Jumat, 29 Juli 2011

Six Principles of Training

by Kondo Katsuyuki 

(English translation by Derek Steel)

Daito-ryu is built upon a foundation of six basic elements. These are extremely deep and complex and mastery of even any one of them requires a great deal of time and effort. One's ability to perform Daito-ryu techniques correctly and fully will only develop through constant and strenuous efforts to take all six into account at all times.

Rei: Correct Formal Personal Conduct

The term rei has been translated variously with words such as etiquette, manners, courtesy, decorum, respect, or propriety. However, rei may be generally understood to mean the rules of correct formal personal conduct. Historically in Japan such rules have served in lubricating social and interpersonal relationships and preventing strife among people. Daito-ryu preserves historical forms of correct personal conduct, not because they have any particular relevance to the performance of techniques per se, but because they contain and continue the spiritual mindset of the traditional warrior that pervades and informs the Daito-ryu tradition even today.

Metsuke: Eye Contact

Metsuke refers to the use of the eyes. Essentially there are two types of metsuke training in Daito-ryu, one called mokushin(lit. "the eye of the mind"), the other called ganriki(lit. "eye power"). Mokushin involves seeing with the "eye of the mind," often to enclose and envelop an opponent. Ganriki, on the other hand, is a sharp, penetrating gaze that sees an opponent's intentions and can be used to dominate and control him.

Maai: Distancing

Maai refers to the physical distance or interval between things. Maai is often the single most important factor in determining the outcome of a combative encounter. It sometimes happens, for instance, that a combatant thinks he has established a favorable maai only to have it suddenly turn out to be to his opponent's advantage. Primarily a form of unarmed combat, Daito-ryu focuses on the diligent study of the closer maai characteristic of striking and grappling techniques, although other maai also come into play in some situations.

Kokyu: Breathing

Kokyu refers to breath or breathing. We generate physical power and movement more easily when exhaling or in some cases when stopping our breath, both of which are states of yang. The opposite is true of inhaling, a yin state. Thus, techniques are usually performed while exhaling, often with one breath from start to finish. Similarly, it is considered ideal to time any attack to an instant when your opponent has just exhaled and has just started to inhale again. We take advantage of the openings in an opponent's defenses offered by yin states, with many counterattacks and defenses timed to coincide with the instant your opponent enters--or is made to enter--a yin state.

Kuzushi: Unbalancing

From ancient times the admonishment to attack where the opponent has been unbalanced has been a fundamental axiom of Japanese combative theory. In the name Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu we see that the term aiki has been placed before the word jujutsu, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that this aiki refers mainly (though not exclusively) to the principle of kuzushi, or unbalancing, the opponent. Indeed a great many of Daito-ryu's oral transmissions and inner teachings pertain to the various subtle aspects of kuzushi.

Zanshin: Remaining Mind & Full Effort

The characters for zanshin have the general meanings of "remain" (zan-) and "mind" (-shin). The term is usually interpreted as referring to a mental state in which you continue to focus your attention on your opponent and the surrounding environment. I have another interpretation, however, which is that the characters for zanshin can also refer to the phrase "Kokoro wo nokosazu" (lit. "Leave nothing of the spirit behind"). This means giving of yourself so completely that nothing remains to be given and so that nothing is held back. When practicing Daito-ryu this means giving your absolute all to the performance to each and every technique.

Selasa, 26 Juli 2011

Aikido and Conflict Resolution: A Kind Word Turneth Away Wrath

Cerita ini ada yang bilang berjudul "A Kind Word Turneth Away Wrath", ditulis oleh Terry Dobson. Terry Dobson adalah salah satu uchidesi non-Jepang O Sensei.

Cerita ini adalah pengalaman Terry Dobson saat ada kejadian di kereta di Tokyo. Intinya berhubungan dengan aikido dan conflict resolution. Selamat membaca! :)

Terry Dobson
THE TRAIN CLANKED and rattled through the suburbs of Tokyo on a drowsy spring afternoon. Our car was comparatively empty - a few housewives with their kids in tow, some old folks going shopping. I gazed absently at the drab houses and dusty hedgerows.
At one station the doors opened, and suddenly the afternoon quiet was shattered by a man bellowing violent, incomprehensible curses. The man staggered into our car. He wore laborers clothing, and he was big, drunk, and dirty. Screaming, he swung at a woman holding a baby. The blow sent her spinning into the laps of an elderly couple. It was a miracle that the was unharmed.
Terrified, the couple jumped up and scrambled toward the other end of the car. The laborer aimed a kick at the retreating back of the old woman but missed as she scuttled to safety. This so enraged the drunk that he grabbed the metal pole in the center of the car and tried to wrench it out of its stanchion. I could see that on of his hands was cut and bleeding. The train lurched ahead, the passengers frozen with fear. I stood up.
I was young then, some 20 years ago, and in pretty good shape. I'd been putting in a solid eight hours of aikido training nearly every day for the past three years. I like to throw and grapple. I thought I was tough. Trouble was, my martial skill was untested in actual combat. As students of aikido, we were not allowed to fight.
"Aikido," my teacher had said again and again, "is the art of reconciliation. Whoever has the mind to fight has broken his connection with the universe. If you try to dominate people, you are already defeated. We study how to resolve conflict, not how to start it."
I listened to his words. I tried hard I even went so far as to cross the street to avoid the chimpira, the pinball punks who lounged around the train stations. My forbearance exalted me. I felt both tough and holy. In my heart, however, I wanted an absolutely legitimate opportunity whereby I might save the innocent by destroying the guilty.
This is it! I said to myself, getting to my feet. People are in danger and if I don't do something fast, they will probably get hurt.
Seeing me stand up, the drunk recognized a chance to focus his rage. "Aha!" He roared. "A foreigner! You need a lesson in Japanese manners!"
I held on lightly to the commuter strap overhead and gave him a slow look of disgust and dismissal. I planned to take this turkey apart, but he had to make the first move. I wanted him mad, so I pursed my lips and blew him an insolent kiss.
"All right!" he hollered. "You're gonna get a lesson." He gathered himself for a rush at me.
A split second before he could move, someone shouted "Hey!" It was ear splitting. I remember the strangely joyous, lilting quality of it - as though you and a friend had been searching diligently for something, and he suddenly stumbled upon it. "Hey!"
I wheeled to my left; the drunk spun to his right. We both stared down at a little old Japanese. He must have been well into his seventies, this tiny gentleman, sitting there immaculate in his kimono. He took no notice of me, but beamed delightedly at the laborer, as though he had a most important, most welcome secret to share.
"C'mere," the old man said in an easy vernacular, beckoning to the drunk. "C'mere and talk with me." He waved his hand lightly. The big man followed, as if on a string. He planted his feet belligerently in front of the old gentleman, and roared above the clacking wheels, "Why the hell should I talk to you?" The drunk now had his back to me. If his elbow moved so much as a millimeter, I'd drop him in his socks.
The old man continued to beam at the laborer. "Whatcha been drinkin?" he asked, his eyes sparkling with interest.
"I been drinkin sake," the laborer bellowed back, "and it's none of your business!" Flecks of spittle spattered the old man.
"Oh, that's wonderful," the old man said, "absolutely wonderful! You see, I love sake too. Every night, me and my wife (she's 76, you know), we warm up a little bottle of sake and take it out into the garden, and we sit on an old wooden bench. We watch the sun go down, and we look to see how our persimmon tree is doing. My great-grandfather planted that tree, and we worry about whether it will recover from those ice storms we had last winter. Our tree had done better than I expected, though especially when you consider the poor quality of the soil. It is gratifying to watch when we take our sake and go out to enjoy the evening - even when it rains!" He looked up at the laborer, eyes twinkling.
As he struggled to follow the old man's conversation, the drunks face began to soften. His fists slowly unclenched. "Yeah," he said. "I love persimmons too." His voice trailed off.
"Yes," said the old man, smiling, "and I'm sure you have a wonderful wife."
"No," replied the laborer. "My wife died." Very gently, swaying with the motion of the train, the big man began to sob. "I don't got no wife, I don't got no home, I don't got no job. I am so ashamed of myself." Tears rolled down his cheeks; a spasm of despair rippled through his body.
Now it was my turn. Standing there in well-scrubbed youthful innocence, my make-this-world-safe-for-democracy righteousness, I suddenly felt dirtier than he was.
Then the train arrived at my stop. As the doors opened, I heard the old man clucksympathetically. "My, my," he said, "that is a difficult predicament, indeed. Sit down here and tell me about it."
I turned my head for one last look. The laborer was sprawled on the seat, his head in the old man's lap. The old man was softly stroking the filthy, matted hair.
As the train pulled away, I sat down on a bench. What I had wanted to do with muscle had been accomplished with kind words. I had just seen aikido tried in combat, and the essence of it was love. I would have to practice the art with an entirely different spirit. It would be a long time before I could speak about the resolution of conflict.
Terry Dobson

Senin, 25 Juli 2011

Aikido And Hands

As I stated in my recent article on shoulders in aikido, shoulders are everywhere in the art and so are the hands. From the mechanical point of view, the hands are a very complicated complex of joints, muscles, tendons and sensors that are all connected together for the purpose of controlling the most precise actions ever imagined: sensing with touch, touching itself, grasping, holding, drawing, painting, hitting, pushing, pulling, pinching. Everything we think of, we translate into hand language and make them carry out our every intention. We share our hands with other people, offering them to shake; we heal with our hands; we hurt with our hands; we embrace our children with our hands; we put them to sleep and stroke their heads for comfort; we play piano, violin, sew, hold cups… Our hands seem to act hand with hand with our will.

Aikido is also hands. Our hands are always in front of us. They “welcome” all attacks, blend into them with their softness (and the rest of the body and mind), and respond to them when applying a chosen technique. We direct our ki through our fingers. We finish off every technique with our hands to give it the exact direction according to what we feel, sense, and read in uke.

The hands cooperate with the eyes. The eyes and hands are like a couple that complement each other. The ability of your eyes to track strengthens your actions because of the cooperation of sight with postural muscles, body tension and mobility. Please, check this by placing your fingers gently right under your skull where it meets the neck and look right or left. You will easily feel muscles acting there just when your eyes turn! They rule the rest of the body since those sub-occipital muscles are kings of the spine muscle action kingdom. So looking toward the direction of movement helps your hands because it helps your coordination.

Hands are very strong but very delicate.

Let me be straight with you – v e r y delicate. The fundamentals of hands are wrists that act as arches standing on oblique surfaces of forearm bones. To keep them there and not slide from them they are held in place by strong, short ligaments full of nerve sensors. That is why we must take care of the hands and wrists basically to keep them able to work. With an unstable wrist (ligaments damaged in any way) or painful wrist (unhealed injuries), no hand can function properly. So many techniques involve “locking” wrists in extreme positions (close packed positions) for one simple reason: next move is simply driving our uke or opponent into pain that can be excruciating and signal destruction. That makes the uke follow our technique. Nikyo is the best example. There is no doubt it works more than well when applied well… We all know how convincing this technique is.

When warming up, we must concentrate on gradual warming our hands and wrists. Getting into a dojo and practicing aikido without any attention to the hands is simply stupid. This generates injuries that last for years and confirms the belief that something is wrong with us, that we have bad wrists and hands, and prevents further exercise in a desired manner. It is not simple for the wrists to heel because they are inherent part of our daily activities. Please allow them to heal before treatment is needed.

Please take a close look at your fingers. Let us be honest, they are small in comparison with the rest of the body. Let us recall what they have already been through during our life so far: lifting weights, receiving so many sankyos, twisting screwdrivers, holding hammers, etc. For every single kilo of external mass applied to the tip of our finger, an open hand generates approximately seven times more kilos to the very first finger joint that has to handle the load. That IS a lot. I know fingers are constructed to stand much of the load, but we must be aware of this fact to keep them in good condition for the rest of our life. Without properly functioning hands, we can’t look after ourselves when we enter our golden years. Please keep this in mind.

The hand is usually positioned in the so called working position: pronated (palm facing down and medially) with wrist slightly extended and fingers flexed. This is all due to the muscle balance around the hand. Flexors and extensors do their job in the following way: if, for example, I want to grab something, extensors “close” the wrist in extended position to enable the flexors to execute the grip. In the hand, we observe most the fluidity of opposing muscles. And that is why we need them to be as elastic as possible to keep the wrist and hand working as well as possible. Stretching, stretching and stretching again. In the office, where we spend hours working on a computer (repetitive movements), at home doing gardening and housework Please remember to stretch your hands along with your forearm muscles when in the office, where we spend hours working on a computer (repetitive movements), and at home doing gardening and housework.

This will keep them healthy.

Our hands are the eyes that see the invisible. Aikido blends this “second pair of eyes” with the rest of our body-and-spirit to read the dynamic sphere as precisely as possible, and act within it. Our hands reflect us. In a certain sense, they are us. We should make our hands stable, strong and gentle. To paraphrase a classic saying, “Make them like water.”

Image from Aikidojournal.com

Aikido And Shoulders

Shoulders are everywhere in aikido; bare-handed or armed, we use our shoulders.

The shoulders are highly mobile joints, yet open to so many limiting factors. Their stability and function are governed by anatomical structures such as the short and strong muscles originating in the shoulder blades, superficial trunk muscles, and passive stability apparatus like the capsula and ligaments. The shoulders are vulnerable to many injuries (static and dynamic), due to the complexity of their structure and behavior. Since all aikido techniques are hand techniques, they involve the shoulders. The shoulders are forced, pulled, pushed, compressed, twisted, and made to accomodate body movements, mostly of the rib cage.

The shoulders are operated by distant muscles as well: for example, the latissimus dorsi that attaches to the pelvis and lowers the arm and rotates it internally; the levator scapulae that goes down the neck to the shoulder blade and controls its rotation (the sliding on the rib cage, known as an anatomical, or “false” joint); the very strong, wing-like pectorals that function as internal arm rotators; the elbow extensors, etc.

There is just one small bony contact point that delivers all of the forces from the shoulder to the trunk and back again. This is akin to speaking about a single fulcrum from which the entire Earth can be moved. This is your clavicle or “key bone” (clavis = “key” in Latin), and that bone is the real key to arm and shoulder efficiency. Without it, there would be no stable arm movement, no strong arms, just limbs hanging down from your trunk.

A close view on the shoulders shows us the complexity of that joint group: five joints combining into one great mechanism that works smoothly in free arm movements as well as when resistence is applied against the arms. Some of them are true joints; some are false, but they work as a single team called the scapula-arm joint, or arm joint, or shoulder joint, etc.

The articular surfaces and their angles, and the shoulder blade position on the rib cage determine the basic movements of the shoulders, and the muscle action and fluency of that complicated group of co-working tissues. We elevate, depress, rotate (twist), elongate and shorten our arms. That is what the shoulders do for us. All of these movements are possible on that little bony point that also must accommodate the shoulders’ action demands. The shoulders are mostly muscle-operated joints, and that is how we classify them. Briefly speaking, the strong flat and short serratus muscles compress and control the shoulder blade against the rib cage; the short scapula muscles stabilize the arm bone on the scapula, and mostly control the shoulder’s rotation. The long muscles allow it to move. The shoulder is covered by a hood formed by the deltoid muscle, and is suspended by muscles that attach to its upper regions.

It is beyond the scope of this article to precisely analyze the muscle action of the shoulder while moving in various ways. Let’s focus on how we use the shoulders in aikido.

The arms are everywhere in aikido. They touch through the hands, receive pressure from the attacking partner (receiving partner, or “uke”). The arms feel the resistance and play between two aikidoka as in “menuchi.” They allow us to respond in intricate ways, and serve us in every applied technique. The feet move us from place to place. The knees are responsible for springy and smooth movements. The hips provide power for what we do, and the shoulders act! They complete each of the many spectacular techniques of aikido!

The numerous sensors within the shoulder complex coordinate with the whole body to carry out a read-analyse-action process. It all happens in no time at all when needed, so just imagine the speed of information flow within. The nervous system has almost no limits in transmiting data. It learns how to work even when the synapses are overloaded. Using the body’s locomotive system, the nervous system uses our body as its executive performer, an excellent performer I should say!

As I mentioned above, the shoulders are everywhere in aikido, and they also participate in falls. They hit the ground and are easily injured. Let me concentrate on this aspect.

I find shoulder disorders fall into the following basic categories:

1. injuries from falls, strikes, sudden pulls, etc., and incorrect posture.
Falls and other injuries can tear ligaments, pull muscles out from their attachment points, or tear them within the muscle belly. That all requires medical help and appropriate treatment. Diagnosis is usually made with ultrasound or MRI devices. The use of casts is very often the treatment of choice. but some other treatments are possible, for example, arthroscopy with its wide range of treatment options. Bringing your shoulders back to life after immobilization takes time, but also teaches us how to use them properly and with tender care.

2. incorrect tension of certain muscles (static imbalance) leading to worn-out syndrome.

Incorrect elasticity and muscle length are due to the ignorance of the need of stretching. Each joint, to work well–as has often been said–must be supported and controlled by elastic muscles. Age is not a significant factor here. If, due to incorrect exercise or prolonged sitting, those muscles and ligaments tend to shrink, contract and remain in that state for long periods, this will in turn incite pathological chains that will sooner or later cause health problems somewhere in the body. The worn-out syndrome is the most known effect of this condition. The best and easiest solution is stretching which restores normal muscle elasticity. When we stretch properly, surprisingly, we feel improvement even in areas far removed from the painful site. That is the effect of disrupting the pathological chain reaction with a simple weapon… stretching.

3. Non-joint factors such as emotional stress, e.g., anger and aggression coupled with temporomandibular joint syndrome and pelvic and hip complex syndromes.

The non-joint factors are the most difficult to diagnose and treat since they involve our personality patterns and are part of our thinking, reactions, feelings, etc. They are so much a part of us that we sometimes cannot understand living without them despite all the obstacles to health they throw in our path. We resist change in our usual behavioral patterns, but positive changes will are and the entire body will become transformed into something new and radiant.

The shoulders are “sender–receiver” joints. That means they detect and accumulate tensions of various origins from within the body and send them further down the limbs. The most frequent non-joint factors are emotional tensions that accumulate in the cervical and thoracic spine region. An unresolved shoulder disorder may end up as a “frozen” shoulder, chronic pain, trophic changes, thoracic cage disfunctions, and other conditions.

As we have seen, the shoulders are a very interesting and complicated part of our bodies. Since–as has been emphasized in this article–they are involved everywhere in aikido, they should be well treated, exercised and revitalized. Warm ups, warm ups, warm ups! Stretching in conjunction with resistence workouts, sometimes a little massage, and a freeing of the mind seem to be a prescription for healthy shoulders!

Image from Aikidojournal.com

Aikido And Feet

Feet are our body’s supporting elements. A close look at them will reveal the whole genius of Mother Nature: elasticity and endurance. Hardness and softness. The rear part of your foot is a supporting part that bears body weight and load and distributes it on the ground along with the front part of the foot. Feet are also one of the transverse structures of human body. This means they are not parallel to most of the body’s longitudinal elements (blood vessels, limbs, trunk, lymphatic channels, long muscles…), but transverse to them and strongly change the function of body in the case of any reflectoric and structural changes.
The feet and two-storey buildings are alike: the joints connecting the foot and tibia bone are the first floor, and the foot itself is the ground floor. The same is the case for the posterior and anterior part of the foot.

The feet are connected to the calves with ankle ( tibio-tarsal hinge joint), “it controls the movement of the leg relative to the foot in the sagittal plane. Those movements are essential for walking on flat and rough ground.” (I. Kapanji). Inherent movements within every joint are so called “joint play movements,” passive movements that are basic physiological normal movements along every single axis possible, and in all planes that are built-in the joint construction. With strong short ligaments surrounding the whole complex, the feet do accommodate regular and irregular ground demands.

Foot bones look like bulky blocks running tightly along arches and long bones of the forefoot with small but springy finger and toe bones. They are “passive” supporting factors as well as ligaments and joint capsules. The foot is surrounded with thin but strong tendons of long muscles that run along fibrous tunnels in its dorsal and plantar side. With short and strong interosseus and lumbrical muscles and plantar muscles. And – of course – the Achilles tendon transmiting triceps muscle strength to the foot – it is a highly moveable and mobile part of our body, works under heavy loads and responds to very extreme demands of fast movements, rapid changes of directions and the decelerating of high speed (i.e. running).

When looking from below, we can easily see an architectural structure of a vault. Its top is displaced posteriorly to the main weight-bearing part. All three arches work as a shock absorber, essential for gait purposes, mobility purposes and support in standing. With any impairments of that perfect shape, they slowly but constantly interfere with the body function, maintenance of erect posture and other symptoms popping out somewhere distant from feet themselves. When thinking of the theoretical centre of each foot, it goes up and down with every step we take; it moves side to side in all three dimensions predicted by Nature. The foot widens and flattens, then returns to its form again. We use our feet imperceptibly – out of our control. We do not think of them when walking, running or exercising. We put them here and there and allow them do their job well.

The feet have thousands of nerve endings immersed in all tissues. Thanks to their incalculable numbers, your brain receives constant data inflow and can smoothly respond to them in the whole body action to keep the feet in the most convenient conditions for work.

From the aikido point of view, the feet do matter a great deal. Their indisputably significant role is reflected in every step we take in aiki techniques. They direct our body positions, turning us towards the next stage of the technique. The angle between the feet determines our stability. The feet must not hinder the ease of movement, and are designed follow the natural body awareness. The feet do read the ground. They are the very first to touch the earth. They guide the hips through their complex world.

Barefoot movements of aiki classes stimulate the feet well enough to keep them alive, strong and durable. The more care we concentrate upon our feet, the more reflex inflow we send to the internal organs as well. Reflex spots corresponding with all inner organs are all over feet. They have been known and appreciated for centuries and used as basic knowledge in foot massage therapy of different types.

Human feet are a part of a whole self-coordinating system of body balance and stability. The lack of any parts of that complex results immediately in the instability of the system and an urgent need of repairs. Foot injury or trauma does not make your dojo activity easier and takes time to accomodate and heal. That does not mean quitting aikido classes at all (if possible, of course). The reasonable and wise teacher will show you the path to walk to avoid unnecessary pain or discomfort. If any injury results in constant disability, we come to the point of discussion of how to practice aikido in its physical aspects. Because – what is obvious to very many of us – aikido does not mean only physical exercises and – what many of us know – above all it is NOT the physical acivity itself. The feet walk with us through our good and bad days, through our days of light and darkness. They take our aikido with us to other people.

Image from Aikidojournal.com

Aikido And Knees

Knee joints are the biggest joints of the human body. With several axes of mechanical load meeting, there they are one of the most mechanically complicated complexes of the body. Every day they bear tons of load, making thousands of movements that are not just flexing and extending.
Knees are strictly “ligamentous” joints. That means that their stability and basic functions are governed by ligaments and ligaments only. Muscles are only for precise and fluent joint play. Healthy muscles only – to our surprise – decelerate those joints, but also influence their range of movement if they are not elastic enough to let them work in their natural range of movements.

To any aikidoka in the world, suwari techniques are also historical connection with tradition of Japan. It is a part of inherent integrity of AIKIDO.

Since aikido techniques do not involve mechanically fully flexed or extended joints they work in semi-flexed and semi-extended positions. For knees, this means we are in an unstable situation that deserves more attention than locking in maximal extension or flexion. And here is the moment where we need good muscle action..

Since almost all techniques (if not all) are performed in slightly flexed-knees positions, knees are very hard workers that do need to be taken care of tenderly and well. What is the meaning of that expression? What does it contain on the very bottom?

From my point of view that means:

1. good warm-ups before each aikido session and good session ending to calm down the joints,
2. stretching routine as a part of each aikdoka’s life to keep the joints soft and endure enough to stand the weight of her/his body moving sometimes very fast, sometimes in very low positions,
3. proper tissue softness of all muscles surrounding knees (rear thigh muscle group, quadriceps muscles and calf muscles).

Now a little bit of function facts:

1. quadriceps muscles are not the most important knee muscles despite common opinions on this fact – they pass exactly the midline of the knee joint (crossing patella) and cannot do any stabilisation action because of this; they significantly decelerate flexion of the joint,
2. calf muscles along with rear thing muscles are major knee extensors on the condition of placing your foot flat on the ground; knee joint is the strongest when foot is placed on the floor with all rear muscles engaged,
3. external thigh muscle groups can generate unnecessary friction between patella and femur bone and need to be as soft and relaxed as possible (it does not equal to weak),
4. knee joints are “receivers” from hip joints that means that any – even minimal – functional changes within hip joints will reflect in knees (you may not realize there is something wrong going on within the hips but feel discomfort in the knees – it may appear as symptoms typical to knee injuries as well),
5. knees respond to lower back and pelvic disfuntions and we must be aware of this fact too when talking of knee structural and functional pathology.

When applying aikido techniques knee joints act like springs and they must be springy enough to cope with this demand. The ease of using them comes together with grace of the whole body. And grace is consequence of the whole body condition. Since the  locomotor system reflects our spiritual state (mixture of emotional heritage and presence), movement patterns may differ from day to day as well. Speed, precision and gentleness connected with firmness are also a part of knee joint function. Treating your knees good is a part of every aikidoka’s life. Be good to your knees.

Image from Aikidojournal.com

Aikido And Hips

Koshi– hips.

Talking of a human practicing aikido we need to see the two sides of that engagement – physical and emotional. Let us focus on the physical aspects of the basic and most important part of the human body in aikido – hips.

Hips are the very centre of aikido. Almost all the stability of a human body is based upon those joints. The way they are, the way they live and how elastic they are and what range of movement they have are the main factors of fluent and harmonic movement and general fitness.

All aikido techniques are based upon hips (I will use hips or pelvis depending on what is to be said or underlined).  At approximately sacral level 2 is your centre of gravity. The ability to use it in a correct way is one of the secrets of aiki.  To apply them well, to use them in an ergonomic way – conscious control over the pelvic region is required.

Legs and application of leg movements (sabaki) guarantees correct body movement. The “where and how” you put your feet affects the map of global body movement. And movement is the life of aiki, even minimal but correctly governed movement is the key of defence.

Irimi, tenkan, tai sabaki, tai no henka, suwari techniques and finally koshi nage...

Every technique involves all body parts - that is obvious to all of us - and they mostly require, gentle softness mixed with controlled “rigidity” in pelvic region. Softness does not equal weakness. It is the attribute of lightness, specific grace in movement required for non-restricted activity during the learning process.

The function of hip joints is ruled by the following major factors: shapes of bones, so called joint partners - related to pelvic type (more: pelvic types according to Greenmann) and what matters most –elasticity of muscular and ligamentous surrounding system. Hips are called “muscle joints”. That means their state is determined by muscles mostly. Muscles determine the easiness of using pelvis itself and do not limit the joint with pain or stiffness.

Hips do grow with us since our very early days. They go through different phases that influence their shape, coordination with the rest of the body parts and ability of using them. 
There are two major muscle groups governing the pelvis: long muscles that do work on long leverages according to pelvic centre (quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors) and short, extremely strong rotators. The better they coordinate their work the better situation they offer to the joint.

Hip ligaments and capsules tend to react upon muscle state, especially to muscle shortening. Muscle and ligaments treatment usually takes time and energy so it is better to prevent those through simple stretching. There are many concepts of successful stretching approaches. I would suggest the simple and safe rule: go as far as the very first sign of discomfort and stop –wait till it easies – then go slightly further. Your muscles tell you straight faced – don't go too far or you will damage the tissue. They speak up with pain. It may occur to be confusing to tell which sensation stands for what situation. The answer is to do slightly less than one drop too much.

Muscle stretching should be mixed with aerobic exercises that supply oxygen to all tissues and remove constantly produces waste products. When stretching exercises are of a habit – it is reasonable to do the next step – hip stability exercises.

Almost every aikido manual suggests some preferred exercises in that group. The most common group of those are usually: kokyudosa, squats with wide positioned feet (along with moving your trunk in different directions), shikko (very recommended) and often repeated irimi-tenkan. Applying stretching as warm ups and at the end of each session is a part of hip care like brushing teeth is a part of teeth care. It is mostly recommended those days when so many of us spend hours working, driving and these are the activities our hips do really dislike.

Pelvic region and its elasticity is also a major factor for breathing mechanism. You cannot divide breathing into thoracic and diaphragmatic (or abdominal) breathing but you can shorten your breath so much so it makes breathing totally un-effective.

Breath is the third major part of aiki process. Without soft and fluent breathing your body gets gradually rigid and loses its vital energy. Without efficient breathing you remove grace from your movements and limit the precise from techniques. Breathing techniques are recommended in seiza positions and in standing positions as well.

Koshi - hip and pelvic complex look like a basket into which we dump many different states of emotional and physical overloading. We very often hide there the most unspoken mysteries of life, tension related to duties we face every day etc. We may or we may not see that or even realise that but that is how it is in real. And that can be a reason why we cannot use our hips effectively. That may be a cause for lack of life in our hips, lack of energy and lack of feeling aikido to the full.

author: Bartek Gajowiec, Meian Dojo, physiotherapist, MSc
co-author: Marek PodolczyƄski, 4 Dan Aikikai, Meian Dojo, Warsaw, Poland

Image from Aikidojournal.com

Selasa, 19 Juli 2011


Sekolah sudah menjadi hal yang wajib dalam hidup ini, karena dengan bersekolah kita bisa mempelajari banyak hal dari mulai hal-hal yang tidak penting sampai yang sangat penting sekalipun, baik dalam hal pembelajaran dan pendidikan.

Mengutip status facebook teman saya "Dahulu nama perguruan tinggi menjadi besar karena kesuksesan mahasiswanya (alumninya), Sekarang mahasiswa ingin sukses dibalik nama besar perguruan tingginya, ironis", begitu katanya. Saya tidak berkomentar, memang benar itulah yang terjadi sekarang. Orang berlomba-lomba masuk ke perguruan tinggi X dengan berbagai cara dari yang halal sampai yang tidak halal, ataupun yang tidak halal tapi berkedok halal.

Tidak aneh, perguruan tinggi swasta pun banyak yang di-"anak tiri"-kan oleh calon mahasiswa. Mungkin karena mahasiswa itu sendiri ingin mencatut nama besar perguruan tinggi, gengsi dong masuk swasta, mungkin itu di benak mereka.

Apalagi dengan uang kuliah yang mahal, fasilitas kampus favorit pun bisa terjamin, Baik yang masuk dengan jalur SNMPTN, atau dengan jalur yang "lain". Dosen yang berkualitas pun lebih terpusat di perguruan tinggi favorit. Mungkin ada di swasta, tapi tidak banyak.

Calon mahasiswa seharusnya diajari berpikir yang penting belajar dengan baik, tidak hanya mengandalkan nama besar perguruan tinggi, selain itu punya akhlak yang baik. Kita mungkin tidak mau mempunyai pegawai yang sangat pintar tetapi tukang korupsi, atau selalu berbuat onar, atau sangat sombong.

Saya ingin perguruan tinggi swasta tidak terus dianak tirikan oleh calon mahasiswa, pasti sulit, tapi saya yakin bisa. Saya juga ingin kuliah ke luar negeri, pulang ke Indonesia, membangun kampung halaman kita sendiri, dan mengajar menjadi dosen di perguruan tinggi, mungkin swasta saja. :D

Kamis, 07 Juli 2011


Sehari-hari saya bepergian menggunakan sepeda motor, tapi yang paling mengesalkan jika selalu macet. Siapa coba yang tidak suka macet? Bikin kesal, apalagi kalau macetnya di siang hari, sudah panas di tambah macet orang pasti jadi mudah marah.

Ada riset yang mengatakan, karena jumlah motor lebih banyak, maka motorlah penyebab kemacetan. Tentu saja saya sebagai pengendara motor tidak bisa terima. Saya sendiri menyalahkan angkot yang terlalu banyak di Indonesia, dan mobil pribadi yang isinya hanya satu orang saja. Bayangkan, satu mobil = satu orang, lama-lama bisa tua di jalan raya.

Pemerintah memang selalu berusaha mengurai kemacetan dengan membangun sarana angkutan umum, tapi sayang tidak diikuti perawatan dan peningkatan kualitas, dan juga penekanan kendaraan pribadi.

Di Jepang biaya parkir untuk satu mobil dalam satu bulan, bisa mencapai 600rb rupiah, sedangkan di Inggris hingga jutaan. Tentu saja orang-orang lebih memilih kendaraan umum, ditambah kendaraan umum di luar negeri seringkali kita jumpai sangat bersih dan nyaman.

Kalau di Indonesia, kendaraan pribadi atau umum sama saja terjebak macet. Tentu saja orang lebih pilih kendaraan pribadi, lebih irit dan lebih mudah.

Sepeda mungkin bisa dijadikan alternatif, murah tidak perlu BBM, walau harus menggunakan tenaga fisik. Atau kalau tidak menggunakan sepeda listrik yang sudah tersedia.

Saya mendapatkan gambar unik, di sini kita lihat perbandingan mengangkut 60 orang dengan 3 alat transportasi yang berbeda: mobil, bis, dan sepeda.

Sekian sedikit curhatan-keluhan dari saya, semoga pemerintah bisa mengurai kemacetan dengan menekan kendaraan pribadi dan meningkatkan kualitas kendaraan umum. :)