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Old 02-22-2006, 02:19 AM   #1
Leon Aman
 
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Powerful

Hi,

Normally we hear a word such as "if you can carry you suit case you can practice aikido or you don't need to be strong or powerful to practice aikido"

To have a heavy built of 200 full muscle pounds out of 5"6" in height , I have a tremendous and strong upper body strength. I do practice different martial arts and do different heavy exercises. Once or twice a week I do exercise of 50x and 6 repetitions each side a 6' feet and 3" diameter jo (which I made it by myself) made from a hard and a heavy wood to make my wrist and arm develop strongly.

The problem is sometimes I misinterpretedly correcting of using my muscle when I'm doing a technique which I know I am not because I know it and I feel it. I do practice different strenuous exercises so that I cannot exert too much effort on doing any techniques.

So my question is, despite powerful is not necessary in aikido practices does this mean it is wrong to be powerful?

Leon
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Old 02-22-2006, 02:31 AM   #2
Mark Uttech
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Re: Powerful

It is not wrong to be be powerful. I think the idea is that the power comes from somewhere else.
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Old 02-22-2006, 02:46 AM   #3
Edwin Neal
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Re: Powerful

muscle power is limited... but if you combine your overt muscle power with the more subtle manners of power that aikido practice develop you will be even more powerful... you learn by aikido practice to make the most efficient use of whatever strength you have... even if you are stronger than i am if you run out of gas or waste your strength before i do then i win... this is just one aspect and there are many others to consider... maximum efficiency with minimum effort...

Edwin Neal


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Old 02-22-2006, 06:35 AM   #4
Dirk Hanss
 
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Re: Powerful

Sometimes for beginners, strong muscles are of disadvantage, but most good aikidoka are strong.

And afaik a staff of 6 feet is called bo.

Dirk
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Old 02-22-2006, 03:09 PM   #5
SeiserL
 
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Re: Powerful

I too am a big guy (6'4", 230 lbs) from a bashing background that let me utilize my "muscle" power. It has take time to learn there are many type of power and that in Aikido, IMHO "muscle" power is the least effective.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 02-22-2006, 03:20 PM   #6
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Powerful

Not to mention that muscle power has this annoying habit of fading as you age.

Best,
Ron (sucks to get old)

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Old 02-22-2006, 03:46 PM   #7
James Davis
 
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Re: Powerful

I'm a little guy (5'6"), but I've got the earth on my side when it comes time to throw someone.

I don't think power is "wrong" at all. I think it is something that people work hard to acquire, and it's a tool that can be used for good or bad actions.

I don't like the idea of hitting someone to cause them damage, but if I or my family are in danger and we need to get away to survive, I will deck somebody like it aint no thang.

"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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Old 02-22-2006, 04:06 PM   #8
DaveO
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Re: Powerful

I think that muscle power is a bit misunderstood sometimes. It has distinct advantages and disadvantages but each of those vantages are dependant on situation, use, or viewpoint.
Strong - not necessarily big - muscles are a huge advantage in a physical confrontation. They provide movement and control, this is true, but they also provide mass and protection. The upper chest for instance is protected not only by a strong bone framework; it's also covered by layers of dense, impact-absorbing muscle.
Strong muscles also aid in both speed and quickness and can provide a powerful backup to one's skill in an encounter.

All that said; physical strength has its limitations. First; the armour question: while muscle protects much of the body, it doesn't protect all. The body is covered with AVA's (anatomically vulnerable areas) that are either not covered by muscle (as in the testicles) or are themselves part of the musculature (e.g. the sternocleidomastoid or quadriceps). Next, structure: Muscles work by moving the body's framework - the skeleton. One of the reasons aikido is good against hard-stylists is that when done properly it acts against the structure; not the musculature. Big buff guys are surprisingly easy to topple, twist, bounce and otherwise discombobulate when they rely on their muscles because they forget - or don't know - this fact. Another problem is that muscles only work in one direction. If one is using muscle; he's concentrating his energy into one particular muscle group. In order to change his motion; he's going to have to release that group, reorient and fire another. For instance; witness a power puncher in a bar - he throws a great big shot; relying on strength to get that fist swinging. If the target suddenly moves; he has to check that swing, readjust, get the appropriate muscles set up again and fire another punch.

The BIG problem with muscle though is that it's largely used as a patch for improper technique. People who don't know what they're doing - or don't know enough - forget about the Big Three of defensive attack: structure, range and positioning - and try to launch attacks from wrong locations and placements. Since the attack won't work properly in this case; they use muscular strength to try to close the gap between ineffective and effective. This is where you see overreaching punches, off-balance strikes and grunting and straining through a shihonage.

Finally, muscles in aikido practice:
Bad, bad, bad. Oh; not because there's anything wrong with muscles; but because of the above point: if you're using muscles; you're doing it wrong. Remember; like any martial art aikido is a training system. That means it has a series of techniques and drills that teach specific principles of attack and defense. (Yes, aikido has attack. In fact; the majority of aikido is attack. It doesn't have true strikes, but that's not the same thing.) See; in the dojo if you're using muscle to force a technique what you're doing is trying to cheat your way through rather than do the technique properly; learning the principle it's supposed to teach.
So: Muscle - good. Has limitations.
Muscle in aikido - bad. Enforces limitations.

One more thing:
Leon said:
Quote:
The problem is sometimes I misinterpretedly correcting of using my muscle when I'm doing a technique which I know I am not because I know it and I feel it. I do practice different strenuous exercises so that I cannot exert too much effort on doing any techniques.
Wow - Leon; this is a bit tricky since I'm not entirely sure what you intended to say. But it looks to me like you said you're being corrected for using muscle when you know you're not? If that's the case; boy do I know where you're coming from. This is a place where big guys really need to go slow and look closely; because we're really bad at determining when we're using muscle. We're so used to being strong we use strength by default. There is a big, big difference between using 'no muscle' and using 'less muscle'. I suspect you're using less, not none. The second quoted sentence would seem to back that up.
Leon; I strongly recommend that if you want to get away from using muscle - and trust me, you do - start practicing really, really slowly. Walk through techniques at a snail's pace; looking at every movement and seeing where you are applying muscular force to your uke. Once you do that and can point out where you're muscling uke; you'll notice your aikido taking a big jump forward.

To answer your last question; no, being powerful in the muscular sense is in no way wrong - it's very good. But by learning to use structure and not muscle, what you will be doing is learning how to get the most out of your muscles. Even when you're using every ounce of strength - for instance in a dead-lift or push - you are in fact using only a fraction of your muscle's maximum potential. Learning to use structure unlocks the rest.

Cheers!

Dave

Answers are only easy when they're incomplete.
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Old 02-22-2006, 05:38 PM   #9
crbateman
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Re: Powerful

Strength is not a disadvantage, but it is easy when training to utilize muscular strength to overcome poor technique. It is better to first gain the ability to do the technique properly with the least physical exertion possible, and then use the strength when it's needed. As a big guy, you'll encounter more problems learning to move properly if you try to muscle people around. And remember also that there are differences between strength and power.
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Old 02-23-2006, 06:21 PM   #10
Mark Freeman
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Re: Powerful

I think Dave gave an excellent view on the relative merits/drawbacks of muscle power in aikido, thanks.
I see aikido as a mind/body/spirit art that seems to have (on these fora at least ) a slightly unbalanced bias towards discussing the body, at the expense of the other two, particularly the mind. For me the 'mind/ki' in aikido is every bit as important as the body. Our bodies are useful as they are transport mechanisms for the mind, they get us to where we want to go.
Early on in my aikido practice I was asked by my teacher of my training partner "How much does his mind weigh?" "nothing i guess" was my obvious reply, "So you don't need any effort to throw him then. The mind leads the body, if you can lead his mind his body will inevitably follow, it has no choice". I struggled with this concept at first, but now it has become the central part of my exploration of aikido. No amount of physical strength is going to overcome something that isn't there, strength needs something to push against.
For me the closest I can come to describing what this feels like in action is - when you go to lean against a door and at that precise moment someone opens the door from the other side, or - you are running up a flight of stairs and you go to stand on a step that isn't there. In both cases your mind expects to feel something and it doesn't get what it expects. This is where I believe the 'power' lies in aikido. When nage knows uke's mind and respects it fully, he can enter into aiki with their mind as well as their body. This for me is where the beauty of aikido resides. Effortless technique is fantastic for both uke and nage, it is the real enjoyment of the practice for me.
So big or small, well muscled or not, my desire is to perform every technique with the absolute minimum of effort. It doesn't always work for me of course, and when I come up against a physically strong training partner and I revert to using strength, I am quickly aware that If I continue in that vein, I'll get nowhere, so I keep practicing the principles.
So training the body, nothing wrong with that, go for it, although I think flexibility is just as important as strength training, if not more so.
Training the mind is essential to progress in aikido, how can you hope to control someone elses if you can't control your own?
Then there's the Spirit.... now there's another whole thread entirely...

just my 2 penneth worth

regards
Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 02-23-2006, 09:20 PM   #11
Leon Aman
 
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Re: Powerful

Quote:
Dave Organ wrote:
One more thing:
Leon said:
The problem is sometimes I misinterpretedly correcting of using my muscle when I'm doing a technique which I know I am not because I know it and I feel it. I do practice different strenuous exercises so that I cannot exert too much effort on doing any techniques.

Wow - Leon; this is a bit tricky since I'm not entirely sure what you intended to say. But it looks to me like you said you're being corrected for using muscle when you know you're not? If that's the case; boy do I know where you're coming from. This is a place where big guys really need to go slow and look closely; because we're really bad at determining when we're using muscle. We're so used to being strong we use strength by default. There is a big, big difference between using 'no muscle' and using 'less muscle'. I suspect you're using less, not none. The second quoted sentence would seem to back that up.
Dave
Hi Dave I am sorry for my response, it is so delayed but thanks for calling my attention with the words I misused. I really didn't mean I am not using muscle but less muscle instead, I'm sorry if I didn't clearly explicate it.

Anyway,I understand that to be very powerful may not be very important in aikido training. What's most important is you know the proper way of executing every technique and by that you can easily neutralize or immobilize your uke without using more muscle nay strength. I have no question with that, but what I meant here is that having that characteristic (of knowing the proper way of doing any technique) plus you are also physically fit, well trained of lifting heavy objects or to bend a solid bar and so on, isn't that less exerting effort than just using the normal strength? like e.g. in doing tenchi nage, instead of using my arm by cutting my uke down in front of me, I simply use my body and shoulder (less arm)as I enter deeply and my uke just somersaults infront of me without exerting too much effort. Or like in doing koshinage isn't this more easier to execute if aside from having an awareness of executing it , you are also trained to lift heavy objects , isn't that effortless to execute such technique? That's only my point here.

Leon
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Old 02-23-2006, 10:06 PM   #12
PeterR
 
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Re: Powerful

Quote:
Leon Aman wrote:
I really didn't mean I am not using muscle but less muscle instead, I'm sorry if I didn't clearly explicate it.
Call it a nit-pick and maybe I lost the same point in the long posts but .......

Its not that we should use less muscle (or no muscle) but we should use what we have in a more efficient manner.

For Aikido techniques that involves particular ways of moving and a lot less tension. Smooth and fluid rather than hard and sharp (in most cases).

I like repeating that we all have muscle but in the dojo we train technique. When push comes to shove - we will have both, technique and muscle.

Certain muscles develop during training and a some extra strength and endurance training on the side is a good thing.

An unfit person will never generate powerful Aikido or at least to the level they would if they were.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-24-2006, 05:19 AM   #13
asiawide
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Re: Powerful

Well... how strongly do Arnold Schwarzenegger or Ronnie Coleman grab his spoon and fork? Though your are building up your physical(or whatever it is...KI or spritual??) power, I bet there's no difference for your daily spoon grip. It's because you know how to grab the spoon correctly and exact amount of power needed to grab it. That's all.

Jaemin
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Old 02-24-2006, 05:32 AM   #14
ruthmc
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Re: Powerful

So what happens when some big chump grabs you and powers up his muscles to effectively stop you moving in any direction you try to move?

I had this happen recently, where a 4th kyu guy and I were doing a back stretch technique, and he couldn't figure it out too well, so he decided to overpower me so I couldn't even try to do it myself

I asked him if he was going to let me do the backstretch, then sensei clapped so I turned away from him and scooted back to the side of the mat without bowing (which I know was rude, but the 4th kyu was rude first)

I know I could have gotten him to move by aiming my knee at his testicles, but that's not going to teach him not to be a jerk. I just hate it when people take advantage of my good nature on the mat like this

Ruth
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Old 02-24-2006, 07:47 AM   #15
roosvelt
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Re: Powerful

Quote:
Ruth McWilliam wrote:

I asked him if he was going to let me do the backstretch, then sensei clapped so I turned away from him and scooted back to the side of the mat without bowing (which I know was rude, but the 4th kyu was rude first)

I know I could have gotten him to move by aiming my knee at his testicles
I don't think your uke was rude. He's the sincere and honest uke that is lacking in some Aikido dojo.

Your line of thinking like "knee to his fork" isn't Aikido IMHO. Your honest uke certainly wasn't a jerk.

"Ki" in Aikido isn't stressed enough in some Aikido dojo. O'sensei showed "ki" to us by demostration of several uke pushing him physically whiile he's standing/siting stil.

Leon.

Strength and powerful are good thing to have in Aikido. Muscle is only a part of the "strength". If you only demploy muscle in Aikido, you ignore the other more important element in strength. I'm student in search of acquiring the "other elements". Mike, Rob, Ellis and Ron have written quite a few posts about Ki, you may want to look it up.

Regards.
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Old 02-24-2006, 08:57 AM   #16
justinmaceachern
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Re: Powerful

IMO strength is good to have when you want to lift something or move it,but as far as aikido goes. You dont realy need strength. I am a realitivly big guy to and at first i had a problem with using technique and not strength. you have to put your strength away. If you are using strength in Aikido your doing it wrong. O'Sensei was asked once, " Are you the same man with the same power and strength as you once were?" His answer " I am still that same man with the same power, as for strength goes, as you get older eventualy you will loose your strength". This is why when you are young and healthy you must get away from using your strength pratice technique. When you get oler you wont have the stength to fall back on but technique will always be there.
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Old 02-24-2006, 09:32 AM   #17
roosvelt
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Re: Powerful

Quote:
Justin MacEachern wrote:
IMO strength is good to have when you want to lift something or move it,but as far as aikido goes. You dont realy need strength.
I disagree. It's misconception. When O'sensei demostrated the "jo" trick, if that's not a show of "strength", what did O'sensei try to show us?
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Old 02-24-2006, 09:42 AM   #18
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Powerful

Quote:
Ruth McWilliam wrote:
So what happens when some big chump grabs you and powers up his muscles to effectively stop you moving in any direction you try to move?

I had this happen recently, where a 4th kyu guy and I were doing a back stretch technique, and he couldn't figure it out too well, so he decided to overpower me so I couldn't even try to do it myself

I asked him if he was going to let me do the backstretch, then sensei clapped so I turned away from him and scooted back to the side of the mat without bowing (which I know was rude, but the 4th kyu was rude first)

I know I could have gotten him to move by aiming my knee at his testicles, but that's not going to teach him not to be a jerk. I just hate it when people take advantage of my good nature on the mat like this

Ruth
This is just another training opportunity... he was being a butt... you get pissed off. You are pissed, not really because he was a jerk, but because he showed you that you aren't yet as good as you'd like to be. If you were better, he wouldn't have been able to do that to you... This isn't a failing or a value judgement, it's just a statement.

He got you on two levels... first, he got you on the technical level. You couldn't move him. Depending on the level of experience you have and the relative size and strength mis-match he presented to you, that might have been completely expected.

But he also "got you" on the emotional level. You "contracted" around the emotional attack he gave you by trying to make you smaller. You got pissed off because you bought into it, you let him and now you are mad at him. You talk about people "taking advantage of your good nature". That's just a relection of your own perceived vulnerability. If you are confident and centered in yourself, his being a jerk simply means he doesn't "get it". It should have no effect on you since it has nothing to do with you.

These interactions, which we all have, are opportunities to see what we need to work on to be better.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 02-24-2006, 10:15 AM   #19
justinmaceachern
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Re: Powerful

your right freemen mabey some aspecs do invole Muscle strength. So i will put my point a nother way, when doing certain techniques like irimi nage there is no use for strength. Now i am 6 foot and 245 pounds, now obiviouly if i wanted to i could put most people down with irim nage using the physical strength i have. But doint this shows nothing, but doing technique makes it "a technique worthy of a poem" Kissumara Ueshiba. you see what i am getting at. Take a nother example, there is a guy in my class, he is only 5"10 175pounds, now if he was to irimnage just using his muscles, it wouldnt happen, but if he throws tehcnique in there he will drop me.
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Old 02-24-2006, 10:30 AM   #20
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Powerful

The stronger you are, the easier it is to overpower someone using muscle without realizing that that's what you're doing.
A couple of years ago, working with a partner about 50# smaller than me, I felt like I was doing great, moving smoothly and easily, getting through the technique. Sensei clapped, we sat down, and then after the demo moved on to different partners to work some more on the same technique. This time my partner had about a foot in height and maybe the same 50# over me. I tried to do the same thing I had before, and surprise! It didn't work at all. I had been blitzing my first partner without knowing.
Larger-than-average people have a disadvantage here in that they rarely get to work with people bigger and stronger than them; they don't get to run into the brick wall of muscle that they're presenting to smaller people without even realizing it. If a big person is only using 15% of their strength, they can still totally overpower a small person, using that muscle alone, even if their technique isn't perfect. To the small person it feels like they're being treated like an inanimate object.
A good example is stick work - a big guy can come in off the street and make really satisfying whooshing sounds with their shomens right off the bat, even if their technique is horrible; a smaller person has to learn how use their power more efficiently before they can play with noise that way.

-LK
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Old 02-24-2006, 10:52 AM   #21
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Re: Powerful

Thank you Lorien, you hit it right on the head. That is exactly the point i was trying to get to. Remember everyone there is a big difference between strength and force.
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Old 02-24-2006, 10:52 PM   #22
Leon Aman
 
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Re: Powerful

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
Call it a nit-pick and maybe I lost the same point in the long posts but .......

Its not that we should use less muscle (or no muscle) but we should use what we have in a more efficient manner.
You are right peter, but that is beside the point.

Leon
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Old 02-24-2006, 11:57 PM   #23
Leon Aman
 
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Re: Powerful

Quote:
Jaemin Yu wrote:
Well... how strongly do Arnold Schwarzenegger or Ronnie Coleman grab his spoon and fork? Though your are building up your physical(or whatever it is...KI or spritual??) power, I bet there's no difference for your daily spoon grip. It's because you know how to grab the spoon correctly and exact amount of power needed to grab it. That's all.

Jaemin

Well...how strongly do Arnorld Schwarzeneger or Nicholas Cage lift a 60 lbs dumbbell is there any difference?. IMO to be very strong may not be important in aikido training but to some extent may somewhat be advantageous.

Leon
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Old 02-25-2006, 12:37 AM   #24
Leon Aman
 
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Re: Powerful

Quote:
Roosvelt Freeman wrote:
Strength and powerful are good thing to have in Aikido. Muscle is only a part of the "strength". If you only demploy muscle in Aikido, you ignore the other more important element in strength. I'm student in search of acquiring the "other elements". Mike, Rob, Ellis and Ron have written quite a few posts about Ki, you may want to look it up.

Regards.
Roosvelt,

Thank you

Leon
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Old 02-25-2006, 04:49 AM   #25
Mark Uttech
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Re: Powerful

And if we had no muscles in our legs, we would not be able to walk at all...
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