Perhaps because they were misunderstood

Ki testing is a team sport but it is not a win/lose sport.

Many who try ki tests "fail" because uke saw himself as opponent and attacker, rather than as a teammate serving as a useful biofeedback device.

I once annoyed a partner by failing to fall over for kokyu-dosa\ his solution was to punch me in the ribs. I did indeed fall over, but the point ofki testing is not whether nage can miraculously survive a punch or kick "by extending kiThat is not a test, it is an attack. The point of ki testing is to find the points where nage is a little stronger, a little firmer, able to hold a litde longer — and work up from there.

Suppose a friend is baking a cake and asks you to check to see if it is done. Test One for doneness in a cake is to gently tap the surface.

  • Is it firm and resilient? Or,
  • Is it still raw batter that gives way to the slightest touch?

Smashing the cake with a punch does nothing to help its progress. You have not "won" anything, and have been of no help at all to the friend (or the cake).

"An interesting idea," said Jan, "but I don't cook so I really don't know quite what you mean "

Or imagine that your partner has poured concrete footings for the house you are building together. You may test the footings gently with increas-•ng pressure to sec if they are strong, if they are firm, if they are set Do you start to build your brick wall atop the footings before the concrete

1 Excerpted from Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training by C. M Shifflett has developed the necessary strength to bear the load9 When the weight of the overlying brick causes the half-set concrete to fail, do you say "Ha-ha11 win' My bricks beat your footings!"

The point is to test, observe, and evaluate. It is not to overwhelm, smash, or 4 win" by attacking any more than you "win" by smashing a half-baked pan of cake batter or a half-set form of concrete. It is a cooperative effort in feeling and sensing that partners can use to help each other impiove

"I have never poured concrete," said Jan

"But I'm thinking of the first frost-weeks of winter, when the ponds start freezing over As a kid I used to test the ice for strength (first throw a few small stones on the ice and if it breaks, it's nowhere near strong enough). When the ice seems fairly strong, you test by placing one foot on the ice and applying increasing pressure and feeling for movement. If you do feel movement, the ice is certainly not strong enough If you slam down hard on the ice immediately you could get very wet if it isn't as strong as you thought

One thing that came to mind while I was looking for an example is that you also need to keep sensing subtle changes in the power that is coming towards you (or pulling away), no matter how strong it is Some people seem to think that it's a choice between softly stroking or hard slamming (the "aiki-fruity" approach versus the "Butch-macho" approach).

When I go windsurfing (there has to be at least a force 5 wind) I have to sense the power in the sail and control it Too little power and I'll sink, too much power and I get blown away (a catapult) On top of that there is the power of the waves that are trying to sweep away the board underneath my feet. So even with strong forces, you have to keep alert to the subtle changes in the power (and direction) to keep going. Otherwise it's a wipeout'

I guess that a ki test (on a particular exercise) would not be as easy to desc ribe as a chemical-indicator test (think of a Breathalyzer test) where blue means STOP and green means GO (or whatever colors). But think of some kind of indicators as to what is OK and what isn't

When )ou test, regardless of what happens, how much effort did it require on your pan to achieve that effect9 There's a big difference between knocking nage over with a fingertip versus his being so strong, so stable, so softly and immovably centered that in trying to push him over, I only knock myself off balance

Jn trodiuzHon fCi testing also has other applications.

Several members of our dojo volunteer weekly at the local juvenile detention center and teach ki classes. There, little short women demonstrate Unbendable Arm with the biggest, toughest kids there. When they cannot bend it, they are astounded, aghast!

"How do you do that?"

"How is that possible?"

"Do you lift weights, or what?"

They are teaching a different kind of strength. Whatever you call it, it is useful even for the children at the county detention center whose punches to the ribs or attacks to those whom they found annoying is no longer an option. Many are there because they tried that approach once too often. They've heard all the lectures. Just how well those have worked is made quite clear by their presence there.

In contrast, ki exercises offer up-close Real-Time proof that setting goals matters, what we focus on matters, what we think about matters, and even good posture matters — more than most of us will ever know.'

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