Saturday, October 27, 2018

Aikido and the 1 inch punch

My history with the inch punch began with Bruce Lee, watching him generate all that sudden explosion of energy from an inch away from his target. Later my t'ai chi master, Sifu Choy Kam Man suggested that I research 'inch power'. But my first real experience of it was in Spring or so of 1973 and is chronicled in Linda Holiday sensei's book "Journey to the Heart of Aikido". I was initiated into it by Tojima sensei. From an inch away he uprooted me with a vertical fist. Which he repeated several times. My memory of it was that there was no sense of being hit. No force directed at me. I was just in the air.

Over the ensuing decades that experience has stayed with me When we moved to our current location at Martha Street, Professor Bunch's jujitsu class had some punching dummies. They are heavily bottom weighted. Initially I tried the side kick until I could knock one over a la Bruce Lee. I haven't attemped that in a while. But I would try the inch punch as well. And I can't really recall when I started to get it. I just retained the feel experience of how it felt to receive it from Tojima sensei. I began to realize how it is basically kokyu or breath ........The ability to focus one's power in a single point and unleash it without any sense of weight or force, one's consciousness free and peaceful. Even loving.

And past the feel experience there is a theory behind it. I find I can teach it to most people in 15 minutes or so. But the ability to be consistent takes much longer and involves a theoretical rewiring of force and power.
Basically it is like baseball. Some muscular huge person can muscle the ball and hit a catchable fly ball while someone much smaller can drive the same ball. In his autobiography Sadaharu Oh talks about meeting a huge American, part of an American All Star team playing Japan's All Stars, including, of course Mr Oh. The American looked at Oh, slight by his standards and asked, " How can YOU hit home runs?". Oh answered, rather inscrutably, "I understand the secret of the weight shift''. Mr Oh had been guided by Ueshiba Osensei, who mentored Oh's own coach, Mr Arakawa. The weight shift involves the inner point. Mr Oh was famous for standing on one leg while waiting for the pitch, then when his lead foot touched earth unleashing his power.

Nationally and locally we have only to watch Steph Curry of the Warriors. His range comes from the incredible power of his core(I read once where he can dead lift 400 pounds), focused in that point, translated out into the touch muscles of his fingers. My version of that shot is included in the attached video.

Tojima sensei really researched Koichi Tohei sensei.  I personally never worked with Tohei sensei, so sense of the matrial comes from Tojima sensei.Tohei sensei stressed what he called the 4 rules of Ki. I have updated this somewhat to the 4 algorithms.

1. Relax completely. Let go of what you're thinking, good, bad, or indifferent. Osensei talked of shinku or true  emptiness at a more universal or archetypal level

2. Weight underside. From 1 shoulders relax, arms are firm but not holding tension, and the beginnings of grounding.....Ueshiba Osensei stressed the importance of the 'ne no kuni' or land of the roots.

3.  The inner point surfaces. Osensei linked this to Ame no Minakanushi no Okami, the first point in creaation similar to the Big Bang theory.   And related it to the chant SU. If you look for the point or think about it you distance yourself from the experience.

4. Vital force or enery(Ki) starts moving as a part of the re-organization of the first 3. I am not so much into 'I extend Ki', but Ki starts to manifest for someone who practices the 3 prior algorithms,ie a more natural, original state of being. And since all 4 involve whittling away the'I'. they can be seen as a form of misogi.

The inch punch is the same as the closing motion to the suburi or bokken cut. So that is included in the above video.

Tohei sensei said of his 4 rules if you lose one you lose the other 3. I prefer if you are fully with any one, then you have the other 3.


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