019) January 4, 2009: Back To The Basics -> Standing/Shisei
I began to address the topic of standing in my sixth blog (9/29/08). I utilized the Japanese word, Shisei, to convey the importance of what is involved when we stand. I pointed out that the way in which we typically stand is off-balanced in a manner that enables us to walk in a manner to dynamically maintaining balance for a near-unbalanced situation. This typical standing position is one in which we are actually leaning backwards.
When I correct people’s postures, their first perception is that they feel as though they are leaning forward! We have become so accustomed to standing in this fashion that when are spines are actually aligned in a vertical manner, we feel as though we are standing in an unbalanced manner. When the person is tested with a front and back push test from this corrected position, they can actually feel within themselves that their posture is correct and can dissipate force downwards without being pushed off of the stance.
The first part in the correction process almost always involves having the person relax their hips backward and downwards (around a 45 degree line of movement). I use an aid that my teacher provided to me many years ago. Imaizumi Sensei once pulled my obi (belt) downwards with my hips relaxing backwards and told me that my body had to learn to replicate this sensation in order to begin to learn how to feel what a proper posture should feel like within my body. I have used this aid with students in my school, because it had such an visceral impact upon my experience of posture.
The next part in the correction process is typically having the student learn to relax the hips. Hips are typically held with some degree of tension because standing in an unbalanced manner requires some degree of constant hip tension in order to maintain dynamic equilibrium. When students begin to stand in a correct manner and the hips begin to relax the students are then asked to start to become are of how their back muscles and hip muscles are more relaxed than normal. This developing sense of body awareness is an important step towards making one’s Aikido truly effective.
The next part in the correction process is typically having the students learn to relax the shoulders downward and back towards settling into the sockets. The scapula (back of shoulder) suddenly become easier to move around. This process helps to link the arms into core body movement. Most of us keep a significant amount of tension pent-up in our shoulders. Learning to release this unnecessary tension not only allows us to relax more, but we can then become more receptive to what is happening around us as an energy level (receptivity of energy).
Putting all of these pieces together in standing correctly allows our bones to align themselves in such a manner that minimal muscle tension is necessary to remain standing. We can then begin to experience our Ki and the Ki of those around us with our bodies no longer producing a crescendo of “white noise” associated with all of the tensions associated with the manner in which people typically stand.
Posture is a starting point for our new year at this dojo. I would like the students to spend some time focusing in on how they are standing throughout the course of a day. It is important to recognize when we are standing in an off-balanced manner and to recognize the changes within ourselves when we make corrections in our posture.
The way in which we stand is like the foundation of a house. I would like to see all of us develop the ability to be truly effective in martial arts. Just like the construction of a house, we need to insure that we create the proper foundations upon which we can built our “Aikido house.”
Marc Abrams Sensei
ps.- Remember, next Saturday in our Anniversary Party. We are now entering our third year! Our dojo is growing in a manner that I am genuinely proud of. I look forward to officially recognizing this growth next week!