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#126287 - 07/01/03 05:22 PM aiki?
csinca Offline
former moderator

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 672
Loc: Southern California
I'm curious as to how folks here would define "aiki". Literally of course is is harmonizing energy

Looking at the list of forum topics aiki is used frequently and I'm curious what various people really mean when they use it.

To be more specific I have occassionally heard in class "That's not Aikido" to some things I've done to get out of a bind. I've always wondered how that distinction is made...

Thanks

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#126288 - 07/01/03 06:01 PM Re: aiki?
the504mikey Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 06/19/03
Posts: 790
Loc: Louisiana, United States
Heh heh. This is a tough question.

I think it all has to do with the balance of forces. If your force opposes another force, then it is not aiki.

Also, if you exert unopposed force, but that force does not have a corresponding force from uke, then it is not aiki. (e.g. a punch in the chest)

So aiki would be aligning your force with another force in such a way that you acquire control over the original force. In essence, you take energy provided by an external entity and make that energy your own.

I think in cases where others have been critical of your aikido technique, they believe they are seeing unbalanced forces. This could mean you are struggling against uke rather than borrowing his energy, or it could mean you decided to augment your shihonage with a swift kick to the groin.

While either could be ultimately successful, they don't embody the principles in the purest sense.

I think this is like trying to tell someone what sugar tastes like, though. If you have tasted it, then you know-- but if someone has never tasted it, I don't think words can be found that will convey the meaning.

I am sure you have had techniques that just "felt right". At that moment, you defined aiki by exposition. Beyond that, it is probably easier to talk about what aiki isn't than what it actually is.

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#126289 - 07/01/03 06:08 PM Re: aiki?
csinca Offline
former moderator

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 672
Loc: Southern California
Mikey,

Thanks for the feedback. I'll be thinking about opposed and unopposed forces tonight. The two personal cases that come to mind were a choke (short and nobodies lights went out) and an armbar.

After the "chokie" regained enough wind and composure I was told that it wasn't aikido. I personally felt that I didn't use too much strength, nobody got hurt and it bought me time in the randori so I liked it.

The other was more recent when I used an armbar. I'm not sure what people have against a temporary armbar while entering but apparently "it ain't aikido".

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#126290 - 07/02/03 12:46 AM Re: aiki?
senseilou Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/14/02
Posts: 2082
Loc: Glendale, Az.
I will open Pandora's box. I think Aiki can be viwed more than just physical. They(they talk alot!)say that there 4 Priciples in Aiki, however there are over 100 principles that Aiki can apply. So you can look at Aiki conceptually(which I do), you can look at it as opposing and complimentary forces(physical) and you could look at Aiki philosophically. Philosophically speaking Aiki is the combination of mind, body and spririt. So are other Martial arts as well, so you can apply Aiki to any art.(philosophically anyway). My Sensei once told me that he practices Aiki everyday and studied Aikido to augment his Karate. Sensei was a 6th Dan in Karate when he decided to take up Aikido and was treated very poorly because of his reputation as a Karateka. People didn't feel he was serious in his study of Aiki, yet of all the students in the dojo, he was the most serious as he wanted to learn about true Aiki, not physical technique, but true principle, concept and philosophical Aiki.Sensei goes as far as saying that a good Karateka who doesn't use Aiki is missing a whole dimension of his training. Conceptually Aiki takes you to a different plane. One of the tenents of Aikido is Kuzushi or off balancing. Number 1, one can use this in Karate as an initial body movement and freeze the attacker or make him weightless. Number 2 kuzushi can take the form of a strike, not as a distraction, but as an off balancing movement. This can be used in Karate and Aiki, using the strike to fold or position the attacker. So my Sensei wasn't so far off, conceptually, Aiki can be used in many arena. I physically don't do Aikido technique, however, we use principles, concepts and body postures of Aiki in our art. Parying strikes or continuing the strike off line is as much Aiki as not doing the pary at all, redirection is as much Aiki as moving your body. When looking at body movement, the late great Toyoda Sensei told me this," you have 3 choices in Tai Sabaki, move your body, move the attack, do both". He also told me that there are 3 ways to handle an attack," avoid, evade, intercept." Intercepting is blocking an attack which is NOT Aiki, but the other 2 are. So you can move an attack with a pari, move your body in proper alighnment, and counter. But you can see that this is not strictly Aikido, any art can use these priciples, so Aiki is really 3 dimensional.

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#126291 - 07/02/03 10:05 AM Re: aiki?
the504mikey Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 06/19/03
Posts: 790
Loc: Louisiana, United States
senseilou,

I would agree that aiki can be found everywhere, in any art or even any activity for that matter. Particularly when you consider that aiki is not just harmony with the energy of another, but also harmonizing your own internal energies, you can find examples of "aiki" in something as simple as brushing your teeth.

I think that is what you were getting at when you mentioned the philosophical aspects, unifying body, mind, and spirit. But I think these things are not just philosophy, they have identifiable physical components (balance, centeredness, etc).

csinca,

I can see a choke as being considered "not aiki", because it is hard to unify with someone who is unconscious. Effective? Definitely. Aiki? Probably not. You may have used aiki techniques to manouver into position and secure the choke, but once you started to reduce the blood flow to the brain you were probably stepping away from aikido a bit. Still, I think you are to be commended, because randori often pushes people to the point where they have trouble formulating an "aiki" response. When forced to decide what to do about that, instead of shutting down and taking a beating you mounted an effective self defense.

The arm bar, I think, is a much more difficult question. People like to make a lot of fuss about how aikido techniques (ikkyo, nikkyo, etc) bend joints in their "natural" direction. I have come to see this as a load of hooey, but that is just my opinion. I believe that joints naturally bend in at least two directions, otherwise it would be pretty difficult to return them to their original position. Furthermore, even with the traditional aikido techniques the joint is moved to the limit of its range motion, and if you force the joint beyond this point it will break or fail in some manner. How is this different from an arm bar?

So I think an armbar CAN be aiki, depending on the spirit in which it is applied. Whether it is or not probably depends on what you are doing to uke... If you are continuing his motion, and using the arm bar to guide that motion to establish control, that seems pretty "aiki" to me. On the other hand, if you wrapped his arm, and proceeded to apply pressure to start him moving where he wasn't originally (essentially telling him non-verbally do what I want or I will break your arm) then that is probably not aiki.

This is just one person's opinion, and in considering its value you should know that I train in aikijujitsu, not aikido and I have yet to attain dan rank. I think the "standards for behavior" in an aikijujitsu dojo are a lot different than for aikido, and we confuse the issue further by practicing judo and hard style jujitsu techniques in addition to our aiki stuff.

Thank you for asking a good question. I hope other people will weigh in (Cato?) on this one because I am interested in seeing what everyone thinks.

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#126292 - 07/02/03 11:23 AM Re: aiki?
csinca Offline
former moderator

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 672
Loc: Southern California
Senseilou,

Thanks for your input, of the frequent posters I've read here, I have come to respect your opinions. Looking at Aiki as a combination of mind/body/spirit; it really isn't limited to a Martial Art but really excellence in anything when that excellence comes from a persons total integration.... I'm thinking Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan at their best as examples of aiki in that sense. Many years ago I was told by an old chinese man that "gung fu" was the same concept of doing something well. He told me I had great gung fu but we were working on an assembly line at the time.

Unfortunately, while I agree with this concept of total integration being a definition of aiki, it doesn't help with my specific circumstance. Here is my specific problem and the reason for my question....

I've trained Aikido for 10 year and had prior TKD and Kung Fu experience. I've also cross trained for a few years in other arts and have developed somewhat of a personal style based on Aikido but drawing from other arts (ie the choke, the armbar, I'm also fond of using knees and elbows as persuaders). I'm now in a position where I am teaching at my Aiki-Budo dojo on a regular basis and I need to keep my teaching within the realm of Aiki. I owe this to my Senseis, my art and the other students.

Thanks again for the input

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#126293 - 07/02/03 11:32 AM Re: aiki?
csinca Offline
former moderator

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 672
Loc: Southern California
Mikey

Thanks to you as well, some very interesting comments and lots for me to think about.

I did want to add to the joint-locking concept. I absolutely agree with you that you need at least two directions. Any of the joint locks I can think of require that you take a joint to the limit of a direction of movement at which time it really ceases to be a joint and allows you to move up the skeletal system and hook into the next joint. Basically you have to immobilize a joint and take away that degree of freedom to connect eventually to the attackers center.

Looking at ikkyo, your contact point is usually the hand or wrist (with your other hand up near the shoulder for control/safety) but you have to take the flexibility out of the wrist to connect to the elbow. The elbow usually gets rotated to its fullest extent then the humerous starts to rotate until the shoulder reaches its fullest rotational motion at which point the entire arm (wrist to shoulder) is tight. Continued rotation results in either tissue damage or the upper body coming forward (which is my preference, particularly when it's my arm doing the rotating).

I think you and I are saying the same thing but I thought I'd add an extra two cents

Have a good day

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#126294 - 07/02/03 01:38 PM Re: aiki?
Cato Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/13/02
Posts: 1636
I don't think there is a harder question to answer in MA's than "what is aiki?". I think it is a bit like asking someone to describe "green" or trying teach them how to whistle. Aiki isn't really something you know, it's something you do.

To further complicate an already confusing pot, I think that just as we take techniques and adapt them to ourselves, once we have an understanding of what we believe aiki is, we adapt it. Therefore there can never be one definitive answer to the question. I can disagree with someone else's opinion but I can't tell them they're wrong. (wont stop me trying though [IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/biggrin.gif[/IMG]).

Budo

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#126295 - 07/02/03 04:49 PM Re: aiki?
the504mikey Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 06/19/03
Posts: 790
Loc: Louisiana, United States
csinca,

Thanks for providing an example backing up my belief that some aikido techniques bring joints to the limit of their range of motion in order to gain control of uke's center.

The example I remember us working with in class was kote gaeshi. We slowly applied it, and watched first the wrist lock, then the elbow, and eventually the shoulder-- taking the slack out, we call it, as I am sure others do. So many dojos don't seem to talk about these things, but I think it really helps nail down the concepts. I think the "don't discuss, just train" idea has a lot of value, too, but you really need both to make real progress, IMHO.

For what it's worth, if I trained in your dojo I would welcome the occasional "sneaking out" of techniques from your experience in other martial arts. I think it would help me to learn how to stay safer, whether as tori or uke. I know you want to stay true to the aiki principles, but I think the occasional counter example deepens understanding rather than clouding the issue. As I claimed earlier, sometimes we can grasp what aiki is by spending some time looking at what it isn't.

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#126296 - 07/02/03 05:42 PM Re: aiki?
csinca Offline
former moderator

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 672
Loc: Southern California
Mikey,

It sounds like you and I are on the same page! We also use the term "taking out the slack".

I appreciate your comments on Kote, I've seen it attempted without the skeletal lock far too many times. Without that lock there is no technique....

If you're ever in the San Diego, you'll have to come by for a workout.

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