totalizing system onto my occasional crazyquilt banners.

It's undoubtedly true that the use of "ki" in Japanese is much broader and cruder than the precise usages of "ki" in Chinese, going all the way back to the Yellow Emperor's Classic.

I would be very surprised if the usages of "jin" in Chinese weren't also vastly more precise than the general uses of "kokyu" in Japanese, but it would take a good bit of several kinds of study for me to say much more than that.

I would be further surprised if there weren't individuals in Japan who had good solid Chinese educations, both scholarly and martial, and got it, but rather than laying it out for their students in plain, precise language, intentionally draped their teaching in obscure, vague, or simply incorrect explanations for the express purpose of maintaining their own positions as teachers in perpetuity.

That's what the whole iemoto system in particular, and Japanese culture more generally, is about.

But at the end of the day, however well or badly drawn, the map is still not the territory.

And I'm not even trying to draw a map, I'm just finding my way over the next ridge and dropping a few marks along my path.

FL
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