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Thread: Newbie Questions

  1. #1
    Aikidaniel Guest

    Smile Newbie Questions

    Hey there guys/girls, I've just started doing Aikido and was wondering if you could help me by answering these two questions:

    1) The other night we were practicing Kokyu Nage and I couldn't seem to get the movements properly. It felt as if I was relying too much on my physical strength to perform the move. Eventually one of the more experienced students came up to help me and told me a very interesting thing - If I found myself using an excessive amount of physical strength I was doing the move wrong. I asked her what she meant by this ... She asked me to grab her hand (which I did) and before I knew it... I was swept off my feet and lying on the floor admiring the dojo's ceiling - I now know the difference between using physical strength and Ki Now my question to you is: what exercises can I do to strengthen my Ki?

    2) Is there an identifiable point in time during your Aikido training where you say to yourself "Ahh this is starting to make sense" ? - at the moment it feels like im a baby tripping over my own two feet. Is this normal?

    Cheers,
    Daniel

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    Default Re: Newbie Questions

    Originally posted by Aikidaniel
    Hey there guys/girls, I've just started doing Aikido and was wondering if you could help me by answering these two questions:

    1) The other night we were practicing Kokyu Nage and I couldn't seem to get the movements properly. It felt as if I was relying too much on my physical strength to perform the move. Eventually one of the more experienced students came up to help me and told me a very interesting thing - If I found myself using an excessive amount of physical strength I was doing the move wrong. I asked her what she meant by this ... She asked me to grab her hand (which I did) and before I knew it... I was swept off my feet and lying on the floor admiring the dojo's ceiling - I now know the difference between using physical strength and Ki Now my question to you is: what exercises can I do to strengthen my Ki?

    2) Is there an identifiable point in time during your Aikido training where you say to yourself "Ahh this is starting to make sense" ? - at the moment it feels like im a baby tripping over my own two feet. Is this normal?

    Cheers,
    Daniel
    Hello Mr Reece,

    Welcome to E-Budo. Here are very brief answers to your questions.

    1) Why don't you ask your instructor? I am sure wou will receive many answers on this board, but I suspect that the person from whom you are actually learning the art will be in the best position to tell you.

    2) Yes. It is quite normal. Actually, it is often said that aikido takes relatively longer to learn than other martial arts. For an extreme viewpoint about your question, I suggest you read Eugen Herrigel's "Zen and the Art of Archery".

    Best regards,
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

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    Default Re: Re: Newbie Questions

    Originally posted by P Goldsbury

    For an extreme viewpoint about your question, I suggest you read Eugen Herrigel's "Zen and the Art of Archery".

    Best regards,
    oh, not THIS one...
    regardz

    Szczepan Janczuk

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    Default Re: Re: Re: Newbie Questions

    Originally posted by szczepan


    oh, not THIS one...
    Szczepan,

    I suggest you read my posts more carefully before jumping to conclusions.

    Best,
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

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    Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Newbie Questions

    I would agree with Mr. Goldsbury's 1st responce, all except the book. I have never read that one. I would ask your sensei. Depending on what style of flavor of aikido you study your sensei may give you different advice than someone hear on the forum.

    As more of a general rule; depending on how new you are to aikido, I wouldn't worry about this type of thing to much. It will come with time. You should be more concearned with learning the basics (foot work, balance, ukemi, basic waza). Eventually power will come, but you need a good foundation first. We crawl before we can walk, and we walk before we can run.
    Tim Mailloux

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    Man it's truly refreshing to hear someone talk this way! I spend so much time around long time martial artists, I forgot about the magic of being new to it all! It's a neat place to be. What that lady told you is true, and it's not. If you keep trying to find "power" in the way your doing it now, your going to have a long hard trip (which your going to have any ways, it will just take you longer that way!haha) With out trying to sound mystical in any way, there are other things that can give you "power" with out using brute (muscular) force, so if you spend your practicing time trying not to use muscular power as your prime means of operation you will discover new things that will be helpful. As you discover them you can practice them making them better and better, however it's not something you can just start "doing" some exercise for and making yourself stronger like your back muscles or leg muscles, its' sutler stuff like, what angle you use, or how you line up your body, or where you issue power from.

    It's a wonderful trip your taking, I recommend you stick with it and listen to what others with experience have to say, cause even if they are wrong you're likely to still learn a bunch.
    Chris Hein
    my spelling sucks, but you should see my shihonage!

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    What does kokyu mean? It means breath. Therefore kokyu nage means (in a rough sense) breathing throw.

    Therefore, before trying to work out if you have ki or not and how to tap into it, try the breathing part first. This in some ways is also tapping into your ki too!

    Stan
    .

    Dojo Chief Crash Test Dummy

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    Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Newbie Questions

    Originally posted by P Goldsbury


    Szczepan,

    I suggest you read my posts more carefully before jumping to conclusions.

    Best,
    I think Chiba sensei in his article explains this much better. Herringel don't know what he is talking about.
    regardz

    Szczepan Janczuk

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    Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Newbie Questions

    Originally posted by szczepan

    I think Chiba sensei in his article explains this much better.
    Yes, his explanation is certainly well worth reading.

    Herringel don't know what he is talking about.
    Debatable. I think it an extreme viewpoint, not that it is particularly correct.

    Best regards,
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

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    Default Newbie Questions

    Originally posted by P Goldsbury
    Debatable. I think it an extreme viewpoint, not that it is particularly correct.

    Best regards,
    well, he didn't understand japanese at all. Nor japanese culture. What is worth his opinion in this case?
    regardz

    Szczepan Janczuk

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    Default Re: Newbie Questions

    Originally posted by szczepan


    well, he didn't understand japanese at all. Nor japanese culture. What is worth his opinion in this case?
    Not the points at issue here. Despite his many limitations, Herrigel wrote a book which is relatively well known. I think 'Zen and the Art of Archery' is a meditation on the general questions of not knowing what one is doing and of not making progress in a martial art. Like, e.g., Sun Tzu, Musashi, Takuan Soho, Tsunemoto, it is one of the 'general' authors (I mean, apart from the 'textbooks' and training manuals) one might read on the martial arts, always assuming that one feels the need to do so.

    Best regards,
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

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    The Herrigel book is a good read if you understand it to be a description of what it is like to be doing something that one does not understand, within a cultural background that one does not understand, grasping for any semblance of coherent concepts that might tie in to one's understanding. And to be okay with reaching an understanding that actually has nothing to do with what is being examined.

    It is not a good read if you expect to find out about the topic of the title, at least if accuracy is a concern.

    Sort of like the Casteneda books, in my opinion. Very good if one looks at them as a certain study of the psychology of an outside observer trying to understand something without the context.

    Best,

    Chris

    Addendum:

    Reading such materials can be very valuable from the standpoint of warning us what to watch out for. I suppose that there is a human tendency to attribute something we do not understand to mystical origins. This behavior should be a red flag for those who are aware of this tendency. Looking beyond the mystical stuff is where we might learn more than we had expected.
    Chris Guzik


    "You can never do a kindness too soon,
    because you never know how soon it will be too late."

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

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    Cool Aikido basics

    I'm still a relative newbie in the art (about 2 years and a little past halfway to shodan). I think I'm at the point where I'm not totally great at techniques, but I understand how they're supposed to work.

    Here are the fundamentals to help you use your ki:
    Aikidaniel, you mentioned kokyu nage, which does mean throwing with the breath. Someone already mentioned starting with breathing. Just keep it relaxed, don't hold it, and breathe out when throwing.
    Next would be proper posture. Keep your head up high and your hips low. Ask your sensei for good exercises to build a strong stance. Lots of tenkan practice will help too.
    Related to posture are the concepts of centering and extension. These are the principles that really put the power in aikido as they work on structural strength and whole-body motion to redirect the opponent's energy. These are also the points that my sensei is constantly mentioning in class. Seems like anytime something isn't working well, "stay centered!" "extend!" and it makes a big difference. The idea is to keep the opponent in your center (the rectangular area bounded by your hips and shoulders / the baseball strike zone) as that is the area of greatest strength utilization, and to stay out of the opponent's center. Extending eliminates muscular strength so all you have to do is keep the connection and move. Oh yeah, connection. That's important too. ask your sensei.
    Marc McDermand

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    Default Experience

    Daniel,

    I would most of all encourage you to be patient. I don't know what kind of person you are physically but I can relate to your question form my own experience. At 6' and 240 lbs. I am no little guy, but my teacher is at 5'7" and 140 lbs. For the last ten years he has been patiently encouraging me to rely less and less on strength. As a Nidan in our style I would say that it has been in the past two years that I have begun to understand and, interestingly enough, studying some tai chi and yoga is what has really helped. Tai chi teaches you flow and calmness and it helped me. Now, don't get me wrong, when I am learning a new technique or a new variation of an old technique, I still find myself resorting to the old ways and using strength. Then my teacher and I laugh at me together!

    If you have a traditional teacher, they are likely to show you technique but not explain it. That is good, try to copy what you see and don't over analyze the thing. As you learn more, you learn to trust the techniques and not yourself. It is much like a golfer learning to swing the same way whether it is a practice swing or the real thing. Keep asking such good questions and you will find that you have the answers without knowing exactly where you got them.

    Phil Farmer
    docphil

  15. #15
    Aikidaniel Guest

    Default

    Thank you guys for all the replies. I asked my sensei this question last night and he basically told me that, for the time being, he would rather have me focusing on my footwork, positioning, balance and doing the technique slowly and correctly than worrying about how hard I must perform the technique. It just gets really frustrating seeing all the other more experienced students performing their techniques so gracefully and here comes me trying to perform the same technique with as much grace as a deranged sloth.

    Cheers,
    Daniel

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