PDA

View Full Version : Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?


Please visit our sponsor:
 

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!


ChrisMoses
03-09-2007, 01:33 PM
This probably could have been placed in the Baseline thread, but I'm hoping for a new tone/direction. Warning, this thing is LONG.

Let's begin with a short discussion of what exactly we mean by internal vs. external martial arts, concepts common within Chinese martial arts circles. All of the books in my martial arts library that deal with Chinese arts introduce this concept within the preface or opening chapter, but I don't think a single one of my Japanese budo books even mentions the concept (save one specifically comparing Aikido to Chinese Arts). At this point, I'll spare the reader the suspense by just stating that the real point of this piece is that despite frequently being referred to as an internal art, Aikido exists today as an external art. I'll go further (for the sake of argument) and state that I don't believe that internal arts (the way they are understood in Chinese arts) exist within traditional Japanese budo. Now before I get blown across the internet with your mighty e-fa jing, let's examine what it is I'm specifically *not* saying. To be clear, I'm not saying that no budoka have ever developed powerful internal skills, that internal skills have no place in Japanese budo or that we can't all learn a lot from exploring exercises and arts designed to teach these things. Second, let's look at what I actually mean by internal and external arts. I believe that what really separates an internal art from an external art is the *teaching paradigm* itself. I think Aikido is often misunderstood as an internal art due to its complicated nature and emphasis on softness/relaxation. I feel this is an error. Hard/soft are not good indicators of internal and external arts. Hsing Yi is universally accepted as one of the major three internal styles, yet is known for its powerful and (relatively) linear movements. My experience with internal arts has been very limited, and I owe a great deal of thanks to Rob John and Akuzawa for the wealth of information that they've given me in the extremely short amount of time that I've actually gotten to spend with them. So with that said, here is my overly-simplistic take on what makes internal and external arts different, forgive me for stating what must be for many, extremely obvious. An internal art forces the practitioner to become extremely introspective about what is happening within their own body. The kihon of the art exists to help reshape internal structures of the body (often developing support muscles) and teach the disciple how to really feel. This is often done at the expense of any kind of practical application. It is often considered far more important for the Tai Chi novice to learn what their body is really doing than to understand how the movements of their form would translate to an actual confrontation. Speed is often discouraged, and if what you're doing is comfortable and natural feeling, you're probably doing it wrong. On the flip side, an external art will focus on the outside shape of the body. To offer an analogy, an internal art is like a sculptor using clay to gradually build up a form from the core outwards, and external arts create a mold to be cast, the assumption being that the external form will eventually lead to a correct internal state.

It's my belief that the Japanese education system is decidedly external. The idea is that understanding comes from repetition and mimicry. This is the same whether you are learning calligraphy or kenjutsu. Almost without fail, whenever someone brings up a budoka who has (or had) great internal skills, they had a few very simple suburi that they did a nearly inhuman number of times, daily, for their whole life. We're all familiar with stories of OSensei doing thousands of spear thrusts, or misogi no jo in the woods for hours by himself. I've heard other stories of Daito Ryu sensei who would perform hundreds or thousands of shiko (sumo stomp exercises) every day. I would assert that while these things certainly have the potential to develop amazing internal power, they still exist as exercises within the external teaching paradigm. Over time, the shape and repetition of the external shape of the exercise gradually educates internal awareness. To be perfectly clear, what we are talking about is an external paradigm attempting to teach internal skills. This is, I believe, what Tohei was doing with the ki no kenyukai. He was attempting to teach internal skills, but was still trapped in an external teaching paradigm (or more correctly, testing paradigm, if you will).

Baseline skill sets and clues through language

We can learn a lot about an art by the language used to describe it, certainly not as much as feeling it in the flesh, but it can be a valuable tool. Ellis Amdur has written some excellent pieces on Aikido, and one that has resonated with a lot of people was, "Hidden in Plain Sight." Think about that for a moment. That phrase basically sums up the external teaching paradigm. A shell or form is taught which gradually leads one to a deeper *hidden* understanding, namely the internal aspect of the art. I'd also like to go back briefly to the interview quoted a number of times in the Baseline thread (http://www.aikidofaq.com/interviews.html). Specifically, let's look at this phrase (again…), "Finally, we ended up pitting our strength against each other. I sat down and said to Tenryu, "Please try to push me over. Push hard, there's no need to hold back." Since I knew the secret of Aikido, I could not be moved an inch." I don't have the Japanese text, so if someone felt like offering what word he was using for "secret" that would be great. Using the translation as a guide however, I'll point out that OSensei does not say that since he understands the basics or kihon of Aikido he could not be moved. Rather he was unmovable because he knew the "secrets of Aikido." Again, we are talking about an external teaching paradigm, one where the external form eventually develops internal skills. In clearer terms, the techniques of aikido had led to his being able to be unmovable (external paradigm) rather than his skill of being unmovable leading to his ability to do aikido techniques (internal paradigm).

Okuden, kameamea final attack!

Hiding the good stuff is also very typical for Japanese ryuha. Schools often had whole portions of their curriculum that were considered safe for outsiders to see and practice and others that were not for public consumption. The idea was that if someone was to come and study for a relatively short period of time and then leave, they would not take anything of real value (or anything that would give them an advantage over those in the ryuha who remain). In the sword ryuha that I belong to, we have a branch in Brazil that has basically been cut off from Japan since the early 20th century. In that school, a new student must study kendo up to shodan before learning the seitei (standardized, non ryuha specific) iai kata. Then they have to reach shodan in seitei iai before beginning to actually study Shinto Ryu's kata at all. Imagine if you weren't allowed to learn any aikido until you'd achieved black belt in two other arts first! Even in my line, students are not allowed to learn the uchi no kata (inside forms) until they reach shodan and are actually considered a part of the ryuha. My point is that there is a long and very real tradition in budo of hiding what you are actually doing, not only from prying eyes, but from your own students!

Is Chris really defending Aikido? Is he feeling alright?

I suppose it might seem that I'm really going on the defensive here for aikido. I suppose to some extent I am, but my intent is more to offer a better analysis of what aikido really is so that it can be fairly judged. I do not feel that it's fair to judge an external art by internal art standards any more than it's fair to judge an internal art by external art standards. Do I think that things are OK the way they are? NO. Let me put that another way, H E Double Hockey Sticks NO. I think the teaching paradigm (as I've experienced it) sucks. Most people have no idea what exactly they're doing , why what they are doing works or how to control their internal structure to correctly/efficiently move. I think a few people are really trying to change that, and I wish them all the best. It's bound to be an uphill battle. Gambatte! I would make an appeal to Mike (and to a lesser extent Dan) to judge the art for what it is. I completely believe that the stuff it sounds like you guys are showing people is going to change the way they do aikido. I think that getting an internal arts perspective on what it actually is that OSensei very well may have been doing can save literally decades of stabbing around in the dark. From my own experience, it was a revelation to learn some of Don Angier's principles. Suddenly I had a lexicon to describe what I was doing and what other people were doing. It all suddenly made sense. Then after working on some solo structure (internal) stuff and then meeting Rob and Ark it was like, "Aha! I got how the technique works on the outside, now here's what needs to be going on inside me to really make that work!" So perhaps instead of blasting everyone and their teachers for doing it all wrong, we could start anew with a different tone, say, "Hey, I think I know something that will really improve what you're doing and save you a lot of time and frustration over the years, but you'll have to trust me and try something new." It is just as unfair to criticize aikido for not being a very good internal art as it is to rag on boxers for being bad grapplers, judoka for being bad strikers and Tai Chi guys for wearing pajamas in public parks. ;) You guys should feel like you've made your point that what you have to offer could be a really valuable part of ones aikido training. You have, anyone who's going to get it, already has or will need to feel it firsthand.

So why is it we all suck anyway?

Almost done here, one last point to make. I believe aikido is such a long and difficult art to become a proficient martial artist with because we're literally taking the hardest road possible. It's an external art, that depends on internal skills to be successful. Man, that's rough. Also, and paraphrasing a Hsing Yi book I read recently, any martial artist is defined by a combination of their speed, power and technique. According to the writer in question, speed is the most important, followed by power, and finally by technique. I'm sure this is up for debate, so bear with me. Using his logic, if you're really fast, you'll be able to do what it is you do know, and avoid what they know. They can have all the power and technique in the world, but if they can't get a hold of you, what good is it going to do them? Then comes power. Everyone's heard stories about a martial artist getting knocked out by some meat head in a bar. Look at some of Tyson's fights when he was really on top. He just needed one good shot and it was over. If you can generate a lot of power, then it won't take a fancy technique to get the job done. Note that I'm not talking purely about strength. To steal some more Chinese concepts (please clue me in if there are comparable Japanese ones, they have never come up in my studies in as clear a terms…) power (jin) is formed by physical strength/structure (li) and qi/chi/ki. Finally, you have technique. Frankly, all the technique in the world is useless if you're too slow to use it, and can't generate enough power to make that technique work. In most styles, aikido focuses almost exclusively on technique specifically over speed or power. Man, no wonder it takes 20 years to learn iriminage… ;) Looking back at the early Aikido generations (the ones who were promoted so quickly) we see extensive judo backgrounds. If there's anything judo does really well, it teaches speed and power. So these guys came into aikido primed to take advantage of any technique that aikido taught them. Is it really any wonder they got so good so fast?

So for those of you who skipped to the end (and frankly, who could blame you…) Aikido, because of its teaching paradigm is actually an external art which could benefit greatly from insights gained through internal arts and practices.

Thank you, and remember to always tip your bartender…

Marc Abrams
03-09-2007, 02:03 PM
Chris:

Excellent post! I had been discussing this topic on other threads. I think that the problem with the transmission of Aikido has a lot to do with methodology of teaching. My guess is that in an effort to "preserve" what O'Sensei was teaching, people focused on teaching the techniques that they perceived that they were taught, as opposed to the principles that the represented. Your neighbor, George Ledyard is actively engaged in trying to re-think the methodology and teach the art in a manner in which a person can grasp the "internal" aspects of the art. My guess is that the people with Judo backgrounds "advanced" in the early stages of the art as they used their Judo skills to fill-in for their learning of the "internal" aspects of the art.

Your thesis on the separation of "external" and "internal" arts will take some serious deliberation. I do think that Aikido, at it's highest level, should be an "internal" art in that speed and strength are canceled out by the connection that exists with the attacker. I think that one of the truly hard aspects (which I am trying to figure out as I teach my students) is how to remain "soft", centered, and feeling the experience of what is occurring while being attacked in a strong/fast manner.

It is interesting what you point out about Angier Sensei's influence. I have recently begun training with one of this old students, James Williams, and seek out Ushiro Sensei whenever he is around, for similar reasons to the one's that you gave. I find that they are helping to provide me with a paradigm to understand the internal principles underlying Aikido, and consequently helping me tremendously in my own training. Speaking of which, I must go into NYC for my own personal training. Keep the threads of these critical ideas going. I believe that Aikido will emerge as a better taught art as a result.

marc abrams

Mike Sigman
03-09-2007, 02:17 PM
I believe that what really separates an internal art from an external art is the *teaching paradigm* itself. I think Aikido is often misunderstood as an internal art due to its complicated nature and emphasis on softness/relaxation. The comments aren't bad, Chris, but you're arbitrarily assigning nomenclature in a tricky arena. The so-called "internal arts" are the arts of Taiji, Xingyi, Bagua, and a few others. About the only thing that defines them is that they use certain approaches to ki/kokyu skills and other arts use different approaches. In terms of "internal strength skills", the "neijin", all the Asian martial arts have them. It's de rigeur. And all the tenets of all the Asian arts make it clear that they're in the know (that includes O-Sensei's douka, koryu secret documents, etc., as far as I've ever seen). Can we do most Asian arts using "normal strength" to execute most techniques? Yes... and that is the wrong way to do it.

So should Aikido use "neijin", "internal strength"? Yes. Is it one of the arts that fall into the direct category of the "internal arts"? No. What's happening is that the terms "internal" and "external" are loosely used to define two different parameters and your discussion appears to confuse the two usages. ;) Until you straighten that part out, the discussion can't intelligently progress.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

DH
03-09-2007, 02:25 PM
"Finally, we ended up pitting our strength against each other. I sat down and said to Tenryu, "Please try to push me over. Push hard, there's no need to hold back." Since I knew the secret of Aikido, I could not be moved an inch." I'll point out that OSensei does not say that since he understands the basics or kihon of Aikido he could not be moved. Rather he was unmovable because he knew the "secrets of Aikido." …

I've said this exact same thing-how many times?
I'm left with frolks either telling me
a. How dare you. You left and you don't know aikido.
b. How dare you. Only Ueshiba understands what he meant
c. How dare you. I still do AIkido and I KNOW what ueshab meant and that aint it.

To which I off to "do" aikido with them and they can't "do" a freakin thing to me. Why?
And they? I moved all over the place.
Does it leave a sour taste in my mouth? Ya. Listening to all this debate and grandious looong explanations and then I touch them and they have nothing. Over, and over and over. From shodan to 8 th dan. I remain unimpressed. Not so much by the techniques -I wrote them off many years ago, but rather by any real skills that express Ueshiba's admonisions and training. And then to realize others have these skills and don't openly teach them...Argh


Again, we are talking about an external teaching paradigm, one where the external form eventually develops internal skills. In clearer terms, the techniques of aikido had led to his being able to be unmovable (external paradigm) rather than his skill of being unmovable leading to his ability to do aikido techniques (internal paradigm). …

Actually I think you have that backward.
I dnlt care if we call it an internal art-thats a name. But it was EXACTLY his internal "skills" in Daito ryu that led to Takeda, Sagawa and Kodo being lauded and Deguchi and many many others recognizing Ueshiba as brilliant. I just give the credit where it belongs. You guys don't. And if he added to it good on him.
It is perfectly ridiculous to assume the leading martial art guys of the day were so stupid that they were blown away by his "techniques." What they felt was his DR Aiki.Which is a compendium of internal skills. It is these skills that make the pretzel logic plausible
NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
So you can talk-correctly IMO-about Aikido's degridation to the external art it is today in many peoples hands.
I keep looking past the low level folks and all the "twirlin and dancin" to what it can become....again in the right hands.
Ueshiba-ha Daito ryu was always based on internal skills. Period. His change to aikido was a change to bounce away and cast off with various uses of aiki. Aiki-age which is peng jin- being just one of them. It was his vision and choice to no longer use the more Koryu oriented DR skills to bring the uke in for a kill (wrapped up with the legs and other postions for knife work) but to realize he could remain unntouchable and fullfill his vision just by casting them off. Which is where and why Aikido's unique Ukemi can about.

So perhaps instead of blasting everyone and their teachers for doing it all wrong, we could start anew with a different tone, say, "Hey, I think I know something that will really improve what you're doing and save you a lot of time and frustration over the years, but you'll have to trust me and try something new." …
Sounds like you're quoting me in what I've said to many when I am NOT talking about MMA. When I talk about Aikido its what I said and showed to all recent visitors. I've even told people not to say the're training here. JUst go and improve their skills and art. Who cares who gets credit.
Its not who's right
Its what is right.


So for those of you who skipped to the end (and frankly, who could blame you…) Aikido, because of its teaching paradigm is actually an external art which could benefit greatly from insights gained through internal arts and practices. …

We may never agree but no biggie.
Aikido is and always was meant to be an internal art. Its the only way its technical syllabus has much merit. I just can't pressume to insule Ueshiba as an imbecile who didn't know what he was talking about, or showed and did. Nor that the many extremely experienced martial artists who saw and felt him were awed by his wristy twisties and the idea of turning form an attack.
They were never that stupid or easily impressed.
We were.

Dan

DH
03-09-2007, 02:49 PM
Edit
I wanted the last paragraph to say this.

Aikido is and always was meant to be an internal art. Its the only way its technical syllabus has much merit. I just can't pressume to insult Ueshiba as an imbecile who didn't know what he was talking about, or showed and did. Or his vision of change.
Nor assume that the many extremely experienced martial artists who saw and felt him were just somehow "awed" by his (rather common IMO) wristy-twisties and the... oh so unique... idea of turning from an attack. Lets get real. These accomplished Budoka-many of whom were the best in their fields, were never that stupid or easily impressed.
We were.

They ran head long into internal power and wrote about it. Their astonishment included Takeda, Sagawa, and Kodo. We just chaulked all that acclaim up to "waza."
So, do we reduce the observational skills and experiences of all those incredible budoka as just being as dumb and easily impressed as us?
Or where they the smart ones after all? Correctly identifying that there was, as stated, an "unsual power" behnd all this?
If we agree with any of that.
Then what direction do we take?
How?
Dan

ChrisMoses
03-09-2007, 02:58 PM
Hmm, you guys seem to be missing some of my post here.

Please correct me if I'm wrong (and by correct, I don't mean tell me I'm wrong, please write out what is correct).

Within Chinese arts, there is an assumption that all paths lead to the same place, ie internal arts can produce efficient and practical fighters and external arts can produce students with incredible internal strength/chi. The distinguishing factor is rather what order these things are taught and how they are taught rather than what the end results are.

I can't think of any martial art that wouldn't be better if done by someone with neijin/internal strength. The question then becomes, which direction are you going in your teaching? I frankly think Aikido would be a lot better if it was an internal art, but the syllabus simply doesn't seem to be there. I don't have access to what DR's actual syllabus is, so I can't comment on that. If anyone would like to send me the Takumakai maunal, that'd be great though... ;)

Mike, would you care to clear up the two usages that I'm confusing? I attempted to limit my discussion to the teaching paradigm rather than any kind of end result or the qualities that are eventually developed at the end of ones training.

Mike Sigman
03-09-2007, 03:14 PM
I can't think of any martial art that wouldn't be better if done by someone with neijin/internal strength. That's why they all have internal strength in them and why anyone who only does an Asian martial art, "internal family" or "external family either one, with just normal strength is doing it wrong. I frankly think Aikido would be a lot better if it was an internal art, but the syllabus simply doesn't seem to be there. What you really mean to say in order to be correct is "I frankly think Aikido would be a lot better if it used internal strength, but the syllabus simply doesn't seem to be there." Think about that for a second.... Koichi Tohei's Ki-Society does just that, whether we cavil about his methodology or not. Mike, would you care to clear up the two usages that I'm confusing? "Internal style" = Taichi, Xingyi, Bagua, Liu He Ba Fa, and a few others. They "use the dantien to hit with".

"Internal Strength" = Ki, kokyu, jin, neijin, etc.... ALL styles, both "internal style" and "external style" use these powers, but in different ways, hard or soft, using various muscle-jin combinations and various power augmentations (shaking power, bounces, etc., etc.).

FWIW

Mike

Fred Little
03-09-2007, 03:21 PM
I dnlt care if we call it an internal art-thats a name. But it was EXACTLY his internal "skills" in Daito ryu that led to Takeda, Sagawa and Kodo being lauded and Deguchi and many many others recognizing Ueshiba as brilliant. I just give the credit where it belongs. You guys don't.

Dan,

I agree that Sagawa has a great rep, as do Ueshiba and Kodo.

It is my experience that the same problems of incomplete transmission and loss of efficacy you reference in aikido are very much present in at least one line of DRAJJ.

What evidence do you have about specific training methods that undercuts the case Christian made? If you can document the existence of these methods, how is it that they have not been sufficient to prevent DRAJJ from undergoing precisely the same degeneration as what you term Ueshiba-ha DRAJJ?

Takeda had a great many students who didn't amount to squat.

So he had three who did. So what? Maybe the genius lay in their sheer persistence along with an innate ability to steal the technique and had zip, zilch, zed, nada to do with the training method of DRAJJ.

Maybe Takeda was precisely the same kind of sorry scheming moneygrubbing withholding scoundrel you seem to assert all senior aikidoka are.

For your case to stand, you have to prove that that supposition is wrong.

And let's be clear: you can't do it. If you could do it, you would have done it in the past 10 years. And you haven't.

That has nothing to do with the case of whether "internal skills" will benefit other martial artists, whether you have a set of valid "internal skills," whether you are personally have acquired such skills, whether you are generous about sharing those skills, whether Ueshiba, Kodo and Sagawa had "internal skills" or whether they acquired those skills after training with Takeda.

There is one question in play and one only:

Where is the evidence of specific and explicit methods of transmission of specific "internal skills" to the specific individuals within the specific art you name again and again?

Where is it aside from your speculations based on an incomplete historical record?

Where indeeed?

FL

ChrisMoses
03-09-2007, 03:28 PM
"Internal style" = Taichi, Xingyi, Bagua, Liu He Ba Fa, and a few others. They "use the dantien to hit with".

"Internal Strength" = Ki, kokyu, jin, neijin, etc.... ALL styles, both "internal style" and "external style" use these powers, but in different ways, hard or soft, using various muscle-jin combinations and various power augmentations (shaking power, bounces, etc., etc.).

FWIW

Mike

I understand that distinction, and I thought that was clear in my first post. Perhaps you could point out where it appears I'm confusing them? Also, do you agree that internal arts teach from the inside out, or is hitting from the dantien the sole criterion to be used? That isn't a distinction that I've heard. Do you have any comments on my sculpture analogy for instance?

DH
03-09-2007, 03:32 PM
In writing and in direct transmission.
Its where they go it.
And where he got it.
And its rather obvious unless you think they made it up by themselves.
The real questions is the same as in Aikido; How come few got it or few were taught it? Or for that matter we can add the many who complain about the same thing in the CMA.


Maybe Takeda was precisely the same kind of sorry scheming moneygrubbing withholding scoundrel you seem to assert all senior aikidoka are.
That's both snide, smacking of an agenda and innacurate to boot.
And if you're going to tell me I'm using the disgusting language -you-just used here and the others folks -in- aikido have ascribed to Takeda...care to cite where_____________________________?

Dan.

ChrisMoses
03-09-2007, 03:34 PM
What you really mean to say in order to be correct is "I frankly think Aikido would be a lot better if it used internal strength, but the syllabus simply doesn't seem to be there." Think about that for a second.... Koichi Tohei's Ki-Society does just that, whether we cavil about his methodology or not.

No, I meant what I said. I think good aikido depends so heavily on having good internal skills, that it's a shame that it's not structured as an internal art, meaning one that works first to develop internal skills and then progresses to how to apply those same skills.

I'll respectfully disagree about the ki society. I think that if you have some internal skills, their tests confirm that, but I think they don't really work well to develop these skills from nothing. They do not teach you how to be, they might give you some feedback in your explorations, but they don't teach this the way that I have felt from the very little amount of internal training that I have done.

Mike Sigman
03-09-2007, 03:39 PM
I understand that distinction, and I thought that was clear in my first post. Perhaps you could point out where it appears I'm confusing them? Also, do you agree that internal arts teach from the inside out, or is hitting from the dantien the sole criterion to be used? That isn't a distinction that I've heard. Do you have any comments on my sculpture analogy for instance?I don't want to get off into a tangent that diverts from your debate position, Chris. The heart of what you're saying is enmeshed in how Aikido is taught and I think that's where you need to stay. Remember though that there are the ideas of hiden (as in "Hiden in Plain Sight" ;) ) and Gokui. It's a complex discussion.

My comment about your usage of "internal style", which I delineated in my last post, should support the position that you're sometimes confusing "internal style" for what should be a reference to "internal strength". I'd like to see you continue with your argument by considering Tohei's approach to teaching Aikido in your discussion. Maybe you're on to something, but it's unclear what the Ki-Society approach does to general observations.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
03-09-2007, 03:54 PM
No, I meant what I said. I think good aikido depends so heavily on having good internal skills, that it's a shame that it's not structured as an internal art, meaning one that works first to develop internal skills and then progresses to how to apply those same skills. Then you're supposing that the "taught from the inside out" idea is a criterion and I've never seen it used as anything other than an offhand comment. Aikido does not use dantien controls the way the real "internal arts" do, so it won't clear the hurdle to be part of the internal styles, IMO. Aikido would have to use six-harmonies movement to be an "internal style" so I'd differ on the nomenclature, but I understand what you're trying to say now. I'll respectfully disagree about the ki society. I think that if you have some internal skills, their tests confirm that, but I think they don't really work well to develop these skills from nothing. They do not teach you how to be, they might give you some feedback in your explorations, but they don't teach this the way that I have felt from the very little amount of internal training that I have done.You're quarreling with how they start with internal training and how successful they are (which I'd agree with you, BTW), but technically they treat the internal skills as an intrinsic part of their curriculum. I absolutely agree that's the way it should be taught. *HOW* it's taught is the question, isn't it?

Chinese internal arts often have "jibengong" or basic exercises that are practiced in order to develop starter-level internal strength before forms, etc., are begun. Sometimes a year or two will be spent just doing jibengong. It's a good idea. Of course, sometimes students are shown the jibengong and not really told how to do them, so a person can still wind up doing an "internal" martial art in an externally-driven fashion.

But wait..... Kokyu-ho-dosa, Aiki-taiso, etc., are actually jibengong that have managed to get perpetuated as external exercises somehow. The problem might just be that there was a critical lapse in true transmission, either by fault of some teacher or by fault of some poorly-perceptive students. Regardless, my opinion is that the correct teaching methodology is right there in Aikido, waiting to be used once the basic skills get introduced correctly in a viable number of places. I.e., I'm fairly optimistic that change is not far off, as we speak. And as soon as a few people really get a handle on putting the basic ki/kokyu skills back into mainstream Aikido, I think they should toss the "outsiders" out. >> danged troublemakers<< ;)

FWIW

Mike

ChrisMoses
03-09-2007, 04:11 PM
Then you're supposing that the "taught from the inside out" idea is a criterion and I've never seen it used as anything other than an offhand comment.

I was paraphrasing specifically from "Hsing Yi Chuan: Theory and Application" by Shou-Yu Liang and Jwing-Ming Yang.

You're quarreling with how they start with internal training and how successful they are (which I'd agree with you, BTW), but technically they treat the internal skills as an intrinsic part of their curriculum. I absolutely agree that's the way it should be taught. *HOW* it's taught is the question, isn't it? The problem I have with the ki society methods (and I say this as someone who has a shodan from a ki society offshoot) is that the explanation for how to accomplish a particular goal, is the goal itself. If I don't know how to 'extend ki', being told to 'extend ki' isn't very helpful. All of the aiki parlor trick tests (unbendable arm, closed finger circle, plank across chairs) and whatnot are fine and all, but I feel there has to be a better and more specific way to teach the internal dynamics beyond telling people to do these things and then repeatedly testing how well they do them. If you actually build a methodology to develop these skills, then the tests have value, but tests generally make poor lessons. IMHO

ChrisHein
03-09-2007, 04:14 PM
The lack of understanding is spellbinding.

Fred Little
03-09-2007, 04:21 PM
In writing and in direct transmission.
Its where they go it.
And where he got it.

That doesn't identify a specific mode of transmission of internal skills. If Takeda had the magic "it," I can just as easily suppose that the really observant and brilliant students who hung with him the longest picked up the essence by the external method Christian references in his original post. The question is whether there is a discrete method of training "internal skills" unique to DRAJJ. You have provided no evidence of such a method.

And its rather obvious unless you think they made it up by themselves.

Or unless I've met some real geniuses who really are incredibly spongelike in their ability to absorb things they are interested in and utterly unique in the presentation and development of those things.

The real questions is the same as in Aikido; How come few got it or few were taught it?

Agreed And that is the question I'm asking you to answer wrt to DRAJJ..

Maybe Takeda was precisely the same kind of sorry scheming moneygrubbing withholding scoundrel you seem to assert all senior aikidoka are.
That's both snide, smacking of an agenda and innacurate to boot.
And if you're going to tell me I'm using the disgusting language -you-just used here and the others folks -in- aikido have ascribed to Takeda...care to cite where_____________________________?

That is merely making explicit in words what is implicit in your habitual tone.

But be explicit. What you call "snide" I call a reverse thought experiment. And damn if it didn't hit one of your buttons, IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT IT WAS POSED AS A HYPOTHETICAL AND NOT AS AN ASSERTION OF FACT.

What's my agenda?

What is the nature of the inaccuracy?

From my side, my answer is simple: my agenda is to make it clear that connotation is as important as denotation. Echoes, resonances, and implicit suggestions often carry more emotional weight than explicit statements. The inaccuracy of hyperbole, or making explicit what has remained implicit is the essentially honest "inaccuracy" of caricature.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

FL

Mike Sigman
03-09-2007, 04:27 PM
but I feel there has to be a better and more specific way to teach the internal dynamics beyond telling people to do these things and then repeatedly testing how well they do them. If you actually build a methodology to develop these skills, then the tests have value, but tests generally make poor lessons. IMHOWell, I agree with that. You're basically saying that the ki-development/tanren part of Aikido should be clearer and more quickly functional, it appears, and I'd agree. In a sense, regardless of its shortcomings in practice, the theory of Tohei's approach is just that. However, let me point out, looking back at your initial thesis, that even so-called "external arts" (like, say, Uechi Ryu karate) have their own "tanren" exercises (Sanchin kata) and the only real problem is that the exactly theory and how-to's haven't been shown to most westerners, so the idea of training from the "inside out" could be applied to most external arts, as well.

YMMV

Mike

ChrisMoses
03-09-2007, 04:41 PM
However, let me point out, looking back at your initial thesis, that even so-called "external arts" (like, say, Uechi Ryu karate) have their own "tanren" exercises (Sanchin kata) and the only real problem is that the exactly theory and how-to's haven't been shown to most westerners, so the idea of training from the "inside out" could be applied to most external arts, as well.


Not disagreeing with you. I would point out (simply because I do make a distinction between Chinese martial arts and Japanese budo) that Uechi Ryu would not be considered by most to be Japanese budo, as it is a karate form, and thus of Okinawan and possibly some Chinese origin.

Erick Mead
03-09-2007, 05:23 PM
This probably could have been placed in the Baseline thread, but I'm hoping for a new tone/direction. Hope springs eternal.

... the real point of this piece is that despite frequently being referred to as an internal art, Aikido exists today as an external art. Yep.

I believe that what really separates an internal art from an external art is the *teaching paradigm* itself. Yep.

I think Aikido is often misunderstood as an internal art due to its complicated nature and emphasis on softness/relaxation. I feel this is an error. Hard/soft are not good indicators of internal and external arts. Yep.
An internal art forces the practitioner to become extremely introspective about what is happening within their own body. The kihon of the art exists to help reshape internal structures of the body (often developing support muscles) and teach the disciple how to really feel. ... On the flip side, an external art will focus on the outside shape of the body ... the assumption being that the external form will eventually lead to a correct internal state. Yep. Obverses.

It's my belief that the Japanese education system is decidedly external. The idea is that understanding comes from repetition and mimicry. Whereas the socialization in Japan is remarkably internal, complex, and many layered.

And oddly enough the Western system of education has tended toward the internal and analytical mode of education and away from the rote methods. And at the same time the "external" Japanese (and Korean) martial arts are vastly more popular here, fitting our much more "off the cuff" socialization.

Inevitable compensations, perhaps: where there are hills -- there must also be valleys. In-Yo.

Over time, the shape and repetition of the external shape of the exercise gradually educates internal awareness. To be perfectly clear, what we are talking about is an external paradigm attempting to teach internal skills. Yep. And the other way, too.

[Tenryu Pushing O Sensei] In clearer terms, the techniques of aikido had led to his being able to be unmovable (external paradigm) rather than his skill of being unmovable leading to his ability to do aikido techniques (internal paradigm). ... my intent is more to offer a better analysis of what aikido really is so that it can be fairly judged. A goal we share, even if our methods may differ.

I think the teaching paradigm (as I've experienced it) sucks. Most people have no idea what exactly they're doing , why what they are doing works or how to control their internal structure to correctly/efficiently move. For me it was not so. Maybe I was lucky, or exceptional, but I think not on either count. But, I am a very internal, analytical person. Most of my learning has been self-directed and critical even when under instruction, and I tend to disregard what people say they mean and look more at what they actually say and do. Stubborn that way. So, there you go.

Of course, to save time let me just say that I must therfore not know what I know, .. or don't know what I don't know, OR.. I forget, but Dan or MIke know what I know or know what I don't know or don't know what I don't know ... or something else Rumsfeldian along those lines ... Just to save everybody the time :D

...it was a revelation to learn some of Don Angier's principles. Suddenly I had a lexicon to describe what I was doing and what other people were doing. It all suddenly made sense. The problem with that being, not its effectiveness or authoritative nature, but its communicability. That lexicon may not be broad enough, and it may still be too figurative to allow a skeptical frustrated student ot access the material on his own and from his own observations. That is a strong Western trait that the training paradiogm in these arts has yet to address. That is why I am doing what I am doing in working through strict terms of physical dynamics as much as I can and looking for BS flags on anything that I propose that is simply not sound mechnically. That would be as opposed to being ill-fitting in some other lexicon, which was the tenor of much of far too much of the earlier debate.

So perhaps instead of blasting everyone and their teachers for doing it all wrong, we could start anew with a different tone, say, "Hey, I think I know something that will really improve what you're doing and save you a lot of time and frustration over the years, but you'll have to trust me and try something new." at the same time it may be helpful to come to COMPLETELY bland neutral territory to avoid the my language your language arguments. Again, that is what I am working on.

Almost done here, one last point to make. I believe aikido is such a long and difficult art to become a proficient martial artist with because we're literally taking the hardest road possible. Yep. El Capitan. North Face of K-2. No one does that to find the easy way to the top. There are other reasons for doing it.

... paraphrasing a Hsing Yi book I read recently, any martial artist is defined by a combination of their speed, power and technique. According to the writer in question, speed is the most important, followed by power, and finally by technique. I'm sure this is up for debate, so bear with me. ...
Aikido, because of its teaching paradigm is actually an external art which could benefit greatly from insights gained through internal arts and practices. One issue think I would quibble. Musubi -- connection is more imortant than all three.

Speed does not matter if you do not connect; power does not matter if you do not connect; technique does not matter if you do not connect.

If I connect, in a fundamental way, with him:

Speed does not matter; he moves me as he moves himself;
Power does not matter: mine is joined to his, not contesting it;
Technique does not matter (See Dan?); because the technique is simply doing what he wants to do.

We train in different techniques to learn different ways in which our partner expresses the motion of his desire. We train at different speeds to learn how our partners expresses the urgency of his desire. We train at different power levels to learn how our partner exresses the depths of his desire.

Ultimately, it is learning to abandon our own desires and invest ourselves completely in our partner's desires. Which is simply to say, as OSensei said : True Budo is love.

Big mountain. Huge. Biggest one there is.

gregg block
03-09-2007, 05:39 PM
All nice thoughts. but a punch is a punch and a kick is a kick. Think to much beyond that and you have already lost

statisticool
03-09-2007, 07:17 PM
Christian,

I wouldn't get too hung up on the terms, which is all too easy to do. Some things that I've gleaned off various threads on various boards, is that

1) so called internal seems to be simply good posture, efficient movement, etc., even in the best descriptions from internal theorists

2) some internal theorists say that even external arts have internal stuff in them

3) some internal theorists say that internal strength is simply a training method

4) some think when internal strength is used it would look like regular ol external stuff

If you put 1-4 together, coupled with the fact that there is no test to say if something is internal or not, even the so called experts can't make any real distinction.

Besides claimed different types of strength or the intrinsic vs. outside forms distinctions, another school of thought is that internal refers to martial arts created in China (taijiquan, for example), while external refers to martial arts originally created outside of it (shaolin, for example).

At least the latter has a fairly objective definition, is not too debatable, and is supported by how 'nei' (internal, http://zhongwen.com/d/164/x186.htm) and 'wai' (external, http://zhongwen.com/d/165/x126.htm) are used everywhere else in the Chinese language.

Kevin Leavitt
03-09-2007, 11:46 PM
Greg,

Not sure what you are really saying, but I don't really think a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick.

Yes..in the sense of what they are at face value yes.

However, There are what I would consider effective punches (good), and ones that are not so effective (bad or not so good).

In my old TKD days I learned to punch quickly and off center a little. Why? Because my TKD was sport oriented and concerned with speed and placement, and guarding against a quick "tap"counter. So, I did not really learn to punch correctly.

Then I learned a little better in Karate, but we still punched some what at the outside (external).

Then I learned how to connect my Karate Punches together with the ability to influence center through aikido.

Then I took some Muay Thai...and I learned how to put it all together, moving my body in correct alignment, relaxation, and movement to punch into someone and through them...influencing their core and balance.

Same with kicks.

I don't go so far as to say that there is a definite distinction between internal and external...but there are punches kicks that are different, designed to affect different things...some people can use these skills more effectively than others based on their knowledge and skills to influence the center and mass of the other person, more honestly.

tedehara
03-10-2007, 08:34 AM
...The problem I have with the ki society methods (and I say this as someone who has a shodan from a ki society offshoot) is that the explanation for how to accomplish a particular goal, is the goal itself. If I don't know how to 'extend ki', being told to 'extend ki' isn't very helpful. All of the aiki parlor trick tests (unbendable arm, closed finger circle, plank across chairs) and whatnot are fine and all, but I feel there has to be a better and more specific way to teach the internal dynamics beyond telling people to do these things and then repeatedly testing how well they do them. If you actually build a methodology to develop these skills, then the tests have value, but tests generally make poor lessons. IMHOIn contrast, I wasn't taught that the goal is both method and object. Generally you try and convey the feeling of the principle, like "ki is extended", a newer interpretation than "extend ki". Once the student catches the feeling of how to do something, then they can reproduce the process for themselves.

The Ki Society is a centralized organization. That means the teaching methods are the same in Japan as they are in the US or elsewhere. Therefore they don't take into account the differences in culture. If you tell a Japanese student, "Extend Ki." they might have an idea of what you're talking about, since ki is a fairly common word in the Japanese language. If you tell an American student, "Extend Ki.", they will scratch their head and ask, "What's a Key?" since the word is foreign to the English language.

The teaching methods are developed at Ki No Kenkyukai, Ki Society Headquarters (KNK). They are transmitted through people like Kashiwaya Sensei, a chief technical advisor, who makes regular visits to KNK. Various Ki Society dojos outside of Japan also send people to attend national instructors' conferences. At these conferences new methods and activities are introduced. If you are in a dojo which does not send someone to these conferences, you are outside the information loop.

One of the goals of Koichi Tohei was to standardize the teaching of aikido. To do this he developed methods for teaching ki development and ki aikido. KNK serves as a think-tank/research group transmitting its activities and methods to various Ki Society dojos. Therefore ki aikido is a dynamic (changing) style of aikido since the time K. Tohei left Hombu dojo.

How does this stack up on the local level? Results vary. If you've got a dumb instructor, then you've got a dumb instructor. It doesn't matter which style of aikido they teach. However if you've got a good, active Ki Society instructor, then you have someone who can tap into information from some of the best teachers the Ki Society can provide.

Josh Reyer
03-10-2007, 08:36 AM
I'd also like to go back briefly to the interview quoted a number of times in the Baseline thread (http://www.aikidofaq.com/interviews.html). Specifically, let's look at this phrase (again…), "Finally, we ended up pitting our strength against each other. I sat down and said to Tenryu, "Please try to push me over. Push hard, there's no need to hold back." Since I knew the secret of Aikido, I could not be moved an inch." I don't have the Japanese text, so if someone felt like offering what word he was using for "secret" that would be great.

Nice catch. :) This is a somewhat juicy quote.

「...とうとう力比べをすることになってしまったんです。
『ぢゃ僕は坐っているから、天竜さん押して下さい。遠慮しないでもいいですよ。』
と押させたんですが、僕の方には、合気の秘法があるからビクもしない...」

My translation:

"...at last we ended up having a contest of strength.
'Well, I'll sit down, so you push me, Tenryu-san. You don't have to hold back!' I said and had him push me, but because I had the secret (methods) of Aiki, I didn't move an inch."

秘法 hihou, "the secret, secret method", is a nice loaded term. In general it refers to any secret methods of anything. Unlike gokui or ogi, two terms often translated as "secret" which refer to an essentially hidden nucleus, hihou refers to methods which are specifically not shown to other people. Also, in Mikkyo Buddhism, it refers to, in the broad sense, all of the practices, and in the narrow sense, those particular practices that should not be taught without sound reason.

Since Ueshiba was an Omoto believer, I don't believe he meant any particular Mikkyo nuance to his words. However, I do believe since he's talking about how he kept Tenryu from pushing him over, he's referring to methods which he was in no mood to teach openly and explicitly, particularly to a large organization like the Aikikai. An organization which he was originally opposed to in the first place.

DH
03-10-2007, 08:52 AM
And yet the "secret" methods of Aiki are outlined in DR.
With all their surprising corrolations to what I have seen of two Internal arts so far. DR's In-yo ho can and did stop Ueshiba's students in their tracks.
But, as was argued in the other thread. It doesn't exist and Ueshiba was "unqiue in all the world" and no one else can and will eve be able to do it so just ignore this stuff, settle for being less and get on with waza.
Dan

Josh Reyer
03-10-2007, 09:23 AM
The Ki Society is a centralized organization. That means the teaching methods are the same in Japan as they are in the US or elsewhere. Therefore they don't take into account the differences in culture. If you tell a Japanese student, "Extend Ki." they might have an idea of what you're talking about, since ki is a fairly common word in the Japanese language. If you tell an American student, "Extend Ki.", they will scratch their head and ask, "What's a Key?" since the word is foreign to the English language.

Interestingly, Japanese students are told 氣を出す ki wo dasu. Dasu is one of those ubiquitous, heavily used words in Japanese (possibly used in more contexts than ki!), but the core meaning is one of "put out", putting something that is inside outside. A look here (http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/search.php?MT=%BD%D0%A4%B9&search_history=&kind=&kwassist=0&je.x=28&je.y=10&je=%CF%C2%B1%D1&mode=0) can give you idea of the many contexts it's used in. To my ear, dasu seems to have a much broader meaning than "extend", but I imagine those in the Ki Society tried to find a proper English term for the feeling they wanted to evoke.

Also, I find it interesting that the Ki Society uses the 氣 character, to distinguish it's ki from the 気 ki used in everyday Japanese speech. In contrast, Aikikai uses 氣 only in calligraphy, and uses 気 in all other situations, including 合気道 aikidou and 合気会 Aikikai.

Incidently, when Morihiro Saito refers to ki in his Takemusu Aikido series (in, IIRC, his Traditional Aikido series), he says to 「十分に指を開いて気力を充実させる」, "Fully open the fingers and fill them with ki power."

Josh Reyer
03-10-2007, 09:24 AM
And yet the "secret" methods of Aiki are outlined in DR.

Where they are kept quite secret, no? :)

tedehara
03-10-2007, 10:04 AM
And yet the "secret" methods of Aiki are outlined in DR.
With all their surprising corrolations to what I have seen of two Internal arts so far. DR's In-yo ho can and did stop Ueshiba's students in their tracks.
But, as was argued in the other thread. It doesn't exist and Ueshiba was "unqiue in all the world" and no one else can and will eve be able to do it so just ignore this stuff, settle for being less and get on with waza.
DanEveryone is "unique in all the world". That's why criminals get caught through fingerprints and DNA analysis.

Why should anyone of us settle for being less? Especially since these abilities are part of the waza.

gregg block
03-11-2007, 08:14 AM
I think you may have misunderstood what I was trying to say. I appreciate and agree with your reply. What I was trying to refer to is that we sometimes spend too much time trying to explain martial arts and desect it like a dead frog in science class. Instead we should accept combat for what it is . Alive, unpredictable and unscripted..

Kevin Leavitt
03-11-2007, 09:23 AM
Combat is scripted for the most part. Scripted through strategies, doctrine, and tactics. We take the lessons learned from the past, translate them into knowledge, then wisdom, and attempt to set ourselves up with the skills necessary to win.

Within that realm we must maintain, flexibility and adaptability to adjust to the changing circumstances.

so, yes it is necessary to dissect frogs to learn what we can from them. However, the real issue is when we start forming attachment or meaning to things erroneously...such as subscribing to the liver the functionality of the heart.

Unpredictability. Not always so. we can assume a certain level of risk to a given set of circumstances. I can assume that there is a greater chance of being mugged or ambushed with a given set of conditions, time of day, place, etc. Recognizing these conditions you can better predict, mitigate, or eliminate unpredictability.

Alive. Well yes, this one I will agree with. a question that was always asked of by at least one of my OCS candidates about how to improve their push ups....my answer...do more push ups.

The only way to prepare for combat is to train as close to the actual conditions as you can. That said, in trainng you always control and set the conditions in order to correctly allow for the opportunity to train the things that you want to train.

External/Internal....

Well to me....once you set the correct conditions and understand your training objectives, then the discussions over internal and external become meaningless...you simply train to meet your objectives given the set of condtions that are present. Instructors and Teachers give you best practices, or techniques, tactics, and proceedures that have been proven to work in the particular set of circumstances in the past.

DH
03-11-2007, 10:30 AM
"Just do more pushups......."


Alive. Well yes, this one I will agree with. a question that was always asked of by at least one of my OCS candidates about how to improve their push ups....my answer...do more push ups.

There are better ways to do push ups than doing push ups. There are better results to be gained from doing pushups -a certain way- over others. Both most certainly do not end in the same result.
For those who don't know any better, the answer will be "Just do more pushups."


The only way to prepare for combat is to train as close to the actual conditions as you can. That said, in trainng you always control and set the conditions in order to correctly allow for the opportunity to train the things that you want to train..

Is this why Aikido almost always fails in dealing with trained fighters? Why it has never, and can never, enter and be succesful against MMA? It never really ever trains for someone to fight back who has meaningfull skills?
Is your logic dictating that the best viable training is MMA methodology then?

External/Internal....
Well to me....once you set the correct conditions and understand your training objectives, then the discussions over internal and external become meaningless...you simply train to meet your objectives given the set of condtions that are present. Instructors and Teachers give you best practices, or techniques, tactics, and proceedures that have been proven to work in the particular set of circumstances in the past.

All due respect I totally disagree with this.
And no one I know who actually has internal skills would ever agree with you either. They do overlap but just ask them if they are...meaningless? Ask them if they are willing to give them up? In fact, as I have suggested over and over and over. Poll the men and women who have met Rob Mike and me. and ask them if they thought the "USE" of these skills-is meaningless.

It seems is has been their experience that Aikido (as done by them)... becomes.. meaningless when used on us. On a personal note I've not had an Aikido technique of an kind succesfully used on me in so long I consider the point moot. No I'm not saying Aikido is no good, just these skills are far, far, better; both against aiki-do and (since they are the very foundation of aiki)....as aiki-do.

"Teachers give you best practices, or techniques, tactics, and proceedures that have been proven to work.......
Instructors, teachers, give you what they know. And that ain't saying much. By its own logic it reuquires a neophyte to be the arbitor of who know what. Something they frequently judge simply on the surface value of what they see.

For those so inclined they can continue to have X dans show up and make small adjustmens in their waza and search in vain for the paths of power of a long dead man- through the waza of his son- I say good luck.
There is a reason that most people in the martial arts suck. The reason isn't the kata. It's not knowing the power behind it all. In order for their to be a chewy center one must first have a chewy center. Second one must be abel to reveal it. Or last one must be able to break the hard shell of a reluctant teacher and steal all that chewy goodness. I've broken a few hardshells and found nothing there.;)
Mike said somewhere here that he thinks that 98% of those in the arts will never get it. I think Mikes 2% is hopeful. I'd suggest a half a percent. Everyone else is teaching what they know surface waza. As I offered in my opening statement. The quality of that teachers "expertise" may just be what it has always been.
"Just do more pushups (kata)."
Dan

statisticool
03-11-2007, 10:45 AM
Why it has never, and can never, enter and be succesful against MMA?


Why should it? Last time I checked, real self defense situations do not involve fighting other trained fighters in a ring, with dozens of rules, etc., but unplanned and unavoidable attacks in real life against people not as trained.

Of course, aikido has been highly useful to police forces, including in Japan. You know, the real world, not sport or training.

You overlooked that. ;)

DH
03-11-2007, 10:53 AM
Why should it? Last time I checked, real self defense situations do not involve fighting other trained fighters in a ring, with dozens of rules, etc., but unplanned and unavoidable attacks in real life against people not as trained.

Of course, aikido has been highly useful to police forces, including in Japan. You know, the real world, not sport or training.

You overlooked that. ;)
Well to do what you did to me on the Aiki'd thread...
I was asking Kevin a question about specific training as he does and agrees with the potency of MMA. It has not to do with an overall view;)

I could expand as it is my view -and have stated openly- that Aikido could once again be more potent then it is. But as you didn't bother answering my questions there I see no need here. Most of my questions go unanswered here anyway. But I continue to ask anyway.
Dan

Kevin Leavitt
03-11-2007, 11:23 AM
Dan,

I don't think anyone here is claiming aikido's relevance in MMA or competition.

However, if you would like to meet on those terms, we should see about having an event in which you could adequately demonstrate your proficiency in MMA. It be great to have an event with say, Jason Delucia...he is in Mass.

On a personal note I've not had an Aikido technique of an kind succesfully used on me in so long I consider the point moot. No I'm not saying Aikido is no good, just these skills are far, far, better; both against aiki-do and (since they are the very foundation of aiki)....as aiki-do.


what ARE you saying above? that you have met no one that can use aikido skills on you....your skills are superior....not to say that aikido is no good. seems like a HUGE contradiction to me. I am confused once again as to what your point concerning aikido really is?

As far as teachers. I suppose I have been one of the rare, fortunate ones, that have had good teachers and models to follow. They have taught me alot. Apparently you have personal issues you need to work out with your teachers in the past. Why is it that you feel so ripped off from them and so bitter towards them?

I don't agree with everything my Karate instructor taught me, but I did take away alot from him.

I don't agree with everything Saotome sensei says...but I took alot away from him. Same with Jimmy, Bob, Steve Van Fleet, Jacare, and the rest....I learned something from all of them..still do.

It has stood the test of actual use in my career and my life.

Dan, you have some issues...serious ones in respect to teachers and martial arts in general.

There is a reason that most people in the martial arts suck.

By whose standard are we judging? Your standard? Who defines sucks? My definition of suck is failure to recognize their own shortcomings and deal with them. Failure to have introspection.

With this definition you'd define a guy with cerebral palsy that did aikido as sucking right? even though, he is doing the best he can with his attitude and body.

If by suck, you are talking martial effectiveness, then how do you define that? I have been trying to get you to define it. Not from an internal or external perspective...but by what you consider effective?

What is your definition of martial effectiveness and what do you consider to pass your judgement of good and NOT sucking?

Kevin Leavitt
03-11-2007, 11:36 AM
Dan wrote:

Well to do what you did to me on the Aiki'd thread...
I was asking Kevin a question about specific training as he does and agrees with the potency of MMA. It has not to do with an overall view

I could expand as it is my view -and have stated openly- that Aikido could once again be more potent then it is. But as you didn't bother answering my questions there I see no need here. Most of my questions go unanswered here anyway. But I continue to ask anyway.
Dan

So what is your question?

What do I TRAIN on and HOW do I TRAIN to be martially effective?

I have my own definition of martial effectiveness. Empty hand is but a small part of what I do in this area. What does it matter towards aikido what I do to train martial effectiveness.

by that definition, we'd have to change aikido to incorporate hand guns, close quarters marksmanship lots of things. Sounds kinda preposterous to bring these things into aikido.

To be able to answer your question Dan, I need you to adequately define what it is that aikido is failing to achieve in the generally accepted terms of how it is practiced throughout the world.

The difference between us is I don't presume to understand what everyone's goals of are in aikido to have cojones enough to say that it is lacking or failing to meet everyone's expectations.

Does aikido meet all my personal goals martially? No it does not. Neither does BJJ or anything else I study.

I don't believe that aikido needs a saviour Dan.

In order for me to answer your question, you must first adequately define the question. I am not going to assume that I understand your defintion of effectiveness. I see too many people fall into the trap of this logic and go down that rat hole of argument without fully considering the totality of what it means.

Once I understand a little better about what you consider to be effective, then we can start having an intelligent and productive conversation on this subject.

DH
03-11-2007, 11:53 AM
Now I'm confused
Are you stating that if Chuck beats Randy it nullifies MMA as method? Or If Jason beats me, or I him, it nullifies my argument that MMA is a superior method? Any and all combos prove my continual arguemtn about MMA.
MMA against Aikido? Proves my points again
I think your frustrated with me and once again sniping at me instead of my argument about MMA and Aikido?

Your confusion about my statements about Aikido in particular and issues I have?
I think Aikdo waza-was meant to be powered by internal skills. Without them ya aint got much. With them you can have a potent art. Gee.... that must be the hundreth time I've said that. Although I (personally-did you not read that? )haven't felt anyone IN Aikido with real internal skills- I trust the fellows who have told me its there. Which is why I have stated it must frustratiing for those who have admitted here their teachers got the stuff but don't openly teach it.
Seems clear to me. I think you're confusing my statements or not fully reading what I write.
Once again Kevin, and I thnk for the final time, I have stated I argue on two fronts; MMA and internal skills
Internal skills are a tremendous advantage. A hell of an edge. But they do not teach you how to fight.
MMA is the great equalizer of all things.
Both together are the best combo. While no method and no person is unstoppable either of those remain a serious edge.
Of both I'd count on MMA the most for fighting fighters
And Internal skills for most everyone else.

If we leave Aikido out of it it makes my postion clear.
Add Aikido back in and I revert back to a single position/ statement.
Aiki-do was created from the effect Daito ry Aiki had on Ukes. Ueshiba relaized he didn't need to draw-in-at-the-feet as in most koryu. That he could project out with DR Aiki. So using Takeda's Aiki...Ueshiba powered his vision of peace and he realized he could defend without cauing harm. Thus his statement that "Takeda opened my eyes to true Budo."

Its all so simple Kevin
Cheers
Dan

gdandscompserv
03-11-2007, 11:55 AM
Instructors, teachers, give you what they know. And that ain't saying much.
Dan, you lost me on that one. Are you suggesting they give you something they don't know?

Kevin Leavitt
03-11-2007, 12:08 PM
Dan, no I am not. I did not even mention MMA in my post you responded to. You are the one that brought it into the equation. You threw the MMA card out there on the table. I am simply letting you play with it. So lets play with it.

Are you judging Aikido by an MMA criteria as the basis of martial effectiveness? Exactly what do you mean by MMA anyway. UFC rules? Pride rules? Modern Army Combatives rules? Dog Brothers rules?

Your confusion about my statments about Aikido perticularly and issue I have? I think Aikdo waza-was meant to be powered by internal skills. Without them ya aint got much. With them you can have a potent art

Define Potent art for me then we can have a discussion on this.

To me it is another way of saying martially effective.

We cannot discuss this intelligently until you define the criteria upon which you are judging aikido to be lacking.

DH
03-11-2007, 12:12 PM
Dan, you lost me on that one. Are you suggesting they give you something they don't know?

Teachers can only give you four things on a technical level
1. What they know
2. What they only "want" you to know
3. What you can steal

You hope and pray and work hard and hope and pray again that you get good stuff. Even then we have all trained next to guys in certain things that have more talent, They get better faster then us or us them. Its just the way of it
Dan

DH
03-11-2007, 12:52 PM
Kevin
I'm not going to expand on views I've expressed a hundred times.
I've been very clear. If you don't understand my views by now, you never will.

You wrote
"Aikido doesn't need a saviour, Dan....."

Uhm,.... yes it does. Who it may be, or where they come from is up for those in it to decide

Ikeda 2006
"Even if the number of people practicing aikido reaches the tens of thousands, there is no meaning if we are fighting among ourselves. It only means we are moving in the opposite direction from O-sensei's philosophy. Peace cannot be made unless we all come together - not just karate and aikido, but all budo.

The kind of power through kokyu that Ushiro sensei has been teaching is completely different from what is usually thought of as kokyu. All of the people who came to this camp experienced this. It may have been only an introduction to this kind of practice and this kind of power, but I think it was a real plus for people to be able to experience it.

As a teacher, one of the most important considerations is how we are bringing up new people in the art, both now and into the future. There will be no growth if we just repeat what is currently being done. For ourselves and for the Aikido of the future, it is necessary to completely change the way aikido is practiced. I think we have come to this critical crossroads."

And from Ushiro

The Essence of Budo: Nullifying the Opponent's Power, and Ki
In aikido, practice often consists of using circular movements to avoid or lead an opponent's attack. However, this category of response is possible only against certain categories of attack. When up against the straight and explosive strikes of Okinawan karate, circular movements would never be fast enough.

In modern karate and other competitive martial arts, most practice is comprised of nothing more than moving the hands and feet in response to different attacks. This kind of practice depends on strength, speed, and timing. As one gets older, however, there is no guarantee that one can continue using this kind of strength. Everyone, at some point, will hit the 'wall of advancing age'.

In order to address this limitation, it is necessary to find something that is not based on physical power - something not visible to the eye, something that controls the opponent even before contact is made. This is ki. If one can cultivate ki, then one can utilize it in all aspects of life, says Ushiro shihan.

I think Ushiro's and Ikeda's words will by and large fall on deaf ears.
Just as Ueshiba's did. And everyones going to just go back to searching for paths of power in Kissomaru's technical syllabus and coming up empty.
Mike's 2% will make the leap and start looking elsewhere like I did.
The word is out, the low level Aikido teachers have now felt the power available to them and the means to get what Ikeda admits has been missing. And we are willing to share with them what we know and possibly what their teachers can't or won't teach.
Which leaves us to ask Ushiro just who he thinks he is.
"Who am I?
I'm the guy doing his job.
You must be the other guy!"
.........From the Departed

The whole article is here.
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=688
Thanks again to Stans work at Aikido Journal.

In closing I hope we can disagree-even strongly-as friends and not enemies. I'm sure we'll meet up and train and laugh and train and just be (as Meik Skoss says so elequantly) two more bums on the budo bus.
Dan

gregg block
03-11-2007, 01:22 PM
Hi dan and kevin,
I appreciate what you both have to say in this matter. I myself subscribe to MMA as being a philosophy I subscribe to. I think it has helped me to be more eclectic and have more options to deal with a variety of situations. However, If one individual learns multiple martial arts over a lifetime that time has to be split among learning different styles and strategies. I think it would be ignorant to think that an individual who spends a lifetime in one art(eg. Aikido) is somehow inferior. After all every style comes from other styles so in a way all practice MMA. This is a discussion that has been going on as long as I have been a martial artist. There are very talented martial artists in all styles and on any given day under any number of possible situations all styles can win or lose. This is a argument which cannot be proven . It would be better that we respect all martial arts as valid and useful. Some styles fit better with some individuals than others. Just as some techniques work better for some individuals than others.

statisticool
03-11-2007, 01:54 PM
I think Aikdo waza-was meant to be powered by internal skills.


We'd have to go back to what the founder and family of this martial art actually say.

Kevin Leavitt
03-11-2007, 02:25 PM
Greg Block wrote:

This is a argument which cannot be proven . It would be better that we respect all martial arts as valid and useful. Some styles fit better with some individuals than others. Just as some techniques work better for some individuals than others

Agreed. This is why it is important to establish the criteria upon which you are placing judgement against, and why I ask the term Martially Effective to be defined, before we can have a conversation on this subject.

Dan,

so if you have defined martially effective or "potent martial art", it eludes me, and I will not ask you to define it again. However, we simply cannot have a discussion on this matter.

Adjectives like martially effective and potent, even the term MMA are emotionally charged words that have many meanings attached them. We all think we know what the other means and we probably don't really.

So instead of answering the question, you appeal to authority with quotes from Ikeda sensei and Ushiro. This says nothing about your ability to convey change, or to speak as an authority on the subject.

I would ask them the same question. I have trained with Ikeda at a couple of Cherry Blossom seminars in DC. I have felt him, and have listened to him talk about aikido and kokyu.

No his words do not fall on deaf ears. Their are people out there listening to him and finding what works. These guys will also tell you to find your own path and voice. That can be interpreted in many ways.

I have had a few high ranking aikidoka that I respect tell me that same thing. I do not translate this into aikido is broken in a major way, but on a personal level that my way of training is appropriate and valid and one they feel will lead me in the right direction.

Maybe we can get together and train some day. We'd have to reach an understanding though of what is considered to be an apporpriate critieria upon which to train within though before then.

I don't know from our conversations what that might be.

Kevin Leavitt
03-11-2007, 02:36 PM
Justin wrote:

We'd have to go back to what the founder and family of this martial art actually say.

No, I don't think we need to go back to what they said. We all pretty much know what they said. My sensei knows what he said, cause O'sensei told him directly, as well as many others.

In Dan's quote of Ikeda, I do think it is important to look at what Ikeda is saying, and it is not blind fundamentalism.

O sensei's goals and philosophy was pretty clear. Just as in most religions, we look at the dogma and the text and the actual practice evolves over time to be re-interpreted based on the collective experiences and meanings of the current society.

Christianity is not practiced the same in any given country or society.

Aikido kinda really falls into this same category. It is important to allow for the freedom of growth and discovery as long as the goals values, and philosophy remain the same.

Appealing to past authority for all your source of judgement is fundamentalism and you run the danger of being irrelevant or out of sync with the rest of society for the sake of ole times.

DH
03-11-2007, 03:46 PM
Kevin
We'll just have to meet some day. In many aspects -here-I am talking past you anyway. Don't take that the wrong way. Its just that in many aspects I am talking to those who are listening.... and not debating. At a certain point trying to "convince" someone of anything isn't fun anymore.
At this point I think we've stepped up to the plate and hosted enough folks of varied backgounds to pretty much settle doubts among those who were doubtful. Personally It's not that I'm uninterested in your views, just that I recognize that several of the naysers and debators seem to be affiliated with single Dojos or teachers with issues so I'm not much interested in a debate that will never move forward largely due to personality/loyalty issues.You wouldn't believe some of the P.M's I get.

Your tag line
"Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack." MG George S. Patton
seems quite appropriate. I'd only cautioned that cyniscism and learned experience are two different world views.

If I remain and talk at all, I am only interested in talkng to a broader general audience that continues to contact me to train. These folks are the ones who will actually improve at a far more rapid pace due to this level of training. They are the researchers who are getting an inkling of issues I believe are the truths of their art. There has been a blizzard of private emials that have gone out- each one of the dozens who have met us, who each have ther own network of friends who trust them. A word-of-mouth from trusted friends is the best reccomendation -I'll talk a little bit longer on the net and then stop again for a year or so to work with these folks.

It's that 2% I'm interested in talking to. I'm not trying to change everyone else's mind on the web. I prefer them to be the "other guys" anyway. For me its about finding the sincere "me's" out there. It was a good friend of mine who caused me to change my mind about sharing. "What about the sincere -you's" out there who are searching?"

When debating stops being interesting to me I quite. And in the back of my mind I now hear the words of the teacher who wrote me cautioning me that "all is not as it seems." That several guys only want to take it and claim that they had it all along-including two of his very own. He was more honest about his own skills then his own students! His words about "the smiles are all surface. A lesson they learned well from their Japanese teachers" are interesting words of advice I hear when I am now standing their looking at a smiling faced individual who wants "to learn."
It makes the "tone" thread and the crystal clarity of just who -really has the issues-take on a whole new meaning to me.
Good luck in your training, I have my own to consider as well
Cheers
Dan

statisticool
03-11-2007, 03:52 PM
Appealing to past authority for all your source of judgement is fundamentalism and you run the danger of being irrelevant or out of sync with the rest of society for the sake of ole times.

Conversely, one runs the danger of thinking aikido is B when it really is A. If one wants to be practicing actual aikido, not just some cool hybrid based off of it, this type of error is much more severe.

Kevin Leavitt
03-11-2007, 05:50 PM
Justin,

Well actually aikido CAN cover a full spectrum of many things. Commonly, there is a certain base methodology that you will typically see being performed commonly in most dojos.

Things such as a swords length ma'ai with hamni. Practicing from this distance using shomenuchi or yokomenuchi for example. Teaching irimi and tenkan...using wrist grabs, kokyunage, and the like.

However, you could also practice it close in from the clinch as well as from the ground in the mount, guard or whatever...

The thing that makes it aikido is the philosophical approach towards conflict resolution.

I have grown an appreciation for WHY we do practice from a swords length ma'ai. Aikido is about engaging conflict and dealing with it BEFORE the physical starts. So, in that respect, I'd say that it is difficult to teach certain concepts of the philosophy from the clinch and positions where physical contact has already occurred.

Frankly from a conflict resolution standpoint, I think this is one of the primary strengths of commonly practiced aikido training that often gets overlooked as we concentrate on the physical.

However, teachers use the methodology to teach the philosophy and the DO of aiki. Within that realm, there is a pretty darn wide birth for technique.

Kevin Leavitt
03-11-2007, 06:11 PM
Dan Wrote:

At this point I think we've stepped up to the plate and hosted enough folks of varied backgounds to pretty much settle doubts among those who were doubtful. Personally It's not that I'm uninterested in your views, just that I recognize that several of the naysers and debators seem to be affiliated with single Dojos or teachers with issues so I'm not much interested in a debate that will never move forward largely due to personality/loyalty issues.You wouldn't believe some of the P.M's I get.


I don't really have any loyality issues. Why would I have any? It ain't like I am looking for a promotion in aikido or anything or I earn brownie points for defending it. I have studied it for the last 10 years or so, still haven't made it to shodan. I don't have an aikido dojo with aikidoka looking at me to defend the art.

Let me make it clear that I have not been a naysayer of the exercises or the skills that have been presented. Show me where I have done that.

I have only asked directed questions toward some of the more profound claims. such as martial effectiveness, that goes unanswered or undefined. I think they are reasonable questions.

Rob John, did step up a little bit and demonstrate some of how he sees it applicable. He also has not stepped out into the same area of claims that you have.

From all I have heard many that I have respected have come on line and said, they appreciate what they have seen and experienced and think that it will add value to their training.

There is a huge gap between that and words thrown around liberally such as martial effectiveness, MMA will evolve to this next level...etc.

All I ask is HOW do you know this? HOW do you define effective? Why haven't we seen this in the UFC?

All reasonable and logical questions based on the some of the things that have been illuded to or outright presented.

That is all I am asking.

If not, please stick to telling us how we can better incorporate the skills into our current training without all the other flak and garbage that tends to confuse and rouse emotions.

I understand that it is probably a feeling thing, something that has to be experienced though.

eyrie
03-11-2007, 06:55 PM
Teachers can only give you four things on a technical level
1. What they know
2. What they only "want" you to know
3. What you can steal
...?


Am I missing something here?

Maybe I'm slow, but isn't it supposed to be the other way round... hard center, soft and chewy on the outside???

DH
03-11-2007, 07:30 PM
Dan Wrote:
I have only asked directed questions toward some of the more profound claims. such as martial effectiveness, that goes unanswered or undefined. I think they are reasonable questions.
Rob John, did step up a little bit and demonstrate some of how he sees it applicable. He also has not stepped out into the same area of claims that you have.
From all I have heard many that I have respected have come on line and said, they appreciate what they have seen and experienced and think that it will add value to their training.
There is a huge gap between that and words thrown around liberally such as martial effectiveness, MMA will evolve to this next level...etc. All I ask is HOW do you know this? HOW do you define effective? Why haven't we seen this in the UFC?

All reasonable and logical questions based on the some of the things that have been illuded to or outright presented.

That is all I am asking.

If not, please stick to telling us how we can better incorporate the skills into our current training without all the other flak and garbage that tends to confuse and rouse emotions.

I understand that it is probably a feeling thing, something that has to be experienced though.
I have answered you over and over you don't want to here it. Your teacher pursued me- now you are. There are hundreds of folks who know me, Kevin. I suggest you consider your credibility in pursuing me like this. You're not coming off very well.
If you really weren't on an agenda you'd not use the words to me you use. Like calling me ignorant, I don't understand distance or weapons, now "flak and garbage" and questioning over and over my martial effectiveness. And If I'm goaded to a strong response,you can tell everyone -I'M- the bad guy
Really Kevin? Really?
Is that where you want to go with me.
We trained MMA style and have for 16 years when I was training these skills- I was training fighting skills,actually from back in high school Its all I've ever done pup.
Do I really care if you want to be a mini Sorrintino (your teacher) and call me out yet again? We all know how empty that was. Jim was wrong...so are you. If you are -honestly- curious you can at least ask the few guys from here who tried to freestlye throw me these last two weekends ...that is if you honestly care to hear their repeated opinion.
Respond here why you ignored their report about martial effectiveness_________________________________________

And Leave Rob out of this. He has limtied grappling experience and he has only been training this for three years.

Why isn't it in the UFC Are you kidding, Kevin.
Just when I have hope that you are being straight with me you ask these stupid questions. Since we both know you're not stupid-then please stop treating me like I am. These skills are not to be found anywhere in depth. And you have to both believe in them and then go train them to find them. To say they are not there yeat means they have no worth is so transparant I'm embarrased -for- you. I mean at least insult me with a finer argument..please.
As for internals in MMA Cartmell is, Rob is, I am, and I personally know of a 6' 9" CMA guy with these skills-who is a friend of Lidell who is training to use them as well. Last time I checked no one gave a ______ about convincing Kevin Leavitt.
Be nice Kevin. Don't do this stuff. Just say you don't believe these skills have martial crossover. Although you can't see it- your embarrasing yourself and your teachers...again.

167th time to the mentally challenged
The skills are tailer made for AIki-do as the are the essence of aiki
These skills are tailer made for MMA as they impart great structural strength without flexation thus increasing sensitivity as well as great kicks and strikes. But they donlt teach you how to fight. You have to learn the skills and then learn how to fight. Two different topics.
Kevin
This is where you ask for the 168th time
"Are they martialy viable? How?

Dan

shidoin
03-11-2007, 07:31 PM
Dan what is DR's ?

DH
03-11-2007, 07:40 PM
Ignatious that was great

Booya...right on!!:D

Steel in cotton
Rubber coated steel
I like the steel-belted-radial feel a judo guy once called it

Cheers
Dan

DH
03-11-2007, 07:42 PM
Dan what is DR's ?
Kevin would say DR is a doctor or proctology looking for my mind.:D
I'd say DR is Daito ryu
Dan

shidoin
03-11-2007, 08:44 PM
man I had to go back and read the original post again, I couldn't remember it because of all the babble. my thought is Aikido starts with waza but ends with internal. If you are just doing waza you are not doing Aikido. To make Aikido techniques effective I have found you have to let go of all thoughts, all fears, all adrenalin, ect. if you have to think about how u are going to go about taking someone out it won't work. O'sensei was able to do what he did because it was a natural reaction, he didn't think Sankajo! it just happened. My past Aikido instructor was very great, I could punch, kick, grab, for Real! and he would have me down so fast, it was like being stuck in a vortex.
Not strength was used, just speed, timing and Ki.
I think we all have internal power and we a capable of great feats but you must train your mind and spirit capable to tap into it.

MM
03-11-2007, 09:27 PM
man I had to go back and read the original post again, I couldn't remember it because of all the babble. my thought is Aikido starts with waza but ends with internal. If you are just doing waza you are not doing Aikido. To make Aikido techniques effective I have found you have to let go of all thoughts, all fears, all adrenalin, ect. if you have to think about how u are going to go about taking someone out it won't work. O'sensei was able to do what he did because it was a natural reaction, he didn't think Sankajo! it just happened. My past Aikido instructor was very great, I could punch, kick, grab, for Real! and he would have me down so fast, it was like being stuck in a vortex.
Not strength was used, just speed, timing and Ki.
I think we all have internal power and we a capable of great feats but you must train your mind and spirit capable to tap into it.

IMO you're completely on the wrong track with your post. As Dan states every now and then, 180 degrees in the wrong direction. :)

It starts with internal. That's what gives it the rubbery-hard center with which all else springs.

Mark

shidoin
03-11-2007, 10:45 PM
Hey mark, can't agree with u on that one, but maybe I should be more clear. When we start to practice Aikido, we train Waza, which is external, and after many years of training if you are training properly, it becomes internal art. IMO in the beginning we try to muscle the techniques, and later we use Ki.

Upyu
03-11-2007, 11:07 PM
O'sensei was able to do what he did because it was a natural reaction, he didn't think Sankajo!

Here's the real question then, do you think O' Sensei trained to become who he became by practicing Waza and then turning that "internal"?
I know a lot of people that espouse that same path even in CMA, and generally they don't get anywhere.
Even O' Sensei did a "#$t load of tanren(solo training), and I'd bet a whole california state lotto winning that that was the meat of his training. All the techniques, everything else he showed were just toys to perfect the application of the bodyskills he was developing in his body.

His technical foundation may have been daitoryu, but I'll bet the engine that drove that technical foundation and allowed him to figure out to a degree what Takeda Soukaku was doing was the solo training ;)
And solo training is hard work...something that most people simply want to shirk...
The aikido curriculum was dumbed down and made the way it is today simply because 99% of Aikido practicioners would probably drop out. My guess is he just wanted to spread Aikido as something that everyone could practice, and didnt care whether or not the "essence" got transmited. Otherwise I think you'd see much more information on the way he trained in private ;)

shidoin
03-11-2007, 11:47 PM
I read his Bio, by John Stevens, O'Sensei was a mad man in his early years. he would bang his head on a boulder to harden his skull, train in ice cold water, carry lumber, ect. he speaks of a enlightening experience that he had one day in his garden, he became a golden being, and from then on he understood the true nature of life. He was a very dedicated and unique man, many people have tried to become him, but in modern days,#1 people are lazy #2 we have responsibility's and financial obligations that inhibit us to train and live the way he did back then. We can go through the motions of Aikido, but I don't think what he knew can be taught. we must find it ourselves

MM
03-12-2007, 07:39 AM
The aikido curriculum was dumbed down and made the way it is today simply because 99% of Aikido practicioners would probably drop out. My guess is he just wanted to spread Aikido as something that everyone could practice, and didnt care whether or not the "essence" got transmited. Otherwise I think you'd see much more information on the way he trained in private ;)

Hi Rob,

I'm still thinking over what Ueshiba did during his "teaching" years, whether he really cared to spread the knowledge or not. But I do think that his son, Kisshomaru, was the one responsible for starting Aikido along the technique driven path.

Ueshiba is known for a few comments in his later years, such as:

That's not my Aikido

and upon seeing people doing "soft" aikido, asking them what they're doing since it took him twenty years of doing hard stuff before he could get to the soft stuff. :)

Mark

Cady Goldfield
03-12-2007, 09:01 AM
I am wondering why this discussion about -aikido- got banished to the new "Non-Aikido" forum. I can understand why the Baseline Skillset thread was plopped here, because it has so much reference to Chinese arts, but it's puzzling how a topic that explores the history and mysteries of the internal part of aikido would be considered "non-aikido."

MM
03-12-2007, 09:13 AM
I don't have any background in recognizing internal arts versus external arts. I'll leave that to those that are better educated.

However, there are certain things that I am finding which sheds some light upon aikido as a martial art in an overall sense and applies to this thread.

First:
Judo, wrestling, karate, BJJ, MMA, etc.

Have you wondered why it takes someone in aikido far longer to become proficient than their peers in other arts?

I used to come up with all kinds of reasons why this was so. But I also always wondered if there was a piece missing that might equalize things. After all, Kano didn't look down upon Ueshiba, and there were many martial artists who thought Ueshiba was exemplary in Budo.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear some saying that Ueshiba invested more time in his training than we have available. After all, we have jobs and families and etc. Like I said, there are all kinds of reasons. But, really, why does it take people in aikido so much longer than other martial arts?

Why indeed? What keeps aikido from being as viable in the same time span as judo, karate, BJJ, etc? It certainly can't be because we don't have enough time to spend because comparatively, we find other people in other arts also don't have enough time to spend. Yes, there's a point where some people who spend great amounts of time will leap ahead of all others, but comparatively, again, why does aikido trail the pack?

My answer. It's missing a critical component with the baseline skills. These skills would allow aikido to place itself among its peers, in regards to time versus skill. Please note the time versus skill part of that sentence. It doesn't mean that aikido isn't a peer among the others in the martial arts world.

Second:
Techniques.

I'm still of the opinion that techniques in aikido are an important aspect. First, they place a range and a boundary for training and learning aikido. They set a condition upon which people learn skills such as timing, distance, body placement, etc. And they create a pathway necessary for understanding Ueshiba's Aikido.

Now, with that said. Techniques also become somewhat hollow when performed in a rote manner with only the understanding of the physical aspect. Hmmm … let me try to make that a bit clearer. If you are just going through the motions of learning the technique and hoping that some day you'll glean some understanding of how to be martially effective, then it's going to take a lot of stealing techniques, repetitive effort, and some very skilled intuitive leaps. Otherwise it's just going to be some basic jujutsu that gets refined over time.

Can that leap be made? I think it can but as with my first point, it's going to take a long time and some great intuitive leaps. How many of us will be able to do that? Ikeda sensei went to Ushiro sensei to help with those intuitive leaps. Guess you can figure out your own chances from there.

If the baseline skills are added to aikido training from day one, I think you're going to have a better martial art that also follows Ueshiba's aikido more closely.

Third:
Power.

I've read that some of Ueshiba's students rolled out of his techniques because of Ueshiba's power. They would rather roll away than confront his power. Now, I've also read that people attribute that power from a purely physical perspective. Egad. Why? Think about that. Here we have an art that is training you to be as soft as possible and that model came from Ueshiba, yet his power came from a physical grip? That's about as much an oxymoron as I've seen. It wasn't his physical power they were afraid of, it was his internal power being expressed into them that they were afraid of. He was being uke and then changing roles to nage by using internal skills to neutralize their attack. They hit a rubbery hardness that exploded with internal power.

Why do you think Tenryu was unable to overcome Ueshiba? He wasn't doing techniques just waiting for Tenryu to push him over. He knew the secret skills that were the most important part of aikido. Now, did Ueshiba do techniques on Tenryu? No, he had Tenryu try to push him over. Which tells me that these internal baseline skills are a very important part of aikido. If Tenryu, through his sumo training, had the internal framework of whole body integration or whole body movement, then to me, Ueshiba must have known that also. But, yet Tenryu couldn't push him over, so there had to be more. Hence, power, or also pathways of power. Ueshiba knew how to integrate whole body with pathways of power. More internal training and above baseline skills. These are the secrets of aikido.

Fourth:
Shortcuts.

There are no shortcuts in martial arts training. Just because internal training for baseline skills creates a more valid martial art, doesn't mean it's a shortcut. There is a lot of solo training. A lot. It isn't a shortcut by any stretch of the imagination. What it does give are two things.

1. It lets people practice something outside of the dojo.
2. It lets people make those intuitive leaps a bit quicker and more easily. But only if the time in training is put in.

Mark

MM
03-12-2007, 09:21 AM
I am wondering why this discussion about -aikido- got banished to the new "Non-Aikido" forum. I can understand why the Baseline Skillset thread was plopped here, because it has so much reference to Chinese arts, but it's puzzling how a topic that explores the history and mysteries of the internal part of aikido would be considered "non-aikido."

Ugh. I just noticed the new forum. Yuck. "Non-Aikido"?!?

All this talk about if and how these things apply to Aikido and it ends up in "Non-Aikido"? No one coming to AikiWeb will put *ANY* faith at all in what is being said here as being part of Aikido.

Jun, many thanks for having this great site. But, is there some other name that can be used? Even, "Non-Traditional Aikido" would be better. Something other than "Non-Aikido", as that finalizes all debate and informs everyone reading that the matters discussed in this forum do not belong in Aikido. Even "Open Discussions" was a better place. :)

Thanks,
Mark

Pete Rihaczek
03-12-2007, 09:32 AM
I am wondering why this discussion about -aikido- got banished to the new "Non-Aikido" forum. I can understand why the Baseline Skillset thread Iwas plopped here, because it has so much reference to Chinese arts, but it's puzzling how a topic that explores the history and mysteries of the internal part of aikido would be considered "non-aikido."

Hi Cady, you took the words right out of my mouth. I certainly think it's fair to put a discussion of internal aspects in a separate subsection of the forum (like Internal Aspects), but to brand it non-Aikido assumes a rather prejudiced conclusion. All that "keep one point", "keep weight underside", all the talk about throwing people with ki, how people with proper ki understanding can't be moved, how they can take their opponent's balance without visible movement by movement "inside" their body, none of it has any physical meaning. I guess anyone with ki skills is automatically not doing Aikido, which is so laughable it's hard to motivate to even discuss seriously. But it's no doubt a popular view among the 99.999% of Aikidoka without any semblence of the ki skills Ueshiba possessed, even though it's the stories of those abilities that likely drew them all to Aikido to begin with. Don't worry, if you haven't suddenly developed those abilities, just dance around for another 20 years and maybe it will happen one day. Don't think it's something you'd have to deliberately focus on. Never mind that there's nothing "natural" about the optimal swimming stroke, the optimal bicycling pedal stroke, the optimal golf swing, etc, and they all have to be learned slowly and deliberately until an unnatural use of the body becomes second nature. Just keep muddling along without focus and some day you'll wake up with Tiger Woods' skills. Whatever you do, do *not* attempt to break down the mechanics of what the top people could or can do, such that you can understand and drill those skills to be called upon at will. Do *not* work your body deliberately to create physical qualities that support reaching those goals. Nothing to see here, just move along. :rolleyes:

Cady Goldfield
03-12-2007, 09:32 AM
There's also a new filter mechanism that allows people to block the view of any forum they don't want to see. So, this particular forum may actually be "doubley-banished" from the sight of anyone who doesn't want to postulate or consider that there is anything more to aikido than what they currently practice.

Keep on rockin' in the Free World... ;)

mjchip
03-12-2007, 09:39 AM
I agree also. Heck, this thread even has "Aikido" in the title.....

Mark

Cady Goldfield
03-12-2007, 09:47 AM
Yeah, but Mark, that could just be a "bait and switch" tactic! Put "aikido" in the title, but when the innocent reader opens the thread, it's about cheap real estate in Florida.

I got that idea from spammers. :D

No, it's safer to just kerplunk anything of dubious provenance (e.g. posted by someone who is not currently practicing aikido in one of the mainstream organizations) into a "Non-Aikido" forum. ;) At least, that's how this looks to me.

I agree with Mark M. It would be more appropriate to call the forum something like "Non-Traditional Aikido" or "Internal Practices."

Kevin Leavitt
03-12-2007, 09:50 AM
Mark Wrote:

Why indeed? What keeps aikido from being as viable in the same time span as judo, karate, BJJ, etc?

Viable in what way? How are you making the comparison? Each of those arts has it's own set of criteria in which to judge viability of effectiveness. BJJ in a judo paradigm typically does not do as well as well as vice versa. Same with aikido and BJJ, both seem like oil and water when you compare viability and success from each others methodologies.

It is sort of like we need to develop a framework that is generally agreed upon in which to test skills and viability. A set of conditions and test in which we could agree upon.

From there, we could view the various strengths and weaknesses of how things such as baselline skills are additive. Same wtih Judo, BJJ, Aikido techniques.

MM
03-12-2007, 10:00 AM
Mark Wrote:

Viable in what way? How are you making the comparison? Each of those arts has it's own set of criteria in which to judge viability of effectiveness. BJJ in a judo paradigm typically does not do as well as well as vice versa. Same with aikido and BJJ, both seem like oil and water when you compare viability and success from each others methodologies.

It is sort of like we need to develop a framework that is generally agreed upon in which to test skills and viability. A set of conditions and test in which we could agree upon.

From there, we could view the various strengths and weaknesses of how things such as baselline skills are additive. Same wtih Judo, BJJ, Aikido techniques.

Six months, one year, shodan, etc. Take your pick, Kevin. Any timeframe at all. Heck, just using the basic training methods that Mike and Rob showed in one day (er, less than one day) and some of the students at my dojo were doing far, far better at receiving a nikkyo lock than they ever have been.

Or perhaps you think that in six months to one year, average aikido students will be of equal skill as anyone with six months training in BJJ, Judo, MMA, etc.?

Mark

akiy
03-12-2007, 10:04 AM
I have moved this thread into the Training section. Please be sure to discuss aikido specifically and explicitly. Thank you.

-- Jun

Kevin Leavitt
03-12-2007, 10:12 AM
thanks for the reply Mark.

It is good to hear a definition of viability. So your criteria is that what they had to teach increased your student's ability to perform within the context of aikido much better than before they trained with the "baseline methodology" (for lack of whatelse to call it at this point").

No, I don't think it is fair to compare methodolgies to each other. Each methodology focuses on a particular area of concentration and therefore, when comparing some will be strong in one area, while yet the other art in the other area. So, when you Say "equal skill" it cannot categorically apply as an art.

In order to do that, you'd have to develop a standardize testing/training conditions that were common and then compare outcomes...however, when you do that...it is called MMA.

Thanks for taking the time to clarify your position on viability.

MM
03-12-2007, 10:56 AM
thanks for the reply Mark.

It is good to hear a definition of viability. So your criteria is that what they had to teach increased your student's ability to perform within the context of aikido much better than before they trained with the "baseline methodology" (for lack of whatelse to call it at this point").


Hi Kevin,

These baseline skills will make all those leaps of intuitive "steal the technique" type training a whole lot easier. Reading Ledyard sensei's posts will show you the logic there.

They will create better understanding of things like keep weight underside, etc. They add a function to training that, IMO, helps students progress at a more optimal pace in a martial art.

And, all the people looking at Ueshiba's vision and training to get there ... well, while the path may be different, the end vision (being able to defend oneself without necessarily harming the attacker) is the same. (I'll note here that the actual end result, IMO, is different. But that's a topic for the baseline skills thread.)


No, I don't think it is fair to compare methodolgies to each other. Each methodology focuses on a particular area of concentration and therefore, when comparing some will be strong in one area, while yet the other art in the other area. So, when you Say "equal skill" it cannot categorically apply as an art.

In order to do that, you'd have to develop a standardize testing/training conditions that were common and then compare outcomes...however, when you do that...it is called MMA.

Thanks for taking the time to clarify your position on viability.

Hmmm ... let's use another example.

Take a wrestler as an attacker. Take someone who has done each of the other martial arts for 6 months. The test is for each person to take the wrestler to the ground in some manner (take down, roll, fall, etc). The wrestler gets to use his skills to either not go down or take the other person down.

Then compare how well each did. So, do you think that a person in aikido will fare as well as someone in BJJ or judo or MMA? After all, aikido specifically trains to take people to the ground in either a fall or roll.

Now take someone who has had one year of training in each of the fields. Remember, we're actually keeping to something that all four (in this test, aikido, BJJ, judo, and MMA) have in common in their training syllabus.

There's a reason it's commonly stated in a lot of places that aikido takes longer to become viable than other martial arts.

However, IMO, if you add in these baseline skills as part of the training methodology for aikido, I really do think that it will be at par with all the others. And then, it'll be like you said -- some will be strong in one area while the other arts in other areas.

Mark

Pete Rihaczek
03-12-2007, 11:09 AM
I have moved this thread into the Training section. Please be sure to discuss aikido specifically and explicitly. Thank you.

-- Jun

Man, this is becoming more like Ninjitsu, every time you blink things are somewhere else. Just kidding. ;)

Seriously, there are obviously two camps, one that believes physical ki skills are *the* thing in Aikido, and the other that thinks it only exists in acknowledged internal arts, doesn't exist at all, or isn't a matter of body usage. A section title that leaves the question itself unanswered and neutral is probably best, or else it can go here under "internal training for Aikido" or some such.

Or not. The most important thing to note is that it's your site, and you can throw everybody off. :) Just wanted to applaud your patience and indulgence. It's good to note where the old axiom of martial training improving character actually holds, one does lose faith on occasion.

Pete Rihaczek
03-12-2007, 11:52 AM
Hi Kevin,

There's a reason it's commonly stated in a lot of places that aikido takes longer to become viable than other martial arts.

However, IMO, if you add in these baseline skills as part of the training methodology for aikido, I really do think that it will be at par with all the others.
Mark

Hi Mark, I just wanted to add to that point. The following is a translation from Wang Tsung-yueh's Treatise on T'ai-chi ch'uan:

"Friends, you can gain a great deal from a very simple explanation. Let us consider, for example, a few people who have practiced T'ai-chi every day for five or six years, but who are always bested in competition. A colleague asked, "You have studied faithfully for five or six years, but why are you still not successful? Please demonstrate the Thirteen Postures so I can see." What we see in his form is "horse stances," clenched fists, a fierce countenance, and gritted teeth. He has as much strength as an ox, but his ch'i is nowhere to be seen. This is the result of practicing double-weighted. A colleague laughed and said. "You, Sir, have simply failed to understand the error of double-weightedness." Another man said, "I have been practicing without using force for five or six years, but why is it that I cannot even knock over a ten year old kid?" The colleague asked him to demonstrate the Thirteen Postures and noticed that indeed he used no force at all. However, he was floating like goose down and didn't dare to extend his hands or feet. He was even afraid to open his eyes wide. The colleague laughed and said, "You, Sir, are guilty of the error of 'double-floating.' Double-weightedness is an error and double-floating is also an error." Everyone laughed and asked, "How can we discover the true method of practice?"

Commentary:

1) This is exactly the same thing as Aikido. Neither muscular, "external" means of practice, nor blending like the breeze using no force, are "correct". Both ways are not using Ki. If you see no parallel between this story and the stories and commentaries of Ueshiba, Tohei, etc etc on this subject, then you have some serious pondering to do, or are hopelessly closed to the idea that maybe you don't comprehend what the old masters were really talking about when they talk about using Ki.

2) Internal mechanics are not easy to grasp. Evidently it was and is not uncommon for people to practice daily for years and just not get it. Without explicit research and focus on what is right and what is wrong, making progress is difficult. Not getting it, even with access to someone with real skills, appears to be the norm. The idea of getting it just by repeated practice of external mechanics is beyond ridiculous. It will simply never happen.

3) The focus of people like Akuzawa, Mike, etc is to try to distill things and/or put them into Western terms so that people with day jobs can hope to get somewhere with this stuff in a reasonable amount of time. No matter what, it will take longer to get these skills than to get usable skills with BJJ. If you want fast fighting ability, practical external arts with lots of sparring are the way to go, period. If you're interested in the skills that the old masters held in highest regard, skills that have old men doing things that young men can't accomplish, then you have to expect that to take a good amount of time.

If you want do to an art which should have internal mechanics, like Tai Chi or Aikido, yet not bother with actually learning internal mechanics...that's fine as long as you don't care about whether you get much in the way of effectiveness or interesting skills. Some people just like the peaceful mindset and hanging out at the dojo. If they're honest, they probably have the expectation that over the years they will get Ueshiba-like, which invariably will cause some form of cognitive dissonance in those willing to admit it isn't happening for them. Hence the ever-present threads about getting discouraged with Aikido, whether it really works, and so forth. Even if you don't get near the storied levels of Ki ability, it's still the most interesting part to pursue, in fact the only interesting part for me. Without that, most Aikido as practiced seems to be a few joint locks and a lot of wishful thinking. Personal choice.

shidoin
03-12-2007, 12:05 PM
Let's look at a example: I'm in the construction biz, the designer needed some pots moved about 4 feet high, very heavy! I had to carry them up a 8 foot ladder, 6 movers were there and not one of them could put them up on the shelf. I tried to lift them and they seemed to heavy for me to move. hours later she said you can put those up there can't u? I thought hmm I could barely lift them an hour ago, how can I get them up that high? well without thinking I grabbed the damn pots lifted them over my head and placed them on the shelf! Wow they said you are very strong! how did u do that? I said the mind is stronger than the body. O'sensei was able to lift heavy weight, and rip large trees from the ground with his bare hands. Like I said before forget about thinking about doing it and just do it. that is the key to Aikido.

Pete Rihaczek
03-12-2007, 12:59 PM
Let's look at a example: I'm in the construction biz, the designer needed some pots moved about 4 feet high, very heavy! I had to carry them up a 8 foot ladder, 6 movers were there and not one of them could put them up on the shelf. I tried to lift them and they seemed to heavy for me to move. hours later she said you can put those up there can't u? I thought hmm I could barely lift them an hour ago, how can I get them up that high? well without thinking I grabbed the damn pots lifted them over my head and placed them on the shelf! Wow they said you are very strong! how did u do that? I said the mind is stronger than the body. O'sensei was able to lift heavy weight, and rip large trees from the ground with his bare hands. Like I said before forget about thinking about doing it and just do it. that is the key to Aikido.

Well, if it were that easy to "just do it", we can all award ourselves nth degree blackbelts and live happily ever after. ;)

Erick Mead
03-12-2007, 08:30 PM
「...とうとう力比べをすることになってしまったんです。『ぢゃ僕は坐っているから、天竜さん押して下さい。遠慮しないでもいいですよ。』と押させたんですが、僕の方に は、合気の秘法があるからビクもしない...」

My translation:

"...at last we ended up having a contest of strength.
'Well, I'll sit down, so you push me, Tenryu-san. You don't have to hold back!' I said and had him push me, but because I had the secret (methods) of Aiki, I didn't move an inch."

秘法 hihou, "the secret, secret method", is a nice loaded term. In general it refers to any secret methods of anything. Unlike gokui or ogi, two terms often translated as "secret" which refer to an essentially hidden nucleus, hihou refers to methods which are specifically not shown to other people. ... he's referring to methods which he was in no mood to teach openly and explicitly, particularly to a large organization like the Aikikai. An organization which he was originally opposed to in the first place. Back to that interview again. So, should we presume he divulged this to Saito at Iwama , and not to the Aikikai, proper ?

Erick Mead
03-12-2007, 09:45 PM
1) This is exactly the same thing as Aikido. Neither muscular, "external" means of practice, nor blending like the breeze using no force, are "correct". Both ways are not using Ki. Generally, I agree. Kihon waza, properly done, in a program that uses and informs them as instances of kokyu tanden ho, are neither.
2) Internal mechanics are not easy to grasp. .... Without explicit research and focus on what is right and what is wrong, making progress is difficult. Not getting it, even with access to someone with real skills, appears to be the norm. The idea of getting it just by repeated practice of external mechanics is beyond ridiculous. It will simply never happen. Which is why some work on the ACTUAL mechanics might very well be of some help. They do exist, it is not some pipe dream. What is done can be described in this way. 3) The focus of people like Akuzawa, Mike, etc is to try to distill things and/or put them into Western terms so that people with day jobs can hope to get somewhere with this stuff in a reasonable amount of time.
Putting things in Western terms would be nice, but I have not heard their efforts described in those terms, by them or anyone else.

Josh Reyer
03-12-2007, 11:32 PM
Back to that interview again. So, should we presume he divulged this to Saito at Iwama , and not to the Aikikai, proper ?

No. Why would we?

George S. Ledyard
03-13-2007, 09:10 AM
I am wondering why this discussion about -aikido- got banished to the new "Non-Aikido" forum. I can understand why the Baseline Skillset thread was plopped here, because it has so much reference to Chinese arts, but it's puzzling how a topic that explores the history and mysteries of the internal part of aikido would be considered "non-aikido."

It's pretty simple, when the bulk of the discussion revolves around description and terminology which are not standard to Aikido it belongs here. It could be about internal energy or it could be about using kali flow drills to improve ones Aikido technique.

The problem with the forum of late is that folks with a high degree of expertise in what I would consider to be related arts have been able to dominate the discussion because their training methods and terminology are different from what Aikido folks are used to.

So there has been a problem with Aikido folks feeling like they are being pushed out of their own site by folks who do not actually do Aikido. The most experienced Aikido folks agree that these discussions have a lot of merit and follow them closely but they may or may not seem relevant to the majority of folks out there doing the art. So the best solution was to give such discussions a separate space where the non-Aikido folks can post their very valuable contributions without the Aikido folks feeling like their site has been taken over.

The Aikido folks can tune in or not as they see fit. They can even filter the topic out if they so desire. It just gives people more control over their viewing.

Fred Little
03-13-2007, 11:02 AM
The aikido curriculum was dumbed down and made the way it is today simply because 99% of Aikido practicioners would probably drop out. My guess is he just wanted to spread Aikido as something that everyone could practice, and didnt care whether or not the "essence" got transmited. Otherwise I think you'd see much more information on the way he trained in private ;)

Rob,

I think there's another plausible explanation.

Maybe he independently achieved Sturgeon's Realization, the unexpurgated version of which is Ninety percent of everything is crap.

If you add that to the very real risk of a skillset disappearing due to small numbers of practitioners, perhaps there was a sense that insuring a larger body of practitioners of a "lite" version of the same art would increase the size of the group comprising the 10% that isn't crap and the 1-2% that truly excels.

As we see from these discussions, there is certainly a proportionally small but vocal group of aikido practitioners who have a definite interest in something more than martial arts lite; if one looks at the ranks of those practicing DR, as well as those studying related skill sets, there are a lot of folk who found enough to attract them to MA in aikido, but who continue to press on for more.

Perhaps that is a sign things are working out exactly as hoped.

Best,

FL

Cady Goldfield
03-13-2007, 11:07 AM
Thank you, George. According to Mike's and Dan's past posts, both have trained in Aikido, and/or have encountered and felt numerous high-level Aikido shihan, and thus have a basis for discussing Aikido and its relation to Ueshiba's demonstrated (but seldom replicated by Aikidoka) internal skills.

Because Mike has been involved in Chinese arts for a long time, I can appreciate that his terminology is going to be Chinese-based. But when his educated eye sees what Ueshiba is doing to his ukes, and how his body is positioned, as well as the kinesthetic responses of the ukes, I'd give him credit for being able to discern something familiar -- even if he has only the Chinese lexicon with which to describe it.

So, IMO it is not akin to "kali drills" or such being recommended as additions to aikido training, but the very thing that Morihei Ueshiba did, via Takeda, to instill his internal skills.

To my eyes, the meat of these posts and threads that have flown incessantly for years, is that all of this internal stuff is, indeed, part of Aikido (and even its driving engine), as Ueshiba originally intended it to be, and which he in turn acquired from Daito-ryu (which is why some people refer to Aikido as "Ueshiba-ha Daito-ryu"). That's why these fellows, and the Aikidoka who have felt them, are arguing passionately to put this stuff back in, so the ghost of Ueshiba won't keep hollerin', "That is not my Aikido!" at his post-WWII descendents. ;)

As far as I can see, that's very much an Aikido topic, though, understandably, a very uncomfortable one for some. I do believe that this Training forum is an appropriate "final home" for the thread, though!

ChrisMoses
03-13-2007, 12:29 PM
Because Mike has been involved in Chinese arts for a long time, I can appreciate that his terminology is going to be Chinese-based. But when his educated eye sees what Ueshiba is doing to his ukes, and how his body is positioned, as well as the kinesthetic responses of the ukes, I'd give him credit for being able to discern something familiar -- even if he has only the Chinese lexicon with which to describe it.

[snippage]

As far as I can see, that's very much an Aikido topic, though, understandably, a very uncomfortable one for some. I do believe that this Training forum is an appropriate "final home" for the thread, though!

So one of the main goals of my original post was to outline how one might choose to define internal/external and then look at aikido's training methodology to determine if it actually is. I argue that any martial artist can be judged by both his internal skills and external movements, but that's not what I'm talking about when I refer to internal arts, as that talks about the training paradigm and progression of skill development. Based upon that, and while aikido is probably the worse for it, I do not think that it exists today as an internal art.

Here's some questions:

If this stuff was always part of OSensei's Aikido, where is the terminology? Why aren't we using the Aikido terms for these concepts if they're really a part of Aikido, and let's make the distinction here between OSensei (and his skills) and Aikido, the art that he sort of laid out. Why are we still using the term "fa jing" instead of the aikido/Japanese equivalent?

Where are the exercises to develop these skills? Certainly there are examples out there (shin kokyu, kokyu dosa/aiki age, Shirata's solo exercises...) but why then if these are SO intrinsic to aikido are these the absolutely least uniform aspect of aikido? If these were the foundation of OSensei's aikido, shouldn't these be the kihon rather than ikkyo, nikyo, sankyo? Before everyone brings up the Ki Society, let's all agree that KNK was Tohei's vision for aikido. I believe that if Tohei was actually following OSensei's footsteps that closely, we would see more similarity between KNK and Iwama aikido, and we don't. Dan insists that these skills were/are part of Daito Ryu, but we're still waiting for solid examples of these other than solo exercises that certain senior DR practitioners did as personal training. This could certainly be due to an uneasiness with discussing aspects of an art that he feels he does not have authority to discuss in public. I have a number of similar topics/specifics that I don't feel I have the ownership over enough to discuss publicly. The difference, I suppose, is that I don't really mention them AT ALL. ;)

Please, please, please don't use this thread as another opportunity to validate that you have something to offer the aikido community at large, I don't think many people actually hold that view anymore, and if you're trying to convince me, you're wasting your time, I haven't trained regularly at an aikido dojo in over three years, so my opinion doesn't matter one way or another.

Cady Goldfield
03-13-2007, 02:16 PM
Chris,
It looks like your question is being addressed, at least in part, over in the newly-renamed "Dan, Mike and Aikido" thread in this self-same forum. George wrote a fine post there, and there is some very interesting followup that also relates to what you are asking.

Regards,
Cady

Ellis Amdur
03-13-2007, 02:25 PM
Christian - Since Ueshiba seemed to spend more time doing the Misogikai exercises, that Abe Sensei maintains (like funakogu-undo, chanting for long long periods of time, etc.), and stated that this was the key to his aikido - - - - - I tend to take him at his word. Tada Sensei, as quoted by Peter G., stated the same thing, but also stated that Osensei didn't (at least after the war, I interpolate), tell people to do these things and expected people to supplement or find such information on their own. Which leads to Peter G.'s latest column on Transmission, I think.

I have a friend, who is a pure grappler - dare I use the term, MMA - who has always found aikido utterly bewildering. He asked me recently, "So this guy Ueshiba was really supposed to be "the man," right? How could he be that doing that aikido stuff?" I got up and said, "Well, he used to to this kind of stuff for hours a day," and started doing funakogu, first slow and then with some relaxation to "pop." He watched, nodded sagely and said, "Oh, I get it. Core strength training.":)

best

Michael McCaslin
03-13-2007, 02:37 PM
Well, my speculation, and it is exactly that, is that the exercises have two purposes:

1. To develop the body
2. To teach a skill

Many of the early aikidoka already had what would be by today's standards a tremendous amount of martial arts experience, and had the body development to go with it. For them, learning aikido was much more about aquiring the technical skill than it was developing the body. So there's one factor that would push them away from the "simple stuff" like kokyu dosa and toward the waza.

So why wasn't this resisted by the teachers? Why didn't the teachers say "You clowns are missing it. Go back to the basics." I think the teachers, Ueshiba included, really believed that the waza could both teach the skills and develop the body.

I hope everyone will agree that doing technique in the proper way will involve using internal strength. I also think it's not too much of a stretch (forgive the pun) to believe that receiving proper technique will develop the body. If you accept that, then two people practicing primarily waza can build internal skills and develop the body necessary to deliver them.

Unfortunately, there was so little explication that no one really knew what they were doing and what aspects of the practice should be emphasized. So the whole thing deteriorated to a sort of stylized cooperative kata.

It may be that the subset of techniques Ueshiba selected from his Daito Ryu practice were selected specifically for their ability to be practiced in an internal strength building, body developing way without people going home with broken arms and hyperextended elbows. I don't know, I wasn't there. I have spent enough time on the mat to know that many of us are practicing an "empty" aikido.

Some of us are driven to look elsewhere it hopes we can get to the "chewy center" by some other channels. I think that's fine, and I hope lots of us make it. I also think it's believable that some fraction of aikido practitioners will find the goods solely by practicing aikido. That's fine too. I just want enough of the skills to survive that I stand a reasonable chance of learning them from someone. It's frustrating to be willing and able to do the work, but not to have access to someone who can show you what to work on. In that regard, I will be forever indebted to people like Mike Sigman and Dan Harden (and a few others) who have been willing to step out of the background and shine a spotlight on the truth. I have not yet met either one of them. Mike has given me (and many others) lots of his time corresponding about how this stuff works. I know Dan has been doing the same for other people. Rob John has been very forthcoming with what he knows. It's a shame they have to take so much heat for it, and I just hope they continue to do it until I manage to scrape together enough understanding to be able to help spread the word.

Michael

gdandscompserv
03-13-2007, 03:01 PM
It's a shame they have to take so much heat for it
Don't worry Michael. They strike me as the type of martial artist's that can take the heat.

Ron Tisdale
03-13-2007, 04:10 PM
So why wasn't this resisted by the teachers? Why didn't the teachers say "You clowns are missing it. Go back to the basics." I think the teachers, Ueshiba included,

Actually, I think it was resisted by Ueshiba himself...when he said "This is not my aikido!"

Best,
Ron

Michael McCaslin
03-13-2007, 05:23 PM
Ron,

I always took that statement by Ueshiba to be less of an indictment of what people were doing than how they were doing it.

Last night I was showing a new student in our dojo the basics of kote gaeshi, and I had him stand relaxed while I very slowly applied the lock, pointing out the points along the way where a new link in the chain to his center was formed. I remember thinking that I don't get nearly the level of tension when I work my connections in solo practice as other people get when I apply technique to them-- if and only if they receive the technique in the correct way, i.e. stand in there until I actually take their center.

It seems like most people who take ukemi "bail out" and take a dive as soon as it's apparent where the technique is going. I believe they are encouraged to do this, and told they are risking inury if they don't. In some dojos I've been in, this is absolutely true. The techniques are applied so explosively that if you don't go with the flow on time (or early) something is going to give way. Over time, this leads to empty practice, because tori is not moving uke-- uke is moving uke.

I think it's better for both tori and uke if the technique is applied with more sensitivity, which allows uke and tori to really work the center to center connection and test its limits. I believe this may be what the founder expected us to be doing, but most of us aren't doing it.

It's hard for me to believe Ueshiba looked at people doing waza and said, "That's not my aikido!" because he meant they should all be doing solo exercises. I think he said it because the waza were not being done in the spirit in which he intended them to be.

This is not to say solo exercises are not important, because every living exponent of the arts with real skill has clearly stated that they are the key. But I put them in the category of homework-- I think dojo time should be spent doing the things you can't do without a partner, be it waza practice, kokyu dosa, or static testing. Waza practice done correctly can be a form of dynamic testing, and I think this has real value. Hard to come by, though!

Michael

I

George S. Ledyard
03-13-2007, 06:38 PM
It's hard for me to believe Ueshiba looked at people doing waza and said, "That's not my aikido!" because he meant they should all be doing solo exercises. I think he said it because the waza were not being done in the spirit in which he intended them to be.


Despite statements to the contrary, I do not believe that O-Sensei was talking about technique at all when he made that statement. I think he was commenting on the fact that most of the deshi were focused almost solely on technique.

I believe that one could incorporate all of the internal kokyu development aspects which have been under discussion and one would still not be doing "O-Sensei's Aikido" as he saw it. It wasn't about the technique!

All this talk about who can and can't throw who, whether MMA folks can beat up Aikido folks is almost completely irrelevant to what O-Sensei wanted his art to be. I am not saying that martial skill is not to be had through Aikido training. It is a by product of proper training or should be. But it simply isn't the point. O-Sensei bemoaned the fact that so many of his students couldn't see beyond the waza. They wanted to be able to do what he did. They failed to see what he wanted them to be.

One can see just how FEAR motivates so much discussion about martial arts and in this case, Aikido. What if an Aikido guy meets a guy trained in knife fighting? Could an Aikido guy with a sword handle a guy training in kenjutsu? I better train in two or three other arts as well Aikido so that I can win if I get in a fight...

What is this fight everyone's preparing for? As Pogo stated "we have met the enemy and he is us." Where is the 46 page discussion of masa katsu agatsu? The vast majority of discussions here revolve around technical issues yet 90% of what O-Sensei talked about was spiritual. The point of the whole thing was never about fighting. You can develop all the kokyu power you want and still not get that fact.

I am not in any way, disparaging what I see as very important issues regarding internal power, kokyu training etc. I am trying to research these areas myself for my own training. But people's focus on how important these issues are to being able to fight simply shows that they are still coming from a FEAR based point of view.

O-Sensei made this very clear when Mochizuki Sensei came back from France and stated that he had felt that his Aikido was lacking as he had had to fall back on tricks from his other martial training to prevail in his challenge matches. O-Sensei simply told him that he hadn't understood what his (O-Sensei's Aikido) was about. I am sure that it didn't have to do with being immovable or being able to knock someone through the air without seeming to move.

Training should be a transformative experience. But it must be done with the right mindset. All this ability that some folks have in the area of internal power to be unlockable or unthrowable is just that, they are unlockable or unthrowable. That isn't doing Aikido. Those skills might be a by product of Aikido training, or should be, but they are hardly the point of that training. That's why I keep saying that folks from outside Aikido can't save the art. The idea that these internal skills ARE Aikido is wrong. They are part of skilled Aikido but they are hardly the point of the training. Winning over some enemy or beating some hypothetical opponent simply misses the whole point. That's what O-Sensei meant when he said "no one is doing my Aikido."

Cady Goldfield
03-13-2007, 07:08 PM
I believe that one could incorporate all of the internal kokyu development aspects which have been under discussion and one would still not be doing "O-Sensei's Aikido" as he saw it. It wasn't about the technique!


But George, couldn't that internal kokyu be precisely what Ueshiba was able to use to be unthrowable, unbudge-able, unstrike-able? And wouldn't such an ability allow one to practice Aikido in the spirit of peace, without causing harm, without violence, as Ueshiba had intended? It means not having to use throws or waza/technique at all. All he had to do is "be Ueshiba," and attackers bounced off him harmlessly and unharmed. Or, he could direct them gently (relatively) away.

Maybe that's what he meant by "This is not my Aikido!" when he saw students robustly throwing each other, instead of the minimalization of technique. Food for thought. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall (but not in the way of any flying bodies...). ;)

George S. Ledyard
03-13-2007, 08:11 PM
But George, couldn't that internal kokyu be precisely what Ueshiba was able to use to be unthrowable, unbudge-able, unstrike-able? And wouldn't such an ability allow one to practice Aikido in the spirit of peace, without causing harm, without violence, as Ueshiba had intended? It means not having to use throws or waza/technique at all. All he had to do is "be Ueshiba," and attackers bounced off him harmlessly and unharmed. Or, he could direct them gently (relatively) away.

Maybe that's what he meant by "This is not my Aikido!" when he saw students robustly throwing each other, instead of the minimalization of technique. Food for thought. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall (but not in the way of any flying bodies...). ;)

Certainly the inability of people to throw him was an example of kokyu power. No one is trying to maintain that it is not. O-Sensei often did that type of thing at demos or with challengers who came from grappling arts. He was trying to "sell" the art so to speak. It did not represent the sum total of his art. It was a byproduct of the training, not the point of the training. But to attract new students he would often whip these things out because it attracted students who wanted to be like him.

Just take a look at that film from the Asahi demo in 1935(?). The vast majority of the demo is flowing movement. He only does the immovable thing briefly. That's what he was putting out there as Aikido. That's what was taught at his dojo and continued to be taught into the fifties and sixties.

O-Sensei's view of the art was based on the connection between the kototama and the energetic expression of the kototama in movement. In every technique he manifested what he saw as the essential energy of the universe to create form. The doing of this is a way to put oneself in accord with the Kami. The competitive mind is not an example of this energy. Striving to make oneself invincible is a fundamental misunderstanding of what he was doing. Worrying about being invincible. unlockable, unthrowable, etc is essentially still the "fighting mind", the mind of dualism. O-Sensei's Aikido was not about that, it went way beyond.

Do you think that Takeda Sensei couldn't do the things technically that O-Sensei could? Of course he could. Why do people think O-Sensei created Aikido? If it was about being immovable, unlockable, unthrowable, etc he could very well have stayed with Daito Ryu. Understanding Aikido is about understanding the form O-Sensei gave the practice but it is also about how the practice of that form will create change in the practitioner. The form is different from Daito Ryu, the practice is different from Daito Ryu. Whereas some elements of Daito Ryu seem to have gotten misplaced along the way, reintroduction of those elements will not in and of themselves produce "O-Sensei's Aikido".

Aikido is about opening up ones heart through practice. It involves understanding and embracing a set of values which often get demeaned by others because they make the individual look weak. O-Sensei used his martial skills to show people that he wasn't weak in order to have credibility when he talked about his spiritual ideas. Kokyu power, as both Dan and Mike have repeatedly stated is about proper technique. It is teachable and trainable. It should be part of good Aikido; no question there. But it's just technique! It isn't the goal, it's a byproduct of proper pursuit of the art.

This is why bringing every discussion back to these issues is futile. There are many more factors at work in Aikido aside from these. O-Sensei knew people, he knew that the way to get someone's attention was to show them the power. But just look at what he did once he got them enrolled, what he emphasized every time he was on the mat with his students. This constantly gets ignored by folks who just want to focus on the martial application side. This misses O-Sensei's whole point and was exactly why he said that "no one was doing his Aikido."

Cady Goldfield
03-13-2007, 09:16 PM
George, with all due respect, I shall repeat the second sentence of my first paragraph, which you seem to have missed: And wouldn't such an ability allow one to practice Aikido in the spirit of peace, without causing harm, without violence, as Ueshiba had intended?

It just seems more and more to me that the route to peace prescribed by Ueshiba was/is within those kokyu methods. One can choose whether to use them in fighting, or for something utterly non-aggressive. To just stand there and let an attacker wear himself out... how is that a fighting technique? These internal aspects, as others have explained on these forums earlier, are not in themselves "technique," but (here come those dirty words again...) baseline skills upon which technique may be built and powered. They are a way of being, breathing and moving, and how one uses them is left to choice once those skills are mastered: for peaceful non-aggressiveness, or for fighting. Ueshiba chose the former as his expression of this form of internal power.

Why wouldn't this be compatible with opening one's heart, and of embracing a set of values centered on harmony, peace and non-violent resolution of conflict? The caveat is that we can really be truly peaceful, compassionate and merciful only through a position of strength. No one can bargain freely from a position of weakness. The power to bargain lies in the hands of the person who has the underlying ability to stand for himself. Having the strengths that Ueshiba had, puts human beings in the position of being everything that you wish Aikido and Aikidoka to be! And you never have to harm a single soul.

gdandscompserv
03-13-2007, 10:03 PM
What is Osensei's aikido and am I doing it?

Unless I'm experiencing things such as:
"Suddenly, the ground began shaking. A golden vapor wafted up from the ground and enveloped me. I was transformed into a golden image, and my body felt as light as a feather. All at once I understood the meaning of creation: the Way of a Warrior is to manifest Divine Love, a spirit that embraces, loves, and protects all things."
I'm probably not doing Osenei's aikido.

The only aikido I know is that which I learned from Iwao Yamaguchi sensei and a few others along the way. I have taken what I have learned and made it mine. It is not Osensei's aikido nor is it Yamaguchi sensei's aikido. It is mine and is inseparable from me. How can I know or do another man's aikido? I can get small glimpses by touching, feeling and training, but I must make it mine. One's aikido is highly individualistic.

Some say that the Aikikai have distilled the art down to a technique based art. I whole heartedly disagree with that point of view. If it was all about the technique there wouldn't be this statement on their website.

A pure budo comes with the unification of technique, body and heart. The budo, which will manifest itself, does not depend upon the technique, but rather upon the heart of the practitioner.

Now, does that sound like a budo based on technique? Whoever wrote that obviously understands aikido on a pretty deep level.

My aikido involves breathing correctly while repairing my roof. Sometimes I will stand up and take a deep breath from the cool outdoor air. It involves dragging my children to the dojo for an indescribable interaction that can only be experienced in the dojo . It involves planning a fun filled weekend with my son at Mt Baldy training with like minded aikidoka. It is part of me and I LOVE IT!

When Osensei said, "You're not doing my aikido." did he mean it in a derogatory manor? Could it be as simple as, You're not doing my aikido. A simple statement of fact. Could we be reading way too much into it. As someone else mentioned, Osensei was a madman. He trained in ways that I will never do. He spent an extraordinary amount of time on his aikido. I will never approach that kind of commitment and hence will never come close to his aikido. I'm good with that. I just want to keep improving my aikido.

Erick Mead
03-13-2007, 10:46 PM
... They failed to see what he wanted them to be.... Training should be a transformative experience. ... That's why I keep saying that folks from outside Aikido can't save the art. The idea that these internal skills ARE Aikido is wrong. They are part of skilled Aikido but they are hardly the point of the training. Winning over some enemy or beating some hypothetical opponent simply misses the whole point. That's what O-Sensei meant when he said "no one is doing my Aikido."May I respectfully suggest: that O Sensei's Aikido was intended to be internal training directed far deeper than some are prepared to acknowledge, willing to seek, or to work on.
Why wouldn't this be compatible with opening one's heart, and of embracing a set of values centered on harmony, peace and non-violent resolution of conflict? The caveat is that we can really be truly peaceful, compassionate and merciful only through a position of strength. Power. You are talking about power -- the ability to make choices and influence outcomes. Fundamentally, my training leads me to conclude that aikido is not about power. It is certainly powerful, but that is not the same thing. Gravity is immensely powerful and inexorable in its action, but it makes no choices, has no desire for influence, nor any concern about outcome. It just is and acts. Aikido is about giving up power, to become powerful in something that may ultimately approach that quality. O Sensei's Aikido , it seems to me is not about force of will, but force of nature.
No one can bargain freely from a position of weakness. The power to bargain lies in the hands of the person who has the underlying ability to stand for himself. Is budo really transactional? Do I bargain for my life? Is this bargaining really free, on either side? What price is that, exactly? Do sell it as dear as I can? If I sell mine for the cost of five or ten others, have I made a good bargain, then? These are legitimate questions in the logic of bargaining power. They seem far removed from the reason of aikido.

Ron Tisdale
03-14-2007, 08:50 AM
Respectfully, I think people are (again) trying to mask what people like Mike and Dan have said with their own fears and prejudices. It is unfortunate, because this constant reframing of the discussions keeps folks away from the meat of the topic, in my opinion.

The competitive mind is not an example of this energy. Striving to make oneself invincible is a fundamental misunderstanding of what he was doing. Worrying about being invincible. unlockable, unthrowable, etc is essentially still the "fighting mind", the mind of dualism. O-Sensei's Aikido was not about that, it went way beyond.

I'll just speak for myself, since speaking for others is usually fraught with danger. When I approached Dan in his barn, I was up front about not being interested in fighting. I'm simply not interested in being invincible, in being able to best other people. My life simply does not call for that (thankfully). I wanted to pursue the skills he showed because from what I felt, and from my limited understanding, Aikido is an empty shell without them. It's not that I haven't felt gradients of this power from others...just that Dan displayed openly more of it than just about anyone I can think of.

And I want to do Aikido, not an empty shell. Daito ryu is an empty shell without them. And when I visit a Daito ryu dojo, I want to do Daito ryu, not an empty shell. But more importantly, and Dan stressed this to me personally, I want to be the best person I can be, and I believe that pursuing these skills is part of that path. Dan said to me "I want you to be the best Ron you can be". He spoke of the open heart. He welcomed us into his training space, and while he had to power to destroy if he wanted, instead he set about trying to transform us. To simply be better.

I find that to be very unselfish, not at all about besting us or anyone else. And frankly, I must admit I do resent some of the insinuations, mis-characterizations, and barbs thrown his way.

But if you must foist your own fears and prejudices upon us, well...we can't stop you. Have at it. Enjoy. Look no further, don't go and see for yourself, close the door now.

Best,
Ron

MM
03-14-2007, 09:15 AM
Training and Aikido.

Even the first students had their own way of training and bickering and breaking of traditions and going their own way.

So, I'll just say that my training is different than Erick's or Ricky's and let them go along their own way. I think enough's been said for now.

I lean more towards Cady's and Ledyard sensei's views, which I think in the end are fairly close.

Seems Ron and I agree fairly often, so I take that as a compliment. :)

And, after meeting Dan, Mike, and Rob, I think what they offer in the way of training in "baseline skills" or "internal stuff", however you want to describe it, is valuable. It's a skill that should be in Aikido, IMO.

And I find that I have a slight sense of loss for those who kept butting heads with Dan and Mike. I'll be the first to say that I thought I had an idea of what they were talking about, then after a few posts I started to realize that I really didn't. But, I kept an open mind about it all and finally met them - and Rob. What I found were great people having fun training. They were open and fielded a lot of questions. Some of the conversations I had were about Ueshiba, aikido history, pre-war students, aiki, etc. In fact, even if I had found that these skills didn't belong in aikido, meeting Dan, Mike, and Rob and the conversations I had would have been worth it all.

For all those who take the view of not wanting non-aikido people giving advice on how aikido is supposed to be ... *sigh* ... yeah. A lot there to go over.

1. I have no idea of Dan, Mike, Rob, Akuzawa's backgrounds to any detailed degree. I have an overview (more so than the naysayers, but then again, I kept my cup large enough and empty enough for it to be filled), but nothing detailed. How much do the naysayers really know, then? Just what's been posted, Mike=Tai ji, Rob = Aunkai, Dan = MMA, Akuzawa = Aunkai. yeah, a whole lot of info there to base decisions upon.

2. How often do you take advice from people outside your field? Have children that are in t-ball, softball? Make sure the coach is playing softball or baseball. Have children, then don't take any advice from anyone who doesn't have children. Olympic athletes, don't get coached by anyone not doing what you're doing. Musicians, make sure you aren't taking advice on how to play from someone who doesn't play the instrument you're playing. Don't go to a psychiatrist at all because chances are they have never had or gone through the problems you're having. Get the picture?

3. Don't be a Kano. After all, why would you want to be like someone who was completely outside aikido, yet went, saw, liked what he saw, and gave compliments. Better yet, sent students to cross train. Nah, just shut it out completely because, really, that upstart Ueshiba isn't doing Judo. What would he know about Budo?

4. Oh, definitely don't be an Ueshiba Morihei. I mean, how can someone completely outside of what you're doing give you advice on your martial art and Budo training. How dare that meddling Deguchi influence Ueshiba. Deguchi knew nothing of martial art training. Nor was there any need to bring in any other martial art. Aikido is all he needed. Why bring in KSR sword training and watch it at all? Those people don't know aikido and certainly can't influence the founder.

5. No. No one outside aikido can possibly have anything at all -- only those in aikido can influence or say how to do it. So, let's just throw out all those people doing koryu alongside aikido and finding that the koryu training is actually helping them understand aikido better. Aw, hell no. Toss that right out. Koryu can't possibly do that. Only aikido teachers can know what's best for aikido, and that has to come from within aikido.

Training? yeah, I'll stick to my training and hope that I get to train with the people I have been training with. They're a great group and have a lot to offer. I'm thankful that they put up with me. :)

Mark

Jorge Garcia
03-14-2007, 09:35 AM
Respectfully, I think people are (again) trying to mask what people like Mike and Dan have said with their own fears and prejudices. It is unfortunate, because this constant reframing of the discussions keeps folks away from the meat of the topic, in my opinion.

I'll just speak for myself, since speaking for others is usually fraught with danger. When I approached Dan in his barn, I was up front about not being interested in fighting. I'm simply not interested in being invincible, in being able to best other people. My life simply does not call for that (thankfully). I wanted to pursue the skills he showed because from what I felt, and from my limited understanding, Aikido is an empty shell without them. It's not that I haven't felt gradients of this power from others...just that Dan displayed openly more of it than just about anyone I can think of.

And I want to do Aikido, not an empty shell. Daito ryu is an empty shell without them. And when I visit a Daito ryu dojo, I want to do Daito ryu, not an empty shell. But more importantly, and Dan stressed this to me personally, I want to be the best person I can be, and I believe that pursuing these skills is part of that path. Dan said to me "I want you to be the best Ron you can be". He spoke of the open heart. He welcomed us into his training space, and while he had to power to destroy if he wanted, instead he set about trying to transform us. To simply be better.

I find that to be very unselfish, not at all about besting us or anyone else. And frankly, I must admit I do resent some of the insinuations, mis-characterizations, and barbs thrown his way.

But if you must foist your own fears and prejudices upon us, well...we can't stop you. Have at it. Enjoy. Look no further, don't go and see for yourself, close the door now.
Best,
Ron

Ron,
I really want to stay out of this because I haven't seen anyone getting ahead by jumping into this. I appreciate George Ledyard venturing out once in a while because for any of the senior Aikido practitioners to say much is again, a losing situation but here goes.
Yes, there are misunderstandings. Yes, a couple of people are having fun poking fun and there has been bad behavior but I really don't see what you see. There have been some honest posters with honest disagreements and they have been civil and Mike and Dan have not been as polite in their responses thus evoking some heat. The "come feel these skills group" has not been without fault. I have been lurking and posting here for a while myself and I am not in anyone's "group". I never have been. Here on Aikiweb, we have people who know each other and talk privately and are friends. They are online friends and some just appreciate each others posts. They occasionally take sides on issues and have disagreements but it has been a while since have seen the lines drawn like this. Why all the hoopla? Where did all the commotion come from? Some have said it was because of an "old Guard" being defensive and all kinds of things that apply a pretty broad brush.
These guys may have the goods. They may be really nice guys in person and they may be sincere but there are a lot of things about their approach to helping Aikido that is abit much. Believe it or not, a different approach to all this on the part of those who "know more" probably would have made this all so boring, I never would have heard of them.Maybe we are no good. Maybe we are ignorant but I don't feel like any of my teachers lied to me and if they themselves don't know these skills and that's why they didn't teach me, then I hold nothing against them. I have a tremendous gratitude for my time in Aikido and I have always thought that the people I have met were the greatest on earth. There is a lot of Aikido I know is crummy and I have had friends in styles that I would never do but I would be a real jerk if I went over to their dojos and talked to them with some of the verbiage I have read here. I have never presumed to go and offer to help some of those people. When they have invited me, they have since invited me back and then a cross style communication started and we shared like friends. Many of thier students later came to my dojo with their Sensei's permission and I stayed friends with their Sensei. I hope that the internal skills guys do show everyone the way to improve because it will be a loss for us if they don't but I can't blame anyone for misunderstanding them or not liking they way they came across.
Best wishes,
Jorge

DH
03-14-2007, 09:42 AM
Jorge
I respectfully disagree. I have received many compliments for staying the course when people have pursued me repeatedly. It is very rare for me to be rude in response. Blunt-yes. Rude no. I cannot say the same for comments of a personal nature I continually have to face.
My points are
This.... is.... Aiki.
Your people have come and felt it.
They claim it is aiki
talk to them

Dan

Ron Tisdale
03-14-2007, 10:31 AM
Jorge, I feel like you are very respectful in your demeanor, and have no issues with what you perceive. Good people sometimes differ. No worries there. Thanks for your response.

Best,
Ron

Thomas Campbell
03-14-2007, 01:49 PM
Hi Mark, I just wanted to add to that point. The following is a translation from Wang Tsung-yueh's Treatise on T'ai-chi ch'uan:

"Friends, you can gain a great deal from a very simple explanation. Let us consider, for example, a few people who have practiced T'ai-chi every day for five or six years, but who are always bested in competition. A colleague asked, "You have studied faithfully for five or six years, but why are you still not successful? Please demonstrate the Thirteen Postures so I can see." What we see in his form is "horse stances," clenched fists, a fierce countenance, and gritted teeth. He has as much strength as an ox, but his ch'i is nowhere to be seen. This is the result of practicing double-weighted. A colleague laughed and said. "You, Sir, have simply failed to understand the error of double-weightedness." Another man said, "I have been practicing without using force for five or six years, but why is it that I cannot even knock over a ten year old kid?" The colleague asked him to demonstrate the Thirteen Postures and noticed that indeed he used no force at all. However, he was floating like goose down and didn't dare to extend his hands or feet. He was even afraid to open his eyes wide. The colleague laughed and said, "You, Sir, are guilty of the error of 'double-floating.' Double-weightedness is an error and double-floating is also an error." Everyone laughed and asked, "How can we discover the true method of practice?"

[snip]

Pete:

Just curious as to the source for your translation of Wang Zongyue's Taijiquanjing. I've never seen it rendered as a cocktail conversation before. :) While I'm no expert in Chinese, most English translations of Wang's writing run along the lines of Smith and Zheng's, below. I think there are more than subtle differences.

Translation taken from Robert W. Smith and Zheng Manqing, "Taijiquan":

Taiji comes from infinity; from it spring yin and yang. In movement the two act independently; in stillness they fuse into one. There should be no excess and no insufficiency.

You yield at your opponent's slightest pressure and adhere to him at his slightest retreat. To conquer the strong by yielding is termed "withdraw" (tsou). To improve your position to the detriment of your opponent is called "adherence" (chan). You respond quickly to a fast action, slowly to a slow action. Although the changes are numerous, the principle remains the same. Dilligent practice brings the skill of "interpreting strength". Beyond this achievement lies the ultimate goal: complete mastery of an opponent without recourse to detecting his energy. This, however, requires ardous practice.

The spirit of vitality reaches to the top of the head and the qi sinks to the navel. The body is held erect without leaning in any direction. Your opponent should not be able to detect your change from substantial to insubstantial or vice versa, because of your speed in effecting this change. When your opponent brings pressure on your left side, that side should be empty. The same holds for the right side. When he pushes upward or downward against you, he feels as if there is no end to the emptiness he encounters. When he advances against you, he feels the distance incredibly long; when he retreats, he feels it exasperatingly short.

The entire body is so light that a feather will be felt and so pliable that a fly cannot alight on it without setting it in motion. Your opponent cannot detect your moves but you can anticipate his. If you can master all these techniques you will become a peerless boxer.

In boxing there are myriad schools. Although they differ in form and scale, they can never go beyond reliance on the strong defeating the weak or the swift conquering the slow. Yet these are the result of physical endowments and not practical application and experience. The strong and the quick, however, cannot explain and have no part in the deflection of a thousand pound momentum with a trigger force of four ounces or of an old man defeating a great number of men.

Stand like a balance and move actively like a cart wheel. Keep your weight sunk on one side. If it is spread on two feet you will be pushed over easily. Coordinating the substantial is the key here. If that is achieved, then you can interpret strength. After this, by practicing vigorously, studying and remembering, one can reach the stage of total reliance on the mind. Forget yourself and yield to others. Go gradually, according to the right method. Above all, learn these techniques correctly; the slightest divergence will take you far off the path.

dps
03-14-2007, 03:19 PM
and that has to come from within aikido.
Mark
Outside influences are necessary for changes to be made, but the changes come from within.

David

Pete Rihaczek
03-14-2007, 04:57 PM
Aikido is about opening up ones heart through practice. It involves understanding and embracing a set of values which often get demeaned by others because they make the individual look weak. O-Sensei used his martial skills to show people that he wasn't weak in order to have credibility when he talked about his spiritual ideas. Kokyu power, as both Dan and Mike have repeatedly stated is about proper technique. It is teachable and trainable. It should be part of good Aikido; no question there. But it's just technique! It isn't the goal, it's a byproduct of proper pursuit of the art.

This is why bringing every discussion back to these issues is futile. There are many more factors at work in Aikido aside from these. O-Sensei knew people, he knew that the way to get someone's attention was to show them the power. But just look at what he did once he got them enrolled, what he emphasized every time he was on the mat with his students. This constantly gets ignored by folks who just want to focus on the martial application side. This misses O-Sensei's whole point and was exactly why he said that "no one was doing his Aikido."

Hi George,

I think it's probably fair to say no one knows exactly what he meant; maybe he just didn't see Ki being used, or maybe things were too competitive. In the same way that we shouldn't assume we know what he meant, it may not be fair to make similar assumptions about the people talking about internal skills. I fully embrace the wisdom of non-resistance, of not trying to compete. Of course there should be something martial behind it, or else it's just philosophy and not warrior-philosophy. According to Tohei, one blow in Aikido is lethal enough to kill. Leaving aside that you don't see that kind of ability much, the way of the peaceful warrior carries the presumption that said warrior can actually do something serious if he has to. Otherwise just look to Ghandi, not Ueshiba. ;) The idea that there should be something serious there often leads to people doing aggressive Aikido, or incorporating other arts to try to make it more "street ready", which I agree can be a mistake. I think the internal skills are needed, but that doesn't mean I think it changes the goal or philosophy of Aikido.

It's a fine line to walk, and part of the issue is that Ueshiba *was* a tough guy before he developed Aikido. He basically went around to every master he could find to train with, until he was the toughest man around. Then he started to question what it was all good for. Eventually his powers would fade with age, he would no longer be the baddest around, so what had he gained, what does it all mean? It's something that happens with age, we in the West call it a midlife crisis. ;) As you get older you tend to look for the deeper meaning and purpose of what you do in life, and he had a revelation on the deep meaning of martial art. So here was a highly skilled, highly capable fighter, turning his mind in the direction of an encompassing spiritual and philosophical purpose for his skills.

Importantly, in his belief system, the Ki skills were actually a manifestation of Ki. The unbendable arm isn't just a mind-intent visualization that encourages proper body usage, it is an example of letting Ki flow. Point being, the only way you could dig him up, magically reanimate his corpse, have him look at what you do and then give your practice the thumbs up is if you 1) are on the same page philosophically as to the purpose of Aikido, 2) have the technical syllabus down, 3) have the Ki skills down (including sensing opponents' intention, not just internal body skill), and 4) believe that the things in (3) are manifestations of the Ki of the universe.

People of different backgrounds and mentalities fall variously into these areas. Let's try looking at a few common types for fun:

The Hippie New Ager Looking-for-the-Nearest-Cult-Leader-to-Follow

- Can be on board with (1) and (4) within minutes of his first lesson, will spend his life on (2) and believe he has (3) without ever really scratching the real surface of (3).

The Clueless Martial Newbie

- Likes the sound of (1), but thinks of (4) as an asian cultural thing. If (4) is taken seriously, will become Hippie New Ager. Will work on (2), probably never hear of (3) in a physically meaningful way, and will hopefully never have to actually use Aikido for real since it probably won't work. If concerns about the latter develop, could seek help from combative arts and become...

The Experienced External Stylist

- Likes the sound of (1) and stories of Ueshiba's prowess, doesn't put much stock in (4), and has a relatively easy time with learning (2). Believes Aikido can work if you're strong, fast, and use techniques from other arts if the Aikido ones don't work, and you back yourself up with MMA and powerlifting. Probably hasn't heard of (3) either, but if he does considers it core training like working on a stability ball.

The Internal Stylist Without a Clue About Internal Skills

- Hasn't been exposed to real internal goods even though he practices what should be an internal style, so usually comes to Aikido as the Hippie New Ager.

Blowhardicus Aikidokus
- Believes that incessant talk increases (2), and even more talk makes (2) into (3).

The Made Man
- Part of the Aikido mob heirarchy, primarily interested in rank and social advancement and making anyone who undermines his credibility "sleep with the fishes". Does (2) as needed for rank advancement. Is scared by the idea of (3) because it sounds like it might be hard to fake. Sound of kissing noises gives away location of nearest higher-ranking Aikidoka in the heirarchy. Claims to believe (1), and (4) if necessary, but has far less spiritually lofty interests.

Jeckyll and Hyde
- Claims full belief in (1), peace, love, harmony for all - but if you disagree with him or say anything that might be remotely critical of Aikido, would love to rip out your eyeballs in a most un-Aiki way, or at the very least have you banished to the far side of the moon as you are not welcome in the perfect human family that is worldwide Aikido. Depending on rank and affiliation may actually be The Made Man.

And so on. ;) OK the last few are drifting from my point for amusement's sake, but I am trying to make a serious point about internal skills. In my case, I have an external background, including typical Aikido, and I like (1), remember a decent amount of (2), and am mostly interested in pursuing (3) because I think it's one of the most interesting study areas in martial arts, particularly as you get older. I will probably never be on board with (4), so even if I had (1) (2) and (3) decently covered some day, the Spirit of Ueshiba would probably still wank on me for that reason. Maybe he'd think I have Ki, but from the Dark Side. ;) Long story short, I don't think many people, especially in the West, will ever really do Ueshiba's Aikido in the full sense that he would completely approve of. So you really have to understand what you care about and are interested in, and pursue those aspects, and maybe not be overly concerned about what you hope he might think about it, or what other people think he might think about it. You mention him enticing people to Aikido with power demonstrations, well, that might be a good reason to be able to show those things to spread the art. In the current show-me MMA environment, what else will sell? The idea that hakamas look cool? ;) Still I don't think anyone is trying to, or really can, dictate what the "right" path necessarily is. What is a fact though is that meaningful, down-to-earth, practical discussion of (3) is hard to find, because it was never taught openly. I think at least part of the reason for that is (4). To focus Western-style on what actually happens to the body so that you can really learn this stuff seems to deny Ki-as-mystical-energy. You're not supposed to look behind the Great Oz's curtain. Even if that isn't a fair dichotomy to create, I can imagine that if Ueshiba showed you the unbendable arm and talked about you projecting Ki, and you said something like "well gee, isn't it just stronger because I'm not fighting myself with tense biceps?" or some other pedestrian real-world explanation, he'd probably slap you upside the head and throw you out. ;) He probably just didn't think that way, so seeing completely eye to eye with him from a Western perspective may not be possible in the first place, and all the post-mortem mindreading and channeling from Westerners is meaningless because we can't truly emulate his mindset.

Bottom line, it's hard to find good information on how to actually develop the ki skills, so the fact that it's being talked about and shown openly at all is a good thing, IMO. Some will ignore it, some will pursue it, some will use it for good, and some for evil (see The Made Man ;) ). Doesn't mean anyone has to care, or agree with how some people think it fits into the grand scheme, but there it is.

George S. Ledyard
03-14-2007, 05:19 PM
Hi George,

I think it's probably fair to say no one knows exactly what he meant; maybe he just didn't see Ki being used, or maybe things were too competitive. In the same way that we shouldn't assume we know what he meant, it may not be fair to make similar assumptions about the people talking about internal skills. I fully embrace the wisdom of non-resistance, of not trying to compete. Of course there should be something martial behind it, or else it's just philosophy and not warrior-philosophy. According to Tohei, one blow in Aikido is lethal enough to kill. Leaving aside that you don't see that kind of ability much, the way of the peaceful warrior carries the presumption that said warrior can actually do something serious if he has to. Otherwise just look to Ghandi, not Ueshiba. ;) The idea that there should be something serious there often leads to people doing aggressive Aikido, or incorporating other arts to try to make it more "street ready", which I agree can be a mistake. I think the internal skills are needed, but that doesn't mean I think it changes the goal or philosophy of Aikido.

It's a fine line to walk, and part of the issue is that Ueshiba *was* a tough guy before he developed Aikido. He basically went around to every master he could find to train with, until he was the toughest man around. Then he started to question what it was all good for. Eventually his powers would fade with age, he would no longer be the baddest around, so what had he gained, what does it all mean? It's something that happens with age, we in the West call it a midlife crisis. ;) As you get older you tend to look for the deeper meaning and purpose of what you do in life, and he had a revelation on the deep meaning of martial art. So here was a highly skilled, highly capable fighter, turning his mind in the direction of an encompassing spiritual and philosophical purpose for his skills.

Importantly, in his belief system, the Ki skills were actually a manifestation of Ki. The unbendable arm isn't just a mind-intent visualization that encourages proper body usage, it is an example of letting Ki flow. Point being, the only way you could dig him up, magically reanimate his corpse, have him look at what you do and then give your practice the thumbs up is if you 1) are on the same page philosophically as to the purpose of Aikido, 2) have the technical syllabus down, 3) have the Ki skills down (including sensing opponents' intention, not just internal body skill), and 4) believe that the things in (3) are manifestations of the Ki of the universe.

People of different backgrounds and mentalities fall variously into these areas. Let's try looking at a few common types for fun:

The Hippie New Ager Looking-for-the-Nearest-Cult-Leader-to-Follow

- Can be on board with (1) and (4) within minutes of his first lesson, will spend his life on (2) and believe he has (3) without ever really scratching the real surface of (3).

The Clueless Martial Newbie

- Likes the sound of (1), but thinks of (4) as an asian cultural thing. If (4) is taken seriously, will become Hippie New Ager. Will work on (2), probably never hear of (3) in a physically meaningful way, and will hopefully never have to actually use Aikido for real since it probably won't work. If concerns about the latter develop, could seek help from combative arts and become...

The Experienced External Stylist

- Likes the sound of (1) and stories of Ueshiba's prowess, doesn't put much stock in (4), and has a relatively easy time with learning (2). Believes Aikido can work if you're strong, fast, and use techniques from other arts if the Aikido ones don't work, and you back yourself up with MMA and powerlifting. Probably hasn't heard of (3) either, but if he does considers it core training like working on a stability ball.

The Internal Stylist Without a Clue About Internal Skills

- Hasn't been exposed to real internal goods even though he practices what should be an internal style, so usually comes to Aikido as the Hippie New Ager.

Blowhardicus Aikidokus
- Believes that incessant talk increases (2), and even more talk makes (2) into (3).

The Made Man
- Part of the Aikido mob heirarchy, primarily interested in rank and social advancement and making anyone who undermines his credibility "sleep with the fishes". Does (2) as needed for rank advancement. Is scared by the idea of (3) because it sounds like it might be hard to fake. Sound of kissing noises gives away location of nearest higher-ranking Aikidoka in the heirarchy. Claims to believe (1), and (4) if necessary, but has far less spiritually lofty interests.

Jeckyll and Hyde
- Claims full belief in (1), peace, love, harmony for all - but if you disagree with him or say anything that might be remotely critical of Aikido, would love to rip out your eyeballs in a most un-Aiki way, or at the very least have you banished to the far side of the moon as you are not welcome in the perfect human family that is worldwide Aikido. Depending on rank and affiliation may actually be The Made Man.

And so on. ;) OK the last few are drifting from my point for amusement's sake, but I am trying to make a serious point about internal skills. In my case, I have an external background, including typical Aikido, and I like (1), remember a decent amount of (2), and am mostly interested in pursuing (3) because I think it's one of the most interesting study areas in martial arts, particularly as you get older. I will probably never be on board with (4), so even if I had (1) (2) and (3) decently covered some day, the Spirit of Ueshiba would probably still wank on me for that reason. Maybe he'd think I have Ki, but from the Dark Side. ;) Long story short, I don't think many people, especially in the West, will ever really do Ueshiba's Aikido in the full sense that he would completely approve of. So you really have to understand what you care about and are interested in, and pursue those aspects, and maybe not be overly concerned about what you hope he might think about it, or what other people think he might think about it. You mention him enticing people to Aikido with power demonstrations, well, that might be a good reason to be able to show those things to spread the art. In the current show-me MMA environment, what else will sell? The idea that hakamas look cool? ;) Still I don't think anyone is trying to, or really can, dictate what the "right" path necessarily is. What is a fact though is that meaningful, down-to-earth, practical discussion of (3) is hard to find, because it was never taught openly. I think at least part of the reason for that is (4). To focus Western-style on what actually happens to the body so that you can really learn this stuff seems to deny Ki-as-mystical-energy. You're not supposed to look behind the Great Oz's curtain. Even if that isn't a fair dichotomy to create, I can imagine that if Ueshiba showed you the unbendable arm and talked about you projecting Ki, and you said something like "well gee, isn't it just stronger because I'm not fighting myself with tense biceps?" or some other pedestrian real-world explanation, he'd probably slap you upside the head and throw you out. ;) He probably just didn't think that way, so seeing completely eye to eye with him from a Western perspective may not be possible in the first place, and all the post-mortem mindreading and channeling from Westerners is meaningless because we can't truly emulate his mindset.

Bottom line, it's hard to find good information on how to actually develop the ki skills, so the fact that it's being talked about and shown openly at all is a good thing, IMO. Some will ignore it, some will pursue it, some will use it for good, and some for evil (see The Made Man ;) ). Doesn't mean anyone has to care, or agree with how some people think it fits into the grand scheme, but there it is.

Great post. I agree, we are all going to decide what we thought he meant and create our Aikido accordingly. I suspect that O-Sensei was a very complex guy and perhaps all of the various takes on him are true on some level. That's why it's good that there is an exchange and eve a bit of a debate about these things. Put it all together collectively and I think you might start to hit the truth of it somewhere. It's also true that, try as we might, we can't be him. O-Sensei was a particular guy who was the product of particular training in a given time and environment. So all that is left for us to use our Aikido practice to become more genuinely ourselves, since it is impossible for us to be someone else. Aikido needs to have room for all of that variation. It isn't one things or another, its probably got both... people will find the Aikido that speaks to them. I think it's a good idea if we try to accept the varying points of view.

George S. Ledyard
03-14-2007, 05:43 PM
I think I need to restate something in a concise form here, as there is a possibility of misunderstanding.

a) I am in no disagreement with Dan or Mike about their level of expertise or that these teachers have a great deal to offer us; they are an asset to the threads here on Aiki Web

b) I wish to leave no doubt in anyone's minds that I believe that what these guys are talking about and teaching was part of the essential skill set which O-Sensei had and frequently demonstrated

c) I will go out of my way to train with these guys myself and would happy to have either one of them teach at my dojo so my students could benefit

d) I would recommend to any serious Aikido practitioner that they do the same

I do not want to be perceived as speaking for some hypothetical "opposition" as I do not see myself in opposition with these guys. I actually agree with them for the most part. What I have posted previously should be understood in this context. I have some different ideas but do not see these as standing I opposition to their ideas. At times I have tried to put the ideas of other folks who I know to be out there into form. But that should not be misconstrued as oppositional on my part. I am just trying to throw some more ideas out there. Especially when I know there are folks out there who are thinking those things but will not post them themselves.

I do most of any negative communication I feel necessary via private e-mail. I do not feel that I need to do that in a public forum. To do so creates little possibility for eventual movement in the relative positions. But, in case my attempts at communication privately didn't get through clearly enough, I wanted to be as clear as possible on this topic and do so in public.

Erick Mead
03-14-2007, 10:58 PM
...Still I don't think anyone is trying to, or really can, dictate what the "right" path necessarily is. ... To focus Western-style on what actually happens to the body so that you can really learn this stuff seems to deny Ki-as-mystical-energy.
He probably just didn't think that way, so seeing completely eye to eye with him from a Western perspective may not be possible in the first place, and all the post-mortem mindreading and channeling from Westerners is meaningless because we can't truly emulate his mindset.... Doesn't mean anyone has to care, or agree with how some people think it fits into the grand scheme, but there it is. All we can do is take what is given us and place it honestly in our context. Any more than that is simple pretension. Grand schemes? Well, O Sensei did not seem to have any, at least in any directive sense. He left some hints about some important contexts that need to be addressed and he left to others to place his revelation into those contexts.
.... if the human mind once takes charge of water and fire in accord with the prinicple of "Water-Fire, Yin-Yang" when your enemy attacks with water you strike with water, with fire then hit with fire. Today it is important to train thinking in terms of scientific warfare. (tr. Bieri/Mabuchi) There is much more to the fire/water trope and it is worth reading. The significance of this quote is twofold on this point, however.

First, O Sensei had no doubts that his metaphorical (or alchemical) understanding of the operation of the art could eventually be described in Western scientific terms. Second, he firmly believed that it ought to be done by someone following him.

I look to go where he pointed. I do not dispute that he pointed other ways also. Kokyu expands in all directions simultaneously, so there is no conflict or contradiciton in that, at all. I just hope to find somebody farther along to make this particular path a little clearer.

gdandscompserv
03-15-2007, 06:12 AM
I look to go where he pointed. I do not dispute that he pointed other ways also. Kokyu expands in all directions simultaneously, so there is no conflict or contradiciton in that, at all. I just hope to find somebody farther along to make this particular path a little clearer.
Nice Erick.
I feel like a lost, wandering shodan. I don't feel ready to be a teacher. I'd much prefer to be a student. But what choice do I have. If I want to train I must teach. Simple as that. In the meantime I steal what I can from the "seminar" circuit. A poor substitution for a sensei but I do what I can.

MM
03-15-2007, 07:07 AM
There is much more to the fire/water trope and it is worth reading. The significance of this quote is twofold on this point, however.

First, O Sensei had no doubts that his metaphorical (or alchemical) understanding of the operation of the art could eventually be described in Western scientific terms. Second, he firmly believed that it ought to be done by someone following him.

I look to go where he pointed. I do not dispute that he pointed other ways also. Kokyu expands in all directions simultaneously, so there is no conflict or contradiciton in that, at all. I just hope to find somebody farther along to make this particular path a little clearer.

Hi Erick,

Reading your posts, I usually have one over-riding area of concern. When you talk about Ueshiba, or quote him, you translate/define/whatever his writings in a very definitive way as if you know 100% what they mean.

As with the above, "he had no doubts" and "he firmly believed". I find it hard to understand how you can know that he had no doubts or where his beliefs were firm. Maybe it's just a writing style that you use and I'm reading more into it than what's there, but ... as I said, it comes across to me as if you understand perfectly what Ueshiba said and wrote.

Mark

Erick Mead
03-15-2007, 11:32 AM
Reading your posts, I usually have one over-riding area of concern. When you talk about Ueshiba, or quote him, you translate/define/whatever his writings in a very definitive way as if you know 100% what they mean. To clarify. I read what reliable translators have given as his meaning in English. I have some small amount of training in construing what words in English actually mean, and I trust reliable translators (whom I have no reason to doubt) to render the original into serviceable English. Those who have questioned my use of the translations have attacked the adequacy of the translations themselves (not, to my way of thinking, with any degree of persuasiveness on the essential points). However, I defend generally reliable translations and their ordinary meaning in English, with the thought that the words actually mean what they say.
"he had no doubts" and "he firmly believed". Lack of doubt and firmness of belief on the points I mentioned about the consistency of his understanding of Water-Fire priniciples with the results of eventual scientific inquiry into the action he represented in that fashion is shown, in an immediate sense by his linking the two statements -- without any qualifications. Moreover, I have never seen in any other recorded statements or writings, any other expression of his doubt about the usefulness of scientific (or any other) inquiry into the principles and training of aikido. If he had doubts about his own statement, I presume he would have expressed them in conjunction. And in the context of the entirety of his dicussion of kokyu and technique in Budo Renshu, he certainly expressed none.

ChrisMoses
03-15-2007, 11:43 AM
To clarify. I read what reliable translators have given as his meaning in English. I have some small amount of training in construing what words in English actually mean, and I trust reliable translators (whom I have no reason to doubt) to render the original into serviceable English. Those who have questioned my use of the translations have attacked the adequacy of the translations themselves (not, to my way of thinking, with any degree of persuasiveness on the essential points). However, I defend generally reliable translations and their ordinary meaning in English, with the thought that the words actually mean what they say.


I not only suspect the majority of English translations of OSensei's writing, but the origin of those writings. I've heard from several sources, for example, that the doka were not so much written by OSensei, as written down as examples of things that he would/might say...

Erick Mead
03-15-2007, 05:06 PM
I not only suspect the majority of English translations of OSensei's writing, but the origin of those writings. I've heard from several sources, for example, that the doka were not so much written by OSensei, as written down as examples of things that he would/might say... Source? :D

I t is always easy to disavow points one does not like by merely attacking their authenticity without actual attribution of a source of error in transmission. So why should you do that -- who says so?

More to the point -- why trust the Japanese either? Most of them were transcriptions of what he said, rather than his own writing. The entirety of the Takemusu Aiki lectures was transcribed stenographically as he gave it. Budo Renshu has the distinction of being one of his two major pieces of actual extended writing on the subject, so at least one source of error is removed. What basis do you have to question Bieri and Mabuchi's translation?

George S. Ledyard
03-15-2007, 07:41 PM
Source? :D

I t is always easy to disavow points one does not like by merely attacking their authenticity without actual attribution of a source of error in transmission. So why should you do that -- who says so?

More to the point -- why trust the Japanese either? Most of them were transcriptions of what he said, rather than his own writing. The entirety of the Takemusu Aiki lectures was transcribed stenographically as he gave it. Budo Renshu has the distinction of being one of his two major pieces of actual extended writing on the subject, so at least one source of error is removed. What basis do you have to question Bieri and Mabuchi's translation?

I don't think it is a matter of questioning the translations as much as the fact that any translation from Japanese into English is going to be essentially limited. You start with the fact that O-Sensei's usage was arcane even for the Japanese. Then you take that and try to translate it into a language that simply doesn't have the same concepts in its culture. Any translation is just an interpretation.

If you take a look at the Tao Teh Ching the Chinese is open to multiple levels of interpretation due to the nature of the language. If you don't read it in the original, you lose those multiple levels. However, the book is the single most translated text in Chinese (other than Mao's little red book which doesn't count as far as I am concerned). So if one, as a non reader of Classical Chinese, want to get some picture of what the original meant, you need to read a number of translations and compare them. Each one will convey some sense of what was meant.

O-Sensei's writings, such as they exist, have not been given anywhere near the same amount of scrutiny. There are not multiple translations for us to compare. So any translation is limited. Even a Japanese speaker not trained in the specifics of what O-Sensei was talking about would be interpreting when he described what he thought O-Sensei meant.

Therefore, all of this discussion of what O-Sensei meant or didn't mean is subjective. I might have a take on it based on listening to Saotome Sensei talk for hours about training with the Founder. That helps me create a context when I read the writings. But it's still not cut and dried at all. I believe certain things about what O-Sensei meant in his writings. It's my opinion. It may be an informed opinion, but it is essentially based on incomplete information. And there is no way around that.

Then, to complicate things further, it is a fact that when O-Sensei's lectures were translated into English, the translation was specifically tailored to make a certain presentation to a particular audience. What was translated was cherry picked and how the terms were translated was controlled to create a picture that fit what the folks running the show at the time wished to present. This was not translation done to exacting academic standards, it was translation to create an impression. This wasn't true of he Doka translations by Larry Bieri but it was true of some of the other material that shows up in books about Aikido in which O-Sensei is quoted.

I think at this point it is important to know as much about the Founder as possible but we will ultimately arrive at our own understanding of what he meant through practice. I hope we can avoid a Council of Nicocea at some point in the future at which some orthodox interpretation becomes written in stone. The discussion and the personal discovery are everything as far as I am concerned.

Fred Little
03-15-2007, 08:10 PM
I
If you take a look at the Tao Teh Ching the Chinese is open to multiple levels of interpretation due to the nature of the language. If you don't read it in the original, you lose those multiple levels. However, the book is the single most translated text in Chinese (other than Mao's little red book which doesn't count as far as I am concerned). So if one, as a non reader of Classical Chinese, want to get some picture of what the original meant, you need to read a number of translations and compare them. Each one will convey some sense of what was meant.


Robert Henricks' translation of the work in question was published by Ballantine in 1992.

Working from the oldest extant manuscript, in which the order of the two sections of the work are opposite the order more familiar from later manuscripts, Henricks retitled the work "Te Tao Ching."

In this older version, the shorter, pithier executive summary on how to rule comes first -- after all, the prince is a busy man and you can't expect him to read very long or very deeply -- the more philosophical section comes second.

All of the translations we have other than Henricks' started with a fundamentally incorrect assumption: that the work was primarily a work of philosophy and secondarily a work of practical statecraft.

Even in the case of Budo Renshu, there is evidence that the work was constructed from the notes of students and approved by Ueshiba for distribution to yudansha. And as George notes, everything else was cherrypicked and then massaged in the process of reorganization and translation.

In such a circumstance, the only definitive statement that is reasonably sound is that no definitive statements are terribly sound.

Best,

FL

George S. Ledyard
03-15-2007, 08:15 PM
Robert Henricks' translation of the work in question was published by Ballantine in 1992.

Working from the oldest extant manuscript, in which the order of the two sections of the work are opposite the order more familiar from later manuscripts, Henricks retitled the work "Te Tao Ching."

In this older version, the shorter, pithier executive summary on how to rule comes first -- after all, the prince is a busy man and you can't expect him to read very long or very deeply -- the more philosophical section comes second.

All of the translations we have other than Henricks' started with a fundamentally incorrect assumption: that the work was primarily a work of philosophy and secondarily a work of practical statecraft.

Even in the case of Budo Renshu, there is evidence that the work was constructed from the notes of students and approved by Ueshiba for distribution to yudansha. And as George notes, everything else was cherrypicked and then massaged in the process of reorganization and translation.

In such a circumstance, the only definitive statement that is reasonably sound is that no definitive statements are terribly sound.

Best,

FL
I picked up a copy of the new translation recently. It was a kick to see a newly discovered manuscript that was older than the ones I studied in school. Sort of like the Taoist Gnostic Gospels... Those were the days, back when I could just sit around all day and read cool stuff like that...

Josh Lerner
03-16-2007, 12:38 AM
I picked up a copy of the new translation recently. It was a kick to see a newly discovered manuscript that was older than the ones I studied in school. Sort of like the Taoist Gnostic Gospels... Those were the days, back when I could just sit around all day and read cool stuff like that...

Hi George,

If that's the kind of thing you are interested in, I suggest getting a copy of Harold Roth's translation of the Neiye chapter of the Guanzi. It's called "Original Tao: Inward Training and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism." The text he translates is the oldest extant Chinese text on internal meditative training, and probably comes from the same lineage of practices that later produced the Daodejing. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in archaic Chinese mysticism.

Josh

http://www.amazon.com/Original-Tao-Foundations-Mysticism-Translations/dp/0231115652/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-8844352-6005758?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1174023219&sr=8-1

George S. Ledyard
03-16-2007, 08:41 AM
Hi George,

If that's the kind of thing you are interested in, I suggest getting a copy of Harold Roth's translation of the Neiye chapter of the Guanzi. It's called "Original Tao: Inward Training and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism." The text he translates is the oldest extant Chinese text on internal meditative training, and probably comes from the same lineage of practices that later produced the Daodejing. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in archaic Chinese mysticism.

Josh

http://www.amazon.com/Original-Tao-Foundations-Mysticism-Translations/dp/0231115652/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-8844352-6005758?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1174023219&sr=8-1

Thanks Josh,
I ordered it today. I don't know if they have even finished cataloging all the documents they found at the Dun Huang caves. There was so much stuff there it will keep a couple generations of scholars busy. Did this volume come out of that find or did it come to light elsewhere?

Josh Lerner
03-16-2007, 11:14 AM
Thanks Josh,
I ordered it today. I don't know if they have even finished cataloging all the documents they found at the Dun Huang caves. There was so much stuff there it will keep a couple generations of scholars busy. Did this volume come out of that find or did it come to light elsewhere?

It's been around since it was written, but it got put into a larger collection of works (the Guanzi) during the Han dynasty. For most of the last several millenia, the Guanzi was considered a Legalist collection of texts on politics and economics, so the Neiye chapter, and a few others buried in there, were ignored. Kind of "Hidden in Plain Sight". What the more recent discoveries (like the "Four Classics of the Yellow Emperor" from Mawangdui) *have* done is give a different context for classifying early texts like the Guanzi.

One interesting thing about the text is that it describes the physiological center for the body's energies as being in the center of the chest, not the lower abdomen as in later Daoist works. Very interesting for those with an interest in Akuzawa's excercises . . .

But now back to our chewy center. Apologies to Chris for the thread drift.

Josh

Erick Mead
03-16-2007, 11:36 AM
Even in the case of Budo Renshu, the work was ... approved by Ueshiba for distribution to yudansha. So, if this report is accurate, he was editor and reviewer of their notes of his own statements. He adopted them by approving them for publication. How is this evidence, on the specific point I laid on the table, that he did NOT believe that scientific inquiry was warranted, or that it was, in any way, incompatible with his more classical, metaphorical view of describing their operations?

In such a circumstance, the only definitive statement that is reasonably sound is that no definitive statements are terribly sound. Respectfully, that's a cop out. Knowledge can never be perfect. We should not therefore abandon the hope of its relative perfection or to disregard information that fails to meet some pre-conceived arbitrary test of validity.

The evidence is what it is, and until better evidence comes along we are all stuck with it in drawing our conclusions from it. Challenge the conclusions drawn form the evidence, certainly, but the evidence you have is all you have, regardless of its provenance, and stating that one would hope for better evidence does not rebut a valid conclusion from the evidence that you do have.

Giving all due weight to your concern, his students took definite meaning from what he said and preserved it. He reviewed their understanding of his meaning and approved it for purposes of informing and directing his successors in their defintion of the art. The translators should similarly not be impeached without some reason. It does nothing to change my conclusion on that basis. The statement itself was definitive -- I take it definitively.

Regardless of that quibble-- I concur whole-heartedly that nothing which is not useful in practice or demonstrable through practice survives an empirical test of its relevance to Aikido.

cguzik
03-16-2007, 12:55 PM
Well, if we take the argument that content and context are inextricably linked to its logical conclusion, where we end up is that for me to fully understand anything you say, I need to be you. Perhaps I can partially understand what you say, based on how similar our contexts may be.

If our contexts are sufficiently different, the bandwidth required to transmit a translation of the background may be significantly larger than that required to transmit a translation of the foreground in question. Where do we draw the line? To admit that wherever we draw it is not good enough is a cop out?

George S. Ledyard
03-16-2007, 01:06 PM
Well, if we take the argument that content and context are inextricably linked to its logical conclusion, where we end up is that for me to fully understand anything you say, I need to be you. Perhaps I can partially understand what you say, based on how similar our contexts may be.

If our contexts are sufficiently different, the bandwidth required to transmit a translation of the background may be significantly larger than that required to transmit a translation of the foreground in question. Where do we draw the line? To admit that wherever we draw it is not good enough is a cop out?

I think that you are actually right here. I do not think it really is possible to understand someone. Not exactly as they mean it, not once you are talking about something complex, anyway. May be it's the difference between understanding someone and reaching an understanding. Through my training I have reached an understanding of O-Sensei's words. That isn't definitive and it doesn't mean that your understanding is the same as mine. If we share our thoughts and experiences we could be able to reach an understanding between ourselves. That still leaves room for each of us to have our own version of the understanding.

Erick Mead
03-16-2007, 01:39 PM
Where do we draw the line? In practice. The only lines that really count for Aikido are found in practice. The line is very definite there.

Two words are used for practice -- renshū 練習 and keiko 稽古(a whole thread exists on this one). Keiko 稽古 connotes replaying knwon engagements (literally -- "old quarrels"), which allows for study of principles in concrete action. Kihon dosa, and kata as examples. The concept of the physical line is fundamental there.

Renshū 練習 "polish/refine learning" plays a part also. Kokyu dosa as example. That allows work on a different aspect of principles -- where the lines are intentional, attentional or conceptual. There are valid lines that exist in those areas, too, and which it is just as dangerous to cross ill-prepared as the physical line. All the better to be drawing those those lines with the same spirit and as closely as in physical practice.

Not all renshū happens in the dojo, some of it can happen here. Some of it can even be written down.

Fred Little
03-16-2007, 01:45 PM
So, if this report is accurate, he was editor and reviewer of their notes of his own statements. He adopted them by approving them for publication. How is this evidence, on the specific point I laid on the table, that he did NOT believe that scientific inquiry was warranted, or that it was, in any way, incompatible with his more classical, metaphorical view of describing their operations?

Giving all due weight to your concern, his students took definite meaning from what he said and preserved it. He reviewed their understanding of his meaning and approved it for purposes of informing and directing his successors in their defintion of the art. The translators should similarly not be impeached without some reason. It does nothing to change my conclusion on that basis. The statement itself was definitive -- I take it definitively.


Erick --

With all due respect, you are resorting to classic straw man arguments and infelicitous double-think.

I did not make any comment about the utility or inutility of scientific inquiry. Any assertion that I did is categorically false.

With regard to the "compatibility" of metaphorical versus empirical description, I assert that the two modes depend on two utterly different sets of descriptive symbols with utterly different rules of operation and thus, are not directly comparable. Each can accord quite well with the phenomenon it is describing while according not at all with another description. To this extent, discussion of "compatiblity" or "incompatibility" of metaphorical or empirical descriptions is of less relevance than the possible complementary utility of the descriptions, which is a rather different matter.

While Ueshiba is supposed to have reviewed and approved the text, the apparent fact that it was approved with the stipulation that it be distributed only to yudansha may be taken to indicate that the work was intended as an outline or detailed mnemonic of lessons already imparted through oral and kinesthetic instruction, which was regarded as primary. Thus, not only would the role of the text and drawings be secondary, tertiary, or quaternary, not primary, but I would also suggest that the distribution was restricted because the text might be regarded as misleading to an individual who had not received individual oral and kiinesthetic instruction. To put a fine point on it, my assertion is that it can not be shown that the authorial or editorial intention was to approach the "definite" or "definitive," much less that such an intention was successfully realized.

Your position that Ueshiba's language was, on the one hand "metaphorical" and on the other hand so "definite" that you can reify that "definite" meaning into a "definitive meaning" is heremeneutically suspect as anything other than a statement of faith.

Your suggestion that anyone has "impeached" the translators is overblown hyperbole. At best, it betrays a series of fundamental confusions about the nature of languague, the nature of metaphor, the relationship between language and mathematics, and the fundamental nature of translation that would take a total change of viewpoint to redress. I have reached a point in my life where I rarely go for the "at worst" half of the proposition because experience has taught me that reality has more resourcefulness on that count than my imagination has ever manifested.

Not that any of the above has jack to do with actual practice, which remains primary.:)

Best,

FL

ChrisMoses
03-16-2007, 01:56 PM
Source? :D



Numerous, many in person. However if you read between the lines by those who would know you get clues. You might also find the "Pillars of Aikido" lecture series by Stan Pranin interesting...

Erick Mead
03-16-2007, 02:10 PM
If we share our thoughts and experiences we could be able to reach an understanding between ourselves. That still leaves room for each of us to have our own version of the understanding. The understandings I am not so concerned about. It is the misunderstandings that cause far more trouble. Finding a clear line eliminates (at least) one source of that misundertstanding. Of course, then the line always changes again, I realize that.

But the same process of doing this over and over is present in working the aiki mind as well as the aiki body. We cannot gain musubi unless we know where the attack truly lies. Mushy aikido is as bad as mushy thinking. One way to define the line is simply to do it, on an honest basis, thereby inviting (thank you, Fred) the very attack we contemplate and then deal with it, or define a different line.

Well, if we take the argument that content and context are inextricably linked to its logical conclusion ... If we take any argument to its "logical conclusion" we end up in an all out war with other truths that are not rational, nor can they be arrived at rationally. Some contradictions cannot be resolved -- mostly, the important ones. Logic is sharp weapon -- use carefully. Scalpels unavoidably wound what they hope to heal.

That was part of the point I take from O Sensei's placing the two ways of addressing the principles involved in conjunction. They are not incompatibel and neiterh one is complete. And noone has shown he didn't - so that's the line of attack until somebody makes it different. (Hold on Fred, I'll get to you in a minute.)

Erick Mead
03-16-2007, 02:22 PM
Numerous, many in person. However if you read between the lines by those who would know you get clues. You might also find the "Pillars of Aikido" lecture series by Stan Pranin interesting...Fascinating. I should not rely on a reasonably authoritative translation of a textual record at some point taken from spoken or written words of O Sensei, and at least approved by himself to be publsihed, but I should "read between the lines to get clues by those who would know." Hmmm.

Let me get this straight. Why then should I believe what Prof. Pranin says these people say, after all, he just made notes of conversations that were then approved for publication by these persons after his editing (or was that massaging and cherrypicking) ;) Sauce for the goose ...

Fred Little
03-16-2007, 02:26 PM
(or was that massaging and cherrypicking) ;) Sauce for the goose ...

At the risk of self-a-gander-izement, might I ask that you kindly refrain from beating others with a rhetorical stick you've wrenched from my hands? ;)

FL

ChrisMoses
03-16-2007, 02:33 PM
Why then should I believe...

Erick, I don't care one way or another what you believe. I don't care how you train. I was stating what I believe, and what I have heard from personal sources. "OSensei's words!" sell a lot more books than, "Some stuff that OSensei would probably agree with!"

This is another reason why I liked Ellis' exposition of the lecture series that OSensei gave. It was documented and recorded, unlike a great deal of other material we have to work with.

Erick Mead
03-16-2007, 02:54 PM
With all due respect, you are resorting to classic straw man arguments and infelicitous double-think. I prefer to think of it as highly felicitous doublethink. Which illustrates the absurdity of denying the plain meaning of a relatively well-ascribed statement without some proof to the contrary.

I did not make any comment about the utility or inutility of scientific inquiry. Any assertion that I did is categorically false. No. You said that I could not know that he meant to conjoin the two. I can. Because he did. Conjoin the two. In his statement, which put them together. Which is his until somebody shows it isn't, instead of merely hinting darkly at unspoken reasons for doubt.

With regard to the "compatibility" of metaphorical versus empirical description, I assert that the two modes depend on two utterly different sets of descriptive symbols with utterly different rules of operation and thus, are not directly comparable. ...."compatiblity" or "incompatibility" of metaphorical or empirical descriptions is of less relevance than the possible complementary utility of the descriptions, which is a rather different matter. Not in this context. I chose the word "compatibility" advisedly for the context of our art: ."compatible" = "capable of existing together in harmony." Comparability is an entirely different thing

While Ueshiba is supposed to have reviewed and approved the text, the apparent fact that it was approved with the stipulation that it be distributed only to yudansha may be taken to indicate that the work was intended as an outline or detailed mnemonic of lessons already imparted through oral and kinesthetic instruction, which was regarded as primary. Actually, he was QUITE explicit in several places in Budo Renshu that certain things that he mentioned going along were only really appropriate for showing through training. This forces the conclusion that things he othwerwise stated therein were appropriate to be given -- and in the form that he was giving them.

Thus, not only would the role of the text and drawings be secondary, tertiary, or quaternary, not primary, but I would also suggest that the distribution was restricted because the text might be regarded as misleading to an individual who had not received individual oral and kiinesthetic instruction. To put a fine point on it, my assertion is that it can not be shown that the authorial or editorial intention was to approach the "definite" or "definitive," much less that such an intention was successfully realized. and your definitive assertion is based a far less foundation than mine in saying that 1) by saying it, he meant it, and 2) by urging one thing and then immediately urging another thing the two things are deemed to be related and compatible.

Your position that Ueshiba's language was, on the one hand "metaphorical" and on the other hand so "definite" that you can reify that "definite" meaning into a "definitive meaning" is heremeneutically suspect as anything other than a statement of faith. You misread. Only one part of the statement was metaphorical; the other expressly pointed toward a reified understanding, which was my point. And I am not a "hermeneutical suspect." --- I am "guilty, guilty, guilty..." ;)

Your suggestion that anyone has "impeached" the translators is overblown hyperbole. True that it would be hyperbole. They merely indicate a desire to do so, and have not actually. And -- that is not what I said.

Not that any of the above has jack to do with actual practice, which remains primary.:) Which I actually think that I did say. :D I have a broader and more unitary conception of practice than you appear to.

Erick Mead
03-16-2007, 03:28 PM
At the risk of self-a-gander-izement, might I ask that you kindly refrain from beating others with a rhetorical stick you've wrenched from my hands? ;) Nah. It was just laying around. Or maybe running around loose, flapping and honking. I can never keep these third party mixed metaphor things straight. :)

Fred Little
03-16-2007, 03:38 PM
Quote:
Fred Little wrote:
I did not make any comment about the utility or inutility of scientific inquiry. Any assertion that I did is categorically false.
No. You said that I could not know that he meant to conjoin the two. I can. Because he did. Conjoin the two. In his statement, which put them together. Which is his until somebody shows it isn't, instead of merely hinting darkly at unspoken reasons for doubt.

Together….as mutually necessary correctives to their differing systemic lacks, which is rather different than together as mutually validating.

Quote:
Fred Little wrote:
With regard to the "compatibility" of metaphorical versus empirical description, I assert that the two modes depend on two utterly different sets of descriptive symbols with utterly different rules of operation and thus, are not directly comparable. ...."compatiblity" or "incompatibility" of metaphorical or empirical descriptions is of less relevance than the possible complementary utility of the descriptions, which is a rather different matter.
Not in this context. I chose the word "compatibility" advisedly for the context of our art: ."compatible" = "capable of existing together in harmony." Comparability is an entirely different thing

So the "not in this context" notwithstanding, you have apparently agreed that "complementary utility" is a valid form of "compatability."
Quote:
Fred Little wrote:
While Ueshiba is supposed to have reviewed and approved the text, the apparent fact that it was approved with the stipulation that it be distributed only to yudansha may be taken to indicate that the work was intended as an outline or detailed mnemonic of lessons already imparted through oral and kinesthetic instruction, which was regarded as primary.
Actually, he was QUITE explicit in several places in Budo Renshu that certain things that he mentioned going along were only really appropriate for showing through training. This forces the conclusion that things he othwerwise stated therein were appropriate to be given -- and in the form that he was giving them.

To which I will reply simply that you are taking an occasional absence of evidence as an evidence of absence. I am taking a repeated admonition as broadly applicable beyond the specific instances in which it is invoked.

Quote:
Fred Little wrote:
Thus, not only would the role of the text and drawings be secondary, tertiary, or quaternary, not primary, but I would also suggest that the distribution was restricted because the text might be regarded as misleading to an individual who had not received individual oral and kiinesthetic instruction. To put a fine point on it, my assertion is that it can not be shown that the authorial or editorial intention was to approach the "definite" or "definitive," much less that such an intention was successfully realized.
and your definitive assertion is based a far less foundation than mine in saying that 1) by saying it, he meant it, and 2) by urging one thing and then immediately urging another thing the two things are deemed to be related and compatible.

But "related and compatible" can also be read as "tempering all extreme views regarding either." And that would be more in keeping with both Buddhist and neo-Confucian doctrine which forms the broader context in which all of Ueshiba's statements are embedded.

Quote:
Fred Little wrote:
Your position that Ueshiba's language was, on the one hand "metaphorical" and on the other hand so "definite" that you can reify that "definite" meaning into a "definitive meaning" is heremeneutically suspect as anything other than a statement of faith.
You misread. Only one part of the statement was metaphorical; the other expressly pointed toward a reified understanding, which was my point. And I am not a "hermeneutical suspect." --- I am "guilty, guilty, guilty..."

As with the previous reference to Buddhist and Neo-Confucian doctrine, here I will invoke basic Taoist doctrine. To the extent that anything becomes "totally x" it inexorably tends toward its obverse and becomes "non-x." This is a simple recognition of the limits of all systems. One can attempt, within the context of gravity, the body, the incoming force, etc, to achieve "total non-resistance," but there is a point beyond which "maximal non-resistance" becomes "resistance."

Now -- and this is a key point -- it may be that the maximal non-resistance amounting to resistance can only be approached by a psychological orientation toward "totality." This is a form of "total non-resistance" which renders the statement entirely sensible and isn't susceptible to the same issues of reification.

Apologies for the formatting.

Best,

FL

TomW
03-16-2007, 04:10 PM
Regarding Budo Renshu and Budo as texts, I think Allen Beebe's comments over on AJ are apropos:

Within Aikido, "Budo" is certainly a very important text along with "Budo Renshu." I am lucky enough to posses a copy of Shirata sensei's "Budo" and value it greatly. I think it is important to note that, like other "sacred texts" this one is open to differences in interpretation as well.

Certainly Saito sensei's commentary is an important one and we are lucky that it is being made available for everyone to share. I received my copy of Shirata sensei's "Budo" at the time that Prof. John Stevens was working on his translation of Budo for Kodansha. I was fortunate to be present when Shirata sensei shared his interpretation, views and memories about Budo both at his house and at the local Budokan (in Shirata sensei's dressing room actually). During these private meetings sensei went over the book cover to cover providing both verbal and physical insights.

I share this because there are slight differences between the two books offered here, Kodansha's book and my recollections. That should not be surprising and IMHO is quite beneficial. I should think that students present around the time of Budo and Budo Renshu's publishing's would each have their own recollection, interpretation and understandings, as would post-war students who were aware of the text. (Saito sensei being notable among these.) My point is that, while commentary can be very important, thought provoking, and reveling, it should not be mistaken for the text on which it comments.

I started Aikido being told I was learning the "One True Way" and that all others were not only wrong but possibly immoral. I grew beyond this view and traveled to Japan to learn from the "others" only to have it insinuated, if not explicitly stated, over and over again that the last dojo I visited was wrong and theirs was the "One True Way." (For me Shirata sensei was the exception. He did Aikido as he understood it and openly recognized that "of course others do things differently.")

It would be a shame to have these great texts, and/or anyone's commentary "thumped" in yet another attempt to say, "See? Ours is the One True Way!" *

* The Way that can be told of is not an Unvarying Way;

The names that can be named are not unvarying names.

It was from the Nameless that Heaven and Earth sprang;

The named is but the mother that rears the ten thousand creatures, each after its kind. (chap. 1, tr. Waley[1])

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tao_Te_Ching#Ineffability

Allen Beebe

Thomas Campbell
03-17-2007, 04:21 PM
[snip]

One interesting thing about the text is that it describes the physiological center for the body's energies as being in the center of the chest, not the lower abdomen as in later Daoist works. Very interesting for those with an interest in Akuzawa's excercises . . .

But now back to our chewy center. Apologies to Chris for the thread drift.

Josh

Are you reading classical Chinese at that level now, Josh? You told me your Mandarin sucked. ;)

Ryabko's Systema works with the solar plexus as center, too.