Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Musing about Training

I've been looking at our past 8 classes with Sensei Hakim. Sensei splits each technique into 3 distinct levels, Beginner, Intermediate and Advance.

Typically, Beginner level requires application of Fudo Genri, kokyu and waza is done from static. Intermediate introduces Ki no nagare and some awase whilst Advance will use awase and musubi.

Practice is always done slowly to reinforce a good and sound foundation. Sometimes, its easier to do something dynamically. But from a static position, uke feels our movements better and has a better chance of readjusting his force to counter ours. By skipping this step, we sometimes jump to ki no nagare waza because we have a higher chance of completing our waza. Maybe if we want to impress our girlfriends we can do this, but since we're trying to learn something when going to class and not to show off, it would be better to do each waza as slowly as possible. No doubt, sometimes I too let loose especially with an eager beaver uke who jumps and attacks hard. Its good to practice dynamic waza too, because then we can better forget to overthink and instead just do. But always go back to static to make sure what we're doing is correct.

In our application besides the 3 levels mentioned above, we have also 3 stages of waza. One, again using fudo genri or the immovable principles. Next we use influencing principles. Lastly we have irresistible principles. To develop aiki we have to master fudo genri first. Next we practice influencing principles where we direct uke's ki and later mind and spirit to accomplish our technique. A branch of this is irresistible principles. The last principle is not 100% aiki but is relevant. It is actually more a ki technique. You do waza that your partner cannot resist. However, against a better uke who has stronger ki, this becomes useless. In that instance, you have to rely on Influencing principles. The most powerful and hardest to take ukemi would be using influencing and irresistible principles together. Much like what sensei mentioned when one of his students combined the use of aiki and hypnotising his uke in a previous class. Using Aiki, you eliminate uke's ability to use his power. Whereas Irresistible principle overpowers your uke with your ki.

Another aspect in training. Practitioners of Aiki are expected to have good ki. But not as specialised as though who practice exclusively in ki or internal strength. That is why it is harder to affect your seniors and better trained practitioners. Also note, Sensei has varied students. You have MMA fighters who are dedicated to forging their body into weapons, you have Ki fanatics who don't really try to use waza and instead focus only on their ki, and all manner of other generally weird people. Welcome to Geek Country. Most times you join a Ki Society in UK, the members are all typical nerds with a Star Wars fetish, I know cause I was one of them. Nothing bad about it really, but there you go. We're practising something that not many people understand including the students, what more with outsiders. Nor is it something that can be comprehended visually. Since it almost requires feeling for us to know that what's going on is absolutely real.

In Japan, a magazine called Hiden (or the hidden) is published regularly. It features only masters with exceptional outwordly abilities but with the caveat that they must be able to explain how they perform their extraordinary feats. Would it surprise you that Sensei was featured in this almost always Japanese only exclusive club? I don't need to convince of our students what sensei is all about, but I would like to reassure you that no matter what you do or say, others may not believe you.

Last night we did floating hands and aiki age from morotedori. I know how to do this, but it wasn't easy at all especially against sempai Shanti. Sometimes I can do it, and most times not without trying again and again. Its theoretically easy to imagine how it works. With hard structure chained together, uke will feel your center easily and overpower you with his two hands. Float and relax, that link to center disappears from Uke's grasp (although it still remains since you have to extend ki from hara to make this work). But since you're more relaxed then uke, you can feel his center easily and connect with it. Then, all you need to do is just drop your elbow without using any muscles at all. Try to move your partner, think about your hand and it wouldn't work. The crutch would be using your other hand to move your elbow, this will give you the feeling with which you have to try and match with only one hand. It helps but its better not to overuse this method.

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