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ronin_10562
07-22-2001, 12:02 PM
I have just finished reading Mr. Lynchís article at Aikido Journal http://www.aikidojournal.com/articles/ajArticles/lynch_111.asp. The heart of the article is the use of Japanese language in the dojo that is not Japanese. I have felt there is a certain elitism that many Aikidoka have about using Japanese in class even though all the students are English speaking.
Nihon Goshin Aikido techniques are all in English. The class is run using the English language, but there is a test for Sho-Dan on Japanese terms so knowledge of Japanese terms is important,but using it to teach isn't.
My question is why do Aikidoka look down at schools that donít use the Japanese terms. Its as if the school is perpetrating a fraud if they donít use the Japanese language.

Walter V. Kopitov

Nick
07-22-2001, 12:24 PM
for one, it's easier... more aikido schools will recognize "shomenuchi kokyunage tenkan" than "over head strike controlled throw with a circular takedown"... and, I suppose, they feel it's a betrayal of tradition... also, the concepts such as ma-ai, etc, really have no good translation into english...

Nick

mj
07-22-2001, 01:14 PM
Originally posted by Nick
for one, it's easier... more aikido schools will recognize "shomenuchi kokyunage tenkan" than "over head strike controlled throw with a circular takedown"... and, I suppose, they feel it's a betrayal of tradition... also, the concepts such as ma-ai, etc, really have no good translation into english...

Nick

I would have to disagree with that, partly, Nick.
Different styles use entirely different japanese names for the same techniques.
So that doesn't feel right to me.
However, I agree with you on terms such as ma-ai, ki, zanshin etc, but they are not 'techniques' (?)

guest1234
07-22-2001, 01:36 PM
I would disagree with that article for these reasons: I spent a month while TDY studying in a Nihon Goshin dojo. I loved what I learned, and the very nice students and sensei who let me visit for that month. But to me, every technique was 'something something arm-bar' or 'arm-bar something'---really no easier for me to learn. I wondered then if the same English names were used from dojo to dojo---and in full gratitude I will say this was the first place I actually got the hang of ushiro kubishime koshinage, or as it was known to me then 'mugger's throw'. I think, as Nick said, there are some things that take several English words to describe the same thing as one Japanese (it was, after all, developed in Japan, maybe if it started here the concepts and theories would have grown up around one word English terms). Also, just as when the Mass was in Latin, or even now when the language of the skies is English, one common language to mean certain commands helps. You may not get much of the finer points of correction while visiting in say, an Italian or French dojo, but 'dozo' or 'dome' at least give you a heads-up about what is happening (like the 'agnus dei' in the Mass example).
I changed at one point from a style that might write a technique say 'kata-tori kokyunage' to one that instead would say 'kata-tori kokyunage hantai tenkan' or 'kata-tori kokyunage tenshun michibiki kaeshi'. At first you might say the second group was elitist, or showing off. But on a test there is no struggle as sensei is trying to get the student to figure out which kokyunage he is wanting to see (my first dojo got around this by referring to them as 'third kyu kokyunage, fourth kyu kokyunage, etc. meaning at which test level he introduced that particular version).How much easier to just describe it by its name (although named in Japanese). But I think we do this in sports all the time: strike, ball, birdie, safety, etc---it's just easier.
And to get back to the original point, I don't think anyone looks down on schools that use only English; what i got from the article was the author was criticising schools that use Japanese. Once again, I think there is room in the world of Aikido for both--i just find the Japanese easier.

Anne
07-22-2001, 03:19 PM
Another example in favor of using Japanese terms are international seminars. I've been to seminars where the translation of what the Japanese sensei said wasn't very well. But most people could follow the explanations because they recognized the Japanese key words. Apart from the fact that translating every term in several languages would cost too much precious training time.

yours,
Anne

Nick
07-22-2001, 04:38 PM
ok then, perhaps I can put it this way...

if a koi (carp) is put in a pond with nothing around it, it will grow fat and soon become sick. However, if you put a stone in the pond, the koi will remain strong by swimming around it.

Tradition is the stone we swim around. If we take little bits of the stone away, at first it won't really make a difference (E.G. using japanese in the doj---training hall) but, as we continue to take bits and pieces off of the stone (We don't really need to bow to O'sensei, I mean, he's dead, who cares?), what will be left for us? Certainly not aikido... or should we not even call it aikido? Is that too conservative?

The upholding of tradition is what allowed you to learn aikido in the first place. If we wish for aikido to continue into future generations, we must continue to swim around the stone of tradition...

Nick

guest1234
07-22-2001, 06:19 PM
Hmmm, I think I've just been called an overweight goldfish :). While I like the Japanese for the reasons I already said, I don't like the idea that we do things 'because we always have'. That stone already has erosions, unless all in your dojo wear hakama from the moment they step on the mat. Respect, which can be bowing to O Sensei's picture in one form, is good. But I've seen dojos where they bow and clap before his picture, and disrespect each other on the mat; others bow but do not clap, and actually some where there is no picture of O Sensei, and some where there is no picture and they do not bow or clap. None of it correlated to the respect I saw demonstrated there to each other or the art. The concept of respect (or rei) is important, not that one outward manifestation be performed as it was in O Sensei's dojo.
Japanese terms are a convient shorthand understood in a variety of countries if it is used in the teaching of the art, I would bet French is used in a like manner in fencing but don't really know. But I don't endorse it's use just because O Sensei spoke Japanese; that would be the kind of behavior I think the article spoke about.
Still, a cool metaphor you've got there, Nick.

Jim23
07-22-2001, 06:35 PM
I always find this a very frustrating topic.

I don't speak Japanese, beyond what I learn in aikido (with the exception of the names of a few sushi dishes ;)) and have always said that it must be so much easier for Japanese students who don't have the language barrier to deal with.

Years ago, when I studied taekwon-do, I had an instructor who was a very high ranking Korean. The funny thing was that he used English almost exclusively - boy it made it much easier (we still learned the Korean names over time). Before that, when I studied Japanese karate, the locals used all Japanese, and it confused the heck out of me ... hmm.

I find the language barrier an extra obstacle to overcome. However, it probably won't go away anytime soon, so, we'll just have to accept it.

By the way, have any of you guys been shite lately?

Jim23

Nick
07-22-2001, 07:18 PM
The reason I am so adamant about maintaining tradition is, in fact, because it is the way "it's always been", but it's always been that way for a reason...

People have been building chairs for hundreds of years now. The basic shape and function of a chair has not changed. The correct way to build a chair has not changed. It's become... tradition. If you modified your chair too much, it would be unbalanced and uncomfortable. Imagine if you had a chair that, while it had lumbar support, a nice cushy back and padded armrests, one of the legs was smaller than the others. One example of how breaking "tradition" can lead to disaster.
This is not to say there can be no variations. We have rolling chairs, high chairs, booster chairs... but all are basically built the same way. This can be thought of like aikido. Despite the different "styles" and the different people practicing them, if we don't maintain our tradition of building strong, balanced aikido, we'll be in a pretty uncomfortable place...

Nick

Erik
07-22-2001, 08:13 PM
Originally posted by Nick
The reason I am so adamant about maintaining tradition is, in fact, because it is the way "it's always been", but it's always been that way for a reason...

People have been building chairs for hundreds of years now. The basic shape and function of a chair has not changed. The correct way to build a chair has not changed. It's become... tradition. If you modified your chair too much, it would be unbalanced and uncomfortable. This is not to say there can be no variations. We have rolling chairs, high chairs, booster chairs... but all are basically built the same way. This can be thought of as aikido. Despite the different "styles" and the different people practicing them, if we don't maintain our tradition of building strong aikido, we'll be in a pretty uncomfortable place...

For thousands of years, doctors treated patients without washing their hands. They probably caused as many problems as they helped. One day, someone came along and changed the tradition because he had found a better and different way. He washed his hands.

As to chairs, I sure wouldn't want to work on my computer with a chair and desk built to specs created in the 1800's. I rather like the idea that people have tweaked with the edges.

Japanese martial arts were created in a Japanese vacuum for Japanese in a Japanese world. It was a closed world. Today, martial arts and the world for that matter is much more open with a wide and far reaching interchange of cultures, ideas and people. Japanese traditions are not even remotely able to stand up to this dynamic and we should be glad of that. We romanticize the Japanese, yet, we forget all the bloodshed, the atrocities, the racism, the lofty status of women, and all the other problems caused precisely because of that culture's traditions. Not that anyone else is any better, it's just that neither are they.

Nick, I agree that blindly throwing away tradition is not always a good thing but blindly following tradition is just as bad. If there's a better way to do something then we should try it. Expanding and broadening the art will not only make it stronger but will make it significantly stronger. Aikido will survive just fine.

Nick
07-22-2001, 08:18 PM
Exactly... there's a difference between changing it, and throwing it away. If modern doctors did not pay attention to those before them, imagine how horrible our medicine would be! If the masters of old had ignored tradition for the "newer, better ways" (and indeed many did... many koryu died with the modernization of Japan in 1868), we would not have aikido. If Takeda-sensei had decided that he didn't need to preserve some dumb tradition, or O'sensei had decided just to carry a gun rather than improve himself, we would not be posting here on this forum.

As for why I respect the Japanese, Chinese et al of old (if not today)... it can be explained by looking at their bows. Look at a bow that a modern, western deer hunter uses. With scopes, pulleys, lasers, poly age fibers, unbreakable materials, and heat seeking arrows (well, maybe not those), it is almost unrecognizable. Look at a Japanese yumi used for kyudo. It was probably made almost the exact same way that one would have been made almost 400 years ago. The yumi is just as deadly as the western bow. The difference lies in the Japanese philosophy of growing inside, honing your technique and skill, rather than simply finding a new way to make it faster and stronger and prettier and lighter and smaller and... you get the idea.

This is not to say the western search for new technology has not been without benefits. That you are looking on a computer screen reading this is proof enough. We can make our outer, material circumstances better for a while, but to truly grow, to truly live we have to turn inward...

Our job as aikidoka is to make aikido better, without straying from the path of aiki. How can we know where we are headed, or where we should head, if we don't know (or, God forbid, don't care) where we have been?

Nick

guest1234
07-22-2001, 08:21 PM
Then perhaps you can see the use of English rather than Japanese in those dojos that do so as a rolling chair, and not suggest they are eroding the art by using English? For an art that stresses unity and acceptance, it seems like the tone of most posts on these threads is 'why my dojo is better--more true to O Sensei, more useful in real life, etc--- than yours."
Some learn better with the English names, some the Japanese; let's be glad there are ways for both types to learn without worrying that those who use Japanese are pretentious, or those who do not are turning their back on what is important to Aikido.

guest1234
07-22-2001, 08:27 PM
Excellent example, Erik, I wish as a physician I't thought of it. You guys type fast, too. To steal from Erik, Nick, washing ones hands was not built on previous medical practices, it was a radical breaking with previous thought, seen as worthless by those who held to the traditional views of medicine. Much, I imagine, as some of the traditional martial artists viewed the new outside-the-box approach of Aikido. Growth is necessary for life.
Oh, and for what it is worth, we caused MUCH more problems with dirty hands; unwashed hands of physicians made childbirth an extremely risky business.

Nick
07-22-2001, 08:31 PM
I hate to say it... but some dojo are better than others. I hardly represent my dojo, (I just like arguing) but if people learn some judo and jujutsu, water it down so that it could NEVER work in a self defense situation, and call it aikido, should we not admonish them for fear of being "pretentious"?

My classes are taught in english. The techniques have Japanese names. That's how my teachers learned it, and our head instructor, who learned it from O'sensei. Not because we think we're cool because we use japanese, not because of any kind of arrogance... it's just how they were taught, and therefore how they teach.

"Aiki cannot be exhausted
by words written or spoken.
Without dabbling in idle talk,
Understand through practice"

If you think about it, we don't even need names for techniques... it just makes things easier... things are the way they have been for a reason. They're the way they should be...

Nick

Nick
07-22-2001, 08:36 PM
Originally posted by ca
Excellent example, Erik, I wish as a physician I't thought of it. You guys type fast, too. To steal from Erik, Nick, washing ones hands was not built on previous medical practices, it was a radical breaking with previous thought, seen as worthless by those who held to the traditional views of medicine. Much, I imagine, as some of the traditional martial artists viewed the new outside-the-box approach of Aikido. Growth is necessary for life.
Oh, and for what it is worth, we caused MUCH more problems with dirty hands; unwashed hands of physicians made childbirth an extremely risky business.

which would you prefer to deliver your child? A trained physician with unwashed hands, or someone who took a CPR course a few years ago, but has shiny tools and anti bacterial soap?

Convienences and innovations are nice, but worthless unless backed up with the form that makes up the art. This can be seen in the aikido student who looks for better, more "fun" ways to perform a technique when he hasn't even properly learned the technique in the first place. Without a thorough grounding in the kihon, the basics, whether we washed our hands or not seems irrelevant...

Nick

JJF
07-23-2001, 06:37 AM
I'm a bit confused when it comes to the carp-story. I mean.. I usually run around in circles all the time, but I'm definately not in great shape. ;)
Anyway: Am I the only one who finds it intersting that a style calling itself "Nihon Goshin Aikido" insists on using english terms when it comes to naming techniques? Why not go all the way and translate the name of the style ? Perhaps something like "Japanese five-spirited way of lifeforce and harmony" ? Nah wouldn't really work would it ?
I agree that classes should be thaught in a language understandable by the majority of the people present. In our dojo that would be danish unless we have foreign visitors. Then it would often be in english. However every technique or basic principle is called by its japanese name and whenever I go abroad to train in foreign dojo's I really apreciate that I can understand and recognice the things that the sensei says. I can partially understand why english people would concidere using their own terms but to translate into danish terms (small country, and not that many aikido-ka's) would make little or no sense.
My opinion: Don't discard tradition without carefully concideration and don't hang on to tradition with any less concideration. Tradition can be a great thing, but seldom for the sake of tradition itself.

andrew
07-23-2001, 08:07 AM
Originally posted by mj

Different styles use entirely different japanese names for the same techniques.
So that doesn't feel right to me.



I'm glad you said partly, because that's not at all true. Ikkyo is Ikkyo (etc). Some might be more precise or concoluted in their description of the attack, mention some taisabaki in the technique name or whatever, but the techniques have the same names.

andrew

Nick
07-23-2001, 08:57 AM
hmm... don't some styles use ikkajo, nikajo, etc? Anybody know exactly what those mean?

Nick

ronin_10562
07-23-2001, 10:06 AM
To JJF, Goshin means Self-Defense perhaps we should also use Kanji in addition to using the Japanese terms.

Nick, As I understand it Ikkyo is first principle and Nikkyo is second principle etc.. The first two principles are sometimes reversed. So that depending on the dojo or oganization the name and techniques are not in sync.

I understand there are some japanese concepts that don't have a good translation, but many of the technique names are descriptive. Thrust to the stomach and do an entering throw.(Tsuke irimi nage)Whats the big deal?
I'm not against using Japanese terms, but I dislike the holier then thou attitude some practitioners have.

I started my training in 1974 and after more then two decades in the Martial Arts I find it easier to teach using the English language. The students learn quickly in their native language. I also learned a little Spanish to help the students that don't speak english, and on the rare occasion I have a Japanese student I practice my Japanese.

In my opinion it is the instructors responsibilbity to teach in a manner that all students can understand. It shouldn't be a test and those that fail aren't allowed to learn because they have difficulty with the Japanese language.

Walt

Nick
07-23-2001, 11:39 AM
it actually seems like learning the vocabulary has been very easy... now if only the art were so easy!

All of us take on a "holier than thou" attitude sometimes... it's not always a bad thing, but too much of it certainly is...

Nick

michaelkvance
07-23-2001, 01:36 PM
Here at ACLA all technique is described using the Japanese, but class is otherwise taught in English. Personally, I enjoy learning bits of Japanese, as much as I enjoy slowly learning kanji from the scrolls and paintings in our dojo.

This reminds me of a story Sensei Furuya told once, about a blind student he had, and how interesting his grasp of technique was because he wouldn't see his partner. I wonder sometimes if I would be a better student if I couldn't hear Sensei's instructions, but instead had to focus my entire concentration on observing the technique as he performs it for us...

m.

Nick
07-23-2001, 01:56 PM
Also... if a student does not progress as quickly because using Japanese names for techniques is not "convienent", is that really the teacher's fault? Confucious once said something to the effect of "If I give a student one corner of a square, and they cannot return to me the other three, they have not warranted further teaching"... If nothing else, something as trivial as vocabulary weeds out the "kewl d00ds" who just want to learn how to "kick some butt"...

The job of a teacher is to teach. The job of a student is to learn, even if it requires some extracurricular activity (that is, researching and *gasp* thinking about Aikido outside the dojo)

Nick

Erik
07-23-2001, 02:23 PM
Originally posted by Nick
Also... if a student does not progress as quickly because using Japanese names for techniques is not "convienent", is that really the teacher's fault?

Mayhaps it is and mayhaps it isn't. Now that we understand dyslexia we are able to teach individuals who suffer from it. Things didn't work out so well in the past for those who suffered from it. Not that Confuscious would have had a clue what that was, so I guess he would have removed those lesser folks from consideration.

Honestly, I can't believe we are even having this discussion. Language is just language. It is a method of communication and nothing more. If the Nihon Goshin folks do good technique and are good people who cares if they call ikkyo "feedlebeemerstiefloom". In fact, if we all called it that, and we all knew what it was, it would be exactly as good as ikkyo.

Jim23
07-23-2001, 02:39 PM
Originally posted by Nick
hmm... don't some styles use ikkajo, nikajo, etc? Anybody know exactly what those mean?

Nick
Maybe seeing them in context will help:

Shomen uchi ikkajo osae ichi

Katate mochi nikajo osae ni

and even

Shomen uchi yonkajo osae ichi

"You say Nage (or was that Tori?) and I say Shite"

Jim23

Jim23
07-23-2001, 02:44 PM
Shomen uchi feedlebeemerstiefloom osae ichi

NOW we're talking!

Jim23

Andy
07-23-2001, 03:12 PM
Originally posted by Nick
Convienences and innovations are nice, but worthless unless backed up with the form that makes up the art. This can be seen in the aikido student who looks for better, more "fun" ways to perform a technique when he hasn't even properly learned the technique in the first place. Without a thorough grounding in the kihon, the basics, whether we washed our hands or not seems irrelevant...
And how is using English technique names in the dojo the same as not learning basic techniques?

If it helps people to talk about the techniques in English, German, Spanish, or sign language, then I say more power to them. Heck, you even said it yourself when you wrote, "If you think about it, we don't even need names for techniques... it just makes things easier..."; that was O-sensei's "tradition" of not naming techniques. He didn't name the techniques but, rather, his students did.

Aikido needs to grow, change, and evolve, and it's already done so since the time of O-sensei's death, thank goodness. I wouldn't want aikido to become stagnant due to "upholding traditions." As Colleen mentioned, we no longer have to wear hakama on the first day of our training.

Here's a good article on this very website on this topic:

http://www.aikiweb.com/spiritual/ikeda1.html

Sorry, Nick. I don't care for tradition worship. Less useless form, more heart.

guest1234
07-23-2001, 03:12 PM
feedlebeemerstiefloom! Jim, Erik, come on, there are children who read this!
There was one fellow I recall who had beautiful technique, but refused to test---he couldn't keep the Japanese straight to save his life (or face as it were). Another whose ukemi was equally beautiful, but resisted volunteering to be a test uke for the same reason. Those of us to whom languages come fairly easily don't always recognise how hard it is for others. Admitedly, perhaps in part because Americans tend not to try so hard, since so many other countries learn English, but still there are those who just learn better with the English. Some learn better through kata. Some with matches. Some from hard static grabs and some from fluid attacks. Some when it's hard-hitting life threatening self defense, some when it is gentle peaceful movements. I think that it's neat that that is all Aikido.

Nick
07-23-2001, 03:35 PM
Originally posted by Andy
Less useless form, more heart.

So what you're saying is that the actual technique we practice isn't as important as the "heart"? I agree that a good attitude is important, but if my aikido is horrible, and I don't care because I have "good heart", am I really learning anything? Not really...

I'm not one for "tradition worship"... I am, however, against people who have no idea what they're doing changing things, and then destroying their art because the people they tell about their "change" don't know any better...

If we surrender form before mastering the form, what's left? Not aikido.

Nick

Erik
07-23-2001, 03:56 PM
Originally posted by Nick
So what you're saying is that the actual technique we practice isn't as important as the "heart"? I agree that a good attitude is important, but if my aikido is horrible, and I don't care because I have "good heart", am I really learning anything? Not really...


I dub thee "Nick the Troll" for the duration of this thread.

Andy
07-23-2001, 04:02 PM
Originally posted by Nick
So what you're saying is that the actual technique we practice isn't as important as the "heart"?
What I said was, "Less useless form. More heart." By useless form, I'm talking about such things as forcing people to use Japanese when it's not necessary.

However, have you met people who are recognized in the aikido community but have really lousy techniques? I have. These people are recognized for what they've brought to the art (writing books, creating aikido communities, editing magazines, and so on) -- not for how well they can throw someone down onto the ground.

How about the (hypothetical) 70 year old man who comes into your dojo and practices, once a week, and bring a smile with him each and every time? Or the (non-hypothetical) semi-paralyzed blackbelt lady who used to be hale and practiced heartily until her she fell asleep at the wheel going home from a week-long seminar but has returned to the mat to be there and to train with the people who has supported her over the years?

I'm not saying I don't personally train with the intent to making my techniques more effective, but how far does having a good nikkyo that can snap a person's wrist and elbow into pieces get you in life?

And you didn't answer my question of, "how is using English technique names in the dojo the same as not learning basic techniques?" It seems like that's the parallel you tried to draw in your previous post...

Nick
07-23-2001, 04:51 PM
If you wish to gain wisdom, etc, then goto a zendo, and write a book on philosophy. I'm not saying aikido is only for people who want to learn how to fight, in fact I believe the exact opposite, it's for people who don't want to fight, no matter who they are. You train to make your technique more effective... then you can notice how these methods of injuring people can in fact help them.

I can talk about aikido and write essays and all of that all day. But does that mean that I should open up my own dojo? Of course not. I may be able to talk and argue with the best of them, but if my waza isn't up to par, I certainly should not be dojo-cho of anything.

As for why I prefer Japanese... for one, it's easier. For two, I like learning another language. Finally, if we start with small things like using all english, etc, it is my fear that eventually students will forget or blur the history of aikido with stories they liked "better" (O'sensei? Who's that?)

Personal Summary: Good technique (or striving to have it) with good philosophy is good. Good Technique with bad philosophy is bad. Bad Technique with good philosophy is bad.

Nick

mj
07-23-2001, 05:03 PM
Originally posted by Nick
If you wish to gain wisdom, etc, then goto a zendo, and write a book on philosophy. I'm not saying aikido is only for people who want to learn how to fight, in fact I believe the exact opposite, it's for people who don't want to fight, no matter who they are. You train to make your technique more effective... then you can notice how these methods of injuring people can in fact help them.
Nick

Excellent

[Censored]
07-23-2001, 06:20 PM
What exactly is the significance of maai, zanshin, or atemi to an English speaker? How would you expect one to understand these terms without concrete examples? And in the presence of such examples, how do you judge distance, presence, and strike to be inadequate?

Aikido is not a Japanese martial art. We should consider it instead to be a partial reflection of the truth. As such, not the exclusive province of Japanese speakers.

Or, if we are really concerned about maintaining the purity of the practice, maybe we should bar the barbarian gaijin at the door? :rolleyes:

Andy
07-23-2001, 06:28 PM
Originally posted by Nick
If you wish to gain wisdom, etc, then goto a zendo, and write a book on philosophy. I'm not saying aikido is only for people who want to learn how to fight, in fact I believe the exact opposite, it's for people who don't want to fight, no matter who they are. You train to make your technique more effective... then you can notice how these methods of injuring people can in fact help them.
Are you saying that those who are more interested in the philosophical ideas of aikido shouldn't be training in aikido but should be going to a zendo? That aikido should be taught without any reference to its philosophy on the mat?

How can you teach a technique like shihonage which can easily break a person's elbow without referring to the philosophy of aikido of minimum harm to the attacker?
As for why I prefer Japanese... for one, it's easier. For two, I like learning another language.
OK -- two reasons that apply to you personally. That's OK, of course.
Finally, if we start with small things like using all english, etc, it is my fear that eventually students will forget or blur the history of aikido with stories they liked "better" (O'sensei? Who's that?)
That's a huge leap in logic with many assumptions in between.

I referred to sign language up above and have met people who have had to teach deaf people. They've said that they usually "translate" the name of the throw into English so people can understand more easily. Are you saying that these people shouldn't be taught aikido because they may "dilute" the art?

What other traditional things do you do in your practice? Do you take with you a letter of recommendation whenever you go to another dojo? Do you make sure to place your instructor at the "safe" seat of a table at a restaurant (and do you pay every time)? Do you spread salt in front of your dojo to ward off evil spirits?

Tradition is a spiritual/philosophical matter. Doesn't this go against your thought in the first paragraph quoted above?

Lastly, since you seem to be really intent on making sure that everyone's aikido is effective, how does using Japanese terminology make for more effective aikido?

Nick
07-23-2001, 07:21 PM
I'm saying that it seems wiser to worry about the different ways aikido can and cannot be used after you've gained some proficiency in the art, not before.

There's a difference between telling people philosophy and really feeling it in your life. If you tell a first or second time beginner, with no philosophy, martial arts, etc. training about concepts like masakatsu agatsu, ma-ai, etc... he may smile and nod, and if he's a smart person, he may understand what you mean intellectually. However, it may be years down the road before that beginner can begin to grasp what his teacher told him. It happens to all of us... there have been things that my instructors have told me, that, despite my ego's best attempt at denying it, are simply too advanced for me. I consider my practice incomplete until my tachiwaza and bukiwaza can match my kuchiwaza...

Now now... you seem to really go off on me on that last part. The reason why I care so much about maintaining at least some traditions, is simply because all things start small... calling something "first arm bar" instead of ikkyo, which is not a big problem and sometimes necessary. However, as aforementioned, my fear is that as we start to break small traditions, we will begin to break bigger traditions ("we're american, we don't need to bow" etc).

O'sensei didn't have to create Aikido. He could have kept it to himself, and turned away anyone who asked to learn under him. If we don't try to preserve at least some of that spirit and integrity that made O'sensei and his Aikido so great, can we really call what we do Aikido with no second thought?

As for why I am intent on making sure people have effective technique... well, of course I do. Aikido, though an art of peace, is at the same time, a martial art. Remove effectiveness and practicality, and all you have is art. Now people can learn beautiful movements, and gain wisdom from art, but to take a dance and call it Aikido, is wrong in my eyes.

If you want to learn a beautiful, dynamic form of art, take up ballet, not aikido.

Nick

PS-- yes, I do save my sensei a seat when we go out... wait, should I not call him sensei anymore? Is that too traditional?

Erik
07-23-2001, 07:34 PM
Originally posted by Nick
I can talk about aikido and write essays and all of that all day. But does that mean that I should open up my own dojo? Of course not. I may be able to talk and argue with the best of them, but if my waza isn't up to par, I certainly should not be dojo-cho of anything.


This is an interesting statement. What exactly does "up to par" mean? Here in the Bay Area, a great many individuals started running Aikido schools at shodan or even earlier in some cases. I'm not sure the standards back then were any better than ours now. Maybe some but certainly not a lot better. Some of these people have made invaluable contributions to our art. I seriously doubt many of them would have passed your acid test.

As I'm thinking about it, the name Terry Dobsen comes to mind. Terry, according to what many have said and the little bit I saw, did not have good technique. I'm not even sure he had average technique. Terry's gift was that he flipped the model around and gave us an art that could work on a different level. I don't think there are many who would say that his contribution to the art here in the US was anything but significant although there have been a few that have said his technique was awful.

While I agree that good technique is important (this is an ongoing discussion where I practice and I'm probably the loudest proponent of good technique), I can also understand and appreciate a worldview where it doesn't matter much. Ultimately, I don't think our art's contribution to the world will ever be measured by the quality shiho nage's of it's practitioners.

[Censored]
07-23-2001, 07:42 PM
O'sensei didn't have to create Aikido. He could have kept it to himself, and turned away anyone who asked to learn under him. If we don't try to preserve at least some of that spirit and integrity that made O'sensei and his Aikido so great, can we really call what we do Aikido with no second thought?


Japanese terminology does not make Aikido great.
Bowing does not make Aikido great.
Tradition does not make Aikido great.

Maybe you have confused it with chado? :D

Jim23
07-23-2001, 08:17 PM
So, Nick,

How do you feel about casual Fridays at the workplace? Or calling your boss Nick vs Mr. Porter?;)

Should English terms be used in boxing or wrestling or ... tennis or cricket, in other countries? (you silly-mid-on)?

(In the west) The Japanese language simply adds to the mistique of aikido, IMHO, and it's not going away any time soon ... it just wouldn't be cricket without it.

Jim23

Lisa Tomoleoni
07-23-2001, 08:41 PM
I cannot say whether Aikido should or should not be taught in the Japanese language. I do believe, however, that some knowledge of where Aikido came from cannot help but to enhance our training. For example, most English-speaking people who do Aikido "practice" Aikido, or do Aikido "training"In Japanese we use the word "keiko", which means more than to just practice physical technique. The word keiko means, in literal translation,"to study the old". I cannot help but think that differences like this will make for differences in the way the art is learned, and passed down. Does this mean we should all go through all of our training sessions in Japanese? I don't know. When I am here at my home dojo, I teach in Japanese. When I go to Hombu, I learn in Japanese. When I teach at our branch in america, I teach in English, but use Japanese terminology and explain to the students various points such as the above. Do I expect them to become proficient in Japanese language? No, of course not. But I do feel that at least knowing, or hearing of, certain nuances that get lost in translation will help them to grow.
Lisa Tomoleoni

Nick
07-23-2001, 09:12 PM
Originally posted by [Censored]

Japanese terminology does not make Aikido great.
Bowing does not make Aikido great.
Tradition does not make Aikido great.

Maybe you have confused it with chado? :D

Very true... and perhaps I have confused it with chado, as the arts do have quite a bit in common. The state of mind seen in a good chajin is very similar, if not exactly the same, as a warrior's. A story regarding Sen no Rikyu, the man more or less attributed with refining the tea ceremony into chado, comes to mind.

Sen no Rikyu was the teacher of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi, being a peasent by birth, wanted to learn this art of the samurai. However, one of his retainers was worried that Hideyoshi was spending too much time on tea and not enough with war strategy, and as thus decided to go and kill Rikyu. As he arrived, he talked with Sen no Rikyu for a time, but could find absolutely no opening.

The retainer became a student of Rikyu's that day.

I fear if we forget about tradition, we'll lose more than useless superstitions, we'll lose part of what made our teachers so great!

Nick

Nick
07-23-2001, 09:18 PM
Originally posted by Erik


This is an interesting statement. What exactly does "up to par" mean? Here in the Bay Area, a great many individuals started running Aikido schools at shodan or even earlier in some cases. I'm not sure the standards back then were any better than ours now. Maybe some but certainly not a lot better. Some of these people have made invaluable contributions to our art. I seriously doubt many of them would have passed your acid test.

As I'm thinking about it, the name Terry Dobsen comes to mind. Terry, according to what many have said and the little bit I saw, did not have good technique. I'm not even sure he had average technique. Terry's gift was that he flipped the model around and gave us an art that could work on a different level. I don't think there are many who would say that his contribution to the art here in the US was anything but significant although there have been a few that have said his technique was awful.

While I agree that good technique is important (this is an ongoing discussion where I practice and I'm probably the loudest proponent of good technique), I can also understand and appreciate a worldview where it doesn't matter much. Ultimately, I don't think our art's contribution to the world will ever be measured by the quality shiho nage's of it's practitioners.

I'm not denying that. Our job as aikidoka, it seems, is to help stop fighting, etc... but how can we stop others from fighting if we can't stop the fight within ourselves (which comes through long practice)? The reason the budo masters of old were so kind to others is because they had no fear of being defeated, because their training had been long enough and good enough to where they had no worries of losing.

I'm not saying everyone has to be a meijin their first class teaching at their new dojo. We all (should) go to the dojo to learn, not show off. However, some proficiency and understanding of aiki technique is important, so that your students learn good aikido, and not your bad habits.

I must admit, this is mostly hearsay from what I've read... I've not been in Aikido long enough to teach a class... in time, though.

Nick

Nick
07-23-2001, 09:22 PM
Originally posted by Jim23
So, Nick,

How do you feel about casual Fridays at the workplace? Or calling your boss Nick vs Mr. Porter?;)

Should English terms be used in boxing or wrestling or ... tennis or cricket, in other countries? (you silly-mid-on)?

(In the west) The Japanese language simply adds to the mistique of aikido, IMHO, and it's not going away any time soon ... it just wouldn't be cricket without it.

Jim23

Jim: I've never had a job, so I couldn't tell you about casual fridays. Perhaps we should wear jeans instead of hakama on friday classes? :) I live in the south, so perhaps the yudansha should wear belt buckles? ;)

Nick

guest1234
07-23-2001, 09:27 PM
You know, I've been in dojos that have beautiful shomens covered with dust, and students talk about tradition and ettiquette while leaving left over food on the chairs for others to pick up. I've also been in 'dojos' that were only such between freshman wrestling and the yoga classes, but the mats were washed before and after each night (even if the yoga folks did wear their shoes in anyway). I've been in dojos that clapped twice before class, three times, or not at all, and even, Nick, some that did not bow. But you know, they were all Aikido dojos (even the ones that forgot the tradition of cleaning). I've been in one whose sensei was one of O Sensei's students, and not only do they not bow to a picture of O Sensei, do not clap, and at the end of class they say "thank you, sensei" in English. A lot of Japanese terminology is used during, but this particular sensei seems to want his students to 'get it' more than any I've seen (and I've seen a lot of dedicated teachers)---and he teaches in English as clearly as he can. The point---again, for those whom Japanese works, great. But as someone else already said, it is not Japanese that makes it Aikido. And even more importantly, as has been said, it was not O Sensei who cataloged and named the techniques. I know who I was told was responsible, but am not EVEN going there right now.
This reminds me very much of the arguements over the changed to the vernacular in the Mass. Oh, my goodness, it's tradition many cried (ignoring that Latin was NOT the language of the first Mass, anyway), and bemoaned the universality of Mass being equally not understood no matter where you went in the world. Me, I missed the Latin, but I've studied five languages (including Latin) and bits of three others, most of which I jumble together if not using them a lot. I just like languages. How much better, though, for so many others who did not share that passion, to actually hear 'this is the Lamb of God' rather than what for them was just a bunch of syllables that cued them to a new stage of the Mass. I had trouble with first arm bar, because it was new, and I already knew Japanese names that were competing for Betz cells. But there was no confusion in the minds of the Nihon Goshin students. And if memory serves, they did use some phrases like hamni, probaly others---I wasn't looking for differences at the time, so really didn't notice anything other than the English names for techniques.
I think I owe the original person posting an appology: I didn't think Aikidoka would look down on anyone who didn't use Japanese; I am ashamed, as one who belongs to that 'traditional' style, to know there are others who do seem to put Japanese above English.

Nick
07-23-2001, 09:35 PM
Listen, use whatever language you want. That's not aikido. Hell, you don't even have to say anything to practice aikido! Some of my favorite instructors say nothing, preferring to let us practice the art than tell us how it "should be done"... my fear since the beginning of this thread is not that people use whatever language they want, but that they begin to make changes as they see fit, not bothering to see what they're losing in the name of what is "new"...

Colleen, I'm very sorry to hear you're ashamed of me. Perhaps I should try harder to impress you from now on.

Nick

Chocolateuke
07-23-2001, 10:16 PM
for me the language barrier has not been a problem...so far. but when I started Yoshinkan we had very different names for same consepts.

nage = tori

that is one i asked my teacher who is the tori and he goes what is a tori? i said the person who throws! he goes oh the nage! so...

also for tecneuges in shizenkai we go at a tecngie shomen uchi shionage omote when in yoshinkan we go shomen uchi shionage ichi! i am like what?? so i think all the great schools ( yoshinkan,aikiai, and others) should get together and make a basic struckture and things like omte and ura ( most of you might not know what ura is it is basically entering irimi). and unify underling concepts. but oh hell i may be just talking away to get away from work!

arigato! dali bomber!

P.S. docters didnt accually accept the notion of washing hands for over 50 years after it was introduced.... like most medical discoverys!

PeterR
07-23-2001, 10:18 PM
Not sure if this has been mentioned before but many of the terms used in Japanese Budo do not have direct translations into (insert desired language here). Aside from my standard reasons for using Japanese terms

- commonality in a world in which English is not the only language.

- a little bit of added mystic

- really not that difficult if you understand the component parts

the biggest reason is that at higher levels of understanding the poor substitutes of translation just are not going to cut it. Ma-ai is much more than distance, zanshin is far more than after action posture.

guest1234
07-23-2001, 10:35 PM
I think [Censored] answered that best: most of us know what maai, zanshin, etc mean BECAUSE they were explained to us in our native tongue. Now that we know, we use the phrase, but could easily substitute others. Some may have learned the same way I was taught Russian---our professor kept repeating--in Russian--take the chalk and write on the board to a room of bewildered students our first class, finally dragging one to the board and forcing chalk into his hand. Boy, maai could be a real bear to learn that way...
I go with commonality, although Jim and Dallas are good at pointing out that's not quite true, either. My only other excuse is it's an easy shorthand that I've already learned, but I recognise it's not so easy for others. But that's my choice, not everyones, and definately not the only or even necessarily right one.

akiy
07-23-2001, 11:02 PM
Originally posted by PeterR
the biggest reason is that at higher levels of understanding the poor substitutes of translation just are not going to cut it. Ma-ai is much more than distance, zanshin is far more than after action posture.
True, but ask an average Japanese person off the street to define such terms as "maai," "zanshin," or "atemi" and you'll most likely not get a full-length lecture about them unless they were versed in a martial art.

(I'm guessing, though, that more Japanese people may know what "zanshin" really "means" as it may be used in sports and such.)

The point here being that although these terms may actually "mean" something in its original Japanese language, they really aren't any better to present its deeper meanings than English words (as Chris said) distance, presence, or strike.

My personal thought is that the same applies to the "descriptive" Japanese terms. I'm lucky in that I do get to have some bit of a notion as to what the technique may "look" like from its name (eg kaitennage, kotegaeshi/oroshi), but that's about it. Some names make no difference if it's in Japanese or English (ikkyo, nikyo, sankyo, yonkyo) unless its "descriptive" names are used (ude osae, kote mawashi, kote hineri, tekubi osae). The "poetic" sounding techniques like shihonage, tenbinnage, and iriminage give a clue but only after you've learned the techniques.

But, I will concede that basically being able to know what the attacks mean (eg katatedori ryotemochi, ushiro katatedori kubishime) can be quite helpful on tests...

-- Jun

Peter Goldsbury
07-24-2001, 08:29 PM
A few comments on Jun Akiyama's post.

I started aikido in England and had practised for ten years before coming to Japan. I have always had Japanese teachers, so, for me, what is universal about the art is clothed in Japanese forms. But it might be quite different for someone else, with a different background and training history.

Nevertheless, it is important to realise that the names of the techniques were not invented by O Sensei. In the Budo Renshu and Budo manuals, written in 1933 and 1938, respectively, it is the attacks which are classified and not the techniques. Thus O Sensei had formalised the attacks from simple street fighting to something more structured. But the names were invented by the deshi, as a memory aid to understanding the bewildering array of techniques which O Sensei showed (NB. showed, not taught). For us, too, the Japanese names are aids, rather than concepts with a 'deep' meaning.

I continually bombard my Japanese colleagues here with questions about aikido names and they usually do not have any clue of what I am talking about. Any more, that is, than the average Japanese. Thus, the names are ordinary terms with a narrower meaning, usually tied to a specific context ('omote' and 'ura', for example).

Aikido is not like a koryu and does not insist on the learning of complex kata forms in a specifically Japanese way. In fact, many Japanese teachers living overseas have had to adapt their teaching methods to suit their (predominantly western) students. Bcause it is more flexible, it is an interesting question how far aikido can strip away its Japanese cultural trappings and still be aikido. I think language is just one (very important!) aspect of a larger issue.

As I said, a few random thoughts.

Peter Goldsbury

Steve Speicher
07-25-2001, 09:02 AM
a tenkan is a tenkan by any other name...

Andy
07-26-2001, 12:05 PM
Originally posted by Nick
I'm saying that it seems wiser to worry about the different ways aikido can and cannot be used after you've gained some proficiency in the art, not before.
Whoever said that the people who are suggesting we drop things like Japanese from a dojo aren't proficient in the art? Sounds like you're making a mighty big assumption here.
The reason why I care so much about maintaining at least some traditions, is simply because all things start small... calling something "first arm bar" instead of ikkyo, which is not a big problem and sometimes necessary. However, as aforementioned, my fear is that as we start to break small traditions, we will begin to break bigger traditions ("we're american, we don't need to bow" etc).
And how does breaking these traditions make aikido any less effective?
O'sensei didn't have to create Aikido. He could have kept it to himself, and turned away anyone who asked to learn under him. If we don't try to preserve at least some of that spirit and integrity that made O'sensei and his Aikido so great, can we really call what we do Aikido with no second thought?
Whoever said we shouldn't "preserve at least some of that spirit (blah blah blah)"? It seems you're jumping off the deep end here.
Now people can learn beautiful movements, and gain wisdom from art, but to take a dance and call it Aikido, is wrong in my eyes.

If you want to learn a beautiful, dynamic form of art, take up ballet, not aikido.

Please show me where anyone, including myself, has said that ineffective aikido is what we should all be doing.

If all you want to be able to do is throw someone down without any regard to the philosophy of aikido of doing minimum harm to the attacker, then that's great and all, but is that aikido? How about if I go into your beginner's class and snap a few wrists without caring about helping beginners?
PS-- yes, I do save my sensei a seat when we go out... wait, should I not call him sensei anymore? Is that too traditional?

You obviously didn't understand my comment, then. It's about the "tradition" of placing a person higher up than you sitting at the tokonoma while the lesser sits at the shimoza.

You wrote, "Listen, use whatever language you want. That's not aikido." Since you also said that using Japanese in the dojo is a tradition, can we also further assume that traditions are "not aikido"?

Nick
07-26-2001, 03:55 PM
"Do not go where you have no business. Do not listen to talk which does not concern you."

The words of Zen master Seung Sahn. I should have paid more attention to them before I was more vocal.

Nick

Nick
07-26-2001, 04:03 PM
one last note... this thread ended up being much more interesting (and educational) on e-budo:

http://204.95.207.136/vbulletin/showthread.php?threadid=7273

Nick

Juan Alberto
07-26-2001, 05:16 PM
Sounds like you hit the nail on the head to me. Tradition just adds to the art, it does not take away anything.

Andy
07-26-2001, 11:58 PM
Originally posted by Juan Alberto
Sounds like you hit the nail on the head to me. Tradition just adds to the art, it does not take away anything.
Right -- tradition is not the art itself but "stuff" that gets added onto it. Taking it away doesn't leave the art any less.

It's nice of you to quote a philosopher, Nick. I was getting worried all you cared about was effective techniques.

Ta Kung
07-27-2001, 08:14 AM
This is rather interesting... Besides my Aikido I also practise Taekwon-do (ITF) and I used to practise Judo. And this topic has always come up, every now and then.

Not long ago we discussed this in the Taekwon-do forum. The conclusion we came to, is that we don't agree all the time... :)

It seems (and this is not bashing or critizising anyone) that Americans and other english speaking counries are less likely to "feel like using other than native language"... Btw, is "native" really the right choice of words here? Or does it sound like you're all aboriginals? :D

In Sweden there are very few dojos, regardless of art practised, that uses other then Japanese, Korean and so forth. An american friend of mine said that many americans (sorry for the generalization, wich by definition probably is false... but anyway) don't "like" to learn new languages. Most of the states population only speak english.

Sorry if anyone took this as some kind of bashing, wich it is not intended to be.

Oh yeah, almost forgot; I would never try to use swedish terms for the Aikido techniques. Why? 'Cause it would be even more confusing then the Japanse ones!

Besides, it really isn't that hard even though I really stink at Japanese (I almost whisper the "domo..." part after each session). :D

I better stop this posting, since I'm just babbling anyway...


My conclusion:
Call it a "Nikyo" or a "Bend hand pressed down in a certain angle", as long as you enjoy what you're doing!


/Patrik

PS. Do I get a prize for writing the longest posting ever?
:rolleyes:

mj
07-27-2001, 08:39 AM
Originally posted by Ta Kung

PS. Do I get a prize for writing the longest posting ever?
:rolleyes:

Not even close.... :D

Nick
07-27-2001, 10:54 AM
Originally posted by Andy

Right -- tradition is not the art itself but "stuff" that gets added onto it. Taking it away doesn't leave the art any less.

It's nice of you to quote a philosopher, Nick. I was getting worried all you cared about was effective techniques.

Of course not. The techniques of aikido make it a great martial art. But the philosophy of aikido makes it a truly great martial art.

A long time ago, I saw a martial arts class that used all english. They had to spend quite a while to figure out which technique was being spoken of. ("ohh, this one... no... that one? no... hmm).

And if I stress effective technique, well... that's just me. :)

Plus, Seung Sahn Soen-sa is a person I find quite interesting...

Nick

thomasgroendal
08-09-2001, 10:44 AM
It might be important to remember that all of these names are basically the same as the convoluted English ones, except that they are reduced in length due to the nature of Japanese pronunciation of Chinese characters. If you took the original Japanese pronunciation for all of these little tidbits of description and lined it all up, it would take just as long to get cheese log of name out. But instead the onyomi or chinese reading (minus all those cool tones) is used. The moral of the story is most of these names are efficient, if your counting in syllables.
In Japanese Baseball words, right field is raito, left field is refuto, and a strike is a suturaiku. If you had to change those words into some lengthy explanation of what they mean, you would have a real hard time calling Japanese baseball games. Aikido is much less universal than baseball, and so it might be easier to just stick with the Japanese words, rather than use the *universal english equivalents* since no one knows what the heck aikido techniques involve until they learn them.

LiquidZero
10-05-2001, 12:18 AM
This post deleted. By the poster. Yay.

To whomever read what was here and brought it up to Sensei, my apologies are in order. I apologize, and did not mean any disrespect. I wasn't trying to 'impress' anyone.

P.S. I'd like to know whomever it was that read this at my dojo, so that I may apologize face to face.

jedd
10-05-2001, 09:50 AM
I wonder how Aikidoka in Japan would pronounce english phrases if the roles were reversed? Just a thought...

PeterR
10-05-2001, 10:55 AM
Well they butcher them no question.

They take english words and fit them to katakana syllables with some interesting results.

If you don't know the rules you can often get away with adding an o to the end of the word.

By the way my students seemed to like the occaisional foray into Japanese. I describe the meaning, they enjoy the connection.

JMCavazos
10-05-2001, 03:24 PM
hey guys, calm down.

a rose is a rose is rose if not by another name! or something like that!

A kotegaeshi is the same thing as an outside wrist lock - at least I think it is.

Let's just study the art and forget the stuff that makes us want to fight.

PeterR
10-05-2001, 03:27 PM
Originally posted by JMCavazos
A kotegaeshi is the same thing as an outside wrist lock - at least I think it is.

But you see it isn't - understanding the Japanese terms would allow you to understand the technique. Translations often fail.

Dana
10-05-2001, 03:38 PM
Without taking one side or another, I would just mention that also the garments we wear during aikido practice are mereley traditional everyday Japanese clothes, adapted slightly for practice - stronger, thicker etc. Should we put them aside, too, as there are much more convenient Western style garments for practice ? Have in mind that part of the Aikido technique is based on the properties of these particular garments - e.g. where to hide your knife or put your sword.

Then, also the sword practice (an old fashioned weapon by itself) is based on traditions such as on which side we hold the sword when walking in the street.

And Suwari waza - does anyone use this way to walk anymore , even in Japan, in real life ?

As for bowing to the picture of O Sensei, I have been to several dojos in Japan and there was no picture but a shinto shrine on the wall or the national flag of Japan.

Several Japanese dojos have adopted the coloured belt system while it seems to me that in the West we stick to the 'more traditional' system of white until sho-dan.

What do the above mean about tradition ?

I must add that having the names of the techniques in one language all over the world has made it easy for me to participate in training in variuos counties and feel comfortable there.

Thank you for listening,
Dana

Chris Li
10-05-2001, 11:38 PM
Originally posted by Dana
Several Japanese dojos have adopted the coloured belt system while it seems to me that in the West we stick to the 'more traditional' system of white until sho-dan.

Not to detract from the other points, but the colored belt system was introduced by Jigoro Kano, the same person who brought the sho-dan to Japanese martial arts, so it's pretty hard to argue that they're any less "traditional".

FWIW, I usually only hear complaints about using Japanese from English speakers (who always seem to want everything translated into English) - most other people appreciate having a lingua franca that's good throughout the world.

Best,

Chris

Jappzz
10-09-2001, 09:57 AM
Hi!

I just want to add some food for thought.

What if musical terms in italian weren't understood by musicians in common.

This is exactly the same issue. Conformity helps a multi-national occurance like Aikido to be understood in the exact same way. Sure there's german, french and english terms but they are nowhere near beeing used as frequently. Why? Because the italians where first. Aikido couldn't have been developed to it's present shape anywhere else than in Japan. It stems from highly japanese or atleast asian concepts like KI etc. Why not take pride in honoring the cultural background from where it came by using the japanese terms. When translating names of techniques you can't help if some of the more subtle thoughts behind the names are lost. I personaly take pride in respecting the original message by trying to learn the exact meaning of the japanese terms.

Jasper

Andy
10-09-2001, 10:20 AM
Originally posted by Jappzz
When translating names of techniques you can't help if some of the more subtle thoughts behind the names are lost. I personaly take pride in respecting the original message by trying to learn the exact meaning of the japanese terms.
There's no "subtlety" in the names of the techniques. The subtlety in learning a techniques comes from training, not from trantlating the name.

If you disagree, please tell me just how someone will be better able to perform ikkyo by knowing it's the "first teaching"? Or kaitennage by knowing it's the "rotary throw"?

There's no "original message" that you speak of. O-sensei didn't name the techniques. His students did.

PeterR
10-09-2001, 10:35 AM
Originally posted by Andy
There's no "original message" that you speak of. O-sensei didn't name the techniques. His students did.


More like the names of many techniques existed before Ueshiba M and were used by Ueshiba himself.

Chris Li
10-09-2001, 06:24 PM
Originally posted by PeterR



More like the names of many techniques existed before Ueshiba M and were used by Ueshiba himself.

Yes and no. Neither Sokaku Takeda nor Morihei Ueshiba were big on naming - the naming systems were largely formulated by their successors.

So yes, things like "wrist twist" did certainly exist in Japanese prior to Takeda/Ueshiba, but the particular naming systems that were implemented were new creations.

FWIW, the naming conventions in Aikido (and most other Japanese martial arts, in my experience) tend to be fairly straightforward and pragmatic. For contrast, try comparing them with naming conventions in many Chinese martial arts.

Best,

Chris

Jappzz
10-10-2001, 09:53 AM
Ok, ok!

Maybe there's nothing esoteric about ikkyo etc. But what about kokyo, tenshin, irimi and other more complex metaphores. Maybe im just talking for myself but isn't translating these terms into more commonly understood metaphores going to change them a little from the original. This might not be a big problem. But to state that O-sensei or contributors to the earlier arts that he studied had no subtle meanings in the metaphores that surrounded their techniques seems strange to me. I mean isn't that in a way a part of okuden. Morihei Ueshiba was to my knowledge a highly spiritual and religous man and i think it would be rather strange if none of this had influenced him when he either named tech's or atleast chose from different metaphores to best describe them. I know that a lot of people put a lot less emphasis on the more abstract part of Aikido but i don't think you should rule out the fact that there might be more subtle sides to the teachings of Aikido.

Hugs for y'all

Jasper

Andy
10-10-2001, 10:40 AM
Originally posted by Jappzz
Maybe there's nothing esoteric about ikkyo etc. But what about kokyo, tenshin, irimi and other more complex metaphores.
No difference. As you just stated, they're metaphors. By definition, a metaphor is "a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them".

If you need to provide further analogous explanation past their literal translations ("breath", "turning of the body", "entering with the body"), the Japanese terms you just mentioned contain nothing more than what their English translations do. As such, knowing the Japanese terms does not give any more subtlety than knowing their literal translations.

I am not "rul[ing] out the fact that there might be more subtle sides to the teachings of aikido" as that would be switching arguments in midstream. Rather, I am merely showing that knowing the Japanese terms for techniques in and of themselves do not lend any more "subtlety" than using English which was your original gist.

Erik
10-10-2001, 02:35 PM
Originally posted by PeterR
But you see it isn't - understanding the Japanese terms would allow you to understand the technique. Translations often fail.

http://www.baywell.ne.jp/users/drlatham/baseball/nihongo/diction.htm

That Ichiro guy did alright and my understanding is that he doesn't speak English. Somehow I'm sure he understood a hanging breaking ball when he saw one.

LiquidZero
10-10-2001, 08:34 PM
Hm. Maybe I should just put on my training outfit , go on the mat and sit on my legs while the instructor shows us punch turning wrist counter into a second technique or maybe a axe hack first technique, front and back . Maybe if we're lucky, we'll get to do some both hand sitting throw/pin , and the senior students will show us some multi-attacker forms .

Shouldn't we just put on our gis, sit in seiza, do tsuki tenkan kotegaeshi nikkyo, or some shomenuchi ikkyo omote to ura? If we're lucky, we can do some kokyuho, and the senpai will do some randori.

Just my .02 :)

giriasis
10-10-2001, 11:12 PM
I went to the link Eric provided, and it's interesting. If you pronounce the Japanese version of most of the words it sounds strangely like the english.

de gemu: day game (as opposed to naita)
domu: dome
era: error

Also I believe linguistically, its very common in the English language to use the native version of a word but use our own anglesized pronunciation. How many of us pronounce the "r" in ryotetori, or morotetori? We are using English because we are just practicing the way of assimilating foreign words into our language that our ancestor have done. Because of this, I have no problem with using Japanese in a dojo. But then again I love learning foreign languages.

JJF
10-11-2001, 03:24 AM
...axe hack first technique...

..shomenuchi ikkyo... This is a good example of the risk of a misleading translation from japanese into english. As far as I know (and my sensei has been VERY explicit about this to me several times) a shomenuchi should NEVER be performed like an axe hack....... So I guess translating the names of the techniques can have it's shortcommings :D.

As representative of a fairly small language area I just want once again to point out that people from the US (and to some extend from Britain and Australia) often seem to be very reluctant in allowing other languages to play a part in anything. For example the excellent french movie 'Nikita' was refilmed in the US with actors of less quality (my opinion!!) as 'Codename Nina' and I think that's a serious waste of resources just because the broad audience in the US don't want to read subtitles.

My point is that the enlish speaking Aikido societies might benefit from changing the japanese terms of Aikido into english terms, but to the rest of the world that's not neccesarily the best solution. I don't think every technique should be named in each and every language since that will undoubtly leed to differences in translation and ruin the beautiful oppertunity of people from all arond the world communicating about Aikido across borders.

Let's all accept the fact that Aikido techniques are originally named in japanese and make the effort to learn them. If you like it - that's just great and if you don't then it's a good excercise in discipline.

Just my opinion

Jappzz
10-16-2001, 03:19 AM
Ok Andy i see your point.

But i still didn't reffer to these terms in a cultural vacuum as you seem to think. Asian languages has always told us things a little differently meerely because of the culture they were created by. Metaphores and central concepts of comprehension are a tad different because of that. Take chinese for instance: In classical chinese there is no concept of "OR". Accordingly you have to say "IF NOT A THEN B" etc. This is not unique for the asian languages but it's still a fact. The fact i'm getting at is that there are subtle differences in this. If your digging even deeper into this and start meddling with the kanji that make up the words you would see this even more clearly. The conclusion beeing: Most budo arts have their roots in ancient concepts. I personaly would not cosider i'm getting the "original ideas" handed down through generations if i am to meddle whith it's definition. And there's more to this. The whole DO-concept builds on the fact that tradition is respected. How are we supposed to judge , modify and redefine these arts in a completely different cultural enviroment and still keep the genuine idea that is supposed to be so profound that it's influence could lead us to grow as spiritual beeings. Language migth not even be a big part of tradition but reffering to what someone said at the very beginning of this thread: If we take ever so small bites out of the stone of tradition that we're swimming around it'll soon be pretty hollow...

Peace

Jasper

Creature_of_the_id
10-16-2001, 04:21 AM
you know... I dont understand this whole translating to english stuff.
the words we use are the names of the techniques, something that they can be recognised by. once you learn the names they are no longer foreign. Yes they originated from a different area of the world, but once you have them in your vocabulary they are not a foreign language as such.

translating the names, is kinda like instead of calling me Kevin, calling me "irish for born handsom" or where ever my name comes from and what it actually means ;)
translating my name or saying its meaning doesnt help you know me any better. the only way to know me is to experience me or interact with me. its the same with aikido and techniques.

its just learning a different name... but OH NO! the words have vowels and consonants in places we are not used to seeing them.. how ever am I supposed to remember a word like that?
emmmmm.. simply get over it?

they are names, they are what the techniques are called. why even bother to change them? it just seems like mass xenaphobia to me

Love yas
Kev

momentrylapse
10-24-2001, 02:31 AM
I think it's ok to use either english or japanese, but it is important to decide one or the other not mix and match

"this technique is ikkyo, Now this next tecnique is called heaven and earth throw".

The above is ok if you provide an english translation to help understanding of the meaning. Otherwise students will get confused. Also you should try and understand what you are saying, what is the point in using words if you dont understand them, Or worse still saying things that you should be saying with feeling/meaning/honesty and not having a clue what they are.

The above especialy refers to the standard throughout most classes I have been to, "Onegaishimasu" and "Domo Arigato Gozai Mashita". Surely its wrong for a student to be saying these if they do not know what they mean and therefore cannot realy mean them.

I personaly prefer to use Japanese as much as possible in the class, not because I want to "show off" but because I have an interest in the Japanese Culture. Also in our associations, as with many others, we aim to continue the teachings of Aikido in the purest for we can, maintaining the traditions, names, and etiquette helps maintain the true spirit of Aikido.

Aikido is a Japanese Martial Art!

momentrylapse
10-24-2001, 02:40 AM
This year I went on the summer school in the UK with Chiba Sensei.

One day somebody, without thinking wallked on the mat with their shoes/zori/flipflops on, later in that day somebody walked off the mat without footwear.

Chiba sensei spotted this, and appeared quite cross, but not because they were dragging dirt onto the mat he explained the following:

When you come to Aikido you are learning part of Japanese Culture, When you step into the dojo you should adhear to the rules of that culture.
In Japan it is considered rude, almost an insult to step on the mat without removing your footwear, likewise the other way round.

Surely part of that culture is the language, ok not everythingshould be said in Japanese, after all we dont all speak japanese before we go on the mat, but technique names and basic etiqette and instructions should maybe be used.

LiquidZero
10-30-2001, 06:07 PM
Regarding my first post on this thread (now edited). People not attending the dojo I attend may pay no heed to this message.

To whomever read what was here and brought it up to Sensei, my apologies are in order. I apologize, and did not mean any disrespect. I wasn't trying to 'impress' anyone.

P.S. I'd like to know whomever it was that read this at my dojo, so that I may apologize face to face.