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#234804 - 02/27/06 07:08 PM Ki Aikido
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Didn't mean to come across as you sounding accusatory, just meant that Tohei had the "stuff" that Aikido is made of.

Describing ki is a lot like trying to describe water without using the word "wet". The whole purpose of Aikido is to reach a balance of energy, technique, and spiritual blending with both your attacker and his attack. Ai (same) ki (energy) do (way) is the dictionary definition, but like anything done by the esoteric thinkers, they leave out more than they put in the definition.

Breath and timing are the two most physical elements of the techniques that have a difficulty factor of 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is most difficult. When you combine it with posture, mental clarity, and meeting the attack before it "matures", takes the difficulty factor off the charts.

Ki has several conditions... if you are extending ki, you are extremely strong and your body is totally in balance. If you are "sucking in" ki, you are almost totally at the mercy of the attack, and if you are "meeting ki" you are not blending with the attack, so it's not aikido.

I don't know if there IS a physical description of ki that is accurate, because it is like breath and timing... always changing and always in a differing condition in your practice. I've learned physical tricks to use that make what I do look like magic, but it's really just blending with the attack and then extending a little ki, but it crushes the attacker like bug.

Mind you that I use jujitsu as much or more than I use aikido in my teaching, because the art of Aikido is a pared-down version of several types and styles of jujitsu. It's main derivative is from Daito Ryu Jujitsu, but its technique is studied as a jitsu and not a "do" in that art. If that's confusing, it's because you need to understand the differences between "jitsu" and "do". Jitsus are "methods" and "do" is "way or path". One of the other tricks the esoteric thinkers play on westerners is to have multiple meanings for their words. Where "ju" is always interpreted as "soft or pliable", it also means "easy", so "jujitsu" translates into "easy method" rather than "soft method". Judo is another tricky moniker for an art, because if you try to interpret it as "easy path or way", it is certainly not that... it is a complicated and very scholarly dissection and reassembly of numerous jujitsu styles that Professor Kano used to design a competitive sport. At the time he was organizing it, many of the techniques left people permanently damaged from the practices they used. He took those elements out of his Judo to allow people to practice without being crippled for life. He did not create the actual moniker "Judo", for there were numerous "judos" out there being practiced, but he organized the techniques and dissected the techniques to make them safe for the general public to practice. His "judo" is what the public sees today.

One of my favorite ways of describing techniques in Aikido and Jujitsu, is to tell someone that "there's more than one way to skin a cat, but there's no way to make the cat like it". What that means is that there are numerous ways to accomplish the same thing... a throw for instance, can be accomplished by using "leading and ki application" like Aikido, "leverage" as in Judo, or simply blocking and driving through the opponent to make them lose their balance. In all three, you can use (or not)ki to accomplish the task, but you still end up with the same result. Some of the methods are more difficult than others, so you have to study them to figure out if you want to become a "leverage" expert, an "Aikido" expert, or just someone that has fighting abilities and uses a different arrow from their quiver depending upon the attack. In all three, breath and timing need to be in play, along with a "total body involvement" in your technique.

There's an article on my discussion group at http://groups.msn.com/munenmusoryujujitsu on ki. You can try it and see if it gives you any help.

In my 40+ years of doing martial arts, I've seen a lot of different ways to squash a bug, but in all that time, I haven't seen a bug that enjoyed it. Dojo practice is not "fighting practice", so until you see the techniques applied for real, your training partners are just "ukes", so you have to take care of them. Attackers, on the other hand, are a different matter for another discussion, but ki is important in all techniques.

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#234805 - 02/27/06 07:31 PM Re: Ki Aikido [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Thank you for your input Mr Burchett.

I'm not denying that Tohei had the goods, nor his rank.

Quote:

Ki has several conditions... if you are extending ki, you are extremely strong and your body is totally in balance. If you are "sucking in" ki, you are almost totally at the mercy of the attack, and if you are "meeting ki" you are not blending with the attack, so it's not aikido.




Ki is subtle and by itself weak (cf. people like Chen Xiao Wang and others). In your opinion, what constitutes "strength" as implied by "extending ki"?

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#234806 - 02/27/06 08:37 PM Re: Ki Aikido [Re: eyrie]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Well, I already know I'm going to get myself in trouble here, because I'm not able to show you what I'm talking about and often there isn't a way to verbalize "ki" so that someone understands it. The way I teach people to utilize their ki is to think of it as water contained under pressure in the body. To "extend ki" is to cause that energy and "water" to flow outward... some of which can be done mentally, and some because of the physical makeup of the body.

If you shape your arm into what we use in Aikido (arm sword, Te katana) you should be able to imagine something squeezing your "water" out of your arm like a hose, allowing the ki to flow out toward the hand. If you think of the fingertips as "nozzles" you will understand the effect of the pressure stabilizing the arm and creating the "unbendable arm". In that condition and properly shaped, your muscles are in balance, the ki (water) flows outward, and creates pressure at the nozzles.

If your elbow is straight, it won't work, just like if it is bent too much... but shaping the arm like the blade of the Japanese katana will create an arm structure that is exceptionally strong. Like a fire hose becomes solid and incompressible when it's outflow is full force, the arm of an Aikido player can create a similar situation using ki.

Now, that being said... what use is there for this device you have created with your arm? Practice in an Aikido class for a short while, and it will become apparent. Most Aikido techniques are sword techniques, and the movements are taken from sword fighting. By adopting the same body mechanics as sword fighting, the empty hand art can be practiced and utilize the same tactics and methods as sword fighting. That "water" is what makes it all work.

Is that clear as mud yet?
_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#234807 - 02/27/06 11:09 PM Re: Ki Aikido [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Quote:

Well, I already know I'm going to get myself in trouble here, because I'm not able to show you what I'm talking about and often there isn't a way to verbalize "ki" so that someone understands it.




Somehow I very much doubt it... considering that you are a hachidan in jujitsu with 20 years aikido experience... By the same token, I doubt that many would understand even if you showed it. Nonetheless, I thank you for your valuable input.

Quote:


The way I teach people to utilize their ki is to think of it as water contained under pressure in the body. To "extend ki" is to cause that energy and "water" to flow outward... some of which can be done mentally, and some because of the physical makeup of the body.

If you shape your arm into what we use in Aikido (arm sword, Te katana) you should be able to imagine something squeezing your "water" out of your arm like a hose, allowing the ki to flow out toward the hand. If you think of the fingertips as "nozzles" you will understand the effect of the pressure stabilizing the arm and creating the "unbendable arm". In that condition and properly shaped, your muscles are in balance, the ki (water) flows outward, and creates pressure at the nozzles.

If your elbow is straight, it won't work, just like if it is bent too much... but shaping the arm like the blade of the Japanese katana will create an arm structure that is exceptionally strong. Like a fire hose becomes solid and incompressible when it's outflow is full force, the arm of an Aikido player can create a similar situation using ki.





For the benefit of everyone, I have highlighted the bits in Mr Burchett's response, which I feel are the key elements of using ki. Here are those elements in summary:

1. the idea of putting something under pressure inside the body. Mr Burchett uses the idea of "water", which is not too far off, since the body is approx. 70% fluid.

2. the attendant use of mental imagery - the mind moves the ki which moves the body (consistent with the internal CMA elucidation of yi/intent moving the qi)

3. the relationship between ki and body structure, i.e. the shapes, postures, structural alignment of the body etc. I.e. if your body structure/alignment is off, the mental imagery is not going to be much use.

If Mr Burchett is open to the idea, I would like to toss around some of these things and discuss these in some detail. (Yes siree, you're definitely in trouble and on the spot!)

Let me preface the discussion by saying the "ki" is not some mystical energy/force (a la Luke Skywalker). It is intrinsic to the practice of aikido (and the internal CMAs), and is a skill that can be developed.

Perhaps Mr Burchett would like to begin by elucidating some of these finer points in greater detail?

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#234808 - 02/28/06 04:45 AM Re: Ki Aikido [Re: wristtwister]
BaguaMonk Offline
Member

Registered: 12/18/04
Posts: 404
Loc: DALLAS TX BABY
Quote:


If you shape your arm into what we use in Aikido (arm sword, Te katana) you should be able to imagine something squeezing your "water" out of your arm like a hose, allowing the ki to flow out toward the hand. If you think of the fingertips as "nozzles" you will understand the effect of the pressure stabilizing the arm and creating the "unbendable arm". In that condition and properly shaped, your muscles are in balance, the ki (water) flows outward, and creates pressure at the nozzles.

If your elbow is straight, it won't work, just like if it is bent too much... but shaping the arm like the blade of the Japanese katana will create an arm structure that is exceptionally strong.





This almost sounds exactly the same as peng (ward off force) of taijichuan.

Seems like akido (for those who don't do hollow practice), is coming along really well People exploring internal principles more

_________________________
Truth comes from the absolute stillness of the mind...

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#234809 - 02/28/06 06:15 AM Re: Ki Aikido [Re: BaguaMonk]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Dang it BaguaMonk, you pre-empted me...

The arm structure is only a small part of it. Mr Burchett hadn't mentioned the ground-path and relation to kokyu yet, but I WAS getting to it... now you gone and spoiled it by mentioning peng-force...


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#234810 - 02/28/06 06:49 PM Re: Ki Aikido [Re: eyrie]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Guys,
we could fill up the internet with discussions about ki and everyone that reads it will have a different opinion about what it is or isn't, how it's used, and what constitutes it. I know what I personally believe about ki and its effects on technique, so I'm not sure that anything I add will change what you might have as a "ki concept".

The principles of centering onself, and utilizing the entire body in your technique go a long way toward making you appear exceptionally strong, even without the use of ki in the applications. Almost every art reaches those two places in some manner and through some process of stances, movements, exercises, etc. that pass students from "awkward and bumbling" to "poised and graceful" while performing their techniques. How it's described and what words are used to groom the discussion may differ, but ultimately, we all are using our body structure to move smoothly and create powerful techniques by applying techniques while centered, on balance, and using the mechanical structure of the body to generate power.

It doesn't matter if you're throwing, punching, or kicking, the same rules apply... and it's the application that kind of dictates the amount of each that's involved in each technique. I'm not sure you can do anything without some application of ki, for once you reach toward your opponent, you are in a preliminary level of "extending ki", so once you move, your pot's off the burner.

The traditional understanding of ki is that it enters the body from the point in the foot known as Kidney 1 and runs throughout the entire body, originating in K1, but can be stored and blocked throughout the body by different methods.
Since the body is an electro-chemical makeup, it is entirely plausible to believe that you can receive some type of electrical energy through your contact with the earth, as all electrical systems have to be grounded to be functional. Not being able to see or view things on the molecular level, I wouldn't attempt to describe ki as an electrical phenomena, but there have been studies which show it does have electrical properties.

Like a bee produces honey, try as I might, I can only close my eyes, tighten my body, and produce a little ear wax, so asking someone to produce ki is a little like asking them to produce honey. I know that ki is contained within my body, because I can apply it in techniques, and I can demonstrate its power in various ways, but my take on describing ki is that no matter what you say, ki is something else as well, so you never fully get it described.

My training partner, who lived in Japan, and went there to train in Aikido once took part in a demonstration where he (being the "big" American) was called upon to push one of the Aikido instructors backward as he was seated in a chair. He was ultimately joined by two other students from the class who helped him push until the teacher finally moved... into them, and he pushed them backward. I personally have no clue how to do that, but there are lots of things I've seen over the years that have amazed me that I can't do personally.

In 1962, I was in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (USA) when I watched a zen master from the Kodokan show the abilities that could be discovered through zen training. In one "test", he put his hand into a pot of boiling water and held it there for over a minute. When he took it out, his hand was not burned and the skin was barely red. The owner of the dojo where this took place put his hand into the water and was burned almost immediately, and required first aid. Unlike a lot of people with a lot of experience in martial arts, I'll admit there are a lot of things out there that I don't have the full explanation on... but that doesn't mean I won't use it in practice.

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#234811 - 02/28/06 08:41 PM Ki in Aikido [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
It is a rare occurrence when we have a high-ranking practitioner, with such depth of knowledge, in our midst, and when an opportunity presents for learning something off someone, it should not be taken lightly.

Hence the line of questioning I pose in order to draw out some of these things in greater detail and depth. Whilst I appreciate the issues and difficulties such medium presents, compared with hands-on learning and dojo time, such technical and academic matters are very rarely (if ever) discussed within a dojo setting, resulting in what BaguaMonk terms "hollow practice".

Whilst I also appreciate that controversial topics such as this, will engender differing opinions, I feel it is necessary for the more senior and knowledgable folk to steer the discussion towards how people ought to reflect on their training methods and practice. I believe that is what this forum (as do other forums) is for and the purpose it serves. It is by no means a substitute for dojo learning, but more as a complementary aid to thinking, prior to working on ideas and concepts within the parameters of the dojo. So, whilst some comments may serve to draw out differences in opinions, others may spark the interest and thinking, or increase the level of understanding or awareness, of others - particularly those at the initiate and "beginner" level (like myself).

My role here as moderator is merely to facilitate and moderate the discussion. So from time to time I may ask certain pertinent questions to draw out the discussion along topical lines - like a tv/radio interviewer, only I'm not as good.

You mentioned:
Quote:


The traditional understanding of ki is that it enters the body from the point in the foot known as Kidney 1 and runs throughout the entire body, originating in K1, but can be stored and blocked throughout the body by different methods.
Since the body is an electro-chemical makeup, it is entirely plausible to believe that you can receive some type of electrical energy through your contact with the earth, as all electrical systems have to be grounded to be functional. Not being able to see or view things on the molecular level, I wouldn't attempt to describe ki as an electrical phenomena, but there have been studies which show it does have electrical properties.




Generally I concur (as with the rest of your post), however, I think it is important firstly to distinguish what ki is and what the manifestations of ki phenomena is. Ki is not electrical (or other sensate) phenomena, although the presence of electrical (and other such) phenomena may indicate the presence of ki, and more likely where the "blockages" are.

I think we can generally agree that unless the body structure is in alignment (centered/balanced/whatever), and moving efficiently (whatever than means), that ki cannot be mustered thru the body. Basic exercises such as the unbendable arm serve as a starting point for the initiate to experience some sort of phenomena that can be vicariously described as ki, but as you are aware, it involves a whole lot more.

It is the details of what this "more" entails that I wish to explore. Please excuse me, if the questions are somewhat haphazard and incoherent as I attempt to work some of these things out in my mind.

1. What specifically are we training to do when we attempt to muster "ki"? I appreciate there are various elements involved and to varying extents, i.e. the mind/spirit (intent), the musculo-skeletal structure, breath (kokyu? air pressure?), the use of the "connection with the ground" etc. etc. These elements contribute to how we generate the required "power" for all tehniques (whether it be punching/kicking/throwing), and goes towards explaining why aikido can't be done in the weightlessness of space, and why having knee or rotator cuff surgery robs you of some ability to generate such power.

2. What forms of "strengthening" could be done (not necessarily within the parameters of aikido practice) in each of these aspects to in turn strengthen the overall generation of power (in a "relaxed" and "efficient" sort of way)?

3. How these methods may differ in other arts, yet the ultimate result is the same (to varying degrees), and what commonalities of approach there may be?

4. How does the "force" of "extending ki" transmit from one person to another?

Perhaps we could discuss each of these in turn?

I expect that the discussion would then highlight what aspects of aikido practice the initiate would ideally be focussing on in their practice.

I should probably spilt this topic into a new thread, but being the Luddite that I am, it'll probably happen when I figure it out.


Edited by eyrie (02/28/06 09:10 PM)

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#234812 - 02/28/06 09:57 PM Re: Ki in Aikido [Re: eyrie]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
First of all, I appreciate your thoughtfulness. I always tell my classes I'm just an old guy who was lucky enough to start when I was 18 doing something that changed my life, and when they ultimately ask "have you ever had to use it?", my answer is "every day". Martial arts are about what I'm molding myself into, not about fighting or learning ki exercises, etc. You should practice martial arts like a mechanic works on a classic car, with love and appreciation of what it becomes when you're finished.

Now, you're right that ki isn't "electrical"... but it has electrical properties. It isn't "grounding", even though it's applications are enhanced by it. It isn't quite just "centering" either, although most aikido players think that if they're centered the have "arrived" and are "doing aikido". It's all of those things, and yet none of them.

OSensei said one time "I do not remember what I said in my lectures about ki, for if I remembered them, I would not understand them myself". That being said, you can see that I realized early on in this discussion that we were headed toward trouble... and you can see why. If Ueshiba Sensei didn't understand ki, he certainly couldn't disagree with Tohei about it, and so we have aikido... where we use it, practice channeling it, and learn to generate it. As to defining it... I'll leave that up to each individual.

I can, however, attempt to answer your specific questions.

1.This has several parts.
a. When we train, we are learning to apply techniques in a meaningful manner. There is practice, and there is correct practice, and in that correct practice, we use the parts of ki that we know how to develop... correct movement, centering, correct body mechanics, timing, and ma-ai(distancing). As a newbie, you will have little of those parts working together, but as you practice and improve, you will blend more and more of them into your technique and it will become stronger. Is that change "better technique", or is it an "increase in ki"? The answer is both, for it involves all the elements of training... including cleaning up the dojo to maintain the spiritual clarity of training.


b. As someone with torn rotator cuffs in both shoulders, I can tell you that the only thing that has to do with ki is that if you raise your arms to do a technique and it hurts, you'll "pull out" ahead of the movement, which causes the "loss of ability to generate ki". It's still there, you just choose to bail out early because of pain. If you have a high pain tolerance, as I do, you learn to train with the pain and the "loss of ability to generate ki" disappears.

2. Almost any kind of arm strength and body flexibility training will work to help your perceived "ki development". I can't do pushups because of those rotator cuff injuries, but I do curls and "air grabs" with my hands, so people who are grabbed by me think I have a lot of ki whether I do or not. A few light weights and curls, and some empty handed "air grabs" (200 per warmup) and you suddenly have forearms like iron. Now, do I have a lot of ki because I have strength in my forearms, or do I have strenght in my forearms because I have "great ki"? Only my attackers know for sure.

3. I think I already answered this one. All the martial arts develop the same tactical things eventually, they just arrive at them in different ways and along different tracks of training. It goes back to "more than one way to skin a cat, you just can't get the cat to like it" type of thing. Whatever your taste for training is, you'll find your own niche and form your own likes and dislikes. I always hated to do kata when doing karate, until I learned that kata didn't really mean "forms" it meant "how one behaves". That completely changed my outlook on the practice of them. Each art has its own type of kata, and regardless of the art's theory, it's energy application in one form or another, and unfortunately, when you get to my level, it all looks alike even though you can see the differences.

4. The force of extending ki is only with you. If you're using aikido techniques, you are more interested in blending with your attacker than extending ki, and once you've accomplished the blending, your ki application is a simply matter of "going along with your opponent". Once you are "blended", its a simple thing to redirect their ki and energy forces into a direction or plane where they can't compensate for it... hence, a throw or pin.

Unfortunately, the way you asked the question, the answer is "it doesn't"... you are in a "blending mode" not a "ki application" mode. Extending ki is only accomplished after you are in harmony and moving together (except for the mechanical structure ki extension, such as arm sword). What you are actually trying to accomplish is to accelerate the person off their center. Once that's done, they're toast...

You got into a discussion with yourself about splitting the discussion, but the last question you asked was what aspects of aikido would I advise an initiate to practice. I would say, those that are hardest first. It will be different for every student.

Every aikido or jujitsu student should know how to do a front roll, back roll, breakfall, and side fall. Once they have those down, they can practice any part of aikido or jujitsu without fear of being injured.

If you read through my web forum, you see that I developed my style to make training that was available in several different arts a part of my system. It was done because there's not alway a good judo school in the area, or a karate school with a good traditional background, or a good jujitsu school. What I've learned over the past 40+ years has been learned in a number of different forums and from a lot of different training systems. They all have good and bad points, but I still learned SOMETHING from each of them, and when you put it all together, you have an old fat guy who can wind your watch for you in a skinny minute.

To get back to the list, I would advise new students to learn to do ukemi first, learn to punch and strike second, so they can give their partners good attacks, and then jump into whatever arts they want to train in to get the rest. I practice as much aikido as I do jujitsu, because they're so much the same, you can't strain one out of the other if you do it well.

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#234813 - 02/28/06 11:34 PM Re: Ki in Aikido [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Ah, my bad... I guess I should have anticipated that when you tell someone you're a beginner, you (almost invariably) get the "beginner's response", despite the fact that we are all really beginners, no matter how long we train for, because as you say (and I wholeheartedly agree!), this is life changing, character molding, never ending work of love, not for fighting, used in daily life etc. etc. "stuff". As I recall, even O'Sensei, on his death bed, said that he was still a beginner in aikido.

So, are you suggesting that light weight training can help build ki? What about suburi practice? Or maybe even simpler... training the fundamentals (aiki-taiso) in a different way, with a different focus? Perhaps you were merely highlighting an example, but I'm thinking ki isn't merely in forearm development. It's whole body?

Joint strength is a factor in supporting ki and more specifically kokyu usage. I think you need both (ki & kokyu), at least, for power generation. In terms of kokyu usage, can you describe what is being pressurized and how that pressure is achieved? What is involved, specifically with the breath/timing?

I anticipated that my line of questioning was off... let me rephrase. Going back to the previous example of the aikido sensei not being able to be moved by people, and throwing them, (I know you said you didn't know/couldn't explain it), but what do you think is involved here? How do you think the force is being stored/transmitted/redirected there?

I think we can generally agree that there is no mystical magick involved here and that some plausible explanation exists to describe in real terms what is happening and how it works.

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