Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Holy Crap Again!

The "unbendable arm" is a structure of your arm that is supposed to be unbendable (I came up with that definition myself), and I have been told that you should be able practice your aikido while always maintaining this unbendable arm. I've also heard of a version of this referred to as one's "bridge", where your elbows bend at about 45 degree angles. WELL, I just realized that you should do this in Tai Chi Chuan too! Or at least my version of the Long Yang form. For maximum effect in Tai Chi Chuan, you should always maintain the unbendable arm! The only parts where it is weird is during punches, but I think it can still be done with maximum power. Also, Jade Lady Works the Shuttles is a spot in my form where my right arm bends much more, but maybe I should adjust it to work with this theory. One more point of contention is parts where your arms are almost fully extended. But for you martial readers who practice Tai Chi Chuan ... what do you think! I think I'm right. Which probably means I'm also wrong.

Whatever, I'm just glad I did strange looking movements in my apartment while reading martial art books instead of playing soccer and going to the bar.

Wow, that's an interesting thing to say. Maybe the readers should know I have a history of playing Magic the Gathering and reading Moby Dick for fun.

On another serious note, this picture came up on the first page of a google image search of the "aikido unbendable arm". Finally we found the true identity of this aikido technique!


  1. That's right, baby! I _AM_ the unbendable arm!

  2. You may be right, but the point here is "what is the umbendable arm?" (except being mr. Parker here :D)
    I know of the unbendable arm as a "martial experiment" typical of aikido sensei, where they make their arms umbendable, allegedly by having their Ki flow through their arms. In this case, if we translate Ki as Qi, I'd say: yes, in Tai chi you should always your Qi flowing, together with your intention.
    Push hand, when practiced seriously, is very close to real application of the principles and techniques of tai chi. In push hands, your arms should be very flexible, relaxed, yet sticky (to the opponent) and resistent to the opponent pressure - in other words, unbendable. I'm not sure yet of what you really mean with "unbendable arm", but if it is as I suspect, you might be right.

  3. Seeing as how I _am_ the unbendable arm, ;-)perhaps this set of articles form my blog might help in the conversation...


  4. The arms are similie to the legs of a spider, and everything connects to the center. By maintaining structure in the limbs it allows the transfer of energy to come up from the ground, through the center, and out the limbs. Like in your study of bridge position, there is a "float" in the degree of the bend in the elbow's structure between a position vulnerable to collapse (too bent) and a locked joint. Yes, the arms in Tai Chi Chuan & Ba Gua Chuan maintain such an arm position. I just want to be clear that "unbendable" doesn't translate to tense.

  5. What a couple of serendipidous comments. About 95% of literature I've read on the unbendable arm in aikido comes from ... the Mokuren dojo! Thanks Pat. I think your article that I was subconciously thinking of when I wrote this was in "Unbendable is a means - not an end." To quote: "So, I said in a previous post or three that the unbendable arm in aikido is not really unbendable, rather it is the arm that is not supposed to be bent - or perhaps you could think of it as the unbending arm. If you are moving correctly then you should almost never have to bend your arms to do something in aikido."
    As to my comment on Tai Chi Chuan, this realization is absolutley directly related to training push hands with ... the Brown Dragon himself! This was a constant theme to keep, and dictates the majority of my solo TCC time.

    I imagine and hope that there are aikido sensei out there that can explain the unbendable arm without ki, though it can still be a major factor. As to the push hands comments, it certainly sounds and feels right to put an emphasis on the relaxed, responsive, and "floating" quality of this technique, but how come I haven't heard of that before in Aikido???

  6. The idea of an unbendable arm is incompatible with the idea of opening and closing all joints together.