“Take The Strength Out” by Nev Sagiba

“Take the strength out! Take the strength out!” the old Chinaman kept yelling at his young pupil in training as he easily whipped the strong young man from pillar to post..

In the old days the “soft stylists” of China were feared. And with good reason. Their opponents usually died.

Why this? Why take the strength out? And when? The when is in training so you can discover efficiency, ki, unity and centre.

Why? Because if you don’t you will continue to move crudely and merely mimic form without gaining understanding.

People who’ve never seen an emergency then make the assumption that in real combat you remain a feather all the time. Once this assumption is made, the weak link breaks and the art goes down the gurgler.

In a real situation all that training does is to augment the other 4.6 billion years of survival evolution locked in your genes.

The ancestors don’t muck around. If it’s not your time, when the survival instincts unleash, it will be intense. So much so, it can make you sick if you fail to resolve the biochemistry. That’s why old warriors had meditation, the tea house the sweat lodge and other, post battle detox mechanisms. Otherwise they became drunks and ruined their health in a downhill journey to a miserable and slow self-inflicted death.

People who don’t train have no, this life, point of reference. So they either freeze or struggle inefficiently and work against themselves.

With proper training we learn to get out of our own way.

We unlearn the clutter that gets in the way of moving and interacting most efficiently.

Hence the Ai of the Do of Ki.

Nev Sagiba


  1. Jerry Wang says:

    Dear Nev,

    Your intriquing questions leave one dangling w/o some high level hint that I could grasp:

    “People who’ve never seen an emergency then make the assumption that in real combat you remain a feather all the time. Once this assumption is made, the weak link breaks and the art goes down the gurgler.”

    My take is that there is aggression/repression or aggressiveness/passiveness or lead/feather but then there is assertiveness. It is about not push or pull but the assertive extension or pointing which can be powerful like Mount Tai coming down hard while the feather is still floating.

    I know this is unclear. I can send some video clips to clairfy if anyone is interested!

    Create Your Best Aiki Day Ever!

    Many thanks & Best wishes,



  2. Jerry,

    In-Yo-Ho or Yin-Yang-Ki. Ergo Ai-ki-do or the full circle as Saigo Tanomo aptly articulated as “Aiki no In-yo-ho.”

    In the end just labels for natural functions we come to terms with first hand in regular training.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Yes, please send the video links. Always interested in good footage.

    Best wishes,


  3. Strength is useful to the extent that technique is imperfect. Take a look at Daito Ryu. It isn’t nearly as subtle as aikido. Size and strength matter a lot, as they do in most martial arts, and for most martial artists. Correct aikido technique is an equalizer. The more correct it is the greater disparity of size and strength can be dealt with. But crude technique can often be effective with the application of strength.

    Had a friend who, one night, was tired of picking up the garbage that the bear spilled. So he betook himself to do something about it. Picked up a 2×4 and swatted the bear on the butt while it was head down in the can. He expected the bear to do a somersault and run, but… Instead the bear extracted itself from the can with some exasperation and looked around as much as to ask, “Who did that?” My friend, grasping the situation instantly, dropped the 2×4 and ran into his cabin… Then he remembered, he’d painted the doors and they were leaning against the wall. He couldn’t shut out the bear. So he ran through the cabin shouting, “The bear is coming!” When he got to his sister’s bedroom he urged her to exit by the window. She was a rather large young lady and didn’t fit. But diligent application eventually effected her egress. (The bear, meantime, had gone back to the garbage.)
    The window was only so wide, but enough pushing and shoving got her through it.

  4. Jerry Wang says:

    Sensei Nev,

    Hope the fire is far away from you! Don’t know about great footage. Merely trying to apply the pure principles to daily life as I have been taught and am teaching in LA.

    When steps 3, 5, 7, 8, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 28 in video/below are combined, strengths is taken out but there is abundant power. Sorry I did not have a chance to create clips specifically to your question.

    FIG Teaser 7 Harmony Versus Coercion 10 Min Feb 8 0001:

    FIG Harmony Versus Coercion Workshop Feb 8 2009:

    Many thanks & Best wishes,

    Deshi, Jerry

    Harmony versus Coercion Workshop
    1. 7 breathes – knee bends–all air out, isolation (Carrot: positioning & superior force principle; Tong Leng & belly breathing)
    2. Tense each body part for 2 seconds–Forehead, eyebrows, cheeks, eyes, nose, mouth, lips, face, jaws, neck, shoulders (posing), biceps, triceps, shoulder blades, abs, backbend, hips, thighs, calves (i.e., by tiptoeing). (Without tension, no relaxation; be aware & release or letting go of tension in your body & mind).
    3. Setting clear limits and define boundary early-on: Wrist down, horizontal, finger-up, finger-front-wrist (circular to nose); palm-torque-away-from body: vertical and horizontal; interlace fingers and squeeze; Palm-up Finger Stretch; Plus shoulder lift; Shake out the hands. Look for leverage points.
    4. Inside wrist press with the eagle claw-pain/stop you- face relaxed; (resist/persists – feel pain and persevere anyways. If pain/intimidation stops you, might not go home. If you run, you might be running for the rest of your life. Perseverence.
    5. Toe presses; balance balls of feet (tip yourself over); step/push off from the back foot; mental balance – (anger, fear & any resistance) in your mind stream upsets your balance. Keep balance & know you are bigger than any problem/feeling. When you go off balance physically or mentally, you pull others off balance. Move with balance & keep others in balance); Toe lifts
    6. Toe walk, keep balance in difficulty & keep advancing- Withhold nothing, no reserves, always Advancing/no Retreat, No Regrets – What u can/where u are.
    7. Floating & Draping arms–shoulders&hips 1-piece. Centrifugal – unstoppable because it does not push or pull but re-directs; pointing/hipbone
    8. Projectile whip arms–projectile/contact with soft-side of arm;flop versus pointing
    9. Massage-fingers relaxed: face, eyes, (4 fingers on temple, 1 finger on jaw,(left thumb/index–right presses) nose & gum, cheekbones, thyroid, interlace fingers – thumb in neck, base of skull–tip head; finger, palm, forearm, upper arm, shoulder; upper, middle, lower intestines, kidneys, ribs. Pat hand/arm/underarm/collar bones. Shake hands. Self Care&Love. Care 4 others begins with self-care.
    10. Dangle head right, place right hand on head/gravity; Shake head slowly & wiggle.
    11. Knee-bends & pulsing downward. Preparation/Warm-Up.
    12. Backbend-sit – tuck chin, curl up, rock on back/stretch. Recover safely.
    13. Shin-Sit&rock. Fall 7, up 8. Everyone loses. It’s the ability to Bounce back!
    14. Isolation-spin: fists spinning forward/backward, leg & hand circling in reverse. don’t telegraph/signal or tip the hat; don’t bump.
    15. Rotate wrists/ankles forward/backward. Planning, Prevention, Preparation.
    16. Point the toes down and then pulse up for 3 sets of 8 and then switch foot.
    17. Create your own bumpy road – push hard on right hand while holding the position with your left hand. Notice that the harder you push, the harder the resistance. Respect & harmonize with the boundary set by your opponent. Use your opponent’s energy as you re-direct. Feedback. Be aware, listen & adjust.
    18. Relax & let go of all tension in your body and mind. To be relaxed with others, We must be relaxed first. Top-hair to bottom-sole; listening; Profound Foundation of: self-control; self-mastery – genesis of world peace; soft overcoming hard, seamless, continuous, and non-selective. Being relaxed as a permanent state of no-mind and non-judgment. Self-awareness and self-control; tit-for-tat is where you surrender self-control for other-control. Instead, relax & respond using universal principles. Simple & yet most profound tool in achieving harmony & to blockade your opponent’s negative energy & coercive forces.
    19. Dead Weight – Windmills with limp hands, forward step and backward step with limp arms & hands; if you point hard, deadweight is gone. Connectedness.
    20. Lift up the other hand limp & deadweight. Hand freefall & flop; pointing lightly, flop is gone; point hard, no drop. Sticky-hand. Degress of control & sensitivity of connectedness. Be skillful to be connected & use appropriate energy.
    21. Protecting your center. Point with two hands into an incoming attack.
    22. Release grip – Projectile 1 hand pointed from chest to max reach. Ripe fruit falls.
    23. Windshield Wiper – WW step forward/back. Face multiple opponents.
    24. Bullfight-Side-step: low-hand-isolation, sidestep,WW, re-direct; hand-face /mirror- isolation-WW-redirect. Harmonizing&blending diffuses force.
    25. Superior force: Grab-Wrist/elbow drop;Row boats –body versus arms. Sun Tze
    26. Re-direct: Grab-Wrist/Elbow Point/Forearm Rotation – Thumb-Up-Grab/Point
    27. Build a house – enter into multiple attacks, 2/4/8 directions. Closure.
    28. Wrist Grab – Harmonious Defense – Be like space – left hand setting boundary gripping right wrist with left elbow on left knee with right knee grounded. Immobilize left hand for isolation; platoon/company; relax; point harmoniously (i.e., only to match) with dead arm/wrist/ hand. “You Advance by Retreating”; Water around rock; pointing is assertive which is neither aggression nor repression; No fight or flight; Balance lest you lean & coerce. Deadweight arm for one-with/connectedness-not one against. No irreconcilable differences. Be like space.
    Releases from dynamic Grabs/Traps–avoid but be confident you can defend.
    29. Hair grab: principles: isolation, superior force, wrist/limits, immediate action.
    30. Collar grabbed from behind: drop & bow (re-direct/superior force); lean back/WW/Build House & limit (connected, isolation). Surprise the surpriser.
    31. Choke behind. Curl body/fingers protect throat/WW; step back/spin into arm/step.
    32. Front Choke – swing up arms, torque body while dipping, grab hand, wristlock.
    33. Arm grab from behind. Do not pull ahead but connect (isolation/superior force) & lounge with wrist to ankle & opponent slides off your back. This is a throw.
    34. Right arm-bar grabbed at the wrist by left hand. Stiffen versus Relax and rotate.
    35. Right shoulder grab from behind, hand windmill backward, WW, step, and Build House; windmill forward & grab wrist; Dip as you spin and grab.
    36. Pinned to the wall by multiple people. Vertically slide down & WW/Mirror.
    37. Knife/stick in back. Surprise/Immediate action- height/hand/weapon length?
    38. Double-shoulder-lock – push-back forehead and pry open fingers, submission.
    39. Fight when straddled. Use the ground & opponent’s punches to destabilize him.
    40. Know how to recover from a fall w/o missing a beat; stay-ahead of pain/escape from submission/wrist holds – roll or fall (i.e., sit down or break fall). Every stab, punch, and kick is a stairway to recovery. Michael Jordon’s coach. Harmonize.
    Take down – Principle of Containment & neutralization of opposition.
    41. Grab wrist and straighten out arm at your knee level and walk evenly away from the person’s head. Submission PIN does not invoke pain unless opponent resists.
    a. PIN & Release Before release, know exit strategy (BATNA) & don’t get chased down. b. Cool Down 3 breathes with overlaid hands in front. c. Relax all body parts: hair to toe nails. *When one flower blooms, it is spring everywhere. Create yourself as that flower. Optional
    42. Lie down and wiggle like a fish out of water (leave this out if no mat).
    43. Single leg squat, prayer pushup, one-arm push-up.
    44. Hip-stretch if the location is good for laying down. Pigeon; lie back on bent-knee.
    45. Head lock – tuck chin – insert hand to protect neck- TBD.

  5. Is the writer and the editor of this site aware that “Chinaman” is considered a racist and derogatory term? I would assume that the word “Jap” or “Nip” would not be used on this site but “Chinaman” is?

  6. Hi Jerry,

    Many thank for this excellent work.
    I feel it has the merit to be present as a blog in its own right.
    Also thanks for your thoughts regarding the fires.
    Like violence fire can only burn where there is fuel.
    Remove the fuel in advance, or yourself from the fuel and the risk is diminished.
    Keep up the good work.

    Best Regards


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