Last week  Jean asked a terrific question:

How can I see if someone has an aikibody and can you point to me someone on the net can demonstrate it ?

I answered:

Wow! What a great question!! I think I’ll try to answer that, to the best of my present ability, in my upcoming blog post.

The answer to the second question is, “Yeah, kinda maybe.” The trouble is the “Aiki Body” is a body that has adapted to the task of creating Aiki. It isn’t Aiki itself anatomically speaking. Remember Aiki is the manipulation of forces via conscious will, specific intent. The body adapts to that. That is why an Aiki body can be identified. Kind of like one can look at the callouses on a persons fingers an guess that they play a stringed instrument. The callouses aren’t “guitar playing” or whatever. They are the body’s adaptation to guitar playing.

One cannot see Aiki but one can see the effects of the presence of Aiki.

So I can point to several individuals that have an Aiki Body, and can display the effects of Aiki. But when it really comes down to it, both have to be felt.

If one knows what one is looking (feeling) for one will likely know upon touch. It is hard to hide from one who know what one is feeling for. Both hard to hide ability and inability!

But that is the heart of problem isn’t it? “If I don’t know, how do I tell?”

That is what makes your question both so hard and so good.

I’ll give it a shot!

This week’s post consists of three parts. Two of the parts are codependent and mutually arising, those two are: Aiki Body and Aiki Mind.  The last part is: How to recognize Aiki Body/Mind in one’s self and others.


Below are listed common attributes typically present in an Aiki Body which are a product of the training necessary to Aiki.

Bones:  There is generally a thickening of the bones due to the body’s increased ability to handle load.  For  long time trainers, there is typically less wear on the joints due to not using the bones in stacked resistance.

Muscles:  Muscles will typically undergo two types of redevelopment:

1)  Typically while less acute hypertrophy will likely be present (less bumpy, showy muscular development), there is a thickening of overall musculature.  In addition to this, there is often slightly less development of musculature typically developed in sports use, and slightly more development in musculature typically developed to sustain prolonged physical labor.  Specifically, thickening around the joints, development of the hamstrings, psoas, abdomen, obliques, spinal erectors, serratus, intercostals, etc. (over all thickening of the mid section), development of the trapezius, spinatus, pactoralis minor, rhomboid, and deep muscles of the neck and upper back.  (One could probably go into great detail here, but in general think less “showy muscles” and more “deeper musculature.” Think less Arnold Schwarzenegger/The Rock and more 1800’s farmer.

2)  The quality of the tissue themselves will change.  They will tend to have more of a “long grain” and springy quality.

Tendons:  The Tendons associated with the muscles will thicken, and like the muscles will adapt to support increased tension.

Fascia:  Fascia is the relative “new kid on the block.” When it comes to amount of research.  However, there is a growing body of research that points to facia as a common linkage interpenetrating, surrounding, and interconnecting the body.  Fascia too adapts to better support the demands placed upon it.  Therefore, one will find that this too thickens and adapts to better connect the stress lines that run along the body as the spiral connections used to better create spiral movement in the body are used more and more over time.

Neurology:  The neurological system of the body grows and develops in response to the demands placed upon it.  The more activity required in an area the greater neurological development surrounding that area and running back to spinal cord and brain.

Consequently, as one uses their body in the new ways required to Aiki, one’s neurological system will adapt to better facilitate and support the demands of the new usage.  The result of this will be strong, faster, and more detailed control of the those areas, plus greater amounts of information will be able to be transferred to and from both ends of the pathways.


New Learning:  In order to Aiki (manipulate co-arising, mutually dependent, dual opposing forces via intent) on must first learn how.  This is a process that takes time, like any other learning.  One example is learning to ride a bike or drive a car.  One must necessarily go through a learning process to gain that skill and develop the mental program necessary to implement the skill.

In this case one must first learn to produce Aiki #1, then Aiki #2, and finally Aiki #3.  Once this is accomplished one will likely learn simply how to manipulate Yin and Yang to suit their needs.

New Programing:  After learning and with repeated practice and usage one will develop “programming” such that much of the thought processes required for learning will be streamlined into only the thought processes required for doing.  As with learning to ride a bike or drive a car one eventually gets the the point where one is no longer conscious of the many steps, tasks, corrections and adjustments required to perform the task.  One just rides or drives.  This is due to the programming built throughout the learning process.

In this case one must develop a program for Aiki #1, Aiki #2, and Aiki #3.  Eventually this will result in a new master programming simply to manipulate Yin Yang to suit one’s needs.

When Aiki is applied in different contexts the entire act of Aiki will likely be unconscious.  As in the example of riding a bike or driving a car, with time and experience when one is asked, “What are you doing?”  One will honestly answer, “I’m riding, or I’m driving.”  One can therefore see that it isn’t an overstatement for one with the ability to Aiki to say, “I am Aiki.”

On the there hand, when asking someone beginning to ride their bike or drive their car, “What are you doing?”  One is more likely going to get an answer relating to the purpose of their riding or driving.  The ability to ride or drive is assumed.  So one answers, “I’m going to the store.” or whatever.

New Results:  There are some significant, but not commonly spoken of, mental side effects of developing the ability to Aiki.  Here are a few:

Fear Reduction:  This is huge!  Fear reduction occurs because with the ability the Aiki comes less perceived threat.  With less fear one has more metal resources online to problem solve and is less apt to suffer from adrenaline dump.  They are not super human.  They just perceive less threat and so are less apt to have the symptoms that fear produces.

Holistic vs Dualistic:  Paradoxically as one learns to manipulate Yin and Yang, one begins to see them as a unity or whole.  With this comes the realization (as opposed to idealization) of the interpenetration of self and other.  Again, with that realization comes the reduction of perceived threat.

Major Paradigm Shift:  In order to Aiki one cannot resist, nor can one retreat, one must instead, Aiki.  This is fundamentally different than our normal “fight or flight” type of response and view of reality.  With the ability to Aiki the Body/Mind becomes convinced that Aiki, as opposed to fight (resistance) or flight (avoidance), is the most sure method of “self” preservation.  It is a whole new way of perceiving reality.  And with it comes the ability to “walk freely in the world” as Dan Harden likes to say.


Now comes the tricky part:  (What follows is my best recollection, I may get some facts wrong, but I believe the essence is correct.)  When a well known and respected internal Chinese martial arts master first met Dan Harden, he asked if he could feel his body.  He was, in my opinion, feeling for the attributes described in Aiki Body section of this post.  One cannot hide, nor can one pretend to have, these traits.  They are either present or they are not.

Next, he asked to feel Dan in a very different way.  He wanted to feel Dan’s body in action, he wanted to feel the presence of Aiki.  The presence of Aiki is usually felt in two main ways:  Unusual dynamic stability, and unusual power.  We have discussed these in earlier posts.  Remember the analogy of pushing on a trampoline to dynamic stability?  Power is work divided by time.  That is, the ability to produce a lot of work in a short period of time.  Usually this is manifested martially by the ability to generate a great deal of force (remember the Stanford Study?) while not being impeded by resistance (the ability to “zero out” another’s power.

These are probably the two most sure ways of discerning if one has an Aiki Body, either within one’s self, or within another.

An even trickier methodology would be to try to discern the traits of an Aiki Mind.  Usually this would be to look for the physical traits paired with fearlessness rather than bravado.  Fearlessness usually manifest as quiet confidence and heightened perception, since one has more resources online.  My experience has been that those with True Aiki are far more inclined to worry about protecting others and benefiting them, than they are towards impressing others and/or seeking some kind of reward or self-confirmation.

Unfortunately I know of no fool proof test beyond those mentioned above.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply test one’s “midichlorian” count?

This having all been said, please keep in mind that while I have been involved in the martial arts for many, many decades (not too many, just the right amount I think), I have only been straightening out my Aiki misconceptions for the past several years.

Someone further down the path would likely have more experience with their Aiki Body, Aiki Mind than I do!


No cool pictures this week.  I have no time.  Next week’s post may, or may not, be delayed by a day or so, as I am traveling and teaching instead of typing!

All the best!


La semana pasada Jean hizo una pregunta genial:
¿Cómo puedo saber si alguien tiene un cuerpo aiki, podrías indicar a alguien que esté en internet que pueda demostrarlo?
¡Wow! ¡Gran pregunta! Intentaré responderla lo mejor que pueda en mi siguiente post.
La respuesta a la segunda pregunta es: Sí, bueno, quizás. El problema es que el “cuerpo Aiki” es un cuerpo que se ha adaptado a la tarea de crear Aiki. No es Aiki por sí mismo hablando anatómicamente. Recordemos que Aiki es la manipulación de fuerzas a través de la voluntad consciente, la intención específica. El cuerpo se adapta a eso. Es la razón por la que podemos identificar el cuerpo Aiki. Es igual que al mirar los callos que una persona tiene en los dedos podemos adivinar que tocan un instrumento de cuerda. Tener callos no es saber tocar la guitarra, los callos son la adaptación del cuerpo a tocar la guitarra.
No podemos ver Aiki pero podemos ver los efectos de su presencia. Puedo indicar bastantes individuos que tienen un cuerpo Aiki, y que pueden demostrar Aiki. Pero lo importante es que ambas cosas tienen que sentirse en persona.
Si sabemos lo que estamos buscando (la sensación) seguramente lo distinguiremos nada más tocarles. Es difícil esconderse de alguien que sabe lo que está buscando sentir. ¡Es difícil esconder la habilidad y la falta de habilidad!
Pero ahí está el corazón del problema. ¿ Si no sé qué es, cómo sé si es eso? ¡Eso es lo que hace tu pregunta a la vez tan buena y tan difícil!
¡Lo intentaré!
El mensaje de esta semana consta de tres partes. Dos de ellas son codependientes y se dan origen mutuo: El cuerpo Aiki y la mente Aiki. La última parte es: Cómo reconocerlos en ti mismo y en otros.
Debajo están listados los atributos comunes típicamente presentes en un Cuerpo Aiki, os cuales son productos del entrenamiento necesario para hacer Aiki.
Huesos: Generalmente hay un aumento de la densidad de los huesos debido a la capacidad incrementada del cuerpo para manejar una carga. En practicantes de más edad, típicamente hay menos desgaste en las articulaciones al no utilizar los huesos en una resistencia “amontonada”
Músculos: Los músculos generalmente pasan por dos tipos de desarrollo:
1)  A nivel general la musculatura aumenta su densidad, aunque normalmente no habrá una hipertrofia visible( musculatura menos abultada y menos llamativa). Además, generalmente hay menos desarrollo de la musculatura típicamente desarrollada al hacer deporte, y más desarrollo en la musculatura típicamente desarrollada al realizar trabajos físicos prolongados. Específicamente, aumenta la densidad alrededor de las articulaciones, se desarrollan los femorales, el psoas, el abdomen, los oblicuos, los erectores espinales, los serratos, intercostales (aumenta la densidad en todo el torso), se desarrollan los trapecios, músculos espinales, pectoral menor, romboides, y la musculatura profunda del cuello y la espalda alta. (Posiblemente podríamos entrar en muchos detalles aquí, pero general pensemos en menos “músculos molones” y más “musculatura profunda”. Pensemos menos en Arnold Schwarzenegger/The Rock y más en un granjero de hace dos siglos.
2)  La cualidad del propio tejido cambiará. Tenderán a tener una cualidad más elástica, como de “veta larga”.
Tendones: Los tendones asociados con los músculos se volverán más densos y se adaptarán para soportar una tensión mayor.
Fascia: La fascia es el “nuevo vecino del edificio” en lo concerniente a la cantidad de investigación. Sin embargo hay un cuerpo creciente de investigación que indica que la fascia es una unión común que interpenetra, rodea e interconecta el cuerpo. La fascia también se adapta para soportar mejor la demanda que se pone sobre ella. Por tanto, descubriremos que también se vuelve más densa y se adapta para conectar mejor las líneas de stress que recorren el cuerpo cuando las conexiones espirales utilizadas para crear movimiento espiral en el cuerpo se usan durante largo tiempo.
Neurología: El sistema neurológico del cuerpo crece y se desarrolla en respuesta a la demanda que ponemos sobre él. Cuanta más actividad requerida en un área mayor el desarrollo neurológico alrededor de esa área y su conexión con la médula espinal y el cerebro.
Por tanto, al utilizar el cuerpo de la nueva forma requerida para hacer Aiki, nuestro sistema neurológico se adaptará para facilitar y soportar las demandas del nuevo uso. El resultado será un control más fuerte, rápido y detallado de esas áreas, al igual que mayores cantidades de información que serán transferidas entre ambos extremos del cuerpo.
Nuevo aprendizaje: Para hacer Aiki (manipular dos fuerzas opuestas mutuamente dependientes que se dan origen mutuamente través de la intención) debemos aprender cómo. Este proceso requiere tiempo, igual que cualquier otro aprendizaje. Un ejemplo es aprender a ir en bici o conducir un coche. Tenemos que ir a través de un proceso de aprendizaje para ganar esa habilidad y desarrollar la programación mental necesaria para implementar la habilidad.
En este caso primero debemos aprender a producir Aiki 1, luego Aiki 2 y finalmente Aiki 3. Cuando conseguimos esto probablemente aprenderemos simplemente a cómo manipular Yin y Yang para adaptarlos a nuestras necesidades.

Nueva programación: Tras el aprendizaje y con la práctica repetida y el uso desarrollaremos “programación” de tal manera que muchos de los procesos de pensamientos necesarios para aprender se reestructurarán y quedarán en sólo los procesos de pensamientos necesarios para hacer. Igual que al montar en bici o conducir, con el tiempo llegaremos al punto en el que no somos conscientes de cuántos pasos, tareas, correcciones y ajustes estamos haciendo al ejecutar la tarea, simplemente montamos en bici o conducimos. Esto es debido a la programación construida a través del proceso de aprendizaje.
En este caso debemos desarrollar un programa para Aiki #1, Aiki #2 y Aiki #3.  Con el tiempo se convertirá en una nueva programación para manipular yin Yang para que se ajuste a nuestras necesidades.
Cuando Aiki es aplicado en diferentes contextos el entero acto de Aiki probablemente será inconsciente. Como en el ejemplo de montar en bici o conducir un coche, con tiempo y experiencia, si nos preguntan: ¿qué haces? Honestamente responderemos “Voy en bici, o estoy conduciendo”. Por tanto vemos que no es una exageración que alguien con la habilidad del Aiki diga “Yo soy Aiki”.
De la misma manera, al preguntar a alguien que está empezando a montar en bici o conducir ¿qué haces? La respuesta posiblemente estará relacionada con el propósito de ir en bici o conducir. La habilidad para montar en bici o conducir se asume, por tanto uno responde “voy a la tienda”, o lo que sea.
Nuevos resultados: Hay unos cuantos efectos mentales colaterales, importantes aunque no se suela hablar de ellos, que aparecen al desarrollar la habilidad de hacer Aiki:
Reducción del miedo: ¡Esto es MUY importante! La reducción del miedo ocurre porque con la habilidad de hacer Aiki disminuye la percepción de amenaza. Al tener menos miedo se tienen más recursos mentales disponibles para solucionar un problema y se tiende a sufrir menos descargas de adrenalina. No hablamos de ser un superhombre. Simplemente se percibe menos amenaza y por tanto hay menos posibilidades de sufrir los síntomas que produce el miedo.
Holístic vs Dualístico: Paradójicamente al aprender a manipular fuerzas opuestas, uno empieza a verlas como una unidad o un todo. Con esto llega el entendimiento (en lugar de la idealización) de la interpenetración entre una y otra. Nuevamente, con este entendimiento viene una reducción de la percepción de amenaza.
Gran cambio de paradigma: Para hacer Aiki no podemos resistir ni evitar, debemos hacer Aiki. Esto es fundamentalmente diferente a nuestra respuesta normal “lucha o huye” que forma nuestra visión de la realidad. Con la habilidad para hacer Aiki el cuerpo y la mente se convencen de que el Aiki, en lugar de luchar (resistir) o huir (evitar), es el método más seguro para la autopreservación. Es una forma completamente nueva de percibir la realidad. Con esto viene la habilidad de “caminar libre por el mundo”, como le gusta decir a Dan Harden.

Ahora viene la parte difícil (lo que viene ahora es lo mejor que puedo recordar, quizá algunas partes estén incompletas, pero en esencia es correcto).Cuando un maestro muy conocido y respetado de artes marciales internas chinas conoció a Dan Harden, le preguntó si podía tocar su cuerpo. Estaba, en mi opinión, buscando sentir los atributos descritos en la sección de Cuerpo Aiki de este post. No podemos esconder o pretender tener estas características. O están presentes o no están.
Después, pidió tocar a Dan de una forma muy diferente. Quería sentir el cuerpo de Dan en movimiento, quería sentir la presencia de Aiki. La presencia de Aiki normalmente se siente de dos formas: Estabilidad dinámica inusual, y potencia inusual. YA lo hemos discutido en mensajes anteriores. ¿Recordáis la analogía de empujar un trampolín al hablar de estabilidad dinámica? La potencia es trabajo dividido tiempo, es decir, la habilidad de producir mucho trabajo en poco tiempo. Normalmente se manifiesta marcialmente como la habilidad de generar una gran cantidad de fuerza ( ¿Recordáis el estudio de Stanford?) sin ser afectados por la resistencia de otro (la capacidad de cancelar la potencia de otro).
Posiblemente estas son las dos maneras más seguras de averiguar si alguien tiene un cuerpo Aiki, seamos nosotros mismos u otro.
Un método más difícil sería intentar averiguar si están presentes las características de la mente Aiki. Normalmente esto implicaría buscar las características físicas unidas a una personalidad valiente, pero no bravucona. Esta valentía normalmente se manifiesta como una confianza tranquila y una percepción elevada, al tener más recursos disponibles. Mi experiencia con los poseedores de Verdadero Aiki es que suelen estar más dispuestos a preocuparse por proteger a otros y beneficiarles que a impresionar a otros o buscar algún tipo de recompensa
Desafortunadamente no tengo ningún test a prueba de tontos más allá de los ya mencionados. ¿Sería guay si simplemente pudiésemos hacer un recuento de midiclorianos eh?
¡Alguien que haya avanzado más por el camino probablemente tendrá más experiencia con cómo distinguir el cuerpo y la mente Aiki que yo!
No hay fotos chulas esta semana, no tengo tiempo. El post de la semana que viene puede que llegue con un par de días de retraso, ¡estaré viajando y enseñando en vez de escribiendo!
Mis mejores deseos


8 thoughts on “AIKI BODY/MIND

  1. If you ask I hide it. Not to give away the little I’ve got. Since it’s non resistant there’s no need to display. Circumstance dictate my action and the relationship reveal where I am.
    Bankei is such a teacher.


  2. Hi Allen,

    From my engineering professor perspective this implies e number of things:

    Developing the aiki body requires physiological changes and that means it requires (considerable) time. Esspecially the rewiring of the brain which physiologically will follow the body and not develop in parallel. The psychological aspects of aiki might be the result of the physiological brain rewiring.

    This also requires continuous maintenance of the aiki body otherwise the body will revert to ints non aiki state.

    Although you can develop the first part of the aiki body by accident and if you are sensitive enough you can develop the aiki further. This agrees with Sagawa sensei story of how his aiki developed over his life.

    If you learn aiki without a methodology, then it is dififcult to pass it on, which explains why the aiki greats had less great successors.

    So the prime question that develops in my mind is what is the suitable teaching methodology to teach aiki, which is in all cases a multi year endeavour ?

    See you on wednesday.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fred,

      The answer to your question is an easy one!

      Work in a large group. Have a venerated teacher demonstrate a technique or two and refuse to repeat them.

      Try to copy the technique.

      It helps to have training partners that are compliant, and are sensitive to know how, and when, to cooperate. It goes without saying that senior students don’t have to be as cooperative since that will help them to assert their seniority. This isn’t a meritocracy after all!

      Paperwork, titles, and costuming can be a big help in asserting stratification since, in the environment described above, ability can never be really proven.

      Mind and neurology are paradoxically related. As you said, use of the body prompts neurological adaptation. But it is mind that prompts the use of the body.

      Of course it is only paradoxical if one insists on maintaining a dichotomy of mind and body.

      With no dichotomy, when one thing changes, everything changes. This would go a long way to explain everything that you outlined above.

      See you soon!



  3. Well it is too bad that Dan Harden refuses to be filmed when he does seminar.I think it is a loss for us who try to understand aiki. Maybe you Allen will not be so shy and will make some videos.


  4. Hi Jean,

    Well, to be fair, Dan does have a few short videos up on YouTube and I don’t have any! I actually do plan on posting some video at some point in time. As it is, I can barely get one post up a week. And that is without video.

    Please keep in mind that I have a job and a family. While this is my passion, my job is my job and my family is my love. I have to keep my priorities in line.

    My only hesitation, beyond time, is that since Aiki is invisible, we can only see the results of the presence of Aiki. That is what makes teaching about Aiki, and how to produce Aiki, such a challenge. However, this fact is often ignored. And, as a consequence of ignoring that fact, it is very easy to begin taking the visible results of the invisible workings of Aiki (the management of dual opposing forces in a specific way) AS Aiki . . . which it is not.

    It is a necessary evil, though I suppose. After all, even in person one is shown things as well as being told things. The HUGE advantage of live instruction, though, is that one can receive immediate feedback as to whether or not one is on the right track. This is of enormous advantage both to the teacher and student.

    Patience, please,


  5. Sorry about that Allen. I am 65 years old and I began aikido in 1987 so I have more aikido behind me than in the futur, maybe it is why I am such in a hurry. The videos you are talking about Dan, are they the ones when he teaches with Roy Golberg ? Anyway what I am asking is what to look for when I look at a aikido video. If aiki is invisible, what are the results I have to watch for so I can see if someone has aki ? I mean not only aikido video but other martials arts video as well.
    Again sorry for the pressure I put on you. when you are ready and have the time !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No need to apologize, Jean. I’m just a couple train cars behind you on the track that leads to who knows where? It is an interesting experience to switch from having one’s planing framed by a seemingly limitless future, to having one’s planning framed by the knowledge of a finite physical existence. But that itself is freeing in its own way.

      Yes, I was referring to the ones with Roy Goldberg, since those are the only one’s I know.

      You are not going to like my answer I’m afraid. But it is an honest one, nevertheless. There are some traits, or “tells,” that MAY indicate the presence of Aiki. Unfortunately the presence of these traits or “tells,” certainly does not guarantee the presence of Aiki.

      The Aiki body is often barrel shaped composed primarily of soft musculature. There are exceptions of course. And certainly not all barrel shaped people have Aiki bodies.

      The Aiki body often exhibits unusual stability. This mean stability present along the lines where one’s body would not normally be stable. In other words, it is unusually stable along the “weak lines.”

      The Aiki body often exhibits great power. Here I’m thinking in terms of P = W/T. P is Power, W is Work, and T is Time. In physics, a force is said to do WORK if, when acting, there is a displacement of the point of application in the direction of the force.

      So in layman’s terms: A lot is getting done in a short period of time.

      But, in relation to Aiki this power should be accompanied by seemingly very little expenditure of effort on behalf of the one demonstrating the power. In other world, where a powerlifter might move a great deal of mass in a short period of time thereby demonstrating great power but with obvious considerable effort, an person demonstrating Aiki might move a great deal of mass in a short period of time thereby demonstrating great power but with NO obvious considerable effort.

      Why? Because in the case of the powerlifter there is an overcoming of resistance, and in the case of the Aiki demonstrator there is no (or at least imperceptible) resistance.

      So, one can look for those things. But there is a catch, there is always a catch! With collaboration one can imitate all of the above!

      That is the conundrum. Real Aiki looks fake, and fake Aiki looks fake. So which one is which?

      Most people have to touch to tell for certain.

      What does one feel for in person? The feeling of Aiki! It is a feeling different from the overcoming of resistance with force. And it is a feeling different from the overcoming of resistance through technique (usually leverage, timing, and/or psychological manipulation). It is the feeling on behalf of the non-Aiki person of full physical effort, with the result of no sense of resistance, no expected outcome, and no proper explanation for what is occurring.

      Weird right? It get’s weirder. Here is what the person demonstrating Aiki feels . . . nothing beyond the sensation of physical contact.

      So when one is looking to do Aiki one is looking for the feedback of no feedback!

      Welcome to the upside down, topsy turvy world of Aiki!!!



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