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#234814 - 03/01/06 07:40 PM Ki and related stuff [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
This post was moved from the other thread.

Here's wristtwister's response in toto:
--------------------------------------------------

Quote:

So, are you suggesting that light weight training can help build ki?




What I am suggesting is that you need to get your body into the best shape you can, and yes, it will help in your ki applications. As a jujitsu player, I'd rather focus on the building of technique as a goal rather than just ki development. We're not going to sit in the corner and extend ki at our attackers, we are going to use martial arts techniques to deflect their attacks and immobilize or undo them. I have some "wave" techniques that almost look magical, but they are based on correct ma-ai more than ki development. There isn't any one facet of training that is the "magic bullet" to make everything all right in wonderland... it takes all the elements working together.

Yes, bokken and jo practice (if done well) will help in both building ki and in getting you to use your body correctly so that whatever ki you extend is maximum-effect. All martial arts are "whole body" arts, so while building the forearms will help in gripping and arm sword applications, it is no more important than doing the aiki-taisos and building correct movement and ki in those kinds of training situations.

Quote:

Joint strength is a factor in supporting ki and more specifically kokyu usage.


We'll have to agree to disagree here. Body structure and ma-ai have more to do with ki application than anything to do with joints. If that were true, we would be in a declining state of ability as our joints degenerate. That's certainly not the case, and you will find "old men" that can do miracles with aikido techniques, and not just against people who are joining them in demonstrations and fall "on command". The worst hurt I ever had put on my wrists was by a nidan in aikido with bad knees and a frame that must have weighed about 110 pounds, and SHE certainly didn't have the joint strength of any man in the room. She managed to wear me out though in applying her techniques from standing attacks, and had plenty left when doing the pins.

Quote:

I think we can generally agree that there is no mystical magick involved here...


Again, I think we have to agree to disagree. It is always mystical if I can't explain it, and extending ki can create situations that can't be explained in "mechanical" terms. I have found occasions where I "blocked without touching" someone, and had them come back and ask me "how'd you do that?" I have no explanation for them, except my breath, timing, ma-ai and movement were all in harmony, and I was extending ki from my palms. What is probably more surprising to you, is that I was startled myself that I was able to do it. I certainly won't tell you that I can repeat it "on demand" either.

In all my years of training, I've heard about every explanation of ki and chi that has grouped itself into a discussion of martial artists on the subject. The masters that I've studied with and seen in those years all had different explanations of it, and yet their emphasis was always on "doing". I would ask you if you need to know why the arrow flies through the air to understand that you need to get out of its way. Ki is one of those kinds of things that can be described mechanically for those that want to believe it is mechanical. For those that want to believe it is some mystical magic force, there's an explanation also.

My own understanding of ki is in its application, and the potentially devastating force it can generate from doing technique well... but that all involves both the physical, spiritual, and mental aspects of training.

I've watched hundreds of aikido students blame a lack of ki development on the failure of a technique, when it is merely their failure to be in proper posture or position to execute a technique. I've seen others, like that girl who crushed my wrists, that were frail and tiny, who possessed whatever kind of power ki could generate, and applied it handsomely and with great pain to the attackers.

If I had to describe ki in "layman's terms", I would say that ki is the applied force necessary to knock your opponent off balance and into a condition where they could not respond if they had to... You can pick where you think it comes from, and I'll say "Okay"... My personal feeling is that it comes from training and doing things correctly, breathing correctly, being centered, and extending that "mystical force" into your technique. Nothing mysterious there, but it's mysterious when you have to explain why you get stronger as your technique improves... because I don't think you do... I just think you apply your technique more appropriately.



Edited by eyrie (03/01/06 07:51 PM)

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#234815 - 03/01/06 08:04 PM Re: Ki and related stuff [Re: eyrie]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Thanks for your enlightening input. It is always interesting to hear the more down to earth opinions of someone more experienced and travelled in these matters.

Domo arigato gozaimasu.

Any parting tips for doing things "correctly"? How does one know that they're doing it "correctly"? (Or that their teacher/instructor is doing it "correctly"?)

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#234816 - 03/01/06 09:41 PM Re: Ki and related stuff [Re: eyrie]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Eyrie, my friend, you are a good moderator. If someone discusses things in absolutes, you ask the questions in the abstract... and vice versa.

"Doing it correctly" has a multitude of meanings. It can be done in correct order, and be correct, while an absolutely horrid application. It can be done in proper form, and with good mechanics, and have poor timing, and still be correct. I think you can see where I'm headed...

Wisdom in the martial arts is to know when a technique is done well, and is "correct" in application, execution, and practicality. Using kote gaeshi against a gun might end up shooting the old lady waiting on the bus, so there is a "more correct" technique that can be used... Irimi techniques against a sword "thrust" may get you cut in half if your opponent is a swordsman and understands his art.

None of what we do is unrehearsed, so we devise different methods of practicing different techniques and applying them to enhance our art. Our understanding of whether we're making the right decisions is often found when the training is put into practice in randori or in an actual fighting situation. Sometimes, that's not the best time to find out that your instructor needed some more insight into what you're doing... that's why there are more than one instructor's methods out there. It goes back to that "skinning the cat" scenario again...

I know it's not a popular method to suggest that every student go see other instructors do the same thing their instructors do, but it's really good for both the students and the arts. Perceptions are gained by where you sit in the dojo, because you're looking at things from a different perspective than someone sitting on your right or left side, and believe it or not, "line of sight" makes us all see different things in techniques even when watching the same people do a technique. I wouldn't address whether the technique is correct or not, because it might be perfect in the style being practiced, but not in the style I teach.

I think that there is a fundamental understanding and cooperation between all people practicing a particular style of martial art. Some of them will understand the mechanics of the techniques, but not the applications. Others will know all the applications, but not have the correct order of doing the techniques and get pasted every time they try to do anything. Rather than discussing "correct", you might want to discuss techniques in the framework of "correct understanding" or "fundamental understanding" of technique.

I'd like to be able to perpetuate the myth that martial arts are magic, but they are simply military arts that were practiced when people fought primarily using hand to hand tactics. They knew different arts because they used the skills from one in the other, just as the techniques of aikido are basically swordfighting techniques, so the movements and skills easily translate into one another. In the film "Budo", the statement was made that "the secrets of life are within ourselves". Martial arts will help us to discover them, and if your art is Aikido, you'll be all into bokken and jo practice, where someone doing Okinawan karate would be training in sai, bo, and perhaps ikku(oar).

If you're studying White Crane kung fu, you're doing the same things being taught in Okinawan karate, just done slightly differently. I don't have a clue who's correct... but I know who does their skills well, and can train with anyone... that's why the list of people I've trained with is so prestigious. I haven't made "close friends" with all of them, but I have my share of world-class teachers that can help me if I get in a bind, and unfortunately, some have passed on, but I was honored to have spent time with them in arts that they excelled in and knew well.

Attending camp with people like Shogo Kuniba, or Fumio Toyoda is something that can't be translated into what you learn from having skilled friends to discuss techniques with. I learned as much out of class from them as in classes or seminars, and perhaps the best way to say they were "correct" is to be grateful that you were blessed to know them. It's easy to find critics, but not so easy to find friends... especially friends with international recognition of their skills. I feel a special gratitude for everyone who taught me through the years, and whether or not we were friends, I kept their knowledge and passed it on to my students.

My first karate teacher studied with Master Don Nagle, an Isshin Ryu legend in the U.S. He always told me that the way I could repay him for teaching me, was to pass it on. We saw each other a few months ago for the first time in 35 years. I hope he was satisfied with my results.

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

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#234817 - 03/01/06 10:21 PM Re: Ki and related stuff [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Thank you for the kind words, good sir. There is much wisdom in the words you write. I feel I am a terrible moderator because I don't ask the right questions, or frame the question incorrectly, or sometimes, I either use the wrong words or am totally off base with what's being discussed. I can only hope to get better with more practice.

What I meant was how does one know that one has a grasp of the fundamental understanding, and I think you've answered the question.

So the upshot of all of this to me is that it is all the same, yet different, ki is instrinsic to everything we do, there is no one "correct" way, each way is equally valid, depending, it's all of the above and none of the above, and when it "happens", we'll know we're there, but it's not something that happens on demand, it just happens, by simply working at it and seeing things from different perspectives.

Sorry for the long sentence. Is that about right?

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#234818 - 03/02/06 06:35 AM Re: Ki and related stuff [Re: eyrie]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Quote:

ki is instrinsic to everything we do?



Yes

Quote:

there is no one "correct" way



Yes, it is what is "your way" that is important to you.

Quote:

each way is equally valid?



Yes, but each technique is not. Those are tested through practice and combat. How well you do them plays a lot into whether they're valid or not.

Quote:

when it "happens", we'll know we're there, but it's not something that happens on demand




I wouldn't say that, because there is a lot that you can make happen on demand. It's the "perfection of technique" that is occasional, not the ability to execute them consistently and with skill. Like hitting a golf ball on the "sweet spot", you can hit it a thousand times, but only a few will go exactly where you want and land exactly where you want it to go... that kind of scenario...

Think of it this way. When we train, our ability and our ki grow together. As we train and age, we gather experience and increase our ki. As our physical bodies begin to deteriorate, it is our ki and our experience that makes us still superior to those without that experience and development. Mastery comes from training.

"The way is in Training"... Miyamoto Mushashi

Critique what you do, but don't be critical. Try the same thing many different ways, then pick the one that works for you. Practice without goals, because there is practice to do. Learn from teaching. Pay attention to the details. That's my way.

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

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#234819 - 03/02/06 05:47 PM Re: Ki and related stuff [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Good advice. Thanks for sharing.

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#234820 - 03/03/06 08:17 PM Re: Ki and related stuff [Re: eyrie]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Thought you might like to share the discussion I have posted on my group board regarding Ki... it is the second part of my discussion on spiraling energy...

The most discussed and least understood force in the martial arts is ki. Called by different names, Chi, Ki, "internal energy", "universal energy", and half a dozen other names, the power of the body to resist external forces or generate almost supernatural power in techniques has been the subject of discussion at every level of martial arts.

Aikido, as an art, is defined as ai-(same) ki-(energy) do-(way), or the way of blending energy. Clearly dynamic in its applications, the actual techniques of aikido are taught in the exercises and have been pared down into six basic techniques, with an infinite number of variations. Combined with the "blending of energy", is the timing of "accepting the attack" in order to blend with the attacker’s force, and the breath control to insure that the body is generating the correct energy from the "one point" in which ki energy is centered.

Karate, jujitsu, and every other martial art also uses the application of ki. In karate, it is timed with the punch, kick, or strike. The "kiai", is no less the "same energy way" as the aikido technique, where the breath, body, and timing are meeting as one. The explosive nature of the "spirit breath" builds in kata to a point where the "finishing technique" is executed with a kiai, and is considered the "point of death" in many systems. In less sophisticated training, kiai is used all the time in an effort to teach breath timing. It begins to resemble what I refer to as "eee-yuh" training… where no one is actually defining their technique or their spiritual timing of techniques, but making sounds in an effort to "emphasize" their punches, kicks, or blocks. True "kiai" can be and is often silent, for it is as much mental as physical.

The "perfect punch" is defined as one in which the body, mind, spirit, and universe are all one. I have done few in the 41 years of my training, but when it happens, it is memorable. The dynamics of applying internal energy to the effort is the only true application of ki.

Scientific studies of ki have been instituted, and the scientific definitions range from electro-chemical designators, to psychic-power descriptions, but what is left out is the correct information. Ki is the mental and physical melding of a person at a point of energy application. The body, mind, spirit, and the mental state of the person must be in perfect harmony with their movement. While it has electro-chemical effects on the body, it is, of itself, a state of being… requiring both a specific state of mental preparation, the timing of body movements, and a purpose.

As training becomes more familiar, it is possible to increase ki by practicing specific breathing exercises, timing exercises, and mental preparations. What is viewed in many cases as "superhuman strength" is nothing more than "prepared movement", where the training has taught the student to breath, move, and execute their technique properly.

Ki is, of itself, useless. When applied, it is powerful and dynamically challenging to anyone employing it in their martial arts. To use it in blocking techniques or passive movements, the challenge is to "not do too much", for like a shotgun up close, it is powerful and can be relatively uncontrollable. Delivering the measurable effect that you want, requires much training, for ki is developed in different "strengths" depending upon how your body works on a given day. As progress is made in martial skills, the practice of movements and breath exercises, the level of ki generated becomes more stable, and more predictable in its use by each martial artist.

By viewing the development of ki as a measurement of the training of a person, it is clear that ki is not only those things it has been defined as being by scientific circles, but also those esoteric things that it is defined as in oriental philosophy. It can, and will, become as powerful as the person who trains and learns to apply it properly. Just as we learn to embrace one another to show affection, the development of ki is the martial artist’s way to embrace the universe. How much of it’s power is received back is the whole question… and the mystery of the martial arts.

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

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#234821 - 03/04/06 04:24 AM Re: Ki and related stuff [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Hi, thanks for the invite.

Quote:

...it is possible to increase ki by practicing specific breathing exercises




I'd like to get into the specifics of this and compare it with other methods, but I'm not sure if 1).I can verbalize or explain what I understand and mean and 2).anyone else (beside you maybe) that would understand or know what I'm trying to get at...

But I'll try anyway...

From what I understand, there are several ways to arrive at the same point - to build ki. Yoga (and derived methods) is one way, and works on stretching the deep fascia and connective tissue in a relaxed, stabilized manner. Breath work is another way. The use of sounds (vibrations), hand mudras, imagery are also ways, which tend to be incorporated into both breath work and contradictory contraction/expansion work.

Perhaps if I showed you the stuff I've been working on and the people I've been discussing this with, you could provide some additional insight into what I should be looking for, or working towards...?

Or should we take this discussion to your board instead?

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#234822 - 03/04/06 09:34 AM Re: Ki and related stuff [Re: eyrie]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Discussing things here is fine with me. I'm not focused on building my website group, just on martial arts.

You're getting into an area that is like a swamp when you start the "different methods" thing. It's kind of like butts... everybody's got one and everybody else's stinks... if you know what I mean.

My breathing exercises are based on the "ibuki" and "nogare" breath patterns of Okinawan Karate, since that's where I first encountered it. It's pretty simple, and if you understand when to go "hard" and when to go "soft", you have breath control for each technique that matches your movements.

Essentially, (and by no means always) I usually express breath "ibuki" when I'm exhaling to extend ki, and "nogare" when I'm backing up or "sucking in ki", for to move backward and do "ibuki breath" provides a "hole" for your opponent.

In yoga, they teach you to touch the top of your mouth with your tongue at particular cycles of breathing to connect the hara to both "middle channels" of the body. I simply keep it that way all the time so I don't have one more thing to remember to do when breathing. It isn't rocket science, and you'll find that you'll do better at breath control if you just pick a method and stick with it, rather than catching every bus passing through town that has a "different method".

My own personal feeling, is that it's better to have one method well developed, rather than practicing ten different methods and not be able to time them with your technique. I do pretty good aikido with that method, and it's really simple. I still join in "breathing exercises" during warmups or at seminars, and "do what they're doing", because I'm learning about how the other guys fight, but I'm content to use my breath method and develop my ki through it.

Most martial arts people are looking for some kind of "silver bullet" in training that will give them "an edge", but if you'll learn to pick something and train in it, you'll find it easier to make an adjustment to it rather than look for a whole different method... after all, breathing is simple. It's in or out... and nothing you can do is going to change that.

If you learn to breathe deeply, you increase the amount of lung space you're using, which increases the amount of oxygen available to your tissues. Once you've learned this, you can concentrate on timing instead of breathing, and you'll find a marked difference in your technique. Since muscle development is a part of this "extrordinary strength" using ki, it only makes sense that your muscles will be stronger with an excellent supply of oxygen.

Whether that's the true medical reason you end up stronger, or if it's that mystical "ki" thing, it works, so that's what I do. If somebody else has a different method, I'm sure that's what they do.

Anytime I get into this "ki" discussion, I ask whoever I'm discussing it with to do me a favor... describe water without using the term "wet". Ki is kind of the same thing... you can tell what it is from being exposed to it, but it's awfully hard to describe.

The methods to develop it are sort of the same thing. Pick a method of breath development and practice it. As things develop, you'll change what you're doing to make things improve. That's all the "sage" advice I can give you.

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

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#234823 - 03/04/06 06:58 PM Re: Ki and related stuff [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
That's interesting... because ibuki breathing is also present in aikido and originates from Shinto chinkon kishin methods that were transmitted down thru Omoto-kyo spiritual practices, which has been suggested that these themselves have been derived in part from Shingon Mikkyo practices.

Quote:


Essentially, (and by no means always) I usually express breath "ibuki" when I'm exhaling to extend ki, and "nogare" when I'm backing up or "sucking in ki", for to move backward and do "ibuki breath" provides a "hole" for your opponent.




I haven't come across the term "nogare". Could you elaborate? Not sure what you mean by the last part of the sentence either.

Breathing in and out? Sure, using the diaphragm like a pump (or hey, "bellows"!), results in the use of more of one's lung capacity, and engaging the 3 "locks" to "pressurize", results in more efficient O2/CO2 exchange which results in better overall performance. Tongue to roof? It merely serves to close the epiglottis and soft palette, to engage the 3rd lock. Hey, that's why they say to swallow. Because it triggers the epiglottis reflex to shut off the trachea!

I can throw someone (admittedly if they're not as "strong") simply by breathing in and "pressurizing" - well actually, they throw themselves. I can hold someone down with one finger and they can't move, much less get up. Is that ki? Maybe... But I don't think it is.... there are a few "body" tricks involved... tricks that even my students can perform once they figure out how it "works".

But I think the "key" (pun intended), is not merely in the cursory surface practice of the training and conditioning methods, but in understanding HOW it (the training and conditioning methods) works, and what makes it work. Add to wit, what it is we are training and conditioning, that makes "it" work. I think this part is missing in most aikido practice.

How many aikidoka practice ten-no-kokyu, and chi-no-kokyu without knowing, much less understanding the specifics? How many aikido teachers actually explain what is going on or what one is meant to be doing, in any sort of detail? What do people know of jin-no-kokyu? Or how to strengthen the ten-chi-jin connection, much less know what it means?

Good advice though, regarding silver bullets and jumping buses.

Suffice to say, I'm only looking to understand what I know at a deeper level. Unfortunately, my own studies have taken me across the spectrum of various methods. What I've found is that there is a commonality of approach and training devices whether they be Yogic, Buddhist or Taoist derived methods.

I think it's easier to outline the basic common methods and work on those at a deeper level. And for me, it's merely to enhance the level of understanding of the things we already do, rather than add the auxillary aspects which add little value (well, at least at the rudimentary level).

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