Dick Willems writes:
Thanks again for this clear instruction. One question for my understanding: Why is it so important to keep the belly and sternum vertically aligned?
What a great question! There is a lot to be said here. But in brief, here is my response:
As you know, the attributes of Aiki are: unusual stability, unusual force production, and non-resistance.
There are three primary sources from which to create the conditions that facilitate these attributes. They are: Normal Force, Gravity, Consciousness
The presence of shear has the tendency to disable one from using Normal Force and Gravity. The condition of not being able to use Normal Force and/or Gravity can also cause one to be less able to utilize one’s consciousness effectively (or at least one’s priorities tend to change.)
For the most part, regardless of the emphasis of one’s art (grappling, punching, kicking, weapons, etc.), shear is to be avoided in one’s self, while often being taken advantage of in another.
The misalignment of lower and upper torso creates shear within one’s self.
There is another problem as well. When people misalign their upper and lower torso, they almost always lead the misalignment with the upper torso. If one is transferring angular momentum up from the ground, the transference of that momentum effectively stops if the upper torso “jumps the gun.” Consequently, the force that is transferred is only from the upper torso on up. The same problem exists if one punches “from the arms” for example.
As an analogy, consider the case of a drill (which is a spiral). It is effective while it is moving and maintains its internal integrity. If there is shear present in the drill, the drill will effectively destroy itself. The same can be true for us.
This is also why we use our tissues in tension. With sufficient tension we approach a 1:1 efficiency of movement, similar to the tension between the molecules of the drill. Elastic drills aren’t very efficient.
This is one reason that we do not follow the “wave” model of transference. A spiral can have many of the attributes of a wave, but a a wave by definition occurs over time, whereas with a spiral if it turns at one end, it turns equally everywhere else including the other end.
This also explains how one’s body “becomes Aiki” and is not technique dependent. As long as a coaxial spiral is present everywhere in the body (like the drill in movement with no delay) Aiki is present in the body. This is the ultimate source of Fure Aiki or “Aiki on contact.” It also explain’s Katsu Hayabi. Or Victory Fast as the Sun.
So, this becomes the goal of our training. It isn’t “trashing bozos” with our awesome martial skills. It is:
- Using Normal Force and Gravity with ever greater purity and efficiency,
- Which requires one to use one’s consciousness with ever greater purity and efficiency
- In order to continuously move one’s body in coaxial spirals
- Thereby creating Aiki!
Just as training to Aiki requires a great deal of training to “un-do.” Learning to Aiki requires a great deal of “un-knowing.” More often than not it is what we “know” and “do” that impedes our progress and learning more than anything else. Aiki is paradox.
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