Van Canna wrote:
What do you make of this?
Good footwork...but the 'chi' thing?
I started training aikido just after this show was taped. And my instructor (gojo, aikido, kobudo, special forces) was a big, big fan of Steven Seagal. At around the time of that taping, Seagal was a rokudan in aikido and had been teaching in Japan
. It's not hard to see why; he's obviously very good.
And yes... he is a BIG dude!
Steven indeed shows mastery of a lot of the footwork I have been talking about. And the two of them make everything they do look incredible. Fully fifty percent of that demonstration is about the ukemi skills of the tori. Very few people can train at that level of intensity.
As for the ki thing, well... Part real, and part P T Barnum. I have seen these demonstrations and I have done them. And I make no claim of supernatural powers. Understand that this tape is copyright 1982, so we're talking about a 29-year-old western understanding of traditional martial arts. And back then, many were buying all the hocus pocus talk.
Pinkies aside... what Steven is demonstrating is an extremely important concept in sports and in martial arts - essential synergy. That's a term that Dan Kulund used to use in several books he published on sports injuries. If you Google it, you won't find anything but cr@p on massage oils and aromatherapy. What I'm talking about is getting the whole body to work as a single unit - sometimes simultaneously (per his demonstration) and sometimes sequentially (as in whip-like motions). Back in the day when I was trying to learn about weight training, all I could find is books on bodybuilding. There it's about the show and not the go. And often with bodybuilding, you're training one muscle group at a time. Weight training - in contrast to bodybuilding - should be as much about learning to use your body as it is about getting bigger and/or stronger. This is where I've been focusing a lot of my more recent efforts in the weight room.
To train these abilities, one must do the following.
- Focus more on open-chain and less on closed-chain exercises. This means starting all workouts with free weights, and only using machines to cover body parts difficult to train (e.g. clean-up work on the hamstrings, lats, ankle flexors, etc.).
- Focus on exercises that use the entire body. These kinds of exercises can carry over better to the playing field and the street. In "the real world" we need to know how to pat our heads and rub our tummies at the same time (metaphorically speaking).
- Focus on exercises that have the right balance of stress on the core (midsection) vs. the periphery (arms, legs). Understanding this means having a gut understanding (bad pun, I know...) of lessons taught in basic math and physics.
It's been a bit of an epiphany for me in the last decade, Van. I'm rediscovering some of the old standards like Olympic weight lifts
*, Turkish get-ups
, and Okinawan jar training
. I still finish up with a lot of traditional weight exercises and some machine work. But the center of my training solar system is all about whole-body exercises that teach me how to get "the whole" to work like a well-conducted symphony.
THAT in my opinion is the "ki" that the old masters were talking about. For the sincere, it's a matter of poor language and scientific understanding, and not one of magic or fraud.
* I do mine without the "split" jerk as in that video. And to add an extra dimension of coordination, I do it with dumbbells. But varying off of a classical sport theme is part of keeping the body guessing. Variety provides more learning opportunities for the body, and less chance for it to plateau.
Speaking of variety... I rather prefer this version of the Turkish Get-up:Variation OneVariation Two
I'll be going down to my local gym supply store to see if they have equipment like this available.