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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:59 pm 
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The use of this phrase by Funakoshi, a pre-hip karate Master, suggests other meanings for it than the muscular implication often mentioned today.

I suggest he may have been speaking tactically, suggesting we pay attention to where force is expressed either through technique or body movement, or where we recede from the opponent by the same means and what we may be trying to achieve by both.

What does this phrase mean to you and if it's not a mechanical/technical concept what else might it be?

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:53 pm 
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RenegadeMonk wrote:
The use of this phrase by Funakoshi, a pre-hip karate Master, suggests other meanings for it than the muscular implication often mentioned today.
And, of course, we use it incorrectly anyways. "Expand": muscles can never "expand": they can only contract or relax. An instructor may be better off telling students this rather than use the incorrect term "expand"; it might decrease the stiffness of the students and get them to move with more fluidity. Many studies have shown the difference between a great athlete and a mediocre athlete is the ability to keep antagonist muscle groups relaxed thus allowing the agonist groups full, unrestrained motion for any action.

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I suggest he may have been speaking tactically, suggesting we pay attention to where force is expressed either through technique or body movement, or where we recede from the opponent by the same means and what we may be trying to achieve by both.
Are you suggesting a "yin/yang" Tai Chi Chuan approach or are you suggesting something along the lines of Sun Tsu tactics of yielding where the enemy has strength and attacking where the enemy has weakness (and the corollary to that of appearing weak where you are strong and appearing strong where you are in fact weak)? Certainly Funakoshi was classically educated, so he may indeed have been refering to something along those lines. He sure did not have any scientific training, so I rather doubt that he was refering to kinesiology.

On the other hand, much of traditional oriental physical training does center around strength flowing from the breathing and the abdomen; two places that "expansion and contraction" make sense.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:10 pm 
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RenegadeMonk wrote:
The use of this phrase by Funakoshi, a pre-hip karate Master, suggests other meanings for it than the muscular implication often mentioned today.

Does he use this expression (or perhaps more corrrectly the translator uses it) in his books or is this only in No. 19 of his twenty precepts.
"19. Do not forget to correctly apply: strength and weakness of power, expansion and contraction of the body, and slow and fast techniques."

Edit Update: I'm begin to think that the exact meaning of what Funakoshi said may be confused in the translation.
He published a book where the 20 precepts were expanded upon by Genwa Nakasone (and approved by Funakoshi) and then translated by John Teramoto. I don't have the book but the sneak preview on Amazon allows you to see the translated precepts. Here it is:
19. Do not forget the employment or withdrawl of power, the extension or contraction of the body, the swift or leisurely application of technique.

Notice that "expansion" now becomes "extension" - and implies quite a different interpretation.

Jesse Enkamp gives this interpretation: URL
19. Chikara no kyojaku, karada no shinshuku, waza no kankyu wo wasaruna.
Hard and soft, tension and relaxation, quick and slow, all connected in the technique.



Geof.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:53 am 
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Bryce, to answer question I think it's a bit of both in my mind. I feel the suggestion is to explore the effect of a technique along those lines in all possible variation to properly understand it's employment.

Geoff, I don't see any real difference between expand and extend. I had forgotten about Nakasones book, but I'd say (quite unexpectedly) that his passage seems to confirm my thought that he was speaking more tactically than mechanically. In what way do you see the two translations as different?

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:26 am 
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RenegadeMonk wrote:
Geoff, I don't see any real difference between expand and extend. I had forgotten about Nakasones book, but I'd say (quite unexpectedly) that his passage seems to confirm my thought that he was speaking more tactically than mechanically. In what way do you see the two translations as different?

In this context I'm thinking of extend as in make longer not just bigger. As Bryce says, expansion makes no sense if one is talking about a muscle and not much more when talking about the body - unless it's taking in a deep breath and expanding your torso that way - in which case it could be referring to breathing control and it's relation to mental state and / or control of core musculature for power transmission - the latter unlikely I think in terms of Funakoshi's techniques which were reputed to be very relaxed.

If the term translates as extension, then it fits better with both how muscles work as antagonistic pairs, one lengthening as the other contracts and also with a more overall philosophy of approach as exemplified by the translation Jesse uses where extend would equate to relax.

BTW. Do you have the book I referred to, if so is it worth buying?

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:59 am 
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Yes and Yes. Very good book, an extra insight into the karate of the Okinawan pioneers.

I think the intense focus on mechanical detail is a modern invention that came about to fill the void where once tactical and strategic study of kata was present. That is not to say it has not been beneficial to have that increased focus on efficient and correct movement, but I am loathe to believe that a generation who taught by "put your arm like this" descriptions would want students to worry so much about mechanics in that way. But that is just my personal belief/bias.

I can see where you are coming from, but if I am standing in neutral facing an opponent, when I step into the space between us, rear foot unmoved, I would be happy with either extending or expanding as a description of what I am doing, especially if I were punching as well.

Expand as in get bigger only makes sense to me if we are talking about breathing. It's possible, but the more this discussion goes on the less likely I think that is.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:07 pm 
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Book ordered - :)

This expansion / contraction concept has bothered me for years in that I couldn't find a personal solution to it that made a) any scientific or b) practical sense. My own first sensei never made any mention of it and so when I came across talk of it in later years, I assumed that it wasn't part of his own tuition (he studied with Enoida and then some of the GB team coaches ) and I always found his karate to be impressive and eventually came to the conclusion that it was probably a concept that had been lost in translation and had entered into the realm of mumbo jumbo.

I too believe that as good as the past masters may have been, this was knowledge that was gained by trial and error and practical experimentation to find "what works" rather than an in-depth understanding of human anatomy and physiology. As I think you imply, our modern technical understanding in the right hands probably aids and shortens the learning process which in the past seems to have been largely "just do it until you get it right". That said I also believe the past masters have a lot to teach us and the two should be synergistic.

So, for me expansion is the wrong word, I'm happier with extend or relax, and even happier to think that GF was probably talking about either a philosophical approach to what one was doing which of course may include tactics and strategy. The Seven Training Rules that GF put down in Rentan Goshin Karate-jutsu (there are variants in some of his other works) make such a lot of sense to me not only for karate training but also life in general, that I'm more than happy to believe his precepts cover strategy and tactics.

GF said:
"To search for the old is to understand the new,
The old, the new
This is just a matter of time
"

As true now as when he said it.

To your knowledge, does this expansion / contraction phenomena originate with GF?

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:31 pm 
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I believe that some of this stems from the Chinese arts. For instance, in tai chi it has been stated that when the arms move away from the body you breathe out, and when they move in, you breathe in; for the legs it is the reverse - breathe in on kicks and out on retractions. BUT - in movements like "crane spreads wings" there is an initial expansion (outward movement of the arms) in which the breath also in inwards (before it reverses when the arms start to drop). So the rule cited is not absolute, and in some advanced people, they decouple the breath entirely from the movements, and use "ki" to feel expanding and contracting. So expansion and contraction of the body is not simply extension/pushing and pulling - it can mean exactly what it says: getting larger and getting smaller.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:15 pm 
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Elmar wrote:
I believe that some of this stems from the Chinese arts. For instance, in tai chi it has been stated that when the arms move away from the body you breathe out, and when they move in, you breathe in; for the legs it is the reverse - breathe in on kicks and out on retractions. BUT - in movements like "crane spreads wings" there is an initial expansion (outward movement of the arms) in which the breath also in inwards (before it reverses when the arms start to drop). So the rule cited is not absolute, and in some advanced people, they decouple the breath entirely from the movements, and use "ki" to feel expanding and contracting. So expansion and contraction of the body is not simply extension/pushing and pulling - it can mean exactly what it says: getting larger and getting smaller.

OK, I see where you're coming from in terms of the roots of the phrase. Would your understanding lead you to believe this is conceptual but figurative or really is literal? - When "ki" is mentioned I have this automatic negation step in, which is probably unfair but nonetheless affects my willingness to believe.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 7:58 pm 
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I think it is quite literal - when you take more space around you, you are expanding; when you pull things into your center, you are contracting. Most movements have both phases in them.

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