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Where does the name "The Art of Peace" for Aikido come from?
07-24-2006, 08:59 PM
John Stevens often gets carried away. It may have been him.
If not him, there's a grand tradition in Jpn MA, indeed, in all Jpn history: Punning.
HEIHO, that of which Miyamoto Musashi famously wrote, means something like "the way of strategy" and puns to "the way of peace (Iizasa Choisai.*)
Osensei wasn't the first to come out with stuff like, "Aikido is love" even though we like to think of him as original.
* "In spite of the strength of the Katori Shinto-ryu techniques and its effectiveness on the battlefield, the current teacher, Otake Risuke, feels that perhaps its most important teaching is very different from what is normally considered typical of the martial arts, “Heiho wa heiho nari” (the methods of war are the methods of peace)." http://www.cfwenterprises.com/article.asp?content_id=539
07-24-2006, 10:38 PM
John Stevens often gets carried away. It may have been him.
Was John Stevens the translator for the book "The Art of Peace"? I know i've heard the name, and i have that book somewhere, but i cant find it at the moment.
07-25-2006, 01:37 AM
The translation of the word Aikido as "The Art of Peace" comes from John Stevens from a little book of the same name published by Shambhala Publications. (btw, this book has been illegally put on the internet. Shambhala is a small company which, I have heard, struggles to keep putting out high quality books, even if they are not so financially viable. I personally hope that if a person reads the book off the internet, that they go to a book store and buy their own copy. Let's support the small guys! rant mode off.)
That's the simple answer. I'd like to give my view of the deeper issue. How did Professor Stevens come to that translation?
First, having done a bit of Japanese to English translation myself, I have come to realize that there is no such thing as an "transparent" translation. Every translation is necessarily filtered through the translator. This is why computer based translation has utterly failed, even with the most simple documents. So to understand the translation, we need to understand the translator and the circumstances of the translation.
John Stevens began his training in Aikido in 1973 with Rinjiro Shirata, a student of the Founder both pre and post war. Shirata Sensei was a live-in student at the "Hell Dojo," the Kobukan. After the war, he spent some time with the Founder in Iwama, and became the head of the northern Japan branch of the Aikikai. His style of Aikido did reflect the changes the Founder made post war (more emphasis on circular movement, for ex.) but also retained a lot of what he learned pre-war. One aspect of which was the huge number of techniques. Just one side personal comment, Shirata Sensei is the only major Aikido teacher about whom I have never heard anything negative said. John Stevens is a Professor of Buddhist Studies at Tohoku Fukushi University and has been an Aikido Shihan in the northern Japan aikikai since the mid 80's. He heads a university Aikido club which practices everyday. He also gives training sessions around the world. Ron Tisdale has set up a regular seminar with Stevens Sensei in Philadelphia. Not too far from Ohio.
John Stevens considers himself completely devoted to the tradition/legacy handed down from the Founder to Shirata Sensei to Stevens Sensei. This tradition is marked by hard/severe physical training matched by equal amounts of intellectual study. The underlying purpose for it all is to develop oneself spiritually. It is interesting to me that Shirata Sensei never taught professionally, never created his own organization, and in fact never had his own dojo.
In my opinion, exposing yourself to the teachings of John Stevens is like walking into a gold mine, everything you might ever want is available if you are willing to do the work to dig it out. The Art of Peace book has a lot of short teachings, things to think about while you train as well as the time between trainings. Budo and The Essence of Aikido are translations/ direct teaching from the Founder. These are difficult to understand and Stevens' The Secrets of Aikido is an incredible resource in which he explains what he has learned through more general or accessible teachings.
This post is too long and I still haven't written everything I'd like to. It is all my understanding and I admit that I might be wrong in places. I hope this has helped somewhat.
07-25-2006, 05:28 AM
First, having done a bit of Japanese to English translation myself, I have come to realize that there is no such thing as an "transparent" translation. Every translation is necessarily filtered through the translator. This is why computer based translation has utterly failed, even with the most simple documents. So to understand the translation, we need to understand the translator and the circumstances of the translation.Charles Hill
Interesting post. I think I would go along with what you say in the above paragraph only to some extent. For example have you compared the Stevens translation of Budo with the Bieri translation of the introduction to Budo Renshu? The Japanese contents are almost the same. I agree that a translation is never 100% transparent, but I think that knowing who did the tranlators did not really contribute all that much to my evaluation of the quality. You have the Japanese text and you have the two renderings in English. You then use your own grasp of both languages to make the subjective judgment as to which is better.
For my Ph.D I had to work with classical Greek, Aristotle specifically. It was an interesting exercise to compare Aristotle's Greek (as interpreted by his manuscript editors over the centuries) with translations in Latin, German and French, as well as English. Harvard had a very rigorous Classics department, so I was able to approach Aristotle with a good grounding in translating other authors, from Homer and the Presocratics onwards. But none of the translations was able to achieve 100% transparency. This was partly because each translator had his own agenda: to render Aristotle intelligible for the modern reader, or to produce as literal (and pretty well unreadable) a version as possible for the scholar who needed to see how crabbed the Greek actually was.
I think John Stevens is translating for a particular market. The translations are not meant to be scholarly and so are not weighed down with notes (compare Sonoko Tanaka's renderings of the Takemusu Aiki extracts in Aikido Journal), as I'm sure mine would be. He does it as well as anyone, but I wonder how well the translations succeed as a good 'counterfeit' of the original (a term used by Edward Seidensticker in a recent article in The East. Are you aware of this publication?).
I had to give a lecture recently and as preparation I read through the Penguin translation of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. It was quite frustrating, since I do not think the 'general reader' would actually have a good grasp of the original, which is why Penguin Classics and the Loeb Classical Library are frowned upon by those who study the Greek deeply.
This is a major dilemma for those who want to get closer to Morihei Ueshiba. Actually, I have the small Shambala volume, but I have to admit that I hardly ever open it. I had more than my fill of pithy aphorisms with the gnomic utterances of Heraclitus. M Ueshiba is rather similar, for what he does to the Japanese language.
I have read where Ai KI Do can be translated to Art of Peace. I understand that the Japanese/Chinese characters can take on different meanings depending on how they are used with each other and in the context of what is trying to be said. Can the characters of Ai Ki Do be translated into Art Of Peace? Did O'Sensei have more than one meaning for the definition for Aikido.?
07-25-2006, 06:27 AM
Hello all on this peaceful thread,
I have a couple of English language books on Aikido lying around my apartment, including Stevens' "Aikido - The Way of Harmony". Together with the mention of Aikido as "Way of Peace" allegedly by Stevens according to the posts above, this reminds me of what Abe Seiseki writes for visitors: Aikido is "wagou" (和合), or "unification" (the characters can be interpreted as those for "Peace" and "Harmony", but "wagou" is a concept on its own).
In 規範合気道基本集 by Ueshiba Kisshomaru and Moriteru et al, published by the Aikikai themselves, Ueshiba Morihei is quoted on p.10 as saying "私は今まで各流儀を多数やりました。柳生流の体術をはじめ、真揚流、起倒流、大東流、神陰流などいろいろやりましたが、合気はそれらを総合したものではないのであります。 合気はすべて気によるものであります。" My attempt at translation goes as follows: "I've done numerous different styles, starting with Yagyu and including Shinyou, Kitou, Daitou, Shinkage and others. Aiki is not the conglomeration of these styles. Applying all things from Ki, that is Aiki." This begs the question of what "Ki" meant for Ueshiba Morihei (or rather, what he intended to express by using the word "ki"), firstly in the martial sense.
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