Sunday, November 15, 2015

Hara/Tanden Training.

Early morning training is not as intense today, but definitely allows for some deeper reflection on certain aspects.
It is not about doing as much as can be done in the amount of time you have given yourself to do it, but to do what you can with a certain quality and attention to detail, no matter how small, and not even as many times as you can do a specific thing, but focusing on those select things across the board.

Practiced some Sanchin after doing some Taiso Daruma and focused on bringing alignment from the ground up rather than focusing tension to the ground, as seems to be the case when many approach the practice of Sanchin.
This focus should be evident in the way the center moves, Hara/Tanden/Dan Tien is not static, it does not remain on a plain except with those movements that require it to do so.

Sanchin Kata appears, on the surface, to be the simplest of Karate Kata, but when punching, when stepping, how is your center moving? How is your body aligning? In which directions? How is Muchimi working into things? Chinkuchi?
Taking this a step further, when you kick, how are the mechanics working? Are you just swinging your hips and throwing your kick out there with the only real attention being placed on making sure the toes are curled back and you are kicking with the ball of your foot?
How about focusing it more as a step and focusing more on aligning from, and driving from, that anchored/posted leg? THIS principle alone changes the whole game, especially when you place your focus through the movement of the Hara/Tanden (Part of Gamaku principle).

What about Mawashi Uke/Tora Guchi? This involves the hands moving in opposite directions and the same time, while also moving in the same direction at the same time.
A lot of Karateka simple go through the motions on this one and do not pay attention to the actual principles NOR their Hara/Tanden as they seem to be preoccupied with the final placement of the hands/arms themselves and not the whole body necessarily (which is okay because that is part of the learning process, but you have to move to the next level at some point).
When moving in this do you draw in and down? Do you move your Hara/Tanden up and back as you draw in and circle? Do you move through your Hara/Tanden simultaneously out and down/out and up as you push out (one hand moving towards the ground, the other out and up towards the sky)? Is the movement originating more in your midsection or is it originating from the ground and moving THROUGH your Hara/Tanden?

My Sensei once came to Spokane and taught me Kata Shisochin, this was more than a few years ago, and he said to pretend you did not have an arm, to pretend your fists were attached directly to your Hara/Tanden and to punch from there with your whole body.
I would take this further and say to pretend the whole Earth is your root and your Hara/Tanden is the conduit to which your fists,feet,spine, and head are attached as alignment points/appendages.
It is very hard to put into words, but those who know will know and strive to apply these and may even be able to convey them with better words than I can.

I was once watching a program called 'Aikido-The Real Truth' where an experienced Champion Fighter in Kyokushin Karate basically scoffed at the art of Aikido as new-age mumbo-jumbo and went so far as to say it would not work on him.
He sent his two most senior Students to an experienced Aikidoka to test it out and when they came back saying they had basically gotten their asses kicked he had to go and experience this for himself.
His experience was no different from theirs and he could not believe it himself... When he brought in some scientists to basically capture the movements of the Aikido Sensei on stop-motion it showed that he moved with his center VERY efficiently and NOT JUST on a single plain, but utilized full range of motion whereas the Karateka did not, it was all very flat, the center only moved forwards and back and the body rotated around it in a very rigid manner.

I am also an Aikidoka, for a very long time I have studied that art and worked to understand those principles and how they worked.
My Aikido Sensei is not the conventional Aikido Sensei; we would go out into the woods and train, one day we spent thirteen hours on a single movement, a single throw/projection, in the woods, taking falls on sticks and rocks, focusing on the footwork, focusing on alignment, focusing on the center, focusing on movement through the center.
These are not just meant to be confined to one art, Aikido is more than an art, it is a set of principles and these should be understood in order to see how they apply to each person.

Some food for thought.

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