Another penny drops in IS training

figure_11I admit it. I have been mystified by the IS practice methodologies for quite a while now. However, much as I did with my Ki training in Shin Shin Toitsu in the ’90s, I’ve put that aside to follow the pedagogy in the hope of finding out more through doing. It proved helpful in the Ki Society, where eventually I found enough physical basis for some of the exercises (such as unbendable arm and unraisable body) that I could resolve the internal dialogue and also practice with a purpose that resonated more strongly with me.

Following the emerging literature on the fascia and the labelled ‘anatomy trains’, it was kind of making sense, but the purpose of the winding, pulling silk etc… was a big part of the mystery (and frankly still is). It took some prodding from Aran Bright on the subject of developing tension for another little penny to drop and Steve Seymour’s insights and use of other paradigms to explore IS

As near as I can understand, we have a skeletal structure (which is just a kind of fascia with minerals attached), some muscles to move it around, and then a kind of exoskeleton made up of the fascia surrounding it.

The Penny dropped on the ‘exo-skeleton’ (which is not a great choice of a word) is maybe a balloon man/ suit (as coined used by researchers such as Sigman and others) created by the fascia.

 

Anyways I saw this image in  “Low back disorders” by McGill as a model of the back

photo 1

 

which looked a lot like, and the next step, but much better than my toppling work’s own http://www.aikidorepublic.com/internal-strength/02stabilitygrounding

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and then seeing this image in this article  and structural mechanics analogies that Michael Nash found http://www.intensiondesigns.com/bones_of_tensegrity.html

figure_11

A chat with Sunter san, suggests exo-skeleton is not a great word as this implies ‘strength and rigidity’ maybe there is a better word that describes it as a flexible thing.

Conditioning the fascia by straining it appears to be the purpose of ‘pulling silk’ giving rise to mental models like the ‘balloon man’ and ‘the suit’.

Some scientific researchers talk about a sweet spot of strain (5-10% depending who you ask) being optimal, and from what I know of tendon research (with some involvement in this professionally), I can see that some strain is important for growth and healing, but too much causes damage and too little is just a waste of time.

 

Therefore, doing reps of straining the fascia through ballooning,skin breathing, pulling silk and so on, appear to be methods of developing just this conditioning. Once the exoskeletal structure is built and in place, you still need to be able to move, so winding and bows and similar exercises allow the muscles to move freely beneath the exoskeleton, so we can have our structure and use it too (Marie Antoinette would be proud).

 

Next up, the IS exercises of bowing and using the qua and Tanden (Dan Tien) teach us how to move properly while maintaining the structure, thus providing a way to apply it in a martial context.

Looking back on the exercise set given to our school by Okajima sensei, I see now the role of breathing (as a means to co-ordinate the strain of the fascia), the movements of the body (as bowing and Kua coordination), together with the Tanden ball exercises, the ground connection exercises (source of infinite power) and balance sensitivity exercises. What a terrific set of exercises, given context by IS training methodologies and meaning from the sciences.

 

Is it a complete picture? No way. But it’s an incremental step forward in intentionality in incorporating the exercises in our practise and validates our trust that the solo training, as a means of body conditioning and coordination development, can and will yield results in good time.

 

Of course understanding ain’t doing…but its a start for this keyboard aspirant 😉

 

Domo arigato teachers, friends and colleagues on the path. Dare to dream, dare to question, but above all, give voice and dare to collaborate and rediscover the source !

 

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An Aikido Conversation in Melbourne

Aikido in Melbourne at Aiki-Centre

This past week I found myself in Melbourne for work and had opportunity to catch up with budo buddy Catherine Schnell Sensei at the Aiki-Centre, whom i met quite a few years ago during a Budo tour of Melbourne (See trip report Budo Bums Aikido in Melbourne here). During the course of that nights regular practice we shared some ‘conversation’ about Aikido. Schnell Sensei has long been a fan of describing the Uke-Nage interaction as ‘a conversation’ rather than winner/loser etc.. Its something that harks back to when Ariga sensei taught in Brisbane some years ago at the Aikikai, but I think her breadth on the topic goes wider, owing to her background in several other schools of Aikido. Schnell sensei opened the class, including warmups with some core strength components and we dialogued back and forth a few times, hosting a workshop rather than class, with everyone participating in the exercises. I think i let down a few training partners when i was paired up by asking questions of sensei rather than practicing 😦
For me it was a chance to learn sensei’s world view as well as experiment with body positioning for Kuzushi and using insights from the ‘toppling vector’ to guide how to throw Uke, – leading to the pre-formal conclusion that you must go up first to throw Uke down (See Aiki Physics II – Biomechanics of Throwing). This led to how does Uke respond? and in this context Schnell Sensei suggests the role of our core (Tanden) is in the correct and striving of an orientation and alignment that allows Uke to recover their centre and thus ‘continue the conversation’.

The development of the core is n emerging intrest of mine, as the biomechanics of throwing (the base, the topple vector etc..) suggest that this vital aspect of the power train from the ground out to the limbs is a vital component. Of course its nothing new, the martial sages and Kami have been saying this forever, but its somewhat new to me and in a different constructshowing some legMany thanks to sensei and members of the dojo for such a warm welcome, again, and for contributing to such a healthy practice and learning environment.
That night I caught up with Maruyama Sensei and had some burning questions from the Byron Seminar answered as well as some bigger picture stuff shrouded in the midsts of time. Next morning we saw Maruyama sensei and Kondo San off on their way to Wagga (Yikes they nearly boarded a plane for Kickatinalong), before heading off to Geelong for the real reason for my trip with a busy 3 days including a workshop, bootcamp and conference on sports and technology – unfortunately there wasn’t a chance to show the Hon. Kate Lundy, Minister for Sport my modest progress on Nikkyo…maybe next time 😉

Thanks also to Asunta Sensei for some nice insights too with some Kenkyukai? inspired movements. Schnell Sensei is up in Brisbane for the Shimamoto Shihan Seminar in December so I’m hoping she can teach a little on Core development at the Republic

Here are some Photos from the nights practice from the dojo camera (not sure who to credit).

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