rooting: breath, stance, posture, connection?

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rooting: breath, stance, posture, connection?

Postby Shana Moore » Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:08 pm

I'm curious how you view the source of your "rootedness". Does it derive from your stance, posture, connection to the ground, body tension, body looseness or breath?
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Postby Shana Moore » Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:10 pm

http://tenguhouse.typepad.com/aikikuzushi/2009/08/kokyu-nage-the-secret-foundation.html

Here's an interesting viewpoint that points to breath as well as stance...a settling in and use of flow....most intriguing.

You and I, as Westerners, use the term “breath” to mean…well…breath. To us, this means either the act of breathing in and out, or the air that one breathes with that act.
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The Japanese use the term differently, at least in an aikido context. “Breath” can mean timing, movement, power, the development of harmony in movement – the very essence of aikido – or, it can simply mean breath
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Postby Shana Moore » Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:11 pm

Virtually any throw that uses primarily what the Japanese call kokyu ryoku (breath power) is eligible. As one might guess, this is the ability of the aikidoist to use the breath, in part as described above, during the execution of the technique, and is developed through a series of partner-assisted exercises called kokyu-ho (breath exercise), or kokyu-tanden-ho (breath centering exercise). These exercises, usually suwari-waza (techniques done while seated in seiza), generally involve making a good connection between uke and tori. They also involve the ability to move the attacker by use of one’s own center. This is where some schools go into “projecting your ki” and more esoteric ideas, which as it turns out aren’t as farfetched as they sound (mostly). These are simply concepts that deal with the manipulation of the energy introduced into the system by uke – that energy can be connected, built up in the center, and projected outward or toward uke’s weak direction

It wasn’t very long ago, maybe three months or so, that I first felt what a well-executed kokyu nage can do to a man my size. In this Aikkai dojo where I’m still very new, I ran up and grabbed both the collar tapes on my training partner’s gi. He didn’t move, at least not that I could see. He didn’t make a sound. He just…how can I describe it…he settled in. He entered into a “just be here, just be part of the earth” mode, and made himself solid. So solid, in fact, that I – not having any clue what was going to happen, mind you – flew backward maybe ten feet. I was slapping the mat before I knew what was happening.
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Re: rooting: breath, stance, posture, connection?

Postby Dana Sheets » Tue Sep 29, 2009 5:02 pm

Shana Moore wrote:I'm curious how you view the source of your "rootedness". Does it derive from your stance, posture, connection to the ground, body tension, body looseness or breath?


D) All of the above

Combined with a keen mental awareness of what you're doing with the forces that pass through or are generated by your body.
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Postby Shana Moore » Tue Sep 29, 2009 5:26 pm

It's good to hear from you Dana! I found that an interesting and similar assertion in the noted article. It talks about Ki as a awareness and a flow of force. I think most folks who practice a martial art can get behind that idea whether they agree with the more metaphysical explanations of the same. Whether we are talking the electrical flow of bioeletric energy conveying information and instrucitons to muscles along neural pathways or we are talking the flow of force or talking about using another person's center and force of movement against them...I think many of these things flow into rootedness.

It's a fascinating concept in that it's so complex and simple all at the same time!
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Postby Dana Sheets » Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:52 am

One of our best practices for full body awareness and breathing are the junbi-undo exercises and in particular, shin-kokyu - the deep breathing exercise.

Throughout each of these you should feel as rooted and connected as in sanchin and pay attention to the various ways the body is stretched and opened with movement and breathing.

It is particular important to bring your attention to the part of your body that each exercise targets and visualize increased blood flow, warming, etc. This practice greatly enhances the routine.
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Postby Shana Moore » Wed Sep 30, 2009 3:40 pm

Do you ever do this same practice in Seiza? In my current class, we do this as a way to focus our minds and spirit, as well as connect with our surroundings. The way you describe it is much more internally focused, and I'm wondering if this would work as well in seiza as it does standing as I understand shin-kokyu is done.

It would be interesting to see how the stance/posture affects the focus. I realize you were pointing to using the various junbi undo exercises to focus on and visualize the blood flow, etc in the particularly body part being warmed up...but I'm curious about the connection of breathing, stance, and rootedness. I will have to pay attention to this next time I practice and in class.
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Postby Dana Sheets » Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:39 pm

Because the legs are integral to ground connection I do not feel the same benefits would be achieved by doing just or mostly in seiza initially. Once you develop a good root and then yes, practice in seiza would make sense to me.

So I mostly do this stuff in standing or moving practice.

Master Thompson would relate a story about awareness that linked mental focus, breathing, and sanchin checks to the zen practice of having someone crack your back with a bamboo pole when you've lost focus during extended meditation. The hit to shoulders/back would give your mind something tangible to focus on in the present to feed and quiet the monkey mind.

When I meditate in seiza I focus on how my breathing affects my mind. When I do moving or standing exercisess I focus on how I can use my mind and breathe to affect my body.
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