We were fortunate to have Kamal visiting us in KL. This was his first time here and we manage to get him to lead class just now. Kamal of course has been with Sensei for a long time, going to Japan with him on a few occasions, training at Takeda Shihan's dojo and so on and so forth. In fact you can easily see the influence of the Shin Shin Toitsu style in him because he found the very same teacher that Sensei studied under in Jakarta.
So unsurprisingly we spent the entire class going to the various Ki tests which I'm going to run through in here before I forget it all.
Shisei being the foundation where we all start our training from was of course the first to be tested. Seating seiza in fact can be taught structurally first before we emphasise the fudo genri understanding. By structurally we mean the physical mechanics of it. This method will help a lot for the engineering students and especially for beginners who have no idea what center means.
Seating seiza, you emphasise the weight on the knees, and lift the weight from your buttocks. Thus they are allowed to touch your heels but not to put any weight on them. You can test this easily by trying to pull up the knees. Done right you can move it at all. But if you were sitting on your heels it is possible to lift the knee and lose balance backwards. Next to keep a good relaxed posture and straight back. To lean slightly forward but not bending at the torso, instead to 'extend' the center downwards. We also have to focus on a spot in front of us, or to put our intention there. Another part of it is to have a weight underside hands. To get a basic idea of how this feels like is by trying to lift our bent hand with our free hand. If you do this and keep your other hand relaxed, you will feel that its very hard to lift the hand. Now keep that feeling and rest your hand that way.
Moving from this we did Tekubi kosa undo... (I think). Its when we have our hands on top of each other resting below our navel palms up. In the same fashion, imagine trying to lift the top hand up using the bottom hand. Then ask partner to help lift, you will that your partner will have great difficulty trying to do this. Now, instead just try to keep your hand from being lifted and again ask partner to lift.
Also in the front horizontal position, you have your hands on each other with the outer hand trying to pull your other hand inwards. Its hard if you just keep good extended feeling. Next have your partner push with all their strength and you will find it easy to keep your hands where they are. Then try to just hold it in place whilst partner pushes.
Then we did the ubiquitous unbendable arm. In this training one way might be to use the same feeling of heaviness and getting uke to help you with the lifting so instead of concentrating on not letting the elbow be bent, we are asking uke to help us bend the elbow whilst actually having all their weight and ours rest on the shoulders. This is of course the 1st unbendable arm exercise.
After that we did tenkan and irimi movement. The premise of the exercise was to use good big movements. If we just move the hands with the intention of performing a technique, we get short sighted or we get lost into the small bits and lose the big picture. So by moving in exaggerated movements we try to identify the feeling and incorporate it into our techniques in a more subtle fashion.
Following this we did the pinky arm wrestling. Here Kamal was trying to have us connect with Uke's center, and try to wrinkle the connective tissues from uke's hand all the way to the center. Instead of fighting the hand, to just connect and move everything of uke.
One of the more interesting exercise was to have a shomenuchi strike. Done stationary, have your hands up in Jo kamae position. Uke uses both hands and locks it at your elbow. So first try to just use your hands and cut down. It would be impossible to cut. Next try to use your shoulders to power through. Again very difficult. Then, use center to bring your hand down and cut uke's center. I find it easier to think that way, but Kamal explains the hands moves in a circle quite naturally and actually think about cutting a bokken but as you swing downwards, let go and let your arms circle to the sides and back up again. Using the same feeling, bring your hands down into the cut.
We also did morotedori sit down exercise. Using the same connected body feeling to drop instead of fighting to push uke.
Now, the exercises are all different and can be very interesting and fun to explore. In the end, do not lose sight of its intention. The main thing Kamal was trying to get across is that, all these methods is design to be used outside of the dojo. So that at all times we try to find natural movement in a relaxed way and also to use the mind together with the body. Doing this in everything we do adds power and dimension to our actions that would be otherwise lifeless or 'dead'. And of course the most important thing, to do it just 'because' and not to fight to achieve it.