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IT, IP, IS, aiki or whatever Dan Harden and Mike Sigman are posting about (let's presume they are both on the same topic) -- and I only mention these gentlemen because they post often on the matter and general consensus is they have got the goods.
Me? I'm nobody and don't know nutt'n. I want IT. There is no debate about IT. When someone like William Gleason Shihan goes to see Mr. Harden and becomes one of ‘them' that ought to settle the matter once and for all -- for everyone. No, it is only a question of when and where are we all going to get IT, too? I don't have to be convinced and I don't need to feel it before I ‘drink the koodaid'. I'm ready to get on with it (IT). Either Mr. Gleason really found something special or he has been brainwashed and beguiled by Mr. Harden -- either way I want that kind of mojo. Don't care for Gleason or Harden? How about Ushiro, Ikeda, Threadgill? Pick you favorite exemplar -- If you've already got one then let's move on. Still need convincing -- this is not for you. I admit that I had my doubts, too. For me, Mr. Gleason was the nail in the coffin (please forgive the metaphor). Of course, I was already leaning pretty far that way anyhow (but still centered).
I'm a scientist (physicist) and am a true believer and that means everything must be explainable using the ‘tools of the trade' of physics and science in general and eventually all will yield to the scientific method. If you don't grant me that then might as well stop reading now. Just because something can't be explained now does not mean it can't be explained eventually -- sometimes the tool set has to grow to solve the problems. Quantum theory and the general theory of relativity really do explain quite a bit but they simply are incompatible with each other and this is a great big problem because each is the best we have in their respective areas of applicability and they really ought to work together. This just shows that there is still work to be done on the tool set and our ability to use the tools and to pose the questions in ways that will yield answers. Successive approximations approaching the asymptote of truth -- maybe that is the best we can have but that should not stop us from hoping and striving for more. One small step forward is still progress.
History proves that the transmission of knowledge is critical for the continued existence of our civilization. The single most effective method of transmission in this context is the written word. Certainly there are limitations and weakness in the written word but if you seriously think it is not the most effective method of transmission of large and complex bodies of knowledge just try going without for a few years and see where you end up (I strongly recommend against such a test).
It would seem to be a matter of little dispute that the knowledge of aiki was once prevalent but has fallen into obscurity and is now on the upsurge. Imagine if the decline had continued for another generation or two -- we might have lost IT all together and be left to our own devices to discover it anew (not a very effective or efficient mode).
If we wish to insure that future generations of budding budoka get IT then a written description and even, eventually, a strong scientific basis for IT is an absolute must unless we want to risk losing IT like we almost did already.
One can read everything ever written about aikido and not get a bit of it at all until they get on the mat and build up the experiential base to interpret the words so written. Aiki/IT is the same way. There is no substitute for real experience. Having had that experience (in aikido) and looking back at the old books there are flashes of "oh, that's what they meant". Aiki/IT will be the same way (I so state boldly with no supporting reference). We have all had the same experience of reading something and thinking it did not make sense or explain clearly enough and, when assisted by someone more experienced, it did start to make sense -- organic chemistry done at the bench instructs as much as at the desk but without some guidance you might blow your face off.
I've read my share of poorly written books. Maybe ‘those in the know' now are not the ones yet able to do the heavy lifting (writing the scholarly expositions) or even care to try (or even think it is possible/worthwhile but just a big waste of time). Someday there will be one/some who takes up the task and then there will be others who follow and build on the base until there are well established ‘camps' who insist ‘our way is the best' and can provide sound scholarship to support their claims. We can even have discussions about the evolutionary benefits and sources of aiki -- who knows, maybe there is a clear physiological/anatomical change that happens that indicates IT and it can be found on old bones, maybe even really old bones like homo erectus bones, after all is there not a history in aiki/IT for cadaver dissection-looking for what exactly-finding what exactly?
Will the evolutionary study or the physics or psychological aspects/truths of aiki speed ones training along? Maybe, maybe not -- probably will help take it to another level all together. Not to mention I find such a fine diversion. Just ponder a moment the collective history of the human race for the past 10,000 years compared to what happened in the last 150 years. The last 150 years have been the age of science in which the method has taken what was and built it up in unimagined ways -- some wondrous and some monstrous. Now, I don't particularly see men whacking golf balls on the moon as a testament to the scientific method but it sure is more interesting that philosophical debates about phlogiston, ill humors and small dwarves in the guts. Even so, blood letting and leeches do have a time and place for use that are solidly scientific uses.
Ueshiba kaicho was a voracious reader and wrote a fair amount too. If he is a good enough example for ones physical study of aikido and aiki then find the time to read and write as well. I know, shameless appeal to authority-it happens in the martial arts fairly often and I am not immune.
Maybe, one day, there will even be an aiki Olympic event in which the best of the world compete to get the fancy medals and their faces on cereal boxes-aiki whores that ‘sold out' to the commercialization of our beloved art. On second thought, maybe it is better to keep things quiet, secret and selective-close the barn door tight.