Saturday, March 31, 2007

More On Aikido And Chinese Internal Arts

Mike Martello On Throwing And Locking

Mike sent me this video yesterday and I thought it was a very good representation of the similarities between Chinese Internal Arts and Aikido.
As discussed in the previous post (Is Aikido Of Chinese Origin?), Master Ueshiba traveled to China in 1936 and was impressed with the Chinese martial arts he saw. As quoted, Ueshiba could "see something once and observe exactly what they were doing".
Now, my point is not so much that Ueshiba borrowed spiraling and circular techniques from Chinese arts (which is generally believed), but Aikido is clearly different from the harsh and more liner Daitoryu Jujutsu. Additionally, Ueshiba was a spiritualist and follower of the Shinto Omoto Kyo ("Great Origin") cult, and certainly was familiar with Taoist teachings. It is of course the Taoist arts that replicate nature in the grand circular and spiraling movements.
Rather than split hairs on lineage and heritage, perhaps it is more important to accept paralell development and simply note the similarities and differences in the Japanese/Chinese arts. For instance, both Daitoryu and Aikido are based on the art of the sword. Many of the thrusts with the empty hand are not simply thrusts, they are "cuts". Footwork was also based on the art of the sword--but Ueshiba greatly expanded on it after his trips to China. Also, in Daitoryu and Aikido, the grappling aspect is the body of the art.
By comparison, Chinese arts replicate nature (wave hands like clouds, old man carries fish on back, etc.) rather than techniques based on sword work. Also, the grappling of Chin-na is a seperate study in Chinese arts, not the body of the art itself. The sub-categories in Chinese arts are; striking with the hands, kicking with the feet, wrestling and chin na (siezing or capturing a limb). Chin na is further broken down into: dividing the muscle/tendon, misplacing the bone, sealing the breath (cutting off air), Dim Mak (pressing or blocking a vein, artery), and Dian Xue (cavity press, or pressing a chi meridian channel.
In this respect, modern Aikido is much more cautious about not crippling the opponent, as was due to Ueshiba's latent spirituality. Daitoryu and Chin na have no such issue with completely disabling an opponent-- ("twist the neck to kill a chicken", etc.)
But on to the video:
Here Mike Martello demonstrates techniques from the Chinese systems, and they are very, very close to Aikido techniques. The first throw is "Shio-nage", right out of Aikido. At 3:53 on the video clock Mike uses his first "San-kyo" control wristlock. At 5:13 Mike begins to loose his technique and transitions into "Kaiten Nage- or "rotary throw", by pushing the opponents head down and completing the throw. At 6:00 he uses an arm-bar throw that is not found in Aikido as far as I know. At 7:14 he begins transitions from "Nikkyo to Kote Gaeshi" wrist lock and throw. At 8:08, another Kaiten Nage- rotary throw. At 8:24 he begins some foot sweeps, which I don't believe is standard in Aikido. And finally, at 9:04 Mike sets up an arm trap which I only remember as the " #10 throw" from Aikido, and transitions back to "San-Kyo" for control.
I hope this attention to detail isn't boring people to death, but it is very exciting to me. When I first started studying Yang Tai Chi Chuan about eleven years ago, I had a lot of trouble seeing the practical application, even with my Karate background. Soon after, while studying Aikido with my instructor Chuck McCarty, I began seeing all those applications for the Yang form in our Aikido techniques.
I hope to post further thoughts on this angle of study in the future, and encourage people with similar intrests to feel free and submit their ideas...

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