October 16 2013

Dan Harden Internal Power seminar

2013-10-06 Dan Harden SeminarThe weekend of 10-4-2013, I attended a seminar at Randall Smith Sensei’s Aikido of Palm Beach County with Dan Harden. It was an internal power seminar. It was good and Dan is intense.

I was only able to attend the Friday and Sunday sessions. I missed Saturday.

Let me start with two quotes:

  1. shoulder below elbow below hand
  2. your hand should always be doing something different than your elbow

Shoulder below elbow below hand. This concept I have been grappling with for a couple of years now; since my first Dan Harden seminar. Its vitally important and I believe it summarizes the totality of the internal energy concept.

As I understand it, to get to the point where you can feel that radiating internal energy, you need to manipulate your body, with active intent. You need to think of your body in new ways such as, shoulders below elbows below hands.

So in this concept, you let your shoulders drop into their shoulder sockets where they should naturally be. Easier said than done. Especially when you have been carrying your shoulders high and pumping your chest out for years. Most of us carry ourselves this way, me included.

The magic to dropping your shoulders is that you release the energy block that exists. Carrying your shoulders high is done by muscle. Dropping your shoulders into thier sockets releases the muscle and you can really start to move. Your body opens and you free yourself. You attenuate a different part of your being.

Since I actively started dropping my shoulders, I can now feel the connection between my hands and my dantien.  I mostly feel this when I am doing my solo exercises.

Dropping your shoulders then starts to engage your whole body. To maximize this engagement, you need to concentrate on dropping your shoulders below your elbows. Yes I know, physically speaking, this is an impossibility. But energetically, this is where you want to be. Your intent will get you there.

Once you get this and have a feeling that your shoulders are below your elbows, you apply this same intent to dropping you elbows below your hands. The whole time, energetically, your power is going down. Dropping your elbows below your hands opens up your hands. Your wrists become lose and your hands become the expression of your intent. You end up moving under your  opponent’s center.

The catch is that your hands are not necessarily following the same order as your shoulders and your elbows. Hence, quote number two; your hand should be doing something different than your elbow.

This concept, has the effect of your hands moving separate from your elbows with your forearm as the fulcrum. You move your elbow so that it is going over, under or around your attacker’s point of center. The place where they are attacking you. It can be them holding your forearm or wrist of something different.

Anyway, this is an ongoing process. I know where I want to get to, and I think I found the path that will get me there.

September 30 2012

Dan Harden Seminar

Dan Harden is in town teaching a seminar at Aikido of Palm Beach County, Randall Smith’s dojo. His seminars are always inspiring and informative.

Dan was teaching us exercises today to increase our awareness of that subtle and elusive internal otherness. That thing is there and not there. The exercises he was teaching revolved around the proper structure of your body.

This seminar differed from last years in that I remember Dan saying that the Dantien was centered somewhere in the area below your navel and above your pubic bone.

Today, I heard him say that the dantien is more the product of how your psoas attaches from your inner thighs up through your inner pelvis and to the lower vertebrae of your spine and your ability to access this and manipulate it. Or more succinctly, focusing your intent on this muscle and letting it move your body.

The difference between what I heard last year and today,is that the focus is deeper and more concentrated. Its more rooted in the physical. The concept of dantien seems less elusive.

Being able to visualize the physical elements that create the dantien takes it out of the ephemeral and brings it into reality. Knowing what muscles to work makes internal strength training doable.

All through the seminar I could not shake the quote “faith without works is dead.” I think this is because internal strength training is something that asks you to believe in it for it to happen.

Dan always talks about intent, but I think its more than that. I belie its an act of faith. Sure you can say that you need to focus your intent on your psoas muscles to create the proper structure to access the dantien, have if you have no idea what dantien feels like, then its an act of faith.

Anyway, the things I picked up from Dan today, bridged the gap for me. I spent all of last year doing solo exercises trying to live dantien. I had a few instances where I think I felt it. This year, I think it experience more instances of it. This year my solo practice will concentrate on my interior and more specifically on the psoas.


More Dan tomorrow. Can’t wait.